Monday, May 20, 2024

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 27

Russian forces are pressing ahead with their military operation in Ukraine to counter what they call a “threat” to their national security from the pro-West Ukrainian government. Kiev and Russia’s Western adversaries call the operations an “invasion”. The situation is fluid in Ukraine right now with both sides claiming victories on the battlefield. Iran Front Page brings you the latest developments on the ground live as they unfold in Ukraine.

US: Some Russian soldiers have gotten frostbite due to lack of appropriate gear

The United States has seen indications that some Russian soldiers have gotten frostbite in Ukraine because they lack the appropriate cold-weather gear, according to a senior US defense official.

The lack of proper equipment is compounded by the shortages of food and fuel among Russian forces, the official said, as logistics and sustainment problems continue to plague Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is nearing the one-month mark.

“Even in terms of personal equipment for some of their troops, they’re having trouble and we’ve picked up indications that some troops have suffered and [have been] taken out of the fight because of frostbite,” the official stated.

The Russians are also having command and control challenges, which has made communications difficult, further exacerbating the logistics and sustainment problems, the official continued.

Ukrainians forces have now been trying to take back territory in the last few days that the Russians had gained, the official stated, calling them “able and willing” to do so.

The United States has “clear evidence” that Russian forces have “deliberately and intentionally targeted civilian infrastructure, hospitals, places of shelter,” the official said.

The US also has seen “indications of behavior on the ground by Russian forces that would likewise constitute war crimes,” the official added.

Ukraine urges China to play more visible role to halt war

Ukraine has called on China to play a more “noticeable role” in halting the war and to become a future guarantor of its security, a senior aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

Andriy Yermak, who heads Zelenskyy’s office, also stated he expected a dialogue “very soon” between Ukraine’s leader and Chinese President Xi Jinping, without elaborating.

“We treat China with utmost respect and we expect it to play a pro-active role,” he told a virtual news conference organised by the Chatham House think-tank in London.

US: No indication of imminent Russian chemical attack in Ukraine

The United States has not yet seen any concrete indication of an imminent Russian chemical or biological weapons attack in Ukraine but is closely monitoring intelligence, a senior US defence official has noted.

The comment comes after President Joe Biden said Russia’s accusations that Kyiv has biological and chemical weapons suggest Moscow is considering using them in the war against Ukraine.

The US official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, shared Biden’s assessment but added: “There’s no indication that there’s something imminent in that regard right now.”

UNICEF spokesman: ‘Every second since war started … a Ukrainian child has become a refugee’

James Elder, a spokesman for the UN’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has described the number of children whose lives have been uprooted by Russia’s invasion as “mind-boggling”.

“Every second since this war started almost a month ago a Ukrainian child has become a refugee – 55 a minute,” Elder told Al Jazeera from the city of Lviv, in western Ukraine.

He said each case signified a child likely “separated from their dad” and a “family split apart”.

“It’s probably a child … who was going to school a month ago but has now had their life turned upside down,” Elder continued, adding, “It is torturous.”

WHO: 15 dead in more than 60 attacks on Ukrainian health care facilities

At least 15 people have died in attacks on Ukrainian health care facilities in the Russian invasion according to the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday.

The WHO announced there have been at least 15 deaths and 37 injuries resulting from over 60 attacks on Ukrainian health care facilities as of Friday.

Ukraine says 100,000 civilians want to escape Mariupol but cannot

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister says at least 100,000 civilians want to escape from Mariupol but cannot because of a lack of safe corridors out of the besieged southeastern port city.

Iryna Vereshchuk added shelling by Russian forces was also preventing rescue workers from accessing the site of a bombed theatre in Mariupol where city officials say hundreds were believed to be sheltering underground when it was hit by an air raid last week.

Russia has denied bombing the theatre or attacking civilians.

Ukraine’s central bank asks international banks to suspend all work in Russia

The governor of Ukraine’s central bank has called on all international banks to suspend the work of their branches and subsidiaries in Russia to increase financial pressure on the Kremlin.

“It’s important to increase pressure further on the aggressor to weaken its position,” Governor Kyrylo Shevchenko stated.

Sources say European Union unlikely to impose an oil embargo on Russia

The European Union is unlikely to impose an immediate oil embargo on Russia over its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, according to two CNBC sources with knowledge of the discussions.

“Only a minority of countries are in favor [of an oil embargo],” an EU official, who didn’t want to be named due to the sensitivity of the talks, told CNBC Tuesday.

