Russia-Ukraine crisis live updates | Seven killed in mortar attack near Ukrainian capital, police say


As Russia continued its offensive into Ukranian territories, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of stalling negotiation talks.

Meanwhile India on Friday strongly justified its right to go ahead with purchase of Russian energy after the U.S. urged the country to stop buying Russian oil and gas.

An informed source said India’s energy sector was dependent on large imports and that the country’s dependence on imported energy should not be “politicised.”

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has said that mortal remains of Naveen S.G., who was killed in shelling in Ukraine on March 1, would arrive in Bengaluru on Monday.

The conflict began escalating on February 21, 2022, after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and deployed troops in a peacekeeping role.

Top Developments

  1. Russia has attacked the outskirts of the western city of Lviv, a crossroads for people fleeing the war and for others entering to deliver aid or fight
  2. President Vladimir Putin appeared at a huge patriotic rally in Moscow and praised the Russian military
  3. President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping spoke as the White House looks to deter Beijing from providing assistance to Russia
  4. Rescuers search for survivors at a Mariupol theater hit by Russian airstrike; 130 rescued, hundreds still missing
  5. An estimated 6.5 million people have been displaced inside Ukraine, on top of the 3.2 million who have already fled the country

Here are the latest updates:

Lviv, Ukraine

Seven killed in mortar attack near Ukrainian capital, police say

A Russian mortar attack on Ukrainian town of Makariv in the Kyiv region killed seven people and hospitalised five on Friday, local police said in a statement on Saturday.

“As a result of enemy shelling of Makariv, seven civilians were killed,” the statement said.

Russia denies targeting civilians. — Reuters

United Kingdom

U.K. fears ‘more extreme’ Russian actions in Ukraine

Peace talks to end the Ukraine conflict could be a “smokescreen” for more extreme Russian military manoeuvres, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned Saturday.

“I’m very sceptical,” Truss told The Times newspaper in an interview. “What we’ve seen is an attempt to create space for the Russians to regroup. Their invasion isn’t going according to plan.

“I fear the negotiation is yet another attempt to create a diversion and create a smokescreen. I don’t think we’re yet at a point for negotiation,” she added.

Ms. Truss echoed comments by British intelligence that Mr. Putin could turn to “more and more extreme actions,” adding “we’ve seen appalling atrocities already.” – AFP

Ukraine

Ukraine sees no major changes in fighting over past 24 hours, says official

Ukrainian authorities have not noticed any significant shifts over the past 24 hours in front line areas where Ukrainian troops are battling Russian forces, presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said on Saturday.

In an online video address, he said fighting was ongoing and named the southeastern city of Mariupol, the southern cities of Mykolaiv and Kherson, and the eastern town of Izyum as particular hotspots where Russian troops were on the offensive.

Ukraine

Ukraine says 10 corridors agreed with Russians

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced on Saturday that 10 humanitarian corridors have been agreed on with the Russians.

They include a corridor from the besieged port city of Mariupol, several in the Kyiv region and several in the Luhansk region.

She also announced plans to deliver humanitarian aid to the city of Kherson, which is currently under control of the Russian forces.

In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian forces are blockading the largest cities with the goal of creating such miserable conditions that Ukrainians will cooperate. He said the Russians are preventing supplies from reaching surrounded cities in central and southeastern Ukraine.

Satellite images on Friday from Maxar Technologies showed a long line of cars leaving Mariupol as people tried to evacuate. Mr. Zelenskyy said more than 9,000 people were able to leave the city in the past day. — AP

Kyiv, Ukraine

This photograph taken on March 18, 2022 shows smoke rising after an explosion in Kyiv.
| Photo Credit: AFP

Mariupol, Ukraine

Big steel plant ‘being destroyed’ in Mariupol

In the besieged port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian and Russian forces are fighting for the Azovstal steel plant, one of the biggest in Europe, said Vadym Denysenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, in televised remarks on Saturday.

“Now there is a fight for Azovstal. … I can say that we have lost this economic giant. In fact, one of the largest metallurgical plants in Europe is actually being destroyed,” Mr. Denysenko said.- AP

Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine

Ukraine military orders 38-hour curfew in southern Zaporizhzhia city, says official

The Ukrainian military imposed a 38-hour curfew in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia, starting at 1400 GMT on Saturday and ending early on Monday, deputy mayor Anatoliy Kurtiev said.

