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VOL. 46 | NO. 9 | Friday, March 4, 2022

Russia-Ukraine War: What to know on Day 8 of Russian assault

The Associated Press

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Russian forces pressed their war Thursday on Ukraine, seizing a strategic seaport and threatening to overtake a major energy hub even as the two sides met in Belarus and negotiated safe corridors to safely evacuate citizens.

In a video address to the nation earlier in the day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Ukrainians to keep up their resistance as the war raged on for an eighth day.

Here's a look at key things to know about the conflict:

HOW ARE NEGOTIATIONS GOING?

A member of Ukraine's delegation sent to speak with the Russians said both sides have agreed to establish corridors for civilians to safely leave combat zones. The corridors will include cease-fires along the path, said Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskyy.

Humanitarian supplies could be delivered though the corridors, which were the Ukrainians' main demand heading into their second round of negotiations in Belarus, in the Brest region that borders Poland.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also announced the safe zones.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had told reporters ahead of the meeting Russia would press its military action until achieving its goals, chiefly the "demilitarization of Ukraine," but added it will be up to Ukrainians to choose what government they should have.

Ukraine also sought an armistice in the negotiations, Podolyak said in a tweet with a picture of the negotiating table.

The third round of negotiations will take place early next week, he said.

Leonid Slutsky, a senior Russian lawmaker who was a part of the negotiations, said the next round could lead to agreements, some of which would need to be ratified by Russian and Ukrainian parliaments.

Meanwhile, Zelenskyy challenged Putin to sit down with him for talks.

"Any words are more important than shots," Zelenskyy said.

THE FIGHT FOR SOUTHERN UKRAINE

The Russian military now says it controls Kherson, and local Ukrainian officials have confirmed Russian forces have taken over local government headquarters in this Black Sea port of 280,000 people — the first major city to fall since the start of the war.

Ukrainian media reports said Russian troops had also entered the southern city of Enerhodar, a major energy hub on the Dnieper River that accounts for about one-quarter of the country's power generation. It is the site of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the biggest in Europe. The mayor of Enerhodar said Ukrainian forces on the city's edges are battling the Russian troops.

Heavy fighting is continuing on the outskirts of another strategic port city on the Azov Sea, Mariupol, plunging it into darkness, isolation and fear. Electricity and phone connections are largely down, and homes and shops are facing food and water shortages.

FIGHTING ELSEWHERE

More shelling was reported in the northern city of Chernihiv, where emergency officials said at least 33 civilians had been killed and 18 wounded in a Russian bombardment of a residential area. Rescue crews were forced to suspend their search in the wreckage because of renewed shelling.

Overnight explosions heard by Associated Press reporters in the capital, Kyiv, were missiles being shot down by Ukraine's air defense systems, according to the city's mayor. Russia's 40-mile-long (64-kilometer-long) convoy of tanks and other vehicles remains stalled outside Kyiv, which has been struck by deadly shelling.

Russian forces have also been bombarding the country's second-biggest city, Kharkiv.

An aide to Zelenskyy has called on compatriots to use guerrilla tactics against Russian forces, cut down trees and destroy rear columns of Russian troops.

HOW MANY REFUGEES?

The United Nations announced 1 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian assault started. This amounts to more than 2% of Ukraine's population, though some of those fleeing Ukraine are citizens of other countries.

The U.N. refugee agency has predicted up to 4 million people could eventually leave Ukraine, a country with a population of 44 million.

The EU Commission says it will give temporary residence permits to refugees fleeing the violence and allow them to study and work in the 27-nation bloc. The move would need the approval of member states, which have already expressed broad support.

WAR'S DEATH TOLL

Russia has acknowledged nearly 500 Russian troops have been killed in the fighting so far and around 1,600 have been wounded. Ukraine has not released similar casualty figures for its armed forces.

The U.N. human rights office says at least 227 civilians have been killed and 525 wounded in Ukraine since the start of the invasion on Feb. 24. Ukraine's State Emergency Service has said more than 2,000 civilians have died, though it's impossible to verify the claim.

RUSSIAN GENERAL KILLED

Maj. Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky, the commanding general of the Russian 7th Airborne Division, was killed in fighting in Ukraine earlier this week.

His death was confirmed by a local officers' organization in the Krasnodar region in southern Russia. The circumstances of his death were not immediately clear.

Sukhovetsky, who was 47, steadily rose through the ranks to take a series of leadership positions. He took part in Russia's military campaign in Syria.

A funeral ceremony will be held in Novorossiisk, but further details weren't immediately announced.

COULD FINLAND, SWEDEN JOIN NATO?

Support for joining NATO has surged to record levels in Nordic neutrals Finland and Sweden.

A poll commissioned by Finnish broadcaster YLE this week showed for the first time more than 50% of Finns support joining the Western military alliance. In neighboring Sweden, a similar poll showed those in favor of NATO membership outnumber those against.

Moscow has warned it would be forced to take retaliatory measures if Finland and Sweden joined the alliance.

HOW ARE SANCTIONS IMPACTING RUSSIA?

The White House announced new sanctions Thursday aimed at people in Putin's inner circle, and the State Department said it was banning 19 Russian oligarchs and dozens of their family members and associates. Earlier this week, the White House announced sanctions against Russia and its ally, Belarus, including export controls aimed at Russia's oil industry. The U.S. joined Europe and Canada in closing its airspace to Russian airlines. The Justice Department announced a new initiative to go after Russian oligarchs.

A growing number of the world's best known brands — from Apple to Mercedes-Benz and BP — are to pull out of Russia. German Volkswagen Group decided to halt all its business activities in Russia, including that of subsidiary Skoda Auto, which is halting car production in its two Russian plants and all exports to Russia.

Similarly, Swedish furniture retailer Ikea says it is closing its operations in Russia, pausing all export and import in and out of Russia and Belarus, a decision that will have "a direct impact on 15,000 IKEA co-workers."

WHAT ABOUT THE RUSSIAN PEOPLE?

The sanctions threaten ultra-wealthy Russians who own properties across Europe and send their children to elite European private schools. Some have begun, albeit tentatively, to speak out.

French authorities on Thursday said they seized a yacht linked to Igor Sechin, a Putin ally who runs Russian oil giant Rosneft, as part of EU sanctions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich confirmed Wednesday he's trying to sell the Premier League Chelsea soccer club, with a price tag of at least $2.5 billion floated. He said net proceeds from the sale will be donated to benefit all victims of the war in Ukraine.

Ordinary Russians are also feeling the impact of the sanctions, from payment systems that won't operate and problems withdrawing cash to not being able to purchase certain items.

Russian and Belarusian athletes are now banned from the Paralympics Games for their countries' roles in the war in Ukraine when the Games open Friday.

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Follow the AP's coverage of the war between Russia and Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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