A second anonymous EU official stated: “Discussions continue but no decision likely this week unless [Russian President Vladimir] Putin does something even more outrageous.”

European leaders will be gathering in Brussels later this week to further coordinate their response to the invasion of Ukraine. US President Joe Biden will also be in attendance.

‘Only three days’ of food and ammunition supplies for Russian troops

Russian forces have stockpiles of ammunition and food that will last for “no more than three days”, the Ukrainian military has claimed.

Officials said in an operational report on Tuesday that there were also fuel shortages among the Russian military.

“Mobilisation is carried out chaotically … most of them have no military specialty, because they have never served in the military,” Ukraine’s forces added.

Prosecutors: 117 child deaths during Ukraine war

At least 117 children have been killed and more than 155 others injured in Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24, prosecutors say.

The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine announced the majority of the fatalities had been reported in or around the Ukrainian capital Kyiv (58) and in the north-eastern city of Kharkiv (40).

Some 548 schools have been damaged, including 72 completely destroyed.

Report: Some towns in Ukraine don’t have more than 3-4 days’ worth of food

Some towns in Ukraine don’t have more than three or four days’ worth of food, the aid agency Mercy Corps said Tuesday, warning that the humanitarian system in the country “is entirely broken down.”

“One of our biggest concerns right now is the vulnerability of the supply chain. We know that most municipalities in areas seeing the most intense fighting don’t have more than three to four days’ worth of essentials like food,” stated Mercy Corps’ Ukraine humanitarian response adviser Steve Gordon, who is in Kharkiv, the site of some of the heaviest fighting since the Russian invasion.

At least 70% of the population of Kharkiv and Sumy is entirely dependent on aid, he estimated.

“These are areas like Sumy, with 800,000 people nearly entirely reliant right now on aid shipped in on a day-to-day basis. Cities need at least a month’s worth of food, stored in different warehouses in case they come under fire,” Gordon added.

“The reality is that right now the humanitarian system is entirely broken down. We are not seeing a high-functioning, coordinated international aid effort covering the whole of Ukraine like we often see in other conflict zones,” he noted.

“While the United Nations is getting aid into some areas, we’ve seen through the failure of humanitarian corridors that many people are only surviving through support from small Ukrainian civil society organization like church groups, which are coordinating essential deliveries such as food and medical supplies. These amazing volunteer networks are working as hard as they can but they are stretched to the max,” he continued.

Kremlin spokesman: Russians who do not support operation in Ukraine are few

There are not many Russians who do not support the Russian operation in Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday, adding that he expects these citizens to understand what is happening.

“There are not many such citizens [that do not support the special operation]; the vast majority of our citizens – as indicated both by statistics and polls – over 75% of our citizens support the operation, support the actions of the President of Russia,” the spokesman told reporters Tuesday, noting that such statistics is a “totally irrefutable fact.”

US and NATO officials say Belarus could “soon” join war in Ukraine

The US and NATO believe that Belarus could “soon” join Russia in its war against Ukraine, US and NATO officials tell CNN, and that the country is already taking steps to do so.

It is increasingly “likely” that Belarus will enter the conflict, a NATO military official stated.

“[President Vladimir] Putin needs support. Anything would help,” the official explained.

A Belarusian opposition source said that Belarusian combat units are ready to go into Ukraine as soon as the next few days, with thousands of forces prepared to deploy. In this source’s view, this will have less of an impact militarily than it will geopolitically, given the implications of another country joining the war.

A senior NATO intelligence official noted separately the alliance assesses that the Belarusian government “is preparing the environment to justify a Belarusian offensive against Ukraine.”

Belarusians voted last month to allow the country to host both Russian forces and nuclear weapons permanently, though US officials have emphasized to CNN that they have not yet seen any evidence of Russia moving nuclear weapons or preparing to.

The sources emphasized that there have been no indications to date that Belarus is currently participating in the fighting in Ukraine, and a senior US defense official said the Pentagon had not seen “any indications that the Belarusians are preparing to move … into Ukraine or that they have made any agreements to do that.”

The NATO military official noted that a final decision for Belarus’ involvement in the war still has to be made in Moscow, and as of yet, there has been no indication that Belarusian forces are participating in the fighting in Ukraine.

“It is not about what [Alexander] Lukashenko wants,” the official explained, referring to the Belarusian president.

“The question is: Does Putin want another unstable country in the region?” he continued.

“Involvement would destabilize Belarus,” the official added.

