| 5 March 2024, Tuesday |

Russia promises ‘silence’ for Ukrainians to flee battered cities

On Wednesday, Russia said it was ready to provide humanitarian corridors for those leaving Kyiv and four other Ukrainian towns, as the number of refugees displaced by the largest attack on a European country since WWII exceeded 2 million.

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Russian forces will “observe a regime of silence” from 10 a.m. Moscow time (0700 GMT) to ensure safe passage for civilians wishing to leave Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, and Mariupol, according to Mikhail Mizintsev, head of Russia’s National Defence Control Centre, as quoted by the Tass news agency.

It was unclear whether the planned routes would cross through Russia or Belarus, which the Ukrainian government had previously opposed.

On Tuesday, civilians were able to flee the besieged city of Sumy in the first successful “humanitarian corridor” since Russia’s invasion. Ukraine has accused Russian forces of shelling another evacuation route in the country’s south, from Mariupol.

The price of oil has risen further as a result of the United States’ restriction on Russian oil imports. Since Russia attacked its neighbor on February 24, prices have risen by more than 30%.

Russia, the world’s second-largest crude supplier, has warned that if the West imposes prohibitions, prices will surge even more.

Despite the possibility of higher family costs, US President Joe Biden stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin must face the repercussions of the attack.

“The American people will deliver Putin’s war machine another powerful blow,” he predicted.

The Kremlin characterized its efforts as a “special operation” aimed at disarming Ukraine and deposing neo-Nazi leaders. Ukraine and its Western allies see this as a spurious excuse for a self-declared war that has sparked concerns of wider European confrontation.

McDonald’s, a symbol of capitalism that emerged in Russia as the Soviet Union fell apart, and coffeehouse chain Starbucks will temporarily close outlets, while Pepsi will stop selling its soft drink brands and Coca-Cola will cease operations in the nation, adding to Russia’s worldwide isolation.

Western countries are balancing the use of tough sanctions to bring the war to an end as quickly as possible while also protecting their frail economy.

The conflict and subsequent sanctions have wreaked havoc on global supply networks, driving prices for food and gasoline, as well as vital raw minerals like aluminum and nickel, skyrocketing.

The London Metal Exchange was forced to halt nickel trading on Tuesday after prices quadrupled to more than $100,000 per tonne owing to concerns over Russian supplies. Nickel is used to make stainless steel and electric vehicle batteries.

Britain announced that it would phase out Russian oil and oil products imports by the end of 2022, while the European Union announced intentions this year to reduce its reliance on Russian gas by two-thirds.

Polish Planes

The US turned down an unexpected Polish offer to send MiG-29 fighter jets to a US station in Germany to assist replace Ukraine’s air force as Western military supplies flooded into Ukraine over the Polish and Romanian borders.

The possibility of sending combat aircraft into the conflict zone from NATO territory “raises major concerns for the whole NATO alliance,” according to the Pentagon.

After more than a week of bombing, inhabitants in the beachfront Ukrainian town of Mariupol were rapidly running out of electricity, heat, food, and drinking water, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Ewan Watson, a spokesperson for the Red Cross, described the situation in Mariupol as “apocalyptic.”

Many attempted to flee on Tuesday along a safe corridor, but Russian forces shelled it, according to Ukraine’s foreign ministry.

Moscow denies that people are being targeted.

Russia has created a new route out of Sumy, in the country’s east. Buses left for Poltava, further west, barely hours after a Russian air attack targeted a residential neighborhood, killing 21 people, according to regional officials. The incident was not confirmed by Reuters.

Residents of Irpin, a frontline Kyiv neighbourhood, were also fleeing.

In other news, Ukrainian military thwarted a Russian effort to penetrate Kharkiv’s eastern city on Tuesday, and a planned operation by 120 Russian paratroopers near the border was thwarted, according to regional governor Oleh Synehubov.

Russian planes struck the hamlet of Malyn, northwest of Kyiv, late Tuesday, killing five people, two of whom were children, and destroying seven dwellings, according to the state emergency service. Reuters was unable to verify the claim.

Vitaly Gerasimov, first deputy commander of Russia’s 41st army, was killed on Monday, according to Ukraine’s defense ministry, making him the second Russian major general killed during the invasion. The Russian defense ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

The battle has prompted a harsh new crackdown on dissent in Russia, with the last remaining independent media outlets mainly shut down last week and foreign broadcasters barred.


  • Reuters