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Refugees fleeing the war from neighbouring Ukraine arrive at the border crossing in Palanca, Moldova. Image Credit: AP

As the Russian attack on Ukraine reaches its 13th day, three rounds of talks have proven inconclusive. Russian troops besiege and bombard cities in the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two. Follow the latest developments from the war front:


Poland's offer of jets not 'tenable': Pentagon

The United States believes that a Polish offer to deliver Mig-29 fighter jets to a US air base in Germany with a view to sending them to Ukraine is not "tenable," the Pentagon said Tuesday.

"We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland's proposal is a tenable one," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

Kirby said the prospect of the jets, placed at the disposal of the United States, departing from a US-NATO base to fly into airspace contested with Russia "raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance."

Coca-Cola, Pepsi suspend sales in Russia

Coca-Cola Co and PepsiCo Inc said on Tuesday they are suspending sales of their sodas in Russia, becoming the latest high-profile Western consumer brands to curtail operations in the region following Moscow's attack on Ukraine.

Coca-Cola said its business in Russia and Ukraine contributed about 1 per cent to 2 per cent of the company's net operating revenue in 2021.

PepsiCo, whose colas were one of the few Western products allowed in the Soviet Union prior to its collapse, said it would continue to sell daily essentials, such as milk and other dairy offerings, baby formula and baby food, in Russia.

Tennis star Murray to donate winnings to Ukraine children

Former world number one Andy Murray said he would donate his prize money won from tennis tournaments in 2022 towards aid efforts for children affected by Russia's attack onUkraine.

Two million people - mostly women and children - have now fled Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian attck on Feb. 24, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Tuesday.

"Over 7.5 million children are at risk with the escalating conflict in Ukraine," Murray, who is an ambassador for UNICEF UK, said on Twitter.

"It's vital education continues, so UNICEF is working to enable access to learning for displaced children, as well as supporting the rehabilitation of damaged schools, together with replacement equipment and furniture.

"I'm going to be donating my earnings from my prize money for the rest of the year, but anyone in the UK can support UNICEF's humanitarian response by donating to our appeal."

Starbucks suspends all activity in Russia

Coffee giant Starbucks said on Tuesday that it is suspending all business activity in Russia, including shipment of its products and cafes run by a licensee.

The company said that Kuwait-based Alshaya Group, which operates at least 100 Starbucks cafes in Russia, will "provide support to the nearly 2,000 partners in Russia who depend on Starbucks for their livelihood." 

Russia announces humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine for Wednesday morning

Moscow has announced a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine for Wednesday morning to carry out the evacuation of the civilian population, Russian news agencies reported.

"From 10:00 MSK (11am UAE) on March 9, 2022, the Russian Federation is declaring a 'regime of silence' and is ready to provide humanitarian corridors," a cell of the Russian defence ministry charged with humanitarian operations in Ukraine said Tuesday.

It added that Russia proposes to agree the routes and start time of the humanitarian corridors with Ukraine "before 03:00 MSK on March 9".

Civilian evacuations took place on Tuesday morning, in particular from the town of Sumy, where two convoys left during the day.

Evacuations also took place outside the capital Kyiv.

But attempted evacuations from the port town of Mariupol have failed on several occasions in recent days, with both Kyiv and Moscow blaming the other side for the failures.

McDonald's to temporarily close restaurants in Russia

McDonald's Corp said on Tuesday it would temporarily close its restaurants in Russia, becoming the latest Western company to pause all operations in the country following its attack on Ukraine.

Major global brands, including McDonald's and PepsiCo Inc, have been pressured to pause their operations in Russia by several bodies, including New York state's pension fund

Zelenskiy given standing ovation from British parliament

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was given a standing ovation from lawmakers in the British House of Commons at the beginning and end of a speech delivered by video link.

BBC to resume reporting from Russia

Britain's BBC on Tuesday said it would resume English language reporting in Russia after it suspended its coverage to assess the implications of a new law.

On Friday, the BBC said it had paused its reporting in Russia after parliament passed a law there that could impose a jail term of up to 15 years for anyone found to be intentionally spreading "fake" news.

"We have considered the implications of the new legislation alongside the urgent need to report from inside Russia. After careful deliberation we have decided to resume English language reporting from Russia this evening (Tuesday 8 March)," the BBC said in a statement.

"We will tell this crucial part of the story independently and impartially, adhering to the BBCs strict editorial standards. The safety of our staff in Russia remains our number one priority."

UK to phase out Russian oil imports by end of 2022

Britain said Tuesday it would phase out Russian oil imports by the end of this year, in line with new sanctions announced by the United States following the attack of Ukraine.

"This transition will give the market, businesses and supply chains more than enough time to replace Russian imports - which make up 8.0 percent of UK demand," Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng tweeted.

The oil sanction does not apply to Russian natural gas, which accounts for some four percent of UK supply. But Kwarteng said he was "exploring options to end this altogether".

The announcement came in coordination with an embargo on Russian oil announced by US President Joe Biden.

It risks exacerbating a cost-of-living crisis in Britain, with prices of petrol and diesel already surging amid market turmoil following energy-rich Russia's aggression against Ukraine. But Kwarteng said most of Britain's crude oil imports come from "reliable partners" such as the United States, the Netherlands and Gulf states.

"We'll work with them this year to secure further supplies," he said.

"The market has already begun to ostracise Russian oil, with nearly 70 percent of it currently unable to find a buyer," the business minister added.

Kwarteng announced a new government taskforce on oil to help companies transition away from Russian oil.