The official wouldn’t elaborate on how Belarus could intervene in the war, but said it made sense for Russia to try and cut off NATO military aid coming into Ukraine from its Western border.

US urges India to join condemnation of Russia’s op in Ukraine

India should join other democracies in condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland told NDTV.

“Democracies need to stand together and evolve their position vis-a-vis Russia because of the choices [President Vladimir] Putin has made. Democracies must stand against autocracies like Russia and China,” Nuland said in an interview during her visit to India.

Washington can help as New Delhi “continues to evolve its position,” according to Nuland.

“We know about the historic relationship and defence relationship between India and Russia at a time when the US was not prepared to have that kind of relationship. But times have changed now. They’ve changed in terms of the US and European willingness to be strong defence and security partners with India. We are doing more and more together in the Indo-Pacific. But times have also changed in terms of the level of brutality and violation of international humanitarian law that we are seeing,” Nuland stated.

She added that the US had talked about other opportunities for India “to get what it needs including Soviet-era equipment potentially not from Russia itself.”

“We have been supporting the sourcing of security needs for Ukraine along with our allies including Soviet-era equipment and those are the kind of things we can do with India as it continues to evolve its position,” she explained.

Poland freezes approximately $33 million of Russian assets

Poland has frozen 140 million zloty (some $33 million) of Russian assets as part of sanctions against Moscow, government spokesman Piotr Muller said on Tuesday.

“More than 140 million Polish zloty were frozen in the accounts,” Muller told reporters.

Poland has also announced it has suggested to the United States that Russia be excluded from the G20 group of major economies and that the proposal had received a “positive response”.

Polish Economic Development and Technology Minister Piotr Nowak stated that the matter had been discussed at meetings held in Washington last week.

“During the meetings with, among others, [US Commerce Secretary] Gina Raimondo, we made a proposal to exclude Russia from the G20, which was met with a positive response and approval, and the matter is to be handed over to President Biden,” he told reporters in Warsaw.

US accuses Russian forces of ‘kidnapping’ thousands of children from Donetsk and Luhansk

More than 2,300 Ukrainian children have been “illegally removed” from territories in eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed separatists and taken to Russia, the US embassy in Kyiv has claimed, citing Ukraine’s foreign ministry.

“According to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, Russian forces have illegally removed 2,389 Ukrainian children from Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts to Russia,” the US embassy tweeted.

“This is not assistance. It is kidnapping,” it added.

Netherlands freezes $431 million in Russian assets

The Netherlands has frozen nearly 392 million euros ($431.44 million) in Russian assets, the Dutch Ministry of Finance told parliament in a letter seen by CNN.

As of Tuesday, 391,944,031 million euros had been frozen, with the ministry saying that further asset freezes were expected.

Zelensky to Italy: Do not be a holiday resort for those promoting war

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday urged “more sanctions, more pressure” against Russia as the war keeps on ravaging Ukraine.

“Ukraine to Russian forces is the wall that separates them from Europe. But barbarians must not pass,” Zelensky told Italian lawmakers Tuesday during virtual address.

“We need more sanctions, more pressure so that Russia looks not for reserves of mercenaries in Libya, but so that Russia looks for peace, so that that one man seeks peace,” he added.

The Russian invasion “will ruin more lives, more families, and the full scale war will continue. Unfortunately, Russian missiles artillery is not stopping the bombing of our cities, all of the some of them have been almost destroyed completely,” he said, adding that in Mariupol there is nothing left, “just ruins like armageddon.”

“You know who brought war to Ukraine you know them very well. You know who is ordering war and who is promoting it. Almost all of them use Italy as a holiday resort. So do not be a resort for them. Block their properties, seize their accounts, their yachts from Scheherazade to the smallest one,” he noted.

Ukraine government adviser tells CNN there’s a chance “Putin’s power will be limited by his own people”

Liubov Tsybulska, adviser to Ukraine’s government and military, said there’s a chance “Vladimir Putin’s power will be limited by his own people.”

Speaking from Warsaw, Poland, about whether there’s potential for a Russian exit from Ukraine, Tsybulska told CNN: “I think that the best-case scenario is if something happens in Russia, we know that there’s a division between Russian elites … people within their government understand that this war is going to bring Russia to collapse.”

“So, of course, we expect they will do something in Russia. We cannot expect that having the support of the war, people go and protest and, you know, make basically a revolution. But there are some chances that Putin’s power will be limited by his own people,” Tsybulska added.

