Two million people — half of them children — have fled Ukraine in the less than two weeks since Russia invaded the country, officials said Tuesday, as Europe's worst refugee crisis since World War II grows by the day.
The humanitarian situation in the country's besieged cities grew more dire, including in Mariupol, where bodies lay uncollected in the streets and hopes for a mass evacuation of civilians were dashed again.
A Ukrainian military official said the country needs air-defense systems most of all.
Thousands of civilians have left the Ukrainian city of Sumy via a safety corridor agreed with the Russian forces, Ukraine's deputy prime minister says.
Around 5,000 Ukrainians and around 1,700 foreign students were taken to safety on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said according to the Ukrainian news agency UNIAN.
The escape routes led, for example, to Poltava in central Ukraine, to Lviv in the west or to neighboring EU countries.
Sumy is the first of five selected cities where an escape corridor has worked. The city is about 30 kilometers from the Russian border. Russian troops have been attacking Sumy for days.
The Pentagon on Tuesday rejected Poland’s offer to give the United States its MiG-29 fighter jets for use by Ukraine, in a rare public display of disharmony by NATO allies seeking to boost Ukrainian fighters while avoiding getting caught up in a wider war with Russia.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Poland's proposal earlier Tuesday to deliver the jets to the U.S. Ramstein Air Base in Germany raised the concerning prospect of jets departing from a U.S. and NATO base to fly into airspace contested with Russia in the Ukraine war.
“We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one,” Kirby said in a statement.
“It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it," he said.
Any such decision would be a morale booster for Ukraine as Russian attacks on its cities deepen the humanitarian catastrophe. But it also raises the risks of a wider war. One senior U.S. diplomat said Poland's announcement came as a surprise.
Russian Central Bank says clients with foreign currency accounts can withdraw a maximum of $10,000.
Those who want to withdraw more must take balance in roubles.
These rules will stay in place until September 9.
The former Ukrainian nuclear power plant Chernobyl has been increasingly isolated from the outside world since it was captured by Russian units.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that around 210 technicians and local safety staff have been on duty at the nuclear power plant continuously for almost two weeks because there has been no shift change under Russian control. They have water and food, but their situation is deteriorating.
In addition, the IAEA is no longer in contact with its monitoring equipment, which ensures that all nuclear material is in place at Chernobyl.
"I'm deeply concerned about the difficult and stressful situation facing staff at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the potential risks this entails for nuclear safety," IAEA director general Rafael Grossi said.
Chernobyl, the site of a 1986 meltdown that shook the world, still stores radioactive waste.
Russia's offensive in Ukraine continued but at a significantly slower pace on Tuesday, Ukraine's armed forces said. Ukrainian forces claim to have killed a Russian general near the besieged city of Kharkiv, the second senior commander to die in the invasion. Reuters could not verify the report.
Ukraine also said its forces have killed more than 11,000 Russian troops. Russia has confirmed about 500 losses. Neither side has disclosed Ukrainian casualties.
Also on Tuesday, the World Bank approved $723 million in loans and grants for Ukraine to be transferred in the next few days. U.S. congressional negotiators neared a deal to provide Ukraine billions of dollars in emergency aid. The White House requested $10 billion.
Poland's decision to put all its MIG-29 jets at the disposal of the United States was not pre-consulted with Washington, State Department Undersecretary Victoria Nuland said on Tuesday, even though the administration had been discussing Ukraine's broader request for Polish aircraft.
"To my knowledge, it wasn't pre-consulted with us that they planned to give these planes to us," she said at a hearing of Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "I look forward when this hearing is over to getting back to my desk and seeing how we will respond to this proposal of theirs to give the planes to us," she said.
Western powers on Tuesday warned Russia against wrecking an almost completed deal on bringing the United States and Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear accord, as Iran's top negotiator was set to return from consultations in Tehran.
Eleven months of talks to restore the deal which lifted sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program have reached their final stages. But they have been complicated by a last-minute demand from Russia for guarantees from the United States that Western sanctions targeting Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine would not affect its business with Iran.
Poland is ready to deploy all its MIG-29 jets to Ramstein Air Base in Germany and put them at the disposal of the United States, and urges other NATO members that own planes of that type to do the same, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
U.S. lawmakers pushed President Joe Biden's administration on Monday to facilitate the transfer of fighter aircraft to Ukraine from Poland and other NATO and Eastern European countries, after a plea on Saturday from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
"The authorities of the Republic of Poland…are ready to deploy – immediately and free of charge – all their MIG-29 jets to the Ramstein Air Base and place them at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America," the ministry said.
