Ukraine news – latest: Biden criticised for Putin remark, as Kyiv says Russia ‘trying to split country in two’

Claud Mccoid

Table of Contents

Joe Biden sparked backlash by saying that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power” because of his invasion of Ukraine.

During a visit to Poland on Saturday, the US president also branded Putin a “butcher” and said the world “will have a brighter future” without him in the Kremlin.

Mr Biden was accused of making “a dangerous situation more dangerous” by Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations.

The White House has denied Mr Biden was calling for Putin to be overthrown. An official said the president had meant that Putin “cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbours or the region”.

Meanwhile, Putin’s regime is trying to “create a North and South Korea in Ukraine” after failing to takeover the whole country – according to Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Ukrainian millitary intelligence, said.

He added that Ukraine would soon launch guerrilla warfare in Russian-occupied territory.

Key Points

  • Putin ‘cannot remain in power’, says Biden

  • White House rows back Biden’s regime change remarks

  • Zelensky accuses Russia of sowing hatred among Ukrainians

  • Ukrainian forces regain towns in Russian control, report says

  • Ukraine detains suspected spy in Lviv after missile strikes

  • Russia has destroyed 4,500 residential buildings, says Kyiv

  • Moscow ‘firing at nuclear reactor facility’ in Kharkiv

Russia ‘trying to split Ukraine – like North and South Korea’

11:09 , Lamiat Sabin

Vladimir Putin’s regime is accused of trying to “create a North and South Korea in Ukraine”.

Russia is attempting to split Ukraine in two to create a Moscow-controlled region – after failing to take over the whole country – Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Ukrainian millitary intelligence, said.

Pro-Russian troops on tanks (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

“In fact, it is an attempt to create North and South Korea in Ukraine,” Mr Budanov said in a statement.

He added that Ukraine would soon launch guerrilla warfare in Russian-occupied territory.

‘LPR could hold referendum on joining Russia’ – Pasechnik

10:40 , Lamiat Sabin

The self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) in eastern Ukraine could reportedly soon hold a referendum on joining Russia.

This is according to the local separatist leader Leonid Pasechnik, as cited by the Moscow-backed republic’s news outlet.

Leonid Pasechnik, leader of LPR (Creative Commons)

Leonid Pasechnik, leader of LPR (Creative Commons)

Pasechnik said, as the report states: “I think that in the near future a referendum will be held on the territory of the Republic, in which the people exercise their absolute constitutional right and express their opinion on joining the Russian Federation.”

Before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin declared LPR and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) as independent and then sent “peacekeeping” troops into the country.

US ‘has no strategy of Russia regime change’ – Blinken

10:08 , Lamiat Sabin

The US has no strategy of regime change for Russia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

He made the comments to reporters after Joe Biden sparked accusations of planning a regime change after he said on Saturday that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”.

Antony Blinken in Jerusalem (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Antony Blinken in Jerusalem (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Mr Blinken said on a visit to Jerusalem: “I think the president, the White House, made the point last night that, quite simply, President Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else.

“As you know, and as you have heard us say repeatedly, we do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia – or anywhere else, for that matter.”

Biden’s comments ‘made a difficult situation more difficult’

09:40 , Lamiat Sabin

Joe Biden is accused of making the situation surrounding the Russian invasion of Ukraine “more dangerous”.

The US president said that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”, which sparked accusations that he was calling for a regime change in Russia.

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted: “The comments by [Biden] made a difficult situation more difficult and a dangerous situation more dangerous. That is obvious.

“Less obvious is how to undo the damage, but I suggest his chief aides reach their counterparts & make clear US prepared to deal with this Russian govt.”

Eight Russian tanks destroyed in Donetsk and Luhansk

09:20 , Lamiat Sabin

Ukrainian troops repelled seven attacks by pro-Russia forces in the separatist-controlled region of Donbas, Ukraine said.

As a result, eight tanks were destroyed in the Donetsk and Luhansk areas, according to Ukraine’s General Staff.

Meanwhile, Russia’s defence ministry reported a battle for control of two villages near Donetsk.

‘Up to the Russian people’ whether Putin remains in power

09:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Russian people will “decide the fate” of Vladimir Putin “and his cronies”, UK education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said.

The Conservative minister was asked if the government agreed with US president Joe Biden that Putin “cannot remain in power”.

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi (Alastair Grant/AP)

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi (Alastair Grant/AP)

Mr Zahawi said: “I think that’s up to the Russian people. The Russian people, I think, are pretty fed up with what is happening in Ukraine, this illegal invasion, the destruction of their own livelihoods, their economy is collapsing around them and I think the Russian people will decide the fate of Putin and his cronies.”

There is “evidence that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine”, he added.

Mr Zahawi said, when questioned by Sky News about Mr Biden’s comments on regime change in Russia: “It’s an illegal invasion of Ukraine and that must end, and I think that’s what the president was talking about.”

Kremlin admits responsibility for Lviv missile strikes

08:40 , Lamiat Sabin

Russia fired high-precision cruise missiles from the sea to strike military targets in Lviv, the Russian defence ministry said.

On Saturday, the long-range missiles destroyed a radio repair workshops and a fuel depot in the city – according to Russian news agency RIA citing the Kremlin. Near Kyiv, a missile storage unit was also targeted.

People watch smoke rising following explosions in Lviv (Nariman El-Mofty/AP)

People watch smoke rising following explosions in Lviv (Nariman El-Mofty/AP)

Authorities in Lviv had reported that “three powerful explosions” were seen in the region, and videos shared on social media show a number of missiles flying across the sky.

Lviv, in western Ukraine, was considered to be a safer place for Ukrainians as it was furthest away from Russian invaders and close to the border with Poland – where the majority of millions of refugees fled to.

The descendants of Jewish refugees opening their doors to Ukrainians in the UK

08:15 , Stuti Mishra

As millions of Ukrainians flee from the devastation caused by Vladimir Putin’s troops, people in the UK have come forward in their droves to offer their homes,” writes May Bulman.

More than 150,000 members of the British public have signed up to the government’s Homes for Ukraine hosting scheme.

The scheme itself has got off to a slow start, which has prompted some criticism. But the outpouring of compassion and willingness to help has been immense, and prospective hosts are hoping they will soon be able to offer traumatised refugees a roof over their head and some comfort.

Among those most keen to host are people for whom this refugee crisis feels particularly close to home, because it wasn’t long ago that their own parents and grandparents were forced to make a similar escape, fleeing brutal anti-Semitism in Europe and finding sanctuary in the UK.

The Independent has spoken to Britons whose Jewish ancestors fled either the pogroms in the late 19th and early 20th century or the Nazi regime during the Second World War, and have now signed up to become sponsors under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Read more:

The descendants of Jewish refugees opening their doors to Ukrainians in the UK

Ukraine-Russia agree on two evacuation corridors, including from Mariupol

07:50 , Stuti Mishra

Ukraine and Russia have agreed on two “humanitarian corridors” today to evacuate civilians from frontline areas, including allowing people to leave by private car from the southern city of Mariupol, deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

Earlier, the two countries reached an agreement to try to evacuate civilians trapped in towns and cities through 10 “humanitarian corridors”, however, they could not agree on a corridor for Mariupol.

Ms Vereshchuk earlier said the Russian forces were not letting buses through their checkpoints around the southern port city.

Ukraine and Russia have traded blame when humanitarian corridors have failed to work in recent weeks.

Russian forces ‘concentrating effort to encircle Ukrainian forces’ says MoD

07:30 , Stuti Mishra

Russian forces appear to be concentrating their effort to attempt the encirclement of Ukrainian forces directly facing the separatist regions in the east of the country, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has said in its latest intelligence report.

It said Russian forces were advancing from the direction of Kharkiv in the north and Mariupol in the south.

However, the battlefield across northern Ukraine “remains largely static with local Ukrainian counterattacks hampering Russian attempts to reorganise their forces.”

Russia is destroying Ukrainian fuel and food storage, interior ministry adviser says

07:08 , Stuti Mishra

Russia has started destroying Ukrainian fuel and food storage depots, meaning the government will have to disperse the stocks of both in the near future, Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Speaking on local television today, Mr Denysenko also said Russia was bringing forces to the Ukrainian border on rotation and could make new attempts to advance in its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia forcibly removed 40,000 Ukrainians, Ukraine’s deputy PM accuses

06:51 , Stuti Mishra

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said that Russia forcibly removed 40,000 Ukrainians “in an unknown direction” through “quasi-humanitarian corridors”, Nexta TV reports.

