Russia-Ukraine War Live Updates: Russia Claims Hypersonic Missile Use, Ukraine Asks China To Condemn "Barbarism"
Russia-Ukraine War Live Updates: Russia's claim Saturday to have unleashed its new hypersonic Kinzhal missile would mark a dramatic new escalation of its campaign to force Ukraine to abandon hopes of closer ties with the West.
Ukraine Crisis: More than 3.25 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion.
Ukraine called on China on Saturday to join the West in condemning "Russian barbarism", as Moscow claimed it had struck a Ukrainian arms depot with hypersonic missiles in what would be the first use in combat of the next-generation weapons.
That attack, not far from the country's western Romanian border, came as Russia said its troops had broken through Ukrainian defences to enter the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, a scene of mounting desperation.
With the invasion in its fourth week, Kyiv's embattled leader Volodymyr Zelensky pressed for "meaningful" talks to halt fighting that has forced at least 3.3 million Ukrainians to flee their country.
The plea for China to condemn the invasion came from a top Zelensky advisor, Mikhailo Podolyak.
China could play an important role in global security, he said on Twitter, "if it makes a right decision to support the civilised countries' coalition and condemn Russian barbarism."
Russia's claim Saturday to have unleashed its new hypersonic Kinzhal missile would mark a dramatic new escalation of its campaign to force Ukraine to abandon hopes of closer ties with the West.
Ukrainian air force spokesman Yuri Ignat told AFP that the arms depot in the western village of Deliatyn had indeed been hit but "we have no information of the type of missile".
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who unveiled the Kinzhal missile in 2018, has termed it "an ideal weapon" that flies at 10 times the speed of sound, making it extremely difficult for missile defenses to intercept.
Here are the LIVE Updates on Ukraine-Russia War:
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Mar 21, 2022 03:01 (IST)
Chernobyl staff rotated out for first time since capture: UN nuclear watchdog
Around half of the staff who have been working at the radioactive waste facilities at Chernobyl since Russian forces seized it last month have been relieved by other Ukrainian staff, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Sunday.
"They were there for far too long. I sincerely hope that remaining staff from this shift can also rotate soon," International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi said in a statement. Ukraine's nuclear regulator informed the IAEA that the rotation had begun on Sunday morning, the IAEA said.
Mar 21, 2022 02:21 (IST)
Ukraine says 7,295 people were evacuated from cities on Sunday: Deputy Prime Minister
A total of 7,295 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Sunday, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said, with four out of seven planned routes working.
Of the total, 3,985 people were evacuated from the besieged city of Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia city. The Ukrainian government planned to send nearly 50 buses to Mariupol on Monday for further evacuations, Vereshchuk said.
Mar 21, 2022 01:27 (IST)
Three injured in air strike on western Ukraine
Three people were injured in a Russian air strike on Ukraine's western Zhytomyr region on Sunday, emergency services said. Thirteen buildings were damaged in the attack, which targeted the Korostensky district north of the region's main city Zhytomyr, Ukraine's state emergency services said on Facebook.
"Three people were injured," it added, posting images of burning buildings and scattered charred debris.
Also on Sunday, Russia's defence ministry said its "high-precision missiles" hit a training centre of Ukrainian special forces in Zhytomyr region, around 150 kilometres west of Ukraine's capital Kyiv.
"More than 100 (Ukrainian) servicemen of the special forces and foreign mercenaries were destroyed," in the attack, the ministry said.
Mar 21, 2022 00:20 (IST)
Russian navy commander killed in Ukraine
A senior naval commander in Russia's Black Sea Fleet has been killed in Ukraine, the governor of Sevastopol said on Sunday.
Post-Captain Andrei Paliy, deputy commander of the fleet, died during fighting in the eastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, Governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said on the messaging app Telegram.
The Russian navy did not respond to a request for comment. Sevastopol, which is a major base of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, is located on the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," Thomas-Greenfield said the United States had not yet confirmed the allegations made on Saturday by the Mariupol city council via its Telegram channel.
"I've only heard it. I can't confirm it," she said. "But I can say it is disturbing. It is unconscionable for Russia to force Ukrainian citizens into Russia and put them in what will basically be concentration and prisoner camps."
Flow of Ukrainian refugees testing limits of central Europe's capacity, Polish capital's population spikes by 17%
Officials in Central Europe voiced concern on Sunday that they were reaching capacity to comfortably house some of the nearly 3.5 million refugees who have fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion and are now camped in temporary accommodation.
Most of the Ukrainians have arrived at border points in Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary, data compiled by the U.N. refugee agency shows, putting pressure on the European Union countries now attempting to shelter them.
