The Ukrainian crisis roundup

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Here’s what you need to know about the Ukraine crisis so far:

HEADLINES

March 10 (Reuters) – Russia’s war in Ukraine entered its third week on Thursday with its key stated objectives still out of reach despite thousands of deaths, more than two million refugees, and thousands forced to cower in besieged cities under relentless bombardment.

The foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine met in Turkey in the highest level contact between the two countries since the war began on Feb. 24. 

HOSPITAL HIT

* The Kremlin said on Thursday it would seek information from the Russian military after Ukraine accused Russia of bombing a children’s hospital in the besieged city of Mariupol. Moscow earlier said the building had long been taken over by troops.

* The White House condemned the bombing as “barbaric”.

DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS

* Foreign ministers from Russia and Ukraine met in Turkey on Thursday for the first time since Moscow invaded its neighbour. Kremlin spokesman told reporters Ukraine was also proposing talks between the two countries’ presidents.

ESCAPE ROUTES

* Local officials said some civilians had left Sumy in the east and Enerhodar in the south through the safe corridors promised by Russia. But Russian forces were preventing evacuations from Bucha, a town outside the capital Kyiv, they said.

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

* The Kremlin said Russia’s economy was experiencing a shock and Moscow was taking steps to soften the impact of what it described as an “absolutely unprecedented” economic war being waged against it. 

* Rio Tinto RIO.L, RIO.AX on Thursday became the first major mining company to announce it was cutting all ties with Russian businesses, joining a raft of leading Western companies leaving the country. 

* European Union leaders will phase out buying Russian oil, gas and coal to become less dependent on Russia, a draft declaration showed, but they are unlikely to offer Ukraine quick EU membership.

NUCLEAR POWER, GAS SUPPLY CONCERNS

* The head of Ukraine’s gas transit operator warned on Thursday there was a real danger to gas transit flows to Europe because of Russian troops’ presence on sites of gas compressor stations in Ukraine.

* Ukraine’s nuclear power plant operator said it was worried about a potential radiation leak after fighting led to power outage in Chernobyl, mothballed site of the 1986 nuclear disaster. The U.N. nuclear watchdog, though, saw no critical impact on safety. 

* Separately, the watchdog said it had lost touch with remote monitoring systems at the Zaporizhzhia plant, where there were clashes and a fire last week. Both plants are being held by Russian forces. 

SANCTIONS

* Britain said on Thursday it had frozen assets of Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich, Igor Sechin, the chief executive of Russian oil group Rosneft, plus five other Russian oligarchs. 

* The European Union announced more sanctions against oligarchs and lenders in Russia and Belarus. 

HUMANITARIAN TOLL

* The United Nations said it had verified 516 civilian deaths and 908 injuries since the conflict began, but the true toll was probably “considerably higher”.

* Over 2.3 million people have fled Ukraine so far, according to the latest U.N. tally. EU officials say up to 5 million could leave if the conflict continues. 

* Ukraine says its forces have killed more than 11,000 Russian troops. Russia has confirmed about 500 losses. Reuters was unable to verify either figure. Neither side has disclosed Ukrainian casualties.

AID

* The U.S. Congress agreed to allocate $13.6 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine. 

* The International Monetary Fund approved $1.4 billion in emergency funding for Ukraine. 

Photo courtesy Ukrainian Ministry of Defence

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