This removal of people was not coordinated with the Ukrainian authorities, the Belarus based outlet reported Ms Vereshchuk as saying.

This comes after Ukraine and Russia reached an agreement earlier to try to evacuate civilians trapped in towns and cities through 10 “humanitarian corridors”.

Highlights from Volodymyr Zelensky’s address

06:23 , Stuti Mishra

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in his latest address, called on west to provide planes and tanks to Kyiv and asked whether the delay was because they were afraid of Moscow.

Here’s a quick recap of his address late on Saturday:

“We’ve already been waiting 31 days. Who is in charge of the Euro-Atlantic community? Is it really still Moscow, because of intimidation?”

“I am in constant contact with the defenders of Mariupol, their determination, their heroism, resilience are impressive. I am grateful to each of them, to each of them. I wish at least a percentage of their courage to those who have been thinking for 31 days how to transfer a dozen or two of planes or tanks,” he further said.

“Ukraine cannot shoot down Russian missiles using shotguns, machine guns, which are too much in supplies.”

Volodymyr Zelensky

“And it is impossible to unblock Mariupol without a sufficient number of tanks, other armored vehicles and, of course, aircraft. All defenders of Ukraine know that. All defenders of Mariupol know that. Thousands of people know that – citizens, civilians who are dying there in the blockade.”

“The United States knows that. All European politicians know. We told everyone. And this should be known as soon as possible by as many people on Earth as possible. So that everyone understands who and why was simply afraid to prevent this tragedy. Afraid to simply make a decision.”

He also emphasised that there was “there has never been a language problem in Ukraine” and it was Russia “doing everything to ensure that de-russification takes place”., called on west to

“By the way, we spoke today with our military in Mariupol, with our heroes who are defending this city. We spoke in Russian, because there is no language problem in Ukraine and there has never been,” Mr Zelensky, a native Russian speaker, said in the language. “But now you, the Russian occupiers, are creating this problem.”

“This is another manifestation of your suicide policy, “the Ukrainian president said.

 (AP)

(AP)

Welcoming Ukraine’s refugees is taking its toll on Poland

05:47 , Stuti Mishra

It’s been a month since the war in Ukraine started, and the flow of refugees arriving at Warsaw’s biggest railway station shows no sign of abating, write Dorota Bartyzel and Konrad Krasuski.

Crowds of people disembark trains from the border and wait for shuttle buses to temporary shelters at exhibition and sports venues. Outside, passers-by are asked for directions.

The unflinching support for their neighbours – at least 2.1 million of them and counting – has turned into a pivotal moment for Poles, but it’s also now raising some urgent questions over what happens next, politically and economically.

Read more:

Welcoming Ukraine’s refugees is taking its toll on Poland

White House rows back Biden’s regime change remarks

05:30 , Stuti Mishra

The White House scrambled to row back Joe Biden’s declaration that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”, insisting he was not calling for a regime change.

A White House official tried to argue that the US president’s point was that the Russian leader “cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbours or the region”.

“He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change,” the official added before reports in the US suggested the remarks in question had not been scripted.

This came after the US president, in an impassioned speech in Warsaw, appealed to the Russian people directly, with comparisons between the invasion of Ukraine and the horrors of the Second World War.

“For God’s sake this man cannot remain in power,” the US president said at the close of his speech of the Russian president he earlier described as a “butcher”.

Sam Blewett has more details:

White House rows back Biden’s regime change remarks about ‘butcher’ Putin

Mea Culpa: sympathy for Ukrainians displaced by rubble

05:15 , Stuti Mishra

Questions of language and style in last week’s Independent, reviewed by John Rentoul.

Mea Culpa: sympathy for Ukrainians displaced by rubble

Russia facing weapon failure could revert to ‘less sophisticated missiles’, MoD says

05:00 , Stuti Mishra

The UK Ministry of Defence in its latest intelligence update says Russia has continued strikes across Ukraine, including on “many targets in densely populated civilian areas”.

It also said Russia continued to rely on so-called stand-off munitions – missiles launched from a distance – “in order to reduce their aircrafts’ exposure to Ukrainian air defence forces.”

“US reporting of up to 60 per cent failure rates of these weapons will compound Russia’s problem of increasingly limited stocks forcing them to revert to less sophisticated missiles or accepting more risk to their aircraft,” it continued.

IAEA expresses concern over safety of workers at Chernobyl plant

04:35 , Stuti Mishra

The International Atomic Energy Agency has expressed concern for workers at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant after Russia seized control of the town of Slavutych, home to many of the staffers working at the plant.

In a statement, the agency said director general Rafael Mariano Grossi said that the agency remains “concerned about the ability of staff at the Chornobyl NPP to regularly rotate and return to their homes in the nearby city of Slavutych to rest.”

The town sits just outside a safety exclusion zone around Chernobyl – the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986 – where Ukrainian staff have continued to manage the site even after the territory was occupied by Russian forces soon after the start of the 24 February invasion.

The agency said there has been no rotation of staff for a week now, citing Ukrainian authorities. There was “no information when or whether” a new change of work shift would take place, it said.

Mr Grossi stressed that the ability of NPP staff to carry out their important tasks without undue pressure is one of the seven indispensable pillars for nuclear safety that he outlined earlier this month.

Ukrainian forces regain towns in Russian control, report says

04:15 , Stuti Mishra

Ukrainian forces have managed to retake a number of towns across the country, according to local media outlet Kyiv Independent.

Multiple reports emerging on late Saturday say two small towns, Poltavka and Malynivka, in the south-eastern region of Zaporizhzhia, which had been in Russian control, had been liberated by Ukrainian forces.

“Ukrainian forces launched successful counterattacks against Russian troops, ousting them from the temporarily-occupied villages in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Heavy fighting occurred in both villages,” the Kyiv Independent tweeted.

Another report claimed the town of Trostyanets in the northern region of Sumy had “returned under the Ukrainian flag” on Saturday.

Ukrainian forces are fighting to gain more territories that Russia has gained control of since the beginning of the invasion.

This map shows the extent of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (Press Association Images)

This map shows the extent of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (Press Association Images)

West too scared of Russia to arm Ukraine, suggests Zelensky

04:02 , Stuti Mishra

Volodymyr Zelensky in his nightly address demanded Western nations provide Ukraine with more useful military hardware and asked whether they were afraid of Moscow.

Several countries have promised to supply more anti-armour and anti-aircraft missiles as well as small arms but the Ukrainian president said Kyiv needed tanks, planes and anti-ship systems.

“That is what our partners have, that is what is just gathering dust there. This is all for not only the freedom of Ukraine, but for the freedom of Europe,” he said in a late-night video address.

Ukraine needed just 1 per cent of Nato’s aircraft and 1 per cent of its tanks and would not ask for more, he said.Liam James has more here:

West too scared of Russia to arm Ukraine, suggests Zelensky

Satellite images show sky turned black by thick smoke after Russian bombing of fuel depot near Kyiv

02:50 , Liam James

The sky over a Ukrainian village near Kyiv turned black after a Russian air stike on a fuel storage facility.

Satellite images from Maxar show thick smoke billowing from a huge fire at the site of the attack in Kalynivka, some 25 miles south of the Ukrainian capital, on Thursday night.

AFP reported that the fire continued into the next day.

Russia said it fired “Kalibir high-precision sea-based cruise missiles” at the fuel depot, which it claimed was the largest remaining fuel base of the Ukrainian military.

Satellite images show sky turned black after Russian bombing of fuel depot near Kyiv

‘Refugees can’t afford to wait’: The British company boss filling the hole in the Homes for Ukraine scheme

00:50 , Liam James

“I can’t match up 120,000 refugees on my own,” says Kevin Cabra Netherton. “We need more support.”

In just five days, the founder and chief executive of a Yorkshire campervan hire company has matched 18 Ukrainians fleeing the war with host families back in Britain, and is busy submitting visa applications for them (Jane Dalton writes).

