Closing of Black Sea exports had driven up global food prices
The Russian military assault on Ukraine is on its 14th day.
Thousands of people are thought to have been killed, both civilians and soldiers, though the actual number is unknown.
Russian aircraft on Tuesday night bombed residential areas around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and Zhytomyr, to the west of Kyiv, and its military also stepped up its shelling of Kyiv’s suburbs, the Ukrainian emergency services said.
Two million people — half of them children — have fled Ukraine, UN officials said Tuesday, as Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II grows by the day.
US President Joe Biden said the US would ban all Russian oil imports, even if it will mean rising costs for Americans, particularly at the gas pump.
Here's the latest of all top developments on March 9
11:59pm: Air strike on Ukraine hospital sparks uproar on eve of talks
An apparent Russian air strike destroyed a paediatric and maternity hospital in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Wednesday, triggering global outrage.
Russian troops closed in on the capital Kyiv, as the two countries prepared for their first high-level talks since Moscow launched its deadly attack two weeks ago.
As fighting raged for a 14th day, a Ukrainian official said a Russian air strike on a children’s hospital in Mariupol wounded at least 17 staff.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a video on Twitter showing massive destruction at the large medical complex, including blown-out windows and internal walls ripped out, which he said was caused by a “direct strike by Russian troops” and left adults and children “under the wreckage”.
11:23pm: Air strike wounds 17 staff at Ukraine children’s hospital
A Russian air strike on Wednesday hit a paediatric and maternity hospital in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, injuring at least 17 staff, officials said.
The attack came as women were in labour in the recently refurbished hospital, Donetsk regional military administration told AFP.
The attack came as the World Health Organization warned the war with Russia has sparked a health crisis in Ukraine, with at least 18 verified attacks on health care facilities, ambulances and personnel, resulting in 10 deaths and 16 injuries.
11.20pm: Russia’s Lavrov arrives in Turkey for talks with Ukraine counterpart
Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov arrived after a flight to Turkey’s southern city of Antalya on Wednesday, according to a Reuters witness, ahead of planned talks Thursday with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.
The meeting would be the first between the nations’ top diplomats since Russia attacked Ukraine two weeks ago.
10.45pm: Ukraine evacuated 40,000 in one day but problems with Mariupol, Kyiv and Kharkiv areas
Ukraine evacuated more than 40,000 people in one day on Wednesday but struggled to get civilians away from conflict zones around the cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol, one of the negotiators in the Russia talks David Arakhamia said.
“Over 40,000 women and children were evacuated from all over Ukraine in one day. Tried 100,000, but failed,” he said in a post on social media. Ukraine has accused Russia of shelling civilian areas and preventing the evacuations. Russia in turn blamed Ukraine.
Separately Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he spoke to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken about boosting Ukraine’s defensive capabilities.
8:52pm: Ukraine says Russian air strike hit hospital in Mariupol
Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskiy accused Russia on Wednesday of carrying out an air strike on a hospital in the southern port city of Mariupol in which he said children were among people “under the wreckage.”
Mariupol’s city council said the hospital had been destroyed. It said it did not know any casualty figures but added: “The destruction is colossal.”
The reports could not immediately be verified by Reuters. Russia has denied targeting civilians in its assault on Ukraine.
7:31pm: Ukraine accuses Moscow of breaking ceasefire
Ukraine accused Russia on Wednesday of breaking a ceasefire to prevent the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in the besieged port of Mariupol, where the Red Cross has described conditions as “apocalyptic”.
Russia said it would hold fire to let civilians flee besieged cities, but efforts to evacuate Mariupol appeared to have failed again, as have several previous attempts since Saturday.
“Russia continues holding hostage over 400,000 people in Mariupol, blocks humanitarian aid and evacuation. Indiscriminate shelling continues,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter. “Almost 3,000 newborn babies lack medicine and food.”
7:25pm: Turkey hosts top Russia, Ukraine diplomats in bid for peace
The Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers will Thursday hold face-to-face talks in southern Turkey in the first high-level contact between Kyiv and Moscow since Russia attacked its neighbour two weeks ago.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has pushed for Turkey to play a mediation role, has expressed hope the talks can avert tragedy and even help agree a ceasefire.
