May 26, 2024


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Russia-Ukraine live news: Nine humanitarian corridors agreed | Russia-Ukraine war News

  • Ukraine agrees deal with Russia to set up nine humanitarian corridors.
  • The agreement does not cover the besieged southeastern port city of Mariupol, but includes routes out of Luhansk, where a ceasefire has been announced.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says about 100,000 civilians remain trapped in Mariupol without food, water and medicine.
  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Russia could use nuclear weapons if faced with an “existential threat”.INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War map Who controls what Day 28

Here are all the latest updates:

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EU loosens state aid rules for companies affected by sanctions on Russia

European Union companies affected by sanctions imposed on Russia will be eligible for up to 400,000 euros ($440,360) of state support under loosened state aid rules, the bloc’s executive arm has announced.

Companies in the agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture sectors can access up to 35,000 euros ($38,500) while businesses facing a liquidity crunch can get state guarantees on loans and subsidised loans, the European Commission said.

Meanwhile, firms facing soaring energy costs will be eligible for state aid covering up to 30 percent of their costs, capped at two million euros ($2,2m).

The European Commission, which also acts as the bloc’s competition enforcer, had two years ago relaxed its state aid rules, allowing governments to pump trillions of euros into companies hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kremlin warns NATO peacekeepers idea is extremely dangerous

The Kremlin has cautioned that any possible contact between the Russian military and NATO forces could have grave consequences after Poland last week said the alliance should send peacekeepers to Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Warsaw’s idea was reckless” and extremely dangerous.

“Any possible confrontation between our troops and NATO forces could have clear consequences that would be hard to repair,” he told reporters.

Zelenskyy to address Swedish Parliament

Ukraine’s president will address the Swedish Parliament via video link on Thursday, the body has said.

The speech will start at 09:55 GMT, the Swedish Parliament added in a statement.

Zelenskyy has addressed lawmakers in an array of countries in recent weeks as he attempts to rally international support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s onslaught.

Russia says NATO peacekeepers in Ukraine could lead to ‘direct clash’ with alliance

Russia’s foreign minister has warned NATO against sending peacekeepers to Ukraine, saying it could lead to a direct confrontation between Russia and the transatlantic military alliance.

Poland said last week that it would formally submit a proposal for a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine at a NATO summit set to take place on Thursday.

“I hope they understand what they are talking about,” Sergey Lavrov told staff and students at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

“This will be the direct clash between the Russian and NATO armed forces that everyone has not only tried to avoid but said should not take place in principle.”


Ukraine’s central bank asks SWIFT to disconnect Russia’s central bank

Ukraine’s central bank has asked the SWIFT global payments network to switch the Russian central bank off from its financial messaging system.

“We hope for your support and assistance in order to save the lives of thousands of Ukrainians and protect the sovereignty of our country,” Kyrylo Shevchenko, the bank’s governor, said in a statement.

For more information on SWIFT, click here.

Poland considering expelling 45 Russian diplomats

Poland’s special services have asked the country’s foreign ministry to expel 45 Russian diplomats, according to a spokesman.

Stanislaw Zaryn said some of the individuals were alleged to be working for Russia’s secret services under the cover of diplomatic work.

The Reuters news agency quoted an unnamed government spokesman as saying the Russian ambassador to Poland had been summoned to the foreign ministry over the case and decisions on further steps would be announced after the meeting.

Russia’s foreign ministry was quoted by the country’s RIA Novosti news agency as saying it would retaliate if its diplomats were expelled.

Pakistan’s PM urges Islamic nations to mediate in Ukraine war

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged foreign ministers from Muslim-majority nations to help end Russia’s war in Ukraine, appealing also to China’s top diplomat to join the effort.

Read more here.

Italy’s Draghi calls on China not to support Russia

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has urged China not to support Russia after its invasion of Ukraine and to join efforts to bring peace to Ukraine.

Speaking to the Italian parliament, Draghi also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin did not appear to be interested in agreeing a ceasefire that could allow negotiations to end the conflict to succeed.

Russia says forces struck Ukrainian arms depot near Rivne

Russia’s defence ministry says its forces have hit a Ukrainian arms depot outside the country’s northwestern city of Rivne, destroying an arsenal of weapons and equipment.

The ministry said it had struck the depot on Tuesday using high-precision, long-range weapons fired from sea.

There was no immediate reaction to the claim from Kyiv.

Putin ally says US trying to destroy Russia

A leading ally of Putin has accused the United States of aiming to humiliate, divide and ultimately destroy Russia, and vowed the country would never allow that to happen.