Czech Interior Minister Vit Rakusan said the government would seek to extend a state of emergency to deal with the influx, with officials trying to relocate new arrivals to cities outside the capital Prague to ease the pressure.
In Poland, whose Ukrainian community of around 1.5 million is the region's largest, refugees waited in line for a third day in front of the National Stadium temporarily turned into an administration office to register new arrivals.
More than 2 million Ukrainians have crossed into Poland since the invasion by Russia, which it says is a "special operation" aimed at demilitarising Ukraine, began on Feb. 24. Ukraine and the West say Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an aggressive war of choice.
Warsaw officials say this has increased the Polish capital's population of 1.8 million by 17%.
Mar 20, 2022 22:01 (IST)
France freezes 850 million euros of Russian assets
France has seized around 850 million euros ($920 million) of Russian oligarchs' assets on its soil, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Sunday.
"We have immobilised ... 150 million euros in individual's accounts, credit lines in France and in French establishments, " Le Maire told French television as Paris hits Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
Furthermore, "we have immobilised 539 million euros in real estate on French territory, corresponding to some 390 properties or apartments and we have sequestered two yachts (with a value of) 150 million euros," said Le Maire.
"In total that is (almost) 850 millions euros in assets belonging to Russian oligarchs which have been immobilised on French soil," he added.
The French crackdown means the owners are unable to, sell on or monetise their assets.
Mar 20, 2022 21:59 (IST)
Russian strike on Kyiv apartment block wounds five
A shell exploded outside an apartment block in Kyiv, wounding five people, the mayor said Sunday, the latest bombardment as Russian forces try to encircle the Ukranian capital.
The ten-storey building in northwestern Sviatoshyn district was badly damaged, with all the windows blown out and scorch marks from a fire that broke out, AFP journalists at the scene said.
Firefighters led an elderly woman and a disorientated man with facial injuries to an ambulance. Two burned-out cars lay in the debris-covered courtyard, which also houses a playground.
Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram that "the enemy's airstrikes" had wounded five people, two of whom were taken to hospital.
"It was lucky" that there were not more casualties, Sviatlana Vodolaga, a spokeswoman for the state emergency service told AFP, adding that six people were rescued from the block.
A kindergarten was also damaged but was empty at the time.
Mar 20, 2022 21:57 (IST)
Moscow TV war protester urges other Russians to speak up
The Russian editor who protested Moscow's invasion of Ukraine during a state TV news broadcast called Sunday for other Russians to speak out against the "gruesome war."
While working for Channel One television in Moscow, Marina Ovsyannikova barged onto the set of an evening newscast Monday, holding a poster reading "No War."
She was subsequently detained, fined 30,000 rubles ($280), and then freed pending possible further prosecution, but has turned down a French offer of asylum.
On Sunday she described to US media her decision to protest as "spontaneous," but said a sense of deep dissatisfaction with her government had been building for years -- a feeling she said many of her colleagues shared.
"The propaganda on our state channels was becoming more and more distorted, and the pressure that has been applied in Russian politics could not leave us indifferent," she told ABC News program "This Week."
"As soon as the war began, I could not sleep, I could not eat. I came to work, and after a week of coverage of this situation, the atmosphere on (Channel One) was so unpleasant that I realized I could not go back there."
Ovsyannikova said she considered joining a protest in a public square, but saw that protesters were being arrested and faced jail time.
"I decided that maybe I could do something else, something more meaningful... and I could show to the rest of the world that Russians are against the war, and I could show to the Russian people that this is just propaganda."
Mar 20, 2022 21:21 (IST)
Negotiation is only way out of war, says Ukraine's President Zelenskyy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday renewed his plea for talks with his Russian counterpart, taking to US television to say negotiations were the only way to "end this war."
"I'm ready for negotiations with him," Zelensky told CNN show "Fareed Zakaria GPS," referring to Russia's Vladimir Putin, whose deadly invasion of Ukraine is in its fourth week.
Mar 20, 2022 20:05 (IST)
Russia-Ukraine War: Berlin anti-war concert draws 20,000
Some 20,000 people attended an anti-war concert in central Berlin on Sunday, police said, with listeners waving Ukrainian flags or holding banners with slogans opposing the Russian invasion.
Gathering near the Brandenburg Gate, symbol of a divided Germany during the Cold War, many performers wore shades of blue and yellow in solidarity with Ukraine.
Jamala, a Ukrainian singer who won the Eurovision Song Contest with her song "1944" in 2016, was broadcast on a big screen telling attendees that "music is a peaceful force".
"I think if all the musicians united it would be the strongest peace army in the world," she said to the crowd, listening in masks and coats under clear blue skies.
