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Latest Developments in Ukraine: March 15


Ukrainian firefighters work in an apartment building after bombing in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 15, 2022.
Ukrainian firefighters work in an apartment building after bombing in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 15, 2022.

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

For the latest developments of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, all times EST:

11:54 p.m.: Over 3 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began two weeks ago, according to the U.N.

“The war in Ukraine is also an assault on the world’s most vulnerable people and countries,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday.

“Food, fuel & fertilizer prices are skyrocketing – hitting the poorest the hardest,” he added.

10:10 p.m.: There have been about 13 fires as a result of Russia’s shelling throughout the city of Kyiv in Ukraine’s capital, the country's state emergency services said Tuesday.

“A total of 132 rescuers and 22 units of equipment were involved,” the official account said in a Twitter post showing a video of apartment buildings damaged by Russian shelling.

8:49 p.m.: 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, according to The Associated Press. 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, according to the AP.

8:36 p.m.: VOA White House Bureau Chief Patsy Widakuswara reports that President Joe Biden is expected to announce on Wednesday an additional $800 million in new security assistance to Ukraine, bringing the total announced in the past week alone to $2 billion, according to White House officials. The announcement will come on the same day Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is to speak to a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

7:32 p.m.: The U.S. Senate unanimously passed on Tuesday a resolution condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin as a war criminal, a rare show of unity in the deeply divided Congress. The resolution, introduced earlier this month by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and receiving bipartisan support, states the Senate “strongly condemns the ongoing violence, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and systematic human rights abuses continually being carried out by the Russian Armed Forces and their proxies and President Putin’s military commanders, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin.” It encouraged the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague and other nations to target the Russian military in any investigation of war crimes committed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

7:09 p.m.: Ukraine Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal tweeted that the presence of Prime Ministers Petr Fiala of the Czech Republic, Janez Jansa of Slovenia and Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland, who traveled to Kyiv to meet with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy showed the “courage of true friends.”

6:04 p.m.: VOA’s Jeff Seldin shares the latest British defense briefing, which among its findings: “Russia is redeploying forces from as far afield as its Eastern Military District, Pacific Fleet and Armenia.”

5:35 p.m.: VOA’s Eastern Europe Chief Myroslava Gongadze, reporting from the Medyka border crossing in Poland, spoke with U.S. Embassy in Ukraine Charge d’Affaires Kristina Kvien. Kvien later tweeted “how Ukrainians are fighting an inspiring battle.”

4:42 p.m.: Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia’s State Space Corporation called Roscosmos and the former deputy prime minister of Russia’s defense industry, tweeted Tuesday that “the only thing we can do to help our fighting army now is to clean out the Fifth Column” -- often defined as secret sympathizers of an enemy that engage in espionage or sabotage -- “And this is a task - perhaps even more important than the speed of advance of our army.”

3:58 p.m.: Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian children have become refugees since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty interviewed several Ukrainian refugee children in Poland and Lithuania and produced this report. The children offer their reflections on the horrors of war, and on politics.

3:42 p.m.: “A convoy of 11 trucks carrying 200 tons of aid from the International Committee of the Red Cross, the German Red Cross and other partners of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has reached Ukraine,” according to an ICRC statement released Tuesday. “The assistance will soon be delivered to locations around the country based on security conditions, access and where the needs of civilians fleeing from and enduring conflict are most pressing. A priority will be to deliver assistance to people displaced from their homes and living in shelters,” the agency added.

3:28 p.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden signed a spending bill that includes nearly $14 billion in additional assistance to Ukraine Tuesday, and some top officials of his administration are crediting aid already provided by the United States with helping the Ukrainians hold off the Russian invaders, according to VOA’s Chief National Correspondent Steve Herman. Biden said the package — which contains military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine — comes on top of the $1.2 billion in U.S. security assistance already provided to the country. “With this new security funding and the drawdown authorities in this bill, we’re moving urgently to further augment the support to the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their country,” Biden said

3:11 p.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and State Department officials have been in touch with Fox News’ management, according to spokesperson Ned Price, regarding correspondent Benjamin Hall, who was injured Monday in Ukraine in an attack that killed two of his colleagues. VOA’s Nike Ching reports.

