June 13, 2024

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Equality opinion

Ukraine news – latest: Biden says Putin ‘cannot remain in power’ as Lviv hit by missile strikes

Joe Biden said Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power” and called him a “butcher”.

On a trip to Poland to meet ministers and Ukrainian refugees the US president said the world “will have a brighter future” without Mr Putin in the Kremlin.

The US president was also at the presidential palace in Warsaw for talks with Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda, in which he affirmed Washington DC’s “unwavering commitment” to Poland and Ukraine.

The visit to Poland was during the final leg of his four-day trip to Europe to try to maintain unity among Ukraine’s allies.

Meanwhile, close to the Polish border, powerful missile strikes near Lviv were reported by the city’s council.

“Everyone should keep calm and stay indoors,” local official Igor Zinkevych said in a post on Facebook.

Footage shows heavy black smoke rising from the northeast side of the Ukrainian city, that has been used as a main hub for millions of refugees that have fled for Poland.

Table of Contents

Key Points

  • Putin ‘cannot remain in power’, says Biden

  • Missile strikes hit Lviv

  • UK authorises further 65 Russian sanctions

  • Ukraine fears 300 killed in Mariupol theatre bombing

  • Russia accused of abducting over 400,000 Ukrainians

Putin ‘cannot remain in power’, says Biden

18:15 , Liam James

Joe Biden said Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”, and his war against Ukraine has been a strategic failure for Moscow.

Speaking in Poland, Mr Biden suggested the Russian president was misguided and said Nato was a defensive alliance which never sought Russia’s demise.

He told a crowd in Warsaw: “Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, for free people refused to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness.

“We will have a different future, a brighter future, rooted in democracy and principle, hope and light, of decency and dignity, of freedom and possibilities.

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”

Update – More missile strikes reported in Lviv

17:48 , Liam James

The mayor of Lviv said another missile had hit Lviv around an hour after reporting two strikes on the city.

Governor of the region, Maksym Kozytsky, reported “three more powerful explosions” around the same time.

Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said “significant damage” was caused to infrastructure by the later strike. He said a fuel storage facility was set on fire when the earlier missiles hit.

Sadiq Khan urges UK to ‘do more’ to assist refugees from Ukraine

17:25 , Thomas Kingsley

The UK should be doing “much more” to aid Ukrainian refugees, Sadiq Khan has said, as he joined a march in support of the country.

A large crowd, including the Mayor of London, gathered near Hyde Park on Saturday afternoon for a march and vigil to send a unified message of support to the people of Ukraine.

Speaking ahead of the demonstration, Mr Khan said he was there to condemn Russia’s “barbaric aggression”.

Read the full report here:

Sadiq Khan urges UK to ‘do more’ to assist refugees from Ukraine

Roman Abramovich associate has private jets detained indefinitely by UK government

17:15 , Thomas Kingsley

The British government has indefinitely detained private jets owned by a sanctioned Russian oligarch, Thomas Kingsley reports.

Two jets belonging to billionaire tycoon Eugene Shvidler had been under investigation at Farnborough and Biggin Hill airports for three weeks and have now been detained indefinitely, transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed on Saturday.

Mr Shvidler, who was sanctioned for his ties to Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, is a former boss and shareholder in Mr Abramovich’s steel giant Evraz PLC and has been identified as a person benefitting from or supporting president Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Read the full story below:

Abramovich associate has private jets detained indefinitely by UK government

Watch live as Joe Biden delivers speech in Warsaw on efforts to support Ukraine

17:00 , Thomas Kingsley

Fire at fuel storage site following missile strike – Lviv mayor

16:50 , Thomas Kingsley

An industrial facility where fuel is stored is on fire following recent missile strikes, Lviv’s mayor has said.

“All relevant services are working on site. I ask everyone to stay in the shelters until the air alarm goes off,” Andriy Sadovyi wrote on Twitter.

 (REUTERS)

(REUTERS)

Watch: Thousands gather in London for Ukraine solidarity march

16:40 , Thomas Kingsley

Plumes of smoke seen in Lviv following airstrikes

16:20 , Thomas Kingsley

 (REUTERS)

(REUTERS)

 (REUTERS)

(REUTERS)

 (AP)

(AP)

Turkey welcomes Russian oligarchs, Ankara says

16:10 , Lamiat Sabin

Russian oligarchs are welcome in Turkey as long as they comply with international law, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

Turkey’s stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict is not clear-cut as other countries’ – as it has strongly criticised Russia for its invasion but has opposed Nato sanctions imposed on Russian individuals and entities on principle.

Archive photo of Mevlut Cavusoglu (AP)

Archive photo of Mevlut Cavusoglu (AP)

“If Russian oligarchs … or any Russian citizens want to visit Turkey of course they can,” Mr Cavusoglu said in response to a question at the Doha Forum international conference.

“If you mean whether these oligarchs can do any business in Turkey, then of course if it is legal and not against international law, I will consider it,” he said, adding: “If it is against international law then that is another story.”

Five wounded in Lviv strikes, city mayor says

16:08 , Thomas Kingsley

Lviv’s mayor Andriy Sadovyi said five people have been wounded in the latest air strikes on the western Ukrainian city.

“As a result of a missile strike in Lviv, we have 5 people are wounded. We are updating the information,” Mr Sadovyi wrote on Twitter.

He warned that further strikes are possible and urged residents to stay indoors.

Breaking: Multiple explosions rock Lviv as huge plume of smoke rises above city

16:03 , Thomas Kingsley

Three powerful explosions rocked an area near the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, a regional governor said.

Read the full report below as more updates follow on this breaking news story:

Multiple explosions rock Lviv as huge plume of smoke rises above city

Lviv rocked by ‘three powerful explosions’ – city council

15:50 , Lamiat Sabin

Three “powerful” explosions in Lviv were reported by the city’s council today.

“There have been three powerful explosions near Lviv…Everyone should keep calm and stay indoors,” Igor Zinkevych said in a post on Facebook.

Footage was shared on social media that purports to show the rockets travelling though the sky.

Reuters witnesses saw heavy black smoke rising from the north-east side of the city in western Ukraine, near the border with Poland. The cause could not be immediately verified by the news agency.

Lviv has been used as a main hub for millions of people that have fled Ukraine for Poland as refugees.

Duda asked Biden about speeding up of military purchases

15:28 , Lamiat Sabin

Polish president Andrzej Duda had asked US president Joe Biden about the possibility of speeding up military purchases.

The pair, as well as Ukrainian and Polish ministers, met at the presidential palace in Warsaw today.

Joe Biden [R] and Andrzej Duda (AFP via Getty Images)

Joe Biden [R] and Andrzej Duda (AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Duda said he was referring to purchases of Patriot missile systems, High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), F-35 aircraft and Abrams tanks.

Fourty-four severely wounded ‘unable to leave Chernihiv’

15:04 , Lamiat Sabin

Three children were among 44 severely wounded people who could not be evacuated from the northern Ukrainian city Chernihiv, its mayor said.

It comes after the local authorities said on Friday that the city near the Belarusian border has been effectively surrounded by Russian forces.

Some of the ruins created by Russian troops in Chernihiv (EPA)

Some of the ruins created by Russian troops in Chernihiv (EPA)

Humanitarian aid was not able to be brought into the city as a a bridge to Kyiv – to the south – had been bombed.

Speaking on national television, Chernihiv mayor Vladyslav Atroshenko said the situation was particularly critical for 44 wounded people needing emergency treatment.

“They can’t survive here due to the severity of their wounds, they need urgent evacuation,” he said.

He said there were still up to 130,000 people without heating, electricity or water supplies in Chernihiv, which he said was under heavy bombardment by Russian forces. The city had a pre-war population of around 290,000, he said.

Reuters could not independently confirm his accounts.

Naval mine defused with a bang after found near Istanbul

14:40 , Lamiat Sabin

Turkey’s military has deactivated a naval mine that had drifted into the upper Bosphorus strait from the Black Sea.

The defusion resulted in an explosion just north of Istanbul, days after Russia warned that several mines had washed away from Ukrainian ports.

The mine, that was first spotted by fishermen, is an old type – defence minister Halusi Akar said.

