Day 33 Russia-Ukraine crisis: As it happened

Almost 5,000 killed in Mariupol since Russian siege began

By Team KT

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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

Published: Mon 28 Mar 2022, 6:35 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Feb 2023, 8:37 AM

Ukraine and Russia were preparing on Monday for the first face-to-face peace talks in more than two weeks, with Kyiv insisting it would make no concessions on Ukraine’s territorial integrity as battlefield momentum has shifted in its favour.

Ukrainian officials played down the chances of a major breakthrough at the talks, due to be held in Istanbul after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Sunday.

Russia’s military signalled last week it was shifting focus to concentrate on expanding territory held by separatists in eastern Ukraine, a month after having committed the bulk of its huge incursion force to a failed assault on Kyiv.

Here's the latest of all top developments on March 28:

10:27pm: UN chief launches effort for Ukraine humanitarian cease-fire

The United Nations chief launched an initiative Monday to immediately explore possible arrangements for “a humanitarian cease-fire in Ukraine” in order to allow the delivery of desperately needed aid and pave the way for serious political negotiations to end the month-long war.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he used his “good offices” and asked Undersecretary-General Martin Griffiths, the head of the U.N.’s worldwide humanitarian operations, to explore the possibility of a cease-fire with Russia and Ukraine. He said Griffiths has already made some contacts.

“I hope that he will be able to go to both Moscow and Kyiv as soon as that becomes possible. It’s very important to establish a serious dialogue with both parties in relation to the possibility of this humanitarian cease-fire.”

10:03pm: UK to strengthen economic pressure on Russia, PM Johnson tells Zelensky

Britain will strengthen economic pressure on Russia, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a call ahead of peace talks over Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

“President Zelenskiy provided an update on negotiations and the two leaders agreed to coordinate closely in the days ahead,” Johnson’s office said in a readout of the call.

“The Prime Minister reiterated the UK would maintain and strengthen economic pressure on Putin’s regime.”

9:15pm: Unprotected Russian soldiers disturbed radioactive dust in Chernobyl’s ‘Red Forest’, workers say

Russian soldiers who seized the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster drove their armoured vehicles without radiation protection through a highly toxic zone called the “Red Forest”, kicking up clouds of radioactive dust, workers at the site said.

The two sources said soldiers in the convoy did not use any anti-radiation gear. The second Chernobyl employee said that was “suicidal” for the soldiers because the radioactive dust they inhaled was likely to cause internal radiation in their bodies.

9pm: Almost 5,000 killed in Mariupol since Russian siege began

Nearly 5,000 people, including about 210 children, have been killed in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol since Russian forces laid siege to it, a spokesperson for the mayor said on Monday.

It was not immediately clear how Mayor Vadym Boichenko had calculated the toll from a month of Russian bombardment that has devastated the city and trapped tens of thousands of residents without power and with few supplies.

Boichenko’s office said 90% of Mariupol’s buildings had been damaged and 40% destroyed, including hospitals, schools, kindergartens and factories.

7:10pm: Russian delegation lands in Turkey for talks

A plane carrying members of a Russian delegation has landed in Istanbul ahead of talks with Ukrainian negotiators aimed at ending the month-long war.

Turkey’s private DHA news agency said the Russian government plane landed at Istanbul Airport on Monday. The face-to-face talks between the two sides are scheduled to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday.

More details here

7pm: Kyiv mayor says more than 100 war deaths in city, including 4 children

There have been more than 100 deaths in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv since Russia’s incursion of its neighbour, the city’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Monday.

In an address to city councillors of Florence, which is twinned with Kyiv, Klitschko said more than 20 corpses could not be identified and four of the victims were children, while another 16 injured children are in hospital.

6:50pm: Nearly 5,000 people killed in siege of Ukraine’s Mariupol - mayor’s office

Nearly 5,000 people have been killed in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol since Russian forces laid siege to it, a spokesperson for the city mayor said on Monday.

The spokesperson quoted data from the mayor’s office that said about 90% of buildings in Mariupol had been damaged and about 40% had been destroyed.

