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March 18, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

Clouds of smoke rise in Lviv after Russian missile attack
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What we covered

  • Russia fired six missiles at Lviv Friday, Ukraine’s military said. The western city is near Poland’s border, a NATO member and had been relatively untouched by Russian attacks.
  • New satellite images show Russian troops building defenses near Kyiv as Ukraine says it has launched a counteroffensive aimed at gaining control of the capital’s suburbs.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said at least 130 people have been rescued from the bombed Mariupol theater. Hundreds more are still under the rubble, he said, as rescue efforts continue.
  • US President Joe Biden laid out “implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia” in a call with President Xi Jinping, the White House said.
  • Want to help? Learn how to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine here. 
  • Having connection issues? Bookmark CNN’s lite site for fast connectivity.
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"Discoveries made" in search for missing US military aircraft in Norway

Norwegian rescue teams reported late Friday that “discoveries were made” in their search for a US military aircraft with four people aboard that went missing during NATO military exercises.

“At 9:27pm (4:27 p.m. ET), discoveries were made from the air in Gråtådalen in Beiarn,” said a statement from the Norwegian Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC). “Due to the weather conditions, it is impossible to land onsite. The weather conditions in the area have been challenging and are expected to get worse.”

The MV-22B Osprey aircraft, assigned to the II Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) US military unit in Norway, was “out on a training mission in Nordland County, northern Norway on Friday,” according to the Norwegian Armed Forces.

According to the JRCC statement, the aircraft “was reported missing at 6:26pm (1:26 p.m. ET) south of Bodø. The aircraft was heading north towards Bodø. The last known position was by Saltfjellet.”

Ground crews coordinated by the police have been deployed to the scene, but they are not expected to reach the area for several hours, JRCC said.

JRCC said a rescue helicopter from the town of Bodø was deployed in the search, as well as a Lockheed P-3 Orion. Another Norwegian rescue helicopter was also sent from Ørlandet municipality, it added.

Zelensky announces assistance for Ukrainians displaced by invasion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a second video message early Saturday morning March 19.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday announced assistance for Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion.

Speaking in a video message, Zelensky said the country’s ministers are developing a program to support people who were forced to flee or lost their homes due to the war.

The plan will:

Help displaced people find jobs in places they are currently located, “so that every one of our people, every one of our families had the foundation for life.” Provide housing for displaced people, and organize efforts to rebuild destroyed houses once the war is over. Provide support to families housing people who fled occupied territories or areas where combat is ongoing. “At a minimum, they will receive reimbursement of their utility expenses related to housing the resettled people,” Zelensky said.

Zelensky added that a coordination center has been established to handle deliveries of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and that the head of the President’s office has consulted ambassadors to ramp up these deliveries.

New Zealand's Prime Minister conveys support in call with Ukrainian counterpart

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gestures during the post-Cabinet press conference in Wellington, New Zealand, Monday, March 7.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reiterated her support of Ukraine during a call with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Saturday.

“Prime Minister Shmyhal thanked New Zealand for being one of the first countries to take swift practical action against Russia’s aggression. As he noted, when it comes to the importance of the global response, there is no bigger or smaller country, there are only countries that are reacting,” Ardern said in a statement.

“New Zealand will continue to call on Russia to immediately cease military operations in Ukraine, and permanently withdraw to avoid further catastrophic loss of innocent life.”

Travel ban: The call comes after New Zealand added an additional 364 Russian political and military targets to a travel ban list on Friday.

At the same time, 13 individuals and 19 entities were added to a sanctions list, which included asset freezes. Those on the list include Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Zelensky to Russia: "It's time to meet, time to talk"

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a video message early Saturday morning March 19.

In a video message early Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Russia: “It’s time to talk.”

“I want everyone to hear me now, especially I want them to hear me in Moscow. It’s time to meet, time to talk, time to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine, or else Russia will face such losses that several generations will not be enough for it to rise back up,” he said in the video posted