“I’m happy to be here to get the ball rolling and get as many people as we can through but this needs more organisations,” he tells The Independent from his makeshift office, which is little more than a desk in a corridor at the headquarters of relief charity Caritas in the city of Lublin, 130 miles from the Ukrainian border.

Mr Cabra Netherton left his brother running his company to travel to Poland to step in and fill a gap in the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme. Together with friend Oli Reynolds, he is helping people forced to abandon their homes who want to come to the UK to apply for visas and identifying suitable volunteers who will put them up.

Full story here:

Russian general who told troops war would be over ‘in hours’ killed in Ukraine

Saturday 26 March 2022 23:55 , Liam James

Another Russian general has been killed in combat, according to Ukraine’s defence ministry.

Lieutenant General Yakov Rezantsev is the seventh general Ukraine claims to have killed since Russia invaded.

Oleksiy Arestovych said Rezantsev died amid intense fighting at Chornobaivka airfield, a site near Kherson which Russian forces have been using as a command post.

Days after the invasion began, Rezantsev was confident the Russian campaign would be successful within a matter of hours, according to a conversation intercepted by the Ukrainian army.

Russian general who told troops war would be over ‘in hours’ killed in Ukraine

Ukraine detains suspected spy in Lviv after attacks

Saturday 26 March 2022 23:15 , Liam James

A man was detained on suspicion of espionage at the site of one of the rocket attacks in Lviv today, according to the region governor.Maksym Kozytsky said police found the man had recorded a rocket flying toward the target and striking it.

Police also found on his telephone photos of checkpoints in the region, which Kozytsky said had been sent to two Russian telephone numbers.In Lviv today rockets hit an oil storage facility and an unspecified industrial facility, wounding at least five people.

A thick plume of smoke and towering flames could be seen on Lviv’s outskirts hours after the attacks.

Majority of Britons back no visa rules for Ukraine refugees, poll finds

Saturday 26 March 2022 23:00 , Liam James

More than half of UK voters think Boris Johnson’s government should ditch visa requirements for Ukrainian refugees to allow unlimited numbers to seek sanctuary here, a new poll for The Independent has found.

Just one in five (21 per cent) said the government should stick to its requirement for visas for those fleeing Vladimir Putin’s invasion, compared to 54 per cent who said the policy should be dropped.

Charities have warned that the visa process for the Homes for Ukraine scheme, which seeks to match refugees with British sponsors who have spare rooms, was proving much too “slow and bureaucratic”.

Lawyers also said long delays getting visas under the family scheme meant some refugees were close to running out of money and becoming increasingly vulnerable to traffickers.

The Savanta ComRes poll found that the government’s policy on refugees was souring public opinion on Mr Johnson’s response to the Ukraine war.

Majority of Britons back no visa rules for Ukraine refugees, poll finds

Satellite images show sky turned black after Russian attack on fuel depot

Saturday 26 March 2022 22:28 , Liam James

The sky over a Ukrainian village some 25 miles southwest of Kyiv turned black after a Russian air stike on a fuel storage facility on Friday.

Satellite images from Maxar show thick smoke billowing from a huge fire at the site of the attack in Kalynivka.

AFP reported that the fire continued into the next day.

Hundreds of miles to the west, Russia was reported by local officials in Lviv to have attacked a fuel storage facility on Saturday.

Satellite photo shows burning fuel storage facility in Kalynivka on Friday (Maxar/AP)

Satellite photo shows burning fuel storage facility in Kalynivka on Friday (Maxar/AP)

A fuel storage facility burns after Russian attacks Kalynivka on Friday (AFP/Getty)

A fuel storage facility burns after Russian attacks Kalynivka on Friday (AFP/Getty)

Motorists drive near Kalynivka while smoke rises in the background after the attack on Friday (AFP/Getty)

Motorists drive near Kalynivka while smoke rises in the background after the attack on Friday (AFP/Getty)

A man is pictured near the site of the attack in Kalynivka (AFP/Getty)

A man is pictured near the site of the attack in Kalynivka (AFP/Getty)

Biden unwise to say he want Putin out, says Tory defence chair

Saturday 26 March 2022 21:58 , Liam James

Joe Biden was “unwise” to suggest he wanted Vladimir Putin to leave office, the Conservative chair of the Britain’s parliamentary defence committee.

Tobias Ellwood MP warned the Russian president will now see regime change as Mr Biden’s wider objective, adding: “Putin will spin this, dig in and fight harder.”

The US president earlier appeared to call for an end to Mr Putin’s regime. At a speech in Warsaw he said: “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” in reference to Mr Putin.

The White House quickly rowed back on his remarks and insisted he was not explicitly calling for Mr Putin to be removed.

A spokesperson later said Mr Biden had meant only that “Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbours or the region”.

Kharkiv: Photos show life in city under fire

Saturday 26 March 2022 21:30 , Liam James

Kharkiv has been bombarded for weeks by Russian forces.

Residents of Ukraine’s second city have been forced to adapt to life under attack.

Pictures from inside Kharkiv show how they are getting by.

Municipal employees cover the city’s monuments with sand bags to protect them from strikes (AFP/Getty)

Municipal employees cover the city’s monuments with sand bags to protect them from strikes (AFP/Getty)

Lena Artyomenka, who has been sheltering in a metro station since the first day of the war, prepares food in a subway car where she currently lives (Reuters)

Lena Artyomenka, who has been sheltering in a metro station since the first day of the war, prepares food in a subway car where she currently lives (Reuters)

People try to extinguish a fire in a market after a Russian attack in Kharkiv on Friday (AP)

People try to extinguish a fire in a market after a Russian attack in Kharkiv on Friday (AP)

Natalia, 72, saves abandoned cats in a multi-storey house basement that she uses as a bomb shelter hiding from the Russian shelling in Kharkiv (AP)

Natalia, 72, saves abandoned cats in a multi-storey house basement that she uses as a bomb shelter hiding from the Russian shelling in Kharkiv (AP)

Breaking: Russia firing at nuclear reactor facility in Kharkiv, Ukraine says

Saturday 26 March 2022 20:49 , Thomas Kingsley

Russian forces are again firing at a nuclear research facility in Kharkiv, the Ukrainian parliament has said.

Read the full breaking news story below:

Russia firing at nuclear reactor facility in Kharkiv, Ukraine says

No deaths in Lviv strikes, city mayor says

Saturday 26 March 2022 20:30 , Thomas Kingsley

Lviv’s mayor Andriy Sadovyi confirmed there were no deaths following today’s air strikes on the city.

“In one of the schools near the place of the airstrike, windows were broken by a shock wave,” he said sharing an image of the damge.

Kharkiv nuclear research reactor hit by Russian shelling – local reports

Saturday 26 March 2022 20:16 , Thomas Kingsley

A nuclear research reactor in Kharkiv has been hit by Russian shelling according to local news outlet Kyiv Independent.

The nuclear research reactor at the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology has come under renewed Russian fire.

Ukrainian authorities have not yet been able to assess damage to the site, due to constant shelling.

Watch: Joe Biden calls Putin ‘butcher’ during visit to Ukrainian refugee camps in Poland

Saturday 26 March 2022 20:00 , Thomas Kingsley

Kremlin spokesman dismisses Biden comment on Putin not staying in power

Saturday 26 March 2022 19:45 , Thomas Kingsley

The Kremlin’s chief spokesman on Saturday dismissed a remark by US president Joe Biden that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power,” saying Russians choose who their leader should be.

Asked about Mr Biden’s comment, spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters: “That’s not for Biden to decide. The president of Russia is elected by Russians.”

A White House official said Biden, who was speaking in Warsaw, had not been calling for regime change in Russia

 (via REUTERS)

(via REUTERS)

Watch: Battle for Ukraine will ‘not be won in months’, says Biden

Saturday 26 March 2022 19:41 , Thomas Kingsley

‘Food is running out, and shelling and bombing doesn’t stop’ – life in Chernihiv

Saturday 26 March 2022 19:30 , Thomas Kingsley

The Associated Press is reporting that just like Mariupol, Chernihiv is similarly blockaded and pounded from afar by Russian troops, leaving the city’s remaining residents terrified with each blast and bodies lying uncollected in the streets.

“In basements at night, everyone is talking about one thing: Chernihiv becoming (the) next Mariupol,” 38-year-old resident Ihar Kazmerchak, a linguistics scholar, told the Associated Press via a cellphone with a dying battery.

