Ukraine, Russia agree on need for evacuation corridors as war rages

Ukraine, Russia agree on need for evacuation corridors as war rages
A rescue van is seen at the site after a shelling attack by the Russian army in Chernihiv, Ukraine, March 3, 2022. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 03 March 2022

Ukraine, Russia agree on need for evacuation corridors as war rages

Ukraine, Russia agree on need for evacuation corridors as war rages
  • Ukrainian soldiers and civilians kept up resistance to Russian onslaught, and Kyiv and other main cities remained in their hands on Thursday evening
  • Fate of Kherson, a southern Dnipro River port, was unclear. Mariupol surrounded under heavy bombardment

BORODYANKA/LVIV: Russia and Ukraine have agreed on the need to set up humanitarian corridors and a possible cease-fire around them for fleeing civilians, both sides said after talks on Thursday, in their first sign of progress on any issue since the invasion.
But while Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said the talks had made “substantial progress,” Russian invasion forces surrounded and bombarded Ukrainian cities as the conflict entered its second week.
A Ukrainian negotiator said the talks had not yielded the results Kyiv hoped for, but the two sides had reached an understanding on evacuating civilians.
In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin, brushing aside worldwide condemnation of the invasion, said his military operation was going according to plan and hailed his soldiers as heroes in a televised address.
Ukrainian soldiers and civilians kept up their resistance to the Russian onslaught, and the capital Kyiv and other main cities remained in their hands on Thursday evening.
But the humanitarian crisis deepened, with the United Nations saying one million people had now fled their homes. Most were seeking refuge in Poland and other neighbors to the west.
Those who stayed were enduring shelling and rockets strikes on several cities, often on residential areas. Swathes of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city with 1.5 million people, have been blasted into rubble.
After the talks at an undisclosed location, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said they envisaged a possible temporary cease-fire to allow the evacuation of civilians and the creation of humanitarian corridors.
“That is, not everywhere, but only in those places where the humanitarian corridors themselves will be located, it will be possible to cease fire for the duration of the evacuation,” he said.
They had also reached an understanding on the delivery of medicines and food to the places where the fiercest fighting was taking place. The negotiators will meet again next week, the Belarusain state news agency Belta quoted Podolyak as saying.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said earlier Kyiv and Moscow could find a way out of the war if the Kremlin treated Ukraine on an equal footing and came to talks with a will to negotiate in good faith.
“There are things in which some compromises must be found so that people do not die, but there are things in which there are no compromises,” Zelenskiy said in a televised interview, saying he was willing to have an open conversation with Putin.

Highway jammed
Western military analysts believe that a Russian battle plan that aimed for a swift advance and capture of Kyiv has faltered, forcing commanders to change tactics.
The main assault force — a huge convoy of tanks, artillery and logistics support — has been halted for days on a highway north of Kyiv.
In Washington, a US official said Russian troops were still 25 km out of Kyiv city center. They were also just outside of Kharkiv now, the official said.
The fate of Kherson, a southern Dnipro River port, was not clear. Russian tanks had entered on Wednesday and it was reported to have been captured. But the US official said Washington believed there was still fighting in Kherson and it was not ready to say it is in Russian hands.
But Mariupol, eastern Ukraine’s main port, has been surrounded under heavy bombardment, with no water or power. Officials say they cannot evacuate the wounded.
Earlier, President Zelenskiy said Ukrainian lines were holding. “We have nothing to lose but our own freedom,” he said in one of his regular video updates to the nation.
Russia has acknowledged nearly 500 of its soldiers killed since Putin sent his troops over the border on Feb. 24. Ukraine says it has killed nearly 9,000, though this cannot be confirmed.
Military analysts say Russia’s columns are now confined to roads as spring thaw turns Ukrainian ground to mud. Each day the main attack force lies stuck on the highway north of Kyiv, its condition deteriorates, said Michael Kofman, an expert on the Russian military at the Wilson Center in Washington DC.
In Borodyanka, a town 60 km (40 miles) northwest of Kyiv where local people repelled a Russian assault, burnt-out hulks of destroyed Russian armor were scattered on a highway, surrounded by buildings blasted into ruins.
“They started shooting from their APC toward the park in front of the post office,” a man said in the apartment where he was sheltering with his family, referring to a Russian armored personnel carrier.

