NATO ministers meet to address Russian war; new escape routes open in Ukraine

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April 6 (UPI) — NATO foreign ministers will meet in Belgium starting Wednesday to address Russia’s war in Ukraine and possibly expand support for the battle-scarred country, which was expected to see nearly a dozen new humanitarian corridors open up.

The foreign ministers are scheduled to meet in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday. Officials say they will consider supplying Ukraine with anti-tank weapons, air-defense systems and other equipment to defend itself. More humanitarian aid is also being considered.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has pleaded with Western allies for more help, including weapons and equipment, and repeated those requests during an address to the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday.

“Moscow is not giving up its ambitions in Ukraine,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement ahead of the ministers meeting. “We now see a significant movement of troops away from Kyiv, to regroup, rearm and resupply, and they shift their focus to the east.

“Targeting and murdering civilians is a war crime. All the facts must be established and all those responsible for these atrocities must be brought to justice.”

The 30 NATO foreign ministers will be joined at Wednesday’s meeting by representatives from non-NATO nations including Ukraine, Finland, Sweden, Georgia, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the European Union.

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The United States is expected to announced a ban Wednesday on new investments in Russia and additional sanctions against Russian businesses and officials. The European Union is also mulling expanding a list of sanctions to include a rejection of Russian coal, which was proposed Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials said that Russia has agreed to open four new humanitarian corridors in Ukraine to allow civilians to escape to safety somewhere. The new corridors bring the total to 11 across Ukraine.

The new corridors will allow Ukrainians to go from the contested southern port city of Mariupol, Melitopol and Enerhodar to Zaporizhzhia. Buses will also run from Berdyansk and Tokmak to Zaporizhzhia.

Ukrainian officials said that Russian forces struck a humanitarian and distribution point in Vuhledar, killing at least two people.

In the northwest Kyiv suburb of Borodyanka, as many as 200 people are feared dead after repeated Russian airstrikes, according to the town’s mayor.

Ukrainian service members stand beside a damaged building in a residential area after shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 18. Photo by Vladyslav Musiienko/UPI | License Photo