A picture shows the ruin of a deserted home, damaged by Russian shelling, near the frontline village of Horenka, north of Kyiv, on March 10, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

As the Russian attack on Ukraine crosses two weeks, four rounds of talks have proven inconclusive. Russian troops besiege and bombard cities in the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two, which has also led to the biggest refugee crisis since then. Follow the latest developments from the war front:


WHO advises Ukraine to destroy pathogens in health labs to prevent disease spread

The World Health Organization advised Ukraine to destroy high-threat pathogens housed in the country's public health laboratories to prevent "any potential spills" that would spread disease among the population, the agency told Reuters on Thursday.

Biosecurity experts say Russia's movement of troops into Ukraine and bombardment of its cities have raised the risk of an escape of disease-causing pathogens, should any of those facilities be damaged.

Like many other countries, Ukraine has public health laboratories researching how to mitigate the threats of dangerous diseases affecting both animals and humans including, most recently, COVID-19. Its labs have received support from the United States, the European Union and the WHO.

Russian military convoy northwest of Kyiv has dispersed, redeployed

Satellite images taken on Thursday show a large Russian military convoy, last seen northwest of Kyiv near Antonov airport, has largely dispersed and redeployed, a private US company said on Thursday.

Maxar Technologies said images show armored units maneuvering in and through the surrounding towns close to the airport. It said images also show convoy elements further north have repositioned near Lubyanka with towed artillery howitzers in firing positions nearby.

Ukraine says civilians unable to leave Mariupol on Thursday

Not a single civilian was able to leave the encircled Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Thursday as Russian forces failed to respect a temporary ceasefire to allow evacuations, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on national television.

Efforts to send food, water and medicine into the city failed when Russian tanks attacked a humanitarian corridor, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a televised address.

"This is outright terror ... from experienced terrorists," he said. "The world needs to know this. I have to admit it - we are all dealing with a terrorist state." Zelensky said Ukrainian authorities managed to evacuate almost 40,000 people on Thursday from five other cities.

UN Security Council to convene Friday at Russia's request

The United Nations Security Council will convene on Friday at Russia's request, diplomats said, to discuss Moscow's claims, presented without evidence, of US biological activities in Ukraine.

The United States has dismissed Russian claims as 'laughable,' warning Moscow may be preparing to use chemical or biological weapons.

Russian advance in Ukraine slowed by using forces to encircle cities

Russia is committing an increasing number of its forces to encircling key cities in Ukraine, slowing its advance through the country, Britain's defence ministry said on Thursday.

"Due to strong Ukrainian resistance, Russian forces are committing an increased number of their deployed forces to encircle key cities. This will reduce the number of forces available to continue their advance and will further slow Russian progress," the ministry said in an intelligence update posted on Twitter.

The defence ministry also said protests against Russian occupation have been reported throughout the week in Russian-held cities, with 400 protestors reportedly detained by Russian forces in Kherson on Wednesday.

No breakthrough in Ukraine talks as Russian forces advance on Kyiv

Russia and Ukraine failed to make a breakthrough Thursday in their first top-level talks since Moscow's attack two weeks ago, as Russian advances sparked fears the Ukrainian capital Kyiv could soon be encircled.

After talks with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Turkey, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said there had been "no progress", even on a 24-hour ceasefire, although Lavrov said Moscow would keep talking.

Russian forces were encircling at least four major cities in Ukraine on Thursday, with armoured vehicles rolling up to the northeastern edge of the capital Kyiv.

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said half the population had fled, adding that the city "has been transformed into a fortress. Every street, every building, every checkpoint has been fortified."

The besieged southern port city of Mariupol meanwhile came under fresh attack, the day after the bombing of a children's hospital that local officials said killed three people, including a young girl.

G7 calls on oil, gas producers to boost deliveries

The G7 club of the most industrialised nations on Thursday urged big energy-producing countries to boost deliveries to blunt the impact of the Russian attack of Ukraine on prices.

"We call on oil and gas producing countries to act in a responsible manner and to examine their ability to increase deliveries to international markets particularly where production is not meeting full capacity noting that OPEC has a key role to play," G7 energy ministers said in a joint statement.

They added it was "necessary to consider effective measures in order to stop the increase in the gas price".

The G7 energy ministers noted "with grave concern" the burden on households and businesses of the spike in prices "notably in European countries" while acknowledging they would be "felt most acutely in developing countries".

They said they were committed to "working together to ensure diversification of energy sources, supplies, routes, and means of transport" and stressed the growing role of liquefied natural gas in the energy mix.

However, the ministers failed to reach consensus on any embargo of Russian oil supplies, noting simply that some nations had announced the measure while others "step up their efforts to enhance energy self-sufficiency".

Putin says Russia will solve its problems, calls sanctions illegitimate

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Western sanctions were illegimate and Russia would calmly solve the problems arising from them.

Addressing a government meeting, Putin also said Moscow - a major energy producer which supplies a third of Europe's gas - would continue to meet its contractual obligations.