“Food is running out, and shelling and bombing doesn’t stop,” he said.

Chernihiv is located between the Desna and Dnieper rivers, straddling one of the main roads that Russian troops invading from Belarus used on 24 February for what the Kremlin hoped would be a quick hit onward to the capital, Kyiv, just 147 kilometers (91 miles) away.

 (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Russia has destroyed 4,500 residential buildings in Ukraine – Kyiv minister

Saturday 26 March 2022 19:15 , Thomas Kingsley

Russia has destroyed about 4,500 residential buildings, 100 enterprises, 400 educational institutions and 150 medical establishments in Ukraine, a Ukrainian government minister says.

The total damage across the country will be assessed after the end of hostilities and removal of mines, minister for community and territorial development Oleksiy Chernyshov says, as quoted by the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.

According to preliminary assessments, the losses incurred by Ukraine have reached tens of billions of US dollars, with the sum increasing daily.

APTOPIX Russia Ukraine War (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

APTOPIX Russia Ukraine War (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ICYMI: ‘We are with you in this fight’: Tens of thousands march in London in solidarity with Ukraine

Saturday 26 March 2022 19:00 , Thomas Kingsley

Thousands have gathered and marched in central London in support of Ukraine.

The huge sea of protesters, draped in blue and yellow colours, started near Hyde Park, before snaking through the roads towards Trafalgar Square.

They chanted “stand with Ukraine” and “stop the war”, with roads being closed off and traffic stopped.

Read the full report below:

‘We are with you in this fight’: Tens of thousands march in solidarity with Ukraine

White House says Biden is not calling for regime change in Russia

Saturday 26 March 2022 18:45 , Thomas Kingsley

US president Joe Biden was not calling for regime change in Russia when he said on Saturday that Russian president Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power,” a White House official said.

“The President’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change,” the official said following Biden’s speech in Warsaw.

US president Joe Biden delivers a speech at the Royal Castle in Warsaw (Petr David Josek/AP) (AP)

US president Joe Biden delivers a speech at the Royal Castle in Warsaw (Petr David Josek/AP) (AP)

Lviv strike: Pictures show fire at industrial site

Saturday 26 March 2022 18:31 , Liam James

Several missile strikes have been reported in Lviv today.

Pictures from the scene show thick black smoke rising over the western city as firefighters tackle a blaze at an industrial facility.

Firefighters at the site of a fire at an industrial facility in Lviv (Getty)

Firefighters at the site of a fire at an industrial facility in Lviv (Getty)

From the scene in Lviv (Getty)

From the scene in Lviv (Getty)

Smoke from a fire at an industrial facility in Lviv rises over the city (Getty)

Smoke from a fire at an industrial facility in Lviv rises over the city (Getty)

A youth sits on the top of a hill watching dark smoke and flames rising from a fire after a missile strike in Lviv (AFP/Getty)

A youth sits on the top of a hill watching dark smoke and flames rising from a fire after a missile strike in Lviv (AFP/Getty)

Putin ‘cannot remain in power’, says Biden

Saturday 26 March 2022 18:15 , Liam James

Joe Biden said Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”, and his war against Ukraine has been a strategic failure for Moscow.

Speaking in Poland, Mr Biden suggested the Russian president was misguided and said Nato was a defensive alliance which never sought Russia’s demise.

He told a crowd in Warsaw: “Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, for free people refused to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness.

“We will have a different future, a brighter future, rooted in democracy and principle, hope and light, of decency and dignity, of freedom and possibilities.

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”

Update – More missile strikes reported in Lviv

Saturday 26 March 2022 17:48 , Liam James

The mayor of Lviv said another missile had hit Lviv around an hour after reporting two strikes on the city.

Governor of the region, Maksym Kozytsky, reported “three more powerful explosions” around the same time.

Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said “significant damage” was caused to infrastructure by the later strike. He said a fuel storage facility was set on fire when the earlier missiles hit.

Sadiq Khan urges UK to ‘do more’ to assist refugees from Ukraine

Saturday 26 March 2022 17:25 , Thomas Kingsley

The UK should be doing “much more” to aid Ukrainian refugees, Sadiq Khan has said, as he joined a march in support of the country.

A large crowd, including the Mayor of London, gathered near Hyde Park on Saturday afternoon for a march and vigil to send a unified message of support to the people of Ukraine.

Speaking ahead of the demonstration, Mr Khan said he was there to condemn Russia’s “barbaric aggression”.

Read the full report here:

Sadiq Khan urges UK to ‘do more’ to assist refugees from Ukraine

Roman Abramovich associate has private jets detained indefinitely by UK government

Saturday 26 March 2022 17:15 , Thomas Kingsley

The British government has indefinitely detained private jets owned by a sanctioned Russian oligarch, Thomas Kingsley reports.

Two jets belonging to billionaire tycoon Eugene Shvidler had been under investigation at Farnborough and Biggin Hill airports for three weeks and have now been detained indefinitely, transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed on Saturday.

Mr Shvidler, who was sanctioned for his ties to Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, is a former boss and shareholder in Mr Abramovich’s steel giant Evraz PLC and has been identified as a person benefitting from or supporting president Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Read the full story below:

Abramovich associate has private jets detained indefinitely by UK government

Watch live as Joe Biden delivers speech in Warsaw on efforts to support Ukraine

Saturday 26 March 2022 17:00 , Thomas Kingsley

Fire at fuel storage site following missile strike – Lviv mayor

Saturday 26 March 2022 16:50 , Thomas Kingsley

An industrial facility where fuel is stored is on fire following recent missile strikes, Lviv’s mayor has said.

“All relevant services are working on site. I ask everyone to stay in the shelters until the air alarm goes off,” Andriy Sadovyi wrote on Twitter.

 (REUTERS)

(REUTERS)

Watch: Thousands gather in London for Ukraine solidarity march

Saturday 26 March 2022 16:40 , Thomas Kingsley

Plumes of smoke seen in Lviv following airstrikes

Saturday 26 March 2022 16:20 , Thomas Kingsley

 (REUTERS)

(REUTERS)

 (REUTERS)

(REUTERS)

 (AP)

(AP)

Turkey welcomes Russian oligarchs, Ankara says

Saturday 26 March 2022 16:10 , Lamiat Sabin

Russian oligarchs are welcome in Turkey as long as they comply with international law, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

Turkey’s stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict is not clear-cut as other countries’ – as it has strongly criticised Russia for its invasion but has opposed Nato sanctions imposed on Russian individuals and entities on principle.

Archive photo of Mevlut Cavusoglu (AP)

Archive photo of Mevlut Cavusoglu (AP)

“If Russian oligarchs … or any Russian citizens want to visit Turkey of course they can,” Mr Cavusoglu said in response to a question at the Doha Forum international conference.

“If you mean whether these oligarchs can do any business in Turkey, then of course if it is legal and not against international law, I will consider it,” he said, adding: “If it is against international law then that is another story.”

Five wounded in Lviv strikes, city mayor says

Saturday 26 March 2022 16:08 , Thomas Kingsley

Lviv’s mayor Andriy Sadovyi said five people have been wounded in the latest air strikes on the western Ukrainian city.

“As a result of a missile strike in Lviv, we have 5 people are wounded. We are updating the information,” Mr Sadovyi wrote on Twitter.

He warned that further strikes are possible and urged residents to stay indoors.

Breaking: Multiple explosions rock Lviv as huge plume of smoke rises above city

Saturday 26 March 2022 16:03 , Thomas Kingsley

Three powerful explosions rocked an area near the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, a regional governor said.

Read the full report below as more updates follow on this breaking news story:

Multiple explosions rock Lviv as huge plume of smoke rises above city

Lviv rocked by ‘three powerful explosions’ – city council

Saturday 26 March 2022 15:50 , Lamiat Sabin

Three “powerful” explosions near Lviv were reported by the city’s council today.

“There have been three powerful explosions near Lviv…Everyone should keep calm and stay indoors,” Igor Zinkevych said in a post on Facebook.

Footage was shared on social media that purports to show the rockets travelling though the sky.

Reuters witnesses saw heavy black smoke rising from the north-east side of the city in western Ukraine, near the border with Poland. The cause could not be immediately verified by the news agency.

