(NEW YORK) — Russian forces are continuing their attempted push through Ukraine from multiple directions, while Ukrainians, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, are putting up “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.
The attack began Feb. 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation.”
Russian forces moving from neighboring Belarus toward Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, don’t appear to have advanced closer to the city since coming within about 20 miles, although smaller advanced groups have been fighting gun battles with Ukrainian forces inside the capital since at least Friday.
Russia has been met by sanctions from the United States, Canada and countries throughout Europe, targeting the Russian economy as well as Putin himself.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Mar 08, 10:06 am
Vatican secretary of state speaks with Russia foreign minister
Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, spoke on the phone with the Russian foreign minister to convey Pope Francis’ “deep concern about the ongoing war in Ukraine.”
Parolin reiterated the pope’s “call for an end to armed attacks, for the securing of humanitarian corridors for civilians and rescuers, and for the replacement of gun violence with negotiation.”
The pope announced Sunday that he has dispatched two cardinals to Poland and Hungry. Cardinal Konrad Krajewski traveled to the Polish-Ukraine border to visit refugees and volunteers in shelters and homes, while Cardinal Michael Czerny will arrive in Hungry on Tuesday to visit reception centers for migrants arriving from Ukraine.
-ABC News’ Phoebe Natanson
Mar 08, 9:02 am
US says Russia seems to be observing cease-fire but unclear for how long
While the United States welcomes Russia’s declaration of a temporary cease-fire in several besieged areas of Ukraine, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Tuesday it remains unclear exactly how long Russian forces will hold fire.
“We think this is obviously a welcome step that the cease-fire seems to be being observed by the Russians. They don’t exactly have a good track record in that regard. So it’s welcome to see people are able to get out,” Kirby told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an interview on Good Morning America.
“But,” Kirby added, “that cease-fire’s going to expire in a number of hours and so it’s yet to be seen how much more violent the shelling and the bombardments are going to get.”
While Ukraine has continued to call on NATO to establish a no-fly zone over the country — something Washington has already ruled out — along with more help from the U.S., Kirby said there are other steps being taken.
“We are accelerating and expediting the shipment of arms and materiel to Ukraine. In fact, another shipments arrived in eastern Europe just overnight and they will be sent in to Ukraine in the coming hours and days, and there’s more coming,” Kirby said. “And it’s not just the United States. Fourteen other nations are also providing security assistance to Ukraine to help them fight.”
But on the potential of the U.S. replacing Polish fighter jets, should Poland send theirs to Ukraine, Kirby said it was a “possibility” but was non-committal.
“We’re not going to stand in the way of another sovereign nation if they want to provide aircraft to the Ukrainian Air Force. Now that’s certainly their decision and we respect that,” he said. “This issue of whether we backfill it with American jets — we’re looking at that as a possibility here, but there’s an awful lot of logistical and financial issues that have to be dealt with on how that would happen. No decision has been made yet.”
When asked about the risk of a wider war if that happens, Kirby said: “That’s a possibility that we’re always looking at.”
“That’s certainly in the back of everybody’s mind, not just the United States but in NATO nations as well. You don’t want to escalate this conflict any bigger and any worse than it already is. You’re talking about Russia, a nuclear armed power. The consequences for escalating this conflict could be devastating, not just for the people of Ukraine but for the European continent,” he said.
Mar 08, 8:40 am
US to ban Russian oil imports, source says
The White House is expected to announce a ban on U.S. imports of Russian oil as soon as Tuesday, a source familiar with the matter told ABC News.
Mar 08, 8:26 am
Child died from dehydration in besieged Mariupol, Zelenskyy says
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday that a child has died from dehydration in the besieged port city of Mariupol.
“Russia is for sure to blame for the deaths of people from airstrikes and in the blocked cities,” Zelenskyy said in a televised address. “But the responsibility is also on those who during these 13 days can’t make a decision in their offices in the West, an obviously necessary decision. Those who don’t secure Ukrainian sky from Russian murderers, who didn’t save our cities from airstrikes, these bombs and missiles, although they can.”
“We have been hearing promises about support for 13 days that the jets are about to arrive,” he added. “We have heard promises about securing humanitarian corridors. They didn’t work. We don’t have time to wait. People in Mariupol don’t have time to wait.”
Zelenskyy said trucks carrying humanitarian aid have been sent to Mariupol. He accused the International Committee of the Red Cross of “forbidding the use of its emblem on our cars,” but did not give further details. Videos posted to social media on Tuesday purportedly show vehicles heading to Mariupol from other Ukrainian cities bearing signs with a red cross, but it’s not clear who pasted them there.
“The drivers are heroes who understand they can be killed by Russian troops,” Zelenskyy said. “If you kill those people, the whole world will be the witness.”
Mar 08, 7:33 am
One million children among those who have fled Ukraine: UNICEF
Out of the more than two million people who have been forced to flee Ukraine since Russian forces invaded on Feb. 24, half of them are children, according to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
UNICEF spokesperson James Elder called it a “dark historical first.”
Mar 08, 7:15 am
Shell pledges to stop buying Russian oil and gas
Energy giant Shell announced Tuesday plans to withdraw from its involvement in all Russian hydrocarbons, including crude oil and natural gas, amid Russia’s unprovoked invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
“As an immediate first step, the company will stop all spot purchases of Russian crude oil. It will also shut its service stations, aviation fuels and lubricants operations in Russia,” Shell said in a statement.
