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Russia-Ukraine war: Mariupol evacuation halted for second day | Russia-Ukraine war News

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Ukrainians and Russians blame each other for violating a previously agreed ceasefire, as tens of thousands of civilians remain stranded.

A second attempt to evacuate civilians from the besieged port city of Mariupol, in southern Ukraine, has collapsed as both Ukrainians and Russians blame each other for violating a previously agreed ceasefire.

“Amid devastating scenes of human suffering in Mariupol, a second attempt today to start evacuating an estimated 200,000 people out of the city came to a halt,” the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement on Sunday.

The ceasefire was meant to last from noon until 9pm local time (19:00 GMT) to allow civilians to move from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia.

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford drove 60km along the route of the planned humanitarian corridor on Sunday. He said he had been expecting to see buses full of civilians moving towards the direction of Zaporizhzhia amid the ceasefire

“What we saw was an increasing number of private vehicles taking families out; there was no sign of that convoy,” he said.

A source from the Azov Battalion, a paramilitary group that is now part of Ukrainian security services, told Stratford that Russian forces had started shelling as efforts to get people on buses in Mariupol began. Al Jazeera was not able to independently verify the claim.

Mariupol’s city council said that the convoy of evacuees was not able to depart due to attacks by Russian forces. “It is extremely dangerous to take people out under such conditions,” the city council said in a statement.

A representative of the Russian-backed Donetsk self-declared republic in eastern Ukraine, Eduard Basurin, said Ukrainian forces refused to guarantee compliance with the ceasefire, Russian state media Interfax reported.

INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine map Who controls what in Ukraine DAY 11

Sunday marks the second failed attempt to establish a humanitarian corridor along the same route. In a second round of negotiations held on Thursday, Kyiv and Moscow had already agreed on a first ceasefire to be implemented on Saturday. But the deal fell apart with both sides accusing each other of breaking the terms of the agreement.

Mariupol has been pounded by heavy shelling since Thursday, when Russian forces encircled the city of about 400,000 people. Residents were left without food, heat and electricity in a situation that humanitarian aid workers have described as “catastrophic”.

“We know from our staff that they are desperately trying to keep safe as heavy attacks continue and food supplies run dangerously low,” Laurent Ligozat, the emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in Ukraine, said on Saturday.

“Internet and phone services have been cut off,” he said. “Hospitals, supermarkets, and residential buildings have suffered heavy damages.”



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‘Renewable energy superpower’: Australia votes for climate action | Climate Crisis News

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The choosing of politicians running to tackle climate change is a remarkable shift for Australia, one of the world’s biggest per-capita carbon emitters and top coal and gas exporters.

Australia’s election has brought in a wave of Greens and independents pushing for aggressive targets to cut carbon emissions.

The election result, with the pivotal role climate change played, represents a remarkable shift for Australia, one of the world’s biggest per-capita carbon emitters and top coal and gas exporters. It was shunned at last year’s Glasgow climate summit for failing to match other rich nations’ ambitious targets.

“Together we can end the climate wars,” incoming Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in his victory speech. “Together we can take advantage of the opportunity for Australia to be a renewable energy superpower.”

Albanese has said Labor would maintain its target of cutting carbon emissions 43 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, already much tougher than the outgoing conservative government’s Paris climate target of a cut of up to 28 percent.

With votes still being counted, Labor is short of a majority in the lower house of parliament, so it may need the support of an expanded cross-bench. Even with an outright majority, it could face a fight in the Senate, where it will likely need to need to work with the Greens to pass legislation, including the 2030 emissions target.

“Now the battle will be over ambition in short-term targets, legislating a plan so it’s out of the hands of any one government, and hitting pause on new fossil fuel mines,” said Richie Merzian, climate and energy head at the Australia Institute think-tank.

The Greens want to achieve net-zero by 2035 rather than 2050, stop new coal and gas infrastructure from being built, and end coal-fired generation by 2030.

Labor will also face pressure from a handful of climate-focused independents pushing for emissions reductions of at least 50 percent by 2030.

