LIVE Russia-Ukraine crisis: 'Nothing left' of Mariupol, says Ukraine’s leader

Russia adopts bill on jail terms for fake news on state actions abroad

By Team KT

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This Maxar satellite image taken on March 19, 2022 and released on March 21, 2022 shows burning apartment buildings, 'likely shelled by artillery' according to Maxar, and burning buildings in northeastern Mariupol, Ukraine. Photo: AFP
This Maxar satellite image taken on March 19, 2022 and released on March 21, 2022 shows burning apartment buildings, "likely shelled by artillery" according to Maxar, and burning buildings in northeastern Mariupol, Ukraine. Photo: AFP

Published: Tue 22 Mar 2022, 6:56 AM

Last updated: Wed 23 Mar 2022, 12:31 AM

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said late Monday he was prepared to discuss a commitment from Ukraine not to seek Nato membership in exchange for a cease-fire, the withdrawal of Russian troops and a guarantee of Ukraine’s security.

“It’s a compromise for everyone: for the West, which doesn’t know what to do with us with regard to Nato, for Ukraine, which wants security guarantees, and for Russia, which doesn’t want further Nato expansion,” Zelensky said late Monday in an interview with Ukrainian television channels.

He also repeated his call for direct talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Unless he meets with Putin, it is impossible to understand whether Russia even wants to stop the war, Zelensky said.

Zelensky said that Kyiv will be ready to discuss the status of Crimea and the eastern Donbas region held by Russian-backed separatists after a cease-fire and steps toward providing security guarantees.

Here's the latest of all top developments on March 22:

12:15pm: Russian siege of Mariupol is ‘genocide’: Ukraine chief prosecutor

Ukrainian prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova on Tuesday said evidence shows Russia is committing ‘genocide’ through its siege on the strategic port city of Mariupol.

Around 200,000 people are currently trapped in Mariupol, encircled and under fire from relentless shelling since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

“What now I see in Mariupol it’s not about war, it’s about genocide,” Venediktova told AFP.

“Theatres of war have some rules, some principles. What we see in Mariupol, [are] no rules at all,” she added.

Ukraine will work to officially “qualify” the siege as genocide on the international stage, she pledged.

11:10pm: Ukraine’s Zelensky will take part virtually in NATO summit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will take part virtually in a NATO summit on Thursday to discuss the war with Russia, but exact details are still being worked out, Interfax Ukraine cited Zelensky’s press spokesman as saying on Tuesday.

The spokesman, Sergii Nykyforov, said that at a minimum, Zelensky would make a video address to the meeting and might take part in the full discussion, Interfax said

8:56pm: Germany refuses to boycott Russian energy

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has again dismissed calls to boycott Russian energy supplies in the wake of the attack on Ukraine.

Scholz said Tuesday that the sanctions already imposed on Russia were already hitting its economy “and this will only get more dramatic every day.”

At the same time, the sanctions were designed to be “tolerable” for those imposing them, including in the long term, he said.

“That is why Germany’s position on this question (of an energy boycott) remains unchanged,” said Scholz.

8:46pm: Ukraine’s leader says ‘nothing left’ of Mariupol

This Maxar satellite image taken and released on March 21, 2022 shows an overview of Antonov Airport andflooding along the Irpin river in Hostomel, Ukraine. Photo: AFP
This Maxar satellite image taken and released on March 21, 2022 shows an overview of Antonov Airport andflooding along the Irpin river in Hostomel, Ukraine. Photo: AFP

Ukraine’s president said on Tuesday there was “nothing left” of the city of Mariupol after weeks of Russian bombardment, and Kyiv appealed to Moscow to allow the evacuation of at least 100,000 people who want to leave.

Ukraine has issued increasingly dire warnings about the situation in the encircled southern port city, where officials say residents are without food, medicine, power or running water.

Officials said 300,000 civilians were also running out of food in the occupied southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, highlighting what an international aid official said was the breakdown of Ukraine’s humanitarian system.

More details here:

8:37pm: No indication of imminent Russian chemical weapons attack in Ukraine

The United States has not yet seen any concrete indications of an imminent Russian chemical or biological weapons attack in Ukraine but is closely monitoring streams of intelligence for them, a senior U.S. defense official said on Tuesday.