3:02 p.m.: The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced personal sanctions against 13 American citizens, including U.S. President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, White House press secretary Jen Psaki, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, among others, VOA’s Natasha Mosgovaya reports.

Russia said in its statement that “the measure is a response” to U.S. sanctions against Russian entities and individuals and that the action “became an inevitable consequence of an extremely Russo-phobic direction taken by the current U.S. administration.” Americans on the list won’t be able to travel to Russia starting on March 15. Russian authorities also threatened to expand the sanctions list to include lawmakers, experts, businessmen and media personalities that “encourage hate against Russia.”

Psaki downplayed the issue Tuesday, saying “None of us are planning tourist trips to Russia and none of us have bank accounts that we won’t be able to access.”

2:59 p.m.: In Donetsk, Ukraine, people are volunteering for a crash course in how to care for the wounded, as they seek ways to help during the current crisis. VOA’s Yaroslava Movchan has the story, narrated by Anna Rice.

Volunteers in Donetsk Region Learn First-Aid to Care for Wounded
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2:48 p.m.: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted tens of thousands of middle-class Russians to flee abroad as they stare at a bleak future in their increasingly isolated homeland. But due to an ever-increasing number of crippling sanctions piled upon Russia, they don’t have many destinations to choose from, with many Western countries restricting visas for Russian citizens. Farangis Najibullah has this report for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

2:35 p.m.: Millions of Ukrainians have now fled their country, mostly to Poland, but also to Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Moldova. In Hungary, there are reports of some Ukrainians deciding to turn back. VOA’s Gabor Ancsin filed this report on Hungary’s border with Ukraine, narrated by Jon Spier.

As Many Ukrainians Flee, a Few Return
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2:26 p.m.: In Photos: Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, March 15, 2022

2:21 p.m. : A Russian state media employee detained after her anti-war protest on live TV has appeared in court and was fined $280. Marina Ovsyannikova held up a sign during a live broadcast on Russian’s Channel One on Monday that read in Russian, “NO WAR. Stop the war. Don’t believe propaganda. They are lying to you.” The bottom line, in English, read, “Russians against war.” She was accused of violating the country’s protest laws. It is unclear if she will face additional charges. VOA News reports.

2:21 p.m.: More than 100 buses carrying civilians have left the besieged city of Sumy in northeastern Ukraine for a safe area, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Tuesday. “In total, more than 100 buses are traveling in two different convoys, a joint operation between us and the Ukrainian Red Cross,” ICRC spokesperson Jason Straziuso told Reuters in Geneva. The buses were heading towards Poltava, in central Ukraine, but might not be able to take a direct route, he said, adding that the Russian side had given a green light for the evacuation.

2:08 p.m.: The United States on Tuesday announced more sanctions on Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko for his role as an ally of Russia during the invasion of Ukraine. The sanctions will block Lukashenko and his wife from accessing U.S. property and limit the ability of Americans to conduct business with them. The U.S. has already sanctioned Lukashenko over the Ukraine invasion, including limiting technological exports.

2 p.m.: The prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia arrived in Kyiv to meet with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday.

1:56 p.m.: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty asked Muscovites on the last day of McDonald’s operations in Russia if they would miss the popular fast food chain. McDonald’s has announced it is temporarily closing all its stores inside Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

1:41 p.m.: Russia on Tuesday formally quit the Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog based in Strasbourg, pre-empting possible expulsion over its attack on its neighbor Ukraine, according to Reuters. Pyotr Tolstoy, head of the Russian delegation at the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly, handed a letter from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the Council’s secretary general announcing Moscow’s decision, the Tass news agency reported.

1:15 p.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden is now scheduled to travel to Brussels to attend a NATO summit March 24, as VOA’s White House Bureau Chief Patsy Widakuswara reports.

1:10 p.m.: In a briefing Tuesday, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki paid tribute to FOX News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski, who was killed following an attack in Ukraine Monday. “He was a war zone photographer who covered nearly every international story for Fox News, from Iraq to Afghanistan to Syria during his long tenure working there,” Psaki said. “Our thoughts, our prayers are with his family, with the entire community as well.” VOA’s Press Freedom Editor Jessica Jerreat reports that as a result of the same attack, Zakrzewski died as did Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra Kuvshynova, while Fox News correspondent Benjamin Hall was injured and remains hospitalized.

