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Humanitarian convoy to Chernihiv hit by Russian shelling: Ukrainian official

A Ukrainian official says that at least one person has been killed and four others have been wounded in the Russian shelling of a humanitarian convoy.

At least 1 person was killed, 4 others wounded in attack

A Ukrainian official says that at least one person has been killed and four others have been wounded in the Russian shelling of a humanitarian convoy.

Ukrainian Human Rights Commissioner Lyudmyla Denisova said those who came under the shelling on Thursday were volunteers accompanying a convoy of buses sent to the northern city of Chernihiv to evacuate residents.

She said that the Russian forces besieging Chernihiv have made it impossible to evacuate civilians from the city that has been cut from food, water and other supplies.

Ukraine also reported Russian artillery barrages in and around the northeastern city of Kharkiv.

The Russian shelling continued two days after Moscow announced it would scale back military operations around Kyiv and Chernihiv. NATO’s chief said on Thursday this was a regrouping rather than a withdrawal.

“Russia has repeatedly lied about its intentions,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said. At the same time, he said, pressure is being kept up on Kyiv and other cities, and “we can expect additional offensive actions bringing even more suffering.”

The southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol and a “corridor” between two eastern towns, Izyum and Volnovakha, are also becoming the key battlefronts in Ukraine, an interior ministry adviser said on Thursday.

Ukrainian forces are preparing for new Russian attacks in the southeast region, where Moscow’s guns are now trained after its assault on the capital Kyiv was repelled, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday.

Five weeks into an invasion that has blasted cities into wastelands, U.S. and European officials said Russian President Vladimir Putin was misled by his generals about the dire performance of Russia’s military.

Tough resistance by Ukrainian forces has prevented Russia from capturing any major city, including the capital Kyiv, which it assaulted with armoured columns from the northwest and east.

Moscow says it is now focusing on “liberating” the Donbas region — two southeastern provinces partly controlled by separatists Russia has backed since 2014.

In an early morning video address, Zelensky said Russian troop movements away from Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv were not a withdrawal but rather “the consequence of our defenders’ work.”

Ukraine was seeing “a buildup of Russian forces for new strikes on the Donbas and we are preparing for that,” he said.

Putin ‘massively misjudged’ invasion of Ukraine, U.K. intelligence chief says

Some Russian soldiers in Ukraine have refused to carry out orders and others have sabotaged their own equipment, said Jeremy Fleming, the head of Britain’s GCHQ spy service. It’s an indication of how badly Vladimir Putin misjudged the capabilities of Russian forces, Fleming said. 

Attempts to reach civilians in Mariupol

That includes Mariupol, once a city of 400,000 people, where most buildings have been damaged or destroyed in four weeks of constant Russian bombardment and siege.

A convoy of Ukrainian buses set out for the port city on Thursday to try to reach trapped civilians, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

  • What questions do you have about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? Send an email to ask@cbc.ca

She said 45 buses were on their way to the city after the International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed Russia had agreed to open a safe corridor. All previous efforts to reach Ukrainian-held parts of Mariupol with aid or buses to evacuate civilians have failed.

Civilians who have managed to leave the city have typically done so using private cars, but the number of driveable vehicles left in Mariupol has dwindled and fuel stocks are low.

The city’s mayor said this week that up to 170,000 residents were trapped in Mariupol with no power and dwindling supplies.

The United Nations believes thousands of people have died there, many buried in unmarked graves.

“Everyone knows there is a humanitarian catastrophe there,” Zelensky told Belgian legislators in an address via video link on Thursday.

An intelligence update from Britain’s defence ministry said heavy fighting continues in Mariupol but that Ukrainian forces remain in control of the centre of the city.

In Russian-held parts of Mariupol, people occasionally climb out of cellars to appear, ghostlike, among the ruins.

A man identified only as Pavel was placing a bowl and spoon as a tribute on a makeshift grave, in a patch of grass outside a wrecked apartment block, marked with a plain wooden cross.

“Our friend. March 16. Driving in a car. A bullet hit him in the throat. He was dead in five minutes,” he said. “I was in the car. I brought him home.”

Meantime, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Ukraine said the United Nations and its partners have delivered supplies for thousands of people in the country’s northeast but have been unable to reach some encircled cities in the south.

Osnat Lubrani said Thursday that food rations from the humanitarian organization People in Need and the UN World Food Program will benefit nearly 6,000 people in Sumy and other areas such as Trostianets and Okhtyrka.

In addition, she said, basic household items from the UN refugee agency, including blankets and kettles, will support 1,500 people and sanitation kits will help provide hygiene supplies and drinking water to 6,000 people.

Why some fast-food chains are still open in Russia

Hundreds of fast-food restaurants remain open in Russia, despite global chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC announcing plans to suspend operations in the country over the Ukraine war. These restaurants are likely owned by franchisees, making it difficult for companies to shut them down.

Russian troops leave Chornobyl

The International Atomic Energy Agency says it has been informed by Ukraine that the Russian forces which were in control of the Chornobyl nuclear site have “in writing, transferred control” of the facility to Ukrainian personnel.

Ukraine said three convoys of Russian forces have already left the site toward Belarus, while the remaining troops were presumed to be preparing to leave, the agency said Thursday.

The agency said it has not been able to confirm reports of Russian forces receiving high doses of radiation while being inside the exclusion zone of the now-closed plant, but is seeking further information in order to provide an independent assessment of the situation.

Death toll rises in Mykolaiv

The death toll after a Russian missile strike Tuesday on the regional government headquarters in the southern city of Mykolaiv has risen to 20, the Ukrainian emergency services said on Thursday.

The regional governor accused Russia of waiting until people arrived for work before striking the building.

Emergency services said they are still working at the scene.

The costs of one Ukrainian city’s fierce resistance against Russian forces

Ukrainian forces in the southern city of Mykolaiv have been able to block Russian troops from advancing further, but it’s come at a cost — a Russian airstrike destroyed part of a regional government building in the city on Tuesday, and officials expect attacks to intensify.

Putin ‘not fully informed’

The White House has said the Russian president’s advisers have not given him an accurate account of his military’s failures in Ukraine.

“We would concur with the conclusion that Mr. Putin has not been fully informed by his ministry of defence, at every turn over the last month,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said Wednesday.

Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday that “neither the State Department nor the Pentagon possess the real information about what is happening in the Kremlin.”

White House says Putin misled by advisers on Ukraine war

Advisers to Russian President Vladimir Putin are shielding him from how badly the invasion of Ukraine is going, top U.S. officials have said. The head of the U.K.’s intelligence agency says Russia has massively misjudged Ukraine’s ability to defend itself.

New intelligence showed some Russian soldiers in Ukraine had refused to carry out orders, sabotaged their own equipment and accidentally shot down one of their own aircraft, the head of Britain’s GCHQ spy agency, Jeremy Fleming, said on Wednesday.

“And even though Putin’s advisers are afraid to tell him the truth, what’s going on and the extent of these misjudgments must be crystal clear to the regime,” Fleming said in a speech at the Australian National University in Canberra on Thursday.

“[Putin] underplayed the economic consequences of the sanctions regime. He overestimated the abilities of his military to secure a rapid victory.”

Russia is able to cope with Western sanctions, according to an official of the Russian parliament’s lower house.

Vladimir Gutenev, chair of the State Duma’s committee on industry and trade, said Russia’s economy has become “more and more resilient” in recent years and can cope with the “severe” challenges of sanctions.

Talks between Ukraine and Russia were set to resume Friday by video, according to the head of the Ukrainian delegation, David Arakhamia.

With files from Reuters

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