Scant progress evacuating Ukrainian civilians

Scant progress evacuating Ukrainian civilians By Atif Ansari - March 09, 2022

Ukraine Civilians at Rescue

LVIV, Ukraine, March 9 (Reuters) - Russia announced a new ceasefire in Ukraine on Wednesday to let civilians flee besieged cities, but there were only limited signs of progress providing escape routes for hundreds of thousands of people trapped without medicine or fresh water.

The governor of Sumy, an eastern city, said civilian cars were leaving for a second day through a safe corridor set up to Poltava further west.

But by midday in Ukraine there was no confirmation that any of the other evacuation corridors had been successfully opened, including a route out of Mariupol, seen as the most urgent, where the Red Cross has described conditions as "apocalyptic".

The mayor of Enerhodar, site of Europe's biggest nuclear power plant which Russian forces seized last week in a battle that raised global alarm, said humanitarian supplies would be allowed in and buses would take residents out on the way back.

The greatest humanitarian concern is Mariupol, a southern port surrounded by Russian troops for more than a week.

Residents there have been sheltering underground from relentless bombardment, unable to evacuate their wounded, and with no access to food, water, power or heat. Local ceasefires to let them leave have failed since Saturday.

Kyiv said 30 buses and eight trucks of supplies failed to reach it on Tuesday after they came under Russian shelling in violation of the ceasefire. Moscow has blamed Kyiv for failing to halt fire.

More than 2 million people have fled Ukraine since President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion nearly two weeks ago. Moscow calls its action a "special military operation" to disarm its neighbour and dislodge leaders it calls "neo-Nazis."

Kyiv and its Western allies dismiss that as a baseless pretext for an unprovoked war against a democratic country of 44 million people.

In recent days, Russia has also accused Ukraine of having tried to develop biological or nuclear weapons. On Wednesday, the Kremlin said Washington must explain what Moscow described as Ukrainian biological weapons labs. Western countries call that an attempt to fabricate a new pretext for the invasion retroactively.

Ukraine's nuclear power plant operator said it was concerned for safety, both at Enerhodar and at Chernobyl, mothballed site of the world's worst nuclear disaster, where it said a power cut due to fighting meant spent nuclear fuel could not be cooled.


The war has swiftly cast Russia into economic isolation never before visited on such a large economy. The United States said on Tuesday it was banning imports of Russian oil, a major policy change after energy was previously exempted from sanctions.

Western companies have swiftly withdrawn from the Russian market. In a stark symbol, McDonalds said on Tuesday it was shutting its nearly 850 restaurants in Russia. Its first, which drew huge queues to Moscow's Pushkin Square when it opened in 1990, had been an emblem of the end of the Cold War.

Starbucks (SBUX.O) , Coca-Cola (KO.N), Pepsi (PEP.O) and others made similar announcements. Imperial Brands (IMB.L), the UK-listed maker of Winston cigarettes, joined the stampede out on Wednesday, shutting its factory in Volgograd.

Russia's ruling United Russia party said it proposed seizing assets of foreign companies that leave.

Source: Reuters

By Atif Ansari - March 09, 2022

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