Day 29 of Russia-Ukraine crisis: As it happened

US to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing war amid broader aid effort

By Web Desk

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US President Joe Biden addresses media representatives as he arrives for a European Union (EU) summit at EU Headquarters in Brussels on March 24, 2022. Photo: AFP
US President Joe Biden addresses media representatives as he arrives for a European Union (EU) summit at EU Headquarters in Brussels on March 24, 2022. Photo: AFP

Published: Thu 24 Mar 2022, 6:49 AM

Last updated: Mon 13 Feb 2023, 8:15 AM

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says almost 100,000 people are still trapped in the ruins of Mariupol, after more than 7,000 escaped on Tuesday.

Human Rights Watch describes the southern port city as a “freezing hellscape riddled with dead bodies and destroyed buildings”.

As US President Joe Biden heads to Europe, warning of a “real threat” Russia may use chemical weapons, a top US official says new sanctions are coming against Russian “political figures” and wealthy elites close to President Vladimir Putin.

Russia hits out at “absurd” US accusations calling on companies to better protect themselves from possible Russian cyberattacks.

Ukrainian forces have managed to reclaim some ground against attacking Russian forces in some areas in recent days, according to the Pentagon.

Here's the latest of all top developments on March 24:

12am: UN blames Russia for Ukraine humanitarian crisis, urges aid

The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution Thursday blaming Russia for the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and urging an immediate cease-fire and protection for millions of civilians and the homes, schools and hospitals critical to their survival.

There was loud applause in the assembly chamber as the result of the vote was announced: 140-5 with only Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Eritrea joining Russia in opposing the measure. There were 38 abstentions, including Russian ally China, India, South Africa, Iran and Cuba.

The resolution, introduced by Ukraine, deplores the “dire humanitarian consequences” of Russia’s aggression which it says is “on a scale that the international community has not seen in Europe in decades.” It deplores Russia’s shelling, airstrikes and “besiegement” of densely populated cities, including the southern city of Mariupol, and demands unhindered access for humanitarian aid.

11:36pm: Biden promises new Ukraine aid, warns Russia on chemical weapons

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

US President Joe Biden and Western allies pledged new sanctions and humanitarian aid on Thursday in response to Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine, but their offers fell short of the more robust military assistance that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded for in a pair of live-video appearances.

Biden also announced the U.S. would welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees — though he said many probably prefer to stay closer to home — and provide an additional $1 billion in food, medicine, water and other supplies.

Biden, in an early evening news conference after the meetings, warned that a chemical attack by Russia “would trigger a response in kind.”

“You’re asking whether NATO would cross. We’d make that decision at the time,” Biden said.

More details here


11:30pm: Ukraine says Moscow is forcibly taking civilians to Russia

Ukraine accused Moscow on Thursday of forcibly taking hundreds of thousands of civilians from shattered Ukrainian cities to Russia, where some may be used as “hostages” to pressure Kyiv to give up.

Lyudmyla Denisova, Ukraine’s ombudsperson, said 402,000 people, including 84,000 children, have been taken against their will.

The Kremlin gave nearly identical numbers for those who have been relocated, but it said they wanted to go to Russia. Ukraine’s rebel-controlled eastern regions are predominantly Russian-speaking, and many people there have supported close ties to Moscow.

More details here

8:50pm: Russia, Ukraine exchange prisoners, Kyiv says

Russia and Ukraine have exchanged prisoners, Kyiv announced Thursday, in what it said was the first swap of soldiers since Moscow ordered troops into Ukraine one month ago.

“Following an order from President Volodymyr Zelensky, the first fully-fledged exchange of prisoners of war has taken place,” Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk wrote on Facebook.

“In exchange for 10 captured occupiers we rescued 10 of our servicemen,” she said, referring to Russian and Ukrainian troops.

More details here:

8:45pm: West ready to impose new sanctions on Russia when necessary -Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that Western powers were ready to ramp up sanctions against Russia if necessary as they continue to try to isolate Moscow over its war in Ukraine and force a ceasefire.

“These sanctions have an impact and are tangible and we must continue them for their dissuasive effect,” he told a news conference after a NATO and G7 leaders summit.


8:37pm: Russian troops lack resources to be on offensive

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said on Thursday that in many areas Russian troops did not have enough resources to push ahead with their offensive in Ukraine, leading to a slowdown in hostilities.

“The front line is practically frozen,” he said in a televised address. “The enemy in very many areas does not have the resources to continue the offensive.”