"At the same time, Poland requests the United States to provide us with used aircraft with corresponding operational capabilities. Poland is ready to immediately establish the conditions of purchase of the planes," it said in a statement.
Russian forces will stop firing from 10 A.M. Moscow time (0700 GMT) on Wednesday and are ready to provide human corridors so people can leave Kyiv and four other cities, Tass news agency cited a senior Russian official as saying on Tuesday.
Information about corridors from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol will be sent to Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, the official said.
Systems monitoring nuclear material at the radioactive waste facilities at Chernobyl in Ukraine, which were taken over by Russian forces last month, have stopped transmitting data to the U.N. nuclear watchdog, it said on Tuesday.
"The Director General … indicated that remote data transmission from safeguards monitoring systems installed at the Chernobyl NPP had been lost," the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement.
Safeguards refers to the field of IAEA work aimed at keeping track of nuclear material.
"Ukraine's international determination to maintain democracy and world order is being tested," Israel's Defense Minister Benny Gantz said during his speech at the Moshavim Movement's conference on Tuesday.
"Israel is part of this order," he continued, "so we are helping with humanitarian matters and will continue to increase aid. We also have our duty, as the Jewish people, to help refugees and take in every Jew. Every Jew in the world has a home."
Gantz further expressed his support of Prime Minister Naftali Bennet's visit to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin over the Russia-Ukraine crisis and said that "everything needs to be done to make this war stop."
Ukrainian troops repulsed efforts by Russian forces to enter the eastern city of Kharkiv on Tuesday and foiled a planned operation by 120 Russian paratroopers near the border, regional governor Oleh Synehubov said.
The paratroopers landed by the Ukrainian border town of Vovchansk, around 50 kilometers (31 miles) northeast of Kharkiv, but were routed by Ukrainian forces, he said in televised comments.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Tuesday restricting the import and export of specified goods and raw materials "to ensure the security of the Russian Federation", Interfax news agency said.
It did not specify which goods and materials would be restricted.
At least 27 civilians have been killed in attacks by Russian forces on the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in the past 24 hours, Ukrainian regional police official Serhiy Bolvinov said on Tuesday.
Overall, 170 have been killed across Kharkiv region since the start of Russia's invasion on Feb. 24, including five children, he said in an online post.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to Britain to do more to help his country fight Russia and to punish "the terrorist state" on Tuesday, striking a defiant tone that Ukraine would fight for its survival, no matter what the cost.
Addressing Britain's parliament and greeted by a standing ovation in a packed chamber of lawmakers, Zelenskyy documented the Russian invasion day by day, listing the weapons used, the civilians killed and those running out of food and water.
He thanked Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has sought to take a leading role in supporting Ukraine against Russia, for the help already offered, but said Britain and other Western countries had to go further, pressing on with more sanctions.
"The question for us now is to be or not to be," Zelenskyy told parliament via videolink." We will not give up and we will not lose. We will fight to the end at the sea, in the air, we will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost. We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets."
"Please increase the pressure of sanctions against this country (Russia) and please recognize this country as a terrorist state, and please make sure that our Ukrainian skies are safe… Please make sure that you do what needs to be done."
U.S. President Joe Biden announced a ban on Russian oil and natural gas importation into the country on Tuesday as punishment for the invasion of Ukraine.
"Russia may continue to grind out its advance at a horrible price, but this much is already clear: Ukraine will never be a victory for Putin. Putin may be able to take a city, but he'll never be able to hold the country," Biden told reporters at the White House.
"We're banning all imports of Russian oil and gas energy," Biden said. "That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable in U.S. ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin's war machine."
The United States is not a leading buyer of Russian oil, but Biden has been working with allies in Europe, who are far more dependent on Russian oil, to isolate Russia's energy-heavy economy and Putin.
Israel is willing to accept 5,000 non-Jewish refugees fleeing the fighting in Ukraine, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked announced Tuesday, adding that about 20,000 Ukrainians who had been in the country before the war began will not be deported for now.
In a policy shift, which will go into effect on Sunday, Israel will also no longer require a cash deposit of 10,000 shekels (about $3,000) for Ukrainian immigrants upon arrival at Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Prime Minister Bennett talked with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone on Tuesday, according to RIA news citing the Kremlin.
