Live updates: Ukrainian adviser: Little progress in talks
(AP) — The latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine war:
LVIV, Ukraine — An adviser to the Ukrainian president says a little progress has been made on safe corridors to allow civilians to flee some besieged Ukrainian cities during a third round of talks Monday with Russia.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said without elaboration that “there were some small positive shifts regarding logistics of humanitarian corridors.” He said that consultations will continue on ways to negotiate an end to hostilities.
Efforts to set up safe passage for civilians over the weekend fell apart amid continued shelling. But the Russian Defense Ministry announced a new push Monday, saying civilians would be allowed to leave the capital of Kyiv, Mariupol and the cities of Kharkiv and Sumy.
Russia’s top negotiator Vladimir Medinsky, said he expects that humanitarian corridors in Ukraine will finally start functioning Tuesday. He said no progress has been made on a political settlement, but voiced hope that the next round could be more productive.
“Our expectations from the talks have failed, but we hope that we would be able to make a more significant step forward next time,” Medinsky said. “The talks will continue.”
MADRID — U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman says that getting military material for Ukrainians to fight a Russian invasion is set to become more difficult for the U.S. and its allies.
“I think that the international community has been tremendously responsive and have found ways to get the material in. That may become harder in the coming days, and we’ll have to find other ways to manage this,” Sherman said Monday during a visit to the Spanish capital for meetings with officials.
The Biden administration is considering how to fulfill Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s request for warplanes, the official said, considering that Ukrainians would only be able to operate soviet-era warplanes provided by Poland.
“People are trying to see whether this is possible and doable,” she said, adding that the warplanes should not be regarded by Moscow as direct involvement in the conflict: “We would expect that this delivery would be seen as all the deliveries have been seen as a right for Ukraine to defend itself.”
Sherman met in Madrid with Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares and other officials. She arrived from Turkey and was on her way to Morocco, Algeria and Egypt for a week of intense diplomatic contacts amid the war in Ukraine.
PARIS — French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian criticized Russia’s offer of humanitarian corridors for Ukrainian civilians as a “trap” that could possibly lead to more bombing in Ukraine.
Le Drian referred to Russia’s tactic of bombing and then offering humanitarian corridors in the past, citing Aleppo in Syria and Grozny, in Chechnya. He said in such cases Russia’s proposal of establishing humanitarian corridors actually led to more bombings after negotiations failed.
“We must not fall into traps,” Le Drian said Monday in France’s southern city of Montpellier after a meeting of European ministers.
“I’m even wondering if in Russian military schools there are classes to explain: ‘bombing, corridor, negotiations, breach (of negotiations), we start it all again’. It’s quite tragic but unfortunately it sends shivers down your spine,” he said.
TIRANA, Albania — Albania’s capital Tirana on Monday named a street “Free Ukraine” to express solidarity with Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion.
Tirana’s city hall council, or parliament, voted unanimously to rename a downtown street in the capital where the Ukrainian, Russian, Serbian and Kosovar embassies are located.
“The two conflicts: Serbia against Kosovo and Russian Against Ukraine are two marking points for the generations and memories of a modern Europe,” said Mayor Erion Veliaj.
Albania has joined the European Union in the hard-hitting sanctions against Russian top officials and institutions. Last week, Albania joined the United States in initiating a resolution at the United Nations Security Council denouncing the Russian invasion.
“We have always aligned on the fair and glorious side of the world’s history, like we did once with the Hebrews, yesterday with the Afghans and today with the Ukrainians,” said Veliaj, adding that 1,500 families have offered shelter for the Ukrainian refugees if they come to the country.
Albania was the only country during World War II to have more Jews in the end compared to the start offering them shelter from Nazi persecution. Last year, Albania was the first country to offer shelter to the Afghans fleeing their country after the Taliban regime came to power.
NEW YORK — All four of the so-called Big Four accounting firms are now cutting ties with Russia over its war in Ukraine.
Deloitte on Monday was the last of the four to say it will no longer operate in Russia, joining Ernst & Young, Pricewaterhousecoopers and KPMG in making similar announcements.
Deloitte said it is also cutting its ties to Russia-allied Belarus. The company said it is separating its global network of member firms from the firms based in Russia and Belarus.
