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Latest Developments in Ukraine: March 28

A funeral is held for two Ukraine soldiers who were killed in battle during Russia's attack on Ukraine, at the Lychakiv cemetery in Lviv, Ukraine, March 28, 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:

8:52 p.m.: Japan will ban the export of luxury goods to Russia in its latest response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, effective April 5, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in a statement released Tuesday, Reuters reported. Prohibited items include luxury cars, motorcycles, liquors, cosmetics, fashion items and art pieces, the ministry said. Russia has called its actions in Ukraine a "special operation.”

7:46 p.m.: Ukraine’s deputy head of the president’s office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said Monday night that more than 1,000 people were evacuated through humanitarian corridors in Ukraine on Sunday, the BBC reported. Tymoshenko said in an online post that a total of 1,099 people were evacuated, including 586 who left the besieged port city of Mariupol by car and 513 who were evacuated from the Luhansk region, the BBC reported.

7:29 p.m.: Amnesty International is accusing Russia of committing war crimes in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, according to The Associated Press. The human rights organization will soon release an in-depth report on the devastation caused by Russia’s assault on the city on the Sea of Azov, Amnesty’s Secretary-General Agnes Callamard said in a press conference in Johannesburg.

5:20 p.m.: A missile attack hit an oil depot in western Ukraine late Monday, Rivne’s regional governor said, according to The Associated Press. It was the second attack on oil facilities in the region and the latest in a series of such attacks in recent days.

Western Ukraine has not seen ground combat, but missiles have struck oil depots and a military plant in Lviv, a major city close to Poland where hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have gone to escape fighting elsewhere, according to the AP report.

4:59 p.m.: National security correspondent Jeff Seldin tweets: Britain confirms Wagner Group mercenaries are in the Donbas – expects Russia to deploy +1,000 for combat operations, pulling form Syria and Africa:

4 p.m.: Ukrainian forces showed off three tanks they captured after retaking control of Lukyanivka, a village 60 kilometers east of Kyiv, from the Russian army. Reporters Levko Stek and Maryan Kushnir visited the village three days after what a resident said was fierce fighting, and they have this report for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

3:39 p.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden said Monday his remark in Warsaw that Russian President Vladimir Putin should be removed from power reflected his own moral outrage, not an administration policy shift, Reuters reported. "I wasn’t then nor am I now articulating a policy change. I was expressing moral outrage that I felt and I make no apologies," he said, noting that he had just visited with families displaced by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Biden added that he was "not walking anything back" by clarifying the remark. Asked whether the remark would spur a negative response from Putin, Biden said, "I don’t care what he thinks. ... He’s going to do what he’s going to do."

3:17 p.m.: A local official said Monday that Russian missiles have hit an oil depot in Rivne Oblast, Ukraine, The Kyiv Independent reported. It’s the third such strike in the past few days.

2:31 p.m. : Residents of Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv use piles of sandbags to surround and protect a statue of its national poet, as fighting for control of the area continues, AFP reported Monday.

2:23 p.m.: On Monday Ukrainian soldiers finished clearing Russian troops from the village of Mala Rogan on the outskirts of Ukraine's second-largest city Kharkiv, Agence France-Presse reported. Ukraine launched its attack on the Russian-controlled village last week, but it took several days to root out Moscow's troops hiding in cellars and nearby forests, the military said. "Our troops are liberating Mala Rogan, and this is hugely important because Russian troops are constantly shelling residential areas of Kharkiv from there," the mayor of Kharkiv, Igor Terekhov, said earlier.

2:15 p.m. : A donor sold a painting by British street artist Banksy and donated the proceeds to Ukraine's largest children’s hospital, The Kyiv Independent reported Monday.

2:05 p.m.: A volunteer who calls himself “Havrush” is in a trench, guarding the Ukrainian capital Kyiv from Russian attack. His position is about a kilometer from a village held by Russian forces. Reporter Borys Schalko talks with him and other volunteers defending Kyiv for Current Time, a co-production of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and VOA.

1:44 p.m. : Russian soldiers who seized the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster drove their armored vehicles without radiation protection through a highly toxic zone called the "Red Forest", kicking up clouds of radioactive dust, workers at the site said. The two sources said soldiers in the convoy did not use any anti-radiation gear. The second Chernobyl employee said that was "suicidal" for the soldiers because the radioactive dust they inhaled was likely to cause internal radiation in their bodies. Reuters reported.

