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Ukraine war: US rules out 'high risk' transfer of fighter jets to Ukraine

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By Alasdair Sandford  & Euronews  with AP, AFP
Cars drive past a destroyed Russian tank as a convoy of vehicles evacuating civilians leaves Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022.
Cars drive past a destroyed Russian tank as a convoy of vehicles evacuating civilians leaves Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda

This was Wednesday's live blog. For the latest updates on Thursday click here.

The United States said on Wednesday it would oppose any plan for NATO nations to provide fighter jets to Ukraine, saying it would be seen as "escalatory" by Russia.

John Kirby, spokesperson for the US Department of Defence, told reporters that Secretary Lloyd Austin had stressed to his Polish counterpart and that the US "do not support the transfer of additional fighter aircraft to the Ukrainian Air Force at this time, and therefore had no desire to see them in our custody either."

"The intelligence community has assessed the transfer of MiG-29s to Ukraine may be mistaken as escalatory and could result in a significant Russian reaction that might increase the prospects of a military escalation with NATO. Therefore, we also assess the transfer of the MiG 29 to Ukraine o be high risk," he said.

He added that they believe there are "alternative options that are much better suited to support the Ukrainian military in their fight against Russia."

His comments came after Russian troops carried out a "direct strike" on a maternity hospital in the besieged city of Mariupol, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

He said that people and children were under the rubble, calling the strike an "atrocity" as the Russian invasion continues.

A planned evacuation of the city — the third one — failed once more.

Here a recap of how Wednesday unfolded:

03.09.2022
13:22
Wednesday's key points:
  • Washington said it opposes any transfer of fighter jets from Ukraine by NATO members, arguing it is"'high risk".
  • A Russian strike hit a children and maternity hospital in Mariupol on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
  • Ukraine has banned the export of necessities including wheat, poultry and eggs in a bid to stave off shortages. The country is the fifth biggest exporter of wheat in the world.
  • Another ceasefire attempt is underway to allow civilians to escape from Mariupol, Sumy in the northeast, Enerhodar in the south, Volnovakha in the southeast, Izyum in the east, and several towns in the Kyiv region.
  • Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki has said the decision on whether to make the MiG-29 planes available to Ukraine as it fights Russia’s invasion is now in the hands of NATO and Washington.
  • The UN's nuclear watchdog says it sees "no critical impact on safety" after a power loss was reported at the Chernobyl nuclear plant.
  • More than one million children have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded on 24 February, according to the UN's children's agency.
  • The EU has announced more sanctions against Moscow and Minsk, targeting Belarusian banks and blacklisting another 160 Russian oligarchs and senators.
  • For a summary of Tuesday's developments click here.
03.09.2022
13:21
Does the EU have a 'moral duty' to let Ukraine join the bloc?
03.09.2022
23:02
That is it from us tonight. We'll be back live at around 06:00 CET on Thursday.
03.09.2022
23:02

US slams 'preposterous' Russian claims of biological weapons in Ukraine

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki slammed as "preposterous" Russia's "false claims about alleged US biological weapons labs and chemical weapons development in Ukraine."
"We've also seen Chinese officials echo these conspiracy theories," she said.
"It's the kind of disinformation operation we've seen repeatedly from the Russians over the years in Ukraine and in other countries, which have been debunked, and an example of the types of false pretexts we have been warning the Russians would invent," she added. 
03.09.2022
22:51

Russia 'starving' Ukrainian cities: Washington

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused the Russian government of "cruelly starving Ukrainian cities."
His spokesperson, Ned Price, added that "It's shameful to inflict this destruction on innocent civilians in Ukraine."
"Let the food and medicines in. Let the civilians out safely," he urged Russia. 
03.09.2022
22:43

'We won't abandon' Mariupol: Kyiv

Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov told reporters on Wednesday after a third attempt to create an evacuation corridor from Mariupol failed that "I think that in the near future the military will understand how to resolve this issue."
"I can't emphasize it now, but we certainly won't abandon our own, we certainly won't leave alone in such misfortune as the city of Mariupol is today," he added. 

He said that "Ukraine's proposals on humanitarian corridors were not accepted by the aggressor party," according to a statement. 

Russian shelling hit a maternity hospital and children's wad in Mariupol on Wednesday, injuring at least 17 people and creating a 10-metre round crater by the building. 

The Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Ministry accused Moscow of using "civilians as human shields" and said it now had two options to evacuate civilians: attempt to strike a fourth ceasefire deal with Russia or evacuate people by sea.

03.09.2022
22:29

US Vice President en route to Poland

Kamala Harris is to visit Poland and Romania this week "to demonstrate unity with our NATO allies and provide support to the people of Ukraine"
03.09.2022
22:03

US against transfer of fighter jets to Ukraine

John Kirby, spokesperson for the US Department of Defense, told reporters just now that Secretary Lloyd Austin has spoken to his Polish counterpart and "stressed that we do not support the transfer of additional fighter aircraft to the Ukrainian Air Force at this time, and therefore had no desire to see them in our custody either."
"The intelligence community has assessed the transfer of MiG-29s to Ukraine may be mistaken as escalatory and could result in a significant Russian reaction that might increase the prospects if a military escalation with NATO. Therefore, we also assess the transfer of the MiG 29 to Ukraine o be high risk," he said.
He added that they believe there are "alternative options that are much better suited to support the Ukrainian military in their fight against Russia."
03.09.2022
21:49

Amazon to stop shipments to Russia and Belarus

The e-commerce giant said late Tuesday in a blog update on its website that it will also suspend Prime Video access for customers based in Russia and will stop taking orders for New World, the only video game the company says it sells directly in Russia. The retailer added new Russia and Belarus-based third-party sellers won’t be able to sell on its site.

The retailer had said earlier in the day that its cloud computing network, Amazon Web Services, will also stop allowing new sign-ups in Russia and Belarus. Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov had called on the company to stop providing AWS in Russia, suggesting in a letter sent to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos that not doing so could be supporting “bloodshed and disinformation that can be leveraged through digital infrastructures.”

03.09.2022
21:35

More than 1,000 civilians dead in Mariupol: Officials

The Ukrainian government said that "more than 1,000 civilians have so far been killed by indiscriminate Russian shelling of residential districts."
The city said it is burying the dead in mass graves.