NEWS DIGEST 13.03.2022: Ukraine crisis latest; coronavirus on the rise in China again

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Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy claimed Russia is trying to create new “pseudo-republics” in Ukraine to break the country apart, but noted Russian forces have neither the strength nor the spirit to conquer Ukraine. The Russian military has reportedly installed a new mayor in the occupied south-eastern Ukrainian city Melitopol following the alleged abduction of elected mayor Ivan Fedorov on Friday afternoon. The International Peacekeeping and Security Centre, near Yavoriv, which was hit early on Sunday has long been eyed with suspicion by the Kremlin, with Russian media suggesting in the past it is a secret Nato base in Ukraine – Russia-Ukraine war latest: nine people reportedly killed after military base near Polish border hit by missiles – live (The Guardian/MSN News)

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The Ukrainian parliament has claimed that Russia has installed a new mayor in the southern port city of Melitopol – a day after the city’s elected mayor was allegedly kidnapped by Russian forces. Humanitarian aid for the besieged city of Mariupol is set to arrive this afternoon, Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said. Ukrainian officials have accused Russian forces of attacking humanitarian convoys attempting to bring food and other essentials to the port city of 430,000 people. Mariupol is strategically important for Russia because it would unite separatist forces in eastern Ukraine with Russian troops in Crimea – leaving Ukrainian troops there isolated or encircled. The UK’s Ministry of Defence says Russian ground forces are 16 miles from Kyiv city centre – Russian forces ‘install new Melitopol mayor’ as humanitarian aid for Mariupol will arrive today (Sky News/MSN News)

The Government has revealed details of a new scheme to help people fleeing the Russian invasion as the UK’s ambassador to Ukraine said she “totally gets the criticism” of the refugee system to date. It comes as the Government has been condemned for the speed and scale of its efforts to bring fleeing Ukrainians to the UK. The UK’s ambassador to Ukraine, Melinda Simmons, told The Sunday Times she “totally gets the criticism” levelled at the Government over its approach to the issue so far. The Government has been condemned for the speed and scale of its efforts to bring fleeing Ukrainians to the UK. “But if this is going to rise then obviously it’s going to have to continue and the capacity is going to have to grow in a corresponding way.” A Government spokesperson said: “We are standing shoulder to shoulder with Ukrainians which is why we’ve made it easier for those with valid Ukrainian passports to come here. “A new sponsorship route, which will allow Ukrainians with no family ties to the UK to be sponsored to come here is also being brought forward and all the measures we’ve put in place follow extensive engagement with Ukrainian partners. We will keep our support under constant review.”Government seeks refugee sponsors to secure homes for fleeing Ukrainians (Evening Standard/MSN News)

Coronavirus cases in China have tripled after a surge in infections in the northeast and tighter controls have been imposed on access to Shanghai as the country battles its worst outbreak for two years. The authorities reported 1,938 new coronavirus cases on the Chinese mainland on Sunday, more than triple the previous day’s total. Coronavirus cases have more than tripled on China’s mainland. In Shanghai, China’s most populous city, the number of cases rose by 15 to 432. On the mainland, 831 new cases were reported in Changchun, 571 in the nearby provincial capital city of Jilin, 150 in the eastern port city of Qingdao and 60 in Shenzhen, a business centre next to Hong Kong – Millions in China face shutdowns as coronavirus cases surge in worst outbreak for two years (Sky News/MSN News)

Britons offering homes to Ukrainian refugees through a new humanitarian route will receive a “thank you” payment of £350 per month, the Government has announced. The Government said it is also working to enable communities, the voluntary sector and charitable and religious organisations to sponsor groups of Ukrainians. Ukrainians who have sponsors will be granted three years’ leave to remain in the UK, with entitlement to work and access public services. The governments in Holyrood and Cardiff said super sponsorship would enable Ukrainians to get clearance to enter each country quickly and be housed temporarily while they work with local partners to provide longer-term accommodation, safeguarding, and access to services. Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi announced on Saturday that online lessons will be made available to 100,000 refugee pupils as they transition to “life and safety” in the UK. He had told BBC’s Question Time earlier in the week: “What you are seeing now is a surge in our capability to take more Ukrainians.”Britons opening homes to Ukrainians will receive £350 per month (Evening Standard/MSN News)

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