President Joe Biden said on Monday, without providing evidence, that Russia’s false accusations that Kyiv has biological and chemical weapons illustrated that Russian President Vladimir Putin is considering using them himself in the war against Ukraine.

The U.S. official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, shared Biden’s assessment but added: “There’s no indication that there’s something imminent in that regard right now.”

More details here:

7pm: Ukraine says 100,000 civilians want to escape Mariupol but cannot

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Tuesday at least 100,000 civilians wanted to escape from Mariupol in southern Ukraine but could not because of a lack of safe corridors out of the besieged port city.

She said shelling by Russian forces was also preventing rescue workers from accessing the site of a bombed theatre in Mariupol where city officials say hundreds were believed to be sheltering underground when it was hit by an air strike last week.

Russia has denied bombing the theatre or attacking civilians

6:45pm: UN chief calls Russia-Ukraine war ‘unwinnable’

UN chief Antonio Guterres said Tuesday that it was time for Russia to end their “absurd war” in Ukraine, declaring the conflict “unwinnable.”

The Secretary General told reporters at the world body’s headquarters in New York that the war “is going nowhere, fast.”

“For more than two weeks, Mariupol has been encircled by the Russian army and relentlessly bombed, shelled and attacked. For what?” he said.

“Even if Mariupol falls, Ukraine cannot be conquered city by city, street by street, house by house.”

“There is enough on the table to cease hostilities now and seriously negotiate now. This war is unwinnable. Sooner or later, it will have to move from the battlefield to the peace table. That is inevitable."

4:36pm: Red Cross chief travelling to Moscow for meetings on Ukraine

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, is on his way to Moscow for talks on the Ukraine conflict, an ICRC spokesperson said on Tuesday.

“He has meetings planned on Wednesday and Thursday as part of the ongoing dialogue connected to the conflict in Ukraine,” ICRC spokesperson Jason Straziuso said in an email to Reuters, without elaborating. Maurer has been in Kyiv this week seeking better humanitarian access and greater protection for civilians.

4pm: Russia adopts bill on jail terms for fake news on state actions abroad

Russian lawmakers on Tuesday approved legislation imposing jail terms of up to three years for the publication of false information about Russia’s actions abroad, as Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine approaches one month.

The bill, adopted after a third reading, sets out jail terms and fines against people who publish “knowingly false information” about actions abroad by Russian government agencies “in the interests of Russia and its citizens”.

3:33pm: Netherlands freezes $430 million in Russian assets

The Netherlands has frozen 392 million euros ($431.24 million) in Russian assets and transactions as of March 21, the Dutch Finance ministry said on Tuesday in a letter to parliament.

3:30pm: 10 Ukrainian hospitals destroyed since start of war

Patient attends in a hospital destroyed as a result of the shelling between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on July 19, 2015. Photo: AFP
Patient attends in a hospital destroyed as a result of the shelling between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on July 19, 2015. Photo: AFP

Ukrainian Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said on Tuesday that 10 hospitals had been completely destroyed since Russia attacked Ukraine, and others could not be restocked with medicines and supplies because of fighting nearby.

Speaking on national television, he said COVID-19 testing was being carried out only in areas where there was no fighting, and this was complicating efforts to track the disease. Reuters could not independently verify his comments.

3pm: Ukraine eyes Mariupol evacuation bid as Kyiv locks down

Ukrainian authorities announced a new bid Tuesday to rescue civilians from besieged port city Mariupol which has been under heavy bombardments since Russia’s attack began almost a month ago, as capital Kyiv hunkered down in a curfew.

More than 200,000 people are trapped in the city described by those who managed to escape as a “freezing hellscape riddled with dead bodies and destroyed buildings”, Human Rights Watch said, quoting data provided by a local official.

“We know that there will not be enough space for everyone, but we will try to carry out the evacuation until we have gotten all the inhabitants of Mariupol out"

1.41pm: Refugee exodus surpasses 3.5 million

The UN refugee agency says more than 3.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s attack, passing another milestone in an exodus that has led to Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II.

UNHCR reported Tuesday that 3.53 million people have left Ukraine, with Poland taking in the lion’s share — more than 2.1 million — followed by Romania with more than 540,000 and Moldova with more than 367,000.

