Over 3 million have fled fighting in Ukraine

ukraine
Over 3 Million Have Fled Fighting In Ukraine Over 3 Million Have Fled Fighting In Ukraine
Some 3,000,381 people have so far left Ukraine, data from the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) showed. It is basing its aid plans on 4 million refugees but has said the figure will likely increase. (Photo by Omar Marques/Getty Images)
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By Yuras Karmanau, Associated Press

Updated at 21:50

What you need to know right now:

  • The prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia travelled to Kyiv by train to demonstrate Europe's solidarity with Ukraine as it battles to fend off Moscow's assault.
  • The three premiers were expected to deliver pledges of assistance as Ukrainian and Russian negotiators resumed their peace talks.
  • U.S. President Joe Biden and other NATO leaders will hold a special summit in Brussels on March 24 to discuss the war, the alliance's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.
  • President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine may seek security guarantees that fall short of NATO membership.
  • Kyiv and Moscow resumed talks via videolink, which Ukrainian negotiators said focused on ceasefires and troop withdrawals.
  • The confirmed civilian toll in Ukraine is 691 people killed and 1,143 injured, the United Nations human rights office said, adding the true figures were probably "considerably higher".
  • Kyiv will impose a 35-hour curfew after intense shelling, which killed at least four people.
  • Russia said its forces had taken full control of the southern region of Kherson. Reuters could not independently verify the report.
  • Ukraine reported more air strikes on an airport in the west, heavy shelling on Chernihiv northeast of Kyiv and attacks on the southern town of Mykolayiv.
  • Ukraine planned another attempt to deliver supplies to besieged port of Mariupol as the first group of civilians allowed out of the city reached safety.Read full story
  • About 3 million people have fled Ukraine, nearly half of them children, according to the U.N. refugee agency. About 1.8 million are now in Poland and some 300,000 in Western Europe.
  • Convoys of more than 100 buses ferrying civilians have left the besieged northeastern city of Sumy, the Red Cross said.
  • The United States imposed sanctions on Russians it accused of gross human rights violations and slapped fresh measures on Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko.Read full story
  • Russia retaliated by sanctioning U.S. President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and others.

21:00: Nearly three weeks into the war, the number of Ukrainians fleeing abroad passed three million on Tuesday, the United Nations said, as people escaped fighting and Russian bombardment.

Some 3,000,381 people have so far left Ukraine, data from the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) showed. It is basing its aid plans on 4 million refugees but has said the figure will likely increase.

After Sunday's Russian strike on the Yavoriv military base near Lviv, some people from western Ukraine have now joined the refugee flow across the border.

"Everybody considered West Ukraine to be quite safe until they started striking Lviv," said Zhanna, 40, a mother from Kharkiv, who was heading to Poland to reunite with her godmother who left Ukraine a few days earlier.

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"We left Kharkiv for Kirovohrad," she said at the train station of Przemysl, the nearest town to Poland's busiest border crossing with Ukraine. "We wanted to stay there. We did not want to go abroad."


17:47: More than 600 buildings have been destroyed in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second city in the east of the country, since the start of Russia’s invasion, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said in a televised interview on Tuesday.

"Schools, nurseries, hospitals, clinics have been destroyed. The Russian army is constantly shelling (us) from the ground and the air," he said.


16:17: Nearly a hundred children have died in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told Canadian lawmakers on Tuesday, adding that the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol was left without means of communication and was nearly running out of food and water.

"Currently we have 97 children that died during this war", Zelenskiy said in a virtual address to Canadian lawmakers.

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"They destroying everything: memorial complexes, schools, hospitals, housing complex. They already killed 97 Ukrainian children. We are not asking for much. We are asking for justice, for real support", the Ukrainian president said.

Zelenskiy's address began and ended with standing ovations from Canadian lawmakers. The Ukrainian president reiterated that Canada and other Western countries should impose more sanctions on Russia and do more to help Ukraine, including by imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

"How many cruise missiles have to fall on our cities?" Zelenskiy asked as he repeated his appeal for the no-fly zone.

Western countries have been swiftly moving to isolate Russia from world trade and the global financial system as a result of its invasion but the U.S. government has ruled out a no-fly zonewhich it says would risk direct conflict with nuclear-armed Russia.

Mariupol was "left without heat or hydro, without means of communicating, almost without food, without water", Zelenskiy added.

Zelenskiy has sought to drum up support for Ukraine with video briefings of foreign audiences that have included the European and British parliaments. He is also due to address the U.S. Congress on Wednesday.


