Ukraine live briefing: Russia suffering heavy losses in Bakhmut, Zelensky says

Ukraine live briefing: Russia suffering heavy losses in Bakhmut, Zelensky says

The Black Sea grain deal, intended to prevent mitigate a food crisis by safeguarding Ukrainian grain shipments, is set to expire on March 18. After talks with U.N. officials in Geneva, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin said in a statement on Monday that Moscow does not object to another extension — “but only for 60 days,” half the length of the preceding renewal. A U.N. spokesman said in a tweet on Monday that the United Nations “will go on doing everything possible to preserve the integrity of the agreement and ensure its continuity.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his forces are continuing to inflict heavy losses on attacking Russian fighters in the besieged front-line city of Bakhmut, where Kremlin-backed mercenaries concede the fight is growing more difficult as they approach the city center, bombarded by artillery and tank fire. “The defense of the fortress is well underway!” the commander of Ukraine’s land forces said in a statement Monday.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

The Ukraine war’s environmental toll will devastate lives for decades: Since Russia invaded Ukraine more than a year ago, tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or wounded and civilians have come under near-constant bombardment by missiles and drones. But scientists say the war has also scarred the country’s natural environment — polluting its rivers and lakes, contaminating its soil, eviscerating its forests — a circumstance that experts fear could lead to a long-term increase in cancers and other illnesses among civilians, write Jeff Stein and Michael Birnbaum.

In cities rocked by airstrikes, chemicals used to extinguish fires are leaching into the groundwater, and asbestos and other pollutants from the rubble of destroyed buildings are cleanup hazards. Across Ukraine, the electrical transformers and substations that Russia has been targeting are leaking heavy fuel oil and carcinogenic chemicals.

The Ukrainian government says that so far, the war has led to more than $51 billion in environmental damage, and experts say the effects of the destruction will linger for a long time.  » …
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