He added that he was in touch with both Russian and Ukrainian authorities about it.

A Reuters witness heard a loud bang off the coastal village of Rumelifeneri, where naval vessels, military planes, and helicopters were active.

US vows ‘unwavering’ support for Ukraine in Poland talks

14:20 , Lamiat Sabin

The US has reaffirmed during talks in Poland today that it fully supports Ukraine.

Joe Biden met Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba and defence minister Oleksii Reznikov with other Washington officials including secretary of state Antony Blinken.

The US delegation expressed “unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

Mr Biden said Poland is taking a “significant” responsibility in Ukrainian humanitarian crisis, adding that the rest of the world should pitch in to help lessen the burden.

He told his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda that he views Nato’s Article 5 guarantee of mutual defence between member states as a “sacred” commitment.

Read the full story here by foreign editor David Harding:

US pledges ‘unwavering commitment’ to Kyiv as Biden meets Ukraine ministers

Watch live: Joe Biden meets Ukrainian refugees in Poland

14:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Joe Biden is to meet people who fled Ukraine to Poland during the Russian invasion.

The US president is in Warsaw, where he and his team had met Polish and Ukrainian ministers.

Poland has taken in the vast majority of about four million Ukrainian refugees.

Also today, Mr Biden said Poland is taking on a “significant” responsibility in the humanitarian crisis, adding that the rest of the world should help lessen the pressure.

‘More and more difficult’ for Ukraine to export grains

13:34 , Lamiat Sabin

Ukraine’s ability to export grains is getting worse by the day while Russia’s invasion continues, according to Kyiv.

Mykola Solskyi, Ukraine‘s new agriculture minister, said the situation would only improve when the war with Russia ends.

A worker carries a bag of imported wheat grain in Yemen (Yahya Arhab/EPA)

A worker carries a bag of imported wheat grain in Yemen (Yahya Arhab/EPA)

Ukraine, one of the world’s top grain producers, would normally be exporting 4-5 million tonnes of grain per month, but is now only exporting about a few 100,000 tonnes.

“The impact (on global markets) is direct, dramatic and large. And it continues. Every day the situation will become more and more difficult,” he said.

Exports of Ukraine’s grain go to some of the world’s poorest countries, such as Yemen – where Oxfam said the price of bread has risen by 35 per cent since Russia’s invasion.

Biden meets top Ukrainian officials in Poland

13:25 , Thomas Kingsley

US president Joe Biden spoke with top Ukrainian government officials in Warsaw on Saturday during his visit to Poland to show support for the Nato alliance’s eastern flank in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Biden attended a meeting between Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba and defence minister Oleksii Reznikov and secretary of state Anthony Blinken and defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.

The United States expressed “unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” state department spokesman Ned Price said.

Mr Kuleba told reporters that Ukraine had received additional security pledges from the United States on developing defence co-operation.

 (AFP via Getty Images)

(AFP via Getty Images)

Russian defence minister resurfaces after disappearing from public view for more than two weeks

13:15 , Thomas Kingsley

A Russian defence minister who seemingly disappeared from the public eye two weeks ago has resurfaced, Zaina Alibhai reports.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had not been seen since appearing on Russian state television on 11 March with the Kremlin’s last reference to him coming on 18 March, where he and Vladimir Putin were said to have joined a security council meeting.

Read the full story below:

Russian defence minister resurfaces after disappearing from public view for two weeks

Ukrainian FM radio stations off air in Kherson, according to local media

13:00 , Thomas Kingsley

FM radio is no longer working in the southern city of Kherson, the Ukrayinska Pravda news website has tweeted.

The city was occupied by Kremlin forces early on in the invasion, but Ukraine defence officials believe its troops could take the city back on Saturday.

Ukrayinska Pravda tweeted: “FM radio does not work in Kherson. Locals report that only Russian radio channels are currently broadcast.”

Ukraine grain export situation gets worse daily, agriculture minister says

12:45 , Thomas Kingsley

Ukraine’s new agriculture minister has said the country’s grain exports situation gets worse by the day.

Mykola Solskyi, who was appointed on Thursday, said global food prices would continue to rise if the situation in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion did not change.

Mr Solskyi said Spring sowing is underway in un-occupied territories but warned that the grains crisis could only be resolved if the war ends.

According to experts Ukraine along with southwestern Russia accounts for about 15 per cent of the world’s wheat production while Ukraine is the world’s fourth largest exporter of maize.

Food prices could rise due to Ukraine’s exports of wheat being hit (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Archive)

Food prices could rise due to Ukraine’s exports of wheat being hit (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Archive)

Troops could take back Kherson from Russian forces – Ukrainian defence official

12:32 , Thomas Kingsley

An adviser to the Ukrainian ministry of defence, Markian Lubkivskyi, predicted troops could on Saturday take back Kherson, the first major city that the Kremlin’s forces seized.

He was sceptical that the Russian president’s aims had truly changed away from trying to take the whole nation, but said it does appear “the enemy is focused on the eastern part of Ukraine.”

Mr Zelensky’s forces were already believed to be regaining ground around the capital of Kyiv and the UK ministry of defence (MoD) said Russians are “proving reluctant to engage in large scale urban infantry operations”.

 (EPA)

(EPA)

Joe Biden meets ministers in Poland – pictures

12:15 , Lamiat Sabin

Joe Biden is in Poland for the final leg of his four-day trip as he tries to maintain unity among allies and support Ukraine’s defence.

The US president has been photographed arriving at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, where he met his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda.

 (Petr David Josek/AP)

(Petr David Josek/AP)

 (Evan Vucci/AP)

(Evan Vucci/AP)

 (Evan Vucci/AP)

(Evan Vucci/AP)

Turkey deactivates ‘mine-like’ object floating near Black Sea

11:53 , Lamiat Sabin

A “mine-like object” was found floating north of Istanbul near the Black Sea.

A coast guard team secured the object and began deactivating it, Turkey’s defence ministry said on Twitter.

It comes days after Russia warned that several mines had drifted away from ports in Ukraine.

Pictures of the object, that was first spotted by fishermen, have been shared on social media.

Curfew imposed in Kyiv until Monday morning – Klitschko

11:30 , Lamiat Sabin

A fresh curfew in Kyiv will be in place from today until Monday morning, the city’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

“The military command decided to reinforce the curfew. It will start from 8 p.m. on March 26 and last until 7 a.m. on March 28,” he said on Telegram.

Kyiv mayor and former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko (AP)

Kyiv mayor and former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko (AP)

During the curfew, Kyiv residents will only be allowed to leave their homes to get to a bomb shelter. Shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, and public transport will not be in operation, Mr Klitschko said.

‘Increasingly real’ chance Russia could use nuclear weapons

11:13 , Lamiat Sabin

The prospect of Russia using nuclear weapons was “increasingly real”, Japanese PM Fumio Kishida said.

Today, he welcomed US ambassador Rahm Emanuel to Hiroshima, the first city to have suffered a nuclear attack.

Japan has spoken out against nuclear armaments since the US dropped a bomb on Hiroshima and another in nearby Nagasaki in 1945.

Hiroshima, in southwestern Japan, was devastated by a nuclear bomb (Getty Images)

Hiroshima, in southwestern Japan, was devastated by a nuclear bomb (Getty Images)

Mr Kishida told public broadcaster NHK: “When the possible use of nuclear weapons by Russia is increasingly real, I believe Ambassador Emanuel’s visit to Hiroshima and his experience of seeing the nuclear reality will become a strong message to the international society.

“I believe our visit was meaningful.”

On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia would use nuclear weapons only to counter “an existential threat for our country”.

‘Russia-Ukraine conflict to degrade UK living standards’

10:43 , Lamiat Sabin

Boris Johnson’s government is being called on to prepare the British public for a “long-term degradation” in living standards as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

General Jonathan Shaw, former assistant chief to the defence staff, said the UK still had the “wrong mentality” about the scale of the geopolitical shift sparked by the war.

“We need to be psychologically preparing our people for a long-term degradation of standard of living and a long-term confrontation with Russia,” he told LBC.