“Give me a Molotov cocktail”
“Then those b******* started the tank and started shooting into the supermarket which was already burned. It caught fire again. An old man ran outside like crazy, with big round eyes, and said ‘give me a Molotov cocktail! I just set their APC on fire!”
Emergency services in the eastern Chernihiv region said 33 bodies had been pulled from the rubble of a Russian air strike. Earlier, governor Viacheslav Chaus said at least nine people had been killed in an air strike that hit homes and two schools.
Rescue work has been temporarily suspended due to heavy shelling in the area.
Two cargo ships came under apparent attack at Ukrainian ports. Six crew members were rescued at sea after an Estonian-owned ship exploded and sank off Odessa, and at least one crew member was killed in a blast on a Bangladeshi ship at Olvia.
Amid Moscow’s increasing diplomatic isolation, only Belarus, Eritrea, Syria and North Korea voted with Russia against an emergency resolution at the United Nations General Assembly condemning Moscow’s “aggression.”
Putin spoke by telephone to French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, telling him Russia would achieve its goals, including the demilitarization and neutrality of Ukraine, the Kremlin said.
Macron told Putin “you are lying to yourself” about the government in Kyiv and the war would cost Russia dearly, a French official said.


Roadside bomb kills 7 in Afghanistan’s Mazar-i-Sharif

Roadside bomb kills 7 in Afghanistan’s Mazar-i-Sharif
Updated 54 min 42 sec ago

Roadside bomb kills 7 in Afghanistan’s Mazar-i-Sharif

Roadside bomb kills 7 in Afghanistan’s Mazar-i-Sharif
  • Tuesday’s blast happened near Sayed Abad Square

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan: A roadside bomb killed seven petroleum company employees aboard a bus in northern Afghanistan on Tuesday, a provincial police spokesman said.
“The bomb was placed in a cart by the roadside. It was detonated as the bus arrived,” said Asif Waziri, of the Balkh police department in Mazar-i-Sharif.
Although the Taliban claim to have improved security across the nation since storming back to power in August last year, there have been scores of bomb blasts and attacks — many claimed by the local chapter of the Daesh group.
At least 19 people were killed and 24 others wounded earlier this month by a blast at a madrassa in Aybak, southeast of Mazar-i-Sharif.
Waziri told AFP Tuesday’s blast happened around 7:00 am (0230 GMT) near Sayed Abad Square in the city.
He said six people were injured in the blast.
Further details were not immediately available, and there has been no claim of responsibility.


Beijing no longer requires COVID test results to enter supermarkets, buildings

Beijing no longer requires COVID test results to enter supermarkets, buildings
Updated 06 December 2022

Beijing no longer requires COVID test results to enter supermarkets, buildings

Beijing no longer requires COVID test results to enter supermarkets, buildings

BEIJING: China’s capital Beijing no longer requires people that enter supermarkets and commercial buildings to show negative COVID-19 tests on their mobile phones, the city government said in a statement on Tuesday.
However, the city still requires negative test results to enter Internet cafes, schools, bars, KTV lounges, indoor gyms and elderly care institutions.

 


North Korea orders new artillery firings over South’s drills

People watch a report on North Korea's artillery firings, at Seoul Station in Seoul, South Korea 05 December 2022. (EPA)
People watch a report on North Korea's artillery firings, at Seoul Station in Seoul, South Korea 05 December 2022. (EPA)
Updated 06 December 2022

North Korea orders new artillery firings over South’s drills

People watch a report on North Korea's artillery firings, at Seoul Station in Seoul, South Korea 05 December 2022. (EPA)
  • Some of the shells landed in a buffer zone near the sea border
  • South Korea and the United States have also stepped up military drills this year