7:15pm: Ukraine says it has destroyed a large Russian landing ship

A handout picture released by the Ukrainian Navy on March 24, 2022 shows plumes of smoke and flames in the port of Berdyansk in the Azov Sea, 80 kilometres to the west of  Mariupol, on the site where reportedly the large landing ship 'Orsk' of the Russian Black Sea Fleet is docked. Photo: AFP
A handout picture released by the Ukrainian Navy on March 24, 2022 shows plumes of smoke and flames in the port of Berdyansk in the Azov Sea, 80 kilometres to the west of Mariupol, on the site where reportedly the large landing ship "Orsk" of the Russian Black Sea Fleet is docked. Photo: AFP

Ukraine said on Thursday it had destroyed a large Russian landing support ship, the Orsk, at the Russian-occupied port of Berdiansk on the Sea of Azov.

Video footage, which Reuters was able to confirm was filmed from inside Berdiansk, showed a column of smoke rising from a blaze at a dock, and the flash of an explosion.

Two vessels, one of which appeared to have been damaged, were seen in the footage sailing out of the dock as a third ship burned.

More details here:

6:56pm: Ukraine says Russian forces block evacuation efforts in Mariupol

This Maxar satellite image taken and released on March 22, 2022 shows burning and destroyed high-rise apartment buildings in Mariupol, Ukraine. Photo: AFP
This Maxar satellite image taken and released on March 22, 2022 shows burning and destroyed high-rise apartment buildings in Mariupol, Ukraine. Photo: AFP

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Russian forces prevented civilians leaving blockaded Mariupol city on Thursday although Ukrainian authorities had readied 40 buses for their evacuation.

Speaking at a televised briefing, she did not specify how Russian troops had prevented people leaving. Ukraine and Russia have repeatedly accused each other of not respecting temporary ceasefire agreements to allow civilians to leave the besieged city safely.

5:14pm: Zelensky pleads for aid as Biden, allies begin summits

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for “military assistance without limitations” as he addressed an emergency NATO summit on Thursday, the first of three urgent meetings U.S. President Joe Biden and world leaders are holding in response to the Russian incursion.

Zelensky pleaded for anti-air and anti-ship weapons, asking “is it possible to survive in such a war without this?”

More details here

“It feels like we’re in a gray area, between the West and Russia, defending our common values. This is the scariest thing during a war — not to have clear answers to requests for help!”

4:59pm: U.S. to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing war

The United States plans to accept up to 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s incursion, two sources familiar with the plan said, after a month of bombardments has brought Europe’s fastest-moving refugee crisis since the end of World War Two.

The expected announcement would coincide with U.S. President Joe Biden’s meeting with European leaders on Thursday to coordinate the Western response to the crisis.

More than 3.5 million people have fled since Russia attacked Ukraine on Feb. 24, according to the United Nations.

More details here

4:18pm: NATO wants China to meet ‘responsibilities’ over Ukraine war

NATO leaders meeting in Brussels want China to oppose Russia’s incursion of Ukraine and work for a peaceful end to the conflict, a senior US official said Thursday.

Briefing reporters at NATO headquarters during the talks, the official said several leaders had said “China needs to live up to its responsibilities within the international community as a UN Security Council member”.

“We need to continue to call on China not to support Russia in its aggression against Ukraine,” the official said.

4:07pm: US, allies could give Ukraine anti-ship missiles

U.S. President Joe Biden looks on as he attends a North Atlantic Council meeting during a NATO summit at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on March 24, 2022. Photo: AFP
U.S. President Joe Biden looks on as he attends a North Atlantic Council meeting during a NATO summit at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on March 24, 2022. Photo: AFP

The United States and its NATO allies are discussing sending anti-ship missiles to Ukraine, a senior US official said Thursday, after Russian vessels attacked Kyiv’s Black Sea ports.

“We have started consulting with allies on providing anti-ship missiles to Ukraine,” the official told reporters as a NATO summit got under way in Brussels.

“There may be some technical challenges with making that happen, but that is something that we are consulting with allies and starting to work on.”

3:30pm: ICRC chief, Russia discuss need to protect Ukraine civilians

The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross on Thursday said he and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had discussed the need to protect civilians during Moscow’s operations in Ukraine.

“We certainly also discussed the international humanitarian law and provisions of the Geneva Convention in regard to conduct of hostilities... that civilians must be protected,” Peter Maurer said at a joint press conference with Lavrov.

2.20pm: Nato countries open first of 3 summits on crisis

US President Joe Biden and Western allies opened the first of three summits Thursday focused on increasing pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin over his war in Ukraine while tending to the economic and security fallout spreading across Europe and the world.

Biden and the leaders of other Nato countries met at the alliance’s headquarters where they posed for a group photo memorializing the urgent gathering before retreating behind closed doors for their summit, which was expected to last several hours.



Over the course of Thursday, the European diplomatic capital is hosting an emergency Nato summit as well as a gathering of the Group of Seven industrialized nations and a summit of the 27 members of the European Union. Biden will attend all three meetings and plans to hold a news conference at the end of the day.

1.15pm: Ukrainian agriculture minister submits resignation

Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Roman Leshchenko has submitted his resignation, an aide told Reuters on Thursday, without stating a reason.

