LIVE Russia-Ukraine crisis: 30,000 civilians flee Mariupol

In call with Putin, Erdogan offers to host him and Zelensky for talks



Black smoke rises into the sky from the Barabashovo market - one of the largest markets in the eastern Europe covering an area of more than 75 hectares -  which was reportedly hit by shelling, in Kharkiv on March 17, 2022, amid the ongoing Russia's attack of Ukraine. Photo: AFP
Black smoke rises into the sky from the Barabashovo market - one of the largest markets in the eastern Europe covering an area of more than 75 hectares - which was reportedly hit by shelling, in Kharkiv on March 17, 2022, amid the ongoing Russia's attack of Ukraine. Photo: AFP

By Team KT

Published: Thu 17 Mar 2022, 6:22 AM

Last updated: Thu 17 Mar 2022, 11:08 PM

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky invoked 9/11 during an urgent appeal Wednesday to the US Congress for more weapons to stem the Russian assault. US President Joe Biden announced an additional $800 million for Ukraine’s military and said Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “war criminal.”

In the encircled city of Mariupol, a Russian airstrike destroyed a theatre where hundreds of people were sheltering. Many people were buried in the rubble, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said in a statement, though the number of casualties wasn’t clear.

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Missiles and artillery slammed into high-rise apartment towers in Kyiv, setting buildings ablaze and sending smoke over the capital and its suburbs.

Here's the latest of all top developments on March 17:


11pm: Blinken says Russia making no meaningful efforts in Ukraine peace talks

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday that Russia was not making serious efforts in negotiations with Ukraine to end the three-week war.

“On the one hand, we commend Ukraine for being at the table despite being under bombardment every minute of the day,” Blinken said.

“At the same time, I have not seen any meaningful efforts by Russia to bring this war that it is perpetrating to a conclusion through diplomacy.”


10:50pm: Biden will warn Xi of retaliation if Beijing provides military aid to Russia

US President Joe Biden will warn Beijing away from providing military aid to Russia for its war in Ukraine when he speaks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

“President Biden will be speaking to President Xi tomorrow, and will make clear that China will bear responsibility for any actions it takes to support Russia’s aggression. And we will not hesitate to impose costs,” Blinken said.


10:47pm: American among civilians killed in Russian attack in Ukraine

This Maxar satellite image taken and released on March 16, 2022 shows a multispectral image view of burning homes in a residential area of Chernihiv, Ukraine. - On the 21st day of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on March 16, Russian forces remained in place around major cities including Kyiv but showed little sign of real progress in taking them. Photo: AFP
This Maxar satellite image taken and released on March 16, 2022 shows a multispectral image view of burning homes in a residential area of Chernihiv, Ukraine. - On the 21st day of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on March 16, Russian forces remained in place around major cities including Kyiv but showed little sign of real progress in taking them. Photo: AFP

The State Department confirmed Thursday that an American citizen was killed in a Russian attack on the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv.

The department did not immediately confirm the identity of the American, who was at least the second U.S. citizen to be killed in the conflict, after the killing of journalist and filmmaker Brent Renaud last week.

Chernihiv police said on Facebook there was a heavy artillery attack on the city and a U.S. citizen was among the civilians killed.


10:45pm: Blinken says agrees that war crimes have been committed

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday said he agrees with President Joe Biden that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine, adding that U.S. experts are in the process of documenting and evaluating potential war crimes in Ukraine.

“Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime,” Blinken told reporters, adding that he finds it “difficult to conclude that the Russians are doing otherwise” after the destruction over the past few weeks.


10:08pm: Schwarzenegger tells Russian people their leaders are lying to them

Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday told the Russian people that they are being fed misinformation about their country's assault on Ukraine and appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the attack.

The Hollywood star said in the nine-minute video on Twitter that the Kremlin was intentionally lying to Russians by saying the attack was intended to "denazify" Ukraine. Russia describes its actions as a "special operation."

"Ukraine did not start this war, neither did nationalists or Nazis. This is not the Russian people's war."