7:20pm: Germany won’t send warplanes to Ukraine
Germany will certainly not send warplanes to Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday, after the United States rejected an offer by Poland to transfer its Russian-made MiG-29 jets to a U.S. base in Germany as a way of helping Ukrainian forces.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Scholz said Germany had provided all kinds of defence equipment and had sent weapons.
Ukraine has pleaded with Western nations to provide it with fighter jets to counter a Russian invasion that has forced more than two million refugees to flee the country.
“But it is also true that we have to consider very carefully what we do concretely, and definitely warplanes are not part of that”
7:15pm: Mariupol says children’s hospital destroyed by Russian bombing
A children’s hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol has been destroyed by Russian air strikes, the city council said in an online post on Wednesday.
“The Russian occupying forces have dropped several bombs on the children’s hospital. The destruction is colossal,” it said, adding that it did not yet know any casualty figures.
The report could not immediately be verified by Reuters. Russia has denied targeting civilians in its assault on Ukraine.
7pm: Fresh evacuation efforts for devastated Ukraine cities
Russian troops were seen by AFP Wednesday pushing closer to the capital Kyiv, while Moscow accused the United States of waging “economic war” through a barrage of sanctions.
Moscow had vowed to respect a 12-hour truce starting at 9:00 am to allow civilians to flee six areas that have been heavily hit by fighting, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
For the first time the corridors included Irpin, Bucha and Gostomel, a cluster of towns on the northwestern outskirts of Kyiv that have been largely occupied by Russian forces.
5:46pm: Britain plans to supply Ukraine with anti-aircraft missiles
Britain is planning to supply Ukraine with anti-aircraft missiles to help it defend its skies from Russian attack, defence minister Ben Wallace said, stressing that the technology fell within the definition of defensive weapons.
“It is vital... that Ukraine maintains its ability to fly and suppress Russian air attack,” Wallace told lawmakers.
“In response to Ukrainian requests, the government has taken the decision to explore the donation of STARStreak high-velocity man-portable anti-air missiles. We believe that this system will remain within the definition of defensive weapons, but will allow the Ukrainian force to better defend their skies.”
5:40pm: Shelling disrupts evacuation of eastern town of Izyum
A planned evacuation of civilians from the Ukrainian town of Izyum in the eastern Kharkiv region was held up by Russian shelling on Wednesday, regional governor Oleh Synehubov said an online post.
“Buses are still waiting at the entrance to Izyum,” he said, adding that negotiations with the Russians were under way with the support of the Red Cross.
5:30pm: Harris heads to Poland amid turbulence over jets for Ukraine
Vice President Kamala Harris’ trip to Warsaw to thank Poland for taking in hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s attack took an unexpected turn before she even left Washington. She’ll be parachuting into the middle of unexpected diplomatic turbulence over fighter jets.
The Polish government on Tuesday came out with a plan to transfer its Russian-made fighter planes to a U.S. military base in Germany, with the expectation that the planes would then be handed over to Ukrainian pilots trying to fend off Russian forces. In turn, the U.S. would supply Poland with U.S.-made jets with “corresponding capabilities.”
5:25pm: Russia must prioritise domestic grain supplies for bread
Russia must prioritise grain supplies to domestic bakeries over export markets, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said as he unveiled fresh measures to support the domestic economy on Wednesday in the face of international sanctions over Ukraine.
Russia and Ukraine are both major wheat exporters, and the military conflict is threatening global grain production and the supply of edible oils and fertilisers exports, sending commodity prices rocketing and mirroring the crisis in energy markets.
4:38pm: Britain will gain from accepting Ukrainian refugees
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain would gain from accepting refugees and that he expects hundreds of thousands of visas to be granted to people fleeing Ukraine amid criticism of his government for keeping strict entry requirements.
“The numbers are almost a thousand... and they will rise very sharply... We expect those numbers to rise to in the region of the hundreds of thousands. We understand how much refugees have to give to this country and we understand how much this country has to gain from welcoming refugees, and we will be generous and we are being generous.”
4:35pm: Ukrainians flee some besieged cities as conditions worsen
Renewed efforts to evacuate civilians from besieged and bombarded Ukrainian cities were underway Wednesday as authorities seek to rescue people from increasingly dire conditions. Days of shelling have largely cut residents of the southern city of Mariupol off from the outside world and forced them to scavenge for food and water.