Read the full story by Adam Forrest here:

UK facing ‘long-term degradation’ in living standards from new cold war with Russia

At least 100,000 people need to escape Mariupol, says Kyiv

10:23 , Lamiat Sabin

More than 100,000 people still need to be evacuated from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

This is according to Ukraine’s deputy PM Iryna Vereshchuk.

Civilians trapped in Mariupol being evacuated in groups (Anadolu Agency via Getty)

Civilians trapped in Mariupol being evacuated in groups (Anadolu Agency via Getty)

Earlier, she said 10 humanitarian corridors will be opened today to evacuate civilians from frontline areas including Mariupol – a Black Sea port city that has seen some of the worst destruction during the Russian invasion.

Speaking on national television, Ms Vereshchuk said civilians trying to leave Mariupol would have to leave in private cars because Russian forces were not letting buses through their checkpoints.

Mariupol mayor Vadym Boichenko said the situation in the city remained critical, with street fighting taking place in its centre.

Nuclear agreement with Iran very close, says EU’s Borrell

10:00 , Lamiat Sabin

World leaders were very close to striking an agreement with Iran on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, according to European Union diplomat Josep Borrell.

The nuclear talks had been close to an agreement until Russia made last minute demands of the United States.

European Union diplomat Josep Borrell (AP)

European Union diplomat Josep Borrell (AP)

Russia had insisted that sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine should not affect its trade with Iran.

Mr Borrell had made his comments in his address to the Doha Forum international conference, where Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky made an unexpected speech via videolink.

Ukrainians ‘to be evacuated from 10 humanitarian corridors’

09:40 , Lamiat Sabin

Ten humanitarian corridors will be opened today to evacuate civilians from frontline areas in Ukraine, deputy PM Iryna Vereshchuk said.

Speaking on national television, she said civilians trying to leave the besieged southern port of Mariupol would have to leave in private cars because Russian forces were not letting buses through their checkpoints.

Mariupol has suffered some of the worst violence amid the invasion (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Mariupol has suffered some of the worst violence amid the invasion (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The mayor of Mariupol said he had spoken to France’s ambassador to Ukraine about options for evacuating civilians, after French president Emmanuel Macron said he would suggest a plan to Russia to help Ukrainians flee.

Mayor Vadym Boichenko said the situation in the city remained critical, with street fighting taking place in its centre.

Russian troops ‘kidnap mayor of Chernobyl satellite town’

09:20 , Lamiat Sabin

Russian forces have taken control of the city of Slavutych, where workers at the defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant live.

The troops had occupied the hospital and kidnapped the mayor Yuri Fomichev, according to governor of Kyiv region Oleksandr Pavlyuk in an online statement.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

The events took place as a protest was being held in the small city, reports claim.

On Friday, Ukraine said its troops had repulsed a first attack by Russian troops closing in on Slavutych.

Slavutych – about 100 miles north of Kyiv – was purpose-built for the evacuated workers of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant after the 1986 disaster.

Russia ‘bragging’ it can ‘destroy entire planet’ – Zelensky

09:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Russia is “bragging” that it can ruin the “entire planet” with nuclear weapons, Volodymyr Zelensky said.

The Ukrainian president said: “Russia is deliberating bragging they can destroy with nuclear weapons, not only a certain country but the entire planet.”

Earlier this week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not rule out use of nuclear weapons if Russia faced an “existential threat”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov (Screengrab/Video)

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov (Screengrab/Video)

Mr Zelensky made the chilling comments in a video-link address to the Doha Forum international conference in Qatar.

‘Muslim troops to fight Russia during Ramadan’ – Zelensky

08:40 , Lamiat Sabin

A number of Muslim troops in Ukraine would be fighting Russian invaders during Ramadan, Volodymyr Zelensky noted.

A mosque in Mariupol, southern Ukraine, that Russia has targeted (Google Maps)

A mosque in Mariupol, southern Ukraine, that Russia has targeted (Google Maps)

The Ukrainian president acknowledged the upcoming month of fasting – set to begin this year at the start of April – in a video-link address to the Doha Forum international conference.

He said: “We have to ensure this sacred month of Ramadan is not overshadowed by the misery of people in Ukraine.”

‘Up energy output to neutralise Russia’s blackmail’ – Zelensky

08:20 , Lamiat Sabin

Energy-producing companies should increase output so that Russia cannot use its oil and gas to “blackmail” other countries, Volodymyr Zelensky said.

A Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline receiving station in Germany (Getty Images)

A Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline receiving station in Germany (Getty Images)

The Ukrainian president also warned that all countries are at risk of food shortages and supply disruptions because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is a leading global supplier of crops such as wheat.

He made the comments when addressing the Doha Forum international conference via video link. Qatar is a world leader in the export of natural gas.

Sanctions against Russia ‘foolish’ and pointless – Medvedev

08:00 , Lamiat Sabin

The Kremlin has described sanctions against Russia as “foolish” and counterproductive.

Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian president and now deputy head of the security council, claimed that sanctions do not have any effect on Moscow amid its invasion of Ukraine.

The sanctions against oligarchs and businesses would only unify Russia, he told Russian news agency RIA.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s security council (Yekaterina Shtukina/AP)

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s security council (Yekaterina Shtukina/AP)

Medvedev said: “Let us ask ourselves: can any of these major businessmen have even the tiniest quantum of influence of the position of the country’s leadership? I openly tell you: no, no way.”

He cited opinion polls in Russia that suggest three quarters of Russians supported the invasion of Ukraine.

He also hit out at Russian critics of the Kremlin, saying “taking a stand against the state in such a difficult situation … is treason.”

Russia ‘holds military drills on Japan-claimed Kuril islands’

07:45 , Lamiat Sabin

Russia has reportedly been conducting military drills on islands claimed by Japan.

The Japanese media reports of drills on Kuril islands come days after Moscow halted peace talks with Japan because of its new sanctions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Archive photo of a missile launcher on Matua, part of the Kuril Islands (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

Archive photo of a missile launcher on Matua, part of the Kuril Islands (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

Russia’s Eastern Military District said it was conducting military drills in the volcanic archipelago with more than 3,000 troops and hundreds of pieces of army equipment, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

The drills were taking place on territory the Soviet Union seized at the end of WWII that is claimed by Tokyo, reports said.

The chain of islands connect Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula and Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido.

Ukraine says Russia’s war kills 136 children so far

07:15 , Stuti Mishra

The war in Ukraine has killed 136 children so far, Ukraine‘s office of the prosecutor general just said in a message on the Telegram app, adding that the number of wounded children stood at 199.

Earlier, authorities in Ukraine said about 300 people were killed by the Russian airstrike last week that blasted open a Mariupol theatre that was being used as a shelter, fueling allegations that Moscow is committing war crimes by killing civilians, whether deliberately or by indiscriminate fire.

 (AP)

(AP)

Zelensky claims Russia is facing ‘powerful blows’ with 16,000 soldiers killed

06:53 , Stuti Mishra

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed the country has inflicted “powerful blows” on the Russians, killing 16,000 troops.

“Over the past week, our heroic Armed Forces have dealt powerful blows to the enemy. Significant losses,” Mr Zelensky said in his address on Friday, adding 16,000 Russian troops had been killed, but Russia says 1,351 have died.

“They say that the Minister of Defence of Russia has disappeared somewhere,” Mr Zelensky says, hinting at the alleged disappearance of Russia’s minister of defence Sergei Shoigu, who has only been publicly seen once since 11 March.

“The armed forces continue to repel enemy attacks, in the south of the country, in Donbas, in the Kharkiv direction and in the Kyiv region,” he said.

“I am grateful to our defenders who showed the occupiers that the sea will not be calm for them even when there is no storm. Because there will be fire,” Mr Zelensky said.

“By restraining Russia’s actions, our defenders are leading the Russian leadership to a simple and logical idea: talk is necessary. Meaningful. Urgent. Fair. For the sake of the result, not for the sake of the delay.”

 (AP)

(AP)

Not just Ukraine: How the fate of Belarus is linked to the war between two of its neighbours

06:22 , Stuti Mishra

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, Belarus has played a Judas-like role, sacrificing the little sovereignty it had left to be used as a staging ground for the Russian assault on Kyiv, writes Amanda Coakley.