Deloitte Global CEO Punit Renjen said in a statement “we know this is the right decision” but it will have an impact on Deloitte’s 3,000 employees in Russia and Belarus who “have no voice in the actions of their government.”
Pricewaterhousecoopers and KPMG announced they were pulling out of Russia on Sunday, and Ernst & Young earlier on Monday.
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended his government’s treatment of Ukrainians fleeing war, after France accused U.K. authorities of “inhumane” behavior towards the refugees.
Johnson said Britain was being “very, very generous,” but would not have “a system where people can come into the U.K. without any checks or any controls at all.”
Britain says it expects to take in as many as 200,000 displaced Ukrainians. Very few have managed to reach Britain so far. The Home Office said “around 50” visas had been granted by Sunday.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Sunday that hundreds of Ukrainian refugees in the English Channel port of Calais had been turned away and told by British authorities that they must obtain visas at U.K. embassies in Paris or Brussels.
Calling that “a bit inhumane,” Darmanin urged Britain to “stop the technocratic nit-picking.”
U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel denied Britain was turning anyone away. The British government confirmed Monday that it did not have a visa center in Calais.
BUDAPEST – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban signed a decree on Monday allowing for NATO troops to station on Hungarian territory in response to the Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
The government decree reaffirmed Orban’s earlier insistence that Hungary would not allow troops or lethal weapons to be delivered across its borders into Ukraine, but allowed for the transit of NATO forces across its territory into other NATO member countries.
Non-lethal aid, such as personal protective equipment, first aid and medical supplies and humanitarian materials, are permitted to cross into Ukraine from Hungary, according to the decree.
ROME — Italian Premier Mario Draghi said Russia appears determined to carry on with its war in Ukraine until it can install a government “friendly” to Moscow.
Draghi was asked by reporters in Brussels on Monday if he thought there was still room for diplomacy. “Look, up till now, (diplomacy) hasn’t yielded any fruits. Up till now, the determination of Russia is very clear,’’ Draghi replied.
Russia will proceed until “the country has surrendered, (and it) probably installs a friendly government and defeats the resistance,’’ the Italian leader said. “That’s what the facts demonstrate.”
BRUSSELS — European Commission spokesman for foreign affairs Peter Stano said the EU would like to see China play a mediation role and convince Russia to stop its war in Ukraine.
“China has the potential to reach out to Moscow because of their relationship obviously and we would like China to use its influence to press for a cease-fire and to make Russia to stop the brutal unprecedented shelling and killing of civilians in Ukraine.”
LONDON — Leading Russian banks are looking into issuing cards that operate on a Chinese payment system after Visa and Mastercard said they would cut their services in Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.
Sberbank and Tinkoff Bank said Sunday that they are considering the possibility of payment cards powered by China’s UnionPay system. They told users that Visa and Mastercard will work within Russia but will stop working for payments outside of the country after Wednesday.
Russian banks are scrambling to find new ways to facilitate cross-border payments after a host of foreign companies suspended financial services, part of a larger move by the West to isolate Russia and cut it off from the global financial system.
PRAGUE — Two Czech army convoys are on the way to neighboring Slovakia to help the NATO and European Union ally cope with the wave of refugees from Ukraine
“We didn’t have to think twice and immediately met the Slovak request,” Czech Defense Minister Jana Cernochova said on Monday.
Over 128,000 refugees from Ukraine have arrived in neighboring Slovakia since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia have remained close allies following the peaceful split of Czechoslovakia in 1993.
GENEVA — The U.N. human rights office says it has been able to confirm the deaths of 406 civilians in Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
It said that another 801 injured civilians had been confirmed as of midnight Sunday. The rights office uses strict methodology and only reports casualties it has confirmed.
It says it believes the real figures are considerably higher, “especially in government-controlled territory and especially in recent days.” Fighting has delayed its receipt of information and many reports still need to be corroborated.
Ukrainian officials have presented far higher numbers.
BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is making clear that he stands by exempting Russian energy deliveries from an increasing raft of sanctions against Russia.
Scholz said in a statement on Monday emphasizing Germany’s support for tough measures against Russia that Europe has deliberately exempted energy deliveries.
He added: “Europe’s supply with energy for heating, for mobility, power supply and for industry cannot at the moment be secured otherwise.” That, he said, is of “essential significance” for people’s daily lives.