British dockers at a facility in northwest England on Saturday refused to unload Russian oil from a tanker, calling for the government to close a "loophole" in sanctions allowing deliveries from foreign-flagged ships.

US bans Russian oil imports over Ukraine attack: Biden

President Joe Biden announced a ban on US imports of Russian oil on Tuesday, in the administration's most far-reaching action yet to punish Moscow for attacking Ukraine.

"We're banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy. That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at US ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to (President Vladimir) Putin," Biden said in an address from the White House, adding that the decision was taken "in close consultation" with allies.

The ban came with Democrats threatening legislation to force Biden's hand, despite the likely impact on already soaring gas prices.

CERN suspends Russia’s observer status

The international scientific laboratory that is home to the world’s largest atom smasher says it is suspending Russia’s observer status and halting any new collaboration with Russia or its institutions “until further notice.”

The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, said its 23 member states — all European, plus Israel — condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Ukraine is one of seven associate member states, and Russia, like the United States, Japan and the European Union, has had observer status.

The CERN council made the decisions about Russia at a special meeting on Tuesday and expressed its support “to the many members of CERN’s Russian scientific community who reject this attack.”

CERN is home to the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator.

Crude prices surge as US expected to ban Russian oil imports


Oil prices are rising sharply again Tuesday as the US prepares to ban crude oil imports from Russia in response to that country's unprovoked invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

The price of US crude jumped 5% to $125 a barrel, still not quite as high as it reached a day earlier. That sent energy company stocks higher on Wall Street, but most other sectors were lower as investors worry about the effects the war may have on global economies, especially on inflation.

The S&P 500 was up 0.3% after bouncing between small gains and losses shortly after the opening bell.

Ukraine says 400 civilian deaths recorded

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov has released new estimates of casualties and damage from the Russian conflict, saying Russian military actions have killed 38 children and wounded more than 70.

Overall at least 400 civilian deaths have been recorded and 800 wounded, though “these data are definitely incomplete,” he said in a video address.

It was not immediately possible to verify the figures.

He said Russian strikes have destroyed more than 200 Ukrainian schools, 34 hospitals and 1,500 residential buildings.

He estimated some 10,000 foreign students, notably from India, China and Gulf are trapped by the fighting, and described attacks on British and Swiss journalists.

He claimed that Ukrainian forces have killed more than 11,000 Russian troops.

“Russian flighters fire on humanitarian corridors through which civilians are trying to escape,” he said, without saying where.

Russian officials did not comment on Tuesday and have only acknowledged several hundred deaths among Russian forces.

Temporary ceasefire has mostly held in Ukraine's Sumy, says governor

A temporary ceasefire mostly held around the Ukrainian city of Sumy on Tuesday, allowing civilians including around 1,000 foreign students to be evacuated through a humanitarian corridor, the regional governor said.

Convoys of 20-30 private cars were leaving in waves, Governor Dmytro Zhyvytsky said in televised comments.

At least nine dead in bombing of Ukraine city Sumy: rescuers

At least nine people, including two children, have died in an air strike on the Ukrainian city of Sumy, some 350 kilometres east of Kyiv, the rescue services said Tuesday.

"Enemy planes insidiously attacked apartment buildings" on Monday night, the rescue services said on Telegram after arriving on the scene at 11 pm. Sumy, near the Russian border, has been the scene of heavy fighting for days.

Civilians try to flee Kyiv

IAEA reports second Ukraine nuclear facility damaged

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday it has received reports of artillery shells damaging a nuclear research facility in Ukraine's besieged second city Kharkiv, but there was no "radiological consequence".

The Vienna-based UN body said Ukrainian authorities reported an attack took place on Sunday, adding that no increase in radiation levels had been reported at the site.

Because the site's "inventory of radioactive material is very low" and kept at a "subcritical" state, the IAEA said "the damage reported to it would not have had any radiological consequence."

The facility is part of the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, a research institute that produces radioactive material for medical and industrial applications.

Kharkiv has come under intense Russian shelling and missile attacks in recent days, as Moscow tries to step up pressure on Ukraine to surrender.

The nuclear institute itself has been at the centre of online conspiracy theories and unsubstantiated claims in Russian media that Ukraine is attempting to develop a "dirty bomb" - a crude nuclear weapon capable of causing mass casualties.

Russia's humanitarian corridors

Russia said Monday it would open humanitarian corridors for civilians to flee pummelled Ukrainian cities, but Kyiv accused Moscow of making it impossible for innocent people to escape.

The latest offer brought a glimmer of hope for terrified civilians cowering under a hail of Russian shelling and mortar fire, with numerous women and children among the hundreds already killed.

Russia's defense ministry said it would open the corridors from 0700 GMT Tuesday, subject to Ukraine's approval, listing routes from Kyiv as well as the cities of Mariupol, Kharkiv and Sumy - all of which have been under heavy attack.

Ukraine did not initially respond to the offer, with President Volodymyr Zelensky instead accusing Moscow's troops of scuppering evacuation efforts - mining roads and destroying buses meant to carry people to safety.

Kyiv had rejected a previous proposal for evacuation corridors from the same four cities, as many of the routes led straight into Russia or its ally Belarus.

Addressing the Security Council, the UN's top humanitarian official Martin Griffiths said civilians must be allowed to leave in the direction they wish, and safe passage be granted for vitally needed humanitarian and medical supplies.

The carnage continued on day 12 of the war, with 13 people killed in shelling on an industrial bakery in the town of Makariv and the mayor of the town of Gostomel killed while delivering bread to civilians.