06:12am: Three-day Russian ceasefire to begin at besieged Mariupol plant
A Russian-announced ceasefire was due to begin Thursday at the besieged steel plant in the devastated Ukrainian city of Mariupol, to allow civilians to flee even as its defenders vowed to fight to the end.
The three-day halt in Russia’s attack on the Azovstal steelworks was announced as EU member states debated a proposed ban on Russian oil, the bloc’s toughest move yet over Moscow’s invasion of its neighbour.
The EU also pledged to “significantly increase” support for Ukrainian neighbour Moldova, where a series of attacks in a Russia-backed separatist region has sparked fears a war that has killed thousands could spread more than two months after it began.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday said the bloc would “phase out Russian supply of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year”, a move that would still not touch its huge gas exports.
But within hours, Hungary – whose populist leader Viktor Orban is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s few EU partners – said it could not support the plan “in this form”, as it would “completely destroy” the security of its energy supply.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba hit back that EU countries blocking an oil embargo would be “complicit” in Russia’s crimes in Ukraine.
03:45am: US intelligence helping Ukraine kill Russian generals, NY Times reports
The United States has provided intelligence that has helped Ukrainian forces kill many of the Russian generals who have died in the Ukraine war, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing senior US officials.
Washington has provided to Ukraine details on Russia’s expected troop movements and the location and other details about Russia’s mobile military headquarters, and Ukraine has combined that help with its own intelligence to conduct artillery strikes and other attacks that have killed Russian officers, the newspaper said.
Ukrainian officials said they have killed about 12 Russian generals on the battlefield, according to the New York Times. US officials declined to specify how many generals had been killed as a result of American intelligence, the newspaper said.
FRANCE 24 was not able to independently verify the accounts.
03:20am: Modi, Macron call for ‘immediate’ end to Ukraine hostilities
India, which imports much of its military hardware from Russia, has long walked a diplomatic tightrope between the West and Moscow – notably refusing to denounce the latter or vote against it at the United Nations over its actions in Ukraine.
“France and India expressed their deep concern over the humanitarian crisis and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine,” Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron said in a joint statement after they met in Paris for talks and a working dinner.
“Both countries unequivocally condemned the fact that civilians have been killed in Ukraine, and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities in order for the two sides to come together to promote dialogue and diplomacy, and to put an immediate end to the suffering of the people.”
However, only France condemned “Russian forces’ illegal and unjustified aggression against Ukraine”.
1:50am: Ukrainian TV reporter-turned-soldier killed in fighting, says Zelensky
A Ukrainian television reporter who enlisted after the Russian invasion has been killed in fighting outside the northeastern city of Izyum, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Thursday.
Oleksandr Makhov, 36, is at least the eighth journalist to have died in more than two months of conflict.
Makhov, known for graphic accounts from conflict zones, had also reported from Antarctica. He fought in a 2014 conflict after Russian-speakers staged separatist insurrections in two eastern regions of Ukraine.
“Patriotic and sincere, and always without vanity. And he was always among the bravest, among those first in line,” Zelenskiy said in an early morning video address.
1:18am: Over 300 rescued from Mariupol, as Zelensky pleads for more UN help
Over 300 Ukrainians were evacuated from the battered city of Mariupol on Wednesday as President Volodymyr Zelensky asked the UN to help to rescue the remaining wounded trapped underneath the giant Azovstal steel plant.
Speaking to the nation in his nightly address, Zelensky said 344 people were evacuated from Mariupol and nearby areas and headed northwest for the city of Zaporizhzhia, which is controlled by Kyiv.
But earlier in the day, he also pleaded with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to help rescue the wounded who are still sheltering at the plant.
“The lives of the people who remain there are in danger,” Zelensky told Guterres by phone.
In a statement, the Red Cross said it was “relieved that more lives have been spared” and called for renewed efforts to continue evacuations from the region “in light of the immense suffering of the civilians.”
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)
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