It’s 3 p.m. in Kyiv. Here’s what to know
Ukraine says that Chernihiv has come under “colossal attack,” while Russia says that there has been “no breakthrough” in negotiations being held in Istanbul.
If you’re just joining us, here’s the latest on the war in Ukraine:
- Chernihiv attack: The mayor of the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv dismissed Moscow’s claim of a scale-back in operations, following what he describes as a “colossal attack.” The city was “under fire” from Russian airstrikes while shelling continued through the night, according to Viacheslav Chaus, head of the Chernihiv regional administration.
- “No breakthrough”: Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday there were no breakthroughs following a round of Russia-Ukraine in-person negotiations in Istanbul but welcomed Ukraine’s written demands.
- Disabled children: About 80 disabled children, some accompanied by their guardians, have arrived in the border town of Przemyśl, Poland, after being transferred from the central Dnipropetrovsk region on Tuesday. A CNN team on the ground saw ambulances and crowds of paramedics waiting for the children at the train station earlier in the day.
- Belgorod explosions: Explosions in Russia’s Belgorod region late Tuesday night may have occurred because of a fire at an ammunition depot, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said Wednesday, citing preliminary information.
- Refugees: More than 4 million people, or almost 10% of Ukraine’s pre-war population, have fled their home country since the start of the Russian invasion in late February, the UN says.
- Evacuation corridors: Ukraine and Russia have agreed on three evacuation corridors for the day, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister said Wednesday. Vereshchuk announced one corridor for the evacuation of Mariupol residents and delivery of humanitarian aid to Berdyansk, one route for humanitarian aid delivery to and evacuation from Melitopol, and another for a column of people in personal vehicles from Enerhodar to Zaporizhzhia.
- Russian units return to Belarus: Some Russian units have returned to Belarus after suffering heavy battlefield losses in Ukraine, according to the UK. The units will need to reorganize and resupply in Belarus, in what the MoD said was an indication of the logistical difficulties Russia is having in Ukraine.
Here’s a look at the map of Ukraine as it stands amid the Russian invasion:
Putin’s war has triggered an exodus out of Russia — but the escape options are shrinking
From Carlotta Dotto and CNN Staff
From Moscow to the Siberian oil capital of Novosibirsk, and from the intellectual hub of St. Petersburg to the nuclear submarine base of Murmansk, Russians are searching for a way out in anticipation of a grim future in a country torn apart by isolation, censorship and belligerence.
“On February 24, everything changed, our lives were divided into before and after,” said Veronica, a 26-year-old digital marketer who lives in Moscow. She gave a pseudonym to protect her identity.
She didn’t want to make a rushed decision as she watched her friends and acquaintances abruptly packing their bags and breaking rental agreements, days after they learned that Russia had attacked Ukraine.
Instead, she went to anti-war protests in the Russian capital.
New legislation was passed in Russia in early March that can send people to prison for up to 15 years for posting or sharing information about the war that the authorities deem to be false. They made it illegal even to use the word “war,” Veronica said.
The last straw for her, however, was the reaction of the wider Russian population who she thinks largely “believe TV propaganda.”
“I was screaming that it was time for us to protest, to go to rallies, to write complaints to deputies — instead, people went shopping on IKEA’s last business day,” Veronica said. “I don’t want to live with people like that, they broke my heart.”
It doesn’t matter where we go, we just want to escape,” she told CNN.
Read the full story:
“No breakthroughs” in negotiations, says Russia
From CNN’s Lindsay Isaac and Lianne Kolirin in London
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday there were no breakthroughs following a round of Russia-Ukraine in-person negotiations in Istanbul but welcomed Ukraine’s written demands.
“It is positive that the Ukrainian side has at least begun to formulate concretely and put down on paper what it proposes,” Peskov told reporters on a regular conference call.
“As for the rest, we cannot yet state anything promising, no breakthroughs. Lots of work ahead,” he added.
Peskov went on to say that the head of the Russian delegation, Vladimir Medinsky, is expected to give an update later on Wednesday about the results of the bilateral talks held in Istanbul Tuesday.