Speaking calmly, the Kremlin leader acknowledged that sanctions imposed since the start of what Russia calls its special military operation in Ukraine were being felt.

"It is clear that at such moments people's demand for certain groups of goods always increases, but we have no doubt that we will solve all these problems while working in a calm fashion," he said.

"Gradually, people will orient themselves, they will understand that there are simply no events that we cannot close off and solve." Speaking at the same meeting, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Russia had taken measures to limit the outflow of capital and that the country would service its external debts in roubles.

"Over the last two weeks Western countries have in essence waged an economic and financial war against Russia," he said.

He said the West had defaulted on its obligations to Russia by freezing its gold and foreign currency reserves. It was trying to halt foreign trade, he said.

"In these conditions the priority is for us to stabilise the situation in the financial system," Siluanov said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin

Goldman Sachs to exit Russia

Goldman Sachs Group Inc said on Thursday it was closing its operations in Russia, becoming the first major Wall Street bank to exit the country following Moscow's attack of Ukraine.

"Goldman Sachs is winding down its business in Russia in compliance with regulatory and licensing requirements," the bank said in an emailed statement.

In its annual filing earlier, the bank had disclosed a credit exposure to Russia of $650 million.

Bank of International Settlements data shows that US bank exposure to Russia totals $14.7 billion.

Operating in Moscow is increasingly difficult for Western financial institutions amid international sanctions against Russia.

Russia central bank restricts firms' access to cash in hard currency

Russia's central bank said on Thursday that it was introducing restrictions on local firms' access to foreign-currency cash for the next six months.

During the period of restrictions, local companies and entrepreneurs who want U.S. dollars, Japanese yen, British pounds and euros in cash can only receive up to $5,000 worth and only to pay for overseas work trips.

The central bank, which has been taking steps to preserve precious hard currency in the wake of economic sanctions over Ukraine, added in a statement that the $5,000 limit could be increased in special circumstances in consultation with the regulator.

Putin says Russia continuing all energy exports, including through Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Moscow was continuing to export oil and gas, including through Ukraine, where the Kremlin sent troops three weeks ago spurring a wave of costly Western sanctions.

"We are respecting all of our obligations in terms of energy supplies," Putin said during a televised government meeting on the sanctions fallout. He added that, "even the gas transportation system in Ukraine is 100 percent filled as per contracts."

A destroyed Russian tank is seen on a main road near Brovary, north of Kyiv
A destroyed Russian tank is seen on a main road near Brovary, north of Kyiv, on Thursday, March 10, 2022. Image Credit: AP

Ukraine war 'will negatively affect' eurozone economy: Lagarde

Russia's war on Ukraine has "substantially" increased the risks to the eurozone economy and will have a negative impact on growth, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde warned Thursday.

"The Russian attack of Ukraine will negatively affect the euro area economy and has significantly increased uncertainty," she told reporters, warning that supply chain upsets and higher energy costs could drag down consumption and investment.

"The risks to the economic outlook have increased substantially," she added.

Macron seeks EU resolve at Ukraine crisis summit

EU leaders will scramble Thursday to find ways to urgently address the fallout of Russia's attack of Ukraine and carefully tell Kyiv that joining the bloc remains years away.

The meeting at the Versailles palace was set to be the high point of France's six-month EU presidency, but President Emmanuel Macron will instead spearhead a crisis summit to answer Russian leader Vladimir Putin's brutal disruption to decades of stability in Europe.

The Ukraine war and the EU's energy supply will dominate the two-day meeting, with leaders sitting down for dinner in the palace's Hall of Mirrors where Western allies carved out a new map of Europe in 1919 after World War I.

"Russia's war of aggression constitutes a tectonic shift in European history," a draft of the two-day meeting's final declaration said.

The leaders will grasp "how the EU can live up to its responsibilities in this new reality, protecting our citizens, values, democracies, and our European model".

The 27 heads of state and government meet as fighting raged for a 15th day in Ukraine, with more than two million refugees escaping mainly to Poland but also to countries across Europe.

The heart-wrenching conflict has seen a swell of support in the EU for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but leaders were expected to use the talks to reiterate that a fast-tracked membership to the union was impossible.

"We want to express moral support for President Zelensky and show they are part of the European family," a senior EU diplomat involved in preparing the summit told reporters.

"But let's not start a process that will take years and find ways to really help Ukraine in the near term," the diplomat added.

Tanks are seen being destroyed on the outskirts of Brovary, Ukraine
Tanks are seen being destroyed on the outskirts of Brovary, Ukraine, in this screengrab from an undated handout video obtained by Reuters on March 10, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

Russian forces move within a few miles of Kiev outskirts

The battle for Kiev is already underway as Russian tanks push to within just a few miles of the city outskirts, analysts and witnesses have said, though initial assaults to the west and east of the capital were repelled as Vladimir Putin's forces face a long and bloody campaign to take the capital, Daily Mail reported.

