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Latest Developments in Ukraine: March 25

Asylum-seekers from Ukraine wait for US border authorities to allow them in on the Mexican side of the San Ysidro Crossing port in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on March 24, 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:

10:56 p.m.: Al Jazeera reports that Britain is sending $2.6 million in dried food, canned goods and water to Ukraine.

9:36 p.m.: The New York Times reports that global police organization Interpol has dispatched a team to Moldova amid reports of human trafficking linked to the arrival of almost 400,000 refugees from Ukraine.

7:35 p.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed a law that says people found guilty of spreading fake news about the work of officials abroad can be sentenced to up to 15 years in jail, Interfax news agency said.

The penalties are similar to those adopted earlier this month that punish those who spread false information about the Russian armed forces, the agency said. The law was enacted after the invasion of Ukraine.

Interfax cited a senior legislator as saying the new law was needed because people were spreading false news about Russia's embassies and other organizations operating abroad.

7 p.m.: Poland’s President Andrzej Duda missed the welcoming ceremony for U.S. President Joe Biden in Rzeszow on Friday. Duda’s plane experienced a malfunction and had to return to Warsaw for an emergency landing, The Associated Press reported.

Duda and the rest of the Polish delegation changed plane and caught up with Biden in Rzeszow.

6:35 p.m.: Western officials on Friday named seven Russian generals they said had so far been killed, and another who had been sacked, during the war in Ukraine, Agence Frace-Presse reports.

The latest to die, Lieutenant General Yakov Rezanstev, was a commander of Russia's 49th Combined Arms Army in its southern military district, an official disclosed.

6:10 p.m.: Western officials on Friday named seven Russian generals they said had been killed so far during the war in Ukraine, Agence France-Presse reports.

The latest to die, Lieutenant General Yakov Rezanstev, was a commander of Russia's 49th Combined Arms Army in its southern military district, an official disclosed.

5 p.m.: The U.S. accused Russia of war crimes this week, and news organizations are among those tracking reports of these crimes.

4:20 p.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden announces a U.S.-European Union energy initiative.

4:00 p.m.: Images of Olena Kurilo's bloodied face have become a symbol of Russia's attack on Ukraine and its civilians. They impressed the Los Angeles-based artist Zhenya Gershman so much that she painted a portrait of Kurilo from the photograph. Angelina Bagdasarvan has the story.

Face of Olena Kurilo – Bloodied Symbol of Russia’s Attack on Ukraine
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3:50 p.m.: Ukraine hopes some civilians who have been trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol will be able to leave in private cars on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said. Repeated attempts to arrange safe passage out of the southern port city, which is surrounded by Russian forces, have failed, Reuters reported. Those who manage to leave Mariupol will find buses awaiting in the nearby city of Berdiansk which will take them to the city of Zaporizhzhia, Vereshchuk said.

3:41 p.m.: UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell on Friday tweeted a link to a photo essay on how childhood has been upended by war in Ukraine.

3:20 p.m.: Ukraine's Prosecutor General says that Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland have signed an agreement to set up a joint investigation of Russian war crimes, The Kyiv Independent reported Friday.

3:17 p.m.: Senior military officials in Russia said Friday that 1,351 of its soldiers have died and 3,850 have been injured in the fighting in Ukraine, the first casualty update that Moscow has given in more than three weeks and a figure well below Western intelligence and Ukrainian estimates. Russian officials last gave an estimate on troop deaths from the fighting on March 2, when they said 498 soldiers had died. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

2:53 p.m.: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Friday it is scaling up in 10 different locations in Ukraine, including Kyiv, Poltava, Dnipro, and Odesa, to address the rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis.

"Trucks are moving across the country to provide medical supplies and other assistance whilst other convoys with essential aid will arrive in the coming days," the ICRC said in a statement. "The ICRC has sent some 140 additional staff to the region, among them medical workers including surgeons, psychologist, weapon contamination specialists, engineers, logisticians, and others who can make an immediate difference to people in need," it added.

The ICRC said it is continuing bilateral and confidential dialogue with the parties to the conflict. "Conduct of hostilities, protection of the civilian population and obligations under international humanitarian law are all topics that have been raised," it said.

2:17 p.m.: The White House on Friday shared remarks made by U.S. President Joe Biden and Poland's President Andrzej Duda earlier in the day at a briefing on humanitarian efforts underway for Ukraine.

1:48 p.m.: Technical staff at Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear facility have not been able to rotate in or out because of Russian shelling at checkpoints in the nearby city where many of the staff live, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency director said Friday.