Fossil fuel jobs

Defeated Prime Minister Scott Morrison once mocked Labor, brandishing a lump of coal in parliament saying: “Don’t be afraid.”

Since then, Labor – conscious of its defeat in 2019 when it lost seats in regions reliant on coal and gas jobs – has dropped or diluted policies that could hurt them.

Two days ahead of the election, a senior Labor politician heaped praise on the gas industry for building mega-projects that generate massive exports, forecast to reap 70 billion Australian dollars ($50bn) this year.

“I want to be clear how enthusiastic I am, but also how enthusiastic Labor is for this industry because we know that it creates jobs and creates livelihoods,” Labor’s shadow minister for resources, Madeleine King, told a petroleum conference.

Labor’s key climate policies are to boost demand for electric vehicles through tax breaks, provide 20 billion Australian dollars ($14bn) in cheap finance to build transmission for new renewable energy projects, and tighten the country’s emissions “safeguard mechanism”.

That mechanism sets a baseline of allowable emissions for the 215 big mining, energy and materials companies that emit more than 100,000 tonnes a year of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Companies are awaiting details on the plan, which envisions ratcheting down the baselines to get to net-zero by 2050, but are largely unfazed by the proposal.

“At a big-picture level, it’s probably not going to feel very different from commitments we’ve already made,” Meg O’Neill, chief executive of gas producer Woodside Petroleum, told reporters last week.

Cost challenges could hamper Labor’s push to achieve 82 percent renewable energy by 2030, with the rising cost of materials used in power lines, solar and wind farms. At the same time, power prices are set to soar, mostly because of high global coal and gas prices.

“The next couple of years look awful for energy users, and whoever’s in government will be under pressure over that,” said Tennant Reed, climate and energy policy head at Australian Industry Group.



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Ukraine-Russia live news: Fears grow for Azovstal POWs | Russia-Ukraine war News

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  • Russia’s forces are intensifying efforts to capture Severodonetsk, the final Ukrainian strongpoint in the Luhansk region.
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his country is prepared to exchange its troops who surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol for Russian prisoners.
  • A Russia negotiator says Moscow will consider exchanging prisoners from Ukraine’s Azov battalion for Viktor Medvedchuk, a wealthy Ukrainian businessman close to President Vladimir Putin. He did not specify the number of prisoners considered for the exchange.
  • Russian energy giant Gazprom says it had stopped all natural gas supplies to Finland as it had not received payment in roubles.

INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what Day 87
Here are all the latest updates:

Ukraine will likely become ‘federation’: Russian official

A Russian politician and Putin’s appointed representative to the annexed region of Crimea says Ukraine is unlikely to continue to exist in its current form, Russia’s state news agency RIA reports.

Georgy Muradov suggested Ukraine would likely become a federation, or a group of states.

He added that no country that respects itself would tolerate a flagrant violation of the rights of its own people in neighbouring states, invoking the argument Moscow commonly uses for having invaded Ukraine.

“And even more so if these attempts result in outright extermination of people, as happened in recent years with regard to Russians and Russian-speakers in Ukraine, where they lived for centuries in their native land,” he said.


Ukraine’s first lady in rare interview with Zelenskyy

Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska has given a rare interview with her husband on Ukrainian television, only the second time the couple have been seen together since the beginning of the war.

Zelenska described the night she woke up hearing “weird sounds outside” and saw her husband wasn’t near her. She said she walked into the next room and “he was already dressed in a suit, but without a tie”.

“I asked him what was going on and he said, ‘It has started’,” Zelenska recalled.

“Our family was torn apart as every other Ukrainian family,” she said, adding the two hadn’t seen each other for two and a half months and spoke only be telephone.

US First Lady Jill Biden greets Olena Zelenska, wife of Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, outside a public school in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, May 8, 2022
US First Lady Jill Biden greets Olena Zelenska, wife of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, outside a public school in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, May 8, 2022 [Susan Walsh/Pool via Reuters]

Poland’s Duda to deliver speech to Ukraine’s parliament

Poland’s president will be the first foreign head of state since the start of the war to speak directly to Ukraine’s parliament.