German ex-Chancellor Schroeder meets Putin in Moscow -Politico

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow for talks on ending the war in Ukraine, political news website Politico reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Russia bans some forestry exports until end-2022

Russia has banned exports of certain types of forestry and wood products to countries that have imposed sanctions against it over the conflict in Ukraine, the economy ministry said on Thursday, without specifying the products.

The ban will be in force until the end of this year, it said.

Ukraine says Russian troops at gas compressor stations pose supply risk

The arrival of Russian troops at two gas compressor stations in eastern Ukraine poses a risk to European supplies, Ukraine's gas pipeline operator warned on Thursday, although there were no signs of an immediate impact on flows.

Russia said compressor stations at Novopskov in the Luhansk region and Kupiansk near Kharkiv were under its control, and it guaranteed the safety of all operations and equipment.

Russia is the European Union's top gas supplier and its attack of Ukraine has sharpened concerns about supply disruptions, sending gas prices soaring.

Some 41.6 billion cubic metres (bcm) of Russian gas was transported through Ukraine to Europe in 2021, making it a key supply route, although that was down 25% on the year before as Moscow looks for alternatives.

Ukraine's gas pipeline operator OGTSU said attempts by Russian forces to enter the two stations created significant risks for the safety of personnel and continuity of gas transportation.

"There is a real danger to (gas) transit," OGTSU chief Sergiy Makogon told Reuters.

Macron, Scholz say solution must come from Ukraine-Russia talks

Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to continue with diplomacy over the war in Ukraine in a phone call on Thursday, German government sources said.

"Germany and France demanded an immediate ceasefire from Russia" and "insisted that any solution to this crisis must come through negotiations between Ukraine and Russia", the sources said.

Lavrov says Russia wants to continue talks with Ukraine

Russia is ready to continue talks with Ukraine within the framework of the existing format in Belarus, but it is too early organise a summit meeting between the two countries' leaders, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday.

Russia's top diplomat spoke in the Turkish resort town of Antalya after he and Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba held their first face-to-face talks after two weeks of war, amid international outrage over Moscow's bombing of a children's hospital.

"Today's meeting has confirmed that the Russian-Ukrainian format in Belarus has no alternative," Lavrov told a press conference after speaking to Kuleba.

Lavrov stressed that Russia wanted to see concrete results from talks.

"In recent years, after the anti-constitutional coup d'etat, the Ukrainian leadership has preferred meetings for the sake of meetings, preferred to imitate, simulate concrete decisions," Russia's top diplomat said.

He said that Russian leader Vladimir Putin was not against meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but added that first the two countries' negotiators should lay the groundwork by conducting talks in Belarus.

"The Ukrainian side has taken our very concrete proposals, and promised us that there would be very concrete answers," Lavrov said.

"We are waiting," he added.

Ukraine says no ceasefire progress at 'difficult' Russia talks

Ukraine and Russia made no progress towards agreeing a ceasefire after the Russian attack at tense talks in Turkey, the Ukrainian foreign minister said on Thursday.

"We also talked on the ceasefire, a 24-hour ceasefire, but no progress was accomplished on that," Dmytro Kuleba told reporters after his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Antalya.

"It seems that there are other decision-makers for this matter in Russia," Kuleba said, in apparent reference to the Kremlin.

He also repeated his vow that the country will not give in, saying "I want to repeat that Ukraine has not surrendered, does not surrender, and will not surrender."

He described the meeting as "difficult", accusing his counterpart of bringing "traditional narratives" about Ukraine to the table.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is pictured as he meets Ukraine's Foreign Minister for talks in Antalya, on March 10, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

Kuleba said he wanted to emerge from the meeting with an agreement on a humanitarian corridor from the besieged city of Mariupol but "unfortunately Minister Lavrov was not in a position to commit to it".

Kuleba said Lavrov "will correspond with respective authorities on this issue."

He added that he would be ready to meet with Lavrov "again in this format if there are prospects or a substantial discussion and for seeking solutions."

But he emphasised: "We are ready for diplomacy, we seek diplomatic decisions but as long as there are none, we go with dedication, sacrificing ourselves, to defend our lands, our people, in the face of Russian aggression."

Russia-Ukraine conflict: Day 15
Image Credit: Graphic News

Russian troops must leave Ukrainian gas, nuclear facilities, Ukraine's Kuleba tells Lavrov

Russian troops must leave the territory of Ukraine's gas and nuclear facilities, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Thursday, after the first high-level talks between the Russia and Ukraine since Moscow attacked its neighbour.

At a news conference in Turkey, Kuleba said he had told Lavrov that Ukraine had no issues with nuclear security before Russia attacked, after the latter raised the question at the talks.