Belarusian border guards have let Russian troops move through the frontier, the country’s air defence and traffic control systems have assisted Moscow’s campaign, and Russia’s dead and wounded have filled hospitals in southern Belarusian cities.

Here is her article:

Not just Ukraine: How the fate of Belarus is linked to the war next door

Biden to call on ‘free world’ to stand against Putin in Poland speech

05:34 , Stuti Mishra

US president Joe Biden will argue in a speech in Poland on Saturday that the “free world” opposes Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and that there is unity among major economies on the need to stop Vladimir Putin, the White House said.

After three days of emergency meetings with allies of the G7, European Council and NATO, and a visit with US troops in Poland, Mr Biden will meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda.

In what US officials are billing as a major address in Poland, Mr Biden “will deliver remarks on the united efforts of the free world to support the people of Ukraine, hold Russia accountable for its brutal war, and defend a future that is rooted in democratic principles,” the White House said in a statement.

‘Foolish’ to believe western sanctions can sway Kremlin, says Russia’s former president

05:05 , Stuti Mishra

It is “foolish” to believe that Western sanctions against Russian businesses could have any effect on the Moscow government, Russian ex-president and deputy head of security council Dmitry Medvedev was quoted as saying on Friday.

The sanctions, which also target Russian billionaires close to Vladimir Putin, will only consolidate the Russian society and not cause popular discontent with the authorities, Mr Medvedev told Russia’s RIA news agency in an interview.

“Let us ask ourselves: can any of these major businessmen have even the tiniest quantum of influence of the position of the country’s leadership?” Mr Medvedev said.

“I openly tell you: no, no way.”

Mr Medvedev said opinion polls showed three-fourths of Russians supported the Kremlin’s decision to carry out a military operation in Ukraine and even more supported President Putin.

While downplaying the economic impact of sanctions, Mr Medvedev said the Russian government will have to find “adequate solutions” on its own to spur the development of the aircraft, automotive and IT industries, among others.

“Now, it will be more difficult to tackle those issues, but on the other hand, we cannot rely on anyone,” he said. “In this case, we will have to solve those problems ourselves.”

 (AP)

(AP)

Russian strike killed 300 in Mariupol theater, Ukraine says

04:32 , Stuti Mishra

About 300 people were killed by the Russian airstrike last week that blasted open a Mariupol theatre that was being used as a shelter, Ukrainian authorities said, marking what could be the war’s deadliest known attack on civilians yet.The death toll announced on Friday fueled allegations that Moscow is committing war crimes by killing civilians, whether deliberately or by indiscriminate fire.

For days, the Mariupol government was unable to give a casualty count for the 16 March bombardment of the grand, columned Mariupol Drama Theater, where hundreds of people were said to be taking cover. In an attempt to ward off such an attack, the word “CHILDREN” was printed in Russian in huge white letters on the ground outside.The city government cited eyewitnesses when it announced the death toll on its Telegram channel. But it was not immediately clear how witnesses arrived at the figure or whether emergency workers had finished excavating the ruins.

Donetsk Regional Theatre of Drama destroyed by a Russian airstrike in Mariupol (via REUTERS)

Donetsk Regional Theatre of Drama destroyed by a Russian airstrike in Mariupol (via REUTERS)

What the papers say today?

03:59 , Stuti Mishra

The nation’s papers are led by Russia “scaling back” its presence in Ukraine.

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Briton welcomes Ukrainian refugee into his home after ‘torturous’ wait

03:19 , Stuti Mishra

A British man has described the “relief” he felt after welcoming a Ukrainian refugee into his home after a “torturous” wait.

Max Fox, 32, who lives with his partner in Poulton-le-Fylde, welcomed Vlad, 26, to the UK as he landed at Manchester Airport on Friday under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Mr Fox met Vlad while he was in Poland helping with humanitarian efforts – he submitted an application to bring him back to the UK on March 18 and put the Ukrainian up in a hotel until the application was successful.

“Well it was just a definite relief,” Mr Fox

“It’s been quite torturous the past week. So to actually get him here and to kind of close that chapter and (move) onto the new chapter, that was nice.”

Read more:

Briton welcomes Ukrainian refugee into his home after ‘torturous’ wait

Russia has attacked at least 34 medical facilities in Ukraine, report says

01:58 , Graeme Massie

Russian troops have attacked at least 34 medical facilities across Ukraine since their invasion of the country, according to the Associated Press.

The assaults have included attacks on hospitals, ambulances, medics, patients and even newborns at a maternity hospital.

Joe Biden and the State Department have said they believe war crimes have been committed in the month-long Kremlin campaign, and such attacks could form the basis of future international prosecutions of Russia’s leaders.

FILE - Mariana Vishegirskaya stands outside a maternity hospital that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (AP)

FILE – Mariana Vishegirskaya stands outside a maternity hospital that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (AP)

Zelensky claims Russia has lost more than 16,000 troops

01:28 , Graeme Massie

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says that Russia has lost more than 16,000 troops so far in Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked assault on the country.

“The number of the Russian losses has exceeded 16,000 casualties,” Mr Zelensky said in a video message on Friday.

“Among them are the high-ranking commanders. So far no reports of killed Russian general colonels or admirals. However, in that number we have a commander of one of the occupiers’ armies and a second in command of the Black Sea Navy.”

 (AP)

(AP)

American Tyler Jacob released from Russian captivity after trying to flee Ukraine

00:54 , Graeme Massie

An American man who was captured by Russian troops as he tried to flee Ukraine has been released from captivity, US officials have confirmed.

Tyler Jacob, who is originally from Minnesota, was taken by Russian soldiers at a checkpoint in Crimea two weeks ago as he tried to get out of the embattled country to safety in Turkey.

American Tyler Jacob released from Russian captivity after trying to flee Ukraine

Wagner group mercenaries were involved in Zelensky assassination plot, says Ukraine

00:13 , Graeme Massie

Ukrainian officials say that the Russian private army was involved in the assassination plot against President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, according to CNN.

“They wanted to assassinate the leadership of Ukraine: our President and Prime Minister. That was the goal and a couple of them were sent to Ukraine without any success,” said Markian Lubkivskyi, an advisor to Ukraine’s defence minister.

Mr Lubkivskyi claimed that the plot had been confirmed by Ukraine’s intelligence service and special forces who are protecting Mr Zelensky, who has spoken about the Kremlin’s desire to kill him.

The claims have not been independently verified.

‘The same enemy’: Syrians endured Russian bombing for years. Now they tell Ukrainians to expect the worst

Friday 25 March 2022 23:53 , Emily Atkinson

A network of underground tunnels and earthen berms crisscross the muddy front line between Syrian opposition positions and Russian-backed regime forces just beyond the field to the south near the town of Saraqib.

The battle-weathered Syrian fighters here have been confronting the forces of Vladimir Putin and his local allies for much of the past decade. And along with other Syrians, they have some advice for Ukrainians trying to survive Russian air power and missiles: dig in, prepare for more heartbreak, and take solace in being on the right side of history.

“Ukrainian people, we love you,” exclaims Abu Taim al Mourad, a 45-year-old former nurse from Hama who is now among the fighters manning the front line, and cheerily praising the efforts of Ukrainians in holding back the Russian advance. “The Ukrainians fight like beasts, and we hope they win. We are fighting the same enemy, and if Russians lose there it’s good for us here.”

The Independent’s Borzou Daragahi reports from inside rebel-controlled Idlib province:

Syrians endure Russian bombing. They urge Ukrainians to fight but expect the worst

Red Cross delivers over 500 tons of medical aid to Ukraine

Friday 25 March 2022 23:42 , Emily Atkinson

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today announced that over 500 tons of medical aid had been delivered to Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion of the country on 24 February.

Supplies included 1,200 sleeping mats for displaced people in Dnipro, tarpaulin and plastic sheets donated to reinforce the homes of over 1,200 people in Donetsk, 9,800 litres of clean drinking water to Dokuchaevsk, and 50 tons of fuel for ambulances and insulin to a children’s hospital in Kyiv.