In a readout of the call, the Kremlin said Putin had told Bennett about Moscow's assessment of the third round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials that took place on Monday.
Earlier on Tuesday Bennett spoke with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about "ways to end the war and violence," according to a tweet by the Ukrainian leader.
The European Commission published plans on Tuesday to cut the EU's dependency on Russian gas by two-thirds this year and end its reliance on Russian supplies of the fuel "well before 2030".
The European Union executive said it will do so by switching to alternative supplies and expanding clean energy more quickly under the plans, which will largely be the responsibility of national governments for implementing.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine last month has triggered an overhaul of the 27-country EU's energy priorities as Brussels seeks to wrest countries free from depending on Russia, which supplies around 40% of the bloc's natural gas.
The new plans come on top of climate change policies the EU is currently negotiating, which are designed to cut emissions faster this decade and would alone cut EU gas use 30% by 2030.
Britain will ban Russian oil imports, Politico reported citing Whitehall officials ahead of an announcement expected later on Tuesday.
Politico said there would be a months-long lead-in time on the ban to allow the global market to adjust and to stop people panic-buying petrol.
There will not be a ban on Russian gas at the same time, but this is still under discussion within the government, Politico reported.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday his government would set out a new energy supply strategy as the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent rally in energy prices accelerate the need for new energy sources and greater self-reliance.
A second convoy of evacuees left the Ukrainian city of Sumy through a "humanitarian corridor" created under a temporary ceasefire agreement with Russia on Tuesday, Ukraine's deputy presidential chief of staff Kyrylo Tymoshenko said.
Earlier on Tuesday, regional authorities said the ceasefire had mostly held, allowing a first wave of evacuation of civilians including 1,000 foreign students.
The White House is expected to impose a ban on U.S. imports of oil from Russia as punishment for the invasion of Ukraine, Democratic U.S. Senator Chris Coons said on Tuesday.
In an interview with CNN, Coons said the announcement of the ban could come on Tuesday or Wednesday. A source familiar with the plans told Reuters the announcement could come as soon as Tuesday.
Russia is the world's biggest exporter of oil and natural gas. It has been subjected to global financial sanctions over the war in Ukraine, but until now its energy exports were exempted.
The economic impact of a conflict involving the world's top oil and gas exporter and two of its biggest grain and metals producers fueled concerns it could derail global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. gasoline pump prices hit a record high, London trade in industrial metal nickel had to be suspended after prices more than doubled in a matter of hours, and Britain's Shell said it was halting all purchases of Russian oil, apologizing for buying a shipment last week.
Russia's defense ministry said on Tuesday that Ukrainian authorities only confirmed one evacuation route for civilians, from Sumy through Poltava to the Polish border, out of 10 that were proposed, Russian news agencies reported.
The defense ministry added that 723 people had been evacuated through the Sumy-Poltava corridor, including 576 Indian nationals, the agency reports said.
Ukraine on Tuesday described as "completely immoral" a Russian proposal whereby fleeing Ukrainians would have been offered escape routes to Russia and Belarus.
What is it like to cover the Ukraine war from inside the beleaguered country? Who are the people escaping the Russian onslaught? And is Israel doing enough to help the refugees arriving at its gates?
Haaretz correspondents Yarden Michaeli and Judy Maltz, who recently returned from Ukraine and Moldova, respectively, share their experiences on the ground, discuss Israel's refugee acceptance policy, and end with some optimistic stories of resilience and generosity despite the enormous crisis. Listen to their full conversation with host Amir Tibon, starting at time code 10:30.
But first up, our national security analyst, Amos Harel, delivers an update on Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's attempts to broker a cease-fire in Eastern Europe and tries to answer the most frightening question of all: What will it take for a cornered Vladimir Putin to turn this conflict into a nuclear one?
Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a video conference with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, has expressed support for French-German efforts to reach a ceasefire in Ukraine, the French president's office said in a statement on Tuesday.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday, a tweet by the Ukrainian president said.
"Talked to @naftalibennett. Thanked for Israel’s mediation efforts," Zelenskyy wrote in a tweet adding that the two "[d]iscussed ways to end the war and violence."
Russia and Turkey's defense ministers discussed Ukraine by telephone on Tuesday as well as cooperation, the RIA news agency cited Russia's defense ministry as saying.