Lviv has been used as a main hub for millions of people that have fled Ukraine for Poland as refugees.

Duda asked Biden about speeding up of military purchases

Saturday 26 March 2022 15:28 , Lamiat Sabin

Polish president Andrzej Duda had asked US president Joe Biden about the possibility of speeding up military purchases.

The pair, as well as Ukrainian and Polish ministers, met at the presidential palace in Warsaw today.

Joe Biden [R] and Andrzej Duda (AFP via Getty Images)

Joe Biden [R] and Andrzej Duda (AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Duda said he was referring to purchases of Patriot missile systems, High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), F-35 aircraft and Abrams tanks.

Fourty-four severely wounded ‘unable to leave Chernihiv’

Saturday 26 March 2022 15:04 , Lamiat Sabin

Three children were among 44 severely wounded people who could not be evacuated from the northern Ukrainian city Chernihiv, its mayor said.

It comes after the local authorities said on Friday that the city near the Belarusian border has been effectively surrounded by Russian forces.

Some of the ruins created by Russian troops in Chernihiv (EPA)

Some of the ruins created by Russian troops in Chernihiv (EPA)

Humanitarian aid was not able to be brought into the city as a a bridge to Kyiv – to the south – had been bombed.

Speaking on national television, Chernihiv mayor Vladyslav Atroshenko said the situation was particularly critical for 44 wounded people needing emergency treatment.

“They can’t survive here due to the severity of their wounds, they need urgent evacuation,” he said.

He said there were still up to 130,000 people without heating, electricity or water supplies in Chernihiv, which he said was under heavy bombardment by Russian forces. The city had a pre-war population of around 290,000, he said.

Reuters could not independently confirm his accounts.

Naval mine defused with a bang after found near Istanbul

Saturday 26 March 2022 14:40 , Lamiat Sabin

Turkey’s military has deactivated a naval mine that had drifted into the upper Bosphorus strait from the Black Sea.

The defusion resulted in an explosion just north of Istanbul, days after Russia warned that several mines had washed away from Ukrainian ports.

The mine, that was first spotted by fishermen, is an old type – defence minister Halusi Akar said.

He added that he was in touch with both Russian and Ukrainian authorities about it.

A Reuters witness heard a loud bang off the coastal village of Rumelifeneri, where naval vessels, military planes, and helicopters were active.

US vows ‘unwavering’ support for Ukraine in Poland talks

Saturday 26 March 2022 14:20 , Lamiat Sabin

The US has reaffirmed during talks in Poland today that it fully supports Ukraine.

Joe Biden met Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba and defence minister Oleksii Reznikov with other Washington officials including secretary of state Antony Blinken.

The US delegation expressed “unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

Mr Biden said Poland is taking a “significant” responsibility in Ukrainian humanitarian crisis, adding that the rest of the world should pitch in to help lessen the burden.

He told his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda that he views Nato’s Article 5 guarantee of mutual defence between member states as a “sacred” commitment.

Read the full story here by foreign editor David Harding:

US pledges ‘unwavering commitment’ to Kyiv as Biden meets Ukraine ministers

Watch live: Joe Biden meets Ukrainian refugees in Poland

Saturday 26 March 2022 14:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Joe Biden is to meet people who fled Ukraine to Poland during the Russian invasion.

The US president is in Warsaw, where he and his team had met Polish and Ukrainian ministers.

Poland has taken in the vast majority of about four million Ukrainian refugees.

Also today, Mr Biden said Poland is taking on a “significant” responsibility in the humanitarian crisis, adding that the rest of the world should help lessen the pressure.

‘More and more difficult’ for Ukraine to export grains

Saturday 26 March 2022 13:34 , Lamiat Sabin

Ukraine’s ability to export grains is getting worse by the day while Russia’s invasion continues, according to Kyiv.

Mykola Solskyi, Ukraine‘s new agriculture minister, said the situation would only improve when the war with Russia ends.

A worker carries a bag of imported wheat grain in Yemen (Yahya Arhab/EPA)

A worker carries a bag of imported wheat grain in Yemen (Yahya Arhab/EPA)

Ukraine, one of the world’s top grain producers, would normally be exporting 4-5 million tonnes of grain per month, but is now only exporting about a few 100,000 tonnes.

“The impact (on global markets) is direct, dramatic and large. And it continues. Every day the situation will become more and more difficult,” he said.

Exports of Ukraine’s grain go to some of the world’s poorest countries, such as Yemen – where Oxfam said the price of bread has risen by 35 per cent since Russia’s invasion.

Biden meets top Ukrainian officials in Poland

Saturday 26 March 2022 13:25 , Thomas Kingsley

US president Joe Biden spoke with top Ukrainian government officials in Warsaw on Saturday during his visit to Poland to show support for the Nato alliance’s eastern flank in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Biden attended a meeting between Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba and defence minister Oleksii Reznikov and secretary of state Anthony Blinken and defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.

The United States expressed “unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” state department spokesman Ned Price said.

Mr Kuleba told reporters that Ukraine had received additional security pledges from the United States on developing defence co-operation.

 (AFP via Getty Images)

(AFP via Getty Images)

Russian defence minister resurfaces after disappearing from public view for more than two weeks

Saturday 26 March 2022 13:15 , Thomas Kingsley

A Russian defence minister who seemingly disappeared from the public eye two weeks ago has resurfaced, Zaina Alibhai reports.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had not been seen since appearing on Russian state television on 11 March with the Kremlin’s last reference to him coming on 18 March, where he and Vladimir Putin were said to have joined a security council meeting.

Read the full story below:

Russian defence minister resurfaces after disappearing from public view for two weeks

Ukrainian FM radio stations off air in Kherson, according to local media

Saturday 26 March 2022 13:00 , Thomas Kingsley

FM radio is no longer working in the southern city of Kherson, the Ukrayinska Pravda news website has tweeted.

The city was occupied by Kremlin forces early on in the invasion, but Ukraine defence officials believe its troops could take the city back on Saturday.

Ukrayinska Pravda tweeted: “FM radio does not work in Kherson. Locals report that only Russian radio channels are currently broadcast.”

Ukraine grain export situation gets worse daily, agriculture minister says

Saturday 26 March 2022 12:45 , Thomas Kingsley

Ukraine’s new agriculture minister has said the country’s grain exports situation gets worse by the day.

Mykola Solskyi, who was appointed on Thursday, said global food prices would continue to rise if the situation in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion did not change.

Mr Solskyi said Spring sowing is underway in un-occupied territories but warned that the grains crisis could only be resolved if the war ends.

According to experts Ukraine along with southwestern Russia accounts for about 15 per cent of the world’s wheat production while Ukraine is the world’s fourth largest exporter of maize.

Food prices could rise due to Ukraine’s exports of wheat being hit (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Archive)

Food prices could rise due to Ukraine’s exports of wheat being hit (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Archive)

Troops could take back Kherson from Russian forces – Ukrainian defence official

Saturday 26 March 2022 12:32 , Thomas Kingsley

An adviser to the Ukrainian ministry of defence, Markian Lubkivskyi, predicted troops could on Saturday take back Kherson, the first major city that the Kremlin’s forces seized.

He was sceptical that the Russian president’s aims had truly changed away from trying to take the whole nation, but said it does appear “the enemy is focused on the eastern part of Ukraine.”

Mr Zelensky’s forces were already believed to be regaining ground around the capital of Kyiv and the UK ministry of defence (MoD) said Russians are “proving reluctant to engage in large scale urban infantry operations”.

 (EPA)

(EPA)

Joe Biden meets ministers in Poland – pictures

Saturday 26 March 2022 12:15 , Lamiat Sabin

Joe Biden is in Poland for the final leg of his four-day trip as he tries to maintain unity among allies and support Ukraine’s defence.

The US president has been photographed arriving at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, where he met his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda.

 (Petr David Josek/AP)

(Petr David Josek/AP)

 (Evan Vucci/AP)

(Evan Vucci/AP)

 (Evan Vucci/AP)

(Evan Vucci/AP)

Turkey ‘deactivates mine-like’ object floating near Black Sea

Saturday 26 March 2022 11:53 , Lamiat Sabin

A “mine-like object” was found floating north of Istanbul near the Black Sea.

