Ukraine war: Mariupol postpones evacuation, accuses Russia of shelling area

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People lie on the floor of a hospital during shelling by Russian forces in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 4, 2022.

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AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka

Authorities in Donestk Oblast said the evacuation of civilians in Mariupol and Volnovakha is postponed, accusing Russia of violating a ceasefire and shelling the area.

The Russian military had earlier said it would observe a ceasefire from “10 am Moscow time” on Saturday to allow civilians to leave the strategic port of Mariupol in the southeast and the eastern town of Volnovakha.

Negotiations were under way to resume the ceasefire and allow for the evacuations.

It comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy lashed out at NATO for refusing to impose a no-fly zone over his country, warning that “all the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you.”

Saturday’s key developments

09:19

The key points to know

    Russia’s Defence Ministry said it would allow the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol and Volnovakha starting from 08:00 CET on Saturday.Authorities in Donetsk Oblast postponed the evacuations, accusing Russian troops of violating the ceasefire and shelling Mariupol.NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the military alliance will not police a no-fly zone over Ukraine, warning that such a move could bring a wider war in Europe.Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy accused Moscow of “international terrorism” after it shelled a nuclear plant.The shelling at the Zaporizhzhya plant did not damage a reactor, and radiation levels are normal. But Ukrainian authorities reported three deaths and two injuries in the attack. There are safety concerns over Ukraine’s other nuclear plants.Battles have continued northwest of Kyiv and heavy strikes have hit Kharkiv and Okhtyrka. Ukrainian forces were said to be still holding Chernihiv in the north.Moscow has cranked up the repression of free speech as Putin seeks to control how his Russian war in Ukraine is reported. Terms like “war” and “invasion” are banned and falling foul of the new law is punishable by up to 15 years in jail. Access to major foreign media is being restricted.Russian state media regulator Roskomnadzor blocked access to Facebook in the country for its restrictions on RT and state-controlled media content. 

15:23

351 Ukrainian civilians killed since beginning of invasion: UN

The UN Human Rights Office revealed on Saturday that since February 24 — when Russia launched its attack against Ukraine — 351 Ukrainian civilians have been killed and a further 707 injured. The fatalities include “8 boys, and 4 girls, as well as 10 children” (whose sex is yet unknown).

14:57

Any country imposing no-fly zone would be ‘participant’ in conflict: Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed on Saturday that Russia would consider as co-belligerent any country attempting to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, a claim by Kyiv that Nato has rejected.
“We will consider any such development as participation in the armed conflict of any country from whose territory a threat is created to our military,” he said of a possible “no-fly zone over the territory of Ukraine.”
 14:48

Russia violating Geneva Conventions over ceasefire violation

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry accused Russia of violating the ceasefires to allow the evacuation of civilians in Mariupol and Volnovakha.It described it as “a gross violation of the Geneva Conventions and are classified as a war crime under the Rome Statute.””We call on the international community – states and international organisations – to immediately condemn Russia’s gross violation of the agreements on the opening of humanitarian corridors, and call on Moscow to order Russian troops to cease fire,” it added.

14:20

German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF suspending reporting from their Moscow studios

The two broadcasters said it is in reaction to Russia passing a law foreseeing prison sentences of up to 15 years for spreading what is deemed to be fake information about its armed forces.

The measure was signed into law by President Vladimir Putin on Friday and already prompted some foreign media including the BBC and Bloomberg to say they were suspending operations within Russia.

ARD and ZDF said in a statement that they are examining the consequences of the new legislation and suspending reporting from the Moscow studios for now.

14:05

400 people successfully evacuated Volnovakha: Governor

Pavlo Kirilenko, governor of the Donetsk Oblast region, said that 400 residents of Volnovakha and surrounding villages “were evacuated today.””These are people who had managed to reach the settlement the day before, near where the evacuation convoy had stopped,” he said. 14:02

Kherson residents protest against Russian troops

The southern city of 290,000 people is currently under Russian control.

13:47

Ukraine accuses Shell of buying Russian oil

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba claimed “Shell discreetly bought some Russian oil yesterday.””Doesn’t Russian oil smell (of) Ukrainian blood for you?” Kuleba asked Shell.

13:44

Blinken reaffirms support for NATO and Zelenskyy

The US Secretary of State arrived in Europe on March 3 for a five-day trip to visit Belgium, Poland, Moldova, and the Baltics. 

13:36

Aeroflot suspends international flights

Russian airline Aeroflot announced on Saturday that it would suspend its international flights from March 8, as Moscow is hit hard by Western sanctions over Ukraine.The decision, which will come into effect at midnight (2100 GMT Monday), is due to new “circumstances that hamper flight operations,” the company said in a statement, adding that domestic routes and those to Belarus would be maintained.Russia’s aviation watchdog, Rossaviatsia, said it had “recommended” that Russian companies operating leased aircraft registered outside the country stop flying abroad to avoid seizure of the aircraft.”This recommendation is a consequence of the very high risk of immobilisation or confiscation of Russian companies’ aircraft abroad,” it added. Flights to foreign countries must stop at 21:00 GMT on Saturday, and those from abroad on Monday at 21:00 GMT, Rossaviatsia said.

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