Authorities announced another cease-fire to allow civilians to escape from Mariupol, Sumy in the northeast, Enerhodar in the south, Volnovakha in the southeast, Izyum in the east, and several towns in the region around the capital, Kyiv.
Previous attempts to establish safe evacuation corridors have largely failed due to attacks by Russian forces, and there were few details on Wednesday’s new effort. It was not clear if anyone was able to leave Mariupol, but some people did start streaming out of Kyiv’s suburbs, even as air raid sirens repeatedly went off in the capital and explosions could be heard there.
4:15pm: Many head to Kyiv hoping for onward evacuation
Civilians from besieged towns northwest of Kyiv worked their way toward the capital Wednesday, crossing over a small river via a damaged bridge.
The bridge area has come under sporadic mortar fire in recent days, with civilians killed. But there was little shelling reported in the area Wednesday morning, so civilians took their chance to leave their homes in the hope of finding safety.
2.52pm: US has declared economic war on Russia, says Kremlin
The Kremlin accused the United States on Wednesday of declaring an economic war on Russia that was sowing mayhem through energy markets, and it put Washington on notice it was considering its response to a ban on Russian oil and energy.
Russia’s economy is facing the gravest crisis since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union after the West imposed heavy sanctions on almost the entire Russian financial and corporate system following Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov cast the West’s sanctions as a hostile act that had roiled global markets and he said it was unclear how far turbulence on global energy markets would go.
2.43pm: Russia demands US explain 'military biological programmes' in Ukraine
Russia demanded on Wednesday that the United States explain to the world why it had supported what Moscow cast as a military biological programme in Ukraine.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova demanded transparency from Washington over the allegation, which is denied by Kyiv and which a Pentagon spokesman has described as absurd.
2.31pm: Canada will send Ukraine another shipment of military equipment, Trudeau says
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday said he told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a call that Canada will send Ukraine another shipment of highly-specialized military equipment.
Trudeau said in a tweet that he also invited Zelensky to address Canada’s parliament.
2.08pm: No water or heat for civilians in Mariupol
The besieged Azov Sea port city of Mariupol has seen some of the most desperate scenes of the war, with civilians struggling without water, heat, basic sanitation or phones for several days.
With water supplies cut, people have been collecting water from streams or melting snow.
The representatives of Ukraine’s Red Cross are trying to deliver first aid to those who need it the most, but resources are scarce.
1.54pm: Russia says it prefers to achieve Ukraine goals via talks
Russia will achieve its goal of ensuring Ukraine’s neutral status and would prefer to do that through talks, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.
Moscow’s aims do not include overthrowing the Kyiv government and it hopes to achieve more significant progress in the next round of talks with Ukraine, Zakharova told a briefing, adding that Russia’s military operation was going strictly in line with its plan.
1.48pm: Russian-linked private jet impounded as UK deepens aviation sanctions
Britain said on Wednesday it had impounded a plane connected to a Russian billionaire under new aviation sanctions which give authorities the power to detain any Russian aircraft and to ban exports of aviation or space-related goods to Russia.
The measures to strengthen action against Russian aircraft mean it is a criminal offence for any to fly or land in the United Kingdom.
We know that it isn’t a Russian company that holds the aircraft, it’s rather a Luxembourg-registered aircraft. We are carrying out further checks before releasing it
1.33pm: UK says Russia not making progress in Kyiv
British defence officials say Russia’s assault on Kyiv has failed to make progress but several Ukrainian cities continue to suffer heavy shelling.
In an update posted on social media Wednesday, the Ministry of Defence said “fighting north-west of Kyiv remains ongoing with Russian forces failing to make any significant breakthroughs.”
It said the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol remain encircled by Russian forces and are being heavily shelled.
The ministry said Ukraine’s air defences were holding up against Russian aircraft, “probably preventing them achieving any degree of control of the air.
1.22pm: EU agrees to toughen sanctions on Russia, Belarus over Ukraine
The EU has agreed to add more Russian oligarchs and officials to its sanctions blacklist, tighten controls on cryptocurrency transfers and target the maritime sector over Moscow’s war in Ukraine, diplomats said Wednesday.
