International Desk, Mar 3 (EFE).- After a night of heavy bombing, day eight of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine dawned Thursday as both sides prepared for a second round of ceasefire negotiations and the number of refugees fleeing the war topped 1 million people.
Early on Thursday morning Kyiv was shaken by a series of powerful explosions, which were heard in various neighborhoods of the capital and it up the night sky.
A loud explosion heard near Kyiv railway station was due to Ukrainian anti-aircraft defense intercepting and destroying a Russian cruise missile, with the wreckage rupturing a major heating pipeline, said Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister.
In its latest update Thursday morning, Ukraine’s ministry of defense said “the occupation troops, unsuccessful in almost all directions in which they were advancing, have again resorted to the tactics of night shelling residential neighborhoods of major cities.”
1 MILLION REFUGEES
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Thursday that the number of those fleeing Ukraine had already surpassed 1 million.
“In just seven days we have witnessed the exodus of one million refugees from Ukraine to neighbouring countries,” Grandi wrote on Twitter.
“For many millions more, inside Ukraine, it’s time for guns to fall silent, so that life-saving humanitarian assistance can be provided.”
Grandi will evaluate the situation of the refugees during a visit to Romania, Moldova and Poland, three of the receiving countries, to guarantee governments the support of UNHCR.
DELEGATIONS TO MEET
Ukrainian and Russian delegations were preparing to meet in Belarus for a second round of ceasefire talks on Thursday morning, this time in the city of Brest near the Polish border, according to the Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinski.
“We are ready for negotiations, we are open for diplomacy, but we are by no means ready to accept Russian ultimatums,” said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba on Wednesday.
In the first round on Feb. 28, both parties agreed that the meeting made it possible to identify some points to be able to move forward.
ICC OPENS INVESTIGATION
Requests from 39 countries have allowed the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.
“These referrals enable my Office to proceed with opening an investigation into the Situation in Ukraine from 21 November 2013 onwards, thereby encompassing within its scope any past and present allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide committed on any part of the territory of Ukraine by any person,” ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan said in a statement Thursday.
“Our work in the collection of evidence has now commenced.”
On Feb. 28 he announced his intention to open an investigation for crimes “committed by any party to the conflict on any part of the territory of Ukraine.” EFE