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Latest Developments in Ukraine: March 22

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Russia Ukraine War

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:

7:40 p.m.: In his nighttime video address to the nation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian forces not only blocked a humanitarian convoy trying to reach besieged Mariupol with desperately needed supplies on Tuesday but took captive some of the rescue workers and bus drivers, according to an Associated Press report. He said the Russians had agreed to the route ahead of time.

“We are trying to organize stable humanitarian corridors for Mariupol residents, but almost all of our attempts, unfortunately, are foiled by the Russian occupiers, by shelling, or deliberate terror,” Zelenskyy said, according to AP.

6:57 p.m.: Russian efforts coming up short in occupied parts of Ukraine, per British Defense Intelligence:

4:27 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been invited to address a special NATO summit Thursday discussing the Russian invasion of his country, a NATO official said Tuesday, according to Agence France-Presse. "President Zelenskyy is invited to address the NATO summit via video link," the official said.

4:22 p.m.: VOA’s national security correspondent Jeff Seldin reports on Tuesday’s Pentagon briefing, where press secretary John Kirby said, “We have seen indications that the Ukrainians are going a bit more on the offense... particularly in the south, near Kherson.

4 p.m.: The emergence of thousands of foreigners volunteering to fight for Ukraine against Russia’s invasion has drawn sharply differing responses from the governments of those pro-Ukraine fighters, some of whom are from Russia itself and its ally Belarus. As VOA’s Michael Lipin reports, the reactions range from scorn, to ambivalence, to support from some governments.

3:49 p.m.: The UN World Health Organization says many Ukrainian refugees are struggling with the overwhelming emotional and mental health impact of the war. Lisa Schlein reports.

On Tuesday, WHO shared a conversation that one of its psychosocial expert had with a young refugee woman struggling to cope with her family’s distress.

3:18 p.m.: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday said Russia would only use nuclear weapons if its very existence were threatened, Tass news agency reported. Tass did not provide further details. The comment, nearly four weeks after Russia sent its forces into Ukraine, came amid Western concern that the conflict there could escalate into a nuclear war, Reuters reported. President Vladimir Putin last month ordered Russia's nuclear forces to be put on high alert. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on March 14, "The prospect of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, is now back within the realm of possibility."

3:05 p.m.: More sanctions will be imposed on Russia by the U.S. President during his upcoming trip to Europe, officials said Tuesday.

3:01 p.m.: The key players in the Ukraine conflict — Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and U.S. President Joe Biden — represent three distinct leadership styles: The ideologue. The charismatic leader. The pragmatist. VOA’s Dora Mekouar has the story.

2:34 p.m.: Some Russian soldiers in Ukraine are suffering from frostbite because they lack cold weather gear, adding to difficulties Russian troops face including shortages of food and fuel, a senior U.S. defense official said Tuesday. His remarks came during a briefing, reported VOA National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin.

2:11 p.m.: Russian ships in the Sea of Azov have been shelling Mariupol from offshore over the last 24 hours, a senior U.S. defense official said Tuesday. The official said that there are about seven Russian ships in that area, including several warships, a minesweeper and a couple of landing ships, The Associated Press reported.

2:03 p.m.: VOA White House Correspondent Anita Powell provides an update from Brussels, where President Biden will soon meet with NATO allies about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

1:32 p.m.: A second superyacht linked to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich docked in a Turkish resort on Tuesday and sources familiar with the discussions said he and other wealthy Russians were looking to invest in Turkey given sanctions elsewhere. While strongly criticizing the invasion, Turkey has said it opposes sanctions imposed by its NATO allies on principle. That could set it up as a possible safe haven for Russians seeking to make investments and preserve assets, Reuters reported.

1:28 p.m.: An estimated 300,000 people remain trapped in the besieged Ukrainian town of Mariupol. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report showing what life is like there now.


1:20 p.m.: Western nations are assessing whether Russia can remain within the Group of Twenty (G20) grouping of major economies following its invasion of Ukraine, sources involved in the discussions told Reuters on Tuesday. The G20 along with the smaller Group of Seven - comprising just the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan and Britain - is a key international platform for coordinating everything from climate change action to cross-border debt.