More details here

12.57pm: Mayor urges people to flee Ukrainian city close to international airport

The mayor of the Ukrainian city of Boryspil, which is close to Boryspil international airport, advised civilians on Tuesday to leave the city if they can because of fighting nearby.

Mayor Volodymyr Borysenko said in a video address that there was fighting in the Kyiv region where Boryspil is located.

“There is no need to be in the city now as there is already fighting going on in the area around it. I call on the civilian population to be smart, reach out to our call centre and leave town as soon as an opportunity arises,” he said.

12.15pm: Ukraine retakes key Kyiv suburb; battle for Mariupol rages


Ukrainian forces said they retook a strategically important suburb of the capital early Tuesday, while Russia’s attack on the embattled southern port of Mariupol raged unabated, with fleeing civilians describing relentless bombardments and corpses lying in the streets.

While Russian forces carried on with the siege of Mariupol after the southern port city’s defenders refused demands to surrender, the Kremlin’s ground offensive in other parts of the country advanced slowly or not at all, knocked back by lethal hit-and-run attacks by the Ukrainians.

More details here

12.03pm: Ukraine announces no new agreements with Russia on corridors to evacuate civilians

Ukraine said on Tuesday its efforts to evacuate civilians from besieged towns and cities were focused on the city of Mariupol but did not announce any new agreement with Russia to allow safe passage for trapped residents.

“We are focusing on evacuations from Mariupol,” Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

She listed a number of places from where buses would try to evacuate civilians but Mariupol was not among them. She also made no mention of any new agreements with Russia on establishing “humanitarian corridors” to evacuate civilians.

11.20am: China, Pakistan share concern about sanctions on Russia, China says

China and Pakistan share concern about “spill-over effects of unilateral sanctions” on Russia over its war against Ukraine and called for a ceasefire and diplomatic resolution of the crisis, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

“Both expressed concerns about the spill-over effects of unilateral sanctions,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement following a meeting on Monday in Pakistan between the neighbours’ foreign ministers.

9.20am: Biden says India ‘somewhat shaky’ on Russia over Ukraine


US President Joe Biden has said only India among the Quad group of countries was “somewhat shaky” in acting against Russia over its attack on Ukraine, as India tries to balance its ties with Russia and the West.

While the other Quad countries - the United States, Japan and Australia - have sanctioned Russian entities or people, India has not imposed sanction or even condemned Russia, its biggest supplier of military hardware.

“In response to his aggression, we have presented a united front throughout the NATO and in the Pacific,” Biden told a business forum on Monday, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The Quad - with the possible exception of India being somewhat shaky on some of these - but Japan has been extremely strong, so is Australia in terms of dealing with Putin’s aggression.”

8.18am: Ukraine’s Zelensky says everything on table if Putin meets

Ukrainian leader Volodymr Zelensky said all issues would be on the table if Russia’s Vladimir Putin agreed to direct talks to end the war, including contested Crimea and Donbas, but he warned his country would be “destroyed” before it surrenders.

On the ground, there was no let-up in the violence, with Kyiv under a new 35-hour curfew after Russian strikes reduced a Kyiv shopping mall to rubble, and the Pentagon saying Moscow was stepping up air and sea operations.

7.33am: Divide at UN over naming Russia aid resolution for Ukraine

France and Mexico are pressing U.N. members to mention Russia’s attack in a resolution on the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine. But South Africa is arguing against that approach, saying that inserting political issues may block consensus on helping civilians.

A French-Mexican draft resolution expected to be considered this week by the 193-nation U.N. General Assembly reiterates the world body’s March 2 demand for Russia to stop its military offensive in Ukraine and withdraw all its troops. It also demands the protection of all civilians and infrastructure indispensable to their survival.

6.55am: Biden says Putin considering using chemical, biological weapons in Ukraine

US President Joe Biden said Monday that it’s “clear” Russia is considering the use of chemical and biological weapons in Ukraine and warned of a “severe” Western response if it chose to do so.

“His back is against the wall,” said Biden of Russian President Vladimir Putin, noting that Russia has recently accused the United States of holding chemical and biological weapons in Europe.

“Simply not true. I guarantee you,” he told a gathering of US business leaders in Washington.

“They are also suggesting that Ukraine has biological and chemical weapons in Ukraine. That’s a clear sign he’s considering using both of those,” he said.

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