6:35pm: Ukraine forces retake village outside Kharkiv

An Ukranian serviceman walks in the village of Mala Rogan, east of Kharkiv, after the Ukranian troops retaking the village on March 28, 2022. Photo: AFP
An Ukranian serviceman walks in the village of Mala Rogan, east of Kharkiv, after the Ukranian troops retaking the village on March 28, 2022. Photo: AFP

Ukrainian forces on Monday recaptured a small village on the outskirts of Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv, as Kyiv’s forces mount counterattacks against a stalling Russian incursion.

Members of the Ukrainian army were clearing and securing destroyed homes in the settlement of Malaya Rohan, about five kilometres (three miles) from Kharkiv, after pushing out Russian forces.

AFP journalists saw what appeared to be the bodies of two Russian soldiers in the streets of the village that was largely destroyed by the fighting.


6:20pm: Putin does not appear ready to compromise on Ukraine, says U.S. official


Russian President Vladimir Putin does not appear ready to make compromises to end the war in Ukraine, a senior U.S. official said on Monday as Ukraine and Russia were preparing for their first face-to-face peace talks in more than two weeks.

“Everything I have seen is he is not willing to compromise at this point,” the senior U.S. State Department official told Reuters on condition of anonymity after Ukraine’s president sketched out a potential way to end the crisis over the weekend.


6pm: Russia shifts focus to try to grind Ukraine’s army in east

With its aspirations for a quick victory dashed by a stiff Ukrainian resistance, Russia has increasingly focused on grinding down Ukraine’s military in the east in the hope of forcing Kyiv into surrendering part of the country’s territory to possibly end the war.

The bulk of the Ukrainian army is concentrated in eastern Ukraine, where it has been locked up in fighting with Moscow-backed separatists in a nearly eight-year conflict. If Russia succeeds in encircling and destroying the Ukrainian forces in the country’s industrial heartland called Donbas, it could try to dictate its terms to Kyiv and, possibly, attempt to split the country in two.

The Russian military declared Friday that the “first stage of the operation” had been largely accomplished, allowing Russian troops to concentrate on their “top goal — the liberation of Donbas.”


5:45pm: Central Europe readies for new refugee waves

Ukrainian evacuees stand on a bus carrying refugees after crossing the Ukrainian border with Poland at the Medyka border crossing, southeastern Poland, on March 28, 2022, following the Russian military attack on Ukraine. Photo: AFP
Ukrainian evacuees stand on a bus carrying refugees after crossing the Ukrainian border with Poland at the Medyka border crossing, southeastern Poland, on March 28, 2022, following the Russian military attack on Ukraine. Photo: AFP

Central European nations are bracing for a renewed influx of refugees from Ukraine that could test their capacity to house, school and find work for the rising numbers of mainly women and children escaping the war.

While the flow of people across the EU’s eastern borders has ebbed, aid workers say recent Russian missile strikes on military targets in Lviv may spur more people to leave the city just 60 km (40 miles) from the border with NATO-member Poland.

“We are getting news from Lviv...that there is likely a very large number of buses that has gathered that could come our way either tomorrow or the day after,” said Regina Slonicka, a former journalist now volunteering at Warsaw train station. “So again we will have a great need for help.”

More details here

5:40pm: Russia preparing restrictions on entry from ‘unfriendly’ states, says Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday Moscow was preparing to restrict entry into Russia for nationals of “unfriendly” countries, which include Britain, all EU states and the United States.

“A draft presidential decree is being developed on retaliatory visa measures in response to the ‘unfriendly’ actions of a number of foreign states. This act will introduce a number of restrictions on entry into Russia”.

4:05pm: Russian councillor says she’s not afraid after anti-war speech

A local councillor in southern Russia who criticised Moscow’s incursion of Ukraine as amounting to a war crime has said she felt an obligation to speak up and was prepared for the consequences.

Russian officials have denied committing war crimes and say their forces in Ukraine have not targeted civilians.

The Semiluksky district council in Voronezh, about 500 kms (310 miles) south of Moscow, has asked law enforcement to investigate Nina Belyayeva for extremism after she made the comments at a meeting on March 22.

“I’m not afraid,” Belyayeva, a lawyer and devout Christian told Reuters in an interview. “The very least that I wanted to do was to say that I am against what’s going on.”

2.58pm: PSG star Navas takes in Ukrainian refugees

Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Keylor Navas is hosting around 30 Ukrainian refugees who fled their country following the Russian assault, the Ligue 1 leaders confirmed on Monday.

Spanish publication Sport revealed the 35-year-old Costa Rican international had adapted his home so they could stay with him.

More details here

2.39pm: Ukraine seeking peace ‘without delay’ in talks, Zelensky says

Ukraine could declare neutrality and offer security guarantees to Russia to secure peace “without delay,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said ahead of another expected round of talks between the two sides — though he said only a face-to-face meeting with Russia’s leader could end the war.

In an interview with independent Russian media outlets, Zelensky stressed that Ukraine’s priority is ensuring its sovereignty and preventing Moscow from carving it up.

But, he added: “Security guarantees and neutrality, non-nuclear status of our state — we are ready to go for it.”

1.45pm: Kremlin says Biden’s comments on Putin ‘alarming’

The Kremlin on Monday expressed concern after US President Joe Biden called the Russian leader Vladimir Putin a “butcher” over his military operation in Ukraine.

“This is a statement that is certainly alarming,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding that Moscow will “continue closely monitoring” statements of the US president.

12.54pm: Turkey says second mine found floating off its coast

Turkey on Monday said a second mine which could have come from Ukraine was discovered off its coast near Bulgaria, adding that experts had been sent to defuse it.

Russia had warned more than a week ago that some aged mines that Ukrainians had deployed in the Black Sea against its attacking troops had become dislodged from their cables by storms and could drift as far as the Straits of Bosphorus and the Mediterranean Sea.

On Monday, the Turkish defence ministry tweeted that “A mine was detected off Igneada near the Bulgarian border” on the Black Sea.

12.36pm: All Mariupol civilians must be evacuated to escape humanitarian catastrophe, mayor says

The situation in the city remains difficult. People are beyond the line of humanitarian catastrophe.” “We need to completely evacuate Mariupol.”

More details here

11.49am: Ukraine announces no new humanitarian corridors, fears Russian ‘provocations’

Ukraine has no plans to open any humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians from besieged cities on Monday because of intelligence reports warning of possible Russian “provocations” along the routes, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

10.05am: Ukraine war threatens food supplies in Arab world

From Lebanon, Iraq and Syria to Sudan and Yemen, millions of people in the Middle East whose lives were already upended by conflict, displacement and poverty are now wondering where their next meals will come from. Ukraine and Russia account for a third of global wheat and barley exports, which countries in the Middle East rely on to feed millions of people who subsist on subsidized bread and bargain noodles. They are also top exporters of other grains and the sunflower seed oil that is used for cooking.

8.16am: Brazilians join fight in far-away Ukraine

File (Representational)
File (Representational)

The Ukrainian foreign legion’s only requirement to join is military or firearms experience, according to representatives of the website, which is helping organize the effort.

Other webpages set up for Brazilians rallying to the cause have hundreds of members, such as Portuguese-language Facebook group “Volunteers to Fight in Ukraine,” with 1,800.

More details here

7.33am: Russia, Ukraine set for face-to-face peace talks

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators will resume face-to-face peace talks Monday, probing whether a near-stalemate in fighting has forced Moscow to temper its demands.

President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the new negotiations, saying he hoped they would bring peace “without delay”, and lamented a month-long Russian assault that has already killed thousands and devastated numerous Ukrainian cities.

More details here

7.09am: Support for Ukraine shown at Oscars

At the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Sunday night, attendees expressed support for Ukraine by going silent for 30 seconds.

A tribute that started with words from the Ukrainian-born Mila Kunis ended with the Academy Awards fading to black about midway through the show, with a plea for anyone watching to do whatever possible to send help to those in the war-torn nation.

More details here

6.29am: Ukraine pleads for help, says Russia wants to split nation

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused the West of cowardice Sunday while another top official said Russia was trying to split the nation in two, like North and South Korea.

Zelensky made an exasperated plea for fighter jets and tanks to sustain a defence as his country continues battling Russia’s attacking troops. Russia now says its main focus is on taking control of the eastern Donbas region, an apparent pullback from its earlier, more expansive goals, but one which is raising fears of a divided Ukraine.

Speaking after US President Joe Biden said in a lacerating speech that Russian President Vladimir Putin could not stay in power — words the White House immediately sought to downplay — Zelensky lashed out at the West’s “ping-pong about who and how should hand over jets” and other weapons while Russian missile attacks kill and trap civilians.

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