14:19: NATO is concerned Russia might use chemical weapons in a "false flag" attack as part of its invasion of Ukraine, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.

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"We are concerned Moscow could stage a false flag operation in Ukraine, possibly with chemical weapons," Stoltenberg told a press conference.


1.45pm: The Cabinet is meeting virtually on Tuesday to discuss Ireland's response to the war in Ukraine, including how to house those who have fled the country.


1.30pm: Kyiv and Moscow resumed talks on the war in Ukraine on Tuesday after a pause on Monday, Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said.

"Consultations on the main negotiation platform renewed. General regulation matters, ceasefire, withdrawal of troops from the territory of the country," he wrote on Twitter.


1.10pm: President Alexander Lukashenko said on Tuesday that Belarus had intercepted a missile fired at it two days ago from Ukraine, but that it would resist what he called attempts to draw it into the conflict across the border.

The Kyiv government accused Russia on Friday of staging "false flag" air attacks on Belarus from Ukraine to provide an excuse for Moscow's close ally, which has served as a staging post for Russian forces entering Ukraine, to join the conflict itself.


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12.5opm: Ukraine's president has said that 97 children have been killed since the start of the Russian invasion.


12.30pm: Mariupol City Council has said that 2,000 cars have been able to leave the city on Tuesday.


12.15pm: Russian air strikes and shelling hit Kyiv on Tuesday killing at least four people, authorities said, as invading forces tightened their grip on the Ukrainian capital and the mayor announced a 35-hour curfew starting at 8 pm (6pm GMT).

Two large blasts echoed across the centre of the city just before dawn on Tuesday. Late on Monday, tracer bullets flashed across the night sky as Ukrainian forces apparently targeted an enemy drone.

"Today is a difficult and dangerous moment," mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

"The capital is the heart of Ukraine, and it will be defended. Kyiv, which is currently the symbol and forward operating base of Europe's freedom and security, will not be given up by us."


11.55am: Ukraine planned to make a new attempt to deliver supplies to the besieged city of Mariupol on Tuesday as the first convoy of civilians allowed out by Russia reached safety and the Red Cross issued a dire warning about the situation.

People trapped in Mariupol by Russian shelling were "essentially being suffocated in this city now with no aid," Ewan Watson, spokesperson of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), told a UN briefing in Geneva.

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Residents have been without heating, electricity and running water for most of the past two weeks, the Ukrainian authorities say.


11.35am: New British legislation which came into effect overnight will allow the government to speed up its efforts to root out Russian "dirty money" parked in British assets, finance minister Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday.

"Our Economic Crime Act will enable us to crack down harder and faster on dirty money and those who support Putin and his regime," Sunak said in a statement. The legislation received final approval in the early hours of Tuesday morning.


11.25am: Slovakia has charged a former military academy officer and another man with espionage for Russia, police and a special prosecutor said on Tuesday.


11.15am: Russia has no knowledge of the United States being ready to make contact about the conflict in Ukraine, Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday.

Ryabkov said Moscow and Washington had diametrically opposed approaches to the situation, in quotes reported by Interfax news agency.


11am: The Red Cross is hoping to organise the evacuation of two convoys of some 30 buses with civilians out of the besieged northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy and their passage to a safe area, a spokesperson said on Tuesday.


10.40am: The northern Ukrainian region of Chernihiv issued a warning of country-wide air attacks on Tuesday, urging citizens to head to shelters.

It was not immediately clear whether other regions had issued similar warnings of new air strikes by Russian forces that invaded Ukraine on February 24th.

"Attention. Air raid ALL UKRAINE! Take shelter!," said the warning, shared in an online post.


10.30am: The UN human rights office has called on Russia to ensure that the anti-war protester who interrupted Channel One television "does not face any reprisals for exercising her right to freedom of expression".


10.20am: The Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland Larysa Gerasko has said that while talks continue in the hope of finding a peaceful solution “we will never forget, and we will never forgive”.

Ms Gerasko told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that to date 6,000 refugees have arrived in Ireland and plans are under way to set up a Ukrainian community centre where people could come to meet up with other refugees and get information.


10.05am:The Kremlin said on Tuesday that it was too early to make predictions about the possible results of talks between Russia and Ukraine.

"The work is difficult and in the current situation the very fact that they are continuing is probably positive," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"We don't want to make predictions. We await results."