1:26 p.m. : Ukraine says the nuclear research facility in Kharkiv suffered damage after a recent attack, but there has been no leak of nuclear material, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported in a statement Monday. Out of the country’s 15 operational reactors at four sites, the regulator said eight were continuing to operate, including two at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhya NPP, three at Rivne, one at Khmelnytskyy, and two at South Ukraine. The other reactors are shut down for regular maintenance, it added.

1:20 p.m.: A senior Ukrainian official says at least 5,000 people have been buried in the besieged southern city of Mariupol since the invasion began, but that bodies have gone uncollected for the past 10 days amid continuing Russian shelling, according to Agence France-Presse. The foreign ministry describes the humanitarian situation in the city as "catastrophic."

1:09 p.m.: The U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine, Osnat Lubrani, said in a statement Monday that supplies for thousands of people had safely reached the Ukrainian town of Kharkiv. “We continue to scale up our relief operations so that we can reach the most vulnerable people in dire need. To do so we must be guaranteed safe passage by parties to the fighting: we cannot deliver aid when the shelling continues and roads are mined,” Lubrani said.

12:55 p.m.: Ukraine says it will investigate unverified reports that its soldiers tortured Russian troops captured in the fighting as a result of Moscow's invasion. "We take such cases extremely seriously.... There will be an investigation.... We do not torture POWs," Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said in a post on Telegram on March 28. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

12:53 p.m.: Ukraine's military intelligence on Monday published the names and contact details of 620 people it alleged were officers of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) involved in "criminal activities" in Europe, Reuters reported, though it said it could not verify the information. Russia did not immediately comment on the list of names. In a post in Russian on its official website, the intelligence arm of the Ukrainian defense ministry listed people it said were FSB employees registered at the agency's headquarters in Moscow.

12:27 p.m.: “When explosive weapons are used in populated areas, 90 percent of the casualties are civilians, resulting in lasting trauma endured by millions of girls, boys, women and men,” said a statement issued on behalf of the U.N. chief. “The Secretary-General on Monday welcomed consultations due to begin next week on a political declaration to protect civilians living in cities and towns who come under fire from heavy bombing and shelling,” the U.N. said, noting that informal consultations for a treaty on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas – known as EWIPA – will take place in Geneva from April 6-8.

12:20 p.m. : The U.N. Human Rights office on Monday published the latest casualty figures from the war in Ukraine.

12:19 p.m. : The U.N. Secretary-General says he spoke to the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday morning and that the nuclear watchdog agency is planning several initiatives in the coming days to guarantee the security of nuclear facilities inside Ukraine. The U.N. chief was also asked by reporters Monday about growing concerns of a possible nuclear, chemical or biological war in Ukraine. As to the possibility of an unconventional war, he said “that would be something that I believe will be avoided. It must be avoided,” VOA’s Margaret Besheer reported.

12:14 p.m.: A Russian artist doused herself in fake blood in a solo protest in St. Petersburg over the weekend, before police came and took her away. Yevgenia Isayeva stood on the steps of the municipal assembly, repeating the phrase “my heart bleeds.” She also put a sign at her feed with an appeal to passersby not to support “bloodshed” in Ukraine. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

11:43 a.m.: On Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he has asked Martin Griffiths, the coordinator of U.N. humanitarian work worldwide, “immediately to explore with the parties involved the possible agreements and arrangements for a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine." Guterres said Griffiths has already begun making contacts. The U.N. chief hopes to send Griffiths to Moscow and Kyiv as soon as that is possible, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reported.

11:13 a.m.: A senior U.S. defense official provided a readout on Day 33 of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He said Russia has made no progress moving toward the capital Kyiv or anywhere else in the north. “The Ukrainians are continuing to try to take back ground,” he said, though he was unable to immediately verify Ukraine’s claims that it had re-taken Irpin from Russian forces Monday. The senior defense official said Russian forces are “prioritizing the Donbas area” in the east, where there is a lot more ground activity, potentially in an effort by Russia to “cut off the Donbas.” VOA’s National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin monitored the briefing and tweeted out the highlights.

10:53 a.m.: When bombs started falling on Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, last month, Tatyana Zhuravliova had a horrible déjà vu: the 83-year-old Ukrainian Jew felt the same panic she suffered as a little girl when the Nazis were flying air attacks on her hometown of Odesa. Now, in an unexpected twist of history, some of the 10,000 Holocaust survivors who had been living in Ukraine have been taken to safety in Germany, The Associated Press reported Monday.

