Ukraine war: Putin eyes Donbas, Zelenskyy says won't cede control of Russian-occupied areas | latest updates
- In another horror coming to light from the ruined city of Mariupol, at least 200 bodies were found in the basement of an apartment building.
After failing to seize Ukraine's capital Kyiv or its second city Kharkiv, Russia is aiming for Ukraine's eastern Donbas, said reports on Wednesday. According to Ukraine's military, Russian forces have shelled more than 40 towns in the Donbas region, threatening to shut off the last main escape route for civilians trapped in the path of their invasion.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has strongly rebuffed those in the West suggesting Ukraine cede control of areas occupied by Russian forces for the sake of reaching a peace agreement. In his nighly video address to the nation, Zelenskyy said: “Those great geopoliticians who suggest this are disregarding the interests of ordinary Ukrainians – the millions of those who live on the territory that they propose exchanging for an illusion of peace.” Zelenskyy went on to compare those who argue for giving Russia a piece of Ukraine to those who in 1938 ceded territory to Hitler in hopes of preventing World War II.
Here are the top five updates on the Ukraine war:
>Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued an order to allow a fast track to Russian citizenship for people in two southern regions of Ukraine which are largely held by Russian forces. The decree could allow Russia to strengthen its control over the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.
>The Russian defense ministry has promised to open a safe corridor to allow foreign ships to leave Black Sea ports. A separate corridor will be open to allow ships to leave Mariupol by sailing from the port on the Sea of Azov port to the Black Sea. The blockade has endangered the world food supply by preventing Ukraine from shipping its agricultural products.
>British defense minister Ben Wallace has dismissed a proposal by Russia to permit food corridors in Ukraine if sanctions are lifted, saying Russia should do the “right thing,” leave Ukraine and free up the grain for the nations that need it.
>Putin has announced a 10% raise to the minimum wage rate and pensions in the coming weeks, a move that comes as the Russian economy faces an unprecedented wave of international sanctions. The bump will bring the minimum wage to about $250 per month and the average pension to $320, according to the Interfax news agency.
>In another horror coming to light from the ruined city of Mariupol, at least 200 bodies were found in the basement of an apartment building on Tuesday. The bodies were said to be decomposing and the stench hung over the neighbourhood, said Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the mayor. He did not say when they were discovered, but the sheer number of victims makes it one of the deadliest known attacks of the war, reports said.
(With agency inputs)
To reinforce its Indo-Pacific strategy, and in what is being seen as a response to China's aggressive outreach to Pacific Island states, the United States (US) - along with Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Japan - announced a new Partners in Blue Pacific initiative on Friday. This month, China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, also undertook an eight country tour in the region and hosted a China-Pacific Island Countries Foreign Ministers Meeting in Fiji.
Russia's army has “fully occupied” the key Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk after weeks of fighting, its mayor said on Saturday, an important strategic win for Moscow as it seeks to gain full control over the east of the country. The industrial hub of Severodonetsk has been the scene of weeks of running battles, but the Ukrainian army said on Friday that its outgunned forces would withdraw to better defend the neighbouring city of Lysychansk.
President Joe Biden criticised the US Supreme Court for making “terrible decisions”, a day after it struck down the constitutional right to abortion. Biden commented during a signing ceremony on Saturday for gun safety bill he supports, though he continued to sidestep questions about reforms to the court sought by some Democrats. He didn't respond to other questions, such as on court or filibuster reform, before heading off to Europe for international summits.
Ukraine's Severodonetsk was "fully occupied" by the Russian army, its mayor said on Saturday, after weeks of fighting over the key eastern city. The Ukrainian army on Friday said it would withdraw its forces from the city of some 100,000 inhabitants before the war to better defend the neighbouring city of Lysychansk. Mayor Oleksandr Striuk said civilians had started to evacuate the Azot chemical plant, where several hundred people had been hiding from Russian shelling.
Ukraine said it came under "massive bombardment" Saturday from neighbouring Belarus, a Russian ally not officially involved in the conflict, the day after announcing a retreat from the strategic city of Severodonetsk. Belarus has provided logistic support to Moscow since the February 24 invasion, particularly in the first few weeks, and like Russia has been targeted by Western sanctions -- but is officially not involved in the conflict.