Russia opens evacuation routes despite bombing

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The Russian military said stop the fire and open humanitarian corridors in several Ukrainian cities starting Monday to allow citizens to flee, but continued to hit cities with multiple rocket launchers hitting residential buildings.

Ahead of a third round of talks scheduled for Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry said a ceasefire would begin in the morning and safe passages would be opened for civilians from the capital of Kiev, the southern port city of Mariupol and the cities of Kharkiv and Sumy. However, some of the evacuation routes would funnel civilians towards Russia or its ally Belarus, unlikely destinations for many Ukrainians who would prefer to head to countries on the western and southern borders.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk called the proposed evacuation routes to Russia and Belarus “unacceptable.” Belarus is a key Putin ally and served as the launching point for the invasion.

The Ukrainian government is proposing eight humanitarian corridors, including from Mariupol, that would allow civilians to travel to western regions of Ukraine where there is no Russian bombing.

“Providing evacuation routes into the arms of the country that is currently destroying yours is nonsense,” UK Europe minister James Cleverly said.

It was not immediately clear if the fighting would stop beyond the named areas or when the ceasefire would end. There was little hope that the latest round of talks would yield any breakthrough.

Ukraine’s General Staff said Monday morning that Russian forces had continued their offensive and opened fire on the town of Mykolaiv, 480 kilometers south of the capital of Kiev. Rescuers said they were putting out fires in residential areas caused by rocket attacks.

The ceasefire announcement also follows two failed attempts to evacuate civilians from Mariupol in previous ceasefire announcements. The International Committee of the Red Cross estimated that 200,000 people were trying to flee and Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for the failure.

Latest developments:

►The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that Russian forces are tightening their control over the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant, the largest in Ukraine, which they seized last week.

►The number of deaths from the conflict has been difficult to measure. The UN human rights office said at least 364 civilians have been confirmed dead since the February 24 invasion, but the real number is likely to be much higher.

►Netflix said on Sunday that it will suspend service in Russia, joining the growing list of companies avoiding the country. Earlier in the day, TikTok and American Express said they would suspend operations in the country, following announcements of Visa and Mastercard Saturday. TikTok also said that he will start labeling the content of accounts used by state-controlled media.

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VISUALS:Mapping and tracking of the Russian invasion of Ukraine

1.7 million people have fled Ukraine

The United Nations refugee agency says the number of people who have fled the war in Ukraine has risen to more than 1.7 million.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees on Monday estimated the number of people who have arrived in other countries since the Russian invasion began on February 24 at about 1,735,000. That’s more than the more than 1.53 million on Sunday.

Almost three-fifths of the total nearly 1.03 million arrived in Poland, according to the agency. More than 180,000 went to Hungary and 128,000 to Slovakia.

In Montpellier, France, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called for “all resources” of the 27-nation bloc to be mobilized to help countries receiving refugees from Ukraine, including neighboring Poland and Romania. Borrell was speaking ahead of a meeting of EU development ministers.

-Associated Press

Russia rejects UN court hearings in case brought by Ukraine

Russia has rejected a United Nations high court hearing on a legal attempt by Kiev to stop Moscow’s devastating invasion of Ukraine. A row of seats reserved for Russian lawyers at the International Court of Justice was empty Monday morning as the hearing opened.

The presiding judge, US Judge Joan E. Donoghue, said Russia’s ambassador to the Netherlands informed the judges that “his government did not intend to participate in the oral proceedings.” The hearing was held without the Russian delegation.

The International Court of Justice is opening two days of hearings at its seat, the Peace Palace, on Ukraine’s request that its judges order Russia to stop its invasion. Ukraine is scheduled to present its arguments on Monday morning and Russia has a chance to respond on Tuesday.

A decision on the application is expected within days, though that does not mean Russia would abide by any order the court issues.

Blinken travels to the Baltic countries

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has begun a whirlwind visit to the three Baltic states that are growing nervous as they watch Russia go ahead with its invasion of Ukraine.

The former Soviet republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are all members of NATO and Blinken aims to assure them of the alliance’s protection should Russia decide to expand its military operations to other neighboring countries.