12:45 p.m.: A Russian state media employee has been released from detention after protesting Russia’s war in Ukraine on live TV, VOA’s Press Freedom Editor Jessica Jerreat reported Tuesday. Speaking to journalists after her release, Marina Ovsyannikova says she was questioned for 14 hours and denied access to a lawyer or her family. She was fined 30,000 roubles ($280) for breaking protest laws, according to the RIA news agency. The fine is believed to be related to a video she posted online before her anti-war protest during a live broadcast on Russia’s Channel One studio on Monday.

12:35 p.m.: A second journalist was reported to have died Tuesday, following an attack on her media team in Ukraine on Monday. The Vienna-based International Press Institute said that Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra Kuvshynova was killed alongside veteran cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski. FOX News correspondent Benjamin Hall was injured in the attack. The U.S. broadcaster says the vehicle they were in was struck by incoming fire.

12:26 p.m.: Ukraine has come under 3,000 cyberattacks since Febuary 15, Victor Zhora, deputy chair of the country’s State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection, told journalists in a briefing Tuesday, as VOA’s Jamie Dettmer reports.

Russia is focusing its cyberattacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure in the digital war, targeting the public and financial sectors and telecommunications, Zhora said. It has been seeking to disrupt Ukraine military communications and the military’s communication with Ukraine’s political leaders, he added.

Russia’s cyberwar campaign has mainly been comprised of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. But he confirmed there have also been so-called wiper attacks, overwriting or removing data from the Ukrainian systems targeted.

Zhora said Ukraine’s cyber-defenses have benefited from volunteer groups. “Specialists have self organized and are working to help on the cyber front,” he said. Ukraine is focused on its own cyber-defense and is not mounting cyber-attacks on Russia, Zhora said. But he acknowledged hacker groups have been doing so, saying he is “grateful for their efforts.”

12:14 p.m.: VOA’s Eastern Europe Chief Myroslava Gongadze reports from an international aid station for refugees at the Poland-Ukraine border.

VOA's Myroslava Gongadze at the Poland-Ukraine Border
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12:07 p.m.: For the past few years, Russia’s disinformation apparatus has seemed unstoppable. But as Russia’s armed forces have been caught wrong-footed on the battlefield in Ukraine by a smaller, agile and more motivated opponent, so, too, its propaganda operation has seemed flat-footed. The storylines promulgated by the Kremlin at it seeks to shift blame for its own actions on to others, and to cast its invasion as defensive in nature, have struggled to gain the traction Russian propagandists might have expected, they say. VOA’s Jamie Dettmer has more.

11:51 a.m.: The American network FOX News on Tuesday announced that journalist Pierre Zakrzewski died from injuries sustained in an attack in Horenka, near Kyiv, on Monday. Zakrzewski was with FOX correspondent Benjamin Hall when their vehicle was struck by incoming fire, FOX chief executive Suzanne Scott said in a statement to staff. Hall, a British American journalist, remains in the hospital, where he is being treated for injuries.

11:45 a.m.: China says it does not want to get caught up in the diplomatic and economic blowback Russia is facing from Western nations over its invasion of Ukraine.

11:33 a.m.: Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on Tuesday the government would finance a loan program for farmers worth $846 million as part of a raft of new measures to ease the economic shock of war, Reuters reports. In a video address, Shmygal also outlined new tax breaks for small and medium-sized businesses that were approved earlier by parliament.

11:24 a.m.: A senior German official predicted Tuesday that the war in Ukraine and its impact on fossil fuel prices worldwide will provide a “massive boost” for the means and measures needed to curb climate change, The Associated Press reports.

Patrick Graichen, Germany’s deputy energy and climate minister, said rising global prices for oil, gas and coal will accelerate the uptake of low-emission technology that simultaneously reduces countries’ reliance on imports from Russia.

“The core technologies to become independent of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and to drive forward climate protection are the same,” he told reporters in Berlin. “They are renewables, they are efficiency, and electrification,” said Graichen. “These three will now get a massive boost,” he added.

11:15 a.m.: On Tuesday, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba posted on Twitter a photo of himself smiling next to Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis. He said it was the first official visit by a foreign minister since Russia invaded Ukraine. The visit comes on the same day that the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovenia are traveling to Kyiv in an "unequivocal" show of support to Ukraine.