Mar 20, 2022 19:03 (IST)
At least 902 civilians killed in Ukraine since conflict began: UN
At least 902 civilians have been killed and 1,459 injured in Ukraine as of midnight local time on March 19, the U.N. human rights office (OHCHR) said on Sunday.
Most of the casualties were from explosive weapons such as shelling from heavy artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes, OHCHR said.
The actual toll is thought to be considerably higher since OHCHR, which has a large monitoring team in the country, has not yet been able to receive or verify casualty reports from several badly hit cities including Mariupol, it said.
Mar 20, 2022 18:05 (IST)
Ten million have fled their homes in Ukraine: UN
Ten million people have now fled their homes in Ukraine due to Russia's "devastating" war, the United Nations refugees chief said Sunday.
"The war in Ukraine is so devastating that 10 million have fled either displaced inside the country, or as refugees abroad," the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said on Twitter.
Mar 20, 2022 17:18 (IST)
"Slaughters and atrocities" committed daily in Ukraine, says Pope
Pope Francis on Sunday called the conflict in Ukraine an unjustified "senseless massacre" and asked leaders to stop "this repugnant war".
"The violent aggression against Ukraine is unfortunately not slowing down," he told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square for his weekly Sunday address and blessing.
"It is a senseless massacre where every day slaughters and atrocities are being repeated," he said.
Mar 20, 2022 16:56 (IST)
Ukraine's Zelensky to address Israel lawmakers
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has emphasised his Judaism in seeking to rally Jewish and Israeli support for his country during the Russian invasion, was due to address Israel's parliament on Sunday.
In an international tour via videoconference, Zelensky has spoken to several foreign legislatures since the invasion launched on February 24, including the United States Congress, Britain's House of Commons and Germany's Bundestag.
A spokesman for the Knesset, Israel's legislature, told AFP that Zelensky's speech was scheduled for 6:00 pm (1600 GMT), as the humanitarian situation deteriorates in besieged Ukrainian cities under relentless Russian bombardment.
Zelensky will address lawmakers in a country where more than one million of its 9.4 million residents have roots in the former Soviet Union.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government has tried to maintain neutrality on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, citing Israel's warm ties with both countries and the need to preserve security coordination with Russian troops operating in Syria.
But several demonstrations have been held in Israel to condemn the invasion, and Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai announced the municipality will screen Zelensky's speech live in the heart of the city.
The US' Indo-Pacific strategy is as "dangerous" as NATO's eastward expansion in Europe resulting in Russia's military offensive against Ukraine, a senior Chinese diplomat has said.
"With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) should have been consigned to history alongside the Warsaw Pact," China's Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said while addressing the International Forum on Security and Strategy hosted by the Centre for International Security and Strategy of Tsinghua University on Saturday.
"However, rather than breaking up, NATO has kept strengthening and expanding. One could well anticipate the consequences going down this path. The crisis in Ukraine is a stern warning," he said.
Mar 20, 2022 15:10 (IST)
Ukraine sees high risk of attack from Belarus on western Volyn region, says presidential office
Ukraine sees a high risk of an attack on western Ukraine's Volyn region being launched from Belarus, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's office said on Sunday, citing the military.
The Russian invasion has mostly focused on northern, southern and eastern areas of Ukraine, though missiles also hit the Yavoriv military base last week, close to the Polish border.
It was not immediately clear whether Ukraine saw the threat of an attack on Volyn from Russian forces or the Belarusian military, which has so far not publicly committed troops to supporting Russia.
Russia said Sunday it has again fired its newest Kinzhal hypersonic missiles in Ukraine, destroying a fuel storage site in the country's south.
The Russian defence ministry also said it killed more than 100 members of Ukrainian special forces and "foreign mercenaries" when it targeted a training centre in the town of Ovruch in northern Ukraine with sea-based missiles.
"Kinzhal aviation missile systems with hypersonic ballistic missiles destroyed a large storage site for fuels and lubricants of the Ukrainian armed forces near the settlement of Kostyantynivka in the Mykolaiv region," the defence ministry said.
The ministry said the base had been used for the main supplies of fuel for Ukrainian armoured vehicles in the country's south.
Mar 20, 2022 14:20 (IST)
Russian Forces Bomb Art School In Mariupol Housing 400 Refugees
Russian forces have bombed an art school in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, where about 400 residents had taken shelter, the city council said on Sunday.
There was no immediate word of casualties from the Saturday attack, although the council said the building was destroyed and there were victims under the rubble.
Some Syrian paramilitary fighters say they are ready to deploy to Ukraine to fight in support of their ally Russia but have not yet received instructions to go, two of their commanders told Reuters.