10pm: 30,000 civilians flee Ukraine’s Mariupol

Around 30,000 civilians have fled Ukraine’s besieged port city of Mariupol, officials said Thursday, as they scrambled to learn the fate of hundreds of people sheltering in a theatre hit earlier by Russian shelling.

Mariupol’s city hall said on Telegram that “around 30,000 people have left on their transport”, adding that “80 percent of residential housing was destroyed”.


9:15pm: Germany’s Scholz under fire after Zelensky’s fierce appeal

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday called on Germany to help destroy a new “Wall” Russia was erecting in Europe, as he appealed directly to Chancellor Olaf Scholz to bolster his tentative response to the attack.

In a speech combining an appeal for fresh aid for his besieged country with criticism of Berlin’s long accommodating stance toward Moscow, Zelensky recalled Germany’s own triumph over its Cold War division.

Zelensky coupled his flattery with a strong rebuke of Berlin’s years-long reluctance to stand up to Moscow and sever its strong energy and business ties with Russia.

“It’s not a Berlin Wall — it is a Wall in central Europe between freedom and bondage and this Wall is growing bigger with every bomb dropped on Ukraine"

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9pm: Scant progress in peace talks

Rescue workers on Thursday dug survivors out of the rubble of a theatre in the besieged city of Mariupol which Ukraine said had been hit by a Russian air strike as people sheltered there from bombardments.

Russia denied striking the theatre. But its forces have blasted cities and killed many civilians in its assault on Ukraine, now entering its fourth week.

Officials from both sides met again on Thursday for peace talks, but they said their positions remained far apart.


8:45pm: Russia’s Putin does not want peace, Italian prime minister says

Russian President Vladimir Putin does not want peace and it is possible that further sanctions might be needed against Moscow to try to end the conflict in Ukraine, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Thursday.

“On Putin’s part there is no willingness for peace. There is a willingness for war,” Draghi told reporters.


8:30pm: Kosovo seeks Biden’s help in joining NATO

Kosovo’s president on Thursday asked U.S. President Joe Biden to help Kosovo become a NATO member at a time that Russia is making efforts to destabilize the Balkans.

President Vjosa Osmani sent a letter to Biden saying that “Kosovo’s membership in NATO has become an imperative.”

Kosovo, “the most pro-American and pro-NATO country in the world,” is excluded from NATO enlargement processes, she said in a letter made available to The Associated Press.


7:56pm: Very big gap remains in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine -Western officials

Ukraine and Russia are taking peace talks seriously but a very big gap remains between the two sides, Western officials said on Thursday, adding Russian President Vladimir Putin did not seem in the mood to compromise.

Although both sides have pointed to limited progress in peace talks this week, Putin showed little sign of relenting during a televised speech in which he inveighed against “traitors and scum” at home who helped the West, and said the Russian people would spit them out like gnats.

“Both sides are taking (the talks) seriously but there is a very, very big gap between the positions in question,” one Western official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Those ... who saw President Putin addressing the nation yesterday would be forgiven for thinking that Russia was not in compromising mood,” another official said.


6:25pm: At least 21 dead after Russian shelling of east Ukraine town

In this handout picture taken and released by the State Emergency Service of Ukraine on March 17, 2022, firemen work to extinguish a fire at an educational institution hit by shelling in the town of Merefa in the Kharkiv region. Photo: AFP
In this handout picture taken and released by the State Emergency Service of Ukraine on March 17, 2022, firemen work to extinguish a fire at an educational institution hit by shelling in the town of Merefa in the Kharkiv region. Photo: AFP

At least 21 people were killed and 25 were injured on Thursday when Russian forces shelled a town in eastern Ukraine, local prosecutors said.

Artillery fire early Thursday hit a school and a cultural centre in the town of Merefa outside the city of Kharkiv, regional prosecutors said in a post on Facebook. Of the wounded, 10 people are in serious condition.


6:15pm: Ukraine wants security guarantees from Turkey

Ukraine wants Turkey to be among countries offering security guarantees to Ukraine as part of any deal with Russia to end the war, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Thursday after meeting Turkey’s foreign minister.

Speaking at a briefing after the talks in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, Kuleba said Turkey was also helping to set up direct talks between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin.