Dmitry Medvedev, who served as president from 2008 to 2012 and is now deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said such a plan – if ever achieved – could have catastrophic results for the world.

“Russia will never allow such a development,” he said in a message posted on the Telegram messaging app.

Red Cross chief to raise ‘pressing humanitarian issues’ with Russia

The head of the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) will raise “pressing humanitarian issues” in Ukraine during a visit to Moscow, the aid agency has said.

Peter Maurer is in Moscow for two days of talks with senior Russian officials, including Lavrov, who he is set to meet on Thursday.

“Mr Maurer plans to speak about the pressing humanitarian issues to be addressed to alleviate the suffering of people affected by the conflict in Ukraine,” the ICRC said.

The agency added it was seeking to increase respect for international humanitarian law and within its mandate as a neutral intermediary to “address humanitarian issues and facilitate dialogue between all sides”.

Ukraine announces nine humanitarian corridors

Kyiv has agreed a deal with Russia to set up nine humanitarian corridors through which civilians can be evacuated, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister has said.

Iryna Vereshchuk said in a Facebook post that the routes would be opened in the Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kyiv and Luhansk regions.

She did not announce any safe corridor out of the heart of Mariupol, saying instead that people wishing to leave the city would find transport in nearby Berdyansk.

Luhansk governor says local ceasefire agreed

The governor of the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine says an agreement has been reached on a local ceasefire in order to allow for the evacuation of civilians trapped by fighting.

Serhiy Haidai said on Telegram that the ceasefire would come into force at 9am local time (07:00 GMT).

Servicemen of the Ukrainian Military Forces go on a position in the Luhansk region
Ukrainian forces take positions in the Luhansk region [File: AFP]

Prosecutor’s office: 121 children killed, 167 wounded in Russian invasion

Ukraine’s prosecutor’s office says 121 children have been killed and 167 others wounded since Russia launched its invasion.

A nine-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy were among the most recent victims, according to the office’s statement, which was posted on Telegram.

Both were reportedly killed in the Ukrainian-controlled part of the eastern Donetsk region.

The statement added that on March 17, a Russian soldier killed a man in front of his 14-year-old son in the occupied Kyiv suburb of Bucha. The boy is wounded and is currently undergoing treatment, it said.

It also said that more than 220 schools and 155 kindergartens have been damaged by shelling.

Forty people are buried daily: Chernihiv mayor

The mayor of the besieged northern city of Chernihiv has told local media Russian servicemen are deliberately targeting civilians, hospitals and schools, adding that foreign forces almost encircled the city and their shelling had destroyed power and water supplies.

As a result, “about 40 people are buried daily,” Vladislav Atroshenko told the publication. “Before the war, we usually buried eight.”

He also reportedly said that only a handful of volunteers have managed to get to the city via little-known roads in swampy areas with medicines for hundreds of wounded Ukrainian servicemen in city hospitals.

Beijing tells Chinese in Russia to help fill economic void

Zhang Hanhui, China’s ambassador to Moscow, has told about a dozen business heads to waste no time and “fill the void” in the local Russian market, according to Bloomberg, quoting the Russia Confucius Culture Promotion Association’s official WeChat account.

While the summary made no mention of sanctions or sanctions compliance, Zhang described the situation as an opportunity, Bloomberg said.

Read more here.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping exchange chit chat in front of their respective flags during a February meeting in Beijing
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping [File AlexeiDruzhinin/Kremlin/Sputnik pool via EPA]

Zelenskyy’s adviser urges immediate harsher sanctions on Russia

Oleg Ustenko, an economic adviser to Zelenskyy, has said Russia’s frozen assets and central nank reserves, according to Ukraine’s foreign allies, have reached an estimated value of $300bn.

Ustenko told Al Jazeera that the assets could be used for the reconstruction of Ukraine, adding: “However, this is not enough, as every new day of war increases the price we need for reconstruction.”

“Our priority right now is to allocate the frozen Russian assets – meant for war – for reconstruction instead,” the adviser said.

He also said: “We strongly believe that our allies in Europe and the US should impose many harsh sanctions on Russia. This is not just related to the economic gains and benefits and it does not just mean that we no longer have trade exchanges like before, but it also should mean that the current status must change. And this is a civil side of things that they must adhere to.”

Two children, one adult killed by shelling in Luhansk: Official

Russian shelling hit an apartment building in the town of Rubizhne in the Ukrainian-controlled part of Luhansk, according to the region’s governor.

