LIVE Russia-Ukraine crisis: 130 people saved from Mariupol theatre bombing

Hundreds still trapped inside, President Zelensky says

Reuters file photo
Reuters file photo

By Team KT

Published: Fri 18 Mar 2022, 6:50 AM

Last updated: Fri 18 Mar 2022, 9:39 PM

Japan and Australia on Friday slapped fresh sanctions on Russian entities as punishment for Moscow’s assault on Ukraine, which the West says has been stalled by staunch resistance but continues to take a devastating toll on civilians.

Ukraine’s capital Kyiv reported “chaotic” Russian shelling while rescuers in the besieged port of Mariupol dug survivors from the rubble of bombed buildings. Officials from the two countries met again for peace talks on Thursday but said their positions remained far apart.

Western sources and Ukrainian officials said Russia’s assault has faltered since its troops attacked on February 24, further dashing Moscow’s expectations of a swift victory and the removal of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government.

Despite battleground setbacks and punitive sanctions by the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown little sign of relenting.


Here's the latest of all top developments on March 18:

9.35pm: Putin tells Macron about Russia’s approach to possible Ukraine deal

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the conflict in Ukraine with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron by phone on Friday, telling him about Moscow’s approach to a potential deal on ceasing hostilities, the Kremlin said.

“Reacting to concerns expressed by Emmanuel Macron, the Russian president underscored that the Russian armed forces taking part in the special military operation are doing everything possible to preserve the lives of civilians,” the Kremlin said in its readout of the call.

The two also discussed the negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv and Moscow’s stance on how a deal could be achieved, it said, without providing more details.

9.15pm: 130 people saved from Mariupol theatre bombing

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday 130 people had been saved after the bombing of a theatre in the port city of Mariupol under Russian siege, but "hundreds" were still trapped in rubble.

"More than 130 people have been saved. But hundreds of Mariupol residents are still beneath the rubble," Zelensky said in a video address on Facebook.

6.38pm: China’s Xi says conflicts like Ukraine crisis in no one's interests

Chinese President Xi Jinping told his US counterpart Joe Biden on Friday that conflicts and confrontations such as the events unfolding in Ukraine are in the interests of no one, according to Chinese state media.

State-to-state relations cannot advance to the stage of confrontation, and conflicts and confrontations are not in the interests of anyone, Xi told Biden on a video call.

"The Ukraine crisis is something that we don't want to see," said Xi.

Xi said China and the United States must guide bilateral relations along the right track, and both sides should also shoulder due international responsibilities and make efforts for world peace.

6.00pm: Biden talks with China’s Xi, aims to press him on Russia attack

Two key figures in determining the course of a war half a world away, President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping spoke Friday as the White House looks to deter Beijing from providing military or economic assistance for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Planning for the call has been in the works since Biden and Xi held a virtual summit in November, but differences between Washington and Beijing over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s prosecution of his three-week-old war against Ukraine are expected to be at the center of the call. The two leaders began the secure video call at 9:03 a.m. EDT.

More details here

4.15pm: Russian official who spoke out against Ukraine 'war' leaves post

Former Kremlin aide and ex-deputy prime minister Arkady Dvorkovich on Friday stepped down as chair of the Skolkovo Foundation after becoming a rare official voice of dissent against Moscow's military intervention in Ukraine.

Established in 2010, the Skolkovo Foundation has aimed to diversify the country's economy from oil and gas, foster start-ups and build a Russian version of Silicon Valley outside Moscow.

3.37pm: Kyiv says 222 killed in capital since start of war, including 60 civilians

Kyiv city authorities on Friday said 222 people had been killed in the capital since Russia’s assault on Ukraine began, including 60 civilians and four children.

A further 889 people have been wounded, including 241 civilians, the Kyiv city administration said in a statement.

3.27pm: World Food Programme says supply chains ‘falling apart’ in Ukraine

A World Food Programme (WFP) official said on Friday that food supply chains in Ukraine were collapsing, with a portion of infrastructure destroyed and many grocery stores and warehouses empty.

“The country’s food supply chain is falling apart. Movements of goods have slowed down due to insecurity and the reluctance of drivers,” Jakob Kern, WFP Emergency Coordinator for the Ukraine crisis, told a Geneva press briefing by videolink from Poland.

More details here

3.15pm: UK regulator revokes RT’s broadcasting licence

UK broadcasting regulator Ofcom on Friday revoked the licence of Russia’s state-funded television channel RT, in the latest international repercussion for Moscow after its attack on Ukraine.