Andrzej Duda is due to deliver a speech to Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada on Sunday, Interfax reports.


Sanctions ‘practically broken’ logistics in Russia: Minister

Russia’s transport minister has said that international sanctions have “practically broken” logistics in the country, the state news agency TASS has reported.

“The sanctions imposed on Russia… have practically broken all logistics in our country. And we have to look for new logistics corridors,” Vitaly Savelyev, said on a visit to Russia’s southern port city of Astrakhan, on the Caspian Sea

The new corridors for moving goods include a north-south route through two Caspian Sea ports: Olya and Makhachkala.

The minister’s comments were a rare admission from the Kremlin that sanctions intended to cripple Russia’s economy are having a significant effect.


Russia labels two high-profile critics as ‘foreign agents’

Russia has added two Kremlin critics, former chess champion Garry Kasparov and former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, to its long list of “foreign agents”.

The designation applies to many independent media companies, journalists and NGOs. Everyone on the list is obliged to mark their publications with a disclaimer noting their “foreign agent” status.

Soviet-born former world chess champion Kasparov is a longtime opponent of Putin and has lived in the US for almost a decade.

Khodorkovsky, one of Russia’s most powerful businessmen in the 1990s, spent ten years in Russian prison on what many see as falsified charges, before going into exile.


Russia again accuses Ukraine of firing on Kursk region

The governor of Russia’s Kursk region has again accused Ukraine of firing on its settlements, TASS news agency reports.

“Tetkino and nearby residential areas were subjected to Ukraine’s fire once again,” Roman Starovoit said on Saturday, adding he would provide further details on the situation later.

The governor said there were no casualties or damage to infrastructure as a result of the attack.


Ukraine’s army deterring Russia’s attacks on Slovyansk, Severodonetsk: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy has said that Ukraine’s army has for days been deterring Russia’s advances on Slovyansk and Severodonetsk.

“The situation in Donbas is extremely difficult. As in previous days, the Russian army is trying to attack Slovyansk and Severodonetsk. The Armed Forces of Ukraine are deterring this offensive,” Zelenskyy said in his nighttime address.

Russia’s defence minister said on Friday that Moscow’s forces had almost taken full control of Luhansk. Russia is intensifying its offensive on Severodonetsk, which is the last Ukrainian stronghold in the region.


Russian separatist says six men died at Azovstal during surrender

A Russian separatist leader has said that six Ukrainian fighters were killed at the Azovstal steel plant during an evacuation procedure in which the fighters were surrendering to the Russians in groups.

The self-proclaimed leader of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Denis Pushilin, said that this happened due to Ukrainian men blowing up their own caches of ammunition.

“It is unclear who did this, no one is assuming responsibility, but after the main group walked out… someone ordered to blow up ammunition caches… six people died immediately, and, as far as I know, four were injured,” Pushilin said on the Soloviev Live YouTube channel on Saturday.

Pushilin also said that an unknown number of Ukrainian servicemen could still be at the Azovstal plant, adding that they had some stocks of food and water, but were short on medicines.


Russia has blocked 22 m tonnes of Ukraine’s food exports: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy has said that Russia has blocked Ukraine from exporting 22 million tonnes of food products.

Speaking with media after a meeting with Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, Zelenskyy said if the global community didn’t help Ukraine unblock its ports, the energy crisis would be followed by a food crisis.

“You can unblock them in different ways. One of the ways is a military solution. That is why we turn to our partners with inquiries regarding the relevant weapons,” he added.


Nearly 60 people evacuated from Luhansk region: Governor

The Luhansk governor has said 57 people were evacuated from the region on Saturday, adding that it was very “hot” in Severodonetsk, Lysychansk and the village of Bilohorivka.

“The shelling does not stop even for an hour. The Russians use artillery day and night,” Serhey Haidai said.

“Every life of the 57 rescued from these communities is important to us today. They are intact and already safe,” he added.