A Ukrainian serviceman walks past as fire and smoke rises over a damaged logistic center after shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine.
A Ukrainian serviceman walks past as fire and smoke rises over a damaged logistic center after shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine. Image Credit: AP

Abramovich, Deripaska among seven oligarchs in new UK sanctions: Govt

Britain has imposed a travel ban and asset freezes on seven more wealthy Russians, including Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Premier League soccer club Chelsea.

The government said on Thursday that Abramovich's assets are frozen, he is banned from visiting the UK and he is barred from transactions with UK individuals and businesses.

Abramovich said last week he was trying to sell Chelsea as the threat of sanctions loomed.

Also added to the UK sanctions list are industrialist Oleg Deripaska and Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin.

The sanctions are being imposed in response to Russia's attack on neighbouring Ukraine.

More than 2.3 million have fled Ukraine 

More than 2.3 million people have fled Ukraine as of March 10, of whom more than 112,000 are third-country nationals, the UN migration agency IOM said on its website on Thursday.

Ukraine hospital attack killed 3, wounded 17, officials say

An airstrike on a hospital in the port city of Mariupol killed three people, including a child, the city council said Thursday, as Russian forces intensified their attack on Ukrainian cities.

The attack in the southern port city wounded women waiting to give birth and doctors and buried children in the rubble. Bombs also fell on two hospitals in another city west of the capital.

The World Health Organization said it has confirmed 18 attacks on medical facilities since the Russian attck began two weeks ago.

Turkey, meanwhile, was hosting the highest-level talks so far between the two sides on Thursday.

Ukrainian officials said the attack on Wednesday at a medical complex in Mariupol, where a siege has forced residents to scavenge for food and water, killed three people, including a girl, and wounded at least 17 people.

Russia, Ukraine foreign ministers meet

The foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine have begun meeting at a Turkish Mediterranean resort for the first high-level talks between the two countries since the start of Russia's attack on Ukraine.

The meeting between Russia's Sergey Lavrov and Dmotry Kuleba of Ukraine is taking place on the sidelines of a diplomacy forum near the city of Antalya on Thursday. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is also participating in the meeting.

Cavusoglu has said the aim of the meeting is to pave the way for a meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents that would be facilitated by Turkey's president. Kuleba has also said that he would propose direct talks between the Ukrainian and Russian presidents when he meets Lavrov.

NATO-member Turkey, which has cultivated close ties with both Russia and Ukraine, is trying to balance relations with both nations. It has positioned itself as a neutral party, seeking to facilitate negotiations between the warring sides.

Ukraine says it is opening seven 'humanitarian corridors'

Ukraine is opening seven "humanitarian corridors" on Thursday for civilians to leave cities besieged by Russian forces, including the southern port of Mariupol, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

Evacuees have already started leaving the northeastern city of Sumy under a local ceasefire, the regional governor said.

Top Russia, Ukraine diplomats arrive in Turkey for talks

The foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine have arrived in Turkey for face-to-face talks set for Thursday morning, officials said, in the first high-level contact between the two sides since Moscow invaded its ex-Soviet neighbour.

Officials from Kyiv and Moscow have held several rounds of discussions in Belarus, but the meeting in the southern city of Antalya represents the first time Russia has sent a minister for talks on the crisis.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba had landed in Antalya for talks "on Russia ceasing its hostilities and ending its war against Ukraine," foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko tweeted Wednesday evening.

His Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov has also arrived for the talks, a Turkish official told AFP.

Dialogue between Kyiv and Moscow has so far yielded several local ceasefires and humanitarian corridors to evacuate residents, but Russia has been accused of breaching those agreements.

Kuleba confirmed in a Facebook video that he would travel to Turkey for the talks but said his expectations were "limited", as Russia continues its brutal bombing campaign and siege of major cities.

He said the success of the talks would depend on "what instructions and directives Lavrov is under" from the Kremlin.

"I am not pinning any great hopes on them, but we will try and get the most out of" the talks with effective preparation, he said.

The sit-down comes as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pushed for Ankara to play a mediation role.

"We are working to stop this crisis from transforming into a tragedy," Erdogan said Wednesday.

"I hope the meeting between the ministers will open the way to a permanent ceasefire."

The Russian and Ukrainian ministers will be joined at Thursday's meeting by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, with NATO member Turkey keen to maintain strong relations with both sides despite the conflict.

More than 10,000 people evacuated around Kyiv on Wednesday - governor

More than 10,000 people were evacuated from villages and cities around Kyiv on Wednesday, Kyiv regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba said on local television on Thursday.

35,000 civilians evacuated from Ukrainian cities on Wednesday: Zelensky

At least 35,000 civilians were evacuated from besieged Ukrainian cities on Wednesday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

In a video address late Wednesday, the Ukrainian leader said three humanitarian corridors had allowed residents to leave the cities of Sumy, Enerhodar and areas around Kyiv.

Rio Tinto to end all commercial relationships with Russian businesses

Rio Tinto on Thursday became the latest corporation to cut ties with Moscow saying it was ending all commercial relations with Russian businesses.