Two children and one adult were killed as a result, Haidai wrote on Facebook.

“The shell exploded on the fifth floor. Rescuers found three people killed, including two children,” he wrote, adding that shelling also caused multiple fires at a textile factory, a college and several apartments.

Russia’s Indonesia envoy: Putin plans to attend G20 summit

Putin intends to attend a G20 summit being hosted by Indonesia later this year, Russia’s ambassador in Jakarta has said, following calls by some members for the country to be barred from the group.

“Not only G20, many organisations are trying to expel Russia….the reaction of the West is absolutely disproportional,” ambassador Lyudmila Vorobieva told a news conference.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sitting
Some G20 member states have called for Russia to be barred from the group [File: Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters]

Russian forces release Ukrainian official, journalist: Reports

Russian forces have released a Ukrainian official and a journalist who had been held captive for days, according to local media reports

Serhiy Kirichko, a local official in the Sumy region, was released on Tuesday after being detained in a basement for a week, the news outlet Ukrinform reported, citing a local politician.

Viktoria Roshchina, a journalist with Ukraine’s Hromadske channel, was released on Monday after nine days in captivity, the television station announced.

Photojournalist reported missing near Kyiv

Concern is growing over the whereabouts of Ukrainian photojournalist Maksym Levin, who was last heard from days ago while taking pictures at a combat zone in Kyiv.

Markiyan Lyseiko, a friend of Levin’s, told the Institute of Mass Information that he had last heard from the photojournalist on March 13.

Lyseiko said that “intense fighting” had broken out in the area that Levin had gone to work at, and said he feared the photojournalist could have been “wounded or taken prisoner by the Russian military”.

Vietnam Airlines to suspend regular flights to Russia

Vietnam Airlines will temporarily suspend regular flights from Hanoi to Moscow starting from March 25 until further notice, according to the state-run Vietnam News Agency (VNA).

The suspension was to review procedures, requirements and regulations related to flight operations in Russia, VNA reported.

The two countries have close ties dating back to the Soviet era and Vietnam has not so far condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian journalist faces criminal charges over posts on Mariupol hospital attack

The Russian Investigative Committee has launched a criminal probe against a prominent journalist for spreading what it called “fake” information about the country’s armed forces, according to the Interfax news agency.

The committee said Alexander Nevzorov “knowingly published false information” about a Russian attack on a maternity hospital in Mariupol on his Instagram page as well as on a YouTube channel.

Nevzorov, a former politician, has previously described Russia’s actions in the besieged city as “terrorism”.

Russia’s parliament earlier this month passed a law making public actions aimed at “discrediting” Russia’s army illegal and banning the spread of “fake news”.

‘Large numbers’ of Belarusian troops refusing to join Russian invasion: Ukraine

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence says the possibility exists that Belarus’s army may join the Russian invasion, but its intelligence indicates that “a large number of personnel and some commanders are refusing to participate” in the war.

In a Telegram post, the ministry said Russian forces – due to a lack of success in their ground offensive – are now aiming for the “total destruction of critical infrastructure” in Ukraine.

It added that 100 Russian personnel were killed on Tuesday.

Al Jazeera could not verify the claims.

Satellite images show buildings on fire in Mariupol

Smoke rises from buildings on fire in the besieged city of Mariupol in an image taken by satellite
A satellite image shows buildings on fire in Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 22, 2022 [Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters]
A satellite image shows an overview of burning buildings in Livoberezhnyi district, Mariupol, Ukraine, March 22, 2022.
A satellite image shows an overview of burning buildings in Livoberezhnyi district, Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 22, 2022 [Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters]

Greek foreign minister to personally deliver aid to Mariupol

Nikos Dendias, the Greek foreign minister, has announced that he intends to make a trip to besieged Mariupol to deliver humanitarian aid.

The minister said he sent a note to the “Ukrainian side asking for the facilitation of the delivery of humanitarian aid in Mariupol and another note verbale to the Russian side asking not to obstruct it”.

“I intend to accompany this aid in person, in coordination with the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mr [Peter] Maurer, with whom we are already in contact.”

Dendias did not say when he plans to go to Mariupol

Russian forces accused of destroying Chernobyl laboratory

Authorities in Ukraine have accused Russian forces of “looting and destroying” a new laboratory at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant that among other things works to improve the management of radioactive waste.

The state agency responsible for the Chernobyl exclusion zone said the laboratory contained “highly active samples and samples of radionuclides that are now in the hands of the enemy, which we hope will harm itself and not the civilised world”.

