UN chief denounces ‘horrific’ bombing of Ukraine hospital

  • Pentagon reaffirms US opposition to Poland’s offer to send fighter jets to Ukraine, saying transfer risks escalating crisis.
  • UN officials condemn bombing of children’s hospital in besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
  • Ukraine has accused Russia of bombing the children’s hospital and maternity ward, injuring at least 17 people.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrives in Turkey for talks with Ukrainian counterpart.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reiterates call for Kyiv’s allies to impose a no-fly zone over the country.
  • US and UK again rule out no-fly zone, saying it could lead to direct confrontation with Russia.

Here are all the latest updates:

US speeds licensing for gun, ammunition shipments to Ukraine

The United States is rapidly processing requests from Americans to export firearms and ammunition to Ukraine, the US Commerce Department has said.

The Commerce Department said it had imposed export controls on Russia to “degrade its ability to sustain military aggression” and Americans should check agency regulations to see if a license was needed to ship specific firearms to Ukraine.

“The department has been processing requests rapidly for the export of firearms and ammunition to Ukraine under its existing processes and authorities,” a department spokesperson said.

Americans are donating thousands of sets of body armor and millions of rounds of ammunition in response to Ukraine’s pleas for military support.

Zelenskyy says 35,000 civilians evacuated from Ukrainian cities

At least 35,000 civilians were evacuated from besieged Ukrainian cities on Wednesday, Zelenskyy has said.

In a video address, the Ukrainian leader said three humanitarian corridors had allowed residents to leave the cities of Sumy, Enerhodar and areas around Kyiv.

INTERACTIVE- Where are Ukrainians fleeing to DAY 14 _ 2 million

War-related inflation may drive protests and riots, World Bank warns

Soaring energy and food prices triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could exacerbate existing food security concerns in the Middle East and Africa, and may fuel growing social unrest, World Bank chief economist Carmen Reinhart has said.

“There will be important ramifications for the Middle East, for Africa, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, in particular,” which had already been experiencing food insecurity, Reinhart told Reuters news agency.

“I don’t want to be melodramatic, but it’s not a far stretch that food insecurity and riots were part of the story behind the Arab Spring,” she said, adding that successful and unsuccessful coups had increased over the past two years.

Zelenskyy believes Russia’s Putin will soon ‘negotiate’

Zelenskyy has said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin will eventually enter negotiations and end the invasion, after seeing Russian forces encounter fierce resistance from Ukrainians.

“I think he will. I think he sees that we are strong,” Zelenskyy said in an interview with Vice from Kyiv, adding “we need some time”.

“How to stop this war? Only dialogue,” he said.

When asked what his message to Putin would be, Zelenskyy said: “Stop the war. Begin to speak. That’s it.”

Biden to discuss developments with Turkey’s Erdogan

US President Joe Biden will hold a phone call with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the latest developments involving Russia and Ukraine, the White House has said.

Top US, Ukraine diplomats discuss additional aid for Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, in a phone call, discussed additional security and humanitarian support for Ukraine, the State Department has said.

Blinken and Kuleba also discussed Russia’s “unconscionable attacks harming population centers,” the statement said.

For his part, Kuleba said his call with Blinken was “on further steps to strengthen Ukraine’s defence capabilities”.

Zelenskyy calls hospital bombing ‘war crime’

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy has described the attack on a children’s hospital in the southeastern city of Mariupol as a “war crime” after it prompted international condemnation.

“We have not done and would never do anything like this war crime in any of the cities of the Donetsk or Luhansk regions, or of any region… because we are people. But are you?” Zelenskyy said, switching to Russian to make his point.

“What kind of a country is Russia, that it is afraid of hospitals and maternity wards and destroys them?” he said.

Timeline: Week two of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

As the war in Ukraine enters its third week, Al Jazeera examines the major events that marked the second week of hostilities, from a US ban on Russian oil and gas imports to attempts to evacuate civilians from Ukrainian cities under siege and the displacement of more than two million refugees.

Read more here.

A maternity hospital hit by shelling in Mariupol.
A woman walks outside the damaged by shelling maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine [Evgeniy Maloletka/AP Photo]

IMF approves $1.4bn emergency funding for Ukraine

The International Monetary Fund has said its executive board approved $1.4b in emergency financing for Ukraine to help meet urgent spending needs and mitigate the economic impact of Russia’s military invasion.

“The Russian military invasion of Ukraine has been responsible for a massive humanitarian and economic crisis,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said, predicting a deep recession in Ukraine this year.

“Financing needs are large, urgent, and could rise significantly as the war continues,” she said. Once the war was over, Ukraine was likely to need additional “large support”,.

The global lender said Ukrainian authorities had canceled an existing stand-by lending arrangement with the IMF, but would work with the fund to design an appropriate economic program focused on rehabilitation and growth when conditions permit.

White House dismisses Russia’s claims of US involvement in biowarfare labs

The White House has said Russia’s claims about alleged US involvement in biological weapons labs and chemical weapons development in Ukraine were false.

“We took note of Russia’s false claims about alleged US biological weapons labs and chemical weapons development in Ukraine,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a series of tweets.

She said Russia could possibly be laying the groundwork for use of chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine “or to create a false flag operation using them” but did not offer evidence.

Ukrainian MP says people forced to drink ‘contaminated water’

Ukrainian parliament member Lesia Vasylenko says it is currently impossible for many Ukrainians to access clean water amid the fighting, forcing many to drink contaminated water and causing several cases of dehydration.

