Ukrainian officials say humanitarian convoys headed to transit civilians fleeing Mariupol were blocked and aid materials were confiscated by Russian forces Thursday.
Iryna Vereshchuk, the Ukrainian minister of reintegration of temporarily occupied territories, said 45 evacuation buses en route to Mariupol were held at a Russian checkpoint and 12 buses carrying 14 tons of food and medications bound for Melitopol were confiscated.
A Red Cross convoy carrying medical aid to the besieged southern port city has been stranded in Zaporizhzhia due to lack of security guarantees.
Later, following request by the leaders of France and Germany, the Russian Defense Ministry said the military will reopen the Mariupol-Zaporizhzhia humanitarian corridor on Friday.
The Governor of Russian city of Belgorod, bordering Ukraine, claimed that Ukrainian helicopters attacked an oil storage depot in the city.
The number of civilians fleeing Ukraine to Poland since the war began has crossed 2.4 million, according to the Polish Border Guard.
Russia has introduced a new rule Friday, demanding foreign buyers to open local bank accounts in Russia to pay for its gas in rouble.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon says about 20 percent of the Russian forces are beginning to reposition from their attack on Kyiv, possibly to Donbas.
The best assessment is these troops will reposition to Belarus where they will refit, get resupplied and then be moved back into Ukraine, possibly into the Donbas region, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said in a news conference.
Thursday, the United States announced additional sanctions on Russian technology companies that enable the war on Ukraine. “We will prevent them from procuring Western technology and evading our severe sanctions,” White House Director of Communications Kate Bedingfield said in a news conference.
“We’re also expanding our sanctions authority to target additional sectors of the Russian economy important to Putin, including aerospace, maritime, and the electronics sectors,” she added.
In the coming days, the Commerce Department will take further action to degrade Russia’s defense, aerospace, and maritime sectors by adding 120 entities in Russia and Belarus to the Entity List. These firms can no longer get U.S. cutting-edge technology without a license, Bedingfield told reporters.
Compared to the same time period last year, U.S. exports to Russia of items subject to new export controls have decreased by 99 percent by value, according to the top White House media official.
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