“Do not go outside at this time!” he said in an online post.

The regional capital has become an important point of transit for some of the 35,000 people estimated to have fled the besieged Mariupol city in the southeast.- Reuters

Ukraine

Clearing live ordnance in Ukraine will take years

Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky says it will take years to defuse the unexploded ordnance once the Russian invasion is over.

Monastyrsky told The Associated Press in an interview on Friday that the country will need Western assistance to carry out the massive undertaking after the war.

“A huge number of shells and mines have been fired at Ukraine, and a large part haven’t exploded. They remain under the rubble and pose a real threat,” Monastyrsky said in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. “It will take years, not months, to defuse them.”

In addition to the unexploded Russian ordnance, Ukrainian troops have planted land mines at bridges, airports and other key locations to prevent the Russians from using them.- AP

Russia

Russia says it has used hypersonic missiles in Ukraine

Russia’s defence ministry said on Saturday it had destroyed a large underground depot for missiles and aircraft ammunition in Ukraine’s Ivano-Frankivsk region using hypersonic missiles, the Interfax news agency reported.

The ministry said it had also destroyed Ukrainian military radio and reconnaissance centres near the port city of Odessa using a coastal missile system, Interfax reported.- Reuters

Ukraine

Local residents carry water from the food warehouse, on the territory which is under the Government of the Donetsk People’s Republic control, on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 18, 2022.

Local residents carry water from the food warehouse, on the territory which is under the Government of the Donetsk People’s Republic control, on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 18, 2022.
| Photo Credit: AP

Macron asks Putin to lift siege of Mariupol

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to lift the siege of Mariupol, allow humanitarian access and order an immediate cease-fire, Mr. Macron’s office said.

Mr. Macron spoke with the Russian leader on the phone for 70 minutes. Earlier in the day, Mr. Putin had a conversation with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who also pressed for an immediate cease-fire.

Mr. Macron, who has spoken numerous times with Mr. Putin, revisited complaints over repeated attacks on civilians and Russia’s failure to respect human rights in Ukraine, the presidential Elysee Palace said.

It said that Mr. Putin, in turn, laid the blame for the war on Ukraine.

Mr. Macron, who is campaigning to renew his mandate in April elections, said during a town hall-style meeting shortly before the call that he talks to Mr. Putin because he believes there is a way toward peace, between the Ukrainian resistance, tough Western sanctions and diplomatic pressure. “We must do everything to find it,” he said. — AP

Ukraine

Ukraine’s prosecutor office says 112 children killed in war in Ukraine

The Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office said on Saturday that 112 children have been killed so far in the war in Ukraine.

It also said on Telegram that 140 children had been wounded.- Reuters

Ukraine

Humanitarian corridor for evacuation in Ukraine’s Luhansk region will be open on Saturday – governor

 A humanitarian corridor for evacuations in Ukraine’s Luhansk region will be opened on Saturday morning, regional governor Serhiy Gaiday said on Telegram.

“A humanitarian corridor has been agreed, we will try to evacuate people and bring food today. A ‘regime of silence’ has been agreed for March 19, starting at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT),” Mr. Gaiday said.- Reuters

India

Body of Indian student killed in Ukraine to be donated to medical college after last rites

The family of Naveen Gyanagoudar, the medical student who was killed in war-hit Ukraine, has decided to donate his body to Davanagere Medical College after performing the final rites.

Naveen’s father Shekharappa Gyanagoudar made the announcement after it was conveyed to the family that the embalmed mortal remains of Naveen would reach Bengaluru on Monday.

Ukraine

Zelensky says it is time for meaningful security talks with Moscow

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Saturday called for comprehensive peace talks with Moscow, saying Russia would otherwise need generations to recover from losses suffered during the war.

Mr. Zelensky said Ukraine had always offered solutions for peace and wanted meaningful and honest negotiations on peace and security, without delay.

“I want everyone to hear me now, especially in Moscow. The time has come for a meeting, it is time to talk,” he said in a video address released in the early hours of Saturday.- Reuters

Lviv, Ukraine

A cloud of smoke raises after an explosion in Lviv, western Ukraine, on March 18, 2022.

A cloud of smoke raises after an explosion in Lviv, western Ukraine, on March 18, 2022.
| Photo Credit: AP

USA

Biden warns Xi against China supporting Russia in Ukraine

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, via a video call on Friday, as Russia continued its attack on Ukraine. The call lasted just under two hours, as per the White House.

