By The Associated Press

Two million people – half of them children – have fled Ukraine in less than two weeks since Russia’s invasion, officials said on Tuesday, as the worst refugee crisis in post-World War II Europe grows.

As the cross-border exit from Ukraine continued, the humanitarian situation in the besieged cities of the country became increasingly difficult, including in the port of Mariupol, where bodies lay in the streets and civilians eagerly awaited reports that they would be allowed to evacuate.

People managed to leave the city of Sumy in northeastern Ukraine by bus on Tuesday through one of the humanitarian corridors agreed upon by Russia and Ukraine on Monday. But it came after 21 people were killed in the city at night, according to Ukrainian officials, while fierce fighting continued over a vast area of ​​the country.

Meanwhile, Poland has said it will hand over Soviet-era fighter jets to the Ukrainian military, which risks provoking a response from Moscow. And President Joe Biden has banned Russian oil imports from the United States in an effort to further reduce the Kremlin’s ability to fund the invasion.

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The video showed buses getting on buses in Sumy on Tuesday, and buses marked with a red cross driving on a snow-covered road as they left the city.

Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Iryna Verashchuk said that both sides agreed to a ceasefire from 9.00 to 21.00 to evacuate civilians from Sumy, heading southwest to the Ukrainian city of Poltava.

Earlier, a video from Sumy showed rescuers pulling the wounded out from under the rubble after the air strike. The woman, who was trapped, survived, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine.

The video also shows women and children in Mariupol gathered in the basement when artillery fire is burning in the distance. One of the women, Goma Jeanne, complained, “Why don’t I cry? I want my home, I want my job. I am so sad for the people, for the city and for the children. “

In Mariupol, civilians have been without water, heat, sewage and telephones for several days, and many have turned to store burglaries. The video shows a Ukrainian soldier telling people: “People, be united. No need to panic. Please don’t steal everything. You will live here together. “

Where a small bottle of water was left on the sidewalk, the military said it was for women, children and the elderly, and men needed to look for water elsewhere.


The Russian military said 723 people had been evacuated from Sumy to Poltava. He identified them mostly as citizens of India and the rest from China, Jordan and Tunisia. There is no mention of Ukrainians among the evacuees, but Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Iryna Verashchuk said that 5,000 people were evacuated from Sumy, including 1,700 foreign students.

Meanwhile, buses with Red Cross symbols were carrying water, medicine and food to Mariupol, where authorities planned to start excavating mass graves for all those killed. According to Verashchuk, they planned to evacuate civilians from the city of 430,000.

But shortly after officials announced buses were leaving, Ukrainian officials said they learned of the shelling on the way.

It is unclear whether the convoy arrived in Mariupol or managed to get out of the civilians. The deputy mayor told the BBC that Russian troops continue to push areas where people tried to gather before the evacuation.

Russia said on Monday that civilians would be allowed to leave safely from several cities, including Sumy, Mariupol, Chernihiv, Kyiv and Croatia. But it was not clear whether there was an evacuation in any of these cities except Sumy. Amid protracted fighting and objections to the proposed routes, attempts to create safe evacuation corridors stumbled.

Ukrainian officials said a safe corridor from Irpen, a city near Kiev that had been without electricity, water and heat for several days, opened early Tuesday. But it was unclear how long it remained open and how many people used it.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday called for expanding humanitarian corridors. In a video message from unidentified places, he said that a child had died of dehydration in Mariupol, which was another sign of the city’s despair.


Russian aircraft bombed cities in eastern and central Ukraine at night, Ukrainian officials said. The shelling shelled the suburbs of Kiev. The bombs also hit oil depots in two other cities.

The mayor of Lviv said that the city in the far west of Ukraine could hardly feed and accommodate more than 200,000 people who fled there. Displaced people are placed in gyms, schools and other city buildings.

Almost two weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine, his troops captured the southern and coastal parts of Ukraine, but their offensive stopped in many areas, including around Kiev.


It is estimated that thousands of people were killed, both civilians and soldiers, although the actual number remains unknown.

The United States believes Russia underestimated the strength of Ukraine’s resistance to the invasion and claimed thousands of lives, lawmakers told Biden’s top intelligence official on Tuesday.

“We feel that Putin feels offended that the West does not give him due respect and sees it as a war he cannot afford to lose,” said Avril Haynes, director of national intelligence, during a hearing in the House Intelligence Committee. “But what he might take as a victory may change over time, given the significant costs he incurs.”

The UN Office of Human Rights said on Tuesday that it had confirmed that 474 civilians had been killed and 861 wounded in Ukraine since the start of the war on February 24, although it acknowledged that the real numbers were probably much higher. UN officials also said on Tuesday that 2 million people had fled Ukraine.

The World Health Organization says six health workers have been killed and nearly a dozen injured in the attacks. He has confirmed 16 attacks on medical facilities in Ukraine since the Russian invasion.


The United States and its NATO allies have rejected calls by Ukraine to establish a no-fly zone over the country to avoid direct military engagement with Russia. But on Tuesday, Poland said it would hand over all its MiG-29 fighters to the United States, apparently agreeing to an agreement that would allow the Ukrainian military to use them, although it was not immediately clear how such a transfer could take place. Ukrainian pilots are trained to fly Soviet-era fighters.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has said the United States will ban all imports of Russian oil, intensifying blows to Russia’s economy in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine. However, he acknowledged that this would lead to higher costs for Americans, especially for the gas pump.

Biden’s decision came after Zelensky’s request to US and Western officials to stop imports. Energy exports maintain a steady flow of money to Russia, despite the severe restrictions it faces.

Rising prices for oil and other vital goods, such as wheat, which is used to make discounted bread and noodles, are stunning global markets. There are growing fears that an invasion of Ukraine will disrupt already limited oil supplies, as Russia is one of the world’s largest energy producers.

An increasing number of multinational companies have cut off Russia from vital financial services or shut down operations in the country. Among the latest is McDonald’s, which has said it will temporarily close all of its 850 restaurants in Russia, but will continue to pay 62,000 workers.


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