People ‘coming out alive’ in Mariupol theatre debris

Ukraine Parliament member Sergiy Taruta said Thursday that “people are coming out alive” after a theatre in the besieged eastern city of Mariupol was severely damaged yesterday by a Russian military airstrike. “After an awful night of not knowing, we finally have good news from Mariupol on the morning of the 22nd day of the war. The bomb shelter [of the theatre] was able to hold. The rubble is beginning to be cleared,” Taruta wrote on his Facebook page. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office says Russia has carried out further airstrikes on Mariupol this morning. There were no immediate reports of casualties. “People are escaping from Mariupol by themselves using their own transport,” Zelensky’s office said, adding the “risk of death remains high” because of Russian forces previously firing on civilians.

Ukraine mayor, 9 Russian conscripts released

Russian forces freed the mayor of the Ukrainian city of Melitopol in exchange for nine of their captured conscripts, an official from Ukraine’s presidential office has said. Kyiv accused the Russians of kidnapping Mayor Ivan Fedorov about a week ago. Surveillance video showed him being marched out of city hall apparently surrounded by Russian soldiers. Residents of Melitopol, a city in southeast currently under Russian control, have been protesting to demand his release. Daria Zarivna, spokeswoman of the head of Ukraine’s president’s office, said Wednesday that Fedorov has been released from captivity, and Russia “got nine of its captive soldiers, born between 2002 and 2003, practically children, conscripts Russia’s Defense Ministry said weren’t there.” Moscow initially denied sending conscripts to fight in Ukraine, but later the Russian military admitted that some conscripts have been involved in the offensive and even got captured by Ukrainian forces.

‘Russian invasion slowing down’ – UK

The British Ministry of Defence said Thursday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has ‘largely stalled on all fronts’ and was slowing down as “Russian forces have made minimal progress on land, sea or air in recent days and they continue to suffer heavy losses”. On Twitter, it said: “Ukrainian resistance remains staunch and well-coordinated. The vast majority of Ukrainian territory, including all major cities, remains in Ukrainian hands.” Ukraine’s presidential office also reported artillery and air strikes around the country overnight, including in the Kalynivka and Brovary suburbs of the capital, Kyiv. It said fighting continues as Russian forces try to enter the Ukraine-held city of Mykolaiv in the south and that there was an artillery barrage through the night in the eastern town of Avdiivka.

Chinese official expresses support for Ukraine

Despite fears that China may help Russia avoid economic sanctions and may even provide military support to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime, China’s ambassador to Ukraine told officials in the western city of Lviv this week that his country will support Ukraine both economically and politically. “We will always respect your state, we will develop relations on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. We will respect the path chosen by Ukrainians, because this is the sovereign right of every nation,” Fan Xiangong, who relocated with the Chinese embassy from Kyiv to Lviv after Russian forces invaded, told Lviv officials on Monday, according to the Lviv regional government. “In this situation, which you have now, we will act responsibly. We have seen how great the unity of the Ukrainian people is, and that means its strength,” Fan added.

€10 billion from EU cohesion to assist refugees

Ukrainians fleeing the war can use about €10 billion allocated by cohesion policy in favour of reception projects. This is ‘Care’, an initiative approved last week by the EU heads of state and government and presented today by the EU Commissioner for Cohesion, Elisa Ferreira, at the opening of the eighth Cohesion forum. “Through the new ‘Care’ initiative, we give cohesion programmes” and therefore Regions and local authorities “the flexibility to support refugees”, explained Ferreira, highlighting that the discussion on cohesion policy is particularly “timely and necessary” right now: “punctual because when we were emerging from a serious economic crisis we found ourselves in a security crisis right on our borders” and “necessary because cohesion is part of both short and long-term responses to these events”. The Commissioner said, “At a time when our Union must remain steadfast and unshakable, cohesion is the cement that holds the building blocks of the European home together.” added.

Security Council to vote on Russia move in Ukraine

The UN Security Council is due to vote tomorrow on a Russian-drafted call for aid access and civilian protection in Ukraine, but diplomats say the measure is set to fail because it does not push for an end to the fighting or withdrawal of Russian troops. The draft resolution, seen by Reuters, also does not address accountability or acknowledge Russia’s invasion of its neighbour. A Security Council resolution needs at least nine votes in favour and no vetoes by Russia, China, Britain, France or the United States to be adopted. Diplomats said the Russian move would fail because most of the 15 members would likely abstain. Russia put forward the text after France and Mexico withdrew their own push for a council resolution on Ukraine’s humanitarian situation because they said it would have been vetoed by Moscow. They instead plan to put it to a vote in the 193-member General Assembly where no country wields a veto. The UN Security Council will also meet today to be briefed on Ukraine at the request of the United States, Albania, Britain, France, Ireland and Norway.

Brazil, more than 656,000 COVID deaths

Brazil has passed the threshold of 656,000 deaths from coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, while the total number of infected exceeds 9.4 million. The total deaths reached 656,003 yesterday, when another 354 victims were recorded, with an average of 345 per day in the past week, a figure that represented a 24% drop from two weeks ago. Also yesterday, 44,115 new people infected by Covid-19 were reported, bringing the total to 29,476,389. The moving average has been 40,335 infected per day in the last week, a 13% reduction from the previous average. The data was collected by the 27 health secretariats of state administrations and was published today on the ‘G1 news’ portal.

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