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Russia-Ukraine conflict: Day 13

Russia says it is observing a temporary ceasefire in several Ukrainian cities, so that civilians can flee to safe areas. The defense ministry says Russian forces have paused the attacks. And that humanitarian corridors are open out of the cities of Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol as well as the capital Kiev to let the civilians out. Earlier, Russian and Ukrainian envoys traded barbs at the Security Council over civilian evacuations. Ukraine's envoy said Russia is violating earlier agreements on humanitarian corridors, and accused Moscow of shelling the evacuees. But the Russian envoy blamed Ukrainian nationalists for breaching the agreement on the evacuation process. 

Fears of energy war

Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine and the ensuing Western sanctions are wreaking a havoc on global markets and economy, with Moscow warning of unpredictable and catastrophic consequences. Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said crude prices could surge to over 300 dollars per barrel if the US and European Union ban imports of oil from Russia. Oil prices have already spiked close to 140 dollars per barrel, the highest since the 2008 financial crisis. On the Nord Stream 2 sanctions, Novak warned that Russia could cut gas supplies via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany, but it has not made such a decision yet. Western sanctions on Moscow, coupled with logistics turmoil, have also shaken markets for other commodities. US wheat futures rose more than %, nearing an all-time high amid fears of supply chaos. European wheat has already hit record highs. Russia is the world's biggest wheat exporter. Together with Ukraine it accounts for about 29% of global wheat exports. In stock markets, European shares fell to their lowest in a year, with Germany and Italy’s benchmark index slipping into a so-called bear market.

Israeli demolitions

This morning near the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces set about their routine demolition project, blowing up two more Palestinian houses. They used explosives to blow up the buildings, that belonged to two Palestinian prisoners. The regime accuses the duo of killing an Israeli settler last year. Israel defends the practice of razing the family homes of attackers as a deterrent against future assaults. But rights groups have condemned the tactic as collective punishment. Last year, Israeli demolitions and seizures of Palestinian structures across the occupied West Bank increased by 32 percent. Over 650 Palestinians were displaced as a result, more than half of them children.

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