1:25 p.m.: Aviation was an early business casualty of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as the West and Moscow imposed tit-for-tat airspace bans. Now, lessors face big write-downs or a long insurance battle as the March 28 deadline looms for terminating plane leases under European Union sanctions. As the clock runs down to Monday's deadline for Russian airlines to hand back more than 400 leased planes worth almost $10 billion, foreign lessors are fast losing hope that they will get their aircraft back, Reuters reported.

1:16 p.m.: Indonesia, the current leader of the G-20 forum for international economic cooperation, offered reaction Friday to the call from some member countries to exclude Russia from the upcoming G-20 Summit October 30-31 in Bali, VOA's Indonesian service reported.

"The G-20 president must, of course, send invitations to all members, and this (rule) has been in effect since G-20 was first founded. Nothing has changed," said Dian Triansyah Djani, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the U.N.

"G-20 is not a political forum (but) an economic forum, a trade forum, (for) cooperation, improving (everyone's) welfare. So, Putin should come (because) he’s been invited. And Putin has said he’s coming. So, we must respect Putin," said Teuku Rezasyah, an analyst at Padjajaran University in Indonesia.

1:07 p.m.: President Vladimir Putin on Friday accused the West of trying to cancel Russia's rich musical and literary culture, Reuters reported. Speaking in a meeting with leading cultural figures broadcast on national television, Putin complained of the cancellation of a number of Russian cultural events in recent weeks and compared it to actions taken by Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Several events involving Russian cultural figures who have voiced support for the war have been cancelled, including some involving Valery Gergiev, general director of the St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theater, who spoke to Putin during Friday's meeting.

12:39 p.m.: A Ukrainian military official said Friday that Ukraine’s forces have regained control over areas northeast of the capital Kyiv though fighting was still heavy around at least three areas outside the city, according to The Kyiv Independent.

12:36 p.m.: A senior U.S. defense official Friday provided his assessment on the war in Ukraine. VOA’s National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin monitored the briefing and shared highlights on Twitter.

12:27 p.m.: Western defense officials say Ukraine has been employing agile insurgency tactics to disrupt Russia's invasion, and in the suburbs northwest and east of Kyiv, to push their adversaries back. Hitting and ambushing Russian forces behind the contact lines with fast-moving units, often at night, has proven among its most effective field tactics and is adding to the logistical missteps the Russians still have not been able to overcome, military strategists say. They add that the tactics are also demoralizing Russian troops. VOA’s Jamie Dettmer reports.

12:19 p.m.: The U.N. World Food Program has delivered food aid to hundreds of thousands of people affected by the war in Ukraine, Executive Director David Beasley said Friday on Twitter.

12:09 p.m.: A Russian TV news editor who protested Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by interrupting a live news broadcast on Russian state television earlier in March has been charged with "discrediting" the armed forces. Moscow’s Ostankino district court said on March 25 that it will examine the case against Marina Ovsyannikova on April 14, adding that the woman may face a fine of up to 50,000 rubles (more than $500) if found guilty. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

11:47 a.m.: President Joe Biden visited U.S. troops stationed near Poland’s border with Ukraine on Friday and was getting a first hand look at the growing humanitarian response to the millions of Ukrainians who are fleeing to Poland to escape Russia’s assault on their homeland. Biden’s first stop was with members of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, visiting a barber shop and dining facility set up for the troops, where he invited himself to sit down and share some pizza. The Americans are serving alongside Polish troops.

11:31 a.m.: FedEx Corporation says it will load up a cargo airplane with 76 tons of medical aid for Ukrainian refugees for a flight destined for Poland that is scheduled to leave Memphis International Airport on Saturday, The Associated Press Reported. The charter flight to Warsaw is a donation from the company, and the aid supplied comes from Direct Relief, which is sending an emergency field hospital, as well as COVID-19 treatments, antibiotics, inhalers, wound dressings, and medicines for heart, thyroid and respiratory conditions.

11:14 a.m.: A Ukrainian teenager recalls how a trip to get medicine ended with his unarmed father being gunned down in cold blood by a Russian soldier. Yura and his family have escaped the war-torn town of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, and are sheltering at a safe location elsewhere in Ukraine. From there, he spoke with journalists Borys Sachalko and Ivan Lyubysh-Kirdey with Current Time, a co-production of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and VOA.