"Rio Tinto is in the process of terminating all commercial relationships it has with any Russian business," a Rio spokesman said in a message sent to Reuters.

Top US, Ukraine diplomats discuss additional aid

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, in a phone call on Wednesday, discussed additional security and humanitarian support for Ukraine after Russia's attack, the State Department said in a statement.

Blinken and Kuleba also discussed Russia's "unconscionable attacks harming population centres," the statement said.

IMF approves $1.4b emergency funding for Ukraine

The International Monetary Fund said its executive board on Wednesday approved $1.4 billion in emergency financing for Ukraine to help meet urgent spending needs and mitigate the economic impact of Russia's military attack.

The global lender said Ukrainian authorities had canceled an existing stand-by lending arrangement with the IMF, but would work with the fund to design an appropriate economic program focused on rehabilitation and growth when conditions permit.

1,207 civilians dead in Mariupol siege: mayor

A total of 1,207 civilians have died during a nine-day siege by Russian forces of Ukraine's port city of Mariupol, its mayor said Wednesday.

The first nine days of the Russian siege saw "1,207 peaceful Mariupol residents dying", the city authorities posted on Telegram along with a video message by Mayor Vadym Boichenko, after a Russian air strike destroyed a children's hospital in the city earlier in the day.

More than 1m children flee Ukraine: UNICEF

More than 1 million children have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries in the less than two weeks since Russia started its attack on Ukraine, the head of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Wednesday.

At least 37 children had been killed and 50 injured, Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a statement.

Russell said that she was "horrified" by the reported attack on a children's hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, where officials said a Russian air strike buried patients under rubble despite an agreed ceasefire.

"This attack, if confirmed, underscores the horrific toll this war is exacting on Ukraines children and families," Russell said.

US rejects 'high risk' Polish jet transfer to Ukraine

The Pentagon on Wednesday offered a conclusive rejection of a plan to transfer fighter jets from Poland to Ukraine to battle Russian forces there, saying the “high risk” move could have been interpreted as an escalation.

After US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Polish counterpart earlier Wednesday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters that “we do not support the transfer of additional fighter aircraft to the Ukrainian Air Force at this time, and therefore have no desire to see them in our custody.”

“That is something that we are not going to explore right now,” Kirby added, regarding Poland’s offer to send its fleet of Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets to Kyiv via a US air base in Germany.

IAEA loses touch with monitoring equipment at Ukraine power plant

The UN nuclear watchdog’s systems monitoring nuclear material at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine have stopped transmitting data to its headquarters, it said on Wednesday, a day after it reported the same interruption at Chernobyl.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi “said he was concerned about the sudden interruption of such data flows to the IAEA’s Vienna headquarters from the two sites, where large amounts of nuclear material are present in the form of spent or fresh nuclear fuel and other types of nuclear material,” the IAEA said in a statement.

Russia says it destroyed 974 Ukrainian tanks and armoured vehicles

The Russian armed forces have destroyed 974 Ukrainian tanks and other armoured vehicles since the start of what Russia calls a "special military operation" on Feb. 24, Russia's defence ministry said on Wednesday, up from 897 reported on Tuesday.

Quoted by the TASS news agency, the ministry said they had also downed 97 drones.

Attacks hits Ukraine maternity hospital, officials say

A Russian attack severely damaged a maternity hospital in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Ukraine said on Wednesday, and citizens trying to escape shelling on the outskirts of Kyiv streamed toward the capital amid warnings from the West that Moscow’s attack is about to take a turn.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter that there were “people, children under the wreckage” of the hospital and called the strike an “atrocity.” Authorities said they were trying to establish how many people had been killed or wounded.

Video shared by Zelenskyy showed cheerfully painted hallways strewn with twisted metal and room after room with blown-out windows. Floors were covered in wreckage. Outside, a small fire burned, and debris covered the ground.

Mariupol’s city council said on its social media site that the damage was “colossal.”

Ukrainians evacuate Kyiv suburbs amid deepening crisis

Residents of the bombarded suburbs of Ukraine's capital snaked their way across the slippery wooden planks of a makeshift bridge that provided the only way to escape Russian shelling, amid renewed efforts Wednesday to rescue civilians from besieged cities.

Canada to send drone cameras to Ukraine

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that Canada will soon send Ukraine"highly specialized equipment."

Trudeau said during a visit to Berlin that Zelenskyy also accepted an invitation to address the Canadian Parliament during Wednesday's conversation. Zelenskyy spoke to the British Parliament on Tuesday.

Trudeau said Canada will be able to start sending "in the coming days" equipment including cameras used in drones. He acknowledged that "there are challenges at the borders in terms of getting equipment securely across and into Ukrainian hands, but we are working through that."

Wheat exports banned as civilians flee

Ukraine banned wheat exports as civilians sought escape routes and concerns intensified over safety at the embattled country's nuclear plants, including the decommissioned Chernobyl site.