Some background: Talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations in Istanbul, Turkey, on Tuesday covered an array of important issues, including the future of the eastern Donbas region, the fate of Crimea, a broad alliance of security guarantors and a potential meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
About 80 disabled children arrive in Poland from Ukraine by train
From CNN’s Sarah Dean and Nadiya Rodkina in Przemyśl, Poland
About 80 disabled children, some accompanied by their guardians, have arrived in the border town of Przemyśl, Poland, after being transferred from the central Dnipropetrovsk region on Tuesday.
More than 100 people in total arrived in Przemyśl on Tuesday evening on the train, a spokesperson for the local Podkarpackie Voivode region, Michał Mielniczuk, told CNN on Wednesday.
They were then transferred to a reception center in the city of Stalowa Wola, with 26 children taken via ambulance, Mielniczuk said.
A CNN team on the ground witnessed a row of ambulances and crowds of paramedics waiting for the children at the train station earlier in the day.
The children will stay for about three days in Stalowa Wola, where they will receive aid and support, before being taken to Germany, Mielniczuk added.
Some background: The European Disability Forum, a pan-European NGO, estimates 2.7 million people in Ukraine have disabilities.
According to Inclusion Europe, another NGO, around 261,000 people in Ukraine have learning difficulties that make them extremely vulnerable to the conflict.
At least 100,000 of them, mostly children, live in care homes and institutions. Their chances of getting out of the country are slim.
CNN’s Ivana Kottasová and Yulia Kesaieva contributed reporting to this post. This post has been updated.
Explosions in Russia’s Belgorod region may be due to fire, says governor
From CNN’s Nathan Hodge in Lviv
Explosions in Russia’s Belgorod region late Tuesday night may have occurred because of a fire at an ammunition depot, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said Wednesday, citing preliminary information.
Blasts were reported late Tuesday near the village of Krasny Oktyabr, not far from the border with Ukraine. Gladkov said there were no casualties from the incident and that there was no damage to residential buildings.
“We are waiting for an official announcement from the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation,” Gladkov said on Telegram.
Chernihiv under “colossal attack” despite Moscow’s claim of scale-back in operations, mayor tells CNN
From CNN’s Lindsay Isaac and Lianne Kolirin in London
The mayor of the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv has dismissed Moscow’s claim of a scale-back in operations, following what he describes as a “colossal attack.”
His words came as it emerged that the city was “under fire” from Russian airstrikes while shelling continued through the night, according to Viacheslav Chaus, head of the Chernihiv regional administration.
In an interview with New Day’s John Berman, the city’s mayor Vladyslav Atroshenko hit out at Russia’s claim on Tuesday that it planned to “drastically reduce” its military assault on Chernihiv and the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
This is yet another confirmation that Russia always lies,” he told Berman.
Watch the interview:
Russia made the claim on Tuesday following talks it had with Ukrainian representatives in Turkey. The suggestion appeared appeared to show signs of progress towards an off ramp to the conflict.
But according to Atroshenko, hostilities actually increased in Chernihiv since the claim was made.
He said: “They’re saying reducing intensity, they actually have increased the intensity of strikes. Today we have a colossal attack on the center of Chernihiv. Twenty-five people have been wounded and are now in hospitals. They’re all civilians. So whenever Russia says something, this needs to be checked carefully.”
In an interview posted on Telegram on Wednesday, Chaus said the situation in the region had not changed despite claims by Russia.
He said Russian troops had carried out strikes on the city of Nizhyn, destroying “civil infrastructure” as well as “libraries, shopping malls and many residential buildings,” while in Chernihiv there is “no electricity, no water, no heat and no gas.”
Communications are down with “no possibility to restore them,” making it difficult to reach isolated villages, he added.
There are villages where Russian tanks are stationed. We know that there are our people there and the situation is the worst there, because we are not able to get there and bring either medicine or food.”
Ukrainian troops are prepared and are fighting back against Russian troops in the Chernihiv region, he added.
More than 4 million refugees have fled Ukraine, according to UN
From CNN’s Benjamin Brown and Sana Noor Haq in London
More than 4 million people, or almost 10% of Ukraine’s pre-war population, have fled their home country since the start of the Russian invasion in late February, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi said Wednesday.