A coast guard team secured the object and began deactivating it, Turkey’s defence ministry said on Twitter.

It comes days after Russia warned that several mines had drifted away from ports in Ukraine.

Pictures of the object, that was first spotted by fishermen, have been shared on social media.

Curfew imposed in Kyiv until Monday morning – Klitschko

Saturday 26 March 2022 11:30 , Lamiat Sabin

A fresh curfew in Kyiv will be in place from today until Monday morning, the city’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

“The military command decided to reinforce the curfew. It will start from 8 p.m. on March 26 and last until 7 a.m. on March 28,” he said on Telegram.

Kyiv mayor and former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko (AP)

Kyiv mayor and former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko (AP)

During the curfew, Kyiv residents will only be allowed to leave their homes to get to a bomb shelter. Shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, and public transport will not be in operation, Mr Klitschko said.

‘Increasingly real’ chance Russia could use nuclear weapons

Saturday 26 March 2022 11:13 , Lamiat Sabin

The prospect of Russia using nuclear weapons was “increasingly real”, Japanese PM Fumio Kishida said.

Today, he welcomed US ambassador Rahm Emanuel to Hiroshima, the first city to have suffered a nuclear attack.

Japan has spoken out against nuclear armaments since the US dropped a bomb on Hiroshima and another in nearby Nagasaki in 1945.

Hiroshima, in southwestern Japan, was devastated by a nuclear bomb (Getty Images)

Hiroshima, in southwestern Japan, was devastated by a nuclear bomb (Getty Images)

Mr Kishida told public broadcaster NHK: “When the possible use of nuclear weapons by Russia is increasingly real, I believe Ambassador Emanuel’s visit to Hiroshima and his experience of seeing the nuclear reality will become a strong message to the international society.

“I believe our visit was meaningful.”

On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia would use nuclear weapons only to counter “an existential threat for our country”.

‘Russia-Ukraine conflict to degrade UK living standards’

Saturday 26 March 2022 10:43 , Lamiat Sabin

Boris Johnson’s government is being called on to prepare the British public for a “long-term degradation” in living standards as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

General Jonathan Shaw, former assistant chief to the defence staff, said the UK still had the “wrong mentality” about the scale of the geopolitical shift sparked by the war.

“We need to be psychologically preparing our people for a long-term degradation of standard of living and a long-term confrontation with Russia,” he told LBC.

Read the full story by Adam Forrest here:

UK facing ‘long-term degradation’ in living standards from new cold war with Russia

At least 100,000 people need to escape Mariupol, says Kyiv

Saturday 26 March 2022 10:23 , Lamiat Sabin

More than 100,000 people still need to be evacuated from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

This is according to Ukraine’s deputy PM Iryna Vereshchuk.

Civilians trapped in Mariupol being evacuated in groups (Anadolu Agency via Getty)

Civilians trapped in Mariupol being evacuated in groups (Anadolu Agency via Getty)

Earlier, she said 10 humanitarian corridors will be opened today to evacuate civilians from frontline areas including Mariupol – a Black Sea port city that has seen some of the worst destruction during the Russian invasion.

Speaking on national television, Ms Vereshchuk said civilians trying to leave Mariupol would have to leave in private cars because Russian forces were not letting buses through their checkpoints.

Mariupol mayor Vadym Boichenko said the situation in the city remained critical, with street fighting taking place in its centre.

Nuclear agreement with Iran very close, says EU’s Borrell

Saturday 26 March 2022 10:00 , Lamiat Sabin

World leaders were very close to striking an agreement with Iran on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, according to European Union diplomat Josep Borrell.

The nuclear talks had been close to an agreement until Russia made last minute demands of the United States.

European Union diplomat Josep Borrell (AP)

European Union diplomat Josep Borrell (AP)

Russia had insisted that sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine should not affect its trade with Iran.

Mr Borrell had made his comments in his address to the Doha Forum international conference, where Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky made an unexpected speech via videolink.

Ukrainians ‘to be evacuated from 10 humanitarian corridors’

Saturday 26 March 2022 09:40 , Lamiat Sabin

Ten humanitarian corridors will be opened today to evacuate civilians from frontline areas in Ukraine, deputy PM Iryna Vereshchuk said.

Speaking on national television, she said civilians trying to leave the besieged southern port of Mariupol would have to leave in private cars because Russian forces were not letting buses through their checkpoints.

Mariupol has suffered some of the worst violence amid the invasion (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Mariupol has suffered some of the worst violence amid the invasion (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The mayor of Mariupol said he had spoken to France’s ambassador to Ukraine about options for evacuating civilians, after French president Emmanuel Macron said he would suggest a plan to Russia to help Ukrainians flee.

Mayor Vadym Boichenko said the situation in the city remained critical, with street fighting taking place in its centre.

Russian troops ‘kidnap mayor of Chernobyl satellite town’

Saturday 26 March 2022 09:20 , Lamiat Sabin

Russian forces have taken control of the city of Slavutych, where workers at the defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant live.

The troops had occupied the hospital and kidnapped the mayor Yuri Fomichev, according to governor of Kyiv region Oleksandr Pavlyuk in an online statement.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

The events took place as a protest was being held in the small city, reports claim.

On Friday, Ukraine said its troops had repulsed a first attack by Russian troops closing in on Slavutych.

Slavutych – about 100 miles north of Kyiv – was purpose-built for the evacuated workers of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant after the 1986 disaster.

Russia ‘bragging’ it can ‘destroy entire planet’ – Zelensky

Saturday 26 March 2022 09:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Russia is “bragging” that it can ruin the “entire planet” with nuclear weapons, Volodymyr Zelensky said.

The Ukrainian president said: “Russia is deliberating bragging they can destroy with nuclear weapons, not only a certain country but the entire planet.”

Earlier this week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not rule out use of nuclear weapons if Russia faced an “existential threat”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov (Screengrab/Video)

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov (Screengrab/Video)

Mr Zelensky made the chilling comments in a video-link address to the Doha Forum international conference in Qatar.

‘Muslim troops to fight Russia during Ramadan’ – Zelensky

Saturday 26 March 2022 08:40 , Lamiat Sabin

A number of Muslim troops in Ukraine would be fighting Russian invaders during Ramadan, Volodymyr Zelensky noted.

A mosque in Mariupol, southern Ukraine, that Russia has targeted (Google Maps)

A mosque in Mariupol, southern Ukraine, that Russia has targeted (Google Maps)

The Ukrainian president acknowledged the upcoming month of fasting – set to begin this year at the start of April – in a video-link address to the Doha Forum international conference.

He said: “We have to ensure this sacred month of Ramadan is not overshadowed by the misery of people in Ukraine.”

‘Up energy output to neutralise Russia’s blackmail’ – Zelensky

Saturday 26 March 2022 08:20 , Lamiat Sabin

Energy-producing companies should increase output so that Russia cannot use its oil and gas to “blackmail” other countries, Volodymyr Zelensky said.

A Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline receiving station in Germany (Getty Images)

A Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline receiving station in Germany (Getty Images)

The Ukrainian president also warned that all countries are at risk of food shortages and supply disruptions because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is a leading global supplier of crops such as wheat.

He made the comments when addressing the Doha Forum international conference via video link. Qatar is a world leader in the export of natural gas.

Sanctions against Russia ‘foolish’ and pointless – Medvedev

Saturday 26 March 2022 08:00 , Lamiat Sabin

The Kremlin has described sanctions against Russia as “foolish” and counterproductive.

Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian president and now deputy head of the security council, claimed that sanctions do not have any effect on Moscow amid its invasion of Ukraine.

The sanctions against oligarchs and businesses would only unify Russia, he told Russian news agency RIA.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s security council (Yekaterina Shtukina/AP)

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s security council (Yekaterina Shtukina/AP)

Medvedev said: “Let us ask ourselves: can any of these major businessmen have even the tiniest quantum of influence of the position of the country’s leadership? I openly tell you: no, no way.”

He cited opinion polls in Russia that suggest three quarters of Russians supported the invasion of Ukraine.

He also hit out at Russian critics of the Kremlin, saying “taking a stand against the state in such a difficult situation … is treason.”

Russia ‘holds military drills on Japan-claimed Kuril islands’

Saturday 26 March 2022 07:45 , Lamiat Sabin

Russia has reportedly been conducting military drills on islands claimed by Japan.