SEOUL, South Korea: North Korea’s military says it has ordered frontline units to conduct artillery firings into the sea for the second consecutive day in a tit-for-tat response to South Korean live-fire drills in an inland border region.
The statement by the North Korean People’s Army’s General Staff came a day after the North fired about 130 artillery rounds into waters near its western and eastern sea boundaries with South Korea in the latest military action raising tensions between the rivals. An unidentified North Korean military spokesperson said the planned artillery firings Tuesday were meant as a warning to the South after the North detected signs of South Korean artillery exercises in the border region.
The South Korean army is conducting live-fire exercises involving multiple rocket launching systems and howitzers in two separate testing grounds in the Cheorwon region, which began on Monday and continues through Wednesday.
North Korea’s military said Monday that it instructed its western and eastern coastal units to fire artillery as a warning after it detected dozens of South Korean projectiles flying southeast from the Cheorwon region.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said those North Korean shells fired fell within the northern side of buffer zones created under a 2018 inter-Korean agreement to reduce military tensions and urged the North to abide by the agreement.
It was the first time North Korea has fired weapons into the maritime buffer zones since Nov. 3, when around 80 artillery shells landed within North Korea’s side of the zone off its eastern coast.
North Korea has fired dozens of missiles as it increased its weapons demonstrations to a record pace this year, including multiple tests of an intercontinental ballistic missile system potentially capable of reaching deep into the US mainland, and an intermediate-range missile launched over Japan.
North Korea has also conducted a series of short-range launches it described as simulated nuclear attacks on South Korean and US targets in an angry reaction to an expansion of joint US-South Korea military exercises that North Korea views as rehearsals for a potential invasion.
Experts say North Korea hopes to negotiate economic and security concessions from a position of strength and force the United States to accept it as a nuclear power. South Korean officials have said North Korea might up the ante soon by conducting its first nuclear test since 2017.

 


Ukraine warns of emergency blackouts after more missile hits

A satellite image shows bomber aircrafts at Engels Air Base in Saratov, Russia, December 4, 2022. (REUTERS)
A satellite image shows bomber aircrafts at Engels Air Base in Saratov, Russia, December 4, 2022. (REUTERS)
Updated 06 December 2022

Ukraine warns of emergency blackouts after more missile hits

A satellite image shows bomber aircrafts at Engels Air Base in Saratov, Russia, December 4, 2022. (REUTERS)
  • The United States said it would convene a virtual meeting on Thursday with oil and gas executives to discuss how it can support Ukrainian energy infrastructure, according to a letter seen by Reuters
  • Ukraine’s air force said it downed over 60 of more than 70 missiles fired by Russia on Monday