The chancellor added that Germany has been working with its partners in the European Union and beyond for months to “develop alternatives to Russian energy.” But he said that that can’t be done overnight, “so it is a conscious decision on our part” to allow companies to continue their involvement with Russian energy supplies.
On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the U.S. and its allies are having a “very active discussion” about banning the import of Russian oil and natural gas.
WARSAW, Poland — Poland, the country receiving the largest numbers of refugees from Russia’s war against Ukraine, on Monday approved legislation offering financial help to refugees and allowing them to stay legally in the country for 18 months.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki described helping the Ukrainians as the most important challenge Poland has faced in decades, and he argued that the efforts “cannot be only spontaneous.”
Poland has accepted more than 1 million refugees since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, more than half of the 1.7 million to flee.
PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron criticized “hypocritical” rhetoric and “cynicism” from Moscow about offering to open humanitarian corridors to Russia for Ukrainian civilians.
“Humanitarian actors need to be able to intervene, so we must get full cease-fires when they intervene to place under protection women, children, men who need to be protected. And (we must) be able to get them out of the conflict area,” Macron said Monday in an interview on French news broadcaster LCI.
The issue won’t be solved via “corridors which are being threatened right away (by Russia),” he said. Saying that “we are going to protect people by bringing them to Russia” is “hypocritical,” he added. “This is cynicism” that is “unbearable,” he said.
Macron addressed the issue publicly after the Russian task force said the new pledge for humanitarian corridors was announced at his request, following a call with Putin on Sunday. Macron’s office said he asked for a broader end to military operations in Ukraine and protections for civilians.
WARSAW, Poland — Polish government officials on Monday said that Poland has not, and will not, send its fighter jets to Ukraine to support Ukraine’s defense against Russia.
A deputy foreign minister, Marcin Przydacz, said in an interview on Radio Zet that: “We will not open our airports and Polish planes will not fight over Ukraine … Polish planes will not fight over Ukraine.”
But separately the government spokesman, Piotr Mueller, indicated a final decision had not been made. He said that a decision on whether to send fighter jets presents risks and is a “very delicate matter.”
The comments come after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy begged the United States to help Kyiv get more warplanes to fight Russia’s invasion and retain control of its airspace.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was looking at a proposal under which Poland would supply Kyiv with Soviet-era fighters and in turn receive American F-16s to make up for their loss.
Poland has been less than enthusiastic about the idea, at least publicly, largely because Russia has warned that supporting Ukraine’s air force would be seen in Moscow as participating in the conflict and could create a risk of retaliation.
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican says two cardinals dispatched by Pope Francis to promote peace will visit refugee centers in Poland and Hungary before going to war-ravaged Ukraine.
In the first details of the mission announced by Pope Francis on Sunday, the Vatican said Monday that both prelates will press the pontiff’s oft-repeated cry that war is folly.
Cardinal Michael Czerny will arrive in Hungary on Tuesday. There, he will “raise concern that African and Asian residents in Ukraine, also suffering fear and displacement, be allowed to seek refuge without discrimination.”
Czerny also will highlight “the sad similarity between the Ukrainians’ sufferings and the protracted conflicts that no longer attract the world’s attention,” the Vatican said, citing the pope’s frequent denunciation of suffering in wars in Yemen, Syria and Ethiopia.
Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, a Pole, traveled to the Polish-Ukrainian border on Monday, where he will initially meet with refugees and volunteers in shelters and homes.
GENEVA — The United Nations’ refugee agency says the number of people who have fled the war in Ukraine has increased to more than 1.7 million.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees on Monday put the number of people who have arrived in other countries since the Russian invasion started on Feb. 24 at some 1.735 million. That’s up from more than 1.53 million on Sunday.
Nearly three-fifths of the total – nearly 1.03 million — arrived in Poland, according to the agency. Over 180,000 went to Hungary and 128,000 to Slovakia.
LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Monday for a global boycott of all Russian products – including oil.
“If the invasion continues and Russia does not abandon its plans against Ukraine, then we need a new sanctions package,” Zelenskyy said in a video address Monday, including “a boycott of Russian exports, in particular, the rejection of oil and oil products from Russia.”
“The international community must act even more decisively.
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