10:27 a.m.: An actor, a charity worker, an activist, and a journalist – each had their own compelling reasons to get out of Russia as soon as possible after it invaded Ukraine. They spoke to Current Time, a co-production of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and VOA.

10:13 a.m. : Two Ukrainian journalists and three foreign journalists have been killed in the course of their work in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on 24 February, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Monday. In a statement, it called on the Russian and Ukrainian authorities to guarantee the safety of media personnel in Ukraine. “Attacking journalists is a war crime,” it said.

10:05 a.m.: The mayor of Irpin, near Kyiv, said on Monday Ukrainian forces had seized back full control of the town which has been one of the main hotspots of fighting with Russian troops near the capital. "We have good news today - Irpin has been liberated," Mayor Oleksandr Markushyn said in a video post on Telegram. "We understand that there will be more attacks on our town and we will defend it courageously." The information could not immediately be verified by Reuters.

9:56 a.m. : The U.N. World Health Organization reported via Twitter that more Ukrainian donors have been giving blood at the Kyiv City Blood Bank since the Russian invasion began.

9:42 a.m.: Russian shares have slumped as its stock market resumed trading of all companies after a monthlong halt following the invasion of Ukraine, The Associated Press reported Monday. The benchmark MOEX index slid 2.2% Monday after the Moscow Exchange reopened for all of its several hundred listed companies, but with restrictions still in place to limit volatility. Prices whipsawed last week when the exchange tentatively reopened for two days of limited trading.

9:27 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Russian central bank, the government, and Gazprom to present proposals by March 31 for collecting gas payments in rubles from “unfriendly countries,” including all European Union states. Russia will take decisions in due course should European countries refuse to pay in the Russian currency, the Kremlin said on Monday. But the Group of Seven major economies have already agreed to reject the demand, the German energy minister said. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has the story.

9:13 a.m. : Photos of a Ukrainian cat that were shared on social media have helped raise funds to support animals affected by the war in Ukraine, The Kyiv Independent reported Monday.

9:10 a.m.: Workers at a shelter in Dnipro that is home to hundreds of vulnerable animals are vowing to stay on, even as other animal-rescue centers close down amid violence and uncertainty in eastern Ukraine. Maryna Bolokhovets said that, with war raging to the north, south, and east of her rescue center, she and her volunteers are overwhelmed with animals in need of a safe home. Amos Chapple has this story for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

9:09 a.m.: Wealthy Russians are pouring money into real estate in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, seeking a financial haven in the wake of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and Western sanctions, according to many property companies, Reuters reports. "We sell seven to eight units to Russians every day," said Gul Gul, co-founder of the Golden Sign real estate company in Istanbul. "They buy in cash, they open bank accounts in Turkey or they bring gold." In Dubai, Thiago Caldas, CEO of the Modern Living property firm, has hired three Russian-speaking agents to meet Russian interest, which he says has leapt tenfold.

9:02 a.m.: Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday called on countries around the world to rename the addresses where Russian embassies and consulates are located. It suggested, in a tweet, that the streets could be renamed “Ukraine Street.”

9:01 a.m.: Russia's Novaya Gazeta newspaper, whose editor Dmitry Muratov was a co-winner of last year's Nobel Peace Prize, said on Monday it was suspending its online and print activities until the end of Russia's "special operation" in Ukraine. The investigative paper said it had received another warning from state communications regulator Roskomnadzor on Monday about its reporting, prompting it to pause operations. In a separate message to readers, Muratov and his reporters said the decision to halt their activities had been difficult but necessary. "There is no other choice," the note said. "For us, and I know, for you, it's an awful and difficult decision."

8:47 a.m.: Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska has released a video thanking the many countries that have helped Ukraine’s people, in the wake of Russia’s invasion. The video, shared on Twitter Monday by Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, features statements by several first ladies who have publicly expressed support for Ukraine in recent weeks.

8:33 a.m.: Wars attract all sorts and every sort, from the charitable and kindly to criminals and opportunists; oddballs to philanthropists; pacifists to war junkies. And they can all be encountered in the bedraggled, improvised camp just across from Ukraine that sometimes seems a cross between a chaotic local craft fair and the kind of circus that springs up around rock music festivals. VOA’s Jamie Dettmer shares these stories from the Poland-Ukraine border.

