LIVE Russia-Ukraine crisis: Ukraine says mosque sheltering 80 civilians shelled in Mariupol

The foreign ministry said in a tweet

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File photo (Representational image)
File photo (Representational image)

By Team KT

Published: Sat 12 Mar 2022, 6:22 AM

Last updated: Sun 13 Mar 2022, 12:08 AM

Russian forces expanded their offensive in Ukraine on Friday as they conducted air strikes in new areas in the country’s west, while Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the recruitment of “volunteers” from Syria and elsewhere to join the fight.

The West ramped up economic pressure on Russia, as the US and its allies downgraded Russian’s trade status — the latest in efforts to further isolate Russia for the attacks.

The war has forced more than 2.5 million people to flee Ukraine, while others seek refuge in basements, subway stations and underground shelters.


More evacuations were expected, though repeated attempts to allow people to flee the besieged port city of Mariupol in the south have failed under continued Russian shelling.

Here's the latest of all top developments on March 12:

12.00am: US accuses Russia of using UN council for 'disinformation'

The United States accused Russia of using a UN Security Council meeting Friday for "lying and spreading disinformation" as part of a potential false-flag operation by Moscow for the use of chemical or biological agents in Ukraine.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russia was playing out a scenario put forth in the council last month by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken — that President Vladimir Putin would "fabricate allegations about chemical or biological weapons to justify its own violent attacks against the Ukrainian people."

"The intent behind these lies seems clear, and is deeply troubling," she said. "We believe Russia could use chemical or biological agents for assassinations, as part of a staged or false-flag incident, or to support tactical military operations."

9.30pm: Ukrainian foreign minister says ready to negotiate

Ukraine was ready to negotiate to end the war started by Russia’s invasion more than two weeks ago, but would not surrender or accept any ultimatums, the country’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Saturday.

Speaking at a virtual event organized by the non-partisan, nonprofit organization Renew Democracy Initiative, Kuleba said civilian lives would be saved if Ukraine had fighter jets and more attack planes to destroy large military columns.

“We will continue to fight. We are ready to negotiate but we are not going to accept any ultimatums and surrender”, Kuleba said, adding that Russia was putting forward demands that were “unacceptable”.

7.40pm: ‘Around 1,300’ Ukrainian troops killed since Russia invasion: Zelensky

Around 1,300” Ukrainian troops have been killed since Russia invaded its pro-Western neighbour, the country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday as Moscow’s forces closed in on the capital Kyiv.

Zelensky made the disclosure at a media briefing, the first time Kyiv had given such a toll since the beginning of fighting. On March 2 Russia said it had lost nearly 500 soldiers, but has not updated the figure since.

Russian forces upped pressure on Kyiv Saturday, pummelling civilian areas in other Ukrainian cities, amid fresh efforts to get aid to the devastated port city of Mariupol.

6.35pm: Russian forces surround Mariupol

Russian forces upped pressure on Kyiv Saturday, pummelling civilian areas in other Ukrainian cities, amid fresh efforts to get aid to the devastated port city of Mariupol.

Russian strikes destroyed the airport in the town of Vasylkiv on Saturday morning, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of Kyiv, while an oil depot was also hit and caught fire, the mayor said.

The northwest suburbs of the capital, including Irpin and Bucha, have already endured days of heavy bombardment while Russian armoured vehicles are advancing on the northeastern edge.

6.00pm: Kyiv calls on Macron, Scholz to help abducted mayor

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Saturday on the leaders of France and Germany to help secure the release of the mayor of Melitopol who Kyiv says was abducted by invading Russian forces.

"During the night and today we are talking to our partners about the situation with our mayor. Our demand is clear: he must be released immediately... I have already phoned (German) Chancellor Olaf Scholz. I have spoken to (French) President Emmanuel Macron... I will speak to all the necessary people to get our people released," Zelensky said in a video released by the Ukrainian presidency.

"We expect world leaders to show us how they can influence the situation."

4.15pm: Russia engineers inspect seized Ukraine nuclear plant

Russian engineers have arrived to measure radiation at a Ukrainian nuclear plant, the seizure of which during Moscow's invasion of the country sparked international alarm, officials said.

Russia occupied Zaporizhzhia, Europe's biggest atomic power plant, after its forces attacked it on March 4.

Its reactors appeared undamaged after the assault despite a fire that broke out there after tanks bombarded it.

3.00pm: Belarus denies plans to join Russian invasion but is ‘rotating’ troops at border

Belarus has no plans to join the Russian invasion of Ukraine but is sending five battalion tactical groups (BTGs) to its border on rotation to replace forces already stationed there, its Chief of General Staff Viktor Gulevich said on Saturday.

A top Ukrainian security official on Friday warned Belarus not to send troops to Ukraine, saying Ukraine was showing restraint towards Belarus despite the country being used as a launchpad for Russian planes.

