Russia is continuing its invasion of Ukraine, while the next round of peace talks between the two countries failed.
A third round of peace talks is expected to be held shortly. Earlier today, more than 22 civilians were killed in a Russian airstrike in the city of Chernihiv.
Russian forces also captured the city of Kherson in the south of Ukraine. It comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin claims his military has offered safe corridors so civilians can escape the war in Ukraine.
Read more: LIVE updates from Ukraine
The Russian military says it has only struck military facilities and has not targeted residential areas, a claim that has been contradicted by evidence of massive casualties and damage to residential areas of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Chernihiv and other cities documented by the Associated Press.
Mr Putin reaffirmed his claim that the Russian military was fighting “neo-Nazis”, adding that some Ukrainians were also “fooled by nationalist propaganda”.
Meanwhile, Putin said in a phone call to French President Emanuel Macron that he plans to take ‘all of Ukraine.’ Elsewhere, Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky vowed Russia would pay for the damage caused.
He said: “We will restore every house, every street, every city and we say to Russia: learn the word of reparations and contributions. You will reimburse us for everything you did against our state, against every Ukrainian in full.”
Russian oligarchs Alisher Usmanov and Igor Shuvalov sanctioned by UK
Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who has had ties to Arsenal and Everton football clubs, has been sanctioned to pile pressure on Vladimir Putin over his “barbarous” invasion of Ukraine.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss also announced a travel ban and full asset freeze against former Russian deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov on Thursday evening, taking the total number of oligarchs sanctioned to 15.
But Roman Abramovich, who says he will sell Chelsea FC, is not expected to be among the latest tranche of sanctioned oligarchs after it was granted it could take “weeks and months” to build legally sound cases.
Putin says Russian military offered ‘safe corridors’ to Ukrainian civilians
Vladimir Putin said the Russian military has offered safe corridors to civilians to allow them to leave areas of fighting in Ukraine.
Mr Putin, speaking in a video call with members of his security council, claims Ukrainian nationalist groups are preventing civilians from leaving.
The Russian leader said the groups were also using civilians as shields, taking up firing positions to provoke Russian retaliatory fire. Mr Putin’s claim could not be independently verified.
The military says it has only struck military facilities and has not targeted residential areas, a claim that has been contradicted by evidence of massive casualties and damage to residential areas of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Chernihiv and other cities documented by the Associated Press.
Putin plans to take ‘all of Ukraine’, French president claims as he warns ‘the worst is still to come’
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin warned on Thursday that he plans to take ‘all of Ukraine’ and that the ‘worst is yet to come.’
Putin made the comments during a phone call with President Emmanuel Macron of France, the French said.
The previous day, Mr Macron said he would continue to lobby Mr Putin for a ceasefire, while denouncing ‘the lies’ spread by the Russian government to justify a war in Ukraine, while saying he would continue to lobby Mr Putin for a ceasefire.
Following their phone call on Thursday, which lasted an hour and a half, Mr Macron said: ‘The worst is yet to come.’
An Elysee Palace spokesman explained: “President Putin expressed his very great determination to continue the offensive, the aim of which is to take control of the whole country.
“President Putin said the Russian Army operation was developing ‘according to the plan’ and that it would ‘get worse if the Ukrainians do not accept surrender terms’.”
First major Ukrainian city captured by Russian forces, says mayor
Russian forces have seized Kherson in southern Ukraine, the city’s mayor has said, as he issued a desperate appeal for food and medicine to be allowed in.
Igor Kolykhaiev, who also appealed to Russia for permission to transport the dead and wounded out from the port city, said on Facebook: “Without all this, the city will die.”
It would make it the first, and biggest, city to fall yet in the invasion.
The development came as the UN refugee agency said one million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, in the swiftest exodus of refugees this century.
Mr Kolykhaiev said Vladimir Putin’s soldiers had forced their way into the city council building and enforced a curfew on residents.
Russian forces battle to take over Enerhodar, which has Europe’s largest nuclear plant
Russian forces have battled for control of a vital energy-producing city in Ukraine’s south and also gained ground in their bid to cut off the country from the sea, as Ukrainian leaders called on citizens to wage guerrilla war against the invaders.
The fighting at Enerhodar, a city on the Dnieper River that accounts for about one-quarter of the country’s power generation, came as the two sides met for another round of talks aimed at stopping the bloodshed that has set off an exodus of over one million refugees.
The mayor of Enerhodar, the site of the biggest nuclear plant in Europe, said Ukrainian forces were battling Russian troops on the city’s outskirts. Dmytro Orlov urged residents not to leave their homes.
Second round of peace talks fail, says President Zelenskyy’s adviser
The second round of peace talks, which were held between Russia and Ukraine in Belarus today, have failed.
Mykhailo Podoliyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, has tweeted: “The second round of negotiations is over.
“Unfortunately, the results Ukraine needs are not yet achieved. There is a solution only for the organization of humanitarian corridors.”
Negotiators from Ukraine and Russia say a third round of talks on the war will be held shortly.
A video released today by Mr Zelensky’s office showed an informally dressed Ukrainian delegation walking into a meeting room where they shook hands with Russian delegates in suits and ties as a second round of peace talks began in neighboring Belarus.
The talks are aimed at stopping the fighting that has felt more than a million people fleeing over Ukraine’s borders, but the two sides appeared to have little common ground.
More than one million refugees flee Ukraine in a week
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced more than a million people to flee the war in just a week, an exodus so swift it almost matches the number of people who sought refuge in Europe in a whole year during the 2015 migration crisis.
The arrival of about 1.3 million people sparked tensions among European partners as they squabbled over how many refugees and asylum-seekers to accept, and bolstered far-right populists, some of whom were friendly to the Kremlin.
But as Russian forces inflict massive destruction on a neighboring nation today, Europeans have united in extending a helping hand.
In one week, they accepted more than 2% of Ukraine’s 44 million population, according to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR. The operation has gone relatively smoothly thanks to an enormous mobilization of volunteers near and far who have gone to the borders to help — some from as far away as the United States.
The European Union decided on Thursday to grant people fleeing Ukraine temporary protection and residence permits.
Meanwhile, Ukrainians and foreigners who had been living in Ukraine continued to disembark in Polish, Hungarian, Slovakian, Romanian and Moldovan border towns.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.