Russia invades Ukraine: Kyiv says 3,810 people evacuated from cities on Thursday

Russia invades Ukraine: Kyiv says 3,810 people evacuated from cities on Thursday
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told a briefing that around 2,000 people managed to leave the besieged city of Mariupol.
9 min read
17 March, 2022

A total of 3,810 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Thursday, Interfax Ukraine cited a senior official as saying, a far smaller number than on Wednesday.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told a briefing that around 2,000 people managed to leave the besieged city of Mariupol. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said a total of more than 60,000 people had been evacuated on Wednesday from a number of cities and towns.

On Thursday, Rescue workers also searched the rubble of a theatre sheltering hundreds of women, children and elderly, which was targeted in Russian bombing on Wednesday.

The team has said there are survivors from the strike that completely destroyed the theatre and led to fears that hundreds of civilians could have been killed.

They were unable to reach the site until recently due to the dangers of Russian shelling.

Images have shown emergency workers rescuing some survivors from the rubble.

Ukrainian officials say the makeshift shelter was hosting between 1,000 and 1,200 civilians when it was hit.

A message was written on the side of the building in Russian notifying that children were sheltering in the theatre.

Russia also targeted a swimming pool and convoy leaving, according to Ukrainian officials.

8:48 PM
The New Arab Staff

A total of 3,810 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Thursday, Interfax Ukraine cited a senior official as saying, a far smaller number than on Wednesday.

5:37 PM
The New Arab Staff

Red Cross chief Peter Maurer on Thursday implored Russia and Ukraine to build on rare glimmers of hope and alleviate the suffering for "terrified" civilians caught up in the conflict.

The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who is in Kyiv on a five-day visit to Ukraine, said the war triggered by Russia's February 24 invasion had inflicted "vast" devastation and people were frightened for their future.

But the ICRC head said the safe passage corridor established on Tuesday to get non-combatants out of the northeastern city of Sumy gave grounds for some optimism.

Speaking to reporters via video-link, Maurer said he was in Kyiv to make an urgent plea to both sides to bring civilians some respite.

"I appeal to the parties to take every chance to build on small steps to alleviate suffering, like the glimmer of hope we saw this week in Sumy," he said, of humanitarians helping thousands escape from harm's way.

"This glimpse of humanity is something we sorely need more of," he said.

He called for concrete agreements to give civilians safe passage out of cities like the besieged Mariupol, for aid to be allowed in, for non-combatants to be protected, for civilian infrastructure to be spared, and for prisoners of war to be treated with dignity.

5:05 PM
The New Arab Staff

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday Russia's invasion of Ukraine had delivered an "electric shock" to the NATO alliance and given it a new strategic clarity that it was lacking.

Macron, speaking to journalists as he launched his campaign for re-election, was responding to a question about whether he regretted describing NATO as "brain dead" around two years ago.

Macron said the situation in late 2019, when he made his remarks, was different from today, and that the alliance was indispensable for dealing with Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

4:35 PM
The New Arab Staff

Authorities in Ukraine's Mariupol on Thursday said around 30,000 people have fled the besieged city and that they were clarifying information on possible victims of the Russian shelling of a theatre sheltering civilians a day earlier.

Mariupol's city hall said on Telegram that "around 30,000 people have left on their transport", adding that "80 percent of residential housing was destroyed". It said it was "clarifying information on victims" of the theatre shelling.

4:10 PM
The New Arab Staff

Survivors began to emerge Thursday as authorities worked to rescue hundreds of civilians trapped in the basement of a theater blasted by Russian airstrikes in the besieged city of Mariupol, while ferocious Russian bombardment killed dozens in a northern city over the past day, the local governor said.

The strikes the previous evening had left a large section of the grand, 3-three story theater building in the center of Mariupol collapsed in a smoking ruin, according to photos released by the city council. Inside, hundreds of men, women and children — up to 1,000 according to some officials — had taken shelter in the basement, seeking safety amid Russia's strangulating 3-week siege of the strategic southern port city.

Rescuers worked to clearing rubble that had blocked the entrance to the basement, despite new strikes reported elsewhere in the city Thursday. Miraculously, the shelter stood firm, officials said. “The building withstood the impact of a high-powered air bomb and protected the lives of people hiding in the bomb shelter," Ukraine’s ombudswoman Ludmyla Denisova said on the Telegram messaging app Thursday.

3:49 PM
The New Arab Staff

Britain said on Thursday it was suspending the exchange of tax information with Russia and Belarus in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Countries from across the world have signed bilateral agreements with each other which allow their national tax authorities to request information from counterparts elsewhere to crack down on tax evasion and on companies trying to shift profits to a low-tax country.

"The UK is freezing tax cooperation with Russia and Belarus by suspending all exchange of tax information with them," Lucy Frazer, financial secretary to the Treasury, said in a written statement to parliament.

"The suspension of tax information exchange will ensure the UK is not supplying Russia and Belarus with information that could lead to an increased tax benefit or yield for them."

2:30 PM
The New Arab Staff

Around 30 Turkish citizens are still sheltering in a mosque in Mariupol and 50 have managed to flee the Ukrainian port city that has faced heavy Russian shelling for days, an official said Thursday.