Speaking of Russia’s offensive and the resistance forces are facing, Tsybulska said: “They are trying to take cities, but they cannot enter and take control over Ukrainian cities. They did it in Kherson, but people keep protesting, people keep resisting, and basically, Russians don’t know what to do with that and the same thing with Mariupol, Kharkiv, and Kyiv.”

“They can shell and kill civilians, but they cannot control the cities,” Tsybulska underlined.

Tsybulska underscored Putin’s “ultimate goal” is Kyiv, adding “it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to take the city.”

“But of course, Russia wants to frighten civilians, and they want to spread panic among civilians and demoralization and basically reduce the support for the Ukrainian army from the Ukrainian population,” Tsybulska added.

Food and medical supplies in Kherson have almost run out

Food and medical supplies have almost run out in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, according to spokesperson for Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Oleg Nikolenko.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Nikolenko said that “Kherson’s 300k citizens face a humanitarian catastrophe owing to the Russian army’s blockade.”

The city has been occupied by Russian forces for about two weeks.

Nikolenko added that Russia is refusing to open evacuation corridors for civilians to get out.

He called for “Russia’s barbaric tactics” to be “stopped before it is too late.”

UN chief calls for end to ‘absurd war’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an end to the “absurd war” in Ukraine, warning that the conflict is “going nowhere, fast” and that the Ukrainian people are “enduring a living hell”.

“Continuing the war in Ukraine is morally unacceptable, politically indefensible and militarily nonsensical,” Guterres told reporters at the UN’s headquarters in New York.

He described the war in Ukraine as “unwinnable”.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine almost a month ago, the world has seen “appalling human suffering and destruction” in Ukraine, “systematic bombardments that terrorise civilians” and the “shelling of hospitals, schools, apartments buildings and shelters”, Guterres said

“All of it is intensifying, getting more destructive and more unpredictable by the hour,” he added.

Zelensky talked to Pope about war in Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Pope Francis talked over the phone on Tuesday about the war, Zelensky told Italian lawmakers on Tuesday.

“Today I spoke with his Holiness Pope Francis, and he said very important words: ‘I understand that you want peace. I understand that you have to defend yourselves, that soldiers defend civilians, they defend their homeland. Everyone is defending it,'” Zelensky said in an address to Italian Parliament.

“And I answered: ‘Our people have become the army, when they saw how much evil the enemy brings, how much devastation it brings, and how much bloodshed it (Russia) wants to see,'” the president added.

Zelensky stated that 117 children have died so far during the war, calling it “the price of procrastination” of other countries in stopping the war.

Zelensky told the Pope “about the difficult humanitarian situation and the blocking of rescue corridors by Russian troops,” he tweeted.

“The mediating role of the Holy See in ending human suffering would be appreciated,” Zelensky added.

In a tweet, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the Vatican Andriy Yurash said the pair had “very promising” talks.

Yurash also added that the Pope ” is the most expected guest in Ukraine.”

WHO warns of mental health crisis among Ukrainian refugees

About half a million refugees from Ukraine who fled to Poland need support for mental health disorders, and 30,000 have severe mental health problems, the representative for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Poland has said.

Those arriving in Poland are suffering from a range of health problems, including diarrhoea and dehydration, but the main need among those who have fled Ukraine is for support due to trauma, Paloma Cuchi told a briefing in Geneva.

Ukrainian official: Belarus may deploy up to 15,000 troops to assist Russia

Belarus may send three waves of soldiers – totalling about 15,000 forces overall – into Ukraine to support Russia’s offensive, a top Ukrainian intelligence official has claimed.

“A chance of invasion from Belarus is pretty high,” Viktor Yagun, the major general of the Ukrainian Security Service, said in televised remarks.

He suggested Belarusian forces may target Ukraine’s northwestern Volyn region, which borders both Poland and Belarus.

Yagun also claimed that Belarus’s military has already been assisting Russian forces with logistics and supplies since Moscow launched its invasion on February 24.

“Whether they want it or not, the Belarusians are already taking part in the war with Ukraine,” he said, before claiming that President Alexander Lukashenko “no longer” commands his army as the country’s commanding officers are “managed by Russia”.

Kremlin: Russia-Ukraine talks proceeding less substantively than they should

The Kremlin is not making public details of the talks between the Russia and Ukrainian delegations not to impair the negotiating process, Russia presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

“Ukraine is a sovereign state and it can and should have some domestic political procedures,” he told reporters when asked about the Kremlin’s attitude to the idea of a possible referendum in Ukraine on issues of compromise solutions with Russia.