The call took place at Turkey's request, it said.
Italian rightist politician Matteo Salvini, who has been among Russian President Vladimir Putin's main supporters in Western Europe, has pledged to help refugees fleeing Ukraine from the Russian invasion.
His stance marked a U-turn from the anti-immigration positions that previously shaped his politics.Salvini said in a statement he met Italian business and Vatican representatives to discuss ways to deal with the refugees and bring some of them to Italy.
"We want to help coordinate the aid, organize travel and accommodation in Italy for these families, with particular attention to the orphans and the disabled," he said. More than 1.7 million Ukrainians fleeing Russia's invasion have so far crossed into Central Europe, the United Nation's refugee agency said. More than 1 million of them are currently in Poland, where Salvini is now visiting.
Salvini heads the right-wing League party, which is part of the national unity coalition, but he is not in the government. During his time as interior minister in 2018-19, Salvini repeatedly prevented migrant boats from docking in Italy on the grounds he had to protect the country's borders. He is currently facing trial on migrant kidnapping charges.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has plunged several far-right movements across Europe into confusion, forcing some of them to swiftly abandon previous allegiance to Putin.
Salvini has in the past worn t-shirts portraying the Russian president at Moscow's Red Square and at the European Parliament, and said he preferred him to Italian President Sergio Mattarella. He is now seeking to change tack.
Last week he said there was "clearly an attacker and an assaulted" in the Ukrainian crisis and Italy had to side with the latter, without directly naming the Russian leader."Salvini had to make amends to his original sin of pro-Putinism, also in terms of international credibility," said Massimiliano Panarari, a political communications expert at Unimercatorum University in Rome.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has expressed his willingness to hold talks on the status of the eastern separatist regions and the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea annexed by Russia.
Speaking on the U.S. broadcaster ABC on Monday, Zelensky made it clear at the same time that he would not give in to demands from Moscow to recognize the independence of the self-proclaimed "people's republics" as well as Russian rule over Crimea.
"I am ready for a dialogue - we are not ready for capitulation," he said. "We can discuss and find a compromise on how these territories will live on."
He said it was important to pay attention to how the people there who wanted to be part of Ukraine were doing. It is a much more complicated issue than just recognition.
"This is another ultimatum, and we are not prepared for ultimatums," he said.
Zelenskyy again called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to negotiate directly. "What needs to be done is for President Putin to start talking, start the dialogue, instead of living in the information bubble without oxygen."
Russian forces are bombing civilian infrastructure and homes in Ukraine's northern region of Zhytomyr, and carried out air strikes on two oil depots on Monday evening, Governor Vitaliy Bunechko said in televised comments on Tuesday.
He gave no further details.
The Russians are trying to take advantage of the humanitarian corridor to break into Mariupol, says a city official.
Petro Andrushenko, a member of the Mariupol city council, told Haaretz that the only humanitarian corridor agreed on the Ukrainian side is the route leading to Ukrainian territory – from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia, a route that is not currently active.
"According to information received from Ukrainian military personnel, we can't put people on the buses that are prepared for evacuation, meanwhile, the Russian army is trying to take advantage of the humanitarian corridor to break into the city with tanks", he said.
Russian forces shelled an evacuation route for civilians trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol in violation of a ceasefire agreement on Tuesday, Ukraine foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said on Twitter.
"8 trucks + 30 buses ready to deliver humanitarian aid to Mariupol and to evac (evacuate) civilians to Zaporizhzhia. Pressure on Russia MUST step up to make it uphold its commitments," he said.
Thirty buses are en route to the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol to collect evacuees via a humanitarian corridor to Ukraine-controlled territory, deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on television on Tuesday.
There were signs Russian forces were firing in the direction of a route for humanitarian aid, she added, without providing further details.
The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that attacks on hospitals, ambulances and other health care facilities in Ukraine have increased rapidly in recent days and warned the country is running short of vital medical supplies.
The UN agency on Monday confirmed at least nine people had died in 16 attacks on health care facilities since the start of a Russian invasion on Feb. 24.
It did not say who was responsible. The WHO's senior emergency officer for Europe, Catherine Smallwood, told a news briefing that the tally included incidents where ambulances had been commandeered for purposes other than emergency healthcare. "We will continue to update those numbers.
