Sodiq Oyeleke with agency reports
Both Russia and Ukraine appear more optimistic ahead of another scheduled round of peace talks – even as Moscow continues its assaults on Kyiv and other major cities.
With Moscow’s ground advance on the Ukrainian capital stalled, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said a neutral military status for Ukraine was being “seriously discussed” by the two sides.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba asked Turkey to be a guarantor of any future deal with Russia, along with the UN Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany.
Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:
Canada offers three years of temporary residency
Ottawa announced Thursday it is establishing a new immigration program that will offer Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion a temporary Canadian residence permit for up to three years.
Canada, which has a large Ukrainian diaspora, especially in the center and west of the country, said in a statement that “Ukrainians and their immediate family members of any nationality may stay in Canada as temporary residents for up to three years.”
– Search for theatre survivors –
Ukraine’s ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova says some civilians sheltering in a Mariupol theatre may have survived a bomb attack that officials have blamed on Russia.
“Work is underway to unlock the basement” she says, amid fears that up to 1,000 people may have been taking refuge underground at the time of the blast.
– War crimes claims –
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he believes Russia is guilty of war crimes over attacks on Ukrainian civilians.
The European Union also issues a statement accusing Moscow of “serious violations and war crimes”, after Ukraine said Russian forces bombed a theatre in Mariupol where hundreds were sheltering.
– Biden to warn Xi on Russia –
Washington says US President Joe Biden will warn his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in talks Friday of the “costs” if Beijing helps Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.
The two leaders are scheduled to talk on Friday morning US time, their first summit meeting since a videocall in November.
– Russia scraps UN resolution –
Russia cancels plans for a UN security vote on a “humanitarian” resolution over Ukraine, after allies fail to line up in support.
Moscow failed to secure co-sponsorship of the draft text from China and India, suggesting that neither Beijing nor New Delhi were going to support it, an ambassador tells AFP.
The vote had already been postponed twice as Moscow tried to gather support.
– Zelensky warns Berlin of new ‘Wall’ –
A day after pleading with US Congress to send more help to Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky warns German lawmakers that Russia is building a new “Wall” in Europe, evoking the Berlin Wall during the Cold War.
Zelensky has been on a virtual tour of Western parliaments, receiving support for his war-time leadership.
– Deaths in Kharkiv –
Russian forces shell a school and cultural centre, killing at least 21 people and wounding 25 in the town of Merefa outside Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine, local prosecutors say.
– 30,000 flee Mariupol –
The Mariupol authorities say around 30,000 people have fled the besieged port city, adding that “80 percent of residential housing was destroyed”.
– US vote on Russia trade –
The US House of Representatives votes to suspend Russia’s “most favoured nation” trade status, tightening the Western chokehold on Moscow’s economy over its deadly invasion of Ukraine.
The Senate is expected quickly to rubber-stamp the legislation — which also applies to Russian ally Belarus — allowing President Joe Biden to raise tariffs on imports from both nations.
– Peace talks –
At ongoing peace talks, officials in Kyiv say Russia has agreed to nine humanitarian corridors for fleeing refugees, including one out of Mariupol.
But broader progress has been elusive, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warns that Russia has not produced “any meaningful efforts” to end the war.
– Over 3 million refugees –
Over 100,000 Ukrainians fled the country in just 24 hours, the UN says, pushing the total number of refugees to more than 3.1 million since the conflict began on February 24.
– War hits global growth –
The fallout from the war in Ukraine could cut global growth by over one percentage point over the coming year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says.
– No default –
Russia’s finance ministry says it has made interest payments on two foreign bonds, quashing fears of a debt default as the country reels from unprecedented Western sanctions.
– ExoMars mission suspended –
A Russian-European mission to land a rover on Mars has been suspended due to the sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and its “tragic consequences”, the European Space Agency says.
– Ukraine calls on Turkey –
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has asked Turkey to be a guarantor of any future deal with Russia, along with the UN Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany, Ankara’s top diplomat says.