10:51 a.m.: Russia and Ukraine are coming closer to an understanding on secondary issues at peace talks but there has been limited progress on the key questions, Moscow negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said on Friday, the Interfax news agency reported. “Negotiations have been going on all week, from Monday to Friday, in video conference format, and will continue tomorrow,” Interfax quoted Medinsky as saying. “On secondary issues, positions are converging. However on the main political issues, we are in fact treading water.”

10:33 a.m.: Benjamin Hall, the FOX News correspondent injured covering the war in Ukraine, has been transferred to the Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas. “Ben is receiving excellent care while he continues to recover from his serious injuries after multiple surgeries,” FOX News Media CEO Suzanne Scott said in a memo, shared online.

Hall was injured and his colleagues Oleksandra Kuvshynova and Pierre Zakrzewski, were killed when they were struck by incoming fire near Kyiv on March 14.

At least five journalists have been killed covering the war and several more injured, reports VOA’s Press Freedom Editor Jessica Jerreat. The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Teresa Ribeiro on Friday released a video thanking media for coverage of the war, including their reporting on “possible violations of human rights and International humanitarian law,” and reminding all sides that journalists are civilians and not targets.

10:29 a.m.: Russia said on Friday that the first phase of its military operation in Ukraine was mostly complete and that it would focus on completely "liberating" eastern Ukraine's Donbass region, Reuters reported. The announcement appeared to indicate that Russia may be switching to more limited goals after running into fierce Ukrainian resistance in the first month of the war.

10:17 a.m.: Lyudmyla Denisova, Ukraine's ombudswoman, has accused Moscow of forcibly removing hundreds of thousands of civilians from obliterated Ukrainian cities to Russia to put pressure on Kyiv to surrender. Denisova said on Friday that 402,000 people, including 84,000 children, had been taken against their will to Russia, where some may be used as "hostages" to press Ukraine to give up. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

10:09 a.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden was in Rzeszow, Poland, on Friday to get a firsthand look at international efforts to help some of the millions of Ukrainian refugees fleeing war in their country and speak to American troops bolstering NATO's eastern flank. Poland hopes that Biden's visit will underline the security assurances already made by the United States that it will defend "every inch" of NATO territory. Warsaw is keen to see even more U.S. troops stationed on NATO's eastern flank. Reuters has this overview of Biden's visit to Poland.

10:05 a.m.: Poland’s President Andrzej Duda arrived in the town of Rzeszow Friday to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden, after an initial delay in which Duda’s airplane experienced technical difficulties and had to return to Warsaw, according to Polish officials. Duda took a back-up plane to Rzeszow, and the program of the visit was slightly changed but would go forward, according to the head of Poland’s Presidential International Policy Bureau, Jakub Kumoch.

9:41 a.m. An airplane carrying Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, who was headed to Rzeszow to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden Friday, returned to the capital Warsaw unexpectedly. Sky News, quoting Polish state-run news, reported Duda’s plane made an emergency landing in Warsaw and he was not in any danger.

9:22 a.m.: On Friday, the U.N. World Health Organization tweeted out a link to its most recent Emergency in Ukraine External Situation Report.

9:10 a.m.: The United States and the European Union have announced a new partnership to reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian energy. US President Joe Biden made the announcement in Brussels alongside European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen. The White House released also released a joint statement on European energy security, and a fact sheet on a task force to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels.

8:38 a.m.: Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense on Friday sent out a tweet praising the people of Ukraine and shared images of ordinary people as they cope with the war.

8:21 a.m.: As Ukrainian troops battle Russian forces, volunteers are helping out where they can. Everything from making hot meals for troops, to creating body armor and sorting donated goods is being done. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty shared these images.

8:15 a.m.: Here are some of the key developments in Russia over the past week and some of the takeaways going forward, according to Steve Gutterman with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

8:08 a.m.: A month since the start of the war, almost a quarter of Ukraine’s population is displaced, and “the seriousness of the situation cannot be overstated,” said Karolina Lindholm Billing, UNHCR’s Representative to Ukraine, who was speaking Friday from Lviv. The UN refugee agency released a statement with her assessment of the current situation.

7:42 a.m.: Pope Francis is presiding Friday over a special prayer for Ukraine, The Associated Press reported. The Mass is Francis’ latest effort to rally prayers for an end to the war while keeping open options for dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church and its influential leader, Patriarch Kirill. Francis has yet to publicly condemn Russia by name for its invasion, though his denunciations have grown increasingly strident and outraged in recent weeks.

7:31 a.m.: Turkey is paying a heavy economic price for its dependency on Ukrainian and Russian wheat, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sees wheat exports drying up. The shortages are raising further concerns in Turkey about skyrocketing inflation, as VOA’s Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul.

