Ukraine war: Russian strike hits Mariupol maternity hospital, says Zelenskyy

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Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy

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A “direct strike” from Russian troops has hit a maternity hospital in the besieged city of Mariupol, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

He said that people and children were under the rubble, calling the strike an “atrocity” as the Russian invasion continues.

Follow our live updates below for the latest on the Ukraine war.

13:22Wednesday’s key points:

    A Russian strike hit a children and maternity hospital in Mariupol on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.Ukraine has banned the export of necessities including wheat, poultry and eggs in a bid to stave off shortages. The country is the fifth biggest exporter of wheat in the world.Another ceasefire attempt is underway to allow civilians to escape from Mariupol, Sumy in the northeast, Enerhodar in the south, Volnovakha in the southeast, Izyum in the east, and several towns in the Kyiv region.Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki has said the decision on whether to make the MiG-29 planes available to Ukraine as it fights Russia’s invasion is now in the hands of NATO and Washington.The UN’s nuclear watchdog says it sees “no critical impact on safety” after a power loss was reported at the Chernobyl nuclear plant.More than one million children have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded on 24 February, according to the UN’s children’s agency.The EU has announced more sanctions against Moscow and Minsk, targeting Belarusian banks and blacklisting another 160 Russian oligarchs and senators.For a summary of Tuesday’s developments click here.

13:21Does the EU have a ‘moral duty’ to let Ukraine join the bloc?21:35

More than 1,000 civilians dead in Mariupol: Officials

The Ukrainian government said that “more than 1,000 civilians have so far been killed by indiscriminate Russian shelling of residential districts.”The city said it is burying the dead in mass graves.  

21:09

EU membership cannot be looked at on a case by case basis: Macron

The French President, speaking at an event alongside Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, said that “war is coming to Europe”, blaming those with “determined plans to change the deep balances in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus.””And so it is these plans that we must counteract,” he said, stressing that the European Union must in the coming weeks and months clarify its geopolitical vision regarding its partnership with eastern neighbours. “I also say here with a lot of frankness, at a time when the emotion after what happened again in Mariupol is immense, the subjects of the enlargement of the European Union cannot be looked at on a case by case basis.”And the European Union is facing a geopolitical challenge today, which is to know how to think about what was until now its neighbourhood policy in order to rebuild new balances,” he added. “The question of Ukraine cannot be separated from that of all the Eastern partners and partnerships, with the exception of Belarus, which has chosen a different path, and the Western Balkans. This challenge in the coming weeks we will have to solve in Europe, because the EU has to become the stabilising power on the continent.”Stability where some authoritarian powers decide on historical revisionism, decide on dreams of empire and to return to the borders that have been established,” he also said.

20:31

Prague to allow Ukrainian refugees to work without permit

The Czech government has agreed to give refugees from Ukraine free access to the labor market without any work permit.

Labour and Social Affairs Minister Marian Jurecka said Wednesday that the refugees will be in a position “of any other citizen” if they want to get a job.

The refugees will only need to get a visa for their stay in the Czech Republic to work. Assistance centres in all regions of the Czech Republic are working around the clock to provide all necessary documents and other initial help, including housing, to the refugees.

It’s estimated some 150,000 people have arrived in the country that doesn’t border Ukraine invaded by the Russian troops.

Jurecka said there are some 350,000 jobs currently available in the Czech Republic.

20:13

Ukrainian civilian death toll now 516: UN

The UN Office for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that from the beginning of the invasion on February 24 until midnight on March 8, 516 civilians have lost their lives. These include at least 37 children.A further 908 people were also injured, including 40 children.”OHCHR believes that the actual figures are considerably higher, especially in Government-controlled territory and especially in recent days, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration,” it flagged19:49

Russia admits conscripts were in Ukraine

The Russian Ministry of Defence said on Wednesday that “unfortunately, several instances have come to light of the presence of conscripts in units of the Russian armed forces taking part in a special military operation in Ukraine.””Almost all such servicemen have already been withdrawn to Russian territory,” it added.President Vladimir Putin had n several instances denied that conscripts were in Ukraine.19:33

Putin blames Ukrainian ‘nationalists’ for hampering evacuations

The Kremlin said that Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the situation in Ukraine in Wednesday’s phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, with a “special emphasis given to the humanitarian aspects.”

It said that Putin told Scholz about Russian “efforts to organise humanitarian corridors for civilians to exit areas of fighting and attempts by militants from nationalist units to hamper safe evacuation of people.”

Ukrainian officials said that the continuous Russian shelling has derailed efforts to evacuate civilians from areas affected by fighting.

19:24

19:21

90% of Ukrainian military airports ‘out of action’: Russia

The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed on Wednesday that “90% of the Ukrainian military airfields where the main body of combat aviation was based have been put out of action.””There are practically no trained Ukrainian first- or second-class pilots left,” it added. 

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