EU sanctions hit top Russian government officials and lawmakers

Global outrage over a Russian attack on a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian port of Mariupol has intensified as senior diplomats in Moscow and Kyiv have failed to press ahead with a possible ceasefire or even humanitarian corridors for civilians.

As the Russian invasion enters its 15th day, Ukrainian officials have struggled not only to thwart Russian advances, but also to evacuate residents of besieged cities like Mariupol or Kharkiv in the northeast.

The Red Cross said more than 400,000 people are trapped in Mariupol without humanitarian aid or evacuation corridors, and the city faces “apocalyptic” conditions.

A key port city on the Sea of ​​Azov coast, Mariupol is a major transit point on the Crimea route, and analysts have speculated that the Russians may seek to seize the city as part of of a “land bridge” to the occupied Crimean peninsula.

On March 9, an apparent Russian strike – either artillery or an airstrike – on a maternity ward devastated the building and killed at least three people, including a child.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has accused Russia of a war crime. The White House called it a “barbaric” use of force against civilians, while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it “depraved”.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba met his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Turkey on March 10. But the talks did not lead to a breakthrough.

Live briefing: Russia invades Ukraine

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kuleba told reporters that Lavrov would not commit to stopping the war so that aid could reach hundreds of thousands of civilians. “We are ready for diplomacy, we are looking for diplomatic solutions, but until they exist, we will selflessly defend our land, our people against Russian aggression,” he added.

For his part, Lavrov showed no sign of concessions, repeating to reporters that he presented at the meeting Russian demands for Ukraine to be disarmed and accept neutrality status.

The Mariupol City Council reported further Russian bombings on March 10. The council also said 1,200 residents were killed during the Russian siege.

The Kremlin said it would investigate the attack on the hospital, but Lavrov claimed, without providing evidence, that the medical facility had also served as a base for a far-right nationalist military unit.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych accused Russia of deliberately preventing the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol.

The Mariupol attack was not the only one targeting a medical facility; In Zhytomyr, a city of 260,000 people some 150 kilometers west of Kiev, bombs fell on two hospitals, including one for children, Mayor Serhiy Sukhomlyn said on Facebook. He said there were no injuries.

Around the capital, Kiev, Russian forces captured several suburbs and were trying to take Chernihiv in the north, a senior Ukrainian general said. Russian forces were also advancing towards the towns of Mykolayiv, Kryviy Rih, Voznesensk and Novovorontsovka.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said around 2 million people had left the city and surrounding areas.

The World Health Organization says it has documented 18 attacks on medical facilities since its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine began on February 24.

Tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians are trying to leave areas under Russian bombardment. Civilians have started to leave the city of Sumy, east of Kyiv, again for a third day through a “humanitarian corridor” following an agreement on a local ceasefire, the regional governor said.

Several thousand people left Sumy this week, and people are also believed to have left nearby settlements of Krasnopillya and Trostyanets, Governor Dmytro Zhyvytskiy said.

The number of people who have fled Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion continues to rise, with the head of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, estimating on March 10 that the figure has now reached some share more than 2.3 million people.

Most of them crossed into neighboring Poland, where the Border Guard Service said around 1.43 million Ukrainians had arrived on March 10.

Meanwhile, US Vice President Kamala Harris has accused Russia of committing ‘atrocities of unimaginable proportions’ in Ukraine as she travels to Warsaw amid controversy over a Polish plan to supply fighter planes to Ukraine.

Harris’ trip, aimed at bolstering US support for its Eastern European allies, was overshadowed by an open disagreement between Warsaw and Washington over the Polish proposal, which called for sending MiG fighter jets to Ukraine, via a US military base in Germany.

The number of people who have fled Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion continues to rise, with the head of the UN refugee agency estimating that figure has now reached nearly 2.2 million people.

Most of them crossed into neighboring Poland, where the Border Guard Service said around 1.43 million Ukrainians had arrived on March 10.

Zelenskiy’s chief economic adviser said Russia’s attack on Ukraine inflicted more than $100 billion in damage, taking into account infrastructure, buildings and other physical assets.

Oleh Ustenko said online conference led by the Peterson Institute for International Economics on March 10, that about half of Ukrainian businesses had closed due to the conflict, with the rest operating well below full capacity, and called for maximum financial sanctions and a complete global embargo on oil, gas, and other energy products from Russia.

Russian forces met stiff resistance from Ukrainian troops, prompting Moscow to inflict heavy damage on cities, including residential and civilian targets, through relentless air attacks and shelling.

Ustenko said that given the scale of the fighting, Ukraine’s financial system was in fact “OK”, with ATMs in parts of the country not occupied by Russian troops still functioning.

He said the country’s foreign currency reserves had only fallen by about $2.5 billion to $27.5 billion, but Ukraine’s immediate need for economic and military aid remained paramount. .

The European Union has continued to toughen sanctions against those “involved in Russian aggression in Ukraine”, agreeing on new measures targeting 14 other oligarchs, 146 members of the upper house of the Russian parliament and their families.

The 27-member bloc is due to hold a summit in Versailles, France, on March 10 to discuss the Ukrainian invasion and the energy crisis unleashed in Europe.

With reports from the Ukrainian service of RFE / RL and the AP
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