Local residents cross a destroyed bridge as they evacuate from the town of Irpin, after days of heavy shelling on the only escape route used by locals, while Russian troops advance towards the capital, in Irpin, near Kyiv, Ukraine March 7, 2022.
Local residents cross a destroyed bridge as they evacuate from the town of Irpin, after days of heavy shelling on the only escape route used by locals, while Russian troops advance towards the capital, in Irpin, near Kyiv, Ukraine March 7, 2022. Reuters / CARLOS BARRIA

Russia warned that oil prices could surge to $300 a barrel and it might close the main gas pipeline to Germany if the West halts oil imports over the invasion of Ukraine as peace talks on Monday made little progress.

The incursion, the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two, has prompted 1.7 million people to flee, a raft of sanctions on Moscow, an exodus of foreign firms, and fears of wider conflict in the West unthought-of for decades.

Sieges and the bombing of Ukrainian cities continued.

A Russian strike on a bread factory killed 13 in the town of Makariv in the Kyiv region, Ukrainian officials said. Reuters could not verify the details. Russia denies targeting civilians.

Seeking to ratchet up the pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin, the United States said Washington and its European allies were considering banning Russian oil imports. Oil prices spiked to their highest levels since 2008.

"A rejection of Russian oil would lead to catastrophic consequences for the global market," said Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, saying the price could more than double to over $300 per barrel.

U.S. President Joe Biden held a video conference call with the leaders of France, Germany and Britain as he pushed for their support on the ban.

But if need be the United States is willing to move ahead without allies in Europe, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters. Many countries on the continent are heavily reliant on Russian energy.

Germany last month froze the certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

"We have every right to take a matching decision and impose an embargo on gas pumping through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline," said Novak.


More than 1.7 million Ukrainians have fled to Central Europe since the conflict began on Feb. 24, the United Nations refugee agency said on Monday, with over 1 million arriving in neighbouring Poland.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a "special operation" that it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its southern neighbour's military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.

After the third attempt to ease the bloodshed at talks in Belarus, a Ukrainian negotiator said that although small progress on agreeing logistics for the evacuation of civilians had been made, things remained largely unchanged.

"As of now, there are no results that significantly improve the situation," Mykhailo Podolyak said.

Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky told journalists the talks were "not easy".

"We hope that from tomorrow these corridors will finally work," he said.

A fourth round of talks will take place very soon, Russian negotiator Leonid Slutsky told Russian state television.

"Our president is not scared of anything, including a direct meeting with Putin," said Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba late on Monday. "If Putin is also not scared, let him come to the meeting, let them sit down and talk."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters Moscow would halt operations if Ukraine ceased fighting, amended its constitution to declare neutrality, and recognised Russia's annexation of Crimea and the independence of regions held by Russian-backed separatists.

Peskov told Reuters in a telephone interview that Ukraine was aware of the conditions. "And they were told that all this can be stopped in a moment."

Russia had offered Ukrainians escape routes to Russia and Belarus, its close ally, early on Monday after weekend evacuation ceasefire attempts failed. A spokesperson for Zelenskiy said the Russian proposal was "completely immoral".

French President Emmanuel Macron, who spoke with Putin multiple times last month in the run-up to the invasion, said he saw no impeding breakthrough.

"I don't think that in the coming days and weeks, there will be a real negotiated solution", he said.


In the encircled southern port city of Mariupol, hundreds of thousands of people remained trapped without food and water under regular bombardments.

Deputy mayor Sergei Orlov told CNN that authorities were ready to evacuate 6,000 people on Saturday but Russians had bombed buses that were to transport them. Moscow has accused the Ukrainians of blocking the planned evacuations.

The general staff of Ukraine's armed forces said Russian forces were "beginning to accumulate resources for the storming of Kyiv", a city of more than 3 million, after days of slow progress in their main advance south from Belarus.

In the eastern city of Kharkiv, police said a further 10 people had been killed over the past day, taking the total death toll there from Russian bombardment to 143 since the start of the invasion. It was not possible to verify the toll.

In Irpin, people picked their way over the twisted ruins of a large bridge, with river water rushing just beneath them.

"It's like a disaster. The city is almost ruined and the district where I'm living (there are) no houses which were not bombed," a young woman leaving with her children told Reuters.

Ukraine said on Monday its forces had retaken control of the town of Chuhuiv in the northeast after heavy fighting and of the strategic Mykolayiv airport in the south, which the regional governor said was under tank fire. Neither claim could immediately be verified.

In a humanitarian update the United Nations described one psychiatric hospital 60 km (40 miles) from Kyiv running out of water and medicine with 670 people trapped inside, including bedridden patients with severe needs.

The World Health Organization said at least nine people had been confirmed killed in 16 attacks on healthcare facilities since the start of the war.

A senior U.S. defence official said Putin had now deployed into Ukraine nearly 100% of the more than 150,000 forces that he had pre-staged outside the country before the invasion.

Moscow has acknowledged nearly 500 deaths among its soldiers, but Western countries say the true number is much higher and Ukraine says it is many thousands.

Death tolls cannot be verified, but footage filmed across Ukraine shows burnt-out wreckage of Russian tanks and armour, and parts of Ukrainian cities reduced to rubble by Russian strikes.