They've been increasing quite rapidly over the past few days," Smallwood said. The agency was working to rapidly supply medical supplies to Ukraine, where oxygen, insulin, personal protective equipment, surgical supplies and blood products are running low, Europe regional director Hans Kluge said at the briefing.
The supply of oxygen, children's vaccines and mental health expertise were among the WHO's top priorities for the region, he said. Kluge also stressed the need to prioritize the health needs of women, including maternal health and emergency obstetric care, and to respond to sexual and gender based violence.
"Past conflicts have shown us that adolescent girls, women with disabilities and elderly women are in the most vulnerable situation. "They face an increased risk of suffering attacks by people outside the home and by armed groups as well as intimate partner violence and sexual abuse and exploitation," said Kluge.
The European Commission has prepared a new package of sanctions against Russia and Belarus over the invasion of Ukraine that will hit additional Russian oligarchs and politicians and three Belarusian banks, three sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
The sanctions, to be discussed by EU ambassadors on Tuesday at a meeting starting at 1400 GMT, will ban three Belarusian banks from the SWIFT banking system and add several oligarchs and Russian lawmakers to the EU blacklist, which already includes many, the sources told Reuters.
The new sanctions package also bans exports from the EU of maritime technology to Russia, and provides guidance on the monitoring of cryptocurrencies to avoid their use to circumvent EU sanctions, the sources said.
The number of refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine has now increased to 2 million, the head of the UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Tuesday. "Today the outflow of refugees from Ukraine reaches two million people," Filippo Grandi said in a tweet.
KYIV - Russian troops are attacking escape routes of civilians from the northern Ukrainian city of Irpin.
Russian military forces are constantly bombing the escape routes of Ukrainian civilians from the city of Irpin, northwest of Kiev.
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba apologized to El Al on Tuesday, less than a day after accusing the Israeli airline of accepting payments via a Russian banking system, Mir, which he said was "designed to evade sanctions" and allow it to make "money soaked in Ukrainian blood.”
The strongly worded criticism from Ukraine's top diplomat was the most concrete sign yet of Kyiv's anger over Israel's policy since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
Russia is trying to manipulate French President Emmanuel Macron and other Western leaders by demanding that any humanitarian corridors in Ukraine exit through Russia or Belarus, a senior Ukrainian official said on Monday.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Ukraine was calling on Russia to agree to a ceasefire from Monday morning to allow Ukrainians to evacuate towards the western Ukrainian city of Lviv instead.
Ukraine received Russia's proposal early on Monday morning after Macron held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Vereshchuk told a televised briefing.
"I hope that French President Emmanuel Macron understands that his name and sincere desire to help ... in reality is being used and manipulated by the Russian Federation," she said.
Ukraine has accused Russian forces of shelling areas designated as humanitarian corridors to prevent people from escaping cities that are under attack.
Russia's defense ministry said the new "corridors" would be opened from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and the eastern cities of Kharkiv and Sumy, as well as the port city of Mariupol. Moscow has blamed Ukraine for the failure so far of humanitarian corridors and denies targeting civilians.
At least 21 civilians, including two children, were killed in a Russian air strike on a residential street in Ukraine's northeastern city of Sumy late on Monday, the regional prosecutor's office said in a statement on Tuesday.
The bodies were recovered by emergency services early on Tuesday in searches that are ongoing, it said.
This comes as the first convoy of residents and foreign students left Sumy after an agreement with Russia on establishing a humanitarian corridor.
Israel is expected to relax its immigration policy for Ukrainian immigrants, amid public pressure and calls by some ministers to do more to take in refugees who fled Russia's invasion.
New policy guidelines set to be published on Tuesday would lift the requirement for Ukrainians to deposit 10,000 shekels (about $3,000) upon arrival at Ben-Gurion International Airport. The government is also expected to announce a cap on non-Jewish Ukrainians allowed into the country.
A first convoy of residents and foreign students has left the Ukrainian city of Sumy after an agreement with Russia on establishing a humanitarian corridor, officials said on Tuesday.
"We have already started the evacuation of civilians from Sumy to Poltava (in central Ukraine), including foreign students," the foreign ministry said in a tweet. "We call on Russia to agree to other humanitarian corridors in Ukraine."
Almost two weeks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Kiev is recalling its troops from international missions abroad, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on Monday.
According to official figures, Ukraine currently has more than 300 soldiers stationed abroad in eight missions.