As the Russian attack rounds out its second week, feeding the desperate populace became an increasingly critical concern. Ukraine's government banned the export of wheat crucial to global food supplies in an effort to stave off food shortages and hunger inside the country.

Kremlin tells United States to await response to 'economic war'

The Kremlin accused the United States on Wednesday of declaring an economic war on Russia that was sowing mayhem through energy markets, and put Washington on notice it was considering its response to a ban on Russian oil and energy.

Russia's economy is facing the gravest crisis since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union after the West imposed heavy sanctions on almost the entire Russian financial and corporate system following Moscow's attack of Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov cast the West's sanctions as a hostile act that had roiled global markets and he said it was unclear how far turbulence on global energy markets would go.

"You see the bacchanalia, the hostile bacchanalia, which the West has sown - and that of course makes the situation very difficult and forces us to think seriously," Peskov told reporters.

"We see that the situation on energy markets is developing rather turbulently - and we don't know how far that turbulence will go," Peskov said.

He declined to outline the exact nature of Russia's response. President Vladimir Putin, Russia's paramount leader since 1999, will hold a meeting with the government on Thursday to discuss minimising the impact of sanctions, the Kremlin said.

The West's attempt to cut off Russia - one of the world's biggest exporters of oil, gas and metals - has hit commodity markets and raised the spectre of spiralling inflation across the world.

Britain plans to supply Ukraine with anti-aircraft missiles

Britain is planning to supply Ukraine with anti-aircraft missiles to help it defend its skies from Russian attack, defence minister Ben Wallace said, stressing that the technology fell within the definition of defensive weapons.

"It is vital... that Ukraine maintains its ability to fly and suppress Russian air attack," Wallace told lawmakers.

"In response to Ukrainian requests, the government has taken the decision to explore the donation of STARStreak high-velocity man-portable anti-air missiles. We believe that this system will remain within the definition of defensive weapons, but will allow the Ukrainian force to better defend their skies." Wallace said the decision had been taken in principle to supply the systems, and the government was working out how to get them into Ukraine and train Ukrainian forces to use them.

The STARStreak system is made by Thales.

If confirmed, the supply would mark a significant step in Britain's support for Ukraine. So far, Ukraine has praised Britain's contribution of thousands of anti-tank missiles which have helped slow the Russian advance on Kyiv.

Dozens buried in mass grave in Mariupol

City authorities in the besieged southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol are burying their dead in a mass grave.

With the city under steady bombardment, officials had been waiting for a chance to allow individual burials to resume. But with morgues overflowing, and many corpses uncollected at home, they decided they had to take action.

A deep trench some 25 meters long has been opened in one of the city's old cemeteries in the heart of the city. Social workers brought 30 bodies wrapped in carpets or bags Wednesday, and 40 were brought Tuesday.

The dead include civilian victims of shelling on the city as well as some soldiers. Workers with the municipal social services have also been collecting bodies from homes, including some civilians who died of disease or natural causes.

No mourners were present, no families said their goodbyes.

Many head to Kyiv hoping for onward evacuation

Civilians from besieged towns northwest of Kyiv worked their way toward the capital on Wednesday, crossing over a small river via a damaged bridge.

The bridge area has come under sporadic mortar fire in recent days, with civilians killed. But there was little shelling reported in the area on Wednesday morning, so civilians took their chance to leave their homes in the hope of finding safety.

Firefighters pulled an elderly man in a handcart, and police helped others across. A soldier held a child's hand. A woman carried her cat. One resident of the town of Irpin described four days without heat, electricity, water or cell phone connections. Others came from neighbouring Bucha.

The route from Irpin and Bucha to Kyiv is part of a humanitarian corridor announced by Ukrainian authorities on Wednesday.

Thousands have been entering Kyiv via this route in recent days, with many then taken to the railway station for onward evacuation by train to Ukraine's west.

"We have a short window of time at the moment (for evacuations). Even if there is a ceasefire right now, there is a high risk of shells falling at any moment,'' said Yevhen Nyshchuk, actor and former culture minister, now a member of Ukraine's territorial defense forces.

Poland says NATO countries must act together on jets for Ukraine

Any supply of fighter jets to Ukraine must be done jointly by NATO countries, the Polish prime minister said on Wednesday, after Washington rejected Poland's offer to fly all its MIG-29 jets to a US airbase with a view to them being given to Kyiv.

Asked about the offer of Polish MIGs, the Kremlin described it as a potentially dangerous and undesirable scenario.

Ukraine has pleaded with Western nations to provide it with fighter jets to counter a Russian attack that has forced more than two million refugees to flee the country, and US

lawmakers have responded by pushing President Joe Biden's administration to facilitate the transfer of aircraft.

On Tuesday, Poland said it was ready to deploy all its MIG-29 jets to Ramstein Air Base in Germany and put them at the disposal of the United States, urging other NATO members to do the same. The Pentagon later dismissed the offer as not "tenable".

