(Reuters) – The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine was expected to reach 1.5 million on Sunday as Russia’s attack continued for an 11th day and Ukraine pushed for further Western help, including more sanctions and weapons.
* Another try at evacuating civilians from Mariupol
The city council of Ukraine’s Mariupol said an evacuation of some of 400,000 residents trapped by Russian forces would start at noon (1000 GMT) under a temporary ceasefire that will last till 9 p.m. A similar plan had to be abandoned on Saturday after the ceasefire was not fully observed, with both sides trading blame.
*A city mayor trying to get people out
The mayor of Mariupol, Vadym Boichenko, used to dream of revitalising the city. Now he says his main priority is to help many of the 400,000 people stuck in the besieged southeastern city to escape.
* Strong resistance continuesBlasts were heard overnight in Kharkiv, the second-largest city, Ukrainian media said, while the armed forces said they were conducting defensive operations in the eastern Donetsk, Chernihiv and elsewhere. British military intelligence said Russian forces were targeting populated areas in Ukraine but that the strength of resistance was slowing the Russian advance. * Talk of fighter jets for UkraineAfter Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy asked U.S. lawmakers for help securing aircraft from European allies, Washington said it was working with Poland as it considers providing fighter jets.
* Russian credit maxes out
Visa and Mastercard, also following a request from Zelenskiy, said they were suspending operations in Russia and would work with clients and partners to cease all transactions there.
* Shuttle diplomacyIsraeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett became the first world leader on Saturday to meet face to face with Putin since he launched the invasion. He then spoke with Zelenskiy in an attempt to mediate an end to the war in coordination with the United States, France and Germany.
*QUOTES”My heart is being torn apart,” said Olha Kucher, director of the Zaporizhzhia Central Christian Orphanage after evacuating more than 200 children from the southwestern city. “I simply lack words. And I feel so sorry for these children. They’re so young.”
*COMING UPPutin is to meet on Sunday with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, whose country, a NATO member, shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia. Ukraine said a third round of ceasefire talks with Russia would go ahead on Monday; Moscow was less definitive.
(Compiled by William Mallard and Frances Kerry)