Radionuclides are unstable atoms of chemical elements that release radiation.

Al Jazeera could not verify the allegation.

One person dead in air raid on Kyiv’s Obolonskyi district

A Russian air raid on the Ukrainian capital’s Obolonskyi district has killed one person and wounded three, according to city authorities in Kyiv.

The raid on Tuesday set fire to two buildings and one truck, the Kyiv City Military Administration said on Telegram.

There was no immediate response from Moscow. It denies targeting civilians, however.

Russia’s G20 membership under fire: Report

The Reuters news agency says the US and its Western allies are assessing whether Russia should remain within the Group of Twenty (G20) following its invasion of Ukraine.

The agency cited sources involved in the discussions.

“There have been discussions about whether it’s appropriate for Russia to be part of the G20,” Reuters quoted a senior G7 source as saying. “If Russia remains a member, it will become a less useful organisation.”

Russia may employ ‘increasingly violent measures’ to suppress occupied towns: UK

The British Ministry of Defence says civilian populations in Russian-occupied cities in Ukraine are continuing to protest against Russian control, suggesting that Moscow’s efforts to subdue residents through propaganda “have so far failed”.

“Russia will probably respond to these failures by employing increasingly violent and coercive measures in an attempt to suppress the Ukrainian population,” it warned.

Russian forces accused of seizing relief workers in Mariupol convoy

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says Russian forces have taken captive 11 bus drivers and four rescue workers who were heading to Mariupol to evacuate civilians.

The convoy was following an “agreed route” near the town of Mangush, close to Mariupol, she said.

“This is an agreed corridor, we have agreed it with the Red Cross, and now people are being held hostage. It is reported that the vehicles will be taken away, and people may or may not be let free,” she added.

Russian combat power declining in Ukraine: US official

A US defence official has told reporters that Russia’s combat power has declined below 90 percent of its pre-invasion levels for the first time since its assault on Ukraine began.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, did not provide evidence.

His assessment suggests heavy losses of weaponry and growing casualties on the Russian side.

The US had estimated that Russia assembled more than 150,000 troops around Ukraine before the February 24 invasion, along with enough aircraft, artillery, tanks and other firepower for its attack.

Germany honours Holocaust survivor killed in Ukraine

Germany’s parliament has paid tribute to Boris Romanchenko, a Ukrainian man who survived several Nazi concentration camps during World War II but was killed last week during an attack in the city of Kharkiv.

Legislators held a moment of silence in memory of 96-year-old Romanchenko and other victims of the war.

Romanchenko “survived four concentration camps and was now killed in the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine,” finance minister Christian Lindner said.

“His fate shows both the criminal character of Russian policy and why Germany is showing solidarity with Ukraine, why we must show solidarity.”

Only seven Ukrainian refugees resettled in US in first half of March: Report

Reuters says the US only admitted seven Ukrainian refugees from March 1-16 and is drawing up plans to allow in more people.

A new initiative set to launch this week will speed up visa processing for relatives of US citizens and permanent residents. it said, citing a person familiar with the matter.

The effort will also detail more staff to handle applications for a temporary status known as “humanitarian parole”, it added.

UN chief tells Russia: ‘This war is unwinnable’

Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations who spoke to reporters in New York earlier, had a “stark message” for Russia, according to a UN statement.

“This war is unwinnable,” he told Moscow. “Sooner or later, it will have to move from the battlefield to the peace table. This is inevitable. The only question is: How many more lives must be lost?”

He added: “The war is going nowhere fast. For more than two weeks, Mariupol has been encircled by the Russian army and relentlessly bombed, shelled and attacked. For what? Even if Mariupol falls. Ukraine cannot be conquered city by city, street by street, house by house.”

The UN chief also called for urgent talks, saying there was “enough on the table” for an immediate ceasefire.

Watch a recording of his remarks below.

Four Ukrainian children flown to US for cancer treatment

The US Department of State says four Ukrainian children have been flown to a hospital in Tennessee after their cancer treatment was disrupted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

It pledged to help with “special cases”, noting that paediatric oncology departments in Europe – where most Ukrainian refugees are fleeing to – were beginning to reach their limits.

US, EU slam new sentencing of Kremlin critic Navalny

The US and EU have slammed a new sentence handed down to jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny, calling it a “sham” and another example of Russia’s widening crackdown on dissenting voices amid its invasion of Ukraine.

A Russian court on Tuesday sentenced Navalny to nine additional years in a maximum-security prison on fraud and contempt of court charges, as well as a fine of 1.2 million roubles ($11,500).

