Hundreds of thousands of civilians remained trapped in Ukrainian cities on Thursday, sheltering from Russian bombs as talks between Ukraine and Russia’s foreign ministers made little apparent progress. Mariupol residents scrounged for food and fuel as Russian forces kept up their bombardment of the port city amid international condemnation over an airstrike a day earlier that killed three people at a maternity hospital. Follow our live blog for all the latest developments.
- Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky Thursday said around 100,000 people had evacuated the country’s cities in two days, but accused Russian forces of targeting a humanitarian corridor in the besieged port city of Mariupol, describing the attack as “outright terror”.
- Earlier Thursday, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said not a single civilian was able to leave Mariupol as Russian forces failed to respect a temporary ceasefire to enable evacuations.
- Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said half the population of the Ukrainian capital has fled. But he warned that the city is now “a fortress. Every street, every building, every checkpoint has been fortified.”
- Russia’s defence ministry said it would open humanitarian corridors on Friday from five cities: Kyiv, Suma, Kharkiv, Mariupol and Chernihiv.
- US Vice President Harris reiterated a commitment “to defend every inch of NATO territory” and announced that the US would give another $50 million for humanitarian aid to Ukraine. “We are very clear, the NATO alliance is stronger and Russia is weaker after what [President Vladimir] Putin has done,” Harris said Thursday at a news conference with Polish President Andrzej Doda.
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba met in the Turkish city of Antalya on Thursday in the first high-level meeting between the two sides since the Russian invasion began on February 24. “Russia has no plans to attack other countries; we have not even attacked Ukraine,” Lavrov said after the meeting. Kuleba told reporters that no progress was made on a new ceasefire, describing the talks as “difficult”.
- Russia carried out an air strike on a children’s hospital in Mariupol on Wednesday during a supposed ceasefire, according to Ukrainian authorities. Two adults and a child were killed and 17 staff were wounded in the attack, said Zelensky, who accused Russia of a “war crime”.
- The European Union’s Ursula von der Leyen will propose a plan in mid-May for phasing out Russian fossil fuels by 2027.
- The UN said the number of refugees fleeing Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24 surged past 2.2 million.
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(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP and AP)