“Ofcom has today revoked RT’s licence to broadcast in the UK, with immediate effect,” the regulator said in a statement, adding that the channel was not “fit and proper” to operate in the country.

It made the decision after launching 29 investigations into the “due impartiality of RT’s news and current affairs coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”, Ofcom said.

3.00pm: Germany mulls imposing Russian oil embargo

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has indicated that her country should consider imposing an oil embargo on Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine.

In a security policy speech Friday, she said it was important to take a stance and not remain silent due to economic or energy dependency.

“Even if it’s difficult, including on questions now with regard to oil or other embargoes,” said Baerbock.

Germany receives about a third of its oil from Russia and half of its coal and natural gas.

2.49pm: Putin accuses Ukraine of stalling talks: Kremlin

“It was noted that the Kyiv regime is trying in every possible way to stall negotiations, putting forward more and more unrealistic proposals.”

1.41pm: More than two million Ukraine refugees in Poland

Poland’s border guards said Friday that more than two million refugees had crossed into the EU member from neighbouring Ukraine since the February 24 Russian assault.

“At 9 am the number of refugees from Ukraine exceeded two million. It is mainly women with children,” the guards said on Twitter.

1.03pm: Russian bombardment preventing evacuations from Ukraine’s Luhansk region, says governor


The governor of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region said frequent and widespread shelling by Russian forces was preventing the safe evacuation of civilians from towns and villages on the front line.

Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai said 59 civilians had been killed in the region since the start of the war, which he said had entirely destroyed some residential areas.

More details here

12.45pm: Ukraine says at least 3 killed in shelling of eastern cities on Friday morning

Ukraine’s state emergency service said a multi-storey teaching building was shelled on Friday morning in the eastern city of Kharkiv, killing one person, wounding 11 and trapping one person in the rubble.

Shells also hit the eastern city of Kramatorsk on Friday, killing two people and wounding six, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said in an online post.

11.34am: Russia says separatists ‘tightening the noose’ around Mariupol -RIA

Russia’s defence ministry said on Friday that separatists in eastern Ukraine with help from Russia’s armed forces were “tightening the noose” around the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reported.

The defence ministry added that fighting was ongoing in the centre of Mariupol.

10.26am: Russia sets up no-fly zone over Ukraine’s Donbass - Interfax

Russia has established a no-fly zone over Ukraine’s Donbass region, according to a separatist official from the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Interfax news agency said on Friday.

10.19am: Russian forces strike Lviv airport area in west Ukraine, mayor says

AP (Representational image)
AP (Representational image)

Russian forces struck an area around Lviv’s airport in western Ukraine, Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said on Friday, with ambulance and police vehicles racing to the scene.

Writing on messaging app Telegram, Sadovyi said he could not give a precise address of the targeted area “but it’s definitely not an airport.”

More details here

9.36am: US citizen killed in Chernihiv while waiting in bread line, family says

A US citizen who had been caring for his partner in a Ukrainian hospital was killed by Russian fire as he waited in a bread line after briefly stepping out to buy food, his family said on Thursday.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed the death of an American, identified by his sisters as Jimmy Hill and mourned as “the helper that people could find in a crisis”.

More details here

7.23am: US must disclose information about military biological labs in Ukraine, Russian Embassy says

The United States must immediately disclose the information about its military biological activities in Ukrainian laboratories, the Russian Embassy in Washington said.

What kind of peaceful research we are talking about if the Pentagon stands behind these projects

“We demand that the US Side disclose information about military biological activity in laboratories on the territory of Ukraine as soon as possible.” the Embassy wrote on its Telegram channel.

6.45am: Rescuers search theater rubble as Russian attacks continue

Rescue workers searched for survivors in the ruins of a theater blown apart by a Russian airstrike in the besieged city of Mariupol, while scores of Ukrainians across the country were killed in ferocious urban attacks on a school, a hostel and other sites.

Hundreds of civilians had been taking shelter in the grand, columned theater in central Mariupol after their homes were destroyed in three weeks of fighting in the southern port city of 430,000.

More than a day after the airstrike, there were no reports of deaths. With communications disrupted across the city and movement difficult because of shelling and other fighting, there were conflicting reports on whether anyone had emerged from the rubble.

6.10am: Hundreds of Ukraine-bound bulletproof vests stolen in New York


An NGO in New York had hundreds of bulletproof vests stolen after they were donated by officers and destined for Ukraine as it battles a Russian military operation, police and the organisation said Thursday.

The theft occurred at the headquarters of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), where police arrived Wednesday and learned that “approximately 400 bulletproof vests were removed from the location,” NY Police Department spokeswoman Lieutenant Jessica McRorie said.

More details here

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