Mr Biden laid out the consequences the Chinese would face from the U.S. if they provide military or economic assistance for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There was no indication he got any assurance in return. — Sriram Lakshman

International Space Station

3 Russian cosmonauts arrive at space station in yellow and blue

Three Russian cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station on Friday wearing yellow flight suits with blue accents, colours that appeared to match the Ukrainian flag. The men were the first new arrivals on the space station since the start of the Russian war in Ukraine last month.

Ukraine

Ukraine ‘temporarily’ loses access to Sea of Azov

Ukraine’s defence ministry said late on Friday it lost access to the Sea of Azov “temporarily” as invading Russian forces were tightening their grip around the Sea’s major port of Mariupol.

“The occupiers have partially succeeded in the Donetsk operational district, temporarily depriving Ukraine of access to the Sea of Azov,” Ukraine’s defence ministry said in a statement.

The ministry did not specify in its statement whether Ukraine’s forces have regained access to the Sea.- Reuters

Mariupol, Ukraine

Zelenskyy says 9,000 leave besieged Mariupol

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russian forces are blockading Ukraine’s largest cities to create a “humanitarian catastrophe” with the aim of persuading Ukrainians to cooperate with them.

He says Russians are preventing supplies from reaching surrounded cities in the center and southeast of the country.

“This is a totally deliberate tactic,” Mr. Zelenskyy said in his nighttime video address to the nation, filmed outside in Kyiv, with the presidential office in the lamplight behind him.

He said more than 9,000 people were able to leave besieged Mariupol in the past day, and in all more than 180,000 people have been able to flee to safety through humanitarian corridors.- AP

Russia

US basketball star detained in Russia, in shadow of Ukraine war

 Detained for more than a month in Russia, US basketball star Brittney Griner has become an unlikely victim of the war in Ukraine— and the best way to free her remains a crucial question.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA champion, was detained in Moscow airport on February 17 on charges of carrying vape cartridges that contained cannabis oil in her luggage.

She was immediately placed in a detention center, and on Thursday a Russian court extended her arrest until May 19.- AFP

Kyiv, Ukraine

A family at their sleeping site in a metro station that is being used as a bomb shelter, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 18, 2022.

A family at their sleeping site in a metro station that is being used as a bomb shelter, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 18, 2022.
| Photo Credit: REUTERS

U.S.A.

Bill Clinton and George W. Bush show solidarity with Ukraine

Two former US presidents, Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican George W. Bush, showed their support Friday for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion by visiting a Ukrainian church in Chicago.

The two men, who wore blue and yellow ribbons in the colors of Ukraine’s flag, laid bouquets of sunflowers, the country’s national emblem, in front of the Catholic Church of Saints Volodymyr and Olha before taking a moment to reflect.- AFP

Moscow, Russia

Putin appears at big rally in Moscow as troops press attack in Ukraine

Vladimir Putin appeared at a huge flag-waving rally at a Moscow stadium on Friday and lavished praise on his troops fighting in Ukraine, three weeks into the invasion that has led to heavier-than-expected Russian losses on the battlefield and increasingly authoritarian rule at home.

Ukraine

Roger Federer to donate $500,000 to support Ukrainian children

Roger Federer will be donating $500,000 through his foundation to ensure children affected by the war in Ukraine are provided with care and access to education, the former world number one said on Friday.

“My family and I are horrified seeing pictures from Ukraine and heartbroken for the innocent people who have been so terribly affected. We stand for peace,” Federer said on Twitter.

United Nations

Russia using UN to spread propaganda, Western states say

Russia is using the UN Security Council to spread disinformation and propaganda about its invasion of Ukraine, six Western members states said Friday.

They made the allegation at a council meeting called at Russia’s request to discuss its allegations that Ukraine is developing biological weapons.

Ukraine

130 rescued from theater’s ruins; many missing

Officials say 130 people have been rescued from the ruins of a theater that served as a shelter when it was blasted by a Russian airstrike on March 16 in the besieged southern city of Mariupol.

Ludmyla Denisova, the Ukrainian Parliament’s Human Rights Commissioner, said on 18 March that 130 people had survived the theater bombing.

“As of now, we know that 130 people have been evacuated, but according to our data, there are still more than 1,300 people in these basements, in this bomb shelter,” Ms. Denisova told Ukrainian television. “We pray that they will all be alive, but so far there is no information about them.”— AP



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