According to the UN, more than 400 civilians have been killed and more than 800 injured since the invasion began.
About 1.7 million people have fled Ukraine to other countries.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address British lawmakers via video link in the House of Commons on Tuesday, the first time a president of another country has addressed the main Westminster chamber.
Zelenskyy, who has spoken to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on several occasions since Russia invaded his country, has made a number of impassioned speeches to Western leaders in the last week, asking for supplies and military support.
He will address the chamber at 1700 GMT when formal parliamentary business will be suspended. Lawmakers will be able to watch the speech on screens installed overnight, with 500 headsets providing a simultaneous translation in English.
Former world leaders including U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and Germany's Angela Merkel, have previously made speeches in other parts of the parliamentary estate on the banks of the River Thames, including in the ornate Royal Gallery or vast Westminster Hall.
"Every parliamentarian wants to hear directly from the president, who will be speaking to us live from Ukraine, so this is an important opportunity for the House," Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said in a statement."
Thanks again to our incredible staff for working at pace to make this historic address possible. "Ben Wallace, Britain's defense minister, told Sky News he expected the address to be "incredibly powerful".
"President Zelenskyy is the spirit of Ukraine, which is young, which is liberal thinking, which is outward facing, which is European, and that's what Russia or President (Vladimir) Putin just doesn't understand," he said. Ukraine's ambassador to London was given a very rare standing ovation when he appeared in the chamber to observe Johnson answering lawmakers' questions last week.
Russia has opened "humanitarian corridors" so people can be evacuated from Kyiv and four other Ukrainian cities: Cherhihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol, the Interfax news agency quoted the Russian Defense Ministry as saying on Tuesday.
The Defense Ministry added that Russian forces in Ukraine had introduced a "silent regime" from 07:00 AM GMT, Interfax reported.
Ukraine began evacuating civilians from the northeastern city of Sumy and from the town of Irpin near the capital Kyiv on Tuesday, Ukrainian officials said.
The evacuations began after Russian and Ukrainian officials agreed to establish "humanitarian corridors" to allow civilians out of some towns and cities besieged by Russian forces."
As of 09:30 (0730 GMT), more than 150 people have been evacuated and (evacuation) activities are underway," said Oleksiy Kuleba, governor of the Kyiv region.
Civilians have been trapped by fighting since Russian troops invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a "special military operation. "Russia opened humanitarian corridors on Tuesday so that people can be evacuated from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol, the Interfax news agency quoted the Russian defense ministry as saying.
The defense ministry added that Russian forces in Ukraine had introduced a "silent regime" from 0700 GMT, Interfax reported. Ukraine on Monday rejected Russian proposals to evacuate Ukrainians to Russia or Belarus.
Safe corridors intended to let Ukrainian civilians escape the Russian onslaught could open Tuesday, Kremlin officials said, though Ukrainian leaders greeted the plan with skepticism since prior efforts to establish evacuation routes crumbled amid renewed attacks.
With the invasion well into its second week, Russian troops were making significant advances in southern Ukraine but stalled in some other regions. Soldiers and volunteers fortified the capital, Kyiv, with hundreds of checkpoints and barricades designed to thwart a takeover. A steady rain of shells and rockets fell on other population centers, including the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, where the mayor reported heavy artillery fire.
“We can’t even gather up the bodies because the shelling from heavy weapons doesn’t stop day or night,” Mayor Anatol Fedoruk said. “Dogs are pulling apart the bodies on the city streets. It’s a nightmare.”
Israel wants to mediate, but believes little stands in the way of the Russian steamroller | Analysis
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s inner circle insists on broadcasting cautious optimism about the possibility that international mediation efforts, in which Israel is involved, will ultimately stop the war between Russia and Ukraine. Bennett is in constant telephone contact with all the parties concerned — the two countries doing the fighting, the European Union and the United States.
Israel’s impression is that there’s still a chance to bridge the gaps in the warring parties’ positions, but this will require the leaders of both Russia and Ukraine to walk back the combative statements they have made for domestic consumption. And Ukraine, in particular, will have to make painful concessions.
More than ten people have been killed in airstrikes on the north-eastern Ukrainian city of Sumy, according to local authorities.
"In some localities residential buildings were bombed," Dmytro Zhyvytskyi, head of Sumy's regional administration, said in a statement posted on Facebook early Tuesday.