The Japanese media reports of drills on Kuril islands come days after Moscow halted peace talks with Japan because of its new sanctions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Archive photo of a missile launcher on Matua, part of the Kuril Islands (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

Archive photo of a missile launcher on Matua, part of the Kuril Islands (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

Russia’s Eastern Military District said it was conducting military drills in the volcanic archipelago with more than 3,000 troops and hundreds of pieces of army equipment, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

The drills were taking place on territory the Soviet Union seized at the end of WWII that is claimed by Tokyo, reports said.

The chain of islands connect Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula and Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido.

Ukraine says Russia’s war kills 136 children so far

Saturday 26 March 2022 07:15 , Stuti Mishra

The war in Ukraine has killed 136 children so far, Ukraine‘s office of the prosecutor general just said in a message on the Telegram app, adding that the number of wounded children stood at 199.

Earlier, authorities in Ukraine said about 300 people were killed by the Russian airstrike last week that blasted open a Mariupol theatre that was being used as a shelter, fueling allegations that Moscow is committing war crimes by killing civilians, whether deliberately or by indiscriminate fire.

 (AP)

(AP)

Zelensky claims Russia is facing ‘powerful blows’ with 16,000 soldiers killed

Saturday 26 March 2022 06:53 , Stuti Mishra

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed the country has inflicted “powerful blows” on the Russians, killing 16,000 troops.

“Over the past week, our heroic Armed Forces have dealt powerful blows to the enemy. Significant losses,” Mr Zelensky said in his address on Friday, adding 16,000 Russian troops had been killed, but Russia says 1,351 have died.

“They say that the Minister of Defence of Russia has disappeared somewhere,” Mr Zelensky says, hinting at the alleged disappearance of Russia’s minister of defence Sergei Shoigu, who has only been publicly seen once since 11 March.

“The armed forces continue to repel enemy attacks, in the south of the country, in Donbas, in the Kharkiv direction and in the Kyiv region,” he said.

“I am grateful to our defenders who showed the occupiers that the sea will not be calm for them even when there is no storm. Because there will be fire,” Mr Zelensky said.

“By restraining Russia’s actions, our defenders are leading the Russian leadership to a simple and logical idea: talk is necessary. Meaningful. Urgent. Fair. For the sake of the result, not for the sake of the delay.”

 (AP)

(AP)

Not just Ukraine: How the fate of Belarus is linked to the war between two of its neighbours

Saturday 26 March 2022 06:22 , Stuti Mishra

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, Belarus has played a Judas-like role, sacrificing the little sovereignty it had left to be used as a staging ground for the Russian assault on Kyiv, writes Amanda Coakley.

Belarusian border guards have let Russian troops move through the frontier, the country’s air defence and traffic control systems have assisted Moscow’s campaign, and Russia’s dead and wounded have filled hospitals in southern Belarusian cities.

Here is her article:

Not just Ukraine: How the fate of Belarus is linked to the war next door

Biden to call on ‘free world’ to stand against Putin in Poland speech

Saturday 26 March 2022 05:34 , Stuti Mishra

US president Joe Biden will argue in a speech in Poland on Saturday that the “free world” opposes Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and that there is unity among major economies on the need to stop Vladimir Putin, the White House said.

After three days of emergency meetings with allies of the G7, European Council and NATO, and a visit with US troops in Poland, Mr Biden will meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda.

In what US officials are billing as a major address in Poland, Mr Biden “will deliver remarks on the united efforts of the free world to support the people of Ukraine, hold Russia accountable for its brutal war, and defend a future that is rooted in democratic principles,” the White House said in a statement.

‘Foolish’ to believe western sanctions can sway Kremlin, says Russia’s former president

Saturday 26 March 2022 05:05 , Stuti Mishra

It is “foolish” to believe that Western sanctions against Russian businesses could have any effect on the Moscow government, Russian ex-president and deputy head of security council Dmitry Medvedev was quoted as saying on Friday.

The sanctions, which also target Russian billionaires close to Vladimir Putin, will only consolidate the Russian society and not cause popular discontent with the authorities, Mr Medvedev told Russia’s RIA news agency in an interview.

“Let us ask ourselves: can any of these major businessmen have even the tiniest quantum of influence of the position of the country’s leadership?” Mr Medvedev said.

“I openly tell you: no, no way.”

Mr Medvedev said opinion polls showed three-fourths of Russians supported the Kremlin’s decision to carry out a military operation in Ukraine and even more supported President Putin.

While downplaying the economic impact of sanctions, Mr Medvedev said the Russian government will have to find “adequate solutions” on its own to spur the development of the aircraft, automotive and IT industries, among others.

“Now, it will be more difficult to tackle those issues, but on the other hand, we cannot rely on anyone,” he said. “In this case, we will have to solve those problems ourselves.”

 (AP)

(AP)

Russian strike killed 300 in Mariupol theater, Ukraine says

Saturday 26 March 2022 04:32 , Stuti Mishra

About 300 people were killed by the Russian airstrike last week that blasted open a Mariupol theatre that was being used as a shelter, Ukrainian authorities said, marking what could be the war’s deadliest known attack on civilians yet.The death toll announced on Friday fueled allegations that Moscow is committing war crimes by killing civilians, whether deliberately or by indiscriminate fire.

For days, the Mariupol government was unable to give a casualty count for the 16 March bombardment of the grand, columned Mariupol Drama Theater, where hundreds of people were said to be taking cover. In an attempt to ward off such an attack, the word “CHILDREN” was printed in Russian in huge white letters on the ground outside.The city government cited eyewitnesses when it announced the death toll on its Telegram channel. But it was not immediately clear how witnesses arrived at the figure or whether emergency workers had finished excavating the ruins.

Donetsk Regional Theatre of Drama destroyed by a Russian airstrike in Mariupol (via REUTERS)

Donetsk Regional Theatre of Drama destroyed by a Russian airstrike in Mariupol (via REUTERS)

What the papers say today?

Saturday 26 March 2022 03:59 , Stuti Mishra

The nation’s papers are led by Russia “scaling back” its presence in Ukraine.

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Briton welcomes Ukrainian refugee into his home after ‘torturous’ wait

Saturday 26 March 2022 03:19 , Stuti Mishra

A British man has described the “relief” he felt after welcoming a Ukrainian refugee into his home after a “torturous” wait.

Max Fox, 32, who lives with his partner in Poulton-le-Fylde, welcomed Vlad, 26, to the UK as he landed at Manchester Airport on Friday under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Mr Fox met Vlad while he was in Poland helping with humanitarian efforts – he submitted an application to bring him back to the UK on March 18 and put the Ukrainian up in a hotel until the application was successful.

“Well it was just a definite relief,” Mr Fox

“It’s been quite torturous the past week. So to actually get him here and to kind of close that chapter and (move) onto the new chapter, that was nice.”

Read more:

Briton welcomes Ukrainian refugee into his home after ‘torturous’ wait

Russia has attacked at least 34 medical facilities in Ukraine, report says

Saturday 26 March 2022 01:58 , Graeme Massie

Russian troops have attacked at least 34 medical facilities across Ukraine since their invasion of the country, according to the Associated Press.

The assaults have included attacks on hospitals, ambulances, medics, patients and even newborns at a maternity hospital.

Joe Biden and the State Department have said they believe war crimes have been committed in the month-long Kremlin campaign, and such attacks could form the basis of future international prosecutions of Russia’s leaders.

FILE - Mariana Vishegirskaya stands outside a maternity hospital that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (AP)

FILE – Mariana Vishegirskaya stands outside a maternity hospital that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (AP)

Satellite images show sky turned black by thick smoke after Russian bombing of fuel depot near Kyiv

00:05 , Liam James

The sky over a Ukrainian village near Kyiv turned black after a Russian air stike on a fuel storage facility.

Satellite images from Maxar show thick smoke billowing from a huge fire at the site of the attack in Kalynivka, some 25 miles south of the Ukrainian capital, on Thursday night.

AFP reported that the fire continued into the next day.

Russia said it fired “Kalibir high-precision sea-based cruise missiles” at the fuel depot, which it claimed was the largest remaining fuel base of the Ukrainian military.