1:13 p.m.: Worldwide, farmers are weighing whether to change their planting patterns and grow more wheat this spring as the war in Ukraine has thrown into question grain supplies from a region known as “the breadbasket of the world.” Ukraine and Russia account for a third of global wheat and barley exports, which countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa rely on to feed millions of people. The Associated Press reports.

1:06 p.m.: Rocket strikes destroyed a railway station in Ukraine's central-eastern Dnipro region on Tuesday, killing one person and damaging rails enough to prevent train passage indefinitely, Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said. The rockets hit a station of the town of Pavlohrad around 37 miles east of the regional capital Dnipro, Reuters reported.

12:53 p.m.: To raise money for Ukraine’s war efforts, a group of musicians held a concert in a bomb shelter in the besieged city of Kharkiv, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

12:39 p.m.: Russian lawmakers on Tuesday broadened a law criminalizing “false information." The bill approved by the parliament’s lower chamber, the State Duma, broadens an earlier law that criminalizes distributing "deliberately false information" about the operations of Russia's armed forces abroad. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has the details.

12:09 p.m.: The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, is identifying vulnerable Ukrainian refugees in Moldova and working with the International Organization for Migration, the European Commission and other European Union member states to facilitate more transfers from Moldova to the EU, according to a statement released Tuesday. UNHCR is informing refugees on what to expect in the receiving countries, it said. “The most vulnerable refugees will be prioritized for transfer, including people with disabilities, older people, those with severe medical conditions, and mothers with young children,” UNHCR said. “Safeguards against smuggling and trafficking networks will also be included,” it added.

12:04 p.m.: Dozens of Ukrainian orphans and their caregivers who are headed to refuge in Britain were stuck Tuesday in Poland due to missing paperwork from Ukraine, The Associated Press reported. The nearly 50 youngsters from orphanages in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro were due to fly to London Monday before travel onward to Scotland.

11:55 a.m.: Despite the war in Ukraine, education is still underway in some areas of the country. It is mainly carried out remotely and children can log into their classes from anywhere in Ukraine or around the world. VOA’s Lesia Bakalets has the story.

Schools in Ukraine Resume Education Despite War
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11:27 a.m.: Russia’s Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev said Tuesday that 78 Russian-owned airplanes have been seized in foreign countries under international sanctions imposed after Russia invaded Ukraine. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

11:13 a.m.: With Russia’s ground invasion largely stalled and stuttering, a minority view is emerging among some Kremlin watchers that Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s days are numbered. VOA’s Jamie Dettmer reports on what the chances are for a Kremlin coup.

10:58 a.m.: The U.S. State Department is partnering with St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital to provide necessary life-saving and immediate care to four Ukrainian children, spokesman Ned Price said in an official statement Tuesday, noting that their “ongoing cancer treatment was disrupted” by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “war of choice” in Ukraine. He said the children and some immediate family members will be airlifted to Memphis, Tennessee, and then transported to St. Jude’s where “they will receive the specialized care they desperately need.”

10:30 a.m. : Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov met with North Korea's ambassador to Russia and discussed developing bilateral relations "in the context of changes happening on the international arena," the Russian foreign ministry said on Tuesday. The contact took place as Russia faces increasing isolation over its invasion of Ukraine, which has drawn sweeping international sanctions. North Korea last month blamed the Ukraine crisis on the "hegemonic policy" and "high-handedness" of the United States and the West, Reuters reported.

10:23 a.m.: Ukraine's foreign ministry said on Tuesday about 300,000 people in the occupied city of Kherson were running out of food and medical supplies, and accused Russia of preventing civilians evacuating to Ukraine-controlled territory, Reuters reported. "Kherson’s 300k citizens face a humanitarian catastrophe owing to the Russian army’s blockade," ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said on Twitter. Russia did not immediately comment on Nikolenko's remarks.