Read more here.

Zelenskyy says 100,000 people trapped in ‘inhuman conditions’ in Mariupol

Ukraine’s president has accused Russian forces attacking Mariupol of thwarting attempts to evacuate civilians from the port city.

“As of today, there are about 100,000 people in the city in inhuman conditions, completely blockaded, without food, without water, without medicines, subject to constant shelling, constant bombardment,” he said.

Zelenskyy says Russia talks tough, sometimes confrontational

Ukraine’s president says peace talks with Russia to end the war were tough and sometimes confrontational but added “step by step we are moving forward”.

“We are continuing to work at different levels to encourage Russia to move towards peace … Ukrainian representatives are participating in talks that are taking place virtually every day. It’s very difficult, sometimes confrontational,” said Zelenskyy. “But step by step we are moving forward.”

Blinken discusses ‘deterrence’ with NATO chief

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has discussed “efforts to fortify NATO’s Eastern Flank” in a call with the alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the State Department has said.

“The Secretary reaffirmed the need for a strong and united Transatlantic response to the Russian government’s war against Ukraine and welcomed ongoing work to strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defense,” spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy to address French legislators

French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated France’s support for Ukraine in a call with his Ukrainian counterpart on Tuesday, Macron’s office has said.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to virtually address French legislators on Wednesday to demand more support amid Russia’s invasion.

In recent weeks, the Ukrainian leader has addressed legislators in the US, Canada, UK, Italy, Germany and Israel.

Striker returns to Brazil but says heart still in Ukraine

Brazilian-Ukrainian striker Junior Moraes, who returned to Brazil to join Corinthians, has said his mind is far from sport.

The 34-year-old Moraes, who obtained Ukrainian citizenship three years ago, said he fears for his friends and colleagues amid Russia’s invasion.

Moraes played in Ukraine for most of the last decade, scoring dozens of goals for Metalurg Donetsk, Dynamo Kyiv, and most recently Shakhtar Donetsk. He has played 11 matches for the Ukrainian national team.

“I can’t smile in a way I would like to. I think I will only do that once this war is over,” a tearful Moraes said during a press conference in Sao Paulo.

Macron calls for ceasefire in call with Putin

Macron has discussed peace talks between Russia and Ukraine and called for a ceasefire in a phone call with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, according to the French presidency.

The call, which was the eighth between the two leaders since the invasion began, lasted for an hour, Macron’s office said.

It added that the French president, who last spoke with Putin on March 18, also raised concerns about the situation in Mariupol, calling for the siege on the strategic port city to be lifted.

War going according to plan, Russia says

The Kremlin has pushed back against Western assertions that the Russian military campaign is facing setbacks, reiterating that the invasion is going as planned.

“We’re speaking about a special military operation that is going on, and it is going on strictly in accordance with the plans,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN.

Russian siege of Mariupol is ‘genocide’: Top Ukraine prosecutor

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova has said evidence shows that Russia is committing “genocide” in its siege on the strategic port city of Mariupol.

Ukrainian officials have said 100,000 civilians are currently trapped in Mariupol, encircled and under relentless shelling.

“What now I see in Mariupol, it’s not about war, it’s about genocide,” Venediktova told the AFP news agency. “Theatres of war have some rules, some principles. What we see in Mariupol, [is] no rules at all,” she added.

Russia would only use nuclear weapons in case of ‘existential threat’: Kremlin

Russia’s security policy dictates that the country would only use nuclear weapons if its very existence were threatened, Peskov has told US broadcaster CNN.

The Kremlin spokesman made the comment in an English-language interview when asked whether he was confident that the Russian president would not use nuclear weapons.

“We have a concept of domestic security and it’s public, you can read all the reasons for nuclear arms to be used. So if it is an existential threat for our country, then it [the nuclear arsenal] can be used in accordance with our concept,” he said.

“There are no other reasons that were mentioned in that text.”

Russia has ‘failed’ to achieve objectives in Ukraine: US

Russia has failed to achieve its goals in Ukraine, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has said, warning that despite the apparent Russian setbacks, the war will not end “easily or rapidly”.

Sullivan said Russia had set three objectives for itself when it started its invasion: subjugating Ukraine, enhancing Moscow’s power and prestige, and dividing the West.

“Russia has thus far manifestly failed to accomplish all three objectives. In fact, it has thus far achieved the opposite,” said Sullivan.

Read more here.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Read all the updates from Tuesday, March 22 here.