The aide, who declined to be named, said parliament would vote on whether to accept the resignation, possibly as soon as Thursday.

Leshchenko's resignation had been reported by APK-Inform consultancy earlier on Thursday, four weeks since Russia attacked Ukraine, starting a crisis that has affected spring crop sowing and Ukraine's ability to export agricultural products.

1.00pm: Stoltenberg to extend Nato term by one year, say reports

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is set to extend his term as head of the alliance by another year due to the crisis in Ukraine, Norwegian broadcaster TV2 and daily Dagens Naeringsliv reported on Thursday, citing unnamed sources.

Stoltenberg's current term expires on October 1 and he had been due to take up a post as central bank governor of his native Norway by the end of 2022.

When asked on Wednesday whether he would stay on at Nato, Stoltenberg said any such decision was up to member-countries to make.

12.00pm: President Zelensky to press Biden, Nato for more support

Zelensky called on people worldwide to gather in public Thursday to show support for his embattled country as he prepared to address US President Joe Biden and other Nato leaders gathered in Brussels on the one-month anniversary of the Russian attack.

“Come to your squares, your streets. Make yourselves visible and heard,” Zelensky said in English during an emotional video address late Wednesday that was recorded in the dark near the presidential offices in Kyiv. “Say that people matter. Freedom matters. Peace matters. Ukraine matters.”

AFP file
AFP file

To keep up the pressure on Russia, Zelensky said he would ask in a video conference with Nato members that the alliance provide “effective and unrestricted” support to Ukraine, including any weapons the country needs.

Biden was expected to discuss new sanctions and how to coordinate such measures, along with more military aid for Ukraine, with Nato members, and then talk with leaders of the G7 industrialized nations and the European Council in a series of meetings on Thursday.

On the eve of a meeting with Biden, European Union nations signed off on another 500 million euros ($550 million) in military aid for Ukraine.

11.40am: Ukraine says 7 humanitarian corridors agreed, no safe passage from Mariupol

Reuters file
Reuters file

Agreement has been reached on the establishment of seven humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians from Ukrainian towns and cities on Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

She said civilians trying to leave besieged Mariupol would find transport at nearby Berdyansk, making clear Russia was not allowing a safe corridor to be created to or from the centre of the southern port city.

9.11am: 13 abstain in UNSC vote on Russian-led draft resolution on Ukraine

India, along with 12 other UN Security Council members, abstained on a resolution by Russia on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. The draft resolution by Russia was cosponsored by Syria, North Korea and Belarus. It failed to get adopted in the Council on Wednesday as it did not get the required nine yes votes to pass.

More details here

8.48am: Japan considers doubling humanitarian aid, loans to Ukraine

The Japanese government is considering extending additional humanitarian aid of $100 million to Ukraine and neighbouring countries, on top of the $100 million in assistance Japan has already announced, public broadcaster NHK said on Thursday.

More details here

8.26am: UN to vote on blaming Russia for Ukraine humanitarian crisis

The UN General Assembly votes Thursday on a resolution backed by over 90 countries that blames Russia for the escalating humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and demands an immediate halt to hostilities, especially attacks on civilians and their homes, schools and hospitals.

8.12am: French auto giant Renault boycotts Russia

French carmaker Renault announced in a statement Wednesday that it has suspended all activities at its Moscow factory after Ukrainian leaders have called for a boycott against the company, accusing Renault of "sponsoring Russia's war machine."

The giant carmaker on Tuesday resumed production in Moscow after it suspended production due to a disruption in logistics in late February. However, it again suspended the operations in just three days.

Renault, Auchan, Leroy Merlin and others must stop being the sponsors of Russia's war machine.

More details here

7.45am: Russian journalist killed in Ukraine shelling

As Ukraine continues to face heavy bombardments, Russian journalist Oksana Baulina working for the independent news site The Insider was killed in a shelling incident in Ukraine, the media outlet said in a statement on Wednesday.

More details here

7.11am: Putin going to G20 ‘a step too far’, says Australia PM

I am not shocked by their barbarity. I am not shocked by their arrogance in what they are seeking to impose on Ukraine. And that’s why Australia has been one of the strongest in taking action in relation to Russia.

Allowing Russian President Vladimir Putin to sit with other world leaders at this year’s G20 summit would be “a step too far”, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Thursday.

Putin has already been invited to the G20 heads of state summit in November by this year’s host Jakarta, and he intends to be there, Russia’s ambassador to Indonesia said this week.

But Morrison objected, citing Russia’s war in neighbouring Ukraine.

6.46am: 7,000 to 15,000 Russian troops dead in Ukraine, says NATO

NATO estimated on Wednesday that 7,000 to 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in four weeks of war in Ukraine, where fierce resistance from the country’s defenders has denied Moscow the lightning victory it sought.

By way of comparison, Russia lost about 15,000 troops over 10 years in Afghanistan.

More details here

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