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Live Ukraine Updates:1,300 Civilians Killed in Mariupol, Shelling Thwarts Evacuations



Ukrainians flee the outskirts of Kyiv on Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (AP/Felipe Dana)
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The latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine war:

KYIV, Ukraine — Constant shelling has thwarted attempts to evacuate civilians from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, a senior Ukrainian official said Thursday.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said 1,300 civilians have been killed in Mariupol, a strategic port on the Azov Sea, during the nine days of siege. The city is without power, food, and water.

Vereshchuk said in televised remarks that the Russian forces start shelling the city each time a humanitarian convoy makes an attempt to depart for Mariupol to evacuate its residents.

“They want to destroy the people of Mariupol, they want to make them starve,” she said. “It’s a war crime.”

Harris Calls for War Crimes Probe

WARSAW, Poland — U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday embraced calls for an international war crimes investigation of Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, citing the “atrocities” of bombing civilians, including a maternity hospital.

Speaking alongside Polish President Andrzej Duda at a press conference in Warsaw, where she is demonstrating U.S. support for NATO’s eastern flank allies, Harris expressed outrage over the bombing Wednesday of the maternity hospital and scenes of bloodied pregnant women being evacuated, as well as other attacks on civilians. She stopped short of directly accusing Russia of having committed war crimes.

“Absolutely there should be an investigation, and we should all be watching,” said Harris, noting that the United Nations has already started a process to review allegations. “I have no question the eyes of the world are on this war and what Russia has done in terms of this aggression and these atrocities.”

No Breakthrough in Peace Talks

ANTALYA, Turkey — Ukraine’s foreign minister says talks between the top diplomats of Moscow and Kyiv produced no breakthrough on ending the war in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he attended the meeting Thursday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Turkey to discuss humanitarian corridors and a cease-fire.

Kuleba said there are “other decision-makers” in Russia who need to be consulted, adding that he agreed with Lavrov to continue to seek a solution to humanitarian issues caused by the war.

He said Moscow is not ready to offer a cease-fire. He said: “They seek Ukraine’s surrender. This is not going to happen.”

Kuleba said “the last thing” he wanted was to kill hope for Ukrainians seeking safe passage out of cities besieged by Russian bombardments and attacks.

Russia Denies Hospital Air Strike

The Russian Defense Ministry denied responsibility Thursday for striking a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol and claimed that the explosions that hit the building were staged to smear Russia.

Ukrainian officials said that Wednesday’s Russian air strike on the hospital killed three people, including a child, and wounded 17 others. The attack has caused global outrage.

Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov denied that the Russian military struck the hospital. He claimed that the two explosions that ravaged the building were caused by explosive devices planted nearby in what he described as a “staged provocation to incite anti-Russian agitation in the West.”

Ukrainian emergency employees and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from the damaged by shelling maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. A Russian attack has severely damaged a maternity hospital in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian officials say. (AP/ Evgeniy Maloletka)

Johnson Warns of Russian Chemical Weapon Use

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined other Western officials Thursday in warning that Russia could use chemical weapons in Ukraine, and accused the Kremlin of a “cynical, barbaric” attempt to justify such a move.

Johnson said the Kremlin is preparing a “fake story” that chemical weapons are being stored by their opponents or by the Americans as a pretext for deploying the weapons themselves.

“The stuff which you are hearing about chemical weapons is straight out of their playbook,” he told Sky News on Thursday. “You have seen it in Syria, you saw it even in the U.K. I just note that that is what they are already doing. It is a cynical, barbaric government I’m afraid.”

China Maneuvers to Protects Economy

BEIJING — China is easing government exchange rate controls to let the Russian ruble fall faster in value against the Chinese yuan and help insulate Beijing from economic sanctions on Moscow.

The margin by which the ruble is allowed to fluctuate against the yuan in state-controlled daily trading will be doubled in size to 10% above or below the day’s opening price starting Friday, the China Foreign Exchange Trade System announced.

The ruble has lost about 40% of its value since Western governments cut off some Russian banks from the international SWIFT payment system in retaliation for President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. Russia’s central bank was blocked from using its foreign currency reserves to defend the exchange rate.

China has avoided joining other governments in criticizing Putin’s attack and has criticized Western sanctions. Chinese companies are giving no sign they are joining Western counterparts in pulling out of Russia, but economists say they are likely to take advantage of pressure on Moscow to strike better deals.

EU Won’t Offer Ukraine Fast-Track Membership

VERSAILLES, France — European Union leaders meeting in France Thursday ruled out fulfilling Ukraine’s demand for a fast-track integration with the bloc, as they discussed ways to help the eastern country that’s been invaded by neighboring Russia.