10:22 a.m. : U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday urged an end to the "absurd war" started by Russia's invasion of Ukraine one month ago, warning that the conflict is "going nowhere, fast" and that the Ukrainian people are "enduring a living hell," Reuters reported. "Continuing the war in Ukraine is morally unacceptable, politically indefensible and militarily nonsensical," Guterres told reporters in New York. “Ukraine cannot be conquered city by city, street by street, house by house," Guterres said. "This war is unwinnable. Sooner or later, it will have to move from the battlefield to the peace table," he added. "There is enough on the table to cease hostilities - now ... and seriously negotiate - now," Guterres said.

10:02 a.m. : Ukrainian civilians have endured bombardments and shelling causing extensive damage in and around the cities of Chernihiv, Mariupol, and Kyiv as these latest satellite images from Maxar Technologies show.

9:51 a.m. : As the war unfolds in Ukraine, the owner of Amazing Pinatas in Los Angeles has found a creative way to help Ukrainian refugees. Originally from Nicaragua, Lorena Robletto tells VOA’s Veronica Villafane why she wants to help.

Nicaraguan Entrepreneur in LA Joins Aid Effort for Ukraine
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9:46 a.m.: A former Paris-based Europe correspondent for the Russian state-controlled broadcaster Channel One said Tuesday she resigned this month due to Russia’s war against Ukraine, and voiced fears she’ll be accused of being “a highly paid spy,” The Associated Press reported. Zhanna Agalakova quit as the war broke out in Ukraine, joining a string of colleagues from Russia’s strictly state-controlled network. The 56-year-old, who used to be a newsreader at the channel, said she believed Russian networks had been commandeered by the Kremlin to broadcast lies and propaganda for years now.

9:31 a.m.: Staff at a Ukrainian theater have started making food to help the war effort, The Associated Press reported.

9:30 a.m.: Russia is pounding the besieged Ukrainian port of Mariupol into the "ashes of a dead land", its local council said on Tuesday, describing two more huge bombs that fell on the city that has been sealed off for weeks. The plight of Mariupol, a city of 400,000 before the war, has been the most urgent humanitarian emergency since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly a month ago. Hundreds of thousands of residents are believed to be trapped inside under near constant shelling, with no access to food, water, power or heat. "There is nothing left there," Zelenskiy said in a video address to the Italian parliament on Tuesday. Reuters has this report.


9:20 a.m.: Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Tuesday that he wants to lead a humanitarian mission into the besieged city of Mariupol in Ukraine where thousands of ethnic Greeks live, Reuters reported. Dendias said that Greece's priority was to protect unarmed civilians and ethnic Greeks living in Mariupol, adding that he has already notified Ukrainian and Russian authorities over the humanitarian mission. "I intend to lead this assistance in person," he said in statements made to the press. Dendias said that he was coordinating with the Red Cross.

8:57 a.m.: French President Emmanuel Macron, currently campaigning for re-election, on Tuesday said he was considering giving special checks to poor households to compensate for increased food prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported. The war between the two countries, two of the world’s top crop producers, paired with a surge in energy prices will lead to a global food crisis, Macron told France Bleu radio.

8:49 a.m.: In the Russian town of Pokrov, sugar has sold out in many stores and residents expect some goods to become unaffordable as Western sanctions over Moscow's military intervention in Ukraine take hold, Reuters reported. Facing its gravest economic crisis for more than 20 years, Moscow has been telling citizens there is no lack of food and urging them not to panic-buy staples like sugar and buckwheat.

8:48 a.m.: A court in Russia has found opposition politician Aleksei Navalny guilty of embezzlement and contempt charges and sentenced him to nine years in prison. Navalny has called the charges trumped up. Judge Margarita Kotova announced the verdict on Tuesday at the penal colony outside Moscow where Navalny is being held. Prosecutors had asked for a prison sentence of 13 years. Navalny was also fined 1.2 million rubles. Navalny is currently serving a 2 1/2-year sentence on a separate charge.

8:39 a.m.: Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda has accused hackers of planting fake news on its website after a report briefly appeared there saying nearly 10,000 Russian soldiers had been killed in Ukraine, Reuters reported. The incident marked the second apparent breach within a week of the tightly controlled war narrative that the Kremlin promotes through loyal Russian media. Russia has not officially updated its casualty figures since stating on March 2 that 498 servicemen had been killed and 1,597 wounded. It was not possible to independently verify any of the purported casualty claims.

