Russia-Ukraine War: What to know on Day 13 of Russia's assault on Ukraine

AP , Tuesday 8 Mar 2022

Russian officials said they planned to carry out a limited cease-fire on Tuesday to allow civilians to safely flee besieged Ukrainian cities, something Ukrainian officials said they would believe only after safe evacuations begin, after two earlier attempts at cease-fires failed.

Refugees fleeing the military operation in Ukraine
People holding their children struggle to get on a train to Lviv at the Kyiv station, Ukraine, Monday, March 7, 2022. AP

The humanitarian crisis in Ukraine grew Monday amid intensified shelling by Russian forces. Food, water, heat and medicine grew increasingly scarce in some areas, including the port city of Mariupol.

Russian and Ukrainian delegations held a third round of talks, and a top Ukrainian official said minor, unspecified progress was made toward establishing safe corridors for civilians to escape.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged his people to keep resisting the assault, which UN officials say has forced more than 1.7 million people from Ukraine. Zelenskyy also called for a global boycott of all Russian products, including oil.

Here's a look at key things to know about the war:

Has There Been Progress On Safe Evacuations?

Weekend attempts to establish safe passages failed amid continued shelling _ with each side blaming the other. On Monday, a top Russian official said civilians would be allowed to leave Mariupol, Sumy and the nation's capital of Kyiv, but the proposed evacuation routes would have led mostly to Russia and its ally Belarus, which Ukraine rejected.

Later, Russia's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the UN Security Council that Russia would carry out a cease-fire Tuesday morning, and he and appeared to suggest that humanitarian corridors from Mariupol, Sumy, Kyiv and Chernigov could give people options on where to go.

The UN humanitarian chief, Undersecretary-General Martin Griffiths, urged safe passage for people to go ``in the direction they choose.''

Zelenskyy's office said those plans can be believed only if a safe evacuation begins.

Russia and Ukraine foreign ministers are scheduled to meet for a fourth round of talks Thursday in Turkey.

What Else Is Happening On The Ground?

Ukrainian officials said Russian forces bombed cities in eastern and central Ukraine, and stepped up shelling of suburbs of Kyiv.

``We can't even gather up the bodies because the shelling from heavy weapons doesn't stop day or night,'' said Anatol Fedoruk, the mayor of Bucha, a Kyiv suburb. ``Dogs are pulling apart the bodies on the city streets. It's a nightmare.''

In Kyiv, soldiers and volunteers have built hundreds of checkpoints to protect the city of nearly 4 million, often using sandbags, stacked tires and spiked cables.

``Every house, every street, every checkpoint, we will fight to the death if necessary,'' said Mayor Vitali Klitschko.

Mykolaiv in the south and Kharkiv, the country's second-largest city, were also shelled. Video footage from Mykolaiv showed the interior of an apartment building that was hit _ there were gaping holes where exterior windows were blown out; an older woman, her arm trembling, sat in a hallway as blood streamed down her face.

Ukrainian officials said Russian forces carried out airstrikes after dark Monday on oil depots in Zhytomyr and Cherniakhiv, two towns west of Kyiv. Officials said the strikes blew up 26 oil tanks and nearby residents were being evacuated.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's foreign minister said more than 20,000 people from 52 countries have volunteered to fight in Ukraine's new international legion.

What Has Been Directly Witnessed Or Confirmed By The Associated Press?

In Mariupol, the situation has become increasingly desperate, with shortages of food, water, and power, and some looting that police have ignored. There is no mobile phone service, so accurate news has become a valuable commodity and rumors abound.

Even hospitals have shortages of antibiotics and painkillers, and doctors have been performing some emergency procedures without them.

Police were advising people to remain in shelters until they hear official messages broadcast over loudspeakers telling them to evacuate.

In the northern city of Kharkiv, Dmitry Sedorenko described the desperate scramble after his apartment block was struck Monday amid heavy shelling.

``I think it struck the fourth floor under us,'' Sedorenko said. ``Immediately, everything started burning and falling apart. It became smoky and difficult to see and then the floor fell through. We crawled out of the third floor. There were dead people. We got lucky.''

In Kyiv, the central train station remained crowded with people desperate to leave, and frequent shelling could be heard from the city's center. Elsewhere in the city, volunteers chopped peppers and boiled potatoes at a field kitchen at a makeshift camp.

What Is Happening With Diplomatic Efforts?

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Lithuania and Latvia on Monday to calm any fears that they and Estonia, which he'll visit Tuesday, have about their security.

The three Baltic countries, which endured decades of Soviet occupation before regaining their independence in 1991, are members of the EU and NATO.

Blinken stressed that the U.S. commitment to NATO's mutual defense pact is ``sacrosanct'' and that NATO and the U.S. were discussing stationing troops in the Baltics permanently.

French President Emmanuel Macron, one of the few world leaders who has kept an open line of communication with Putin, criticized Moscow's offer to allow besieged Ukrainians safe passage into Russia and Belarus. ``This is cynicism'' that is ``unbearable,'' he told French news broadcaster LCI.

Meanwhile, Russian lawyers snubbed a hearing at the United Nations' top court about Ukraine's effort to halt the invasion.

How Many People Have Been Killed?

The death toll of the conflict has been difficult to measure. The UN human rights office confirmed 406 civilians had been killed and 801 wounded, but said the real figures are likely higher.

The World Health Organization said it verified at least six attacks that have killed six health care workers and injured 11 others.

Ukrainian refugees continue to pour into neighboring countries, including Poland, Romania and Moldova. Among them are an unknown number of people with U.S. citizenship, though some haven't been able to flee Ukraine yet.

Is Russia Facing More Sanctions?

A growing number of multinational businesses have cut Russia off from vital financial services, technology and a variety of consumer products in response to Western economic sanctions and global outrage over the war.

Japanese automaker Nissan was the latest to say it is planning to halt production at its Russia plant.

More countries were also issuing sanctions. On Tuesday, the Australian government said it was placing sanctions on Moscow's ``propagandists and purveyors of disinformation'' who legitimatize Russia's invasion as the ``de-Nazification'' of Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement that Australia was sanctioning 10 ``people of strategic interest to Russia'' for their role in encouraging hostility toward Ukraine.

The New Zealand government also said it plans to fast track legislation that will allow it to impose economic sanctions against Russia.

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