The 27-nation bloc also gave the go-ahead to cut three Belarusian banks from the global SWIFT payments system over Minsk’s support for the Kremlin’s attack, the French mission, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, tweeted.
1.07pm: UK slaps more curbs on Russian aircraft
Private jets with links to Russian individuals, and arriving or departing from the UK will be impounded under new rules announced by the Boris Johnson government on Wednesday, as demands grow that the UK should impose more sanctions and welcome more Ukrainian refugees.
The ban includes any aircraft owned, operated or chartered by anyone connected with Russia or designated individuals or entities, and will include the power to detain any aircraft owned by persons connected with Russia, officials said.
12.54pm: Russia, Ukraine agree day-long evacuation corridors
Russia and Ukraine on Wednesday agreed a day-long ceasefire around a series of evacuation corridors to allow civilians to escape the fighting, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
Vereshchuk said Moscow vowed to respect the truce from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm around six areas that have been heavily hit by fighting, including regions near Kyiv, in Zaporizhzhia in the south, and some parts of Ukraine’s northeast.
12.04pm: Ukraine makes new attempt to get civilians out of Mariupol, other cities
Ukraine will on Wednesday try to evacuate civilians through six “humanitarian corridors”, including from the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
She said in a video statement that Ukrainian armed forces had agreed to stop firing in those areas from 9 am until 9 pm (0700-1900 GMT) and urged Russian forces to fulfil their commitment to local ceasefires.
11.52am: Poland only ready to act on jets for Ukraine within NATO framework, presidential adviser says
Poland is ready act on supplying MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, but only within the framework of NATO, an adviser to the Polish president said on Wednesday after the United States rejected a proposal to put Polish planes at Washington’s disposal.
“The USA does not want these planes to come to Ukraine from American bases,” Jakub Kumoch told pulic broadcaster TVP Info. “Poland is ready to act, but only within the framework of the alliance, within the framework of NATO.”
11.46am: China to provide 5 million yuan worth of humanitarian assistance to Ukraine
Chinese Red Cross will provide a batch of humanitarian assistance worth 5 million yuan ($791,540) to Ukraine, consisting of daily necessities, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday.
Russia’s attack into Ukraine last month has sent over 1.5 million Ukrainians fleeing abroad while those remaining in the encircled Ukrainian town of Mariupol were fast running out of out of electricity, heat, food, and drinking water after more than a week of bombardment.
11.44am: 10 dead in shooting in Severodonestk in eastern Ukraine: local official
At least 10 people were killed in a Russian military attack in the eastern Ukrainian town of Severodonestk on Tuesday, a local official for the Lugansk region said in a statement on Telegram.
The Russian military “opened fire” on residential homes and other buildings in the town, he said, without immediately specifying whether it was an artillery attack.
11.38am: Russia says aviation sanctions threaten safety of Russian flights
Russia’s foreign ministry said that sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union on aviation threatened the safety of Russian passenger flights, the RIA Novosti news agency reported on Wednesday.
1.32am: Ukrainian city of Enerhodar says civilians can be evacuated on Wednesday
The mayor of the southeastern Ukrainian city of Enerhodar said on Wednesday a temporary ceasefire was in force, allowing the evacuation of civilians to start through a “humanitarian corridor”.
Mayor Dmytro Orlov said humanitarian supplies would be allowed into the city, which has been under fire from Russian forces, and added: “On the way back, buses will pick up civilians who want to leave.”
He said civilians would be able to go to the nearby city of Zaporizhzhia.
11.07am: Russia’s central bank limits cash withdrawal in foreign currencies
The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) on Wednesday announced that it is imposing a temporary restriction on the withdrawal of cash in foreign currencies, local media reported.
Issuing a statement, CBR said that it is imposing a $10,000 limit on foreign cash withdrawals from foreign currency accounts by clients until September 9, adding that customers who want to withdraw more can take the balance in rubles, Sputnik reported.
10.50am: Top US lawmakers reach deal to send $13.6 billion in Ukraine aid
Congressional leaders reached a bipartisan deal early Wednesday providing $13.6 billion to help Ukraine and European allies plus billions more to battle the pandemic as part of an overdue $1.5 trillion measure financing federal agencies for the rest of this year.
