Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is continuing unabated, with 2 million people – half of them children – forced to flee the country as Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II grows even more severe.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and UNICEF confirmed the figures as more people headed for the borders Tuesday. Poland has received more than 1.2 million Ukrainian refugees, the most of any nation.
Civilians in one eastern Ukrainian city were leaving on buses amid a 12-hour-long cease-fire in that area after Russia and Ukraine agreed on establishing five safe corridors for people to escape the fighting.
Overnight, Russian aircraft pressed on with bombing cities in eastern and central Ukraine. Shelling pounded suburbs of the capital, Kyiv, and as the war entered its 13th day, food, water, heat and medicine have grown increasingly scarce in multiple cities facing electricity outages.
Here’s a look at key things to know about the war:
WHAT HAS BEEN DIRECTLY WITNESSED OR CONFIRMED BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS?
Videos Tuesday showed people boarding buses, and multiple buses marked with a red cross driving along a snowy road as the eastern city of Sumy was given a safe corridor for evacuation.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said both sides agreed to a cease-fire from 9 am to 9 pm for the evacuation of civilians from Sumy. Those leaving include foreign students from India and China, she said.
The safe corridors were agreed on by Ukrainian and Russian officials during their third round of direct talks Monday. More talks are expected.
Earlier, a video from Sumy showed the aftermath of an airstrike overnight with rescuers getting wounded out of the debris. A woman trapped under the rubble survived, according to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry. Rescuers were going through the rubble at night, using bare hands and flashlights, as well as machines to cut through concrete slabs to reach the victims.
WHAT ARE THE TWO SIDES SAYING ABOUT THE EVACUATIONS?
The Russian Defense Ministry has said civilians will be allowed to also leave the cities of Mariupol and Kyiv, where people have built hundreds of checkpoints to protect the city of nearly 4 million people.
The governor of the Kyiv Region, which surrounds the capital, said Ukraine was making arrangements to get people out of Irpin, which has been cut off from electricity, water and heat for four days.
Officials in Moscow say most of the corridors for fleeing civilians, however, will lead to Russia either directly or via Belarus. Russia’s ambassador to the UN suggested that humanitarian paths could give people a choice in where they want to go.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for the expansion of humanitarian corridors on Tuesday. In an earlier video, he urged his people to keep resisting Russia’s assault. Ukraine’s foreign minister says more than 20,000 people from 52 countries have volunteered to fight in Ukraine.
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING ON THE GROUND?
Russian aircraft bombed cities in eastern and central Ukraine overnight, Ukrainian officials said. Shelling pounded suburbs of Kyiv. Bombs also hit oil depots in two other towns.
The mayor of Lviv said the city in far western Ukraine is struggling to feed and house the tens of thousands who have fled there from other parts of the country. More than 200,000 Ukrainians displaced from their homes are in Lviv, filling up sports halls, schools and other buildings.
In the southern port city of Mariupol, an estimated 200,000 people – nearly half its population – are hoping to flee as hospitals there face severe shortages of antibiotics and painkillers. An official with Ukraine’s presidential office says humanitarian aid is being sent to the city.
A Russian general was killed in the fighting in Ukraine’s second-largest city, according to the Ukrainian military intelligence agency. He is the second Russian general reportedly killed since the invasion began. The report said he had fought with Russian forces in Syria and Chechnya. It was not possible to confirm the death independently. Russia has not commented.
HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KILLED?
The death toll of the conflict has been difficult to measure. The UN human rights office said Tuesday it has confirmed 474 civilian deaths in Ukraine since the war began on Feb. 24. The number of confirmed civilian injuries now stands at 861, it said, though the actual figures are likely considerably higher.
The World Health Organization said six health care workers have been killed and nearly a dozen wounded in attacks. It has confirmed 16 attacks on health care facilities in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began.
Ukrainian refugees continue to pour into neighboring countries, including Poland, Romania and Moldova. Among them are an unknown number of people with US citizenship, though some have not been able to flee Ukraine yet.
WHAT IS THE GLOBAL IMPACT?
Surging prices for oil and other vital commodities, such as wheat used in subsidized bread and noodles, are rattling global markets. Worries are growing that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will upend already tight supplies of oil. Russia is one of the world’s largest energy producers.
President Joe Biden will ban Russian oil imports in retaliation for its war of Ukraine, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday. The move follows pleas by Zelenskyy to US and Western officials to cut off the imports. Energy exports have kept a steady influx of cash flowing to Russia despite otherwise severe restrictions on its financial sector.
China’s President Xi Jinping has again criticized sanctions imposed on Russia as “harmful to all sides,” according to a Chinese readout of a video summit Tuesday with the leaders of France and Germany.
Bulgaria said Tuesday it will not support sanctions against Russia that are harmful to its own economy. The country, which is a European Union and NATO member state, is heavily dependent on Russian oil and gas.
A growing number of multinational businesses have cut Russia off from vital financial services in response to Western economic sanctions. The most recent big name brands to suspend services in Russia are Netflix, the popular streaming service, and Estee Lauder, the New York-based cosmetics giant.
Despite countries sending weapons to Ukrainian forces fighting the Russians, Western countries have rejected Ukrainian calls to impose a no-fly zone over the country. There are concerns such a move would risk dramatically escalating the conflict.
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