“I have just arrived in Ukraine. In Lviv I will discuss with the authorities, the UN and other partners ways to increase our support to people affected and displaced by this senseless war,” Grandi tweeted on Wednesday.
The refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine include at least 203,000 third-country nationals, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Tuesday.
More than 2.3 million of the Ukrainian refugees have fled to Poland, while hundreds of thousands have fled to neighboring countries including Romania, Moldova and Hungary, according to data from the UN.
Grandi has previously called the exodus of refugees from Ukraine “the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.”
CNN’s Sharon Braithwaite and Nadine Schmidt contributed reporting to this post.
It’s noon in Kyiv. Here’s what to know
Ukrainian officials say there has been no reduction in hostilities overnight despite claims by Russia that it planned to reduce the number of troops and military operations around the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and the northern city of Chernihiv.
If you’re just joining us, here’s the latest on the war in Ukraine:
- Evacuation corridors: Ukraine and Russia have agreed on three evacuation corridors for the day, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Wednesday. Vereshchuk announced one corridor for the evacuation of Mariupol residents and delivery of humanitarian aid to Berdyansk, one route for humanitarian aid delivery to and evacuation from Melitopol, and one for a column of people in personal vehicles from Enerhodar to Zaporizhzhia.
- Sirens across Ukraine: The morning after Russian officials announced there would be a military de-escalation around Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv, a senior Ukrainian official said Wednesday there were “no areas without sirens” overnight in Ukraine.
- US travel advisories: The US State Department reissued its travel advisories for Ukraine and Russia on Tuesday to warn that “Russian government security officials may single out and detain US citizens” in both countries. The advisories for both countries warn US citizens against traveling to Ukraine and Russia and urge them to depart immediately.
- Russian units return to Belarus: Some Russian units have returned to Belarus after suffering heavy battlefield losses in Ukraine, according to the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (MoD) in an intelligence update Wednesday. The units will need to reorganize and resupply in Belarus, in what the MoD said was an indication of the logistical difficulties Russia is having in Ukraine.
- Russian and Chinese foreign ministers: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met Wednesday in Tunxi, China, according to a photo released by Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the photo, the two are seen wearing masks and greeting each other by bumping elbows.
- UN nuclear watchdog visit: The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency is in Ukraine for urgent talks��with the Ukrainian government about the safety of the country’s nuclear facilities. The agency said the talks will center on plans to deliver “urgent technical assistance to ensure the safety and security of the country’s nuclear facilities and help avert the risk of an accident that could endanger people and the environment.”
Germany issues “early warning” of gas shortages after Russia threatened to cut supplies
From CNN’s Chris Stern in Berlin and Mark Thompson in London
Germany has issued an “early warning” of possible natural gas shortages after Russia said it wanted to be paid in rubles and threatened to cut off supplies if its demand was not met.
Speaking at a press conference in Berlin on Wednesday, German economy minister Robert Habeck said the warning stage was preventive in nature and would mean an increased monitoring of gas supplies.
Triggering the first of three crisis levels, Wednesday’s announcement does not yet provide for government supply restrictions. Habeck called on companies and consumers to use gas sparingly. German gas storage is currently filled to 25% capacity, according to Habeck.
There are currently no supply shortages,” Economy Minister Robert Habeck said. “Nevertheless, we must take further precautionary measures to be prepared for any escalation by Russia.”
Fears of Russia ending its gas deliveries to Germany arose after Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that “unfriendly” countries start paying for natural gas with rubles rather than US dollars or euros, as agreed in their supply contracts. Germany, Russia’s biggest energy customer in Europe, had dismissed Putin’s directive as “blackmail.”
“A payment with rubles is not acceptable,” German economy minister Robert Habeck said Monday, adding that “we will not be divided and the answer of the G7 states is unambiguous: the contracts will be met.”
Some background: Russia is central to the global energy system. It is the world’s largest exporter of oil, making up about 8% of the global market. And it supplies Europe with 45% of its natural gas, 45% of its coal and 25% of its oil. In 2019, before Covid-19 depressed prices, revenues from oil and natural gas accounted for 40% of the country’s federal budget. Oil and gas accounted for almost half of Russia’s total goods exports in 2021.