8:21 a.m.: 300 pairs of worn shoes are lined up next to the Danube river in Hungary’s capital Budapest, commemorating the victims of a Russian attack on civilians sheltering in a theater in Ukraine’s southern city of Mariupol. Ukraine’s Parliament posted a photo on Twitter of the Hungarian protest, noting that the shoes were placed near a bronze statue that honors the memory of Hungarian Jews killed in World War II.

8:15 a.m.: The European Commission called on EU governments on Monday to end national programs to sell citizenship to investors, also known as golden passports schemes, and urged them to suspend the sale of visas to Russians and Belarusians, Reuters reported. "Some Russian or Belarusian nationals who are subject to sanctions or are significantly supporting the war in Ukraine might have acquired EU citizenship or privileged access to the EU, including to travel freely in the Schengen area, under these schemes," the European Commission said on Monday.

8:13 a.m.: Slovakia has awarded Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy one of the country’s top awards, the State Award of Alexander Dubcek symbolizing "freedom and hope." Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Geger announced late on March 27 that Zelenskyy was being honored with the award, named in honor of the Slovak reformer. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has the story.

8:02 a.m.: A local councilor in southern Russia who criticized Moscow's invasion of Ukraine as amounting to a war crime has said she felt an obligation to speak up and was prepared for the consequences. Russian officials have denied committing war crimes and say their forces in Ukraine have not targeted civilians. The Semiluksky district council in Voronezh, about 500 kms (310 miles) south of Moscow, has asked law enforcement to investigate Nina Belyayeva for extremism after she made the comments at a meeting on March 22. "I'm not afraid," Belyayeva, a lawyer and devout Christian told Reuters in an interview. "The very least that I wanted to do was to say that I am against what’s going on." Public criticism of the war carries risks. Thousands of Russians who took part in protests have been detained over the past month, and a state TV producer who interrupted a live news bulletin holding up an anti-war sign has been fined.

7:46 a.m.: Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, all public hospitals in the country have been operating under martial law and have been working 24/7. Some medical workers have moved their families into the hospital with them, while volunteers have arrived to help. Harutyun Mansuryan reports for Current Time, a co-production of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and VOA.

7:23 a.m.: A Harvard University behavioral scientist has joined hands with a Norwegian computer expert in what has become a global campaign to try to reach millions of Russians, one by one, with persuasive facts about their country’s invasion of Ukraine, The Harvard Gazette reported. “We try to understand how you can talk to people who dramatically disagree with your view of the world in a way that doesn't blow up into a screaming match—and actually leads to persuasion and ongoing dialogue,” says Julia Minson, associate professor of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School.

7:18 a.m.: Individuals who display the letter "Z" in Germany to symbolize support for Russia's war in Ukraine could be liable to prosecution, an Interior Ministry spokesperson said on Monday. The letter Z has been used as a marking on Russian military vehicles taking part in the conflict and has been adopted by Russians supporting the war, with it being prominent on flags and at pro-Kremlin rallies, Reuters reported. "The Russian war of aggression on the Ukraine is a criminal act, and whoever publicly approves of this war of aggression can also make himself liable to prosecution," the Interior Ministry spokesperson told a regular government news conference.

7:10 a.m.: A “Concert for Peace” was held in Paris over the weekend, with proceeds going to victims of the war in Ukraine, Agence France-Presse reports.

7:08 a.m.: The Kremlin said that peace talks between Russia and Ukraine may get under way in Turkey on Tuesday and it was important that they would take place face-to-face, after what it described as a lack of major progress in negotiations so far, Reuters reported. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed in a telephone call on Sunday for Istanbul to host the talks. Turkey said the talks could begin as early as Monday, but Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that was unlikely as the negotiators would only be arriving in Turkey on Monday. "While we cannot and will not speak about progress at the talks, the fact that they (are) continuing to take place in person is important, of course," Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

7:06 a.m.: Ukraine’s Economy Minister says that Ukraine has lost over $560 billion since Russia invaded the country, The Kyiv Independent reported Monday.

7:01 a.m.: The World Food Program warns food is getting harder to find in Ukraine as the war grinds on, forcing people to resort to extreme measures. Ukraine, a country of 44 million people, is running out of food. The World Food Program estimates 45% of the country’s people are worried about finding enough to eat. WFP calls the country’s food supply chain broken. VOA’s Lisa Schlein reports.

