Two weeks after Moscow launched an invasion on Ukraine, Russian tanks on Thursday were advancing on the northeastern outskirts of Kyiv, amid mounting fears that the Ukrainian capital would soon be encircled. The less-developed northeastern edge of Kyiv is filled with fields and open roads that offer little physical resistance to Russian tanks.
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. On Thursday, not a single civilian was able to leave the besieged city of Mariupol as Russian forces failed to respect a temporary ceasefire to enable evacuations, said Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk. 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 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who accused Russia of a “war crime”. The US condemned it as “barbaric” and Britain called it “depraved.” The UN’s atomic watchdog, the IAEA, said it has not seen any “critical impact on safety” due to the loss of power at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. France is helping the IAEA assess the situation. 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.Follow our live updates below. If updates do not appear, please refresh the page.
© Studio graphique France Médias Monde
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP and AP)