Over 30 assaults on Ukrainian medical facilities recorded

Friday 25 March 2022 23:32 , Emily Atkinson

At least 34 attacks on medical facilities in Ukraine have been documented by The Associated Press.

It comes as the UN high commissioner for human rights confirmed at least 1,035 civilians, including 90 children, have died and another 1,650 civilians have been wounded since the war started a month ago. It is thought those numbers are likely an undercount.

This photo provided by Volodymyr Matsokin shows damage to the hospital in Izyum, Ukraine (AP/ Volodymyr Matsokin)

This photo provided by Volodymyr Matsokin shows damage to the hospital in Izyum, Ukraine (AP/ Volodymyr Matsokin)

Russian commander run over ‘deliberately’ by his own troops in Ukraine, Western officials say

Friday 25 March 2022 23:23 , Emily Atkinson

A Russian brigade commander fighting in Ukraine has been run down by his own troops, according to Western officials.

Yuri Medvedev, commanding the 37th Motor Rifle Brigade, is believed to have been deliberately targeted due to anger at the number of casualties his unit experienced.

An initial report by officials said Colonel Medvedev had been “killed”, but this was later restated amid suggestions he had suffered leg injuries and been evacuated to Belarus.

My colleague Sam Hancock reports:

Russian commander run over ‘deliberately’ by his own troops in Ukraine, officials say

US to sanction companies supplying tech to Russian forces, intelligence says

Friday 25 March 2022 23:06 , Emily Atkinson

The White House is preparing hit companies it says provides goods and services to Russia’s military and intelligence services with sanctions, the WSJ reported on Friday.

Sanctions could be announced as early as next week, it said – citing US officials.

The treasury department declined to comment on the report.

Zelensky calls out Hungary for lack of support: ‘You have to decide for yourself who you are with’ – watch

Friday 25 March 2022 22:44 , Emily Atkinson

UK authorises further 65 Russian sanctions – MoD

Friday 25 March 2022 22:29 , Emily Atkinson

Russia’s defence company was the latest state entity to be hit by UK sanctions as part of the country’s most recent wave of penalties against Moscow, defence officials say.

Tweeting today, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said: “The UK has sanctioned a further 65 individuals and entities with supporting links to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Among those sanctioned include Kronshtadt, Russian defence company and main producer of Russia’s Orion drone and other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).”

“These systems have been widely deployed in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Robust Ukrainian air defences has almost certainly limited manned flights beyond their front lines, hence Russia has highly likely been forced to use more UAVs instead.”

“This is probably leading to greater demand for, and attrition of, these assets. These sanctions will damage Russia’s defence industrial complex and limit their ability to replace their UAV losses.”

Friday 25 March 2022 22:13 , Emily Atkinson

Pictures capture the efforts of volunteers and neighbours trying to extinguish a fire at a house shelled by the Russian army in Horenychi – a village in the Bucha Raion of the Kyiv Oblast.

 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

EU fails to agree short-term solution for energy market crunch

Friday 25 March 2022 21:56 , Emily Atkinson

EU leaders were unable to reach a consensus while debating a solution to the soaring cost of energy made worse by Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine, but did offer a compromise for Spain where spiralling fuel prices have led to 12 days of trucker blockades.

Reuters adds:

An intense debate on whether to cap energy prices, pitting some southern countries against Germany and the Netherlands, pushed the second day of an EU summit into the evening, with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez at one point walking out of the meeting room.

In the end, they settled on trade-off and left a number of issues unresolved.

UN sees evidence of mass graves as Russia hints at scaled-back war

Friday 25 March 2022 21:45 , Emily Atkinson

There is mounting evidence of mass graves in the besieged city of Mariupol, UN officials said on Friday, as Russia hinted it was scaling back its invasion to focus on eastern Ukraine.

Matilda Bogner, head of a UN human rights team currently in the country, said monitors had received information about graves in the southeastern port city, including one that appeared to hold 200 bodies. The claims of mass graves in the city came as Ukraine said it feared around 300 people had been killed in the Mariupol theatre bombing on 16 March.

“We have got increasing information on mass graves that are there,” Ms Bogner said. “The extent of civilian casualties and the destruction of civilian objects strongly suggests that the principles of distinction, of proportionality, the rule on feasible precautions and the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks have been violated,” she added.

David Harding has more:

UN says evidence of mass graves in Mariupol as Russia hints at scaled-back war

Russians who spread fake news about officials abroad face jail – Interfax

Friday 25 March 2022 21:31 , Emily Atkinson

Vladimir Putin has formally approved a law which rules that Russians found guilty of disseminating fake news about the work of Moscow officials abroad could face up to 15 years in jail.

The sentence is similar to those drawn up as part of of a new law adopted earlier this month, devised to punish those who spread false information about the Russian armed forces, Interfax news agency said.

It cited a senior legislator as saying the new law was needed because people were spreading false news about Russian embassies and other organisations operating overseas.

In pictures: Kyiv residents take shelter in ‘world’s deepest metro station’

Friday 25 March 2022 21:19 , Emily Atkinson

The Arsenalna metro station stop, located in Kyiv and considered the “world’s deepest metro station”, has for a month played host to sheltering Ukrainians in the country’s capital.

 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Watch: Putin uses JK Rowling as case for Western cynicism and ‘cancel culture’ aimed at Russia

Friday 25 March 2022 21:06 , Emily Atkinson

EU unveils plan to control soaring gas prices

Friday 25 March 2022 20:52 , Sam Hancock

EU leaders have unveiled a plan to intervene in Europe‘s gas market in an attempt to bring down soaring prices .

Presidents and prime ministers hashed out a deal late into the evening on Friday at a tumultuous summit in Brussels, writes our policy correspondent Jon Stone.

Leaders discussed the war in Ukraine on Thursday in the company of US president Joe Biden but on Friday turned their attention to addressing the continent’s unfolding cost-of-living crisis.

Read more:

EU unveils plan to control soaring gas prices

Moscow signals scaling back of Ukraine ambitions with new plans

Friday 25 March 2022 20:35 , Sam Hancock

Moscow signalled on Friday it was scaling back its ambitions in Ukraine to focus on territory claimed by Russian-backed separatists in the east.

In a further sign that Vladimir Putin is having to rethink his objectives, the Russian defence ministry said that having completed the “first phase” of operations they would now focus on the Donbas region.

Western officials said it could mean a “pause” in operations around Kyiv and elsewhere as the Russians move resources into the east of the county.

One official added scathingly: “As the first phase of the operation included taking Kyiv within four days I would probably contest the idea that they have achieved the first phase of the operation.”

It is the first real indicator that Western sanctions on Moscow were impacting investment from China, with sources saying that state-run Sinopec Group, Asia’s biggest oil refiner, had halted talks on a petrochemical investment and a venture to market Russian gas.

In the month since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine, Russian troops have met stiff resistance and failed to capture any major city.

“The combat potential of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has been considerably reduced, which … makes it possible to focus our core efforts on achieving the main goal, the liberation of Donbass,” said Sergei Rudskoi, head of the Russian General Staff’s Main Operational Directorate.

Additional reporting by Reuters

Watch: One of the UK’s first refugees fleeing Ukraine arrives alone

Friday 25 March 2022 20:08 , Sam Hancock

Ukraine posts video of Russian nuclear workers criticising Moscow

Friday 25 March 2022 19:56 , Tom Batchelor

Ukraine’s nuclear energy authority has published a video of what it said were four Russian guards who had accompanied a delivery of fuel elements, visibly uncomfortable as they made statements criticising Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.

The authority, Energoatom, said on its Telegram channel that the men had accompanied a shipment of Russian fuel rods to Ukraine’s Rivne nuclear plant last month.

Russia’s nuclear power body, Rosatom, issued a statement demanding “the employees’ speedy and safe return home”, according to the Russian news agency RIA.

The video, which has obvious cuts, shows the four employees sitting behind a table, speaking haltingly in low voices to identify themselves as Rosatom employees.

They explain that they arrived in Ukraine on 22 February with the fuel elements for the Rivne plant, and say they finished their contracted work on 17 March.

