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UN chief, Putin agree on key evacuation, bombing on in Mariupol | War top points

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Day 63 of Russia-Ukraine War: Two months into the fighting, Western arms have helped Ukraine stall Russia’s invasion, but the country’s leaders have said they need more support fast.

Shelling and air raids continued in several parts of the war-torn Ukraine as Russia’s invasion entered Day 63 on Wednesday. The Russian troops have been relentlessly bombing the steel plant in Mariupol after giving several surrender deadlines to Ukarine.

In diplomatic efforts, top US officials have urged its allies to help Ukraine fight the Russian aggression by sending more weapons. Meanwhile, the UN chief – after holding a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday – will head to Kyiv to hold talks with Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelensky on Thursday. The meetings are aimed at safe evacuation of citizens and pushing for peace talks.

The UN says that nearly 5.3 million Ukrainians have fled the country since Russia invaded and warns that three million more could follow by the end of this year.

Top 8 updates on Russia-Ukraine War:

1. Russia bombs Azovstal steel plant – Mariupol mayor said Russian forces hit the Azovstal steel plant with 35 airstrikes over the past 24 hours, AP reported. The plant is the last known stronghold of Ukrainian fighters in the city. About 1,000 civilians were said to be taking shelter there with an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian defenders.

2. Civilians face war wrath- Beyond Mariupol, local officials said at least nine people were killed and several more wounded in Russian attacks on towns and cities in the east and south. Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region of the Donbas, said on the Telegram messaging app on Tuesday that Russian forces “continue to deliberately fire at civilians and to destroy critical infrastructure.”

3. UN Chief meets Putin – Russian President Vladimir Putin met with visiting United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in the Kremlin on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Ukraine. 

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the Russian leader and U.N. chief discussed “proposals for humanitarian assistance and evacuation of civilians from conflict zones, namely in relation to the situation in Mariupol.” They also agreed that the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross should be involved in the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal steel complex where Ukrainian defenders in the southeastern city are making a dogged stand.

Before his trip to Moscow, Guterres met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday in the capital Ankara. The UN chief will travel to Ukraine following talks with Putin.

4. US tells allies to send more weapons – The US pressed its allies Tuesday to move “heaven and earth” to keep Kyiv well-supplied with weapons.US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin convened a meeting Tuesday of officials from about 40 countries at the US air base at Ramstein, Germany, and said more help is on the way. “This gathering reflects the galvanized world,” Austin said, adding that he wanted officials to leave the meeting “with a common and transparent understanding of Ukraine’s near-term security requirements because we’re going to keep moving heaven and earth so that we can meet them.”

5. Germany to send tanks – German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Tuesday that Berlin will send Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine, marking a major shift by Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who had previously urged a more cautious approach faced with nuclear-armed Russia.

6. ‘World on brink of disaster,’ says Zelensky – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Tuesday that Russian troops’ conduct at Chernobyl showed that “no one in the world can feel safe.” Russia treated the toxic site “like a normal battleground, territory where they didn’t even try to care about nuclear safety,” he said during a press conference with UN atomic watchdog chief Rafael Grossi. “No country in the world since 1986 has posed such a large-scale threat to nuclear security in Europe and the world than Russia has since February 24,” he added.

7. Kyiv pulls down a Soviet-era monument symbolising Russian-Ukrainian friendship- Ukrainian authorities on Tuesday dismantled a huge Soviet-era monument in the centre of Kyiv meant to symbolise friendship between Russia and Ukraine, a response to Moscow’s invasion, according to the city’s mayor. The eight-metre (27-ft) bronze statue depicted a Ukrainian and Russian worker on a plinth, holding aloft together a Soviet order of friendship. The statue was located underneath a giant titanium ‘People’s Friendship Arch’, erected in 1982 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Soviet Union.

8. Poland, Bulgaria face Russian gas cut- In other developments, Poland and Bulgaria said the Kremlin is cutting off natural gas supplies to the two NATO countries starting Wednesday, the first such actions of the war. Both nations had refused Russia’s demands that they pay in rubles, news agency Reuters reported.

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