For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.
The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:
3:40 a.m.: Reuters reported that two villages in Russia’s Belgorod region bordering Ukraine have been shelled by Ukraine, Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Thursday, adding that there were no civilian casualties.
“There is shelling from the Ukrainian side on Zhuravlyovka and Nekhoteevka,” he said.
3:10 a.m.: VOA’s Eastern Europe bureau chief Myroslava Gongadze tweets that the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal steel plant makes no mention of the Ukrainian soldiers who have been defending the civilians at the plant.
2:27 a.m.: While many civilians have been evacuated from a steel mill in Mariupol, hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers remain in the sprawling complex. The Associated Press reports that at least two wives of the fighters are pleading with the international community to evacuate their loved ones.
1:16 a.m.: Britain’s defense ministry said Thursday that with forces in Belarus conducting regular military exercises, Russia is likely to “inflate the threat posed to Ukraine” by Belarus in order to keep more Ukrainian forces in the northern part of the country and not deploying to eastern Ukraine.
1:10 a.m.: Reuters reported that five civilians have been killed by shelling from Russian forces in Ukraine’s Luhansk region in the past 24 hours, governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Thursday. Gaidai said the shelling focused on Sievierodonetsk and Popasna, Hirske and Lysychansk.
1:00 a.m.: Russia pledged to observe a cease-fire Thursday in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, where its forces have controlled all but a steel plant complex where Ukrainian troops are holed up along with civilians the United Nations is working to evacuate. Russia said its daytime cease-fire would continue again Friday and Saturday to facilitate more evacuations from the Azovstal site.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in an early morning address Thursday, said a long cease-fire was needed to evacuate the remaining civilians in Mariupol. “It will take time simply to lift people out of those basements, out of those underground shelters. In the present conditions, we cannot use heavy equipment to clear the rubble away. It all has to be done by hand,” he said.
In Washington, State Department spokesperson Ned Price expressed skepticism about Russia’s commitment to a cease-fire. “What we have consistently seen, and we’ve seen this even in recent days, is the tendency on the part of the Russian Federation to embrace a so‑called humanitarian pause to cloak itself in the guise of an actor that has humanitarian concerns only to quickly and promptly resume shelling and violence, including against civilians who are trapped in besieged areas, including in Mariupol.”
12:46 p.m.: The Washington Post posts a video documenting one family’s escape from Mariupol.
12:29 a.m.: CNN quotes a Ukrainian commander who said Russian forces who broke into the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol are waging “bloody battles” inside the complex.
12:01 a.m.: The Holocaust is at the center of a growing diplomatic row between Moscow and Jerusalem. This week, Russia accused Israel of supporting what Moscow describes as the “neo-Nazi regime” in Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov angered Israelis when he said that even Jews like Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy can be antisemitic, and that Hitler had Jewish blood. Meanwhile, an estimated 500 Ukrainian Holocaust survivors have had to flee their homes once again for the second time in their lives. Linda Gradstein reports from the Israeli town of Petach Tikva.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.