8:15 a.m.: Chulpan Khamatova, a prominent Russian actress known for her roles in international films, says she has gone into exile in Latvia following her country’s invasion of Ukraine. In an interview broadcast on YouTube on March 20, the 46-year-old actress -- who leads the Gift of Life children’s cancer charity in Russia -- said she has been in Riga the past several weeks with her daughters.

7:56 a.m.: Ukraine’s Natural Resources Minister Ruslan Strelets said Tuesday that wildfires have been extinguished in the area of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which is under the control of Russian forces. The fires had raised concern about the possible release of radiation from the plant, but the minister said that radiation levels in the area are within the norm. Ukrainian officials had earlier accused Russian forces of deliberately setting the fires or causing them with artillery shelling, The Associate Press reported.

7:50 a.m.: Ukrainian authorities announced an effort to rescue civilians from Mariupol Tuesday, Agence France-Presse reported. More than 200,000 people are trapped in the city, besieged by Russian forces. "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," vowed Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk in a video address.

7:46 a.m.: The team of jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny has published details about a superyacht that they suspect belongs to President Vladimir Putin. In mid-March, The New York Times cited sources that U.S. authorities had linked the yacht to Putin. A former crew member also confirmed the link. However, the ship's captain, Guy Bennett-Pearce, a British national, has denied that Putin owned or had ever been on the yacht. If the yacht's connection to Putin is proven, it will be impounded, as Putin is currently under sanctions from the European Union over Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

7:32 a.m.: Ukrainian troops forced Russian forces out of the Kyiv suburb of Makariv after a fierce battle early Tuesday, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said. The regained territory allowed Ukrainian forces to retake control of a key highway and block Russian troops from surrounding Kyiv from the northwest. Still, the Defense Ministry said Russian forces battling toward Kyiv were able to partially take the other northwest suburbs of Bucha, Hostomel, and Irpin, some of which had been under attack almost since Russia’s military began its invasion a month ago. Residents of Kyiv sheltered at home or underground under a 35-hour curfew imposed by authorities in the capital that runs to Wednesday morning, The Associated Press reported.

7:15 a.m.: On Tuesday, Germany’s parliament honored a survivor of Nazi concentration camps who was killed in Ukraine. Boris Romanchenko, 96, was dedicated to keeping alive the memory of Nazi crimes and was vice president of the International Buchenwald-Dora Committee, The Associated Press reported.

7:03 a.m.: The Kremlin on Tuesday rejected U.S. warnings that it may be preparing to conduct cyber attacks in response to Western sanctions, and said it did not engage in "banditry" according to Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday told businesses to do more to protect themselves against possible cyber attacks by Russia, warning there was "evolving intelligence" that Moscow was exploring options on that front.

7:01 a.m.: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that Russia would like to see “active and substantive” talks with Ukraine, VOA News reported.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told local television Monday that he is prepared to discuss a range of issues with Putin, including a commitment for Ukraine to not join NATO, as part of efforts to achieve a cease-fire.

“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,” Zelenskyy said.

He said earlier that the Ukrainian people would have to vote in a referendum on any compromises reached with Russia to end the war.

6:58 a.m.: The European Commission is set to delay the publication of proposals on sustainable farming and nature that were expected this week. The impact of the war in Ukraine on food supply has led some countries to question the European Union's environmental push. Russia and Ukraine make up more than 30% of global trade in wheat and more than 50% for sunflower oils, seeds and meals, Reuters reports.

6:46 a.m.: Activists protesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have been blocking transport trucks at the Polish-Belarusian border. The backed-up traffic stretched several kilometers at the checkpoint in Kukuryki, Poland for the past several days. Protesters have been blocking trade on and off for two weeks because Belarus has allowed Russian forces to use the country as a staging ground for their invasion of Ukraine. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has the story.

6:35 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday he has spoken to Pope Francis. Zelenskyy said, “the mediating role of the Holy See in ending human suffering would be appreciated,” in a Twitter post.