Russi-Ukraine crisis: Day 14
Image Credit: Graphic News

Power cut at Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear plant

Power has been entirely cut to the Chernobyl power plant, site of the world's worst nuclear disaster in 1986, and its security systems, Ukraine's energy operator Ukrenergo said Wednesday.

The plant "was fully disconnected from the power grid," Ukrenergo said in a statement on its Facebook page, adding that military operations meant "there is no possibility to restore the lines".

The situation for the staff "was worsening", the IAEA said, citing the Ukrainian nuclear regulator.

The defunct plant sits inside an exclusion zone that houses decommissioned reactors as well as radioactive waste facilities.

More than 2,000 staff still work at the plant as it requires constant management to prevent another nuclear disaster.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi on Tuesday called on "on the forces in effective control of the site to urgently facilitate the safe rotation of personnel there."

A woman reacts next to her house following a rocket attack the city of Kyiv, Ukraine.
A woman reacts next to her house following a rocket attack the city of Kyiv, Ukraine. Image Credit: AP

8,000 Indians stranded in Ukraine evacuated through Romania

A total of 8,000 Indians who were stranded in war-torn Ukraine have been evacuated through Romania, informed the Government of India on Wednesday.

As per the government, the last flight will depart from Bucharest today.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Tuesday informed that it evacuated all Indian students from Ukraine's Sumy.

Under 'Operation Ganga' to rescue Indian citizens from Ukraine's neighbouring countries, about 18,000 Indians have been brought back by special flights so far.

The number of Indians airlifted by 75 special civilian flights goes up to 15,521. IAF had flown 12 missions to bring back 2,467 passengers, as part of Operation Ganga, and carried over 32-tonne relief material, read the release.

Among the civilian flights, 4,575 passengers have been brought from Bucharest by 21 flights, 1,820 from Suceava by 9 flights, 5,571 from Budapest by 28 flights, 909 passengers by 5 flights from Kosice, 2,404 Indians from Rzeszow by 11 flights, and 242 persons by a flight from Kyiv.

No water or heat for civilians in Mariupol

The besieged Azov Sea port city of Mariupol has seen some of the most desperate scenes of the war, with civilians struggling without water, heat, basic sanitation or phones for several days.

With water supplies cut, people have been collecting water from streams or melting snow.

The representatives of Ukraine’s Red Cross are trying to deliver first aid to those who need it the most, but resources are scarce.

“There is no heating, electricity, water, natural gas ... In other words there is nothing. no household commodities. The water is collected from the roofs after the rain,” says Aleksey Berntsev, head of Red Cross of Mariupol.

People sheltered in underground basements, anxiously waiting for news of evacuation efforts as they struggled to survive in a city where bodies have been left uncollected on the streets.

Berentsev said that apart from delivering aid, giving local residents information is one of the most important task they are undertaking.

“Sometimes information is more important for the people than food,” he says.

Power cuts mean that many residents have lost internet access and now rely on their car radios for information, picking up news from stations broadcast from areas controlled by Russian or Russian-backed separatist forces.

Russia says it prefers to achieve Ukraine goals via talks

Russia will achieve its goal of ensuring Ukraine's neutral status and would prefer to do that through talks, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.

Moscow's aims do not include overthrowing the Kyiv government and it hopes to achieve more significant progress in the next round of talks with Ukraine, Zakharova told a briefing, adding that Russia's military operation was going strictly in line with its plan.

China aid for Ukraine

China says it is sending humanitarian aid including food and daily necessities worth 5 million yuan ($791,000) to Ukraine while continuing to oppose sanctions against Russia over its attack.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters an initial batch was sent to the Ukrainian Red Cross on Wednesday with more to follow "as soon as possible." China has largely backed Russia in the conflict and Zhao reiterated Beijing's opposition to biting economic sanctions against Moscow.

Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing that "wielding the stick of sanctions at every turn will never bring peace and security but cause serious difficulties to the economies and livelihoods of the countries concerned." He said China and Russia will "continue to carry out normal trade cooperation, including oil and gas trade, in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit."

China has sought to blame the U.S. for instigating the conflict, citing what it calls Washington's failure to adequately consider Russia's "legitimate'' security concerns in the face of NATO expansion.

Air alert has been declared in and around Kyiv

An air alert has been declared in and around Kyiv, with residents urged to get to bomb shelters as quickly as possible.

At least 10 people were killed in a Russian military attack in the eastern Ukrainian town of Severodonestk on Tuesday, a local official for the Lugansk region said in a statement on Telegram.

The Russian military "opened fire" on residential homes and other buildings in the town, he said, without immediately specifying whether it was an artillery attack.

The region has seen heavy fighting in recent days.

Ukraine bolstering defences

Ukrainian forces were bolstering defenses in key cities Wednesday as Russia's advance faltered amid fierce resistance in some areas, the general staff of Ukraine's armed forces said, while the strategic port city of Mariupol remained encircled as a humanitarian crisis grew.