EU nations have been fully united in backing Ukraine’s resistance, adopting unprecedented economic sanctions against Russia, but leaders are divided on how fast Brussels could move to accept Ukraine as a member, and how swiftly the 27-nation bloc could sever energy ties with Moscow.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wants his country to quickly join the EU, but an agreement on that point won’t be achieved this week during the two-day summit hosted in the palace of Versailles west of Paris.

Macron Condemns Air Strike on Hospital

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron condemned “a shameful and amoral act of war” after a Russian airstrike on a Mariupol maternity hospital.

Macron said Thursday he was deeply upset by images showing “lethal weapons have been used in an indiscriminate manner in the city center.” He spoke ahead of a summit of EU heads of state and government at the Versailles Palace, west of Paris.

Macron said “nothing justifies” what happened in Mariupol.

“I am very worried and pessimistic,” about the war in Ukraine, Macron said. “I don’t see a ceasefire (being) realistic in the coming hours.”

Relatives and friends mourn the body of senior police sergeant Roman Rushchyshyn in the village of Soposhyn, outskirts of Lviv, western Ukraine, Thursday, March 10, 2022, in Lviv. Rushchyshyn, a member of the Lviv Special Police Patrol Battalion, was killed in the Luhansk Region. Temporary cease-fires to allow evacuations and humanitarian aid have repeatedly faltered, with Ukraine accusing Russia of continuing its bombardments. (AP/Bernat Armangue)

Erdogan: Turkey Has Role to Play in Ending War

ISTANBUL — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed the importance of Turkey’s role in ending the war in Ukraine in a phone call with U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday, state-run Anadolu Agency said.

In a 45-minute call, Erdogan said it was important for Turkey to be a “facilitator in the search for a solution in case the crisis deepens,” Anadolu reported. He described a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba held earlier near the Turkish city of Antalya as “a victory for diplomacy.”

The meeting was chaired by the Turkish foreign minister after Turkey lobbied to act as a mediator between the warring countries. It failed to produce any concrete results.

Erdogan also asked Biden to lift “unfair” sanctions on Turkey, Anadolu said. Sanctions on leading defense industry figures were imposed after Ankara acquired a Russian-made air defense system in 2019. Turkey was also kicked off the F-35 fighter program.

Israeli Holocaust Museum Pauses Relationship With Oligarch

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum has suspended its “strategic partnership” with Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich, the museum announced Thursday.

The decision came shortly after the British government sanctioned Abramovich over his close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Yad Vashem said its own decision came “in light of recent developments” but gave no further details.

It’s a reversal from a Feb. 6 Yad Vashem letter to U.S. ambassador Tom Nides urging the U.S. not to sanction Abramovich because of “potentially negative consequences.” Just days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the memorial announced a multi-million dollar donation that would have made Abramovich the museum’s second-largest private donor. That donation is now on hold, a spokesman said.

Yad Vashem has condemned the invasion and Putin’s comparison of Ukraine’s government to Nazi Germany, calling it a “trivialization and distortion of the historical facts of the Holocaust.”

Western governments have shunned Putin. Israel has stopped short of condemning it and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has kept up talks with both the Russian leader and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Polish Police Arrest Man Who Allegedly Raped Refugee

WARSAW, Poland — Polish police arrested a man accused of raping a 19-year-old Ukrainian woman he had offered refuge, officials announced Thursday.

The crime comes amid Europe’s worst humanitarian crisis in decades, with Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine causing more than 2.3 million people to flee the country so far. Poland is the country that is taking the most, with Poles exhibiting a huge outpouring of compassion and help, and some even taking strangers into their own homes.

Police said the perpetrator offered to help the 19-year-old Ukrainian citizen “and turned out to be a ruthless criminal.” If he is convicted, he could face up to 12 years in prison.

The incident comes as the International Organization for Migration warns that the refugees, who are largely women, children and the elderly, are particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence, sexual exploitation, trafficking.

Exiled Leader Says Allies Should Get Tough on Belarus

LONDON — The exiled opposition leader of Belarus urged western democracies Thursday to slap tougher sanctions on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko over his backing of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Lukashenko has full responsibility for this attack on Ukraine,” Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said at an event at London’s Chatham House thinktank. “I believe that it’s time for democracy to show its teeth, and it’s crucial to put diplomatic, economic and political pressure on the Belarus regime.”

Tsikhanouskaya has said that Belarus’ military is effectively under Russian control. She called for Lukashenko to be suspended from all international organizations, Belarus state banks to be cut from the international SWIFT payment network and for imports from state enterprises to be banned.

Many countries have already announced sanctions on the Belarus government, but Tsikhanouskaya said this is not enough.

“Half measures don’t work. They only make things worse,” she said.

Will Qatar Send Natural Gas to Europe?

DOHA, Qatar — Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani met Thursday with Bektum Rostam, special envoy of the Ukrainian president.