Memories of the Soviet occupation are still fresh in the Baltics and since invading Ukraine last month, NATO has moved quickly to increase its troop presence on its allies on the eastern flank, while the US has pledged support. additional.

Blinken’s Baltic tour opened Monday in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, where support for Ukraine’s resistance to the invading government is palpable with displays of solidarity with Ukrainians in many businesses and on public buildings and buses.

The French president remains in contact with Putin

While most of the world is avoiding President Vladimir Putin over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, one of the few leaders keeping an open line of communication is French President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron’s diplomatic efforts to prevent war failed, but he is not giving up: The two men have spoken four times since Russian forces attacked Ukraine on February 24 and 11 times in the last month.

The French leader, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, is now one of the few outsiders with insight into Putin’s mindset at the time of the biggest military invasion of Europe since World War II. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is also becoming a mediator, meeting Putin on a surprise visit to Moscow on Saturday and speaking with him again by phone on Sunday.

Macron’s relentless push for dialogue reflects France’s post-World War II tradition of forging its own geopolitical path and its refusal to blindly follow the United States. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Paris on Tuesday to hear directly from Macron about his latest talks with Putin.

New Zealand will rush to pass a new law to sanction Russia

The New Zealand government said on Monday it plans to quickly pass a new law that will allow it to impose economic sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Unlike many countries that have already introduced sanctions, New Zealand’s existing laws do not allow it to apply significant measures unless they are part of a broader United Nations effort. Because Russia has veto power in the UN Security Council, that has left New Zealand at a standstill.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the new legislation would allow her to target people, companies and assets related to those in Russia associated with the invasion, including oligarchs. It would allow New Zealand to freeze assets and prevent superyachts or planes from arriving.

The bill will be specific only to the invasion of Ukraine, but could allow New Zealand to impose sanctions on countries seen as helping Russia, such as Belarus.

Australian missiles grounded in Ukraine

Australia’s prime minister described the closer relationship between Russia and China as opportunistic rather than strategic.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday called the alliance an “Arc of autocracy” and said Russia and China would prefer a new world order to the one that has existed since World War II.

Morrison has criticized Beijing’s failure to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s expansion of Russian wheat trade while other countries impose sanctions.

Australia last week promised Ukraine $50 million worth of missiles, ammunition and other military equipment to fight Russian invaders.

Morrison said Monday: “Our missiles are on the ground now.”

Oil Prices Rise as Rep. Pelosi Urges Ban on Imported Russian Oil

Oil prices topped $10 a barrel as stocks fell sharply on Monday.

Brent crude oil was up more than 12% on the day in Asia, while benchmark US crude gained around $10 to more than $125 a barrel.

the The effects of rising gasoline prices have been accumulating around the world and in the US., where the national average price of gasoline exceeded $4 a gallon for the first time in more than a decade. US futures also fell, with the contract for the benchmark S&P 500 index falling 1.6% and the Dow Industrial falling 1.3%.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday night that Congress is exploring “strong legislation” that would ban Russian oil import and energy products to the US If passed, the legislation will almost certainly affect oil and gas prices around the world.

Russia does not export much oil to the United States, but enough so that the threat of vetoing its crude from American shores is driving up gas prices and leaving some regions, particularly the West Coast, facing the prospect of less crude to process in refineries and driving costs even higher at the pump, experts say.

— Celina Tebor and Craig Harris

RUSSIAN OIL:How much oil does the United States buy from Russia? Not much, but gas prices are rising amid Ukraine invasion

GAS PRICES ARE GOING UP:What can Biden do to cut costs at the pump amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?

Biden administration requests $10 billion in support for Ukraine

The Biden administration has requested $10 billion in humanitarian, military and economic support for Ukraine, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in a press release late Sunday.

Biden has stated emphatically that he will not send US troops to fight in Ukraine, but the funds, which will be part of the federal government’s overall funding legislation, will likely provide military equipment and support US allies supplying aircraft to Ukraine, according to the statement. from Pelosi. he said.

He also said the US House of Representatives is exploring “strong legislation” that would ban the import of Russian oil and energy products into the US, revoke normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, and give the first step to deny Russia access to the world. Commercial Organization.

— Celina Tebor

Contributing: The Associated Press

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