10:53 a.m.: The State Department announced sanctions on 11 key members of Russia’s defense enterprise Tuesday, adding to a long list of sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other western countries following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. VOA’s Correspondent Nike Ching has the details.

10:36 a.m.: An overwhelming majority of refugees from Ukraine are fleeing to European Union countries. Ukrainians already enjoy visa-free travel to the European Union for up to 90 days. Recently, the European Union’s executive branch, the European Commission, activated the Temporary Protection Directive, which grants immediate protection to those fleeing the war while providing access to schools, medical care, and work. VOA’s Immigration Correspondent Aline Barros reports on what this means for the millions of Ukrainian refugees on the move.

10:21 a.m.: Russia will put forth its own draft of a resolution regarding the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, Moscow's ambassador to the United Nations said on Tuesday. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia also said Russia will stop its invasion when the goals of its special military operation are achieved in Ukraine, including demilitarization.

Meanwhile, the sponsors of a draft Security Council resolution on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, that has been in negotiation for two weeks, said they will not seek a vote in the council but will take it to the wider membership in the General Assembly. “Obviously, it would have been difficult in the Security Council, no need to explain to you why,” France’s envoy Nicolas de Riviere said in response to a reporter’s question. Russia holds a veto in the 15-nation council.

“We think it’s time to take action to move to the General Assembly and have the whole membership supporting an initiative on humanitarian access, on cessation of hostilities, on respect of international humanitarian law, on respect of the Geneva Conventions,” Ambassador de Riviere said. “So, we are very optimistic we can do that. The sooner the better. The situation on the ground deteriorates by the hour.” VOA’s UN Correspondent Margaret Besheer is following the developments.

9:54 a.m.: While tens of thousands of people have fled Ukraine every day since Russia’s invasion, a small but growing number of women are heading in the other direction, The Associated Press reports.

People wait in a line to board a train leaving for Lviv in Ukraine at the train station in Przemysl, Poland, March 14, 2022.
People wait in a line to board a train leaving for Lviv in Ukraine at the train station in Przemysl, Poland, March 14, 2022.

Motivated by a desire to help loved ones in trouble or contribute to the defense and survival of their country, these women are braving the bombs and heading into Ukraine.

“I will go back and help. I am a health worker, so the hospitals need help,” said Iryna Orel, 50, tugging her luggage before boarding a train from Przemysl, Poland, to Lviv, in western Ukraine. “And I will stay until the end.”

“I am returning to Ukraine to help people evacuate too,” said Maria Khalica, who lives in Italy but was planning to travel to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. “I am in a more stable state now than my friends, who are under rocket attacks and bombs.”

With Ukraine’s government ordering men to stay and fight, the vast majority of people fleeing Ukraine have been women, children and the elderly, according to national officials and the U.N. refugee agency.

9:33 a.m.: As Russia’s President Vladimir Putin continues his crackdown on media outlets, many observers are asking how members of the Russian public are getting their news about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Natasha Yefimova-Trilling is a news editor at Russia Matters, a project at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center that provides research and analysis on Russia and U.S.-Russia relations to policymakers and the public. In an interview in The Harvard Gazette, she cites recent research and anecdotal evidence to examine the media landscape in Russia now.

9:21 a.m.: The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovenia are traveling to Kyiv on Tuesday in an "unequivocal" show of support to Ukraine as Russia continues its assault on the country. The three leaders will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa are traveling to Kyiv by train and crossed from Poland into Ukraine before noon, Michal Dwoczyk, an aide to Moraweicki, told reporters. The Polish leader called it a historic mission.

The three leaders will arrive in a city that is still under bombardment, forcing many people to spend nights sheltering in underground stations. Hosting the foreign prime ministers in his own capital would be a symbolic success for Zelenskiy, who has stayed in Kyiv to rally his nation with nightly messages. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has the story.

9:12 a.m.: There were more Russian attacks on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv Tuesday, with shells hitting several residential buildings. At least two high-rise buildings in the Svyatoshyn district were heavily damaged and set ablaze. Correspondent Levko Stek, with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, reported from the site of another attack in the city’s Kurenivka district that killed one person and injured 10 on Monday. He spoke with Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, who said the attacks were further proof that Russian forces are targeting civilians.