A partially collapsed school building in the village of Bilohorivka, Luhansk
A partially collapsed school building in the village of Bilohorivka, Luhansk, Ukraine, May 8, 2022 [Luhansk Regional Military-Civil Administration/Handout via Reuters]

Ukraine says agreeing to ceasefire with Russia will only escalate war

Ukraine’s presidential advisor has dismissed as “very strange” calls in the West to negotiate an urgent ceasefire with Russia that would involve its forces remaining in territory they have occupied in Ukraine’s south and east.

Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters making concessions would backfire on Ukraine because Russia would hit back harder after any break in fighting.

“Any concession to the Russian Federation would instantly lead to an escalation of the war. So the war will not stop. It will just be put on pause for some time,” he said.

“After a while, with renewed intensity, the Russians will build up their weapons, manpower and work on their mistakes, modernise a little, fire many generals… And they’ll start a new offensive, even more bloody and large scale, taking into account all mistakes,” Podolyak added.


Russian forces intensify efforts to capture Severodonetsk: Think-tank

Russian forces have intensified efforts to encircle and capture Ukraine’s Severodonetsk city in Luhansk Oblast and will likely continue to do so in the coming days, the Institute for the Study of War has said.

“Russian troops in Luhansk will likely move to capitalise on recent gains made in the Rubizhne-Severodonetsk-Luhansk-Popasna arc to encircle and besiege Severodonetsk – the final Ukrainian strongpoint in Luhansk Oblast,” the US-based think-tank said.

According to ISW, Russian military bloggers are hypothesising on the success of Russian tactics in the area and have dubbed it the “Battle of Severodonetsk”.


Ukrainian director denounces Russian presence at Cannes

Ukrainian director Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk has criticised the Cannes Film Festival for including a Russian director in its line-up.

The festival has banned official Russian delegations from attending, but Russian dissident Kirill Serebrennikov, who has spoken out against the invasion of Ukraine, premiered his in-competition film “Tchaikovsky’s Wife” at the festival on Wednesday.

“When he’s here, he is part of the Russian propaganda, and they can use him,” Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk told Reuters.

The Russian director Serebrennikov had said earlier this week that Russian culture should not be boycotted, saying that his culture “has always promoted human values”.

The Ukrainian director Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk described the sensation of being in Cannes while his country fights against a Russian invasion as “alien”.


Women among Azovstal fighters now prisoners of Russia: TASS news agency

There are 78 women among the people captured by Russian forces from the besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, a pro-Russian separatist leader said.

Russia’s TASS news agency reported the Donetsk separatist leader Denis Pushilin as saying there were also foreigners among those taken prisoner from the Azovstal steelworks. He did not state how many foreigners were taken prisoner.

“They had enough food and water, they also had enough weapons,” Pushilin told TASS.

“The problem was the lack of medicine,” he said, referring to the Ukrainian forces that had held out at the steel plant.


Moscow may swap Ukraine prisoners for Putin ally Medvedchuk: Negotiator

Moscow will consider exchanging prisoners from Ukraine’s Azov battalion for Viktor Medvedchuk, a wealthy Ukrainian businessman close to President Vladimir Putin, a Russian negotiator has said.

“We are going to study the possibility,” said Leonid Slutsky, a senior member of Russia’s negotiating team on Ukraine, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Slutsky did not say the number of Azov fighters Moscow was considering for exchange.  A separatist leader in eastern Ukraine has said nearly 2,500 Ukrainian fighters were in custody and were sure to face tribunals.

Medvedchuk, 67, is a politician and one of Ukraine’s richest people and is known for his close ties to Putin. He escaped from house arrest after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February but was re-arrested by Ukrainian forces in mid-April.

Viktor Medvedchuk
Pro-Russian Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk in handcuffs after he was detained by security forces in Ukraine in April 2022 [Press service of the State Security Service of Ukraine/Handout via Reuters]

Russian troops responsible for 7 civilians’ deaths: Ukraine governor

Ukraine says Russian forces are responsible for the deaths of seven civilians in the area of Donetsk in the east of the country that is under Moscow’s control.