Shell will immediately stop buying Russian crude oil on the spot market and not renew term contracts. The company will also change its crude oil supply chain to remove Russian volumes, but said “this could take weeks to complete and will lead to reduced throughput at some of our refineries.”
In addition, Shell will shut its service stations, aviation fuels and lubricants operations in Russia, and will start a phased withdrawal from Russian petroleum products, pipeline gas and liquefied natural gas.
The company apologized for buying Russian oil last week.
“We are acutely aware that our decision last week to purchase a cargo of Russian crude oil to be refined into products like petrol and diesel — despite being made with security of supplies at the forefront of our thinking — was not the right one and we are sorry,” Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said in a statement. “As we have already said, we will commit profits from the limited, remaining amounts of Russian oil we will process to a dedicated fund. We will work with aid partners and humanitarian agencies over the coming days and weeks to determine where the monies from this fund are best placed to alleviate the terrible consequences that this war is having on the people of Ukraine.”
Mar 08, 6:49 am
Two children among at least 21 killed by Russian airstrike in Sumy: Ukrainian officials
At least 21 civilians, including two children, were killed by a Russian airstrike in Ukraine’s northeastern city of Sumy on Monday night, according to the regional prosecutor’s office.
The strike hit a residential area of Sumy, according to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, which the regional prosecutor’s office said was still on the scene searching for victims Tuesday.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk called on Russian forces to maintain the agreed upon temporary cease-fire in Sumy and four other Ukrainian cities to allow civilians to evacuate Tuesday. She said Russian authorities have confirmed to the International Committee of the Red Cross that one evacuation route out of Sumy will be open, but Ukrainian officials are awaiting confirmation on the other routes they submitted.
Mar 08, 6:19 am
Over two million refugees have fled Ukraine: UNHCR
More than two million people have been forced to flee Ukraine since Russian forces invaded on Feb. 24, according to the latest figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Over 1.2 million of the refugees from Ukraine are in neighboring Poland, UNHCR figures show.
“Today the outflow of refugees from Ukraine reaches two million people. Two million,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Tuesday in a post on his official Twitter account.
Mar 08, 5:36 am
Russia declares temporary cease-fire for humanitarian corridors in five Ukrainian cities
Russia declared Tuesday a temporary cease-fire in five besieged cities of Ukraine, including the capital, to let civilians leave.
“For safe evacuation of civilians from populated areas, a cease-fire is declared and humanitarian corridors are opening from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, and Mariupol from 10:00 a.m. today,” Russian Ministry of Defense spokesman Igor Konashenkov said at a press briefing.
All five cities except Kyiv had sustained brutal, indiscriminate bombardment in recent days.
It’s the fourth attempt to hold fire and allow civilians to escape the onslaught since Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Russian and Ukrainian negotiators have been holding talks in recent days, and the Russian delegation has previously agreed to a temporary cease-fire and opening of humanitarian corridors in parts of Ukraine. But Russia has violated its own cease-fire and shelled evacuation points, while falsely accusing Ukraine of using people as human shields.
The hard-hit cities of Kharkiv and Mariupol were reported to be quiet Tuesday morning, with a local official telling ABC News that the center of Mariupol, a strategic port in the southeast, is not being shelled for the first time in days.
Ukraine said Russia has agreed this time to allow civilians to evacuate not only to Russia but also to other parts of Ukraine. Columns of buses and trucks with humanitarian aid are currently headed to Sumy, Mariupol and possibly other cities.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Russia has confirmed to the International Committee of the Red Cross that one route out of Sumy will be open. Vereshchuk said she hopes Russia will confirm routes for the other cities and also for the eastern city of Volnovakha. She warned Ukraine has information that Russia may have plans to disrupt the evacuations by leading civilians out of the agreed safe routes, in order to claim that Ukraine is not observing the agreement.
Petro Andrushenko, advisor to the mayor of Mariupol, said the city plans to evacuate people as long as Russian forces do not fire. A column of 60 buses and nine trucks of medical aid and food are headed to Mariupol now, and the hope is that at least 4,000 people can be evacuated via the buses plus an unknown number of private cars that will join the convoy, according to Andrushenko.
“If Russia doesn’t break it, we plan to evacuate people,” Andrushenko told ABC News via telephone Tuesday morning.
Mar 08, 2:05 am
World Bank approves $723 million in emergency support for Ukraine
The World Bank said its board approved a package of loans and guarantees for Ukraine totaling $723 million.
The funding will help the Ukrainian government pay for government services, “including wages for hospital workers, pensions for the elderly, and social programs for the vulnerable,” the bank said in a statement on Monday.
The bank said it’s preparing an additional $3 billion in support for Ukraine and neighboring countries, which have taken in more than 1.7 million refugees since the Russian invasion began.
“The World Bank Group is taking quick action to support Ukraine and its people in the face of the violence and extreme disruption caused by the Russian invasion,” World Bank President David Malpass said in a statement. “The World Bank Group stands with the people of Ukraine and the region. This is the first of many steps we are taking to help.”
The funding announced on Monday includes $350 million in supplemental loans, along with guarantees totaling $139 million from the Netherlands and Sweden, the bank said. Grant financing totaling $134 million will come from the United Kingdom, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania and Iceland. Japan is providing $100 million in additional financing, the bank said.
Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.