Nabil Abdallah, a commander in the paramilitary National Defence Forces (NDF), said he was ready to use expertise in urban combat gained during the Syrian war to aid Russia, speaking to Reuters by phone from the Syrian town of Suqaylabiyah.
"Once we get instructions from the Syrian and Russian leadership, we will fight this righteous war," Abdallah said on March 14, four days after President Vladimir Putin gave a green light for 16,000 volunteers from the Middle East to deploy in Ukraine.
"We don't fear this war and are ready for it once instructions come to go and join. We will show them what they never saw ... We will wage street wars and (apply) tactics we acquired during our battles that defeated the terrorists in Syria," he added.
Mar 20, 2022 11:08 (IST)
Ukraine conflict opens diplomatic and energy opportunities for Qatar
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has opened up diplomatic and commercial opportunities for gas exporter Qatar to expand energy sales to the West and bolster its alliance with Washington amid U.S. tensions with other Gulf Arab states.
Qatar has sought a largely neutral stance on the conflict, but while trying to avoid choosing sides, it has signalled through its response that it can offer significant political and economic assistance to Western partners.
With many European energy importers looking urgently for ways to ease their heavy dependence on Russia, Qatar has suggested it could direct more gas in future to Europe.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in contrast have resisted Western calls for a rapid rise in oil output to contain a jump in crude prices caused by the conflict in Ukraine.
Mar 20, 2022 10:47 (IST)
One of Europe's biggest steel works damaged in Ukraine's Mariupol
One of Europe's biggest iron and steel works, Azovstal, has been badly damaged as Russian forces lay siege to the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, officials said Sunday.
"One of the biggest metallurgic plants in #Europe destroyed. The economic losses for #Ukraine are huge. The environment is devastated," tweeted Ukrainian lawmaker Lesia Vasylenko.
Vasylenko posted a video of explosions on an industrial site, with thick columns of grey and black smoke rising from the buildings.
Mar 20, 2022 10:17 (IST)
#UkraineRussiaWar | Russia Claims Hypersonic Missile Use, Ukraine Asks China To Condemn "Barbarism"
China stands on the right side of history over the Ukraine crisis as time will tell, and its position is in line with the wishes of most countries, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.
"China will never accept any external coercion or pressure, and opposes any unfounded accusations and suspicious against China," Wang told reporters on Saturday evening, according to a statement published by his ministry on Sunday.
Wang's comments came after U.S. President Joe Biden warned his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, on Friday of "consequences" if Beijing gave material support to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Mar 20, 2022 09:44 (IST)
Ukraine war sparking turmoil for world economy: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
The Ukraine war has major economic consequences for energy, food, inflation and poverty, according to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The EBRD's chief economist, Beata Javorcik, spoke to AFP about the fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine, from where more than three million refugees have fled so far.
Global lenders are giving billions for Ukraine, including a 2.0-billion-euro ($2.2 billion) "resilience package" from the London-based EBRD, but there is currently no end in sight to the conflict.
The crisis has sent commodity prices rocketing on supply fears, fuelling inflation that is already at multi-decade highs.
Australia expanded its sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine Sunday, immediately banning all exports of alumina and bauxite while pledging more weapons and humanitarian assistance.
The export ban aims to impact aluminium production in Russia, which relies on Australia for 20 percent of its alumina.
It comes just days after Canberra sanctioned oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who owns a stake in Queensland Alumina Limited -- a joint venture between Russian aluminium company Rusal and mining giant Rio Tinto, which has vowed to sever all business ties with Russia.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government was working with partners to "put the maximum cost, the maximum pressure on the Putin regime to withdraw from Ukraine".
Morrison said Australia had levelled 476 sanctions against Russian individuals and institutions since the invasion began.
He also announced Australia would donate 70,000 tonnes of thermal coal to Ukraine, following a request from the besieged nation.
Mar 20, 2022 07:04 (IST)
Ukraine city of Mykolaiv facing air raids: local official
Russian air raids on Mykolaiv were taking place in quick succession Saturday, a regional official said, a day after a deadly strike on a military barracks in the southern Ukrainian city.
Vitaly Kim, head of the regional administration, said there wasn't even enough time to raise the alarm over the raids "because by the time we announce this tornado, it's already there".
"The (alert) message and the bombings arrive at the same time," he said on social media.
He gave no details about the extent of the damage or on any possible victims.
Dozens of soldiers were killed after Russian troops struck the military barracks in Mykolaiv early Friday, witnesses told AFP on Saturday, as a rescue operation was under way.
Authorities have not yet released an official death toll.