A defiant Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued an impassioned plea for help to the world Tuesday, thanking the West for its support and saying his country would not yield to the overwhelming might of the Russian military.
“We will not give up and we will not lose,” Zelenskyy said in an address to the British parliament via video from Ukraine. “We will fight to the end, at sea, in the air. We will continue fighting for our land whatever the costs.”
Zelenskyy acknowledged the costs have been high, citing Russian missile strikes that have killed hundreds of civilians, including children, and devastated residential neighborhoods in Ukraine’s largest cities.
Zelenskyy spoke minutes after President Joe Biden announced a ban on the US import of Russian energy, saying the US is “targeting the main artery of Russia’s economy.” Britain, more dependent than the US on Russian energy, announced that it would phase out the import of Russian oil over the next year.
Earlier Tuesday, the first safe corridor intended to allow civilians to escape Ukraine’s battered cities opened, a significant move met with skepticism after similar efforts failed.
The Ukraine communications agency on Tuesday tweeted video of buses rolling out of Sumy, a city of 260,000 people in Ukraine’s northeast near the Russian border.
“The first stage of civilian evacuation from Sumy has just begun,” the Ukraine communications agency tweeted Tuesday. “The Russian Defense Ministry has officially agreed to the humanitarian corridor in a letter to the Red Cross.”
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said those fleeing Sumy and other cities would have the option of going to Russia or to western Ukrainian cities that have not been targeted.
Ukraine Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk warned, however, that the Russians were preparing to “disrupt the work of humanitarian corridors and manipulate the route” to force people to go to Russia. The Ukraine military claimed Russia had launched an attack in the direction of the humanitarian corridor out of the besieged southern city of Mariupol.
►The Ukrainian military intelligence agency said Russian Maj. Gen. Vitaly Gerasimov, 45, was killed in battle near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.
►Energy giant Shell said Tuesday that it will stop buying Russian oil and natural gas and shut down its service stations and other operations in the country.
►Senior US officials traveled to South America over the weekend to meet with President Nicolas Maduro’s government, a surprising high-level meeting between the countries. Officials discussed easing oil sanctions on Venezuela amid the fallout from a possible oil embargo on Russia, according to Reuters.
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Civilian death toll rises; true totals unknown
The UN office of human rights has recorded 1,335 civilian casualties across Ukraine since the war began, including 474 killed and 861 injured. More than two dozen children are among the fatalities. The UN said the true toll likely is “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 pending corroboration.
The UN’s refugee agency said Tuesday that 2,011,000 Ukrainians had fled the country, most of them to Poland. The European Union could see as many as 5 million Ukrainian refugees if Russia continues to attack cities, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said.
US top spy: Putin ‘aggrieved’ at West but looking for off-ramp in Ukraine
The USA’s top intelligence officer offered a blunt assessment Tuesday of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s missteps and the potential for escalated conflict amid in the invasion of Ukraine. US intelligence agencies found that Putin incorrectly calculated going into the conflict that the US and Europe were too internally divided to mount a clear response, that Ukraine was a weak state ripe for an intervention and that Russian forces had modernized itself enough to swiftly win a fight , Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told the House Intelligence Committee.
“Putin feels aggrieved the West does not give him proper deference and perceives this as a war he cannot lose,” Haines said.
Putin’s “nuclear sabre-rattling” was part of a strategy to show strength in an attempt to create a face-saving climb down, she said. CIA Director Bill Burns said during testimony to Congress that Putin has “no sustainable political endgame in face of what is going to continue to be fierce resistance from Ukrainians.”
– Matthew Brown
Biden says oil ban hits ‘main artery of Russian economy’
President Joe Biden announced a ban on the US import of all Russian energy in an attempt to target “the main artery of Russia’s economy.”
“Russian oil will no longer be accepted at US ports,” the president said at the White House. “We will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war.”
Biden acknowledged that gas prices, which have already risen since Russia invaded Ukraine, will go up further. The president said he made the decision in consultation with European allies but added they are not in a position to join the US in banning Russian energy imports.