“I want to underline that the transfer of troops is in no way connected with (any) preparation, and especially not with the participation of Belarusian soldiers in the special military operation on the territory of Ukraine,” Gulevich said.

1.22pm: Ukraine says mosque sheltering 80 civilians shelled in Mariupol

A mosque in the southeastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, where 80 civilians were taking shelter, has been shelled by Russian forces, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said on Saturday.

“The mosque of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and his wife Roxolana (Hurrem Sultan) in Mariupol was shelled by Russian attackers. More than 80 adults and children are hiding there from the shelling, including citizens of Turkey,” the ministry wrote on its Twitter account.

1.02pm: Russian rockets destroy Ukrainian airbase in Kyiv region - Interfax quoting mayor

Russian rocket attacks destroyed a Ukrainian airbase near the town of Vasylkiv in the Kyiv region on Saturday morning, Interfax Ukraine quoted the local mayor as saying.

The rocket attacks also hit an ammunition depot, Vasylkiv Mayor Natalia Balasynovych said.

More details here

12.37pm: Sanctions could cause space station to crash: Roscosmos

Western sanctions against Russia could cause the International Space Station to crash, the head of Russian space agency Roscosmos warned Saturday, calling for the punitive measures to be lifted.

According to Dmitry Rogozin, the sanctions could disrupt the operation of Russian vessels servicing the ISS. As a result, the Russian segment of the station — which helps correct its orbit — could be affected, causing the 500-tonne structure to “fall down into the sea or onto land”.

11.27am: Russian news agencies say Russia has destroyed 3,491 Ukrainian military infrastructure facilities

Russian troops have destroyed 3,491 Ukrainian military infrastructure facilities in Ukraine so far, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying on Saturday.

Russian forces “continue the offensive in Ukraine on a broad front”, Konashenkov said.

9.17am: Russians push toward Kyiv, keep up siege of other cities


Russian forces appeared to make progress from the northeast in their slow fight toward Ukraine’s capital, while tanks and artillery pounded places already under siege with shelling so heavy that residents of one city were unable to bury the growing number of dead.

In past offensives in Syria and Chechnya, Russia’s strategy has been to crush armed resistance with sustained airstrikes and shelling that levels population centers. That kind of assault has cut off the southern port city of Mariupol, and a similar fate could await Kyiv and other parts of Ukraine if the war continues.

8.27am: YouTube blocks Russian state-funded media channels globally

YouTube on Friday broadened its blocking of Russian state-linked media channels to apply internationally after initially barring them only in Europe following Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.

Russia’s internationally condemned attack has provoked unprecedented sanctions from Western governments and businesses, including a growing list of US tech firms.

YouTube’s guidelines “prohibit content denying, minimizing or trivializing well-documented violent events, and we remove content about Russia’s assault on Ukraine that violates this policy,” the video sharing platform said.

More details here

8.09am: Eastern Europe embraces Ukraine refugees as workforce

Eastern European countries are embracing the millions of Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s attack as a potential workforce but analysts warn it be challenging to integrate them all.

Some 2.5 million people have already fled Ukraine, according to the United Nations, which calls it Europe’s fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II.

More than half are now in Poland but tens of thousands are also staying in Moldova and Bulgaria, which have some of the fastest shrinking populations.

More details here

7.31am: Russian warplanes, artillery widen attack, hit industry hub

Reuters file
Reuters file

Russia’s airplanes and artillery widened their assault on Ukraine on Friday, striking airfields in the west and a major industrial hub in the east, as Moscow’s forces tried to regroup from recent losses and their onslaught fast reduced crowded cities to rubble.

American defence officials offered an assessment of the Russian air campaign, estimating that pilots are averaging 200 sorties a day, compared with five to 10 for Ukrainian forces, which are focusing more on surface-to-air missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and drones to take out Russian aircraft.

More details here

6.21am: Ukraine says shelling damaged cancer hospital

Ukrainian officials accused Russia damaging a cancer hospital and several residential buildings in the southern city of Mykolaiv with shelling from heavy artillery.

The hospital’s head doctor, Maksim Beznosenko, said several hundred patients were in the hospital during the attack but that no one was killed. The assault damaged the building and blew out windows.

Russian forces have stepped up their attacks on Mykolaiv, located 470km (292 miles) south of Kyiv, in an attempt to encircle the city.

4.50am: Meta defends policy on calls for violence against Russia

Facebook owner Meta Platforms said Friday that a temporary change in its content policy, only for Ukraine, was needed to let users voice opposition to Russia’s attack, as Russia opened a criminal case after the company said it would allow posts such as “death to the Russian" attackers.

Russian prosecutors asked a court to designate the US tech giant as an “extremist organisation,” and the communications regulator said it would restrict access to Meta’s Instagram starting March 14. The company said the decision would affect 80 million users in Russia.

More details here

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