Three of the men make statements criticising Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, one looking repeatedly to the side of the camera as he speaks.

One says the men have seen for themselves how their compatriots have killed children and mothers. Another says the men do not understand how Russian officers could give orders to fire on nuclear plants.

“We do not want to participate in this or have anything to do with it,” says the last to speak. “After everything we have seen, we are afraid to return.”

Ukrainian-American pastor kidnapped by Russian soldiers after hiding people in his church, family say

Friday 25 March 2022 19:38 , Tom Batchelor

An American missionary has been kidnapped by Russian forces in Ukraine, according to his family.

Dmitry Bodyu, 50, was snatched by a group of around eight to 10 soldiers from his home in Melitopol on Saturday morning, 19 March, as his loved ones looked on in horror, his wife Helen Bodyu told NBC News.

Here is the full report:

Ukrainian-American pastor kidnapped by Russian soldiers, family say

US sees Russia focusing on eastern Ukraine

Friday 25 March 2022 19:16 , Tom Batchelor

The United States assesses that Russia is prioritising eastern Ukraine’s Donbass, as opposed to Kyiv, in what could be an effort to build leverage in negotiations and cut off Ukrainian forces in the east from the rest of the country, a senior US defense official said on Friday (reports Reuters).

Russia said earlier on Friday that the first phase of its military operation was mostly complete and it would focus on completely “liberating” Ukraine’s breakaway eastern Donbass region.

The announcement appeared to indicate Moscow may be switching to more limited objectives after running into fierce Ukrainian resistance in a month of war.

The senior US official suggested Russia’s activities on the ground appeared broadly to back up Moscow’s announcement.

“They are prioritising it and we concur, our information would concur, with that,” the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters.

The official said the United States was seeing Russian forces become more aggressive in the Donbass area.

“They have certainly made it a higher priority on their list,” the official added.

Not just Ukraine: How the fate of Belarus is linked to the war between two of its neighbours

Friday 25 March 2022 19:03 , Tom Batchelor

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, Belarus has played a Judas-like role, sacrificing the little sovereignty it had left to be used as a staging ground for the Russian assault on Kyiv, writes Amanda Coakley.

Belarusian border guards have let Russian troops move through the frontier, the country’s air defence and traffic control systems have assisted Moscow’s campaign, and Russia’s dead and wounded have filled hospitals in southern Belarusian cities.

Here is her article:

Not just Ukraine: How the fate of Belarus is linked to the war next door

Life goes on in Kyiv despite bloodshed

Friday 25 March 2022 18:46 , Tom Batchelor

For the residents of Kyiv who decided to stay when the war broke out, life goes on despite the daily bloodshed and scenes of devastation in their city.

Russian troops are stationed a matter of miles from the centre of the capital yet many are attempting to continue with their daily routines, including visits to their local park.

Children play in a park in Kyiv as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues (REUTERS)

Children play in a park in Kyiv as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues (REUTERS)

A couple enjoys a cup of tea in a Kyiv park on Friday (REUTERS)

A couple enjoys a cup of tea in a Kyiv park on Friday (REUTERS)

Anglers still find time to go fishing in one of Kyiv’s parks (REUTERS)

Anglers still find time to go fishing in one of Kyiv’s parks (REUTERS)

Russia trying to send reinforcements from Georgia – report

Friday 25 March 2022 18:31 , Tom Batchelor

Reuters’ Pentagon correspondent Idrees Ali tweets a line from a US official who has claimed Russia is now trying to send in reinforcements from Georgia, which lies around 300 miles to the south.

JK Rowling responds after Putin references her in speech on ‘cancel culture’

Friday 25 March 2022 18:24 , Tom Batchelor

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has spoken out against Vladimir Putin after he defended her in a speech condemning “cancel culture”.

The Russian president claimed the west was trying to cancel Russian culture, including the works of great composers such as Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Dmitry Shostakovich and Sergei Rachmaninov.

He said the British author had also been “cancelled” over her stance in transgender debates.

Here is how Ms Rowling responded:

JK Rowling responds after Putin namechecks her in speech condemning ‘cancel culture’

Ukrainian farmers use tractor to tow away anti-aircraft cannon

Friday 25 March 2022 18:09 , Tom Batchelor

Fresh footage has emerged of Ukrainian farmers using their tractor to tow away Russian military equipment.

The video apparently shows Ukrainian farmers capturing a ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft cannon.

Footage of tractors towing Russian weaponry has become an unlikely feature of Ukraine’s defiant struggle against Vladimir Putin’s forces, with clips repeatedly shared on social media.

Oleksandr Usyk leaving Ukraine to train for Anthony Joshua rematch

Friday 25 March 2022 17:43 , Tom Batchelor

Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk will go head-to-head for the second time after the Ukrainian confirmed that he will leave his home country to begin preparations for a rematch.

Joshua lost the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO heavyweight titles to Usyk in September, when he suffered a comprehensive decision defeat by the undefeated southpaw at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The rematch seemed set for spring, but a further complication arose this month when Usyk returned to Ukraine to aid his nation in its defence against the ongoing Russian invasion. The champion was this week granted permission to leave the country to train for a second bout with Joshua, however.

Here is the story:

Oleksandr Usyk leaving Ukraine to train for Anthony Joshua rematch

Biden visits US troops on Nato’s eastern border

Friday 25 March 2022 17:33 , Tom Batchelor

President Joe Biden has met American troops bolstering Nato’s eastern flank during a trip to Poland on Friday.

Mr Biden shared a meal with soldiers from the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division stationed in the area of Rzeszow airport.

“You are in the midst of a fight between democracies and oligarchs,” he said, referring to rich Russians who have faced Western sanctions since the war started.

“What’s at stake is what are your kids and grandkids going to look like in terms of their freedom,” Mr Biden said.

 (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Ukraine says 300 died in Mariupol theatre attack

Friday 25 March 2022 16:56 , Tom Batchelor

About 300 people were killed in the Russian airstrike last week on a Mariupol theatre that was being used as a shelter, Ukrainian authorities said on Friday.

If confirmed, it would make the bombing the war’s deadliest known attack on civilians yet.

The Ukrainian government has previously said it was impossible to tell how many were killed because Mariupol is in chaos and under almost constant bombardment from Russian forces.

“From witnesses comes information that about 300 people died in the Mariupol Drama Theatre as a result of the bombing by a Russian plane,” the Mariupol city council said in a statement.

Petro Andrushenko, an adviser to Mariupol‘s mayor, later gave the same estimate in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

Russia has denied bombing the theatre.

Russia ‘suffering failure rates as high as 60 per cent for some precision-guided missiles’

Friday 25 March 2022 16:41 , Tom Batchelor

Russia is suffering failure rates as high as 60 per cent for some of the precision-guided missiles it is using to attack Ukraine, three US officials have told Reuters.

The disclosure could help explain why Russia has failed to achieve what most could consider basic objectives since its invasion a month ago, despite the apparent strength of its military against Ukraine’s much smaller armed forces.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not provide evidence to support the assessment and did not disclose what precisely was driving high Russian missile failure rates.

Moscow-Kaliningrad train shown images of war during Lithuania stop

Friday 25 March 2022 16:22 , Tom Batchelor

“Dear passengers of train no. 29, Moscow-Kaliningrad. Today, Putin is killing civilians in Ukraine. Do you support this?” an announcer repeats in Russian at Vilnius station while the service stops there (reports Reuters).

Two dozen large pictures from the war in Ukraine, each with the same message, were put up on Friday morning on either side of the platform reserved for the Russian transit trains.

A poster with a picture taken by Ukrainian photographer Maxim Dondyuk of a damaged building is displayed for Russian passengers on their way between Kaliningrad exclave and mainland Russia at Vilnius railway station, Lithuania (REUTERS)

A poster with a picture taken by Ukrainian photographer Maxim Dondyuk of a damaged building is displayed for Russian passengers on their way between Kaliningrad exclave and mainland Russia at Vilnius railway station, Lithuania (REUTERS)

The trains, up to six per day, pause for around 10 minutes in Vilnius, capital of EU-member Lithuania, as they pass to and from Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave – sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland – and cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg, via Belarus.