5:45pm: Ukraine warns of new ‘Wall’ in Europe as theatre hit

This Planet Labs satellite image taken on March 15, 2022 and released on March 16, 2022 shows Kherson airbase on fire after an alleged airstrike against Russian forces occupying the base. Photo: AFP
This Planet Labs satellite image taken on March 15, 2022 and released on March 16, 2022 shows Kherson airbase on fire after an alleged airstrike against Russian forces occupying the base. Photo: AFP

Ukraine’s leader on Thursday said Russia was building a new Cold War wall across Europe “between freedom and bondage”, after his government accused attacking forces of bombing a theatre sheltering many civilians and marked with the word “children”.

Kyiv emerged from a 35-hour curfew to new destruction, as Russian troops try to encircle the Ukrainian capital as part of their slow-moving offensive.

Russia’s defence ministry denied it had targeted the Drama Theatre in the besieged port city of Mariupol, where local officials say more than 2,000 people have died so far in indiscriminate Chechnya-style shelling.

The ministry said the building had been mined and blown up by members of Ukraine’s far-right Azov Battalion, a claim dismissed in the West as Russian disinformation.


4:44pm: Mariupol searches for survivors amid rubble of theatre

This Maxar satellite image released on March 16, 2022, shows the Mariupol Drama Theater in Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 14, 2022. The building, which had been used as a shelter for hundreds of Ukrainian civilians, had the word “children” written in large white letters (in Russian) on the pavement in front of and behind the theater. It was bombed on March 16, 2022. Photo: AFP
This Maxar satellite image released on March 16, 2022, shows the Mariupol Drama Theater in Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 14, 2022. The building, which had been used as a shelter for hundreds of Ukrainian civilians, had the word “children” written in large white letters (in Russian) on the pavement in front of and behind the theater. It was bombed on March 16, 2022. Photo: AFP

Rescue workers were searching for survivors in the rubble of a theatre in the beseiged city of Mariupol on Thursday, after Ukraine said a powerful Russian air strike had hit the building where hundreds of people had been sheltering from the war.

The port city is encircled by Russian forces and has seen some of the fiercest bombardment of the conflict.

“The heart is breaking from what Russia does to our people, our Mariupol, and our Donetsk region,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a late night address on Wednesday, after referring to the theatre attack.

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6:41pm: In call with Putin, Erdogan offers to host him and Zelensky for talks

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan offered in a phone call with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Thursday to host him and Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky for talks, according to his office.

The statement said Erdogan told Putin that agreement on certain issues could require a meeting between the leaders. Erdogan also said a lasting ceasefire could lead the way to a long-term solution, it said.


4:16pm: Biden to speak with Xi about Ukraine war: WHouse

US President Joe Biden will speak Friday with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping about issues including Russia’s war in Ukraine, the White House said.

Beijing has refused to condemn its close ally Russia over its attack on Ukraine, while blaming the United States and NATO’s eastward expansion for worsening tensions.

More details here

“The two Leaders will discuss managing the competition between our two countries as well as Russia’s war against Ukraine and other issues of mutual concern.”


4:05pm: Putin says sanctions are creating problems

Putin says sanctions are creating problems but also opening up new possibilities.

Western sanctions have already affected economy of Crimea


4pm: ‘No death reports’ yet from Mariupol theater

A Ukrainian lawmaker says there are reports of injuries but not deaths in a strike on a theater in Mariupol where hundreds of civilians had been taking shelter.

Lesia Vasylenko said between 1,000 and 1,500 people were sheltering at the theater when it was hit by an airstrike, and called the attack the deliberate “destruction of a refuge.”

Vayslenko, an opposition lawmaker who is part of a delegation visiting the British Parliament, said local officials report that 80-90% of all structures in Mariupol have been damaged in the relentless Russian assault.


2.17pm: Many people in Russia are showing themselves to be traitors, says Kremlin

The Kremlin said on Thursday that many people in Russia were showing themselves to be traitors and pointed to those who were resigning from their jobs and leaving the country.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov made the comments a day after President Vladimir Putin delivered a stark warning to Russian “traitors” who he said the West wanted to use as a “fifth column” to destroy the country.