Qatar’s ruler and Rostam discussed the developments in Ukraine and diplomatic ways to solve the conflict, as well as regional and international matters, The Emir’s Diwan said in a statement.

The tiny nation of Qatar, which lies on the eastern side of the Arabian Peninsula and has only one land border to Saudi Arabia, is among the world’s largest suppliers of liquefied natural gas, and is among countries that the U.S. is hoping could aid Europe. Despite its small size, it also plays a strategic role as a back channel, mediator, and facilitator of negotiations among countries and groups.

A Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces member hugs a resident who leaves his hometown following Russian artillery shelling in Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (AP/Oleksandr Ratushniak)

Goldman Sachs Exits Russia Completely

NEW YORK — Goldman Sachs says it is closing its operations in Russia entirely, making it the first major Wall Street bank to do so since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Goldman’s announcement comes after Citigroup said it would start winding down its Russia operations. But that process will likely take longer because Citi operates a consumer banking and business banking division in the country.

Like other Wall Street banks, Goldman operated a small investment banking business in the country for the past few years. The bank said in a statement Thursday it has roughly $650 million in exposure to Russian debt.

Banking is the latest industry to come under pressure to cut its Russian ties due to the war. But unlike companies who make goods that ship to Russia, banks have loans, deposits and existing customer relationships that take time to wind down or sell off.

Swedish Navy on Alert for Suspicious Activity

STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s navy is asking the public to report any suspicious underwater activity along the country’s Baltic coast, saying “we are very interested in tips.”

The request came amid heightened awareness around the Baltic Sea region after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Skärgården, a newspaper covering Stockholm’s vast archipelago, said that Naval Security Chief Anders Engqvist asked residents to keep an eye out for things such as unnatural-looking waves or periscopes.

He also asked people to alert authorities if they see anyone moor or go ashore near military installations or if someone drops anchor in a prohibited area.

Sweden’s Baltic Sea island of Gotland sits a little more than 300 kilometers from the Russian Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad.

Hotel Chains Freeze Russian Investments

NEW YORK — All three international hotel chains based in the United States have frozen their investments in Russia and put on hold any planned openings of new hotels there.

Marriott on Thursday joined Hyatt and Hilton, which on Wednesday ceased any development of properties after Russia invaded Ukraine two weeks ago.

Marriott, like Hilton, said it’s shuttering its corporate office in Moscow as well.

Marriott hotels in Russia are owned by third parties and the company said it is evaluating the “ability” of those locations to remain open. Hyatt also said it’s evaluating the operations of hotels that remain open there.

All three hotels are either earmarking aid funds, donating profits from Russian properties, or opening hotel rooms to refugees in Europe.

Germany Says It Will Protect Peace in the Balkans

SARAJEVO, Bosnia — Germany’s foreign minister says her country has “a historic responsibility” to protect peace in the Balkans, as she drew a parallel between the bloody breakup of former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

“I am aware that many people here are reminded of the terrible time in the 1990s seeing the pictures from Kiev, from Mariupol,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Thursday in Sarajevo, referring to Ukrainian targets of Russian attacks.

Baerbrock added that growing up alongside some of close to 350,000 Bosnian refugees sheltering in Germany “shaped my generation of politicians.”

“We want to live together in the European house,” said Baerbrock on the first day of her four-day tour of the politically fragile region that will also include stops in Serbia, Kosovo, and Moldova.

A Ukrainian serviceman takes a photograph of a damaged church after shelling in a residential district in Mariupol, Ukraine, Thursday, March 10, 2022. (AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Russia Wants Art Back From Italy

MILAN, Italy — Russian cultural officials have asked for the return of 25 works of art on loan to two shows in Milan this month.

Italian officials said Thursday the two shows are still open and the request for a return comes ahead of agreed terms.

The works include two on display at a show on the Renaissance artist Titian at the city-run Palazzo Reale, including Titian’s “Young woman with the feathered hat,” that belongs to the Hermitage Museum.

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said that “it seems evident that when the owner asks for their works to be returned, they must be returned.”

The ministry said it is currently doing a survey of what Italian works of art are on loan to Russian museums

No Breakthrough in Peace Talks

ANTALYA, Turkey — Ukraine’s foreign minister says talks between the top diplomats of Moscow and Kyiv produced no breakthrough on ending the war in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he attended the meeting Thursday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Turkey to discuss humanitarian corridors and a cease-fire.

Kuleba said there are “other decision-makers” in Russia who need to be consulted, adding that he agreed with Lavrov to continue to seek a solution to humanitarian issues caused by the war.

He said Moscow is not ready to offer a cease-fire. He said: “They seek Ukraine’s surrender. This is not going to happen.”

Kuleba said “the last thing” he wanted was to kill hope for Ukrainians seeking safe passage out of cities besieged by Russian bombardments and attacks.


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