6:52 a.m.: With its aspirations for a quick victory dashed by a stiff Ukrainian resistance, Russia has increasingly focused on grinding down Ukraine’s military in the east, The Associated Press reported Monday. If Russia succeeds in encircling and destroying Ukrainian forces in the Donbas region, it could try to dictate its terms to Kyiv and, possibly, attempt to split the country in two. The chief of Ukrainian military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, said Sunday the change of focus could reflect Putin’s hope to break Ukraine in two, like North and South Korea. “He can’t swallow the entire country,” Budanov said, adding that Russia appears to be trying “to pull the occupied territories into a single quasi-state structure and pit it against independent Ukraine.”

6:49 a.m.: The Kremlin said on Monday that U.S. President Joe Biden's remark that Vladimir Putin could not remain in power was a cause for alarm, Reuters reported. Asked about Biden's comment, which was given little coverage on Russian state television, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "This is a statement that is certainly alarming." The White House tried to clarify Biden's remarks and the president on Sunday said he had not been calling for regime change.

6:30 a.m.: German broadcaster Deutsche Welle has been added to Russia’s “foreign agents” list of media organizations, a label that requires outlets to publish a disclaimer, Reuters reported. The Russian state regulator blocked the broadcaster in early March. It has also voted in a new law imposing 15-year prison term for spreading “false news” on Russian military operations. Deutsche Welle joins a list of other media organizations with such designation, including Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, parts of the Voice of America and the BBC among others.

6:00 a.m.: Russian ambassador to Poland said Monday the 45 Russian diplomats that have been identified as working in Poland as spies have now left the country, Reuters reported, citing Russia’s Tass News Agency.

Earlier, Russia said it would take retaliatory measures and expel Polish diplomats “on the principle of reciprocity.” VOA has this story.

5:30 a.m.: Speaking to Serbian media outlets, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiyy to exchange views on the conflict right now would be counterproductive, according to Reuters.

4:40 a.m.: Dutch brewer Heineken announced on Monday it was pulling out of Russia, becoming the latest Western firm to exit the country in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The beer company had already halted the sale and production of its Heineken brand in Russia, as well as suspended new investments and exports to the country earlier this month, Agence France-Presse reported.

3:30 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity” are a priority as Ukraine and Russia head into a new round of peace talks.

“We are looking for peace, really, without delay,” Zelenskyy said in a video address late Sunday. “There is an opportunity and a need for a face-to-face meeting in Turkey. This is not bad. Let’s see the outcome.”

Earlier Sunday, in call with Russian journalists, Zelenskyy said Ukraine was open to adopting neutral status as part of a peace deal, if it came with third-party guarantees and was put to a referendum.

Reuters quotes an aide to Zelenskyy as saying Turkey is among countries that could be a guarantor for Ukraine on security issues. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with Erdogan’s office saying he stressed the need for a cease-fire and more humanitarian aid in the region.

2:00 a.m.: A fifth week of unprovoked war waged by Russia on neighboring Ukraine. More than 10 million Ukrainians are now displaced both in and outside the country.

Russian shelling continues throughout Ukraine despite the Kremlin announcing new battleplans focused on the eastern region. On a trip to Europe, President Joe Biden says Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power” but later U.S. officials clarify that Washington is not seeking regime change. VOA’s Arash Arabasadi has this story.

Russia Batters Neighbor as Monthlong War in Ukraine Continues
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1:40 a.m.: In its battleground intelligence report, the U.K. defense ministry said Monday that there has been “no significant change to Russian Forces dispositions in occupied Ukraine,” in the last 24 hours.

“Ongoing logistical shortages have been compounded by a continued lack of momentum and morale amongst the Russian military, and aggressive fighting by the Ukrainians,” the statement said, adding that “Russia has gained most ground in the south in the vicinity of Mariupol where heavy fighting continues as Russia attempts to capture the port.”

12: 20 a.m.: Actress and Ukraine native Mila Kunis made a plea to support Ukrainians during the Academy Awards telecast.

“Recent global events have left many of us feeling gutted,” Kunis said. “Yet, when you witness the strength and dignity of those facing such devastation, it’s impossible to not be moved by their resilience. One cannot help but be in awe of those who find [the] strength to keep fighting through unimaginable darkness.”

Kunis and her husband Ashton Kutcher have raised more than $35 million to support humanitarian efforts in the region. They also participated in a video call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss the conflict.

During the show other presenters made reference to the war including co-host Amy Schumer who calledthe conflict a “genocide.”