He said several houses were destroyed when a bomb hit near the center of Sumy. More than ten people were killed, including children, he said.
Four Ukrainian soldiers were also killed in what Zhyvytskyi described as "unequal combat with the Russian military." The information could not initially be independently verified.
Ukraine's military intelligence said on Tuesday that Ukrainian forces have killed a Russian general near the besieged city of Kharkiv, the second Russian senior commander to die in the invasion.
Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, first deputy commander of Russia's 41st army, was killed on Monday, the Chief Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine's defense ministry said in a statement.
Russia's defense ministry could not be immediately reached for comment. Reuters could not verify the report.
Another Russian general, Andrei Sukhovetsky, also a deputy commander of the 41st army, was reported killed at the end of February.
Ukraine says its forces have killed more than 11,000 Russian troops. Russia has confirmed about 500 losses.
Neither side has disclosed Ukrainian casualties.
A Western ban on Russian oil imports may more than double the price to $300 a barrel and prompt the closure of the main gas pipeline to Germany, Moscow warned on Monday, as talks on Ukraine hardly advanced amid efforts to agree on civilian safe passage.
Seeking to ratchet up the pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin, the United States said Washington and its European allies were considering banning Russian oil imports. Oil prices spiked to their highest levels since 2008.
"A rejection of Russian oil would lead to catastrophic consequences for the global market," said Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, saying the price could more than double to over $300 per barrel.
U.S. President Joe Biden held a video conference call with the leaders of France, Germany and Britain as he pushed for their support on the ban.
But if need be the United States is willing to move ahead without allies in Europe, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters. Many countries on the continent are heavily reliant on Russian energy.
Germany last month froze the certification of Nord Stream 2 that was due to pipe gas from Russia to Germany.
"We have every right to take a matching decision and impose an embargo on gas pumping through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline," said Novak.
Russia has proposed the establishment of humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to leave five Ukrainian cities including the capital Kyiv starting 9 A.M. on Tuesday pending Ukrainian agreement, Russian news agencies reported.
But most of the corridors would travel through Russia or Belarus, something Ukrainian authorities have rejected in the past.
Civilians leaving the cities of Kyiv, Chernigov and Kharkiv would travel to Russia, some via Belarus, Interfax news agency reported, citing a statement by a Russian committee charged with humanitarian coordination in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has rejected earlier proposals to evacuate Ukrainian citizens into what he has described as "occupied territory" in Russia and Belarus.
People leaving the city of Sumy and Mariupol would, however, be given a choice of passage to Russia or to Ukrainian cities Poltava and Zaporizhia respectively, Interfax quoted the statement as saying.
Ukraine has been given until 3 A.M. Moscow time to agree to the terms, Interfax said.
The Ukrainian ambassador to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya told a UN Security Council meeting earlier that Russia had "undermined arrangements" for humanitarian corridors on Tuesday by insisting all routes would go through Russia or Belarus.
The U.S. is preparing for a long, drawn-out war in Ukraine as President Vladimir Putin shows no signs of backing down from Russia's invasion of the country, the U.S. ambassador to the UN said on Monday.
"We are concerned that the world needs to be prepared for very long and very difficult road ahead," Linda Thomas-Greenfield told an emergency meeting on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine in New York.
Russian President Vladimir Putin "is clearly willing to sacrifice the lives of thousands of Russian soldiers to achieve his personal ambitions," she added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to address the British House of Commons on Tuesday by video, House of Common Speaker Lindsay Hoyle announced.
"Every parliamentarian wants to hear directly from the president, who will be speaking to us live from Ukraine, so this is an important opportunity for the House," he said.
Russia's growing reliance on longer-range strikes on Ukrainian targets is increasing the number of civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure, the Pentagon said on Monday, stopping short of saying the casualties were intentional.
"More civilians are being killed and wounded ... and Mr. Putin still has a choice," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, urging Russian President Vladimir Putin to halt his invasion of Ukraine.
Russia has openly threatened to halt gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, in comments by Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak on state television.
Russia plans to introduce humanitarian corridors from several Ukrainian cities starting on Tuesday at 10 A.M., Interfax reports citing military sources.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday said that he was not seeing for now any diplomatic breakthroughs in talks with Moscow that would allow the war in Ukraine to end.
