(Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory in the biggest battle of the Ukraine war, declaring the port of Mariupol “liberated” after nearly two months of siege, despite hundreds of defenders still holding out inside a giant steel works.
* Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said an agreed humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians from Mariupol’s Azovstal factory had not worked as planned, blaming Russian forces. She said 1,000 civilians and 500 wounded soldiers needed to be brought out immediately.
* Putin said the remaining Ukrainian troops were free to lay down their weapons and surrender.
* Russian forces are advancing from staging areas in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region towards Kramatorsk, which continues to be hit by rocket attacks, the UK Ministry of Defence tweeted in a regular bulletin.
* The mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, said it was under intense bombardment.
* U.S. President Joe Biden plans to announce an additional $800 million security assistance package for Ukraine on Thursday, a U.S. official said.
* The Kremlin said peace talks with Ukraine were continuing, but that Moscow was still awaiting Kyiv’s response to a proposal it had handed over. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday he had not seen or heard of the document.
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said any peace talks were likely to fail, compared holding talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin to negotiating with a crocodile.
* The prime ministers of Spain and Denmark visited the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
* Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed a “global security initiative” that upholds the principle of “indivisible security” – the concept, which Russia endorses, that no country may strengthen its own security at others’ expense.
* Italy’s ecological transition minister said his country could start being independent from Russian gas by the second half of next year.
* G7 finance ministers said they have provided and pledged together with the international community additional support to Ukraine exceeding $24 billion for 2022 and beyond, adding they were prepared to do more.
* World Bank President David Malpass said the food security crisis caused by the war was likely to last months and perhaps into next year.
* “There’s no need to climb into these catacombs and crawl underground through these industrial facilities … Block off this industrial area so that not even a fly can get through,” Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“If you have a helmet and a bulletproof vest, but you do not have a gun in your hands, you are doomed,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba as he appealed to NATO and EU member Bulgaria for military aid.
(Compiled by Kevin Liffey and Alexandra Hudson)