While the US imports little oil and no gas from Russia, the nation supplies Europe with 30% of its oil and 40% of its natural gas. European leaders have been hesitant to cut off the Russian energy supply line. Biden said the US is working closely with European allies to develop a “long-term strategy” to reduce their dependence on Russian energy.
– Maureen Groppe, Courtney Subramanian
In Mariupol, a struggle to survive
In Mariupol, the Russian army has broken the agreements on the humanitarian corridor for a fourth day in a row, making evacuation “impossible,” the Ukraine government said. Shelling has continued nonstop for a week, and most utilities are out. Civilians in the besieged southeastern port city are struggling to survive, and the Associated Press reports that bodies have been left uncollected on the streets.
Efforts to set up evacuation routes have repeatedly collapsed. With water supplies cut, people have been relying on streams or melting snow. Power outages have residents relying on their car radios for information, some broadcast from areas controlled by Russia or Russian-backed separatist forces.
Looting for food, clothes and even furniture is widespread, and locals refer to the practice as getting a “discount,” AP reports.
Boy, 11, escapes to Slovakia on his own
An 11-year-old boy has made a heroic journey to Slovakia alone to flee the Russian attacks. According to Facebook post from the Slovak Embassy in the UK, the boy crossed the Slovakian border with just a plastic bag, a passport and a phone number written on his hand. Volunteers took him to get food, heat and drinks as they prepared him for his next journey. Officials were able to contact his mother from him from the phone number written on his hand from him. In a video posted on Facebook, she thanked everyone for her son’s safety.
“He conquered everyone with his smile, fearlessness and determination of a real hero,” a Slovak Interior Ministry representative said.
– Asha C. Gilbert
2 million have fled Ukraine
The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine reached 2 million on Tuesday, according to the United Nations, the fastest exodus Europe has seen since World War II.
“Today the outflow of refugees from Ukraine reaches 2 million people. Two million,” Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, wrote on Twitter. Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said she is “deeply concerned about civilians trapped in active hostilities in numerous areas.”
Poland has been the escape point for more than 1.2 million of the refugees. Several hundred thousand have fled to other European nations, including about 100,000 to Russia. More than 15% of the country of 45 million people are ethnic Russians.
Russia warns oil prices could reach $300 per barrel
Russia warned the price of oil could leapfrog to $300 a barrel and threatened the possible closure of gas supplies to Europe amid rising tensions against Western countries considering a ban on Russia oil.
“It is absolutely clear that a rejection of Russian oil would lead to catastrophic consequences for the global market,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said in a statement on state television, according to Reuters. “The surge in prices would be unpredictable. It would be $300 per barrel if not more.”
Noting Germany’s decision last month to freeze the certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Novak said Russia could ax the existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline – considered one of Europe’s main sources of natural gas.
“We have every right to take a matching decision and impose an embargo on gas pumping through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline,” said Novak, The Guardian reported.
Gas prices are now the most expensive in US history
After days of dramatically rising gas prices in wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the national average for a gallon of gas is now the highest in US history, breaking the record that stood for nearly 14 years. As of Tuesday morning, the cost of regular gas in the US is $4.17, according to AAA, up from $4.06 on Monday. Last week, the average cost was $3.60.
The previous national average high was $4.11, set on July 17, 2008, according to AAA.
“Americans have never seen gasoline prices this high, nor have we seen the pace of increases so fast and furious,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at fuel-savings app GasBuddy, said in a statement on Monday.
– jordan mendoza
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Lviv struggling with influx of Ukrainians hoping to flee to Poland
Many refugees are crossing over to Poland through the far western city of Lviv. But the city is buckling under the pressure of the tens of thousands of people who have fled their hometowns in hopes of seeking refuge in another country. “We really need support,” Major Andriy Sadovyi said. The city needs big tents with kitchens in order to prepare food, he said.
The historical city, once a popular tourist destination, had a population of 700,000 before the war. Now, over 200,000 displaced Ukrainians are filling up Lviv’s sports halls, schools, church buildings and hospitals.
– Celina Tebor
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism