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Russia has stepped up its bombardment of Kyiv, as a series of strikes hit a residential neighbourhood in the capital city.
The leaders of three European Union countries have travelled to Kyiv. US President Joe Biden will travel to Europe next week for face-to-face talks with European leaders about Russia’s attack.
Fox News says one of its video journalists was killed in Ukraine when the vehicle he was travelling in was struck by incoming fire.
Here are the top developments as on March 16:
11.31pm: Joe Biden called Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a “war criminal”
President Joe Biden called Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” on Wednesday over his attack on neighboring Ukraine.
I think he is a war criminal
10.15pm: Five bodies found in rubble of shelled dormitory in Ukraine’s Chernihiv
Ukraine’s emergencies service said rescue workers had found the bodies of five people, including three children, during searches on Wednesday of residential buildings damaged by shelling in the northern city of Chernihiv.
The bodies were found in the ruins of a dormitory building, it said in an online statement.
9.30pm: In Kharkiv, critical Covid patients at the mercy of Russian bombardment
In Kharkiv’s regional infectious diseases hospital, doctors escort those COVID-19 patients they can down to the bomb shelter in the basement when the air raid sirens sound.
But the most seriously ill, needing constant oxygen supply, cannot be moved, even if this means leaving them vulnerable to Russian bombardment.
“The ones in critical condition remain in their rooms. If we bring them down here they will simply die,” said Pavlo Nartov, the hospital’s director.
Most of our patients are on oxygen supply all the time. They can’t be cut off from the oxygen.
8.40pm: Russian bombing hits theatre in Mariupol sheltering residents, city council says
Russian forces bombed a theatre where civilians were sheltering in the encircled port city of Mariupol on Wednesday, the city council said.
It said the number of casualties was not yet known. Reuters could not independently verify the information. Russia denies targeting civilians.
8.28pm: Three killed after shelling and fire in Ukraine’s Kharkiv
Three people were killed and five wounded after shelling caused a fire at a market in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s State Emergencies Service said on Wednesday.
The fire was later extinguished, it said in an online statement.
8:12pm: Russia blocks BBC website
Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor on Wednesday blocked access to the BBC’s main news website, with Moscow’s foreign ministry warning of more retaliatory measures against the media.
“I think this is only the beginning of retaliatory measures to the information war unleashed by the West against Russia"
8:10pm: UN court orders Russia to cease hostilities in Ukraine
The United Nations’ highest court on Wednesday ordered Russia to stop hostilities in Ukraine, granting measures requested by Kyiv although many are skeptical that Russia will comply.
Two weeks ago, Ukraine asked the International Court of Justice - also known as the World Court - to intervene, arguing Russia violated the 1948 Genocide Convention by falsely accusing Ukraine of committing genocide and using that as a pretext for the ongoing invasion.
“The Russian Federation shall immediately suspend the special military operations it commenced on 24 February 2022,” the court’s president, U.S. judge Joan E. Donoghue, said. Countries who refuse to abide by court orders can be referred to the U.N. Security Council, where Russia holds veto power.
7.16pm: Glimmers of hope seen at talks as Russia’s onslaught goes on
Both Russia and Ukraine projected optimism ahead of another scheduled round of talks Wednesday, even as Moscow’s forces rained fire on Kyiv and other major cities in a bid to crush the resistance that has frustrated Kremlin hopes for a lightning victory.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, meanwhile, went before the US Congress via video and, invoking Pearl Harbor and 9/11, pleaded with America for more weapons and tougher sanctions against Russia, saying: “We need you right now.”
6.34pm: Russia and Ukraine draw up neutrality plan
Both countries have made significant progress on a tentative 15-point neutrality plan. This includes a ceasefire and withdrawal, if Ukraine declares neutrality and accepts limits on its armed forces, according to three people involved in the talks.
6.07pm: Putin says will not allow Ukraine to become ‘springboard’ to threaten Russia
5.13pm: Council of Europe expels Russia from human rights body
The 47-nation organization’s committee of ministers said in statement that “the Russian Federation ceases to be a member of the Council of Europe as from today, after 26 years of membership.”
The decision comes on the heels of weeks of condemnation of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Early in the week, the group’s parliamentary assembly already initiated the process of expulsion and unanimously backed that Russia would be kicked out.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov insisted Wednesday that it would have left the body regardless. In an interview with Russian broadcaster RBK, he accused NATO and EU countries of “abusing their majority in the council, eventually transforming it into a tool for anti-Russian policy.”
4.29pm: Czech prime minister: Ukraine above all needs more weapons
Ukraine above all needs more supplies of weapons to defend itself against Russia’s attack, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said on Wednesday after returning from a visit to Kyiv.
He said his delegation - which also included the prime ministers of Poland and Slovenia - also discussed sanctions, weapons and humanitarian aid, as well as possible future diplomatic steps with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky.
3.14pm: Ukraine prepares potential move of sensitive data to another country -official
The Ukrainian government is preparing for the potential need to move its data and servers abroad if Russia’s attacking forces push deeper into the country, a senior cybersecurity official told Reuters on Wednesday.
Victor Zhora, the deputy chief of Ukraine’s State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection, emphasized his department was planning for a contingency, but that it is being considered at all suggests Ukrainians want to be ready for any Russian threat to seize sensitive government documents.
2.23pm: Kremlin says Sweden, Austria could be models for Ukraine neutrality
The Kremlin said Wednesday that Ukraine becoming a neutral state with a status comparable to Sweden and Austria is being discussed at talks with Kyiv and would be a “compromise”.
“This is an option that is being discussed now and that can be considered as a compromise,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
1.56pm: Russia says parts of a Ukraine compromise deal are close
Russia said on Wednesday that some parts of a possible peace deal with Ukraine were close to being agreed after Kyiv agreed to discuss neutrality, raising hopes of an end to the biggest war in Europe since World War Two.
“Neutral status is now being seriously discussed along, of course, with security guarantees,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said told RBC news.
“Now this very thing is being discussed in negotiations - there are absolutely specific formulations which in my view are close to agreement,” Lavrov said.
1.32pm: Red Cross President arrives in Kyiv for planned five-day visit to call for greater humanitarian access, civilian protection
1.22pm: Polish, Czech and Slovenian PMs back in Poland after Kyiv trip, says spokesperson
The delegations including the prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia have arrived in Poland after their visit to Kyiv, a Polish government spokesperson said on Wednesday.
“The Polish, Slovenian and Czech delegations safely returned from Kyiv to Poland,” Piotr Muller wrote on Twitter.
1.00pm: Russia’s Lavrov says Ukraine peace talks not easy, sees hope for compromise
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that peace talks with Ukraine aren’t easy, but added that there was hope for compromise.
I am guided by the assessments given by our negotiators. They say that the negotiations are not easy for obvious reasons. But nevertheless, there is some hope of reaching a compromise.
12.36pm: Train station targeted in Ukraine refugee hub near Mariupol
Russian forces on Wednesday targeted the southern Ukraine city of Zaporizhzhia, where thousands of refugees are taking shelter after escaping the besieged port city of Mariupol, regional officials said.
“Civilian objects have been bombed for the first time in Zaporizhzhia,” the regional governor Alexander Starukh wrote on the Telegram social media platform.
12.20pm: Ukraine launches counteroffensives in several areas
Ukraine’s armed forces are launching counteroffensives against Russian forces “in several operational areas,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
“This radically changes the parties’ dispositions,” he added, without giving details.
12.05pm: Prosecutor general says 103 children have been killed in war in Ukraine
The Ukrainian prosecutor general said on Wednesday 103 children have been killed so far in the war in Ukraine.
Russian forces have struck more than 400 educational establishments and 59 of them have been destroyed, Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said on Facebook.
10.54am: Moscow to retaliate against Montenegro over expulsion of Russian diplomat
Russia will respond to Montenegro’s decision to declare a Russian diplomat persona non grata, Yuri Pilipson, director of the Fourth European department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, was quoted by the RIA news agency as saying on Wednesday.
Montenegro cited violations of diplomatic norms for its March 4 action in ordering the Russian diplomat to leave the country.
10.46am: 20,000 residents have left Mariupol in private cars so far, Ukrainian official says
About 20,000 civilians have managed so far to leave the besieged port city of Mariupol in private cars, Interior Ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko said on Wednesday.
Mariupol residents have been trapped in the city by Russian shelling without heating, electricity and running water for most of the past two weeks, Ukrainian officials say. At least 200,000 are in urgent need of evacuation, according to official Ukrainian estimates earlier this week.
10.40am: Russian fighting intensifies in Kyiv suburbs
A plume of smoke was seen rising up over western Kyiv on Wednesday morning after shrapnel from an artillery shell slammed into a 12-story apartment building in central Kyiv, obliterating the top floor and igniting a fire, according to a statement and images released by the Kyiv emergencies agency.
The neighbouring building was also damaged. The agency reported two victims, without elaborating.
Kindergartens, museums, churches, residential blocks and engineering infrastructure are suffering from the endless firing.
10.29am: Top UN court to rule on Ukraine assault
The UN’s top court is set to rule Wednesday on Ukraine’s urgent request for Russia to immediately halt its attacks, with Kyiv claiming that Moscow falsely accused its pro-Western neighbour of genocide to justify the war.
The International Court of Justice will hand down its judgement at 1500 GMT in The Hague after Ukraine filed an urgent application shortly after Russia’s attack on February 24.
8.00am: Ukraine says Russian warships fire missiles
Russian warships around midnight fired missiles and artillery at the Ukrainian sea coast near Tuzla, to the south of Odesa, Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said.
“They fired a huge amount of ammunition from a great distance,” he said on Facebook.
7.42am: Russia says quitting Council of Europe
Russia said Tuesday it would pull out of the Council of Europe after pressure mounted for Moscow to be expelled from the pan-European rights body over its attack on Ukraine.
Essentially jumping before it was pushed from the Strasbourg-based body, the Russian foreign ministry said it had given notification of its departure to the Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric.
7.24am: Canada imposes sanctions on 15 more Russian officials
Canada has imposed sanctions against 15 more Russian government officials over the country’s war with Ukraine, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau informed in a tweet on Tuesday (local time).
“To make sure Putin and his enablers are held accountable, Canada has imposed severe sanctions on 15 more Russian officials - including government and military elites who are complicit in this illegal war,” Trudeau said in a tweet.
6.53am: US Senate approves resolution probing Putin for war crimes
The US Senate unanimously approved a resolution late Tuesday seeking investigations of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his regime for war crimes over the attack of Ukraine.
The bipartisan measure from Sen Lindsey Graham, R-SC, says the Senate strongly condemns the “violence, war crimes. crimes against humanity” being carried out Russian military forces under Putin’s direction. It encourages international criminal courts to investigate Putin, his security council and military leaders for possible war crimes.
These atrocities deserve to be investigated for war crimes
6.42am: Biden to announce $800 million in new security aid to Ukraine
US President Joe Biden will announce $800 million in new security assistance to Ukraine on Wednesday, a White House official said, the same day that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to deliver a speech to the US Congress.
The announcement brings “the total (aid) announced in the last week alone to $1 billion,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
6.35am: Positions of Ukraine, Russia at talks sound more realistic, says Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday that the positions of Ukraine and Russia at peace talks were sounding more realistic, the Interfax Ukraine news agency reported.
"Meetings continue. I am told that the positions at the negotiations sound more realistic," Zelensky said in a video address released early on Wednesday, the agency said. "However, more time is still needed for decisions to be in the interests of Ukraine."
6.28am: Ukraine says 4th Russian general killed
Ukraine said a fourth Russian general has been killed in the fighting.
Maj. Gen. Oleg Mityaev died Tuesday during the storming of Mariupol, said Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko, who published a photo on Telegram of what he said was the dead officer.
6.17am: Official says Russian troops take 500 hostage
Russian troops seized a hospital in Mariupol and took about 500 people hostage during another assault on the southern port city late Tuesday, regional leader Pavlo Kyrylenko said.
Russians troops drove 400 people from neighboring houses into Regional Intensive Care Hospital, Kyrylenko said on the messaging app Telegram. About 100 doctors and patients also are believed to be inside, he said.
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