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March 8, 2022

China says President Xi Jinping has criticized sanctions imposed on Russia over its war against Ukraine as “harmful to all sides,” in a video summit with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

China has largely backed Russia in blaming the U.S. and its allies for provoking the conflict and has abstained in votes at the United Nations over whether to condemn Moscow for its actions.

In its readout of Tuesday’s conversation, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said Xi expressed “anxiety and deep pain” over the fighting, and urged the sides to pursue peace talks in which he said China was willing to play a role.

Xi gave no indication on what sort of resolution China was looking for and the only details he gave concerned the impact of sanctions.“We want to strive together to reduce the negative effects of the crisis,” Xi was quoted as saying. “Regarding the impact of sanctions on global finance, energy resources, transport and supply chain stability, in terms of a world economy already burdened by the pandemic, it is harmful to all sides.”

Fleeing Refugees
Britain’s defense minister says his staff will help process applications from Ukrainians fleeing war, after criticism of the sluggish U.K. effort to take in refugees.
Britain says it expects to take in as many as 200,000 displaced Ukrainians, and has set no upper limit on the number it will accept. But as of Monday night, the government said only 300 visas had been issued.

French officials have accused Britain of turning Ukrainians away at the English Channel port of Calais, telling them to apply for visas at British embassies in Paris or Brussels.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Tuesday that “we can do more, we will do more” to speed up people’s journeys to the U.K.

Refugees exceed 2million
The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine reached 2 million on Tuesday, according to the United Nations, the fastest exodus Europe has seen since World War II.“Today the outflow of refugees from Ukraine reaches two million people. Two million,” Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, wrote on Twitter.

The update came as a new effort to evacuate civilians along safe corridors finally got underway Tuesday. The route out of the eastern city of Sumy was one of five promised by the Russians to offer civilians a way to escape the Russian onslaught.

Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, is pressing for all civilians trapped by fighting in Ukraine to be allowed to leave safely. She said Tuesday she is “deeply concerned about civilians trapped in active hostilities in numerous areas.”

Bachelet also told the U.N. Human Rights Council that her office has received reports of pro-Ukrainian activists being arbitrarily detained in areas of eastern Ukraine that have recently come “under the control of armed groups.” She said there have been reports of beatings of people considered pro-Russian in government-controlled areas. 

The head of the Norwegian Refugee Council said that refugees fleeing in Ukraine was “the fastest-growing displacement crisis I have witnessed in my 35 years as a humanitarian worker.”

Jan Egeland, secretary general of the humanitarian group, said that “every second the war forces a person to flee across Ukraine’s borders, and countless are displaced within the country.”

The Oslo-based agency, which has been in Ukraine since 2014, said it was launching an aid plan to support 800,000 people inside Ukraine and neighboring countries.

NRC’s humanitarian response plan calls for $82 million and appealed to donors “to dig deep into their pockets to find new funding” and added do “not take resources from other crises.”

Zelensky's address to  the UK House of common
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to address Britain’s Parliament -- the first time a foreign leader has been allowed to speak in the House of Commons. Screens and simultaneous to insulation headsets have been set up in the House of Commons so lawmakers can hear from Zelenskyy at 5 p.m. (1700GMT) on Tuesday.

World leaders have previously addressed British lawmakers elsewhere in Parliament, but not in the House of Commons itself. Zelenskyy has previously thanked Britain for its support, which includes humanitarian aid and defensive weapons.

Health care delivery being affected
The head of the World Health Organization’s Europe office says it has confirmed 16 attacks that have affected the provision of health care in Ukraine in the fighting since Russia’s invasion in the country began nearly two weeks ago.

Dr. Hans Kluge also told reporters Tuesday that Ukrainian health authorities have “remarkably” maintained COVID-19 surveillance and response since the invasion began on Feb. 24, though they reported 731 deaths related to the pandemic over the last week.

Kluge warned that “sadly, this number will increase as oxygen shortages continue” — with older people disproportionately affected. Treatment with oxygen is an important part of the response for people whose respiratory systems have been harmed by coronavirus infection.

The WHO Europe chief also said broken supply lines are harming the ability to treat conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and diabetes. Catherine Smallwood, senior emergency officer for WHO Europe, said the attacks on health care in Ukraine have led to at least 9 deaths and 16 injuries.

World Bank emergency support

The World Bank says it has approved more than $700 million in emergency support for Ukraine. Dubbed FREE Ukraine, it includes nearly $500 million in loans and guarantees and $134 million in grants, with Japan promising another $100 million in financing. The aid is meant to help the Ukrainian government pay wages of hospital workers, pensions, and other social programs.

“The World Bank Group stands with the people of Ukraine and the region,” World Bank President David Malpass said. “This is the first of many steps we are taking to help address the far-reaching human and economic impacts of this crisis.”

The World Bank also said it is preparing a $3 billion package of support for Ukraine and the region to help it cope with the flood of displaced people fleeing the fighting.

Russian Generals Fallen
A Russian general was killed in the fighting around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, which Russian forces have been trying to seize since the invasion began, the Ukrainian military intelligence agency said.

It identified him as Maj. Gen. Vitaly Gerasimov, 45, said he had fought with Russian forces in Syria and Chechnya and had taken part in the seizure of Crimea in 2014.

It was not possible to confirm the death independently. Russia has not commented.

Another Russian general was killed earlier in the fighting. A local officers’ organization in Russia confirmed the death in Ukraine of Maj. Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky, the commanding general of the Russian 7th Airborne Division. Sukhovetsky also took part in Russia’s military campaign in Syria.

Russian forces are already exhausted and Putin's end
Britain’s defense secretary says the invasion of Ukraine will be Vladimir Putin’s downfall as the Russian leader struggles to defeat and occupy a country that has put up unexpectedly staunch resistance to his armies. Ben Wallace said Russian forces are already “exhausted” after facing logistical problems and suffering thousands of losses in the first 13 days of fighting. He added it’s “an impossible task” to occupy a country of 44 million people that is bigger than France and Germany combined.

“This will be Putin’s end ... and so it should be,” Wallace told the BBC. 

Putin is already “a spent force” in the wider world because the international community has decided the invasion of Ukraine and the humanitarian catastrophe it has unleashed are unacceptable, Wallace said. The international sanctions imposed on Russia “are reducing his economy to zero,” and Putin is responsible for that, Wallace said.

IMAGE SOURCE: theguardian.com