Satellite images show sky turned black after Russian bombing of fuel depot near Kyiv

Zelensky claims Russia has lost more than 16,000 troops

Saturday 26 March 2022 01:28 , Graeme Massie

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says that Russia has lost more than 16,000 troops so far in Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked assault on the country.

“The number of the Russian losses has exceeded 16,000 casualties,” Mr Zelensky said in a video message on Friday.

“Among them are the high-ranking commanders. So far no reports of killed Russian general colonels or admirals. However, in that number we have a commander of one of the occupiers’ armies and a second in command of the Black Sea Navy.”

 (AP)

(AP)

American Tyler Jacob released from Russian captivity after trying to flee Ukraine

Saturday 26 March 2022 00:54 , Graeme Massie

An American man who was captured by Russian troops as he tried to flee Ukraine has been released from captivity, US officials have confirmed.

Tyler Jacob, who is originally from Minnesota, was taken by Russian soldiers at a checkpoint in Crimea two weeks ago as he tried to get out of the embattled country to safety in Turkey.

American Tyler Jacob released from Russian captivity after trying to flee Ukraine

Wagner group mercenaries were involved in Zelensky assassination plot, says Ukraine

Saturday 26 March 2022 00:13 , Graeme Massie

Ukrainian officials say that the Russian private army was involved in the assassination plot against President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, according to CNN.

“They wanted to assassinate the leadership of Ukraine: our President and Prime Minister. That was the goal and a couple of them were sent to Ukraine without any success,” said Markian Lubkivskyi, an advisor to Ukraine’s defence minister.

Mr Lubkivskyi claimed that the plot had been confirmed by Ukraine’s intelligence service and special forces who are protecting Mr Zelensky, who has spoken about the Kremlin’s desire to kill him.

The claims have not been independently verified.

‘The same enemy’: Syrians endured Russian bombing for years. Now they tell Ukrainians to expect the worst

Friday 25 March 2022 23:53 , Emily Atkinson

A network of underground tunnels and earthen berms crisscross the muddy front line between Syrian opposition positions and Russian-backed regime forces just beyond the field to the south near the town of Saraqib.

The battle-weathered Syrian fighters here have been confronting the forces of Vladimir Putin and his local allies for much of the past decade. And along with other Syrians, they have some advice for Ukrainians trying to survive Russian air power and missiles: dig in, prepare for more heartbreak, and take solace in being on the right side of history.

“Ukrainian people, we love you,” exclaims Abu Taim al Mourad, a 45-year-old former nurse from Hama who is now among the fighters manning the front line, and cheerily praising the efforts of Ukrainians in holding back the Russian advance. “The Ukrainians fight like beasts, and we hope they win. We are fighting the same enemy, and if Russians lose there it’s good for us here.”

The Independent’s Borzou Daragahi reports from inside rebel-controlled Idlib province:

Syrians endure Russian bombing. They urge Ukrainians to fight but expect the worst

Red Cross delivers over 500 tons of medical aid to Ukraine

Friday 25 March 2022 23:42 , Emily Atkinson

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today announced that over 500 tons of medical aid had been delivered to Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion of the country on 24 February.

Supplies included 1,200 sleeping mats for displaced people in Dnipro, tarpaulin and plastic sheets donated to reinforce the homes of over 1,200 people in Donetsk, 9,800 litres of clean drinking water to Dokuchaevsk, and 50 tons of fuel for ambulances and insulin to a children’s hospital in Kyiv.

Over 30 assaults on Ukrainian medical facilities recorded

Friday 25 March 2022 23:32 , Emily Atkinson

At least 34 attacks on medical facilities in Ukraine have been documented by The Associated Press.

It comes as the UN high commissioner for human rights confirmed at least 1,035 civilians, including 90 children, have died and another 1,650 civilians have been wounded since the war started a month ago. It is thought those numbers are likely an undercount.

This photo provided by Volodymyr Matsokin shows damage to the hospital in Izyum, Ukraine (AP/ Volodymyr Matsokin)

This photo provided by Volodymyr Matsokin shows damage to the hospital in Izyum, Ukraine (AP/ Volodymyr Matsokin)

Russian commander run over ‘deliberately’ by his own troops in Ukraine, Western officials say

Friday 25 March 2022 23:23 , Emily Atkinson

A Russian brigade commander fighting in Ukraine has been run down by his own troops, according to Western officials.

Yuri Medvedev, commanding the 37th Motor Rifle Brigade, is believed to have been deliberately targeted due to anger at the number of casualties his unit experienced.

An initial report by officials said Colonel Medvedev had been “killed”, but this was later restated amid suggestions he had suffered leg injuries and been evacuated to Belarus.

My colleague Sam Hancock reports:

Russian commander run over ‘deliberately’ by his own troops in Ukraine, officials say

US to sanction companies supplying tech to Russian forces, intelligence says

Friday 25 March 2022 23:06 , Emily Atkinson

The White House is preparing hit companies it says provides goods and services to Russia’s military and intelligence services with sanctions, the WSJ reported on Friday.

Sanctions could be announced as early as next week, it said – citing US officials.

The treasury department declined to comment on the report.

Zelensky calls out Hungary for lack of support: ‘You have to decide for yourself who you are with’ – watch

Friday 25 March 2022 22:44 , Emily Atkinson

UK authorises further 65 Russian sanctions – MoD

Friday 25 March 2022 22:29 , Emily Atkinson

Russia’s defence company was the latest state entity to be hit by UK sanctions as part of the country’s most recent wave of penalties against Moscow, defence officials say.

Tweeting today, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said: “The UK has sanctioned a further 65 individuals and entities with supporting links to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Among those sanctioned include Kronshtadt, Russian defence company and main producer of Russia’s Orion drone and other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).”

“These systems have been widely deployed in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Robust Ukrainian air defences has almost certainly limited manned flights beyond their front lines, hence Russia has highly likely been forced to use more UAVs instead.”

“This is probably leading to greater demand for, and attrition of, these assets. These sanctions will damage Russia’s defence industrial complex and limit their ability to replace their UAV losses.”

Friday 25 March 2022 22:13 , Emily Atkinson

Pictures capture the efforts of volunteers and neighbours trying to extinguish a fire at a house shelled by the Russian army in Horenychi – a village in the Bucha Raion of the Kyiv Oblast.

 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

EU fails to agree short-term solution for energy market crunch

Friday 25 March 2022 21:56 , Emily Atkinson

EU leaders were unable to reach a consensus while debating a solution to the soaring cost of energy made worse by Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine, but did offer a compromise for Spain where spiralling fuel prices have led to 12 days of trucker blockades.

Reuters adds:

An intense debate on whether to cap energy prices, pitting some southern countries against Germany and the Netherlands, pushed the second day of an EU summit into the evening, with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez at one point walking out of the meeting room.

In the end, they settled on trade-off and left a number of issues unresolved.

UN sees evidence of mass graves as Russia hints at scaled-back war

Friday 25 March 2022 21:45 , Emily Atkinson

There is mounting evidence of mass graves in the besieged city of Mariupol, UN officials said on Friday, as Russia hinted it was scaling back its invasion to focus on eastern Ukraine.

Matilda Bogner, head of a UN human rights team currently in the country, said monitors had received information about graves in the southeastern port city, including one that appeared to hold 200 bodies. The claims of mass graves in the city came as Ukraine said it feared around 300 people had been killed in the Mariupol theatre bombing on 16 March.

“We have got increasing information on mass graves that are there,” Ms Bogner said. “The extent of civilian casualties and the destruction of civilian objects strongly suggests that the principles of distinction, of proportionality, the rule on feasible precautions and the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks have been violated,” she added.

David Harding has more:

UN says evidence of mass graves in Mariupol as Russia hints at scaled-back war

Russians who spread fake news about officials abroad face jail – Interfax

Friday 25 March 2022 21:31 , Emily Atkinson

Vladimir Putin has formally approved a law which rules that Russians found guilty of disseminating fake news about the work of Moscow officials abroad could face up to 15 years in jail.

The sentence is similar to those drawn up as part of of a new law adopted earlier this month, devised to punish those who spread false information about the Russian armed forces, Interfax news agency said.

It cited a senior legislator as saying the new law was needed because people were spreading false news about Russian embassies and other organisations operating overseas.

Click here to read the full blog on The Independent’s website

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