Russia, Peskov said, was disappointed that Western officials had made no public statements about the killing of more than 20 people in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

Russia on Monday accused Ukraine of carrying out a missile attack on the city. Ukraine denied it and said the rocket used in the attack was Russian.


9.50am: Britain on Tuesday said it would ban the export of luxury goods to Russia and impose new tariffs on £900 million (€1.06 billion) worth of Russian imports, including vodka.

"Our new tariffs will further isolate the Russian economy from global trade, ensuring it does not benefit from the rules-based international system it does not respect," finance minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement.


9.35am: A curfew will be imposed on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv from 8 pm (6pm GMT) on Tuesday to 7am (5am GMT) on Thursday after several apartment blocks were struck by Russian forces based outside the city, Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko announced.

Two people were killed in the latest bloodshed, he said.

"It is prohibited to move around the city without special permission, except to go to bomb shelters," Klitschko said.

"The capital is the heart of Ukraine, and it will be defended. Kyiv, which is currently the symbol and forward operating base of Europe’s freedom and security, will not be given up by us."


9.15am: The governor of Ukraine's southern region of Mykolayiv said the security situation was calmer in the area on Tuesday because Russian forces had been pushed back slightly from the regional capital, which they have been trying to seize.

In an interview on national television, governor Vitaliy Kim said Russian troops continued to fire at the city of Mykolayiv and that 80 people were wounded on Monday, including two children.

"You can be 99 per cent sure that Mykolayiv region will continue to hold back the advance of the Russian troops. There is the Bug River, which they need to force their way across in order to advance," he said. "

We will not give up the bridges to the invaders."


9am: The European Union formally approved on Tuesday a new barrage of sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, which include bans on investments in the Russian energy sector, luxury goods exports and imports of steel products from Russia.

The sanctions, which come into effect after publication in the EU official journal later on Tuesday, also freeze the assets of more business leaders who support the Russian state, including Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich.


8.45am: An adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymr Zelenskiy said on Tuesday that the war in Ukraine was at a crossroads that could lead to an agreement at talks with Russia or a new Russian offensive.

"We are at a crossroads. Either we will agree at the current talks or the Russians will make a second attempt (at an offensive) and then there will be talks again," adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said.


8.3oam: The latest package of EU sanctions against Russia do not affect Hungary's energy supplies and oil and gas group MOL can also continue crude production in the BaiTex field in Russia, Hungary's foreign minister said on Tuesday.

In a Facebook video, Peter Szijjarto said it was important for the Hungarian government to maintain European unity on sanctions but "we have a red line which is the security of Hungarian energy supply".


8.2oam: Korean Air Lines will reroute flights to Europe and eastern North America that made use of Russian airspace, the airline said on Tuesday, citing operational challenges and safety concerns.

The airline will also temporarily suspend all passenger and cargo services with Moscow and Vladivostok until the end of April, Korean Air said in a statement.

Among these are flights between Incheon and Moscow, Incheon and Vladivostok, and those with stopovers in Moscow, it added.


8am: Ukraine will make a new attempt to deliver supplies to civilians trapped in the encircled city of Mariupol on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

She made her announcement as Vitaliy Koval, the governor of the northern region of Rivne, said the death toll from a Russian air strike on a television tower in his region on Monday had risen to at least 19.


7.45am: Prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia will travel to Kyiv on Tuesday to meet president Volodomyr Zelenskiy as representatives of European Union leaders, Czech prime minister Petr Fiala said on social networks.

"The purpose of the visit is to confirm the unequivocal support of the entire European Union for the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine," he said.

"The aim of this visit is also to present a broad package of support for Ukraine and Ukrainians."


7.30am: Russia's defence ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov on Tuesday said Russian forces had taken full control of all territory in Ukraine's southern Kherson region, Russian news agencies reported.

Russian forces shot down six Bayraktar TB-2 drones in the last 24 hours, the Interfax news agency reported, citing the ministry.

Reuters could not verify the reports independently.


7.15am: Imperial Brands said on Tuesday its exit from Russia would have a small impact on annual profit and the cigarette maker has started talks with a third party to transfer the assets due to the Ukraine crisis.


7am: A French government spokesperson has said it is important for French companies to respect sanctions against Russia.


6.40am: Russia said on Tuesday there was no risk of a food shortage on the domestic market and cautioned consumers against rushing out to stock up on staples after the West slapped sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.


Officials from Russia and Ukraine are set to engage in another round of diplomatic talks as Moscow’s forces continue to pound away at the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and other cities across the country.

