Kiev and Moscow try to find an agreement to cease fire
As the UN General Assembly deplores Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, the world anxiously awaitsthe start of the second round of talks between the delegations of the two countries being held today in the oldest nature reserve in Europe, Belovezhskaya Pushcha. The forest is the same where in 1991 the Belovezh agreements were signed, the treaty, also known as the Minsk Agreement, which led to the end of the Soviet Union. The first round of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, which went on for five hours and did not lead to any results, took place in the Gomel region, also in Belarus, but on the border with Ukraine.
Kherson ‘under Russian control’
Russian troops are in total control of the southern Ukrainian Black seaport of Kherson, located in a strategically-crucial area that connects the Crimean peninsula with mainland Ukraine. It is the first major Ukrainian city to fall into Moscow’s hands since the invasion began. In a Facebok post, the city’s mayor, Igor Kolykhaev, has said Russian troops had forced their way into the city council building and planned to set up a military administration in the area. He had met with the local Russian commander, and urged Russian soldiers not to shoot at civilians, saying there were no Ukrainian forces in the city.
Explosions near Kiev’s subway station
While rockets continue to rain in Kiev, four explosions were heard in the capital shortly after anti-aircraft sirens were sounding. The first two hit the centre, the other two near the Druzhby Narodiv metro station. All nearby residents have been advised to take shelter. Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said there were no casualties in the blast that shattered the windows of the city’s train station on Wednesday night. “The enemy is trying to break through in our city, but the Ukrainian defenders are pushing back the occupiers and defending our capital,” he said. Meanwhile, in the east, the mayor of the beseiged city of Kharkiv has said that Russian shells and cruise missiles were constantly hitting residential areas.
Ukraine thwarted Russia’s ‘sneaky’ plans – Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said his country had thwarted Russia’s “sneaky” plans, saying he was proud of the “heroic” resistance to Moscow’s invasion. In a video posted on Telegram, he said, “We are a nation that broke the enemy’s plans in a week. Plans written for years: sneaky, full of hatred for our country, our people.” He added that around 9,000 Russian soldiers had been killed since the invasion began a week ago. Moscow’s defence ministry has admitted for the first time that 498 Russian soldiers have been killed during its invasion of Ukraine.
UN: 227 civilians killed, 525 wounded
In the first five days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 227 civilians were killed and another 525 were injured throughout the country, the UN office for human rights reports. However, the organisation believes the real death toll is “significantly higher”, especially in government-controlled territory, due to delays in reporting. Hundreds of people are feared dead in the southern port of Mariupol following hours of sustained shelling, city’s deputy mayor says. The UN refugee agency said Thursday that a million people have now fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion – an exodus without precedent in this century for its speed. Supplies of water and food are increasingly scarce and the country is on its knees, but the people do not stop resisting.
‘Moscow using cluster and thermobaric bombs’
The US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield has said Russia is moving “exceptionally lethal weapons” in Ukraine, including cluster bombs and thermobaric bombs. She was speaking at the UN Headquarters before the vote on the General Assembly resolution deploring Moscow for the invasion of Ukraine was overhwelmingly approved. The ‘Aggression against Ukraine’ resolution, which also called for an immediate withdrawal, was co-sponsored by 96 UN Member States and received 141 votes in favour, five against and 34 abstentions, including those of China and India.
Oil price shoots to above $116 a barrel
Oil prices continued to rise on Thursday, as trade disruption and shipping issues from Russian sanctions over the Ukraine crisis sparked supply worries. Brent crude surged above $116.83 a barrel – the highest since August 2013 – before falling back to $116.46, while the WTI at $113.31, with an increase of over $2, updating the highs of the last 11 years. OPEC members, including Russia, have decided to maintain an increase in output by 400,000 barrels per day in March despite the price surge, ignoring the Ukraine crisis during their talks and snubbing calls from consumers for more crude.
Hague Court investigation into alleged war crimes
The International Criminal Court in The Hague has launched an investigation into possible war crimes conducted by Russia in Ukraine. In a statement, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan notified that his appeal was accepted by the ICC presidency and they have initiated work on collecting evidence. ICC would focus on the organisation’s key objective, which is “ensuring accountability for war crimes under the court’s jurisdiction,” Khan added. The probe has been started after the ICC received a referral from at least 39 countries. Ukraine has repeatedly accused Moscow of targetting civilian infrastructure, including residential buildings, schools, hospitals, ambulances and more.
Russian Orthodox priests revolt against ‘fratricidal war’
First difference appear between the base of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. “We mourn the ordeal our brothers and sisters in Ukraine have been undeservedly subjected to,” said a group of 236 priests and deacons of the Russian Orthodox Church, calling the war in Ukraine “fratricidal” and calling for reconciliation and an immediate ceasefire. The Moscow Patriarchate has historically been closely linked with the Kremlin.
Australia floods: evacuation order for 200,000 people
Australian emergency services have ordered about 200,000 people to evacuate their homes due to heavy rains, which today are heading to Sydney after killing 13 people in the rest of the country. Authorities have issued a weather warning for heavy rains and strong winds for a 400-kilometer strip that stretches along Australia’s east coast, including the suburbs of Sydney, the country’s largest city (population 5 million). For more than a week, torrential rains have been ravaging the east coast, between the states of Queensland and New South Wales. In the latter, authorities today ordered around 200,000 people to evacuate and asked another 300,000 to prepare to receive a similar order soon.