Ukraine war: Zelenskyy calls on West to ‘decide quickly’ on Polish fighter planes offer

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Refugees from Ukraine arrive at the train station in Przemysl, eastern Poland, near the Ukrainian-Polish border, March 9, 2022.

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LOUISA GOULIAMAKI / AFP

Poland’s prime minister has said its offer to make MiG-29 fighter planes available to Ukraine is now in the hands of NATO and the US.

Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy has appealed to the West to “decide quickly” and “send us planes”, after Washington poured cold water on the idea.

Renewed efforts to rescue civilians from increasingly dire conditions in besieged and bombarded Ukrainian cities were underway Wednesday.

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

13:22Wednesday’s key points:

    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.Ukraine’s foreign minister says the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, now under Russian control, has “lost all electric supply”. Earlier the UN’s nuclear watchdog said it had stopped sending radiation data.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 MPs.For a summary of Tuesday’s developments click here.

13:21Does the EU have a ‘moral duty’ to let Ukraine join the bloc?14:35

Over a million children have fled Ukraine since Russian invasion, UN says

Ten-year-old girl Annamaria Maslovska is one of them.

After bombs started falling in her hometown of Kharkiv, she left her friends, her toys, and her life in Ukraine and set off on a days-long journey with her mother toward safety.

Read more on her story:

Annamaria one of a million children to have fled Ukraine, says UN

14:19

Poland’s offer to supply Kyiv with fighter planes ‘up to NATO’, says Morawiecki

Poland is ready to make its Russian-made fighter jets available to Ukraine, via NATO, Poland’s prime minister said on Wednesday. But he added that it’s a “very serious decision” that should be taken by all NATO alliance members because it affects wider security.

Mateusz Morawiecki’s appeal came as Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelenskyy called on the West in a new video address to “decide as quickly as possible, send us planes!”

Morawiecki says 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 the US.

“Poland is not a side in this war (…) and NATO is not a side in this war,” Morawiecki said during a visit to Vienna. “Such a serious decision like handing over planes must be unanimous and unequivocally taken by by all of the North Atlantic Alliance.”

Morawiecki said talks on the subject are continuing.

Ukraine has been calling on the US and Western countries to provide fighter jets. Poland responded on Tuesday by offering to transfer its planes to a US military base in Germany, with the expectation that the planes would then be handed over to Ukrainian pilots.

The Pentagon reacted by saying it had not been aware of the plan which it finds “untenable”.

(AP, AFP)

13:40

More than 140,000 refugees flee Ukraine in a day

The High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) listed 2,155,271 refugees on its website around 12:00 CET, an increase of 143,959 people than on Tuesday.

The number of Ukrainians to flee the country passed two million the day before, just 12 days after the start of the invasion.

Filippo Grandi, the UNHCR high commissioner, said that it was the fastest growing refugee crisis since World War II.

“I have worked in refugee for almost 40 years, and I have rarely seen such an incredibly fast-rising exodus of people,” said UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi in a video posted to body’s social media account.13:11

The EU has a ‘moral duty’ to make Ukraine a member state: Estonia PM

The European Union has a “moral duty” to make Ukraine a member state and should consider using military force to counter Russian aggression, according to Kaja Kallas, the prime minister of Estonia.

Speaking at the EU summit in Strasbourg, Kallas said that the EU has “changed more in one week than in 30 years” and called for Brussels to invest in state-of-the-art defence technology.

“In stepping up European defence, we must find consensus within the EU that, sometimes, the best way of achieving peace is the willingness to use military force,” she said.

Read the full story here.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, wearing a dress and a ribbon under the colours of Ukraine, arrives to deliver a speech during a debate on EU’s role. – Copyright: Pascal Bastien/AP Photo12:51

Russian troops suffer 12,000 losses, Ukrainian government claims

Russia has suffered considerable losses including 12,000 troops, over 1000 armoured vehicles, 371 tanks and 49 aircraft, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said in a post on social media.
 

Western intelligence officials have said that Russia underestimated Ukraine’s resistance to the invasion, resulting in thousands of casualties on the Russian side.12:42

China sends humanitarian aide to Ukraine but doesn’t condemn invasion

China sent €720,000 in humanitarian aid to Ukraine on Wednesday, the government said.

It comes despite that Beijing has refused to use the word “invasion” to describe the war in Ukraine and has blamed the conflict on the “expansion” of NATO.

In an meeting with Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz, however, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for “the greatest restraint” in Ukraine and said China would provide humanitarian aid.

Chinese foreign affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters on Wednesday that this aid, sent by the Chinese Red Cross, was worth 5 million yuan (€720,000).

The shipment, sent on Wednesday, includes relief food and other daily necessities, Zhao specified.

(AFP)12:37

Thousands being evacuated from Kyiv, Zelenskyy says

There is an effort under way to evacuate some 18,000 people from the capital Kyiv and towns near it, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, as part of broader evacuation attempts.

He urged once again the international community to send planes. Western nations have sent military equipment but are wary of providing air support and entering a direct war with Russia.

Zelenskyy also issued an appeal, unusually in Russian, to urge Russian soldiers to leave.

“Our resistance for almost two weeks has shown you that we will not surrender, because this is our home. It is our families and children. We will fight until we can win back our land,” he said. “You can still save yourselves if you just go home.”

(AP)

12:17

Chernobyl nuclear plant ‘completely stopped’

The Chernobyl plant has been “completely stopped” due to the Russian offensive, according to its Ukrainian operator, AFP reports.Earlier, the UN’s nuclear energy agency the IAEA said that systems monitoring nuclear material at the radioactive waste facilities had stopped transmitting data.The Chernobyl plant, which witnessed the world’s worst peacetime nuclear disaster in 1986, was taken over by Russian forces shortly after the invasion last month.

Ukraine’s energy minister said earlier Russian forces that now control the Zaporizhzhia plant, the largest in Europe, were forcing staff who are “physically and emotionally exhausted” to record an address that they plan to use for propaganda purposes.

Russian troops attacked the plant last Friday, setting a building on fire. But it was later determined that no radiation was released. (with AFP and AP)

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