8:56 a.m.: A lawyer representing the Russian state media employee detained for her anti-war protest on live TV, says he cannot find his client, VOA Press Freedom Editor Jessica Jerreat reported Tuesday.

Marina Ovsyannikova held up a sign during a live broadcast on Russia’s Channel One on Monday, that read in Russian: “NO WAR. Stop the war. Don’t believe propaganda. They are lying to you.” The bottom line in English, read, “Russians against war.”

Ovsyannikova could face charges under a law that bans discrediting the armed forces, according to Russia’s Tass state news agency. Ovsyannikova was detained but her lawyer Pavel Chikov says more than 12 hours later she still has not been located. He added on social media that the police investigation does not include “grounds for detention and imprisonment."

The Kremlin on Tuesday said Ovsyannikova’s actions amount to “hooliganism,” Reuters reported. A spokesperson for the U.N. Human Rights Office said at a briefing Tuesday Russia should ensure that Ovsyannikova “does not face any reprisals for exercising her right to freedom of expression.”

8:45 a.m.: Memorable reports illustrate both the skill and gutsiness of female journalists serving as eyewitnesses to Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and the way their presence — hard-won after overcoming ingrained notions of why women shouldn’t cover combat — has changed the nature of war reporting. They cover the tactics of war but give equal measure to its toll.

8:30a.m.: Kyiv’s mayor Vitali Klitschko has announced a 35-hour curfew for Ukraine’s battered capital starting at 6pm local time Tuesday to 7am Thursday following heavy bombing that left several high-rise apartment blocks badly damaged in the Svyatoshynskyi and Podilskyi districts. The mayor confirmed that four people died in the airstrikes Tuesday morning. One 15-story apartment block was engulfed in a blaze, VOA’s Jamie Dettmer writes from Warsaw, Poland.

Klitschko said special permission would be required to move around the city without special permission. “The capital is the heart of Ukraine, and it will be defended. Kyiv, which is currently the symbol and forward operating base of Europe’s freedom and security, will not be given up by us,” he added. Also Tuesday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a life or death ultimatum to Russian soldiers, urging them to surrender.

An elderly man walks outside an apartment block which was destroyed by an artillery strike in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 14, 2022.
An elderly man walks outside an apartment block which was destroyed by an artillery strike in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 14, 2022.
8:05 a.m.: Ukraine planned to make a new attempt to deliver supplies to the besieged city of Mariupol on Tuesday as the first convoy of civilians allowed out by Russia reached safety and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) issued a dire warning about the situation, Reuters reports.

Also Tuesday, the Red Cross said it is hoping to organize the evacuation of two convoys of some 30 buses with civilians out of the besieged northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy and their passage to a safe area.

Ewan Watson, a Red Cross spokesperson, told a U.N. briefing in Geneva that the operation would be carried out with the Ukrainian Red Cross but was not underway yet. He noted there had been delays with similar evacuations from Mariupol, where he said people are “essentially being suffocated in this city now with no aid.”

7:37 a.m.: The International Organization for Migration says more than 3 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded last month, The Associated Press reports. The new milestone also indicated that some 157,000 third-country nationals – people who are not Ukrainian – were part of the outflow in what U.N. officials have called the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

IOM spokesman Paul Dillon said at a U.N. news briefing in Geneva on Tuesday that the totals were compiled from figures provided by national authorities.

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, which provides a more detailed count than the IOM though based on similar data, has reported that more than 1.8 million of the refugees were in Poland. UNHCR spokesman Matthew Saltmarsh said some 300,000 had moved on from there to Western Europe and noted that the vast majority of those fleeing have been women and children.

6:47 a.m.: Russian officials have said that they will move to nationalize the assets of Western companies that pull out of their country over its invasion of Ukraine. But White House press secretary Jen Psaki warned that Russia could face further sanctions or legal action if it goes forward with the nationalization plan. "Any lawless decision by Russia to seize the assets of these companies will ultimately result in even more economic pain for Russia," she wrote. VOA’s Rob Garver has this story.