“But along with that, there are matters that are being negotiated by the two delegations. I cannot go into detail but we are convinced that if these matters are made public now, it may impair the negotiating process, which is proceeding much more slowly and less substantively than we would like,” he added.

When asked about the Kremlin’s attitude toward such a referendum in Ukraine if it is organized after the delegation agree a package of solutions, Peskov noted that it also “depends on a number of parameters that can and should be discussed by our negotiators.”

“Our negotiating team enjoys the authority, has necessary expertise, and has the necessary political will of the head of state. Now, it is up to our Ukrainian vis-а-vis,” he continued.

US navy deploys carrier strike group in Med to implement Ukraine no-fly zone if Biden gives order

The USS Truman carrier strike group has been deployed to the Mediterranean, with Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro saying its mission includes “deterring” Russia and implementing a potential no-fly zone over Ukraine, should President Joe Biden give the order to establish one.

“There are numerous Russian ships and subs in the Mediterranean today and that’s why it’s important for NATO to have an equal presence, to deter them. The only thing that Putin understands is strength”, Del Toro stated, speaking to Politico.

“The role of Truman, with other allies, is to deter Russians from further aggression and to be on constant standby for orders that might be given from our president or from other leaders around the world for the protection of Ukraine and the people of Ukraine,” the commander added.

Iranian embassy in Ukraine relocated to Moldova

Iran has decided to relocate its embassy in the Ukrainian capital Kiev to Moldova’s capital Chișinău.

The Iranian ambassador to Ukraine, Manouchehr Moradi, said the decision was made because the Embassy is unable to continue working under the current circumstances in Ukraine.

Kremlin accuses US of state-level ‘banditry’ in cyber attack row

The Kremlin on Tuesday rejected US warnings that it may be preparing to conduct cyber attacks in response to Western sanctions and said it does not engage in “banditry” at state level.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that, “unlike many Western countries, including the United States, Russia does not engage in state-level banditry”.

The US warned on Monday there was “evolving intelligence” that the Russian government was exploring options for potential cyberattacks, according to a statement from the White House.

UNHCR: Over 3.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine

More than 3.5 million refugees have now fled Ukraine, according to the latest update from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

According to the update, 3,532,756 refugees have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

Japan summons Russian envoy after Moscow halts peace treaty talks

Japan’s vice foreign minister has summoned Russia’s ambassador, the country’s foreign ministry has said, after Moscow’s decision to halt peace treaty talks with Tokyo.

Russia announced on Monday that it was abandoning the discussions aimed at signing a formal World War II peace deal due to Tokyo’s moves to impose sanctions over Moscow’s military action in Ukraine.

Russia and Japan have still not formally ended World War II hostilities because of a standoff over the islands known in Russia as the Kurils and in Japan as the Northern Territories.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has also protested Russia’s decision to suspend peace treaty talks to formally end World War II hostilities between Moscow and Tokyo.

“This entire situation has been created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Russia’s response to pass this onto Japan-Russia relations is extremely unjustified and absolutely unacceptable. Japan would like to protest this move,” said Kishida during a parliamentary session.

“We will unite with the international community and take resolution action so Japan can continue following the foundation of the international order,” he added.

Russia says 78 of its aircraft have been seized abroad

Russia’s transport ministry on Tuesday announced 78 of its aircraft have been seized abroad, the Interfax news agency reported, but Russian airlines have registered almost 800 planes in Russia.

The transport ministry added Russia was guided by Iran’s experience of how to service aircraft in a similar situation.

Ukrainian presidential adviser: Russian attempt to capture Kyiv is ‘suicide’

One of Russia’s main priorities is to take control of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv but attempting to do so is “suicide”, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych has said.

Arestovych added in a televised interview that active hostilities between could end within two-three weeks.

Russian armed forces hit 137 military facilities of Ukraine

Russian armed forces have destroyed 137 military facilities of Ukraine, including eight weapon depots, over the past day, Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Tuesday.

“Over the [past] day, operational-tactical and army aviation hit 137 military facilities of Ukraine. Among them, there are six command posts, two installations of multiple launch rocket systems, one anti-aircraft missile systems, eight warehouses of rocket and artillery weapons and ammunition, as well as 101 places of accumulation of military equipment,” Konashenkov told reporters.

The Russian forces also shot down 14 drones, including one Bayraktar, he continued, adding that a group of Ka-52 and Mi-28 attack helicopters destroyed nine Ukrainian tanks, seven infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers overnight.