"Thirty Turkish people remain in the mosque, 50 have left," the president of the Suleiman Mosque Association in Mariupol, Ismail Hacioglu, told AFP.

Speaking by phone from the city of Odessa, Hacioglu added that another 70 Turkish citizens living in Mariupol are currently unaccounted for.

2:10 PM
The New Arab Staff

At least 21 people were killed and 25 were injured on Thursday when Russian forces shelled a town in eastern Ukraine, local prosecutors said.

Artillery fire early Thursday hit a school and a cultural centre in the town of Merefa outside the city of Kharkiv, regional prosecutors said in a post on Facebook. Of the wounded, 10 people are in serious condition.

1:23 PM
The New Arab Staff

A deep fake video of President Zelensky has appeared online, showing the leader ordering Ukrainian troops to lay down their arms.

The video has been flagged as an (obvious) fake but shows how Russian hackers might be working to subvert the Ukrainian war effort and dampen morale.

The crude alteration did not lead to the Ukrainian army's surrender but journalists will be on the lookout for other deep fakes.

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12:32 PM
The New Arab Staff

The UN said would provide bulletproof vests and helmets to journalists working in Ukraine after the deaths of several reporters covering Russia's invasion.

UNESCO will also organise online training courses for working in combat zones and first aid. It is also trying to provide in-person training soon for journalists in Lviv, the western city where many media organisations have moved as the capital Kyiv is besieged.

"Journalists and media workers are risking their lives in Ukraine to provide life-saving information to local populations and inform the world of the reality of this war," UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay said in a statement.

12:22 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Kremlin on Thursday rejected an order by the UN's top court for Russia to suspend the military offensive in Ukraine, a day after judges in The Hague announced their ruling.

"We cannot take this decision into account," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, adding that both parties -- Russia and Ukraine -- had to agree for the ruling to be implemented.

"No consent can be obtained in this case," Peskov said.

The UN's International Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday that Moscow should "immediately suspend military operations that it commenced on February 24 on the territory of Ukraine."

Kyiv dragged Moscow to the UN's top court days after President Vladimir Putin launched his military campaign.

Peskov claimed that Moscow's delegation in talks with Kyiv to end fighting was "showing much greater readiness than our counterparts to negotiate."

10:26 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Authorities in Ukraine's besieged port city of Mariupol said Wednesday that Russian forces hit a theatre where "hundreds" of civilians were taking shelter.

"Russia purposefully destroyed the Drama Theatre, where hundreds of people are hiding," Mariupol city authorities said in a statement on Telegram.

Officials posted a photo of the theatre building, whose middle part was completely destroyed, with thick white smoke rising from the rubble. Officials said a bomb was dropped on the building from an aeroplane.

City authorities were trying to establish the number of casualties, but their efforts were hampered by the fact that residential neighbourhoods were under shelling.

"It is impossible to find words to describe the level of cynicism and cruelty, with which Russian invaders are destroying peaceful residents of a Ukrainian city by the sea," the official statement read.

9:23 AM
The New Arab Staff

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has largely stalled on all fronts, with Russian forces suffering heavy losses and making minimal progress on land, sea or air in recent days, British military intelligence said on Thursday.

"Ukrainian resistance remains staunch and well-coordinated," The Ministry of Defence said. "The vast majority of Ukrainian territory, including all major cities, remains in Ukrainian hands." 

9:07 AM
The New Arab Staff

Check out the latest episode of our podcast, The New Arab Voice.

In it, we speak to Ruslan Trad who compares Russia's assault on Ukraine to its devastating military campaign in Syria.

Many of the tactics used by Russia in the war in Ukraine - targeting civilian infrastruture, hitting bread queues, and besieging cities - have been seen countless times in the Syria war, where Moscow is backing the Assad regime. 

Have a listen.

8:58 AM
The New Arab Staff

A theatre in Mariupol sheltering more than a thousand civilians has been completely destroyed, according to Ukrainian reports, with fears of mass casualties.

Videos of the makeshift shelter show the building completely gutted in an apparent Russian airstrike.

It is unclear how many might have died in the strike due to the dangers to rescue workers reaching the site.

Ukraine says that between 1,000 and 1,200 civilians were sheltering in the theatre at the time and aerial photos show the words "children" scrawled outside the building to warn Russian airmen that civilians were present.

Russian state media has admitted that Russia carried out an airstrike on a theatre in Mariupol.

8:44 AM
The New Arab Staff

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has compared Russia's assault on the city of Mariupol to the Nazis' siege on Leningrad in the Second World War.

Mariupol has been subject to intensive bombing and a blockade by Russian forces killing thousands of civilians, according to authorities.

Zelensky asked how the Russian blockade on Mariupol was any different from Germany's devastating siege on Leningrad, which killed an estimated 800,000 civilians mostly due to disease, starvation, and bombing.

Russia reportedly struck a theatre on Wednesday which was sheltering between 1,000 and 1,200 civilians.

Leningrad, now St Petersburg, is where Vladimir Putin was born in 1952.