KYIV: Ukraine warned there would be emergency blackouts once again in several regions as it repaired damage from missile attacks it said destroyed homes and knocked out power, while Moscow accused Kyiv of attacking deep inside Russia with drones.
A new Russian missile barrage had been anticipated in Ukraine for days and it took place just as emergency blackouts were due to end, with previous damage repaired.
The strikes, which plunged parts of Ukraine back into freezing darkness with temperatures below zero Celsius (32 Fahrenheit), were the latest in weeks of attacks hitting critical infrastructure and cutting off heat and water to many.
At least four people were killed, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, adding that most of some 70 missiles were shot down.
“In many regions, there will have to be emergency blackouts,” he said in a late Monday video address. “We will be doing everything to restore stability.”
The United States said it would convene a virtual meeting on Thursday with oil and gas executives to discuss how it can support Ukrainian energy infrastructure, according to a letter seen by Reuters.
Moscow has been hitting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure roughly weekly since early October as it has been forced to retreat on some battlefronts.
ZAPORIZHZHIA REGION CASUALTIES
In the Zaporizhzhia region, at least two people were killed and several houses destroyed, the deputy head of the presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said.
Reuters video showed two bodies covered with blankets lying next to a damaged car in the village of Novosofiivka, some 25 km east of the southern city of Zaporizhzhia.
“Both of my neighbors were killed,” Olha Troshyna 62, said. “They were standing by the car. They were seeing off their son and daughter-in-law.”
Missiles also hit energy plants in the regions of Kyiv and Vinnytsia in central Ukraine, Odesa in the south and Sumy in the north, officials said. Kyiv was one of the regions to be suffering from the most blackouts, according to Zelensky.
Ukraine had only just returned to scheduled power outages from Monday rather than the emergency blackouts it has suffered since widespread Russian strikes on Nov. 23, the worst of the attacks on energy infrastructure.
But Ukraine’s largest private energy provider, DTEK, on Monday reported having to disconnect one of its facilities from the power grid, limiting power and heat supply, in what it said was the 17th Russian attack on one of its sites in the last two months.
Ukraine’s air force said it downed over 60 of more than 70 missiles fired by Russia on Monday.
Russia has said the barrages are designed to degrade Ukraine’s military. Ukraine says they are clearly aimed at civilians and thus constitute a war crime. Moscow denies that.
Russia says it is waging a “special military operation” in Ukraine to rid it of nationalists and protect Russian-speaking communities. Ukraine and its allies accuse Moscow of an unprovoked war to grab territory from its pro-Western neighbor.
DRONES
Russia’s defense ministry on Monday said Ukrainian drones attacked two air bases at Ryazan and Saratov in south-central Russia, killing three servicemen and wounding four, with two aircraft damaged by pieces of the drones when they were shot down.
Ukraine did not directly claim responsibility for the attacks. If it was behind them, they would be the deepest strikes inside the Russian heartland since Moscow invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
The New York Times, citing a senior Ukrainian official, reported unmanned drones struck two bases hundreds of miles inside Russia. The drones were launched from Ukrainian territory and at least two planes were destroyed at one of the bases and several more were damaged, the newspaper reported.
“The Kyiv regime, in order to disable Russian long-range aircraft, made attempts to strike with Soviet-made unmanned jet aerial vehicles at the military airfields Dyagilevo, in the Ryazan region, and Engels, in the Saratov region,” the Russian defense ministry said.
It said the drones, flying at low altitude, were intercepted by air defenses and shot down. The deaths were reported on the Ryazan base, 185 km (115 miles) southeast of Moscow.
Israeli satellite imaging company ImageSat International shared images it said showed burn marks and objects near a Tu-22M aircraft at the Dyagilevo air base.
The Russian defense ministry called the drone strikes a terrorist act aimed at disrupting its long-range aviation.
Despite that, it said, Russia responded with a “massive strike on the military control system and related objects of the defenses complex, communication centers, energy and military units of Ukraine with high-precision air- and sea-based weapons” in which it said all 17 designated targets were hit.
Kyiv’s forces have demonstrated an increasing ability to hit strategic Russian targets far beyond the 1,100 km-long frontline in southern and eastern Ukraine.
Saratov is at least 600 km from the nearest Ukrainian territory. Russian commentators said on social media that if Ukraine could strike that far inside Russia, it might also be capable of hitting Moscow.
Previous mysterious blasts damaged arms stores and fuel depots in regions near Ukraine and knocked out at least seven warplanes in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014.
Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for any of the blasts, saying only that they were “karma” for Russia’s invasion.
“If something is launched into other countries’ air space, sooner or later unknown flying objects will return to (their) departure point,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted, tongue in cheek, on Monday.

 


Angry protests in Greek city after police shoot Roma boy

Angry protests in Greek city after police shoot Roma boy
Updated 06 December 2022

Angry protests in Greek city after police shoot Roma boy

Angry protests in Greek city after police shoot Roma boy
  • The Greek police department said the youth had tried to ram officers in pursuit on motorbikes in his attempt to evade arrest

THESSALONIKI, Greece: Violent scuffles broke out in Greece’s second largest city on Monday after a Roma teenager was shot by police and left in a critical condition.
The 16-year-old was shot in the head in the early hours of Monday morning after driving a truck away from a petrol station near the port city of Thessaloniki without paying, state TV ERT said.
The Greek police department said the youth had tried to ram officers in pursuit on motorbikes in his attempt to evade arrest.
Protesters burned roadblocks and threw Molotov cocktails at riot police on Monday evening, as well as smashing shop windows in the center of the city.
Police responded with tear gas and stun grenades.
Earlier in the day, protesters and members of the teenager’s family had thrown rocks at riot police outside the hospital where he is receiving treatment, before police responded by firing tear gas.
In a statement police said officers had fired two shots to try and stop him from attempting to hit police motorbikes.
After the shots were fired, the driver had lost control, hit a wall and was “transported to the hospital with serious injuries,” police said.
The officer who fired the shot was arrested and will appear before a prosecutor on Tuesday.
Another Roma youth was killed in 2021 near the port of Piraeus, also in a police pursuit.
The incident also comes a day ahead of youth protests in several cities to mark the 2008 death of a Greek teenager, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, who was also fatally shot by a police officer.
His death sparked weeks of sometimes violent protests in Greece.