“In total, since the beginning of the special military operation, the following have been destroyed: 230 unmanned aerial vehicles, 181 anti-aircraft missile systems, 1,528 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 154 multiple launch rocket systems, 602 field artillery guns and mortars, as well as 1,312 units of special military vehicles,” the spokesman stated.

Moscow slams US claims on chemical weapons in Russia as malicious insinuations

Washington’s claims that Russia allegedly can use chemical and biological weapons are nothing but malicious insinuations, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Tuesday.

“We have neither one nor the other. What the Americans say is malicious insinuations. We hear them all the time, and we have been giving exhaustive answers to them for a long time. The case is that the United States did not get used to listening to anyone but itself,” Ryabkov told lawmakers.

The diplomat noted that the United States has not yet destroyed its stockpiles of chemical weapons, adding that Washington is artificially delaying this process.

“We have repeatedly stressed that it is not clear to us why the United States is so slowly, in artificial delaying mode, destroying its chemical arsenal despite the availability of all resources: technological, financial and any other,” the diplomat continued.

Russia’s entire arsenal of chemical weapons was completely destroyed under the strictest international control back in 2017, he recalled.

Deputy FM: Russia-US relations are on verge of rupture

The relations between the United States and Russia are on the verge of rupture, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned on Tuesday.

The diplomat emphasised that whether bilateral ties will be severed depends on the course Washington chooses.

“[The United States] just needs to stop escalating tensions, both verbally and in terms of pumping up the Kiev regime with weapons. They must stop producing threats against Russia,” Ryabkov told reporters, answering a question on whether the Russian side has an understanding of what Washington could do to salvage relations.

Russian shelling killed two and injured three civilians in the town of Lisichansk in the southeastern Luhansk region, according to local official.

Eight people were rescued from the debris of houses destroyed by the shelling, Luhansk region head Serhiy Hayday said in Facebook post.

The shelling also hit a children’s hospital setting fire to the building, Hayday noted.

“Russians animals opened fire on a children’s hospital in the town of Severodonetsk, but luckily, all the patients, their mothers and the medical personnel were evacuated,” he added.

UK: Russian forces ‘largely stalled’

The UK’s Ministry of Defence has released its latest intelligence report, saying Ukrainian forces continue to repulse Russian attempts to occupy the southern city of Mariupol.

“Despite heavy fighting, Ukrainian forces continue to repulse Russian attempts to occupy the southern city of Mariupol,” it added.

“Russian forces elsewhere in Ukraine have endured yet another day of limited progress with most forces largely stalled in place,” the report reads.

“Several Ukrainian cities continue to suffer heavy Russian air and artillery bombardment with the UN reporting that more than 10 million Ukrainians are now internally displaced as a result of Russia’s invasion,” London has reported.

Ukraine accuses Russia of using banned phospohorous bombs in Kramatorsk

Ukrainian official claim Russia used banned phosphorus munitions in the besieged southeastern town of Kramatorsk.

“You will burn the way this phosphorus burns,” police chief Oleksiy Bilochitsky stated.

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly accused Moscow of using phosphorus bombs which can cause fires that spreads over large areas.

The 1977 Geneva Convention banned the use of white phosphorus bombs in conflicts.

Large areas in Ukraine contain explosive devices

The Association of Ukrainian Sappers has said that at least 82,525 square kilometers (31,863 square miles) of Ukraine’s land area now contains explosive devices.

That amounts to an area bigger than the Austria.

“After the victory, these areas will have to be subjected to humanitarian demining,” the association added.

Civilians living near Kyiv airport told to evacuate

The mayor of Boryspil, a town outside Kyiv and home to Ukraine’s main international airport, has urged civilians there to evacuate the area.

Volodymyr Borysenko stated the departure of civilians would make it easier for Ukrainian forces to operate in the area, given the ongoing hostilities.

Russia’s Gazprom says it continues gas exports to Europe

Russian energy giant Gazprom says it is continuing to supply gas to Europe via Ukraine in line with requests from European consumers.

The company added requests stood at 108 million cubic metres for March 22, up from 104.7 million cubic metres for March 21.

Oil extends rally as EU members weigh Russian ban

Oil prices extended gains on Tuesday as some European Union members discussed a potential oil embargo on Russia and attacks on Saudi facilities sent jitters through the market.