Three people were killed in the town of Lyman alone, regional governor Pavlo Kirilenko wrote on Telegram.

Meanwhile in Kherson, occupied by Russian forces, local administrators accused Ukraine of killing three civilians and injuring 10 in the village of Biloserka, in a statement on Telegram.


Ukraine ready to exchange its soldiers for Russian prisoners of war: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy says his country is prepared to exchange its troops who surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol for Russian prisoners.

In an interview with a Ukrainian television channel, Zelenskyy said the most important thing for him was to save the maximum number of people and soldiers. “We will bring them home,” he said.

Russia claims to have taken full control of the besieged city of Mariupol after the last group of Ukrainian soldiers surrendered.​​


Zelenskyy talks to Italian PM, urges more Russia sanctions

Zelenskyy has said he talked to Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and stressed the importance of more sanctions on Russia and unblocking Ukrainian ports.

Zelenskyy tweeted that he had also thanked Draghi for his “unconditional support” of Ukraine’s bid to become a member of the EU. Draghi had initiated the call, he said.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all the updates from Saturday, May 21 here.





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US envoy meets Taliban foreign minister, raises women’s rights | Taliban News

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US special envoy on Afghanistan stresses international opposition to Taliban’s treatment of women and girls.

The US special envoy on Afghanistan has met the Taliban’s acting foreign minister in the Qatari capital Doha and stressed international opposition to the group’s expanding curbs on women and girls.

“Girls must be back in school, women free to move & work w/o restrictions for progress to normalised relations,” US Special Representative on Afghanistan Thomas West wrote on Twitter on Saturday after meeting Amir Khan Mutaqi.

Since returning to power last August, the Taliban has imposed a slew of restrictions on civil society, many focused on reining in the rights of women and girls, that are reminiscent of their last rule in the 1990s.

Girls’ schools are yet to open, more than eight months since the Taliban came to power. The group has insisted that it wants girls to get back to school, but justified the delay on reasons ranging from infrastructure to lack of resources due to the economic crisis.

When the Taliban took power in August, the armed group promised to uphold the rights of girls and women. But its actions since have worried the international community.
Earlier this month, Afghanistan’s supreme leader ordered women to cover up fully in public, including their faces, ideally with the traditional burqa.

 

During the last few months, Taliban leaders, particularly from the Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, have announced many new restrictions, even as criticism and international pressure mounts against them.

In December, the ministry, which replaced the Afghan Ministry of Women Affairs, imposed restrictions on women from travelling further than 72km (45 miles) without a close male relative.

This restriction was further expanded to include travelling abroad, and several solo women travellers were reportedly stopped from boarding flights. Similar bans were also introduced in several healthcare centres across the country, forbidding women to access healthcare without a mahram (male chaperone).

In January, a group of 36 UN human rights experts said that Taliban leaders in Afghanistan are institutionalising large-scale and systematic gender-based discrimination and violence against women and girls.

A surprise U-turn in March, in which the group shuttered girls’ high schools on the morning they were due to open, drew the ire of the international community and prompted the US to cancel planned meetings on easing the country’s financial crisis.

A Ministry of Education notice said on March 23 that schools for girls would be closed until a plan was drawn up in accordance with Islamic law and Afghan culture, according to Bakhtar News Agency, a government news agency.

Economic stabilisation

West also said that the two discussed economic stabilisation in Afghanistan and concerns about attacks on civilians.

The country is teetering on the verge of economic disaster after the West froze Afghanistan’s assets held abroad and cut off aid.

“Dialogue will continue in support of Afghan people and our national interests,” West, the US envoy, said in his post.

The country has been reeling from a humanitarian crisis with more than half of the population facing hunger. The Taliban has struggled to revive the aid-dependent economy, which is in freefall due to sanctions and exclusion from international financial institutions.

In December, the Biden administration issued what it called “broad authorisations” to ensure that the United Nations, American government agencies and aid groups can provide humanitarian relief to Afghanistan without running foul of sanctions against the Taliban.





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