1.45pm: 'We have the might to put you in your place', Russia warns United States

Russia warned the United States on Thursday that Moscow had the might to put the world’s pre-eminent superpower in its place and accused the West of stoking a wild Russophobic plot to tear Russia apart.

Dmitry Medvedev, who served as president from 2008 to 2012 and is now deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said the United States had stoked “disgusting” Russophobia in an attempt to force Russia to its knees.

More details here


1.31pm: Putin should be recognised as war criminal, Ukrainian defence minister tells EU

Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov told European Union lawmakers on Wednesday that they should recognise Russian President Vladimir Putin as a war criminal after Russia attacked Ukraine.

“I am appealing to all European parliamentary members to recognise that Putin is a war criminal, “ Reznikov said via video link. He cited examples such as what he said was a Russian airstrike on a theatre on Wednesday where he said 1,200 women and children were sheltering.

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1.13pm: Russian government sites facing 'unprecedented' cyber attacks

Russian government websites are facing unprecedented cyber attacks and technical efforts are being made to filter foreign web traffic, the TASS news agency cited the digital ministry as saying on Thursday.

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12.23pm: Talks between Russian and Ukraine continue via video link, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said


11.42am: Losses mount in Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, regional governor says

Losses are mounting in the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, with 53 people killed by Russian forces on Wednesday alone, the regional governor said on Thursday.

“We are suffering heavy losses - 53 citizens were killed yesterday,” Governor Viacheslav Chaus said.


11.29am: Ukraine hopes to evacuate civilians through nine “humanitarian corridors” on Thursday from cities including the encircled port city of Mariupol, says Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk


11.03am: UK says Russian military progress has stalled on most fronts


10.21am: Ukraine’s Sumy Oblast Governor accuses Russian forces of stealing food, evicting civilians from home

Zhyvytsky gave in-detailed information about the looting through the Telegram on March 16, reported The Kyiv Independent.

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8.27am: Four Russian amphibious transports spotted sailing

Japan’s military said on Thursday that it had spotted four large Russian amphibious warfare ships sailing close to its islands as they traveled west, possibly towards Europe.

Pictures of the amphibious transports, typically used for landing expeditionary forces ashore, published by Japan’s defence ministry showed what appeared to be military trucks loaded onto the deck of one of the vessels.

More details here


7.49am: Ukrainian theatre sheltering ‘more than 1,000’ civilians bombed

Reuters
Reuters

Ukraine claimed Thursday that Russia had destroyed a theatre harbouring more than a thousand people in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, with the toll as yet unknown.

Officials posted images that appeared to show the once gleaming whitewashed three-storey theatre hollowed out and ablaze, with bricks and scaffolding piled high.

More details here


7.20am: About 300 Mariupol refugees arrive in Russia

Thirteen buses carrying around 300 refugees from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol have arrived in Russia’s Rostov region, Russia’s Interfax news agency cited the Russian defence ministry as saying on Thursday.

Ukrainian officials said on Wednesday civilians waiting in line for bread and sheltering in a theatre in Mariupol had been killed by Russian forces. Russia has denied attacking the theatre.


7am: UN Security Council members call for emergency Ukraine meeting

The United States, Britain, France, Albania, Norway and Ireland have requested an emergency UN Security Council meeting Thursday because of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Ukraine, diplomatic sources said.

“Russia is committing war crimes and targeting civilians,” the British diplomatic mission to the UN said Wednesday on its Twitter account. “Russia’s illegal war on Ukraine is a threat to us all.”

More details here


6.48am: 'Sanctions on Russia are also about protecting Japan'

“We need to tell the people in Japan that in order to protect ourselves we need to help the others, too. If there is any aggression anywhere on this planet, we need to stop them."


6.19am: Ukraine, Russia continue talks over video

Ukrainian and Russian delegations held talks again Wednesday by video.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s adviser Mikhailo Podolyak said Ukraine demanded a cease-fire, the withdrawal of Russian troops and legal security guarantees for Ukraine from a number of countries.

“This is possible only through direct dialogue” between Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said on Twitter.


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