6:20 a.m.: Some analysts say China is trying to buy time until it is able to come up with the appropriate policy response to the changing situation in the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Friday said the U.S. and China should not “close” a cultural door between the countries as economic sanctions against neighboring Russia intensify. Though the sanctions target Russian trade, they will have wide-ranging impact on Chinese companies and banks that deal with Russian entities. For VOA, Saibal Dasgupta reports from New Delhi.

5:30 a.m.: The battle over Ukraine’s fate is happening on multiple fronts, with U.S. officials flying around the globe to meet with civilians who have been affected by the carnage, but also speaking virtually and in person with officials from other countries who have a role to play in ending this conflict. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from the White House, with reporting from VOA’s Eastern Europe Bureau Chief Myroslava Gongadze in Warsaw.

 Ukraine Conflict Sees Multiple Diplomatic Fronts 
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5:00 a.m.: Several airstrikes hit the Ukrainian capital early Tuesday, including one that struck an apartment building in Kyiv, killing at least two people.

Firefighters work in an apartment building damaged by shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Firefighters work in an apartment building damaged by shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Ukrainian firefighters work in an apartment building after bombing in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Ukrainian firefighters work in an apartment building after bombing in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

4:44 a.m.: Investor worries over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, surging COVID-19 cases in China and a possible hike of interest rates by the U.S. central bank this week sent financial markets in Asia and Australia into negative territory Tuesday.

Australia’s ASX/S&P index lost 1.2% at the end of its trading day. Shanghai’s Composite index plunged 4.9%. The KOSPI index in South Korea slipped 0.9%, while Taiwan’s TSEC index closed 1.9% lower.

Hong Kong’s benchmark index, the Hang Seng, plummeted 6.5% in late afternoon trading.

Japan’s Nikkei index was the lone bright spot for the region, gaining 0.1%.

In commodities markets, gold is selling at $1,935.10 per ounce, down 1.3%. Oil prices are steadily declining, with U.S. crude oil selling at $97.79 per barrel, down just over 5%, while Brent crude, the international benchmark, is selling at $101.25 per barrel, down 5.2%, days after topping $130 per barrel.

All three major U.S. indices are trending negatively in futures trading.

4:27 a.m.: Britain’s Foreign Office is investigating reports that three former British army servicemen were among the 35 killed in a Russian missile strike Sunday on a military training base in western Ukraine near the Polish border, VOA’s Jamie Dettmer reports from Warsaw, Poland. All three men reportedly were formerly members of the U.K.’s special forces.

It is now estimated by Ukrainian authorities that at least a dozen missiles struck the facility, one of Ukraine’s biggest military training camps, located 25 kilometers from the Polish border. Ukrainian air-defense batteries intercepted other missiles as they hurtled towards the base at Yavoriv, 60 kilometers from Lviv, a major hub for Ukrainian evacuees fleeing the country.

The strike on the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security is the westernmost attack by Russia so far, and has raised fears that Lviv may soon embroiled in the conflict.

4:15 a.m.: The leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia are traveling on Tuesday to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital which is currently under fire, on a European Union mission to show support for Ukraine as Russia’s invasion intensifies, The Associated Press reported.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said “the aim of the visit is to express the European Union’s unequivocal support for Ukraine and its freedom and independence,” in a Twitter post.

Fiala will be joined by Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is Poland’s deputy prime minister for security and also the conservative ruling party leader, the AP reported.

3:54 a.m.: Over 2.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded the country over two weeks ago. Aid from around the world has poured into the region — often from small groups or lone volunteers.

One mayor of a small coastal community in New Jersey is giving back to those who have helped his community. For VOA, Keith Kocinski has the story from Poland.

American Mayor in Poland Providing Aid to Ukrainian Refugees
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3:30 a.m.: In its latest intelligence update Tuesday, the British Ministry of Defence said Russia reportedly installed its own mayor in the city of Melitopol following the alleged abduction of mayors of Melitopol and Dniprorudne on Friday.

Russian forces, the report added, have also fired warning shots at peaceful protestors in occupied areas of Ukraine in an attempt to disperse crowds.

“Russia may seek to stage a ‘referendum’ in Kherson in an attempt to legitimise the area as a ‘breakaway republic’ similar to Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea,” the report said.

