Live Updates: Ukraine Tries Humanitarian Routes Again

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The latest developments on the Russian-Ukrainian war:

LVIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian authorities on Friday announced plans for several evacuation routes and delivery of humanitarian aid, with the support of the Red Cross.

The top priority remained freeing the people of the besieged city of Mariupol and bringing aid to its starving, thirsty, frozen and terrified population.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a video message that Ukrainian authorities were trying again on Friday to send aid to Mariupol and get evacuees out of the city of Zaporizhzhia. Previous repeated attempts failed, as aid and rescue convoys came under Russian bombardment.

Vereshchuk said buses would be sent to several Kyiv suburbs on Friday to bring people to the capital and to bring aid to those left behind.

She also announced efforts to create new humanitarian corridors to bring aid to people in areas occupied or under Russian attack around the cities of Kherson in the south, Chernihiv in the north and Kharkiv in the east.

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LVIV, Ukraine – Local authorities say Russian strikes hit near airports in the western Ukrainian cities of Ivano-Frankivsk and Lutsk, far from Russia’s main attack targets elsewhere in Ukraine.

Ivano-Frankivsk Mayor Ruslan Martsinkiv ordered residents of nearby areas to head for shelters after an airborne alert. The mayor of Lutsk also announced an airstrike near the airport. No casualties were reported immediately.

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The strikes were far to the west of the main Russian offensive and could point to a new direction in the war.

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LVIV, Ukraine — Russian forces continued their offensive toward Kiev on Friday from the northwest and east, including trying to break through Ukrainian defenses from Kukhari, 90 kilometers (56 miles) northwest to Demidov, in 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Kiev, the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff said in a statement.

The General Staff said Russian troops had been halted in their efforts to take the northern city of Chernihiv, including by Ukraine’s recapture of the town of Baklanova Muraviika, which Russian troops could use to move towards Kiev.

Russian forces blockade Kharkiv and push their offensive south around Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhia and Kryvyi Rih, the birthplace of Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Bad weather on the Sea of ​​Azov and the Black Sea has stalled Russian ships’ efforts to land, the general staff said.

Three Russian airstrikes hit the major industrial city of Dnipro in eastern Ukraine on Friday, killing at least one person in strikes near a kindergarten and apartment buildings, according to the Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko.

A strike hit a shoe factory, starting a fire, he said. He posted a video showing flashes over the city’s residential areas, which are home to almost a million people. ___

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will announce on Friday that, along with the European Union and Group of Seven countries, the United States will take steps to revoke “most favored nation” trade status for Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

That’s according to a source familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to preview the announcement.

Biden’s decision comes as bipartisan pressure builds in Washington to revoke what is officially known as “permanent normal commercial relations” with Russia.

The move would allow the United States and its allies to impose tariffs on Russian imports.

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Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate has given final congressional approval to a $13.6 billion emergency military and humanitarian assistance package for beleaguered Ukraine and its European allies.

The measure passed with a bipartisan margin of 68-31.

The House easily passed the compromise bill on Wednesday. President Joe Biden is expected to sign it.

About half of the $13.6 billion measure was to arm and equip Ukraine and costs the Pentagon to send US troops to other eastern European countries worried about the war next to. Much of the rest included humanitarian and economic assistance, bolstering the defenses of regional allies, and protecting their energy supplies and cybersecurity needs.

Democrats and Republicans have battled this election year against rising inflation, energy policy and ongoing pandemic restrictions. But they rallied around sending aid to Ukraine, whose stubborn resilience against Russia has inspired many voters.

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BEIJING – Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Friday described the situation in Ukraine as “serious” and offered Beijing’s help to play a “positive role” for peace while continuing to refuse to criticize Russia.

China has largely sided with Russia, refusing to label its actions in Ukraine a war or an invasion. Chinese officials and state media have reproduced Russian claims while Beijing says it is neutral and defends national sovereignty above all else.

“We support and encourage all efforts that lead to a peaceful settlement of the crisis,” Li told reporters at an annual press conference.

“The urgent task now is to prevent the tension from escalating or even spiraling out of control,” Li said. “China calls for maximum restraint and averting a massive humanitarian crisis.”

Li spoke after the close of the annual session of China’s rubber stamp legislature.

Russia’s war in Ukraine was not openly discussed at the meeting, though it echoed Beijing’s approach to Taiwan – the self-governing island democracy that China claims as its own territory. , to be annexed by force if necessary.

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