Russia and Ukraine Hold Talks

Russia and Ukraine agreed on Thursday to the need for humanitarian corridors to help civilians escape Moscow’s eight-day-long invasion, the first apparent progress in talks, as the United States and Britain hit more oligarchs with sanctions.

Thousands are thought to have died or been wounded as the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two unfolds, creating 1 million refugees, hits to Russia’s economy and fears of wider conflict in the West unthought-of for decades.

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Russian forces, however, have continued to surround and attack Ukrainian cities, including Mariupol, the main port in the east which has been under heavy bombardment, with no water or power. Officials say they cannot evacuate the wounded.

After talks at an undisclosed location, Russia said “substantial progress” had been made while the Ukrainian side pointed to an understanding on helping ordinary people, but not the results Kyiv had hoped for.

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Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said a temporary halt to fighting in select locations was also possible.

“That is, not everywhere, but only in those places where the humanitarian corridors themselves will be located, it will be possible to cease fire for the duration of the evacuation,” he said.

They had also seen eye-to-eye on the delivery of medicines and food to the places where the fiercest fighting was taking place. The negotiators will meet again next week, the Belarusian state news agency Belta quoted Podolyak as saying.

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The West has responded to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion with military support and by tightening the economic screws on the Kremlin and Russians. The fallout so far has included queues outside banks, a plunge in the value of the rouble and an exodus of foreign companies.

On Thursday, both the United States and Britain announced sanctions on more oligarchs, helping bring them in line with measures the European Union took earlier this week.

Included was Russian tycoon Alisher Usmanov, the founder of mining company Metalloinvest.

In Germany, his luxury yacht worth nearly $600 million was moored at a Hamburg shipyard. Hamburg’s economic authority said there were no plans for the vessel to be delivered to its owner, without providing further detail. 

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has also been hit with U.S. sanctions. Visa restrictions will be imposed on 19 Russian oligarchs, their family members and associates, the White House said.

“We continue to impose very severe economic sanctions on Putin and all those folks around him, choking off access to technology as well as cutting off access to global financial institutions,” U.S. President Joe Biden said.

“It’s had a profound impact already.”

Ukrainian soldiers and civilians kept up their resistance to the Russian onslaught. The capital Kyiv and other main cities remained in their hands on Thursday evening.

The United Nations said one million people had now fled their homes, with most seeking refuge in Poland and other neighbours to the west.

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Source Reuters

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