“It’s impossible to get food or water,” Vasylenko told Al Jazeera. “People are drinking contaminated water from the sewage system or children are forced to take snow or what remains of the snow just to stay hydrated.”

The situation, she added, demonstrates “how inhumane” the methods Russia is using against the Ukrainian civilian population are.

Caterpillar suspends operations in Russia

Caterpillar Inc has said it was suspending operations in its manufacturing facilities in Russia, joining a growing number of companies that have halted business in the country.

“Operations in Russia have become increasingly challenging, including supply chain disruptions and sanctions, and we are suspending operations in our Russian manufacturing facilities,” a company spokesperson said.

UN humanitarian chief decries strike on hospital as ‘deeply shocking’

The UN’s humanitarian affairs chief has denounced the attack on a Ukrainian children’s hospital in Mariupol as an “appalling breach” of international humanitarian law.

“It’s deeply shocking in all kinds of different ways. It’s shocking because it’s a medical facility, which under international humanitarian law is protected,” Martin Griffiths told Al Jazeera.

“It’s shocking because it kills babies, newborns and it’s shocking because this is the kind of thing that happens appallingly in the war like the one we are seeing in Ukraine.

He added: “I hope we will find out in due course who did this and hold them to account.”

UK’s Johnson commits to further tighten sanctions on Russia

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Ukraine’s Zelenskyy he is committed to further tightening sanctions to impose maximum economic cost on Russia, a Downing Street spokesperson has said.

Over 1,200 civilians have died in siege of Mariupol, mayor says

A total of 1,207 civilians have died during a nine-day siege by Russian forces of Ukraine’s port city of Mariupol, its mayor has said.

The first nine days of the Russian siege saw “1,207 peaceful Mariupol residents dying”, the city authorities posted on Telegram along with a video message by Mayor Vadym Boichenko.

UN chief condemns ‘horrific’ attack in Mariupol

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has decried what Ukrainian officials said was a Russian attack on a hospital in the besieged southeastern port city of Mariupol.

“Today’s attack on a hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, where maternity & children’s wards are located, is horrific,” Guterres said on Twitter.

“Civilians are paying the highest price for a war that has nothing to do with them. This senseless violence must stop. End the bloodshed now.”

Russian banks can lend to firms owned by non-residents

Russian banks will be allowed to lend to companies controlled by non-residents, the finance ministry has said amid sanctions that have prompted many western firms to pull out or suspend operations.

“This decision was taken so that companies wishing to continue their business activities in Russia can work normally and receive loans from domestic banks,” the ministry said in a statement, without providing details.

INTERACTIVE - Sanctions on Russia SWIFT payment network

US weighs sanctions on Russian nuclear power supplier

The United States was weighing sanctions on Russian nuclear power supplier Rosatom, Bloomberg has reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

No final decision has been made and the White House is consulting with the nuclear power industry about the potential impact of imposing sanctions on Russia’s state-owned atomic energy company, which is a major supplier of fuel and technology to power plants around the world, the report added.

Russia’s uranium production is controlled by Rosatom, which was formed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2007. The company is an important source of revenue for Moscow.

Pentagon does not support more jets for Ukraine

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has informed his Polish counterpart that Washington does not back Warsaw’s plans to transfer its Russian-made MiG-29 jets to Ukraine, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby has said.

He said the effectiveness of Russia’s “significant” air force has already been limited by Ukraine’s air defences.

“Polish generosity is clearly on display for the whole world to see,” Kirby said. “But at this time, we believe that provision of additional fighter aircraft provides little increased capabilities at high risk.”

He added that transferring the jets to Ukraine would risk an escalation with Russia.

Lavrov arrives in Turkey for talks with Ukrainian counterpart

Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has landed in Antalya, Turkey, ahead of planned talks with Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday.

The meeting would be the first between the nations’ top diplomats since Russia invaded Ukraine two weeks ago.

Ukraine evacuates 40,000 civilians in one day: official

Ukraine has evacuated more than 40,000 people in one day but has fallen short of the target of 100,000, one of the negotiators in the talks with Russia said.

David Arakhamia said in a post on social media said that evacuations remained problematic around the cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol.

Ukrainian official says 67 children killed since Russian invasion began

Ukraine’s top security official Oleksiy Danilov says 67 children have been killed since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

Danilov also joined Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in urging Kyiv’s allies to enforce a no-fly zone over the country.

The US, UK and NATO have ruled out that call, saying a no-fly zone would risk escalating the conflict and leading to a direct military confrontation with Russia.

No evidence of weapons of mass destruction produced in Ukraine: UN

The United Nations has seen no evidence of weapons of mass destruction allegedly produced in Ukraine, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is “unaware of any activity on the part of the Ukrainian government, which is inconsistent with its international treaty obligations, including on chemical weapons or by biological weapons”.

The UN statement follows Russian allegations that Ukraine is developing nuclear or biological weapons.

IAEA chief to join Russia-Ukraine meeting in Turkey

The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, Rafael Grossi, will fly to Turkey later today, as the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers are set to meet.

“In meetings there I hope to make progress on the urgent issue of ensuring the safety and security of #Ukraine’s nuclear facilities. We need to act now!” Grossi wrote on Twitter.

Russia has seized a nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia and radioactive waste facilities near the defunct nuclear power plant at Chernobyl. Ukrainian staff are still operating both but in conditions Grossi has said put the facilities’ safety at risk.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Read all the updates from Wednesday, March 9, here.

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