Ukraine news – live: Zelensky tells Putin ‘it’s time to speak’ as fighting reaches Mariupol city centre

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‘Russia has not had unity like this for long time’ Putin tells crowd

More than 9,000 people have left the besieged port city of Mariupol in the last day, and over 180,000 people could still flee to safety, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday.

Mr Zelensky said in a late night video address that Russian forces are deliberately creating a “humanitarian catastrophe” and preventing supplies from reaching surrounded cities in order to force Ukrainians to cooperate with them.

The Ukrainian president appealed to the Russian president Vladimir Putin to hold talks with him directly.

“It’s time to meet, time to speak. I want to be heard by everyone, especially in Moscow,” he said.

Mariupol mayor Vadym Boichenko told the BBC that fighting has now reached the city’s centre. Three weeks into the invasion, Russia has suffered heavy losses on the battlefield.

British Chief of Defence Intelligence Lt Gen Jim Hockenhull warned that Russia is shifting to a “strategy of attrition”, and deploying “indiscriminate use of firepower”.

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Top former Kremlin official resigns post after condemning war

Arkady Dvorkovich, who was Russia’s deputy prime minister from 2012 to 2018, has quit as the chief of a prestigious foundation after a lawmaker demanded his dismissal, accusing him of a “national betrayal.”

Mr Dvorkovich, who has been the chairman of the innovation and technology hub Skolkovo Foundation since 2018, said on Friday that he has decided to step down from his position.

He decried wars in an interview on Monday, saying they are “the worst things one might face in life…including this war.”

“My thoughts are with Ukrainian civilians,” the former deputy prime minister told Mother Jones.

After his statements, Andrei Turchak, a lawmaker from the ruling United Russia party, called for his sacking.

On Friday, the Skolkovo Foundation said in a statement that Mr Dvorkovich had decided to step down.

He remains president of the International Chess Federation (FIDE).

Vishwam Sankaran19 March 2022 05:43

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Zelensky tells Putin: ‘It’s time to speak’

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky says more than 9,000 people have left the besieged port city of Mariupol in the last day, and over 180,000 people could flee to safety through humanitarian corridors.

Mr Zelensky said Russian troops are blockading the country’s largest cities and creating a “humanitarian catastrophe,” and preventing supplies from reaching surrounded cities.

He said the Russian forces are using this “totally deliberate tactic” to persuade Ukrainians to cooperate with them.

In his nighttime video address to the nation, filmed outside in Kyiv, Mr Zelensky appealed to Russian president Vladimir Putin to hold talks with him directly.

“It’s time to meet, time to speak. I want to be heard by everyone, especially in Moscow,” he said.

Vishwam Sankaran19 March 2022 04:50

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Canada launches temporary residence pathway for Ukrainians

Canada’s president Justin Trudeau announced on Saturday that the country has launched a programme for Ukrainians to stay in Canada as temporary residents for up to three years.

“Ukrainian workers, students, and visitors already in Canada can apply to extend their visitor status or work permit for up to three years – or apply for a new work or study permit,” Mr Trudeau said.

Under this special programme, the Canadian President said many of the regular requirements associated with a normal visitor visa or work permit have been waived.

“We’re working around the clock to make sure Ukrainians and their families can get to Canada as quickly – and as safely – as possible,” he tweeted.

Vishwam Sankaran19 March 2022 04:25

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Mariupol Mayor says fighting has reached city centre

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko told BBC that the fighting has reached the city’s centre.

Over 80 per cent of the port city’s residential buildings are reportedly either damaged or destroyed, and 30 per cent of them cannot be restored.

Officials have calculated more than 2,500 deaths in the city, but add that many bodies cannot be counted due to the endless shelling.

“The city is almost razed to the ground with 80% of buildings destroyed,” The Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security under Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture and Information Policy tweeted.

Vishwam Sankaran19 March 2022 03:58

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Putin appears at massive flag-waving rally in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared at a massive rally on Friday at a Moscow stadium, praising his troops.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, now on day 24, has caused heavier-than-expected losses to Russian forces on the battlefield as the country continues to curb antiwar protests at home.

Mr Putin praised his troops in a rare public appearance since the beginning of the war, adding “We have not had unity like this for a long time.”

The event, marking the eighth anniversary of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, included patriotic songs, such as “Made in the U.S.S.R.,” with the opening lines “Ukraine and Crimea, Belarus and Moldova, it’s all my country.”

You can read more about the rally here

Vishwam Sankaran19 March 2022 03:31

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