Ukraine War Imperils Turkish Wheat Supplies
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7:23 a.m.: Finland’s national railway company says it will suspend services between Helsinki and the Russian city of St. Petersburg from this weekend, closing one of the last public transport routes for Russians who want to reach the European Union, The Associated Press reported Friday. Citing the sanctions imposed on Russia, the head of passenger traffic with state-owned VR, Topi Simola, said that “people who wanted to depart from Russia have had adequate time to leave.”

7:18 a.m.: The UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, on Friday shared the story of two friends – one from Ukraine, the other from Poland – who have reunited in the midst of the Ukraine crisis.

7:15 a.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Poland as his final stop in Europe this week offers a chance to underscore the U.S. commitment to protect a key NATO member on Ukraine’s doorstep and to thank Poles for their generous welcome to refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion, The Associated Press reports. But Poland is also a complicated ally whose populist leaders are accused by some European partners of riding roughshod over democratic norms. Biden’s two-day visit starting Friday follows a trio of emergency war summits in Brussels.

7:09 a.m.: The Kremlin said on Friday that nothing terrible will happen if the United States and its allies succeed in expelling Russia from the Group of Twenty (G20) major economies because many of the G20's members are at economic war with Moscow anyway, Reuters reported. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was commenting on remarks by U.S. President Joe Biden who said he favored Russia being pushed out of the G20 after it sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine. Peskov said the world was much more diverse than the United States and Europe and predicted that U.S. efforts to isolate Moscow, which he said had so far only been partially effective, would fail.

7:03 a.m.: A number of prominent Russians have quite their jobs, condemned the invasion of Ukraine, and left their posts as state-run institutions and companies, The Associated Press reported Friday. So far there have been no indications that the resignations have reached Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. The handful of departures came as Putin blasted those opposing his actions as “scum and traitors,” which Russian society would spit out “like a gnat.”

6:58 a.m.: The United States assesses that Russia is suffering failure rates as high as 60% on some days for some of the precision-guided missiles it is using to attack Ukraine, three U.S. officials with knowledge of the intelligence told Reuters.

6:51 a.m.: Ukrainian troops are recapturing towns east of Kyiv and Russian forces who had been trying to seize the capital are falling back on overextended supply lines, Britain said on Friday, one of the strongest indications yet of a shift in momentum in the war, according to Reuters.

6:45 a.m.: Alexei Venediktov, the former editor of shuttered Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy, said Thursday he received threats at his home, VOA’s Press Freedom Editor Jessica Jerreat reports. In a Telegram post, Venediktov said assailants put a sticker containing an antisemitic slur on his door and a pig’s head on the ground. “They wanted to scare me and my family” Venediktov wrote, adding that after he was subjected to a mock execution in Chechnya in 1994, nothing scares him anymore. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has the story.

6:42 a.m.: Officials in Ukraine said Friday about 300 people died in a Russian airstrike last week on a theater in Mariupol, Ukraine, according to the Associated Press. The theater, which was being used as a bomb shelter, had a large sign on it reading "Children" when it was bombed on March 16.

5:37 a.m.: Ukraine hopes to open a safe corridor to evacuate civilians from the city of Mariupol on Friday, Al Jazeera reports.

5:23 a.m.: The U.K.'s latest intelligence assessment says that Russia's supply lines are overextended and that Ukrainian forces are retaking some areas they'd lost, the BBC reports.

4:29 a.m.: Al Jazeera reports that Germany wants to cut its dependence on Russian oil by 50% by summer and have no Russian hard coal imports by autumn.

3:52 a.m.: U.S. independent think tank the Institute for the Study of War says Russian forces have entered the central part of Mariupol, the BBC reports. The besieged port city has been surrounded by Russian troops since the beginning of the month.

3:05 a.m.: CNN reports that satellite images show much of the city of Izyum, Ukraine, has been destroyed by Russian shelling. Wrecked buildings include a school and a hospital.

1:33 a.m.: The U.N. refugee agency says about 270,000 Ukrainians have moved to Russia since the invasion began, The Washington Post reports. Russia and Ukraine say the number is closer to 400,000, with Russia saying people fled east by choice and Ukraine saying Russia is forcibly moving people.

12:40 a.m.: Al Jazeera reported that Japan has announced more Russian sanctions and an additional $100 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine and neighboring countries supporting it.

12:09 a.m.: CNN reported that according to a U.S. assessment, Ukraine likely had a successful strike against Russian ships in Berdyansk. It wasn't clear what weapons were used in the attack.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.