What looked like a breakthrough moment was overturned as a ceasefire in two Ukrainian cities for civilian evacuation fell apart. The Ukrainian side had to put off a planned evacuation from strategically placed Mariupol, and blamed Russian forces for breaking the temporary ceasefire.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, said the country will intensify its offensive if NATO decides to set up a no-fly zone over Ukraine. Russian forces have continued to bombard strategic locations in Ukraine. The United Nations saying at least 351 civilians were confirmed to have been killed in Ukraine since the invasion and 707 were left injured. Refugees fleeing the conflict had risen to 1.3 million with the number set to reach 1.5 million.
On the India front, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting, while the ministry of external affairs said close to all Indians had left Kharkiv. The main focus was now on Sumy as the evacuation from there was challenging due to ongoing violence and lack of transportation, officials added. Spokesperson for the MEA, Arindam Bagchi even said, “The best option would be a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine.”
Here’s a look at key developments on the tenth day of the Russia-Ukraine conflict:
Third round of talks on Monday: Russia and Ukraine will hold a third round of talks on Monday about ending hostilities, Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamiya said in a Facebook post on Saturday, as per Reuters. On Thursday, the two sides had agreed to open humanitarian corridors to allow civilians out of some combat zones, although there have been delays in implementing them.
Ceasefire failure: Russian forces announced a ceasefire to establish evacuation routes for strategic port city Mariupol and eastern city Volnovakha. Zelensky’s office, however, said the Russians did not hold up to their side of the bargain and continued to fire on Mariupol and surrounding areas, according to the Associated Press. Russian outlet RIA Novosti, meanwhile, carried a claim by the Russian defence ministry that the firing came from inside both communities against Russian positions.
Putin’s promise: Putin has promised to intensify the offensive if NATO agrees to set up a no-fly zone over Ukraine. He said Moscow will consider any third-party declaration of Ukraine no-fly zone as “participation in the armed conflict”. Zelensky on Friday had criticised the western military alliance for refusing to impose a no-fly zone, in a bitter and emotional speech. “All the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you,” he warned, as per a report by the Associated Press.
Ground report: Russian forces launched hundreds of missiles and artillery attacks on cities and other sites across the country. But Russia’s main attack force is still stalled outside capital Kyiv. Zelensky said Ukrainian forces were holding key cities in the central and southeastern part of the country, while Russians were trying to block and keep Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv and Sumy encircled, according to a report by the Associated Press. Kyiv’s central train station remained crowded with people desperate to flee the war-torn country and frequent shelling could be heard from the centre of the city. Many Russian state outlets are falsely claiming that Zelensky has fled Kyiv, while photos and videos show otherwise.
Human cost: Even as Russia acknowledged that nearly 500 troops have been killed and around 1,600 wounded, Ukraine has not released casualty figures for its armed forces. According to the The UN human rights office, at least 351 civilians have been killed and 707 wounded in Ukraine since the invasion. The UN World Food Program, meanwhile, said millions inside Ukraine, a major global wheat supplier, will need food aid immediately.
Nuclear concerns: The International Atomic Energy Agency’s criteria will be used as a basis to draw up safeguards for security of Ukraine’s five main nuclear sites, said French President Emmanuel Macron. This move came after Russia attacked Europe’s largest atomic power plant in Zaporizhzhia on Friday, triggering an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council and worldwide alarm evoking memories of Chernobyl.
On the sanctions front: Russia continued to face economic and cultural isolation with Singapore announcing sanctions against Russia. It has become one of the few governments in Southeast Asia to do so. The wave of global sanctions could have devastating consequences for energy and grain importers. Russia is a leading exporter of grains and a major supplier of crude oil, metals, wood and plastics. More companies have suspended operations in Russia, including Apple, Mercedes-Benz, BP, Volkswagen, clothing retailer H&M and furnishings store IKEA. On the cultural front, a major European opera house, Spain’s Teatro Real, said it is cancelling a set of upcoming performances by Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet.
PM Modi chairs another high-level meeting: Prime Minister Narendra Modi called another high-level meeting to discuss the situation in war-hit Ukraine and India’s evacuation efforts to bring back its citizens. External affairs minister S Jaishankar and his cabinet colleague Piyush Goyal were part of the meeting chaired by Modi.
Main focus on evacuation of students from Sumy: India’s main focus now is to evacuate around 700 Indian students stranded in Sumy that has been witnessing bombings and airstrikes. At a media briefing, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India hopes to evacuate its citizens from Kharkiv and Pisochyn in the next few hours. “Our main focus is now on evacuating Indian students from Sumy. We are exploring multiple options for their evacuation," he said. Bagchi also reiterated India’s call to Russia and Ukraine to go for a local ceasefire so that the Indians can be taken out of the conflict zones. Bagchi said under evacuation mission ‘Operation Ganga’, 63 flights have brought back over 13,300 Indians. Out of these 63 flights, 15 flights landed in the last 24 hours bringing back around 2,900 citizens.
(With agency inputs)
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