• Russia and Ukraine take responsibility for blocked evacuation
  • Up to 1.5 million refugees expected by Sunday evening
  • In a call to the US Senate, Zelenskiy asks for more help
  • Blinken and Kuleba meet on the border between Ukraine and Poland
  • Israeli leader meets Putin, speaks with Zelenskiy

LVIV/KIEV, Ukraine, March 5 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said Western sanctions amounted to war as his forces continued their assault on Ukraine for a tenth day on Saturday and the IMF said warned that the dispute would have a “serious impact”. on the global economy.

Moscow and Kiev have traded blame over failed plans for a brief ceasefire to allow civilians to evacuate two towns besieged by Russian forces. The Russian invasion has already driven almost 1.5 million refugees west into the European Union.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Saturday made a “desperate plea” for Eastern Europe to supply Russian-made planes to his country during a video call with US senators, the head of the ministry said. House majority, Chuck Schumer. Read more

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NATO, which Ukraine wants to join, has resisted Zelenskiy’s calls to impose a no-fly zone over his country, saying it would escalate conflict outside Ukraine. But there is strong bipartisan support for the US Congress to provide $10 billion in emergency military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Read more

Putin said he wanted a neutral, “demilitarized” and “denazified” Ukraine, adding: “These sanctions that are being imposed are akin to a declaration of war, but thank God it hasn’t come to that.” Read more

Ukraine and Western countries dismissed Putin’s arguments as a baseless excuse to invade and sought to squeeze Russia hard with swift and severe economic sanctions against its banks, oligarchs and others.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met Putin in the Kremlin on Saturday to discuss the crisis before meeting with Zelenskiy, Bennett’s spokesman said. Israel has offered to mediate in the conflict, though officials have played down expectations of a breakthrough. Read more

Ukrainian negotiators said a third round of ceasefire talks with Russia would continue on Monday, although Moscow is less definitive. Two previous rounds had failed, and Zelenskiy said Russia had to stop the bombing first. Read more

“Together we will all rebuild our state,” Zelenskiy told Ukrainians in a televised address on Saturday night. “My confidence in this is reinforced by the energy of our resistance, our protest.”

NO EVACUATION

Earlier, the International Committee of the Red Cross said planned civilian evacuations from Mariupol and Volnovakha were unlikely to begin on Saturday. The Mariupol city council had accused Russia of not observing a ceasefire, while Moscow said Ukrainian “nationalists” were preventing civilians from leaving.

Britain said the proposed ceasefire in Mariupol – which was without power, water and heat for days – was likely an attempt by Russia to deflect international condemnation while she resets her forces.

The port of Mariupol has come under heavy shelling, a sign of its strategic value to Moscow due to its position between eastern Ukraine, held by Russian-backed separatists, and the Black Sea Crimean peninsula, that Moscow seized from Kiev in 2014.

The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces were carrying out a full-scale offensive in Ukraine and had taken several towns and villages, the Interfax news agency reported.

In a dogfight near Zhytomyr, about 100 km (62 miles) west of Kiev, he said, four Ukrainian Su-27 fighter jets were shot down. Reuters could not independently confirm the report.

A United Nations monitoring mission said at least 351 civilians had been confirmed killed and 707 injured in Ukraine since the start of the invasion on February 24, adding that the actual figures were likely “considerably higher”.

The number of refugees could rise to 1.5 million by Sunday evening, from the current 1.3 million, the head of the UN refugee agency said.

Women and children, often numb from exhaustion, continued to stream into Poland and other neighboring countries as well as western Ukrainian cities like Lviv.

“I barely slept for 10 days,” said Anna Filatova, who arrived in Lviv with her two daughters from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s heavily bombed second city near its eastern border with Russia.

“The Russians want to flatten Kharkiv… We hate Putin.” Read more

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, visiting Poland, met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at the border amid heightened security to discuss arms supply and efforts to isolate Russia and cripple its economy.

Blinken also met refugees staying at a disused shopping center in Poland, which hosted the vast majority of Ukrainians forced to flee their country. Read more

‘MY HEART IS BREAK’

Russians, reeling from a 30% drop in the value of the ruble in the past 10 days, money transfer restrictions and the exit of Western companies from IKEA to Microsoft, expressed fear for their economic future.

“My heart is breaking,” said a customer, Viktoriya Voloshina, in the city of Rostov on Saturday. Read more

Another woman, Lidia, said: “Today my family and I are leaving Russia.”

The International Monetary Fund said in a statement that the conflict was driving up global energy and grain prices.

“The ongoing war and associated sanctions will also have a severe impact on the global economy,” he said, adding that he would submit Kyiv’s request for $1.4 billion in emergency funding. dollars to its board of directors for approval next week.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has accused Britain of “sanctions hysteria” and promised tough but proportionate action against British interests in Russia. Britain plans to strengthen its laws to make it easier to crack down on Russian oligarchs in London.

Italian police have seized villas and yachts worth at least $153 million belonging to four Russian figures on an EU sanctions list, sources said on Saturday. Read more

The conflict has also rattled international diplomacy over Iran’s nuclear program, one of the few areas where Russia and the United States have worked together to curb what the West suspects is an Iranian weapons development plan. nuclear.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that Western sanctions imposed on his country had become a stumbling block to reaching a nuclear deal with Iran. Read more

Russia also warned again the EU and NATO to stop the “pumping of advanced weapons systems” in Kyiv, citing the risk to aviation and other transport communications, the door said. -Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova, according to RIA.

Putin, in one of several decrees signed on Saturday, gave his government two days to draw up a list of nations engaged in “hostile acts” against Russia, his news agencies reported.

“FIGHT STRONGLY”

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said 66,224 Ukrainian men had returned from abroad to join the fight against the Russian invasion.

The Ukrainian military said the armed forces are “fighting hard to liberate Ukrainian cities from Russian occupiers”, counterattacking in some areas and disrupting communications.

In Kherson, southern Ukraine, the only regional capital to have changed hands during the invasion so far, several thousand people demonstrated in its main square on Saturday.

“Kherson is Ukraine,” they chanted, demanding the withdrawal of Russian forces.

Eyewitnesses quoted by Interfax said Russian troops fired automatic rifles into the air in an unsuccessful attempt to disperse the crowd. The soldiers then left the city center, eyewitnesses said.

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Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Natalia Zinets, Aleksandar Vasovic in Ukraine, Olzhas Auyezov in Almaty, Matthias Williams in Medyka, Guy Faulconbridge and William Schomberg in London, John Irish in Paris, François Murphy in Vienna, David Ljunggren in Ottawa and other offices from Reuters; Written by Kim Coghill, Philippa Fletcher, Gareth Jones and Susan Heavey; Editing by William Mallard, William Maclean, Frances Kerry and Daniel Wallis

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