2:44 a.m.: On Tuesday, images of firefighters working in an apartment building damaged by Russian missile shelling surfaced in Kyiv, Ukraine, The Associated Press reported. In one of the images, an elderly resident waits to be rescued by Ukrainian firefighters after the bombing.

An elderly resident waits to be rescued by Ukrainian firefighters after bombing in an apartment building in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
An elderly resident waits to be rescued by Ukrainian firefighters after bombing in an apartment building in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Firefighters work in an apartment building damaged by shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Firefighters work in an apartment building damaged by shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

2:30 a.m.: When the Ukrainian government issued an international call for cyber warriors, this Silicon Valley tech executive signed-up. VOA’s Michelle Quinn and Matt Dibble have the story.

Silicon Valley Executive Joins Ukraine’s ‘Digital Army’ 
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2:00 a.m.: A new report by the International Monetary Fund forecasts a major contraction in the Ukrainian economy as a result of the Russian invasion.

The report said the economy is expected to shrink by 10% in 2022, but that could become worse depending on the length of the conflict. The IMF is expected to approve $1.4 billion in emergency funding for the country.

The IMF applauded Ukraine’s efforts to keep its financial system functioning and to fulfill its obligations despite the crisis.

“Making wage and pension payments, restocking ATMs with cash, opening bank branches ... continuing to make payments on external debt obligations, so that post-war they can resume normal operations with their creditors and markets. It’s really actually a remarkable, remarkable effort,” Ivanna Vladkova Hollar, the IMF mission chief for Ukraine said, according to Reuters.

1:15 a.m.: Negotiators from Russia and Ukraine are due to hold more talks Tuesday as Russia presses its nearly three-week invasion with bombardments of Kyiv and other major Ukrainian cities.

A round of negotiations Monday, held by video rather than in-person in neighboring Belarus like previous sessions, yielded still no major signs of a breakthrough.

Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted after Monday’s talks, “Communication is being held yet it’s hard.” He had raised hope of progress on Sunday by saying Russia had been “listening carefully to our proposals” and was beginning to talk “constructively.”

12:51 a.m.: An employee of Russian state-run Channel One interrupted a live broadcast of the nightly news Monday shouting “Stop the war! No to war!”

News staffer Marina Ovysannikova, whose father is Ukrainian, held up a placard in Russian, saying, “Don’t believe the propaganda. They’re lying to you here.” Studio producers rushed to cut her off, VOA’s Jamie Dettmer reports.

This is the second time Russian One has had a problem controlling the message. Last week, on the popular talk show hosted by Vladimir Soloviyev, two pundits broke ranks and likened the war raging in Ukraine to Russia’s quagmire in Afghanistan in the 1990s.

During the broadcast filmmaker Karen Shakhnazarov said Russia’s invasion risked isolating the country. He called for the war to stop, and warned: “If this picture starts to transform into an absolute humanitarian disaster, even our close allies like China and India will be forced to distance themselves from us.”

Later during the broadcast guest Semyon Bagdasarov, an academic, said: “Do we need to get into another Afghanistan, but even worse?”

12:00 a.m.: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy offered his “heartfelt condolences” to the family of U.S. filmmaker and journalist Brent Renaud who was killed on Sunday by Russian forces while documenting refugees fleeing the conflict.

Zelenskyy wrote: “May Brent’s life & sacrifice inspire the world to stand up in fight for the forces of light against forces of darkness.”

VOA’s Eastern Europe Chief Myroslava Gongadze reflects on her friend and former Nieman fellow.

Renaud went to Ukraine to report on refugees feeling the conflict. He was shot dead, and his colleague, Juan Arredondo, who was with him when they came under fire, was injured. VOA’s press freedom editor Jessica Jerreat reports.

FILE - Brent Renaud attends the 74th Annual Peabody Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on May 31, 2015, in New York. Renaud, an American journalist, was killed in a suburb of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sunday, March 13, 2022, while gathering material for a report about refugees. Ukrainian authorities said he died when Russian forces shelled the vehicle he was traveling in. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
FILE - Brent Renaud attends the 74th Annual Peabody Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on May 31, 2015, in New York. Renaud, an American journalist, was killed in a suburb of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sunday, March 13, 2022, while gathering material for a report about refugees. Ukrainian authorities said he died when Russian forces shelled the vehicle he was traveling in. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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