Under a two decade old agreement between Lithuania, Russia and the European Union, passengers are issued Lithuanian visas for the transit-only services, which are powered by a Lithuanian locomotive for the portion of the journey inside the country.

“As far as we know, Russians are shielded from what is happening in Ukraine. Here in Vilnius railway station, we have a possibility to show at least a small piece of what is happening,” Mantas Dubauskas, a spokesperson for the state-owned Lithuanian railways, said.

“It’s the least that we can do,” he added. “Maybe we can change the minds of a very small number of passengers”.

The pictures, provided by Ukrainian photographers, show the dead and injured, people grieving, destroyed buildings and bridges, and refugees with small children escaping the country.

Russian commander ‘ deliberately run over by own troops’

Friday 25 March 2022 16:00 , Lamiat Sabin

A Russian brigade commander in Ukraine has been killed by his own troops, Western officials said.

The colonel, commanding the 37th Motor Rifle Brigade, is believed to have been deliberately run over by a tank.

Archive photo of pro-Russian troops in tanks in Ukraine (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Archive photo of pro-Russian troops in tanks in Ukraine (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

“The brigade commander was killed by his own troops, we believe, as a consequence of the scale of losses that have been taken by his brigade,” one official said.

“We believe that he was killed by his own troops deliberately. We believe that he was run over by his own troops.”

The official said that a lieutenant general commanding the 49th Combined Arms Army has also died in the fighting, making him the seventh Russian general to be killed in combat since the invasion began.

Russian ambassador summoned over ‘unacceptable’ tweet

Friday 25 March 2022 15:45 , Lamiat Sabin

The Russian ambassador to France was summoned by Paris over a post that the embassy tweeted that the French foreign ministry deemed “unacceptable”.

The Russian Embassy in Paris had posted a picture depicting a body lying on a table called “Europe” with characters representing the United States and European Union jabbing needles into it.

The tweet appears to have been deleted.

The ministry told Reuters in a statement: “These posts are unacceptable. We made that clear today to the Russian Ambassador.

“We are trying to maintain a demanding channel of dialogue with Russia and these actions are completely inappropriate.”

Peace negotiations with Russia ‘very difficult’ – Ukraine

Friday 25 March 2022 15:30 , Lamiat Sabin

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said peace negotiations with Russia were difficult.

He also denied reports that progress had been made resolving four out of six key issues.

Mr Kuleba wrote in a Facebook post: “The negotiation process is very difficult. The Ukrainian delegation has taken a strong position and does not relinquish its demands.

“We insist, first of all, on a ceasefire, security guarantees and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

Ukraine’s foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Ukraine’s foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Earlier, Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky was reported by Interfax news agency as having said that the two sides were coming closer to an understanding on secondary issues in the peace talks.

There has been limited progress on the key questions, the news agency added.

Mr Medinsky said that positions on “secondary issues are converging” but that “on the main political issues, we are in fact treading water.”

The negotiations are to continue tomorrow.

‘West trying to cancel Russia’s 1,000-year culture’ – Putin

Friday 25 March 2022 15:15 , Lamiat Sabin

Here’s some background to what Vladimir Putin said earlier about the West and Nazi book-burning.

The Russian president has accused the West of trying to cancel Russian culture, including the works of great composers such as Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Dmitry Shostakovich and Sergei Rachmaninov.

At a televised meeting with leading cultural figures, he likened the current situation to the actions of Nazi Germany in the 1930s when books were burned on bonfires.

“Today they are trying to cancel a whole thousand-year culture, our people,” Putin said.

Putin says the West is trying to ‘cancel’ Russian culture (Sky News)

Putin says the West is trying to ‘cancel’ Russian culture (Sky News)

The Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra has dropped a Tchaikovsky piece from its programme and media reports saying similar moves were taken by orchestras in Japan and Croatia.

Spain’€™s Teatro Real, one of Europe’€™s major opera houses, cancelled performances later this year by Russia’s Bolshoi, while Ballet Auction houses Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonhams have cancelled sales of Russian art in London.

The Cardiff Philharmonic said it was subject to “hate speech and vicious comments” after cancelling a performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture earlier this month.

“Basic humanity takes precedence over art and history,” the Orchestra said in a Facebook post. “When the humanitarian crisis is over the discussion about ‘woke’ and ‘cancel culture’ can have its place.”

Australia sanctions Belarus president and family members

Friday 25 March 2022 14:38 , Jane Dalton

Australia has imposed sanctions against Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, members of his family, and 22 Russians in its latest action condemning the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Sravasti Dasgupta reports:

Australia sanctions Belarus president and family members for supporting Ukraine war

Watch live as Biden visits troops from 82nd Airborne ahead of briefing on Ukraine

Friday 25 March 2022 14:32 , Jane Dalton

Joe Biden is visiting troops from 82nd Airborne in Poland, before attending a briefing on Ukraine. Watch live:

First phase over, says Russia, and military ‘will switch focus to Donbass region’

Friday 25 March 2022 14:17 , Jane Dalton

Russia’s defence ministry says the first phase of its military operation in Ukraine is mostly complete and that it will now focus on completely “liberating” eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region.

The announcement appeared to indicate that Russia may be switching to more limited goals after running into fierce Ukrainian resistance in the first month of the war.

Russian news agencies quoted the defence ministry as saying that Russian-backed separatists now controlled 93 per cent of Ukraine’s Luhansk region and 54 per cent of the Donetsk region – the two areas that jointly make up the Donbass.

The ministry said it did not rule out storming Ukrainian cities that had been blockaded and that Russia would react immediately to any attempt to close the airspace over Ukraine – something Kyiv has asked Nato to do.

The defence ministry said on Friday that the operation would continue until Russian forces had completed the tasks that had been set, without elaborating.

Russia’s military had considered two options for its operation in Ukraine, one confined to the Donbass and the other on the whole territory of Ukraine, the defence ministry said.

Growing evidence of Mariupol mass graves

Friday 25 March 2022 14:04 , Jane Dalton

The head of the UN human rights team in Ukraine says monitors have received more information about mass graves in the besieged port city of Mariupol, including one that appeared to hold 200 bodies.

“We have got increasing information on mass graves that are there,” Matilda Bogner said by video link from Ukraine, adding that some of the evidence came from satellite images.

The rights office, which has 50 staff in the country, has so far counted 1,035 civilian deaths.

But verification difficulties meant that toll included “very few” from Mariupol, which has been under heavy bombardment for weeks, Ms Bogner said.

“The extent of civilian casualties and the destruction of civilian objects strongly suggests that the principles of distinction, of proportionality, the rule on feasible precautions and the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks have been violated,” she said.

A Reuters journalist who reached a part of Mariupol held by Russian forces on Sunday saw several bodies lying by the road and a group of men digging graves in a patch of grass by the roadside.

Ms Bogner’s team is probing alleged human rights violations, such as reports that Russian forces had shot and killed civilians in their cars as they were fleeing; dozens of cases of disappearances of Ukrainian officials and journalists; and the forced movement of civilians into Russian-held territory.

Russia has denied targeting civilians in Ukraine. Russian news agencies have said buses have carried several hundred people from Mariupol to Russia.

Ms Bogdan said her team had also received reports of violations by Ukrainian forces including indiscriminate shelling in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, and two alleged killings of civilians due to their perceived support for Russia.

Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly said that they have never targeted civilians, adding that the people in Donetsk and Luhansk are Ukrainians.

Watch live as Biden arrives in Poland

Friday 25 March 2022 13:21 , Jane Dalton

President Biden is flying to Poland for a briefing on the humanitarian response to the Ukraine-Russia war and the response to the flow of refugees.

Putin likens ‘cancellation’ of culture to Nazi book burnings

Friday 25 March 2022 13:10 , Lamiat Sabin

Vladimir Putin is accusing the West of trying to cancel Russian culture, and likened it to the burning of books in Nazi Germany.

In his speech, he referred to the works of famous Russian composers Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Dmitry Shostakovich and Sergei Rachmaninov.