Front-month West Texas Intermediate futures were up $2.20, or 1.96%, to $114.32 a barrel on NYMEX and Brent futures were up $3.18, or 2.75%, to $118.80 a barrel on the Intercontinental Exchange at 0440 GMT.

Both contracts had settled up more than 7% on Monday as the potential for more supply disruptions weighed on the market.

Deputy prime minister and former energy minister Alexander Novak said on Monday oil prices will jump to $300 a barrel if the West abandons Russian oil, adding that “some see it possibly reaching $500 a barrel.”

Ukrainians warned to brace for ‘high-precision weapons’

Ukraine’s military warned its people on Tuesday to brace for more indiscriminate Russian shelling of critical infrastructure.

Russian troops have failed to capture any major Ukrainian city more than four weeks into their invasion, and increasingly are resorting to causing massive destruction to residential areas using air strikes, long-range missiles and artillery.

Ukraine’s armed forces announced in a statement issued on Tuesday that Russian forces were expected to continue to attack critical infrastructure using “high-precision weapons and indiscriminate munitions”.

Zelensky: Ukraine would be ‘destroyed’ before surrender

Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky said all issues would be on the table if Russia’s Vladimir Putin agreed to direct talks to end the war, but he warned his country would be “destroyed” before it surrenders.

He insisted again that a meeting with Putin “in any format” was needed to end the war.

“If I have this opportunity and Russia has the desire, we would go through all the questions,” he told Ukrainian journalists in an interview published by media outlet Suspilne.

“Would we solve them all? No. But there is chance, that we partially could – at least to stop the war,” he added.

He repeated his assertion that Ukraine “already understood” it could not join NATO but he stated his countrymen would not simply “hand over” the capital, the eastern city of Kharkiv, or the heavily bombarded and besieged southern port of Mariupol.

“Ukraine cannot fulfil Russian ultimatums,” he said, adding, “We should be destroyed first.”

Report: 4,431 residential buildings destroyed, damaged in war

Ukraine’s emergency services has said that at least 651 residential buildings in the country have been completely destroyed since the Russian invasion began on February 24, according to NEXTA Television.

About 3,780 houses have been damaged, the TV station quoted the service as saying.

Air raid alerts heard across Ukraine

Kyiv Independent, a Ukrainian news outlet, is reporting air raid sirens “in almost every region” of the country.

Ukraine military claims it forced Russian troops out of Kyiv suburb

The Ukrainian army has said it forced Russian troops out of Makariv, a strategically important Kyiv suburb, after a fierce battle.

That prevents Russian forces from encircling the capital from the northwest, it added.

Ukraine army: Russian forces blocking access to the Sea of Azov

Ukraine’s military claims Russian forces now hold the land corridor with Crimea and are blocking access to the Sea of Azov.

The Russian ground offensive remains largely stalled, but its air forces are continuing to bomb infrastructure in Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkhiv and in the Donetsk regions, it said.

Ukrainian troops have repulsed 13 Russian attacks and killed 300 Russian soldiers, it added.


Kremlin ‘confirms’ 10,000 Russian soldiers killed so far in Ukraine

Almost 10,000 Russian soldiers may have been killed in Ukraine so far, just one month since its invasion began, according to data from the defence ministry in Moscow.

Pro-Kremlin newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda (KP) reported that 9,861 soldiers had died in Ukraine and 16,153 had been injured.

The inclusion of the figures appears to have been accidental, as the web page was eventually removed.

KP editor Vladimir Sungorkin told the BBC the information had been the result of a hack, and claimed the daily will publish an explanation in due course.

The figures exceed US intelligence estimates of Russian fatalities in the conflict.

Russia tells public not to stockpile food amid sanctions

The Russian government has urged the public not to stockpile food or essentials in the wake of economic sanctions, saying that there is “enough for everyone”.

Deputy PM Viktoria Abramchenko said, “We are fully covering our needs in sugar and buckwheat”, adding, “There is no need to panic, no need to stockpile those goods. There’s enough for everyone.”

She stated Russia was increasing imports of dairy produce, fruit and vegetables, meat and animal feed from “friendly countries” (such as nearby ex-Soviet nations and India, Turkey and China) to prevent food shortages.

Biden says Putin weighing use of chemical weapons in Ukraine, without citing evidence

Russia’s false accusations that Kyiv has biological and chemical weapons illustrate that Russian President Vladimir Putin is considering using them himself in his war against Ukraine, US President Joe Biden claimed, without citing evidence.