US President Joe Biden had requested $10 billion for military, humanitarian and economic aid last week, and Democratic and Republican backing was so staunch that the figure grew to $12 billion Monday and $13.6 billion just a day later.
We’re going to support them against tyranny, oppression, violent acts of subjugation
10.42am: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday travels to Turkey where he will have talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, the TASS news agency cited the Russian foreign ministry as saying.
10.40am: Russia says Ukraine planned attack on rebel region in March
Russia’s defence ministry said on Wednesday it had obtained secret documents which proved that Ukraine planned a March attack on Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The ministry published six pages of documents it said showed Kyiv planned a military assault on the Russian-backed rebel regions in Donbas.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the documents - written in Ukrainian - which appear to outline combat preparations for tactical military units.
10.30am: UAE minister discusses relations, international developments with US' Blinken
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, has discussed during a telephone call with Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, the UAE-US relations and ways of strengthening cooperation across various domains.
The two ministers also shed light on the developments in Ukraine and the importance of working to reach a political settlement to the crisis.
10.06am: Air alert declared in Kyiv as fighting continues
An air alert was declared Wednesday morning in and around Kyiv, with residents urged to get to bomb shelters as quickly as possible.
“Kyiv region - air alert. Threat of a missile attack. Everyone immediately to shelters,” regional administration head Oleksiy Kuleba said on Telegram.
8.38am: Russia announces humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine for Wednesday
Russia has announced a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine for Wednesday morning for the evacuation of the civilian population, media reports said.
Russia has declared a “silence mode” and is ready to provide humanitarian corridors from a number of cities, including Kyiv, Sputnik news agency reported.
7.57am: Putin nuclear threats ‘extremely dangerous’, ‘blackmail’: ICAN
Russian President Vladimir Putin is using nuclear “blackmail” to keep the international community from interfering in his Ukraine attack, the head of the Nobel prize-winning group ICAN said.
“This is one of the scariest moments really when it comes to nuclear weapons,” Beatrice Fihn, who leads the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, told AFP in an interview Tuesday.
Not only is this meant to instil fear in the whole world; it’s also meant to scare anyone from helping in Ukraine.
7.23am: US rejects Poland offer of jets for Ukraine as not ‘tenable’
The United States on Tuesday rejected a Polish offer to send MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine via a US air base, saying the proposal raised “serious concerns” for the entire NATO alliance.
Warsaw caught US officials off guard with the offer to deliver the Soviet-era planes to the US base in Ramstein, Germany.
Under the proposed scheme, those jets could then be deployed to Ukraine, while the Polish air force would receive F-16 fighters as replacements.
7.12am: West will form ‘Marshall Plan’ for Ukraine, says Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has committed to a new “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine and hinted the US and allies will garner support for the plan.
Speaking in a video posted on Telegram, Zelensky said, “There will be a new Marshall Plan for Ukraine. The West will form this support package. The British Prime Minister said this today. A man of his word, a sincere friend of Ukraine.”
We are already expecting tough decisions from the European Union. Sanctions. Against Russia. For this war. For this aggression, which its authors will regret. They will. For sure. That is why it is so important that the Russian leadership realizes that the world will follow the example of the United States, Great Britain, the European Union, Canada, Australia, Japan and other free countries. So, the world cannot be fooled. Sanctions cannot be avoided.
6.58am: US ‘concerned’ Russia wants to seize Ukraine bio-research
The United States said Tuesday it was working with Ukraine to prevent attacking Russian forces from seizing biological research material amid concern governments or unscrupulous actors might try to use such items to create bioweapons.
“Ukraine has biological research facilities, which in fact we are now quite concerned Russian troops, Russian forces, may be seeking to gain control of,” senior State Department official Victoria Nuland told US lawmakers at a hearing when asked directly whether Ukraine has bioweapons.
6.18am: IAEA says loses contact with Chernobyl nuclear data systems
The Chernobyl nuclear power plant is no longer transmitting data to the UN’s atomic watchdog, the agency said Tuesday, as it voiced concern for staff working under Russian guard at the Ukrainian facility.
International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi “indicated that remote data transmission from safeguards monitoring systems installed at the Chornobyl NPP had been lost”, the agency said in a statement.
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