Live updates: Russia, Ukraine help civilians flee Mariupol

By AP News

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Russia and Ukraine both say they are making efforts to help civilians evacuate westwards out of the besieged port city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine both say they are making efforts to help civilians evacuate westwards out of the besieged port city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian military said it committed to a local cease-fire along the route from Mariupol to the Ukraine-held city of Zaporizhzhia from Thursday morning.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Thursday that Ukraine was sending 45 buses to collect people. She said the International Committee of the Red Cross was acting as an intermediary between the two sides.

Similar evacuation efforts have been planned before and collapsed amid recriminations over fighting along the route. Ukraine accused Russian forces last week of seizing bus drivers and rescue workers headed to Mariupol.

Civilians who have managed to leave the city for Ukraine-held territory have typically done so using private cars, but the number of drivable vehicles left in Mariupol has dwindled and fuel stocks are low.

Russia has operated its own evacuations from territory it has captured in Mariupol. Ukraine alleges Russia is sending its citizens to “filtration camps” in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine and then forcibly taking people to Russia.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:

— Russia shells areas in Ukraine where it vowed to scale back

— US intel determines Putin has been misled by advisers on Ukraine

— Poland to end Russian oil imports ; Germany warns on gas

— UN agency says 4 million refugees have now fled Ukraine

— UN food chief says Ukraine war’s food crisis is worst since WWII

— Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has recalled Ukraine’s ambassadors to Georgia and Morocco, suggesting they hadn’t done enough to persuade those countries to support Ukraine and punish Russia for the invasion.

“With all due respect, if there won’t be weapons, won’t be sanctions, won’t be restrictions for Russian business, then please look for other work,” Zelenskyy said in his nighttime video address to the nation Wednesday. “I am waiting for concrete results in the coming days from the work of our representatives in Latin America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa.”

Zelenskyy also said he was expecting results from Ukraine’s military attaches in embassies abroad.

He said “the diplomatic front is one of the key fronts” in Ukraine’s battle to win the war against Russia.

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The talks between Ukraine and Russia will resume on Friday by video, according to the head of the Ukrainian delegation, David Arakhamia.

The delegations met in-person on Tuesday in Istanbul, after two weeks of meeting by video, and the faint outlines of a possible peace agreement seemed to emerge.

The Ukrainian delegation offered a framework under with the country would declare itself neutral – dropping its bid to join NATO, as Moscow has long demanded – in return for security guarantees from a group of other nations.

Russian diplomats responded positively to Ukraine’s proposal.

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DUBLIN — An aircraft-leasing company has filed $3.5 billion in insurance claims for planes and aircraft engines that are stranded in Russia because of sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

AerCap said it had leased 135 planes to Russian airlines and has repossessed 22 of them outside of Russia.

The Dublin-based company said AerCap says it’s unclear whether it will recover more, and Russian airlines continue to use its planes even though it terminated the leases and demanded that the planes be returned.

After sanctions prohibited U.S. and European companies from leasing, selling or servicing planes and aircraft parts to Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law letting his country’s airlines re-register foreign planes and use them for domestic flights.

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The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency visited a nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on Wednesday to meet Ukrainian officials and provide technical assistance.

Rafael Mariano Grossi said the IAEA is not involved in political talks with the Russians.

“We are trying to be very active in order to ensure that as soon as possible, the situation is regressed, and the facilities are back in the hands of the Ukrainians,” Grossi said.

Ukraine has 15 nuclear reactors at four plants, one of which (Zaporizhzia) is under the Russian military’s control.

Ukraine also is home to the decommissioned Chernobyl plant, the site of the 1986 nuclear accident, with the Russian military seized early in the war. As of Tuesday, eight reactors were operating and the rest were shut down for regular maintenance.

— From video published by Energoatom Press Service in Media Port –Mykolaiv region, Ukraine

LONDON — A U.K. intelligence chief is warning that Russia is looking for cyber targets and bringing in mercenaries to shore up its stalled military campaign in Ukraine.

Jeremy Fleming, who heads the U.K.’s GCHQ electronic spy agency, said Russian President Vladimir Putin “massively misjudged” his chances for a swift military victory in Ukraine.

In a speech in Australia, Fleming praised Ukraine’s “information operation” for effectively countering Russia’s big disinformation campaign about the war.

While there were expectations that Russia would launch a major cyberattack as part of its military campaign, Fleming said such a move was never part of Moscow’s playbook.

But Fleming warns that Russia’s “cyber actors are looking for targets in the countries that oppose their actions.”

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the White House for pledging an additional $500 million in direct aid, but said he was open with U.S. President Biden about Ukraine needing more to resist the Russian invasion.

“If we really are fighting for freedom and in defense of democracy together, then we have a right to demand help in this difficult turning point,” Zelenskyy said in his nighttime video address to the nation Wednesday. “Tanks, aircraft, artillery systems. Freedom should be armed no worse than tyranny.”

Prior to Wednesday’s announcement of $500 million in aid, the Biden administration had sent Ukraine about $2 billion in humanitarian and security assistance since the start of the war last month. That’s all part of the $13.6 billion that Congress approved earlier this month for Ukraine as part of a broader spending bill.

Zelenskyy said the negotiations with Russia were continuing but for now, they were only “words without specifics.”

About the supposed withdrawal of Russian forces from Kyiv and Chernihiv, Zelenskyy said: “We know that this is not a withdrawal but the consequences of being driven out. But we also are seeing that Russia is now concentrating its forces for new strikes on Donbas and we are preparing for this.”

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Author: AP News

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