(NEW YORK) — Russian forces are continuing their attempted push through Ukraine from multiple directions, while Ukrainians, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, are putting up “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.
The attack began Feb. 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation.”
Russian forces moving from neighboring Belarus toward Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, don’t appear to have advanced closer to the city since coming within about 20 miles, although smaller advanced groups have been fighting gun battles with Ukrainian forces inside the capital since at least Friday.
Russia has been met by sanctions from the United States, Canada and countries throughout Europe, targeting the Russian economy as well as Putin himself.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Mar 08, 5:36 am
Russia declares temporary cease-fire for humanitarian corridors in five Ukrainian cities
Russia declared Tuesday a temporary cease-fire in five besieged cities of Ukraine, including the capital, to let civilians leave.
“For safe evacuation of civilians from populated areas, a cease-fire is declared and humanitarian corridors are opening from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, and Mariupol from 10:00 a.m. today,” Russian Ministry of Defense spokesman Igor Konashenkov said at a press briefing.
All five cities except Kyiv had sustained brutal, indiscriminate bombardment in recent days.
It’s the fourth attempt to hold fire and allow civilians to escape the onslaught since Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Russian and Ukrainian negotiators have been holding talks in recent days, and the Russian delegation has previously agreed to a temporary cease-fire and opening of humanitarian corridors in parts of Ukraine. But Russia has violated its own cease-fire and shelled evacuation points, while falsely accusing Ukraine of using people as human shields.
The hard-hit cities of Kharkiv and Mariupol were reported to be quiet Tuesday morning, with a local official telling ABC News that the center of Mariupol, a strategic port in the southeast, is not being shelled for the first time in days.
Ukraine said Russia has agreed this time to allow civilians to evacuate not only to Russia but also to other parts of Ukraine. Columns of buses and trucks with humanitarian aid are currently headed to Sumy, Mariupol and possibly other cities.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Russia has confirmed to the International Committee of the Red Cross that one route out of Sumy will be open. Vereshchuk said she hopes Russia will confirm routes for the other cities and also for the eastern city of Volnovakha. She warned Ukraine has information that Russia may have plans to disrupt the evacuations by leading civilians out of the agreed safe routes, in order to claim that Ukraine is not observing the agreement.
Petro Andrushenko, advisor to the mayor of Mariupol, said the city plans to evacuate people as long as Russian forces do not fire. A column of 60 buses and nine trucks of medical aid and food are headed to Mariupol now, and the hope is that at least 4,000 people can be evacuated via the buses plus an unknown number of private cars that will join the convoy, according to Andrushenko.
“If Russia doesn’t break it, we plan to evacuate people,” Andrushenko told ABC News via telephone Tuesday morning.
Mar 08, 4:46 am
Ukrainian refugees top two million: UN
More than two million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24, the head of the U.N. Refugee Agency said on Tuesday.
“Today the outflow of refugees from Ukraine reaches two million people. Two million,” Filippo Grandi, U.N. high commissioner for refugees, said on Twitter.
Mar 08, 2:05 am
World Bank approves $723 million in emergency support for Ukraine
The World Bank said its board approved a package of loans and guarantees for Ukraine totaling $723 million.
The funding will help the Ukrainian government pay for government services, “including wages for hospital workers, pensions for the elderly, and social programs for the vulnerable,” the bank said in a statement on Monday.
The bank said it’s preparing an additional $3 billion in support for Ukraine and neighboring countries, which have taken in more than 1.7 million refugees since the Russian invasion began.
“The World Bank Group is taking quick action to support Ukraine and its people in the face of the violence and extreme disruption caused by the Russian invasion,” World Bank President David Malpass said in a statement. “The World Bank Group stands with the people of Ukraine and the region. This is the first of many steps we are taking to help.”
The funding announced on Monday includes $350 million in supplemental loans, along with guarantees totaling $139 million from the Netherlands and Sweden, the bank said. Grant financing totaling $134 million will come from the United Kingdom, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania and Iceland. Japan is providing $100 million in additional financing, the bank said.
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