Russian troops in Ukraine continue their attempt to encircle the capital Kyiv by advancing eastward and westward, including in the areas of Irpin and Brovary. Russia-backed separatists in southern Ukraine continue to shell the cities of Odesa, Mykolayiv, Mariupol and Zaporizhzhya, causing severe infrastructural damage and casualties. In the north, the cities of Kharkiv and Chernihiv also experienced heavy shelling and high casualty numbers.
Following the third round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators, civilians are being evacuated from the cities of Sumy and Mariupol. Russia agreed to halt attacks and allow safe corridors for evacuation, although there have been reports of shelling on escape routes. Media reports indicate that civilians in the city of Zaporizhzhia, located in southeastern Ukraine, are being evacuated. Ukrainian officials report that thousands of residents have evacuated from the northeastern city of Sumy to the central city of Poltava. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that nearly 2 million people have fled Ukraine to bordering countries since 24 February. According to a Ukrainian official, Russian shelling has so far damaged or destroyed 202 schools, 34 hospitals and more than 1,500 residential buildings, while approximately 1,000 communities have lost access to electricity and water.
Emerging reports on 8 March indicate that U.S. President Joe Biden plans to declare a ban on imports of oil from Russia as early as later in the day. Russia’s deputy prime minister announced the previous day that Russia, which supplies Europe with 40% of its gas, may close the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline to Germany if Western countries ban Russian energy exports.