City built for Chernobyl nuclear plant ‘completely isolated’

Friday 25 March 2022 12:50 , Lamiat Sabin

A city that was built to house workers of the now-defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant has reportedly been under constant Russian artillery fire.

Slavutych was “completely isolated”, with Russian forces just beyond the town’s limits, the local authorities said.

In a statement, the Kyiv region administration said: “Slavutych is completely isolated. The enemy is 1.5 km (one mile) from the town.”

Workers at the plant were forced to work for four weeks, as rotation of staff was not possible due to the shelling – said the UN’s nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency.

Boris Johnson and China’s Xi Jinping speak about Ukraine

Friday 25 March 2022 12:27 , Lamiat Sabin

Boris Johnson has spoken to China’s president, Xi Jinping, as part of Western pressure on Beijing to toughen up its stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, deputy political editor Rob Merrick writes.

China’s position has been described as neutral by some observers – but Vladimir Putin’s key ally has failed to criticise the war and is believed to have been asked, privately, to help Russia.

Boris Johnson and his Chinese counterpart spoke for 50 minutes (AP)

Boris Johnson and his Chinese counterpart spoke for 50 minutes (AP)

No 10 has yet to set out what was discussed in the 50-minute call – the first between the two leaders since the Ukraine crisis broke – but the issue of potential sanction on China if it does help Moscow is not thought to have been raised.

It is understood that the prime minister did emphasise the need for every country to do everything it can to ensure Putin “fails” in his war aims.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson said: “This is part of the prime minister’s wider engagement with world leaders, so he can set out our position on where we think the current situation is.”

Russia ‘creates part of land corridor from Donetsk to Crimea’

Friday 25 March 2022 12:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Russian forces had managed to “partially” create a land corridor from the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine along the southern coast to Crimea, Ukraine said.

“The enemy was partially successful in creating a land corridor between the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and part of Donetsk region,” the Ukrainian defence ministry posted on Facebook.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Poorest countries’ food ‘collateral damage’ of invasion

Friday 25 March 2022 11:40 , Lamiat Sabin

The world’s food supply could become “collateral damage” in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the World Food Programme (WPF) told The Independent.

Lebanon, Yemen, Bangladesh and Pakistan all suffer from widespread food insecurity and all rely on Russia for 50 per cent or more of imports of wheat – a crop that has seen its price rise by more than 10 per cent.

Friederike Greb, an WPF economist, said: “Once poor people face these higher prices, they might not be able to pay for their food.”

Read the full story here by Liam James

Putin war in Ukraine may put food out of reach for world’s poorest

Russia ruling elite ‘trying to distance itself’ from invasion

Friday 25 March 2022 11:20 , Lamiat Sabin

Ukraine has suggested that Russia’s ruling elite is trying to distance itself from Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

This is according to Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

He said Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Russia’s security council, “publicly stated that the decision to conduct the hardest special operation (war) against Ukraine” was made “solely” by Putin.

Mr Podolyak added: “The ruling elite is trying to distance itself, understanding the legal consequences.”

Kremlin dismisses chemical weapons claim as US diversion

Friday 25 March 2022 11:00 , Lamiat Sabin

The Kremlin is accusing the US of engaging in diversion tactics for claiming that Russia could resort to using chemical weapons in Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the US was making the claims to try to shield itself from awkward questions.

He told a conference call with reporters that the military would submit proposals to Vladimir Putin on how Russia should strengthen its defences in response to Nato strengthening its eastern flank.

Archive photo of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov (Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters)

Archive photo of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov (Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters)

The spokesman also said that that “nothing terrible will happen” if the US and its allies succeed in expelling Russia from the Group of Twenty (G20) major economies because many of the group’s members have already sanctioned Moscow.

It comes after Joe Biden said he favoured Russia being pushed out of the G20 after Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine.

There was no official position on whether Russia would rebuild ruined Ukrainian towns and cities such as Mariupol, Peskov said.

Newspaper sued for raising Putin assassination as ‘option’

Friday 25 March 2022 10:40 , Lamiat Sabin

An Italian newspaper is being sued over an article that had raised the possibility of killing Vladimir Putin.

Sergey Razov, Russia’s ambassador to Italy, said he was suing La Stampa over the analysis that was headlined: “If killing the tyrant is the only option”.

The article considered the possibility of killing Vladimir Putin (Thibault Camus/Pool via REUTERS)

The article considered the possibility of killing Vladimir Putin (Thibault Camus/Pool via REUTERS)

The article said if all other options failed to stop the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the only solution would be for Putin to be assassinated.

Me Razov said that the article dated 22 March “goes against the rules of journalism and morality.”

La Stampa did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Reuters.

About 3.7 million people fled Ukraine as refugees – UN

Friday 25 March 2022 10:30 , Lamiat Sabin

The United Nations revealed that about 3.7 million people have fled Ukraine during the Russian invasion.

The number mainly represents women and children, the UN refugee agency said.

Children who fled the war in Ukraine entering Romania (Andreea Alexandru/AP)

Children who fled the war in Ukraine entering Romania (Andreea Alexandru/AP)

Earlier, the agency said that the humanitarian response to the refugee crisis should “take into account women and girls’ unique needs, include women in decision-making, and prioritise protection from sexual exploitation and abuse.”

Finland suspending Helsinki – St Petersburg rail route

Friday 25 March 2022 10:20 , Lamiat Sabin

Finland’s national railway operator will suspend services between Helsinki and Saint Petersburg on Monday.

The rail route is one of the last ones still currently open between the European Union and Russia.

The Finnish government said it was “no longer appropriate” for rail operator VR to keep the route open.

Moskovsky railway station in Saint Petersburg (Creative Commons)

Moskovsky railway station in Saint Petersburg (Creative Commons)

Head of passenger traffic Topi Simola said in a statement: “So we are suspending the traffic for the time being.”

The border between Finland and Russia remains open for crossings by private car, while flight connections between Russia and the European Union have been cut off.

The rail route has been open to allow Finnish people living in Russia to return to Finland, minister Tytti Tuppurainen said.

“Now it is evident that the situation has changed for the Allegro (trains) and the continuation of Allegro traffic is no longer appropriate from the point of view of the state owner,” she told the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper.

Ukrainian family to stay with UK minister Grant Shapps

Friday 25 March 2022 10:10 , Lamiat Sabin

UK transport secretary Grant Shapps said he has arranged to host a family of Ukrainian refugees.

The family – a six-year-old boy, his mother, grandmother and their dog Max – will stay at the minister’s house.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps (PA Wire)

Transport secretary Grant Shapps (PA Wire)

Mr Shapps was one of more than 100,000 Britons who have signed up to a government scheme to match those fleeing war in Ukraine with families who can offer them a minimum of six months shelter.

He said there were some visa issues to be resolved with the family, who had contacted him on social media, but he added that he looked forward to welcoming them to his home as soon as possible.

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “We had the conversation as a family about this, and of course it means the house is more crowded and there’s less room for a desk to study at.

“But every time we came to the end of the conversation, we thought ‘But look at what’s happening to these people, look at what’s happening to their home’.”

Four killed in Kharkiv shelling that hit hospital – police

Friday 25 March 2022 10:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Four people were killed in Russian shelling of Kharkiv, including on a clinic used as a centre for humanitarian aid, the regional police force said.

“As a result of the morning shelling of civilian infrastructure from multiple rocket launchers, 7 civilians were injured, 4 of whom died,” said a statement on social media.

“There is no military facility nearby.”

Reuters news agency said it could not independently verify the report.

Ukraine fears 300 killed in Mariupol theatre bombing

Friday 25 March 2022 09:41 , Lamiat Sabin

Three hundred people are feared to have died in the Russian shelling of a theatre in Mariupol last week.

More than 1,000 people were sheltering in the Donetsk Regional Theatre of Drama when the missiles hit on 16 March.

Donetsk Regional Theatre of Drama destroyed by airstrike (via REUTERS)

Donetsk Regional Theatre of Drama destroyed by airstrike (via REUTERS)

Read all the details here as the story develops:

Ukraine fears 300 people were killed in Mariupol theatre bombed by Russia

Click here to read the full blog on The Independent’s website