Asked by listeners at a campaign event close to Paris about the war, Macron said: "We will continue to talk to Russia, even though discussions with President Putin are difficult.
"I don't think that in the coming days and weeks, there will be a real negotiated solution", said Macron, adding that France and the West should not interfere in bilateral talks about a potential ceasefire between Kyiv and Moscow.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Monday said Ukraine wanted direct talks between President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russia's Vladimir Putin because Kyiv knows Putin is the person calling the shots in Moscow.
"We have long wanted a direct conversation between the president of Ukraine and Vladimir Putin, because we all understand that it is he who makes the final decisions, especially now," he said in a live television broadcast.
"Our president is not scared of anything, including a direct meeting with Putin," Kuleba added. "If Putin is also not scared, let him come to the meeting, let them sit down and talk."
It would be good if countries across the European Union shared some of the cost of looking after Ukrainians fleeing Russia's invasion, Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said on Monday.
More than 1.7 million Ukrainians have crossed into Central Europe so far, the United Nations refugee agency said on Monday, as thousands more streamed across the borders.
Petkov told Reuters his government had drawn up a plan to take in around 50,000 people that would cost about 2 million levs ($1.11 million) a day for food and shelter.
A man was arrested on Monday for driving a lorry through the gates of the Russian embassy in Ireland in protest at Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
Videos posted on social media showed the driver reversing the articulated truck through the gates of the embassy in Dublin and stopping after one gate was torn off.
One video showed the man, speaking with an Irish accent, hand out photographs that he said were of a family killed in Ukraine on Sunday and telling those gathered outside that he wanted the Russian ambassador "to leave this country."
The Russian Embassy described the incident in a statement as a "criminal act of insanity" that was a cause of extreme concern.
Leaders of France, Britain, Germany and the United States on Monday held a video call to discuss the war in Ukraine, the Elysee Palace said, adding they agreed to step up the economic, humanitarian and security-related help to the eastern European country.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to American Jews for support on Monday with an unsparing account of Russian destruction in his country that he compared to the Nazi German army marching across Europe.
"This is just a pure Nazi behavior. I can't even qualify this in any different manner," Zelenskyy told an umbrellas group, the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations, as he continued to press for more fighter planes from the West and a no-fly zone that NATO has so far rejected.
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked expected to cancel the guarantee policy in place for Ukrainian refugees coming to Israel.
Shaked arrived at the decision after pressure applied by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and MKs Merav Michaeli (Labor), Pnina Tamano-Shata (Kahol Lavan), and Nachman Shai (Zionist Union).
The guarantee policy requires from Israelis who wish to host a Ukrainian relative to pay a guarantee in the sum of 10,000 shekels and promise the relative leaves within a month.
Shaked is expected to announce a new policy on Tuesday.
Russia is "trying to recruit Syrians" to fight in Ukraine, according to a senior U.S. Defense Department official who spoke to reporters on Monday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he could confirm reports in U.S. media that the Russians are trying to supplement their troops with foreign fighters.
But it was not clear whether Syrian fighters were already in Ukraine, he said.
Russia expects another round of talks with Ukraine to take place in the very near future, a negotiator said on Monday after a round of inconclusive talks in Belarus.
"The next, fourth, round will take place in Belarus in the very, very near future," Russian negotiator Leonid Slutsky told Russian state television. "I will not name the exact date yet. It will be determined, perhaps tomorrow."
Eight Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 19 wounded on Monday after a Russian rocket struck their barracks in the southern city of Mykolayiv while they were sleeping, regional Governor Vitaliy Kim said on Monday.
The World Health Organization has confirmed at least nine people had died in 16 attacks on health care facilities in Ukraine since the start of a Russian invasion on Feb. 24, it said on Monday.
The WHO said the attacks took place between Feb. 24 and March 3. In addition to the nine deaths, 16 people were injured, including seven health workers.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter on Sunday that several attacks had occurred, without giving details, adding they were a violation of international humanitarian law.
U.S. officials have begun gathering information to help determine whether Russia has committed war crimes during its invasion of Ukraine, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said on Monday.
"We are collecting evidence of possible war crimes, human rights abuses, and violations of international humanitarian law. We support accountability using every tool available, including criminal prosecutions where appropriate," the official said
The United States will send the information it collects with its allies and partners to the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council, which has established a commission of inquiry to investigate possible human rights violations by Russia and hold them accountable, the official said.