Shortly before dawn on Tuesday, large explosions thundered across the capital while Russia pressed its advance on multiple fronts.

Elsewhere, a convoy of 160 civilian cars left the encircled port city of Mariupol along a designated humanitarian route, the city council reported, in a rare glimmer of hope a week and a half into the lethal siege that has pulverised homes and other buildings and left people desperate for food, water, heat and medicine.

The latest negotiations, held via video conference, were the fourth round involving higher-level officials from the two countries and the first in a week. The talks ended on Monday without a breakthrough after several hours, with an aide to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy saying the negotiators took “a technical pause” and planned to meet again on Tuesday.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

The two sides had expressed some optimism in the past few days.

Mykhailo Podolyak, the aide to Mr Zelensky, tweeted that the negotiators would discuss “peace, ceasefire, immediate withdrawal of troops & security guarantees”.

Previous discussions, held in person in Belarus, produced no lasting humanitarian routes or agreements to end the fighting.

In Washington, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that while the Biden administration supports Ukraine’s participation in the talks with Russia, Russian president Vladimir Putin would have to show signs of de-escalating in order to demonstrate good faith.

Overall, nearly all of the Russian military offensives remained stalled after making little progress over the weekend, according to a senior US defence official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the Pentagon’s assessment.

Russian troops were still about nine miles (15 kilometres) from the centre of Kyiv, the official said.

The official said that Russian forces have launched more than 900 missiles, but that Ukraine’s airspace is still contested, with Russia not achieving total air superiority.

Ukrainian authorities said two people were killed when the Russians struck an airplane factory in Kyiv, sparking a large fire. The Antonov factory is Ukraine’s largest aircraft plant and produces many of the world’s biggest cargo planes.

Russian artillery fire also hit a nine-storey apartment building in the northern Obolonskyi district of the city, killing two more people, authorities said.

A Ukrainian soldier passes by a destroyed building in Kyiv (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

And a Russian airstrike near a Ukrainian checkpoint caused extensive damage to a downtown Kyiv neighbourhood, killing one person, Ukraine’s emergency agency said.

In an area outside Kyiv, Fox News reporter Benjamin Hall was injured while reporting and taken to hospital, the network said.

In Russia, the live main evening news program on state television was briefly interrupted by a woman who walked into the studio holding a poster against the war. The OVD-Info website that monitors political arrests said she was a Channel 1 employee who was taken into police custody.

A town councillor for Brovary, east of Kyiv, was killed in fighting there, officials said. Shells also fell on the Kyiv suburbs of Irpin, Bucha and Hostomel, which have seen some of the worst fighting in Russia’s stalled attempt to take the capital, local authorities said.

Airstrikes were reported across the country, including the southern city of Mykolaiv, and the northern city of Chernihiv, where heat was knocked out to most of the town. Explosions also reverberated overnight around the Russian-occupied Black Sea port of Kherson.

Nine people were killed in a rocket attack on a TV tower in the western village of Antopol, according to the region’s governor.

In the eastern city of Kharkiv, firefighters doused the smouldering remains of a four-storey residential building. It was unclear whether there were casualties.

Volunteers sew Ukrainian flags and first aid kits at a workshop in Lviv, western Ukraine (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

In Mariupol, where the war has produced some of the greatest suffering, the city council did not say how many people were in the convoy of cars headed westward for the city of Zaporizhzhia. But it said a ceasefire along the route appeared to be holding.

Previous attempts to evacuate civilians and deliver humanitarian aid to the southern city of 430,000 were thwarted by fighting.

Ukraine’s military said it repelled an attempt on Monday to take control of Mariupol by Russian forces, who were forced to retreat. Satellite images from Maxar Technologies showed fires burning across the city, with many high-rise apartment buildings heavily damaged or destroyed.

The Kremlin-backed leader of the Russian region of Chechnya said on a messaging app that Chechen fighters were spearheading the offensive on Mariupol.

Robert Mardini, director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said the war has become “nothing short of a nightmare” for those living in besieged cities, and he pleaded for safe corridors for civilians to leave and humanitarian aid to be brought in.

The Russian military said 20 civilians in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine were killed by a ballistic missile launched by Ukrainian forces. The claim could not be independently verified.

The UN has recorded at least 596 civilian deaths since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, though it believes the true toll is much higher. Millions more have fled their homes, with more than 2.8 million crossing into Poland and other neighbouring countries in what the UN has called Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War.

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