6:30 a.m.: Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, said he will put his Nobel medal up for auction to raise funds for refugees from Ukraine. In a statement published on Novaya Gazeta’s website, a Russian newspaper, he said, “Novaya Gazeta and I have decided to donate the 2021 Nobel peace prize medal to the Ukrainian Refugee Fund. I ask the auction houses to respond and put up for auction this world-famous award.”

In addition to the support for refugees, the statement includes immediate demands calling on Russia to end combat fire, release the bodies of the dead and exchange prisoners.

5:30 a.m.: Japan is protesting Russia’s decision to break off negotiations formally ending nearly eight decades of lingering hostilities from World War Two because of Tokyo’s response over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The two nations have been trying to reach a peace treaty for years to resolve a disputed chain of islands off Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, known in Russia as the Kurils and the Northern Territories in Japan. The islands were seized by Russia, under the banner of the Soviet Union, at the end of World War Two.

5:10 a.m.: The number of refugees who have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began surpassed 3.5 million people, the United Nations’ refugee agency said Tuesday.

More than 2.1 million of the refugees have gone to Poland, 543,000 to Romania, 368,000 to Moldova and 318,000 to Hungary.

4:10 a.m.: A Russian court found jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny guilty of large-scale fraud on Tuesday, a move likely to see the time that President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic spends in jail extended by years. Navalny’s opposition movement has been labeled “extremist” and shut down, although his supporters continue to express their political stance, including their opposition to Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine, on social media. Reuters has the story.

3:30 a.m.: Ukrainians with relatives in the United States are finding it challenging to reunite with them in a time of war. Human rights advocates are now pushing the Biden administration to expedite the process to reunite refugees with relatives in the U.S. Tatiana Vorozhko and Aline Barros have the story, narrated by Anna Rice.

3 a.m.: In its latest intelligence assessment, Britain’s Defence Ministry said Tuesday that Ukraine’s forces are pushing against Russian forces continuing to “to repulse” Moscow’s efforts to occupy the city of Mariupol.

“Several Ukrainian cities continue to suffer heavy Russian air and artillery bombardment with the UN reporting that more than 10 million Ukrainians are now internally displaced as a result of Russia’s invasion,” the report added.

2:30 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to virtually deliver his address to the Japanese parliament on Wednesday to rally international support for his country’s fight against Russian invasion, The Associated Press reported.

Japan, unlike in the past, has been acting tough against Russia, in line with other Group of Seven countries, though Tokyo’s steps have triggered Moscow’s retaliation. A compromise could set a bad precedence in East Asia, where China is increasingly making assertive military actions, the AP reports.

1:30 a.m.: Air raid alerts are now activated in various regions of the country, The Kyiv Independent, Ukraine’s English-language media outlet, reported Tuesday .

“Sirens have been activated in the Sumy, Mykolaiv, Ternopil, Poltava, Kirovohrad, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Zakarpattya, Chernivtsi, Dnipropetrovsk, Rivne, Volyn, Cherkasy, Khmelnytsky, Odesa oblasts,” the outlet said in a Twitter post.

1:10 a.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden warned that false Russian claims about the existence of biological and chemical weapons in Kyiv is an indication that Russian President Vladimir Putin may seek to use these weapons himself.

Biden made the remarks during a Business Roundtable event on Monday. “They are also suggesting that Ukraine has biological and chemical weapons in Ukraine. That’s a clear sign he’s [Putin] considering using both of those,” he said. VOA has the story.

12:30 a.m.: Ukrainian and Russian citizens are descending on the Mexican border city of Tijuana to request political asylum in the United States. With Vicente Calderon in Tijuana, VOA’s Mike O’Sullivan reports that many Ukrainians are able to cross the border, while Russian citizens are having a harder time.

Russian, Ukrainian Asylum Hopefuls Face Different Realities at US Border
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12:10 a.m.: As U.S. and Europe restrict Russia’s ability to sell oil and gas, Moscow faces challenges in shipping its energy products to other markets such as China and India. VOA’s Mandarin Service Jie Xi spoke to analysts studying the region and has this story.

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