Ukraine said it did not open humanitarian corridors on Wednesday that would allow civilians to evacuate, and accused Russian forces of violating agreements to grant safe passage. Mariupol’s mayor, Vadym Boichenko, told a news conference that Russian forces had destroyed all buses used for evacuations. Follow FRANCE 24’s live blog for all the latest updates. All times are Paris time (GMT + 2).
15:29: Kremlin denies that pro-Russian tycoon in Ukrainian captivity had a back channel to Moscow
The Kremlin has said that the pro-Russian Ukrainian tycoon and politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who was captured by Ukraine on Tuesday, had no communication channel to the Russian leadership.
Commenting on a Ukrainian proposal to exchange Medvedchuk for Ukrainians held by Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Medvedchuk was a Ukrainian citizen and a foreign politician.
Medvedchuk, who is both the former leader of a pro-Russian opposition party and a close ally of Vladimir Putin. The Russian president is also the godfather of one of Medvedchuk’s daughters. The pro-Kremlin tycoon was under house arrest before the Russian invasion began and disappeared shortly after hostilities broke out.
Here is a profile of the Ukrainian politician accused of treason in Kyiv:
13:44: Mayor of Mariupol says that Russia has destroyed critical infrastructure
The mayor of the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, Vadym Boichenko, said in televised comments on Wednesday that “Russian intruders” and their collaborators had destroyed critical infrastructure in the city. “There is no running water, electricity [or] cell coverage, “he said.
Mariupol started evacuation attempts in early March, but Russian forces fired “intentionally and purposefully” at areas where evacuees gathered and in the process destroyed the buses that were to be used for evacuation.
13:16: Finland will make a decision on NATO membership in the coming weeks
Finland will decide whether to apply to join the NATO alliance with 30 members in the coming weeks, Prime Minister Sanna Marin told reporters in Stockholm on Wednesday.
“There are different perspectives to apply for (re) NATO membership or not to apply and we must analyze these very carefully,” Marin told reporters at a joint press conference with his Swedish counterpart.
“But I think our process will be pretty fast, it will happen in a few weeks.”
11:52: Russian shelling kills seven in Kharkiv, says the local governor
Seven civilians have been killed by Russian shelling in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine in the past 24 hours, the regional governor said on Wednesday.
“Twenty-two civilians, including three children, have been injured during shelling of the region. Seven people have died. A 2-year-old boy who was injured by shelling a few days ago has died in hospital,” Oleg Synegubov announced on social media.
11:18: Ukraine’s Zelensky says Russia is using phosphorus bombs
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech to the Estonian parliament on Wednesday that Russia uses phosphorus bombs in Ukraine and accuses Moscow of using terrorist tactics against civilians.
He did not provide any evidence and FRANCE 24 has not been able to independently verify his claim.
10:28: Shutting down Russian energy imports risks a “sharp recession” for Germany
An immediate end to Russian energy imports would send Germany into a “sharp recession” next year, the country’s leading economic institute said in a forecast published on Wednesday.
Germany, which is heavily dependent on Russian gas for its energy needs, has so far resisted calls for a European boycott in response to the war in Ukraine.
Closing the taps in “mid-April” this year would limit growth to 1.9 percent in 2022 and push Germany into a recession in 2023, causing the economy to shrink by 2.2 percent, according to the forecast.
The effects of a boycott would “not be overcome” over the next two years, the financial institutions (DIW, Ifo, IfW Kiel, IWH and RWI) said in a joint statement.
9:21 a.m .: Russia claims more than 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers capitulate in Mariupol
Russia’s defense minister said on Wednesday that more than a thousand Ukrainian soldiers had capitulated in Mariupol, a strategic port city in eastern Ukraine that has been under siege by Moscow troops for more than a month.
“In the city of Mariupol … 1,026 Ukrainian soldiers from the 36th Marine Brigade voluntarily laid down their weapons and surrendered,” the ministry said in a statement. The allegations could not be independently confirmed.
Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said on Wednesday that he had no information about the handover of a Ukrainian naval brigade in Mariupol.
“I have no information,” Motuzyanyk said in a statement in response to a request for comment from Reuters.
9:16: “Too dangerous” for humanitarian corridors on Wednesday
Ukraine said on Wednesday that it was stopping all humanitarian corridors that allow the evacuation of civilians from war-torn regions of the country, and accusing Russian forces of violating agreements that allow people to flee.
“Unfortunately, we are not opening them today. The situation along the routes is too dangerous and we are forced to refrain from opening humanitarian corridors today,” said Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk in a statement on social media.
Vereshchuk said that around Zaporizhzhia in southern Russian forces blocked buses used in the evacuations and that the Moscow army in the eastern Lugansk region violated an agreement to stop the shooting while people were fleeing.
“The occupiers not only ignore the norms of international humanitarian law, but also cannot control their people properly on the ground,” Vereshchuk told Telegram.
07:58: Mayor of Ukraine Mariupol says that more than 100,000 people are waiting for evacuation
The mayor of the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, Vadym Boichenko, said on Wednesday in televised comments that more than 100,000 people remained in the city awaiting evacuation.
07:41: Polish presidents of the Baltic states visit Kyiv on Wednesday
Polish President Andrzej Duda and the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are on their way to Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky, an adviser to the Polish leader said on Wednesday.
“Our countries show support for Ukraine and President Zelensky in this way,” adviser Jakub Kumoch wrote on Twitter.
“Go to Kyiv with a strong message of political support and military aid,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda tweeted on Wednesday, along with a picture of the presidents next to a train.
The “symbolic” visit will include talks on the details of the aid, Pawel Szrot, head of the office of Polish President Andrzej Duda, told private television broadcaster Polsat News.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Poland on Tuesday and said he had planned to move on to Ukraine but was refused.
“I was prepared to do this, but obviously, and I have to note this, this was not wanted in Kyiv,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
06:10: Zelensky offers to exchange pro-Putin magnate for captured Ukrainians
ukrainska President Volodymyr Zelensky offered on Wednesday to replace Kremlin-friendly tycoon Viktor Medvedchuk, one of the richest men in Ukraine arrested after escaping house arrest, with Ukrainians captured by Russia.
A very controversial person in Ukraine, Medvedchuk, 67, was placed under house arrest on charges of trying to steal natural resources from Russia’s annexed Crimea and of handing over Ukrainian military secrets to Moscow.
He counts Russia’s president Vladimir Putin among his personal friends and says that the Kremlin leader is the godfather of his youngest daughter Darya.
“I propose that the Russian Federation replace this guy with our boys and girls who are now in Russian captivity,” Zelensky said in a statement. video address published on social media.
“And may Medvedchuk be an example to you. Not even the former oligarch escaped. What can we say about much simpler criminals from the Russian hinterland? We should get everyone.”
Ukrainian authorities announced on Tuesday that they had captured a prominent pro-Kremlin magnate who escaped from house arrest after the Russian invasion.
Zelensky posted a picture online of a Medvedchuk who looks uneven with his hands in cuffs and wearing a Ukrainian army uniform.
“A special operation was carried out by the Ukrainian security service. Good job!” Zelensky wrote on Telegram.
12:36: Biden says that “evidence increases” that Russia commits “genocide”
United States President Joe Biden on Tuesday, he stood by his characterization of Russia’s actions in Ukraine as “genocide”, and said that Russian President Vladimir Putin “is trying to obliterate the idea of being able to be Ukrainian”.
“I called it genocide because it has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to obliterate the idea of being Ukrainian and the evidence is growing,” Biden told reporters as he prepared to board Air Force One to return to Washington after an event in Iowa.
“We let the lawyers decide internationally whether it is qualified or not, but it really seems that way to me,” he said.
David Smith, Washington’s chief of staff for The Guardian, comments on Biden’s statement in the video below.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)
Originally published on France24