Moscow and Kyiv traded blame over a failed ceasefire plan
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his campaign in Ukraine will not end until Kyiv stops fighting. This was said to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who spoke to him and appealed for a ceasefire, news agency Reuters reported.
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Russia and Ukraine blamed each other today as attempts to form a humanitarian corridor out of Mariupol failed for the second time. The strategic city on the Azov Sea has been under siege and without electricity, food and water for days.
The evacuation of around 400,000 residents trapped by encircling Russian forces -- attempted under a temporary ceasefire – was supposed to begin today. A similar plan had to be abandoned on Saturday after the ceasefire failed, with both sides trading charges.
The Ukraine 24 television showed a Ukrainian National Guard member saying on television that Russians continued shelling safe areas of the city. The Interfax news agency, meanwhile, cited an official of the Donetsk separatist administration, who accused the Ukrainian forces of failing to observe the limited ceasefire. Only about 300 people have left the city, he said.
The Ukrainian military said it is engaged in "fierce battles" for the control of borders at the southern city of Mykolaiv and the Chernihiv in the north. "The main efforts are focused on defending Mariupol," it said, adding that an operation by Ukrainian forces is in progress in the eastern part of Donetsk.
Russian forces have been inching closer to the Kyiv. At Bilogordoka on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukrainian troops have planted explosives on what they say is the last intact bridge standing in the way of Russian forces.
The British military intelligence has said Russia is targeting populated areas -- including Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol -- in retaliation against the Ukrainian army's resistance which has come as a "surprise". "Russia used similar tactics in Chechnya in 1999 and Syria in 2016," the MI said. Russia has repeatedly denied that it is targeting civilian areas.
Rationing of essential foodstuff has started in Russia as sanctions imposed over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine started pinching. Russia said caps were imposed to stop hoarding and black-marketing. Essential goods, whose prices are subject to state controls, include bread, rice, flour, eggs and selected meats and dairy products.
Major corporations across a range of industries have halted business in Russia since the invasion, including US-based tech firms such as Intel and Airbnb to French luxury giants LVMH, Hermes and Chanel. Visa and Mastercard had already announced that they were complying with US and international sanctions imposed on Russia in the wake of its attack.
Earlier today, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened the existence of Ukrainian statehood, saying "The current (Ukrainian) authorities must understand that if they continue to do what they are doing, they are putting in question the future of Ukrainian statehood."
As frantic, top-level diplomatic talks continued, Mr Zelensky announced today that he spoke by phone with his US counterpart Joe Biden to discuss financial support and sanctions against Russia. The American legislators promised an additional $10 billion aid package, but the White House has so far ruled out an oil ban, fearing it would ratchet up prices and hurt US consumers already stung by record inflation.