Ukraine has so far defied a Russian ultimatum to surrender Sievierodonetsk, with Moscow controlling 80% of the city, a focal point of Russia’s advances in the east of the country. Russia demanded Ukrainian forces stop their “senseless resistance and lay down arms” from Wednesday morning and accused Kyiv of disrupting plans to open a humanitarian corridor for civilians to escape.
Thousands of civilians, including women, children and elderly people, are trapped in Sievierodonetsk with a diminishing supply of food, clean water, sanitation and electricity. An urgent situation is developing in the bunkers beneath the Azot chemical plant in the city, a UN spokesperson said. About 500 civilians believed to be trapped alongside soldiers inside Azot were preparing to flee the city through a possible humanitarian corridor.
The US will provide an additional $1bn in security assistance to Ukraine for its fight in the eastern Donbas, Joe Biden has confirmed. The support package included 18 additional howitzers with tactical vehicles to tow them, 36,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition for the howitzers, and two Harpoon coastal defence systems, the defence department said.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy has urged the EU to tighten sanctions on Russia and warned Moscow’s forces could attack other countries. In an address to the Czech parliament, Ukraine’s president said Moscow’s invasion “is the first step that the Russian leadership needs to open the way to other countries, to the conquest of other peoples”.
Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said allies would continue to supply Ukraine with heavy weapons and long-range systems, with an agreement on a new package of assistance to Kyiv expected at the summit in Madrid later this month. The agreement would help Ukraine move from old Soviet-era weaponry to “more modern Nato standard” gear, he said. Stoltenberg was speaking before a meeting in Brussels of defence ministers from Nato and other countries to discuss and coordinate help for Ukraine.
At the meeting in Brussels, the US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, said Ukraine was facing a “pivotal moment on the battlefield” in Sievierodonetsk, with Russian forces using long-range weapons to try to overwhelm Ukrainian positions. Austin urged America and its allies not to “let up and lose steam” and to “intensify our shared commitment to Ukraine’s self-defence”.
China’s Xi Jinping has assured Vladimir Putin of China’s support on Russian “sovereignty and security” prompting Washington to warn Beijing it risked ending up “on the wrong side of history”. China is “willing to continue to offer mutual support [to Russia] on issues concerning core interests and major concerns such as sovereignty and security”, the state broadcaster CCTV reported Xi as saying during a call with Putin. A US state department spokesperson responded: “China claims to be neutral, but its behaviour makes clear that it is still investing in close ties to Russia.”
Turkey has said it is ready to host a meeting with the United Nations, Russia and Ukraine to organise the export of grain through the Black Sea, saying safe routes could be formed without needing to clear mines around Ukrainian ports. Ankara’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, said it would “take some time” to de-mine Ukraine’s ports. “Since the location of the mines is known, certain safe lines would be established at three ports,” he said. “Ships, with the guidance of Ukraine’s research and rescue vessels as envisaged in the plan, could thus come and go safely to ports without a need to clear the mines.”
Poland’s agriculture minister, Henryk Kowalczyk, said building grain silos at the Polish-Ukrainian border to channel crops to global markets would take three to four months. Kowalczyk’s remarks came after Joe Biden proposed that temporary silos would be built along the border with Ukraine in a bid to help export more grain and address a global food crisis.
Two US veterans from Alabama who were fighting on Ukraine’s side haven’t been heard from in days, members of the state’s congressional delegation said. John Kirby, a national security spokesman at the White House, said: “We’ll do the best we can to monitor this and see what we can learn about it.”
Europe’s unity over the war in Ukraine is at risk as public attention shifts from the battlefield to cost of living concerns, polling across 10 European countries suggests. The survey found support for Ukraine remained high but preoccupations have shifted to the conflict’s wider impacts, with the divide deepening between voters who want a swift end to the conflict and those who want Russia punished.
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