Putin’s “back is against the wall and now he’s talking about new false flags he’s setting up including, asserting that we in America have biological as well as chemical weapons in Europe, simply not true,” Biden stated at a Business Roundtable event.

“They are also suggesting that Ukraine has biological and chemical weapons in Ukraine. That’s a clear sign he’s considering using both of those,” he continued.

Zelensky reiterates willingness to drop NATO plans

Ukraine’s president has said in an interview with Ukrainian television channels that he is prepared to discuss a commitment from Ukraine not to seek NATO membership in exchange for a cease-fire, the withdrawal of Russian troops and a guarantee of Ukraine’s security.

“It’s a compromise for everyone: for the West, which doesn’t know what to do with us with regard to NATO, for Ukraine, which wants security guarantees, and for Russia, which doesn’t want further NATO expansion,” Volodymyr Zelensky added.

Zelensky noted that Kyiv will be ready to discuss the status of Crimea and the eastern Donbas region held by Russian-backed separatists after a cease-fire and steps toward providing security guarantees.

Satellite pictures show extent of destruction in Mariupol, Chernihiv & Irpin

Satellite pictures show extent of destruction in Mariupol, Chernihiv and Irpin

Pentagon: US & other nations discussing providing Ukraine with “long-range air defense”

The US is in “ongoing discussions” with other nations to provide Ukraine “the kinds of defenses capabilities to include long-range air defenses, that we know that they’re comfortable using,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said during a briefing at the Pentagon on Monday.

These are “active consultations,” Kirby added.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited Slovakia and Bulgaria last week after attending the NATO Defense Ministerial in Brussels.

US officials: Shipments of new security assistance have started, but not yet arrived in Ukraine

Shipments of the $800 million in new security assistance that the US is sending to Ukraine have started, but have not yet arrived in Ukraine, according to multiple officials.

US President Joe Biden announced the new aid package last week after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered an impassioned plea to Congress for more help.

“We’re still fleshing all of that out, but it will arrive, we believe it will arrive very, very soon, or at least the initial shipments will start to arrive soon, but nothing has been actualized on that yet,” a senior defense official told reporters Monday.

Another administration official told CNN the plan was for equipment to begin being shipped this weekend so deliveries should begin in the next few days.

“Shipments have certainly begun,” the official noted, just not the actual arrival of the aid.

These shipments will be critical to the Ukrainian defense against the Russian onslaught and will include 100 armed drones for the first time.

Ukraine official: 45,000 people evacuated from Mariupol since blockade

Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, has told local media that at least 45,000 have been evacuated from Mariupol sine Russian forces blockaded the city.

“More than 100,000 people remain there,” she stated.

Pentagon will help gather evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine

The Pentagon has said it will help gather evidence of Russian war crimes, as it accuses the Kremlin of carrying out indiscriminate attacks as part of an intentional strategy in the conflict.

“We certainly see clear evidence that Russian forces are committing war crimes and we are helping with the collecting of evidence of that,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told a news briefing.

“But there are investigative processes that are going to go on, and we’re going to let that happen. We’re going to contribute to that investigative process. As for what would come out of that, that’s not a decision that the Pentagon leadership would make,” Kirby added.

Zelensky: Mariupol is being “reduced to ashes,” but city will “survive”

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol is being reduced to ashes” by Russia’s military aggression, but added that the city will “survive.”

Mariupol, which before the war was home to around 450,000 people, has been under near constant attack from Russian forces since early March with satellite images showing significant destruction to residential areas. European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday that “what’s happening Mariupol is a massive war crime.”

Zelensky in his address went on to again urge the Ukrainians to “do everything you can to defend our country, to save our people.”

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine started in late February, “we are seeing more and more [Ukrainian] heroes. Once ordinary Ukrainians, and now true fighters,” he added.

The Ukrainian leader also stated that the ordinary citizens in Ukraine are “rising” to the point that Russia “doesn’t believe that this is the reality,” and noted, “we will make Russia believe.”

“Fight, keep on fighting, and help,” he urged the Ukrainians.

Russia says it is ready to swap over 500 captured Ukrainians

Russia has passed details of more than 500 captured Ukrainians to the Red Cross, the Interfax news agency quoted Russia’s human rights commissioner as saying.

“These are Ukrainian prisoners that we are ready to exchange,” Tatyana Moskalkova said.

The International Red Cross was sent documents to facilitate an exchange with captured Russian soldiers, according to the Kremlin’s human rights commissioner. The Red Cross has not confirmed the claims.

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