On the diplomatic front, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was expected to fly to Turkey later Wednesday and meet with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday, Cavusoglu's office said.

'Regime of silence'

Russia said it will provide humanitarian corridors on Wednesday for people fleeing Kyiv and four other Ukrainian cities, as the number of refugees created by the biggest assault on a European country since World War Two surpassed 2 million.

Efforts to evacuate civilians from the besieged port city of Mariupol failed on Tuesday. Ukraine's government accused Russia of shelling a humanitarian corridor it had promised in Mariupol.

Russian forces would "observe a regime of silence" from 10 am Moscow time (0700 GMT) to ensure safe passage for civilians wishing to leave Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol, the head of Russia's National Defence Control Centre, Mikhail Mizintsev, was quoted as saying by the Tass news agency.

It was unclear if the proposed routes would pass through Russia or Belarus, conditions previously opposed by the Ukrainian government.

IAEA says loses contact with Chernobyl nuclear data systems

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant is no longer transmitting data to the UN's atomic watchdog, the agency said Tuesday, as it voiced concern for staff working under Russian guard at the Ukrainian facility.

On February 24, Russia attacked Ukraine and seized the defunct Chernobyl plant, site of a 1986 disaster that killed hundreds and spread radioactive contamination west across Europe. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi "indicated that remote data transmission from safeguards monitoring systems installed at the Chornobyl NPP had been lost", the agency said in a statement.

"The Agency is looking into the status of safeguards monitoring systems in other locations in Ukraine and will provide further information soon," it said. The IAEA uses the term "safeguards" to describe technical measures it applies to nuclear material and activities, with the objective of deterring the spread of nuclear weapons through early detection of the misuse of such material.

More than 200 technical staff and guards remain trapped at the site, working 13 days straight since the Russian takeover.

The situation for the staff "was worsening" at the site, the IAEA said, citing the Ukrainian nuclear regulator.

The defunct plant sits inside an exclusion zone that houses decommissioned reactors as well as radioactive waste facilities.

More than 2,000 staff still work at the plant as it requires constant management to prevent another nuclear disaster.

The UN agency called on Russia to allow workers to rotate because rest and regular shifts were crucial to the site's safety.

"I'm deeply concerned about the difficult and stressful situation facing staff at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant and the potential risks this entails for nuclear safety," said Grossi.

"I call on the forces in effective control of the site to urgently facilitate the safe rotation of personnel there."

With remote data transmission cut off and the Ukrainian regulator only able to contact the plant by email, Grossi reiterated his offer to travel to the site or elsewhere to secure "the commitment to the safety and security" of Ukraine's power plants from all parties.

Russia also attacked and seized Europe's largest atomic power plant, Zaporizhzhia, last week, drawing accusations of "nuclear terror" from Kyiv. Zaporizhzhia alone has six reactors of a more modern, safer design than the one that melted down at Chernobyl.

The IAEA said two of those were still operating, the plant's personnel were working in shifts and radiation levels remained stable.

Ukraine aid grows to near $14B in $1.5T government bill

A U.S. aid package for Ukraine and its Eastern European allies grew to around $14 billion on Tuesday as lawmakers put finishing touches on a $1.5 trillion government-wide spending bill that leaders hope Congress will enact by week's end.

US President Joe Biden (R)

Negotiators said the package of military, humanitarian and economic aid to the region had grown close to $14 billion, up from $12 billion just Monday and President Joe Biden's $10 billion request last week.

``We're going to support them against tyranny, oppression, violent acts of subjugation," Biden said at the White House.

Russian oil impact, civilians in Ukraine suffer

The United States led a Western assault on Moscow's economic lifeline Tuesday, banning imports of Russian oil as civilians fled besieged Ukrainian cities in a desperate evacuation push blighted by Russian shelling.

President Joe Biden heralded the US embargo as a hit on "the main artery of Russia's economy" targeting President Vladimir Putin's most crucial source of revenue - and vowed Ukraine would "never be a victory" for Putin.

As the attack approached its third week, Britain said it would phase out Russian oil by the end of the year while oil giants BP and Shell announced an immediate halt to Russian oil and gas purchases and the European Union planned to slash gas imports by two-thirds.

More than two million civilians have flooded across Ukraine's borders to escape towns devastated by shelling and air strikes, according to the United Nations, in Europe's fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II.

After days of heavy fighting in the northern city of Sumy, the first convoy of 22 buses evacuating families along a humanitarian corridor arrived in central Ukraine under a deal with Moscow to hold fire in cities targeted by its forces, with a second convoy on the way.

Kyiv said 21 people, including two children, had been killed in air strikes in Sumy on Monday.

Attempted evacuations from the blockaded port town of Mariupol - where aid workers said tens of thousands were living in "apocalyptic" conditions - have failed on several occasions however, with Kyiv accusing Moscow of attacking fleeing civilians in an act of "genocide".