Major Ukrainian cities, including the capital, Kyiv, reported increased shelling as Russia’s unprovoked invasion entered its second week and UN members condemned Moscow’s actions as “deplorable” and demanded that Russia withdraw.
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Concerns about civilians caught up in the fighting intensified on March 3 as Russian and Ukrainian officials prepared to meet for ceasefire talks that could include talks on humanitarian corridors.
An aide to the Ukrainian president said such access could help with food, medicine, ambulances and the evacuation of children.
The UN human rights office said on March 3 that it had recorded 136 civilian deaths in Ukraine in the week since the invasion began, including 13 children.
Ukraine’s National Emergency Service said more than 2,000 civilians had died, but that figure was impossible to confirm.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned on France-2 that “I think the worst may be ahead of us” in Ukraine. He said France would propose a resolution to the UN Security Council later on March 3 to demand a ceasefire in Ukraine.
But Russia’s veto has made progress on such a proposal unlikely.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in a video address to the public early March 3, urged Ukrainians to maintain their resistance.
“They won’t have peace here,” Zelenskiy said of the Russian invaders. He described the Russian troops as “confused children who have been used” and called on them to “go home”.
Meanwhile, Russian troops have reportedly reached the center of their first major Ukrainian city since the start of the all-out conflict, but it is unclear who controls the Black Sea coastal city of Kherson.
Kherson Mayor Ihor Kolykhayev said late March 2 that Russian troops were on the streets of the city of nearly 300,000 people and entered the local council building.
He said he spoke to the “armed visitors” and made no promises but “I just asked them not to shoot people”.
Regional official Hennady Lakhuta reportedly said the “occupiers” were in “all parts” of Kherson.
A UK intelligence update on Ukraine early March 3 said that while some Russian forces had entered Kherson, the military situation was unclear.
British intelligence said that despite heavy Russian bombardment, Kharkiv and the cities of Chernihiv and Mariupol remained in Ukrainian hands.
But he said Mariupol, a major port city on the Sea of Azov, appeared to be surrounded by Russian forces.
A powerful rocket attack was reported in Sumy, causing several casualties, according to the head of the regional state administration in the region, Dmytro Zhivitskiy.
At least four major explosions were reported overnight in Kyiv.
But the UK intelligence report echoed other sources in saying a huge military column stretching tens of miles north of the capital had made little apparent progress over the past three days.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko told Current Time on March 2 that there were “obvious plans” by Russian troops to surround the capital and that they planned to strangle Kyiv with a blockade.
Ukrainian officials have lowered their expectations as they head into planned ceasefire talks with Russian officials on March 3 in the Brest region of southern Belarus.
Zelenskiy said Russian forces must stop shelling Ukrainian cities before meaningful ceasefire talks can begin on stopping the biggest military operation to invade a European state since World War II. .
The head of the Russian delegation, Vladimir Medinsky, said the parties would also discuss a possible humanitarian corridor in Ukraine.
Similar talks between Russia and Ukraine on February 28 ended without progress.
WATCH: Russian soldiers were seen looting grocery stores and banks in several Ukrainian towns. Security camera footage posted on social media showed Russian soldiers seizing food and trying to steal a safe.
Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague announcement on March 2 that his team had begun gathering evidence “as quickly as possible” on allegations of war crimes and other atrocities, following calls from 39 countries for an investigation into events in Ukraine.
“In particular, I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to believe that alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Ukraine in relation to the events already assessed during the preliminary examination by the office “said prosecutor Karim Khan.
The UN refugee agency said on March 3 that one million people had fled Ukraine in the past seven days to find safety in neighboring countries.
Train stations and border checkpoints with Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary were crowded with women and children.
Ukrainian authorities have banned men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the country, as military and reserve troops and civil defense groups battle tens of thousands of Russian soldiers and paratroopers, aerial bombardments and columns tanks and armored vehicles.
The UN plenum approved a non-binding resolution on March 2 that “deplores” Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine. He was supported by 141 of the 193 members of the assembly.
Thirty-five members, including China and Russian allies Iran and Cuba, abstained and five countries, including Russia, Syria and Belarus, voted against the resolution.
The US State Department also called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to “immediately stop this bloodshed” and withdraw Russian troops, and condemned blockades and threats of blockages by independent news outlets and the “limitation social media by the authorities.
Protests in Russia against the invasion of Ukraine have led to mass arrests and Russian authorities have imposed broad bans on the use of words like “war” or “invasion” to describe events in Ukraine.
International measures aimed at punishing Russia’s invasion of its neighbor have continued.
The United States announced new sanctions against Russia and the introduction of strict controls on the export of high-tech products to Belarus.
India and Australia have announced that US President Joe Biden and the leaders of India, Australia and Japan will hold an unannounced online meeting of the so-called Quad group of countries.
Japan’s national broadcaster NHK said it would likely discuss and coordinate responses to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In the European Union, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban reportedly said his country would not veto a new round of EU sanctions against Russia. He said “unity is paramount” at this stage, according to local media outlet Mandiner.hu.
Former Ukrainian world heavyweight boxing champion Volodymyr Klitschko, brother of the mayor of Kyiv, has praised the international sports community for its “united” response to pressure on Moscow by banning Russian organizations and participation in major events.
“Ban Russian teams from participating. I have nothing against the athletes but they present the regime and in a way the connection with this war,” Klitschko said.
Later, the International Paralympic Committee announced that athletes from Russia and Belarus, which allowed the Russian military to stand near the border, will not be able to participate in the Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing which are due to start on 4 March.
The Russian Ministry of Defense on March 2 given its first casualty estimates since the launch of the unprovoked invasion. He said 498 of his soldiers had died since the war began last week, while a spokesperson added on Twitter that another 1,597 Russian soldiers had been injured.
The figures could not be independently verified and there was no immediate comment from Ukraine, which said the number of Russian casualties was close to 6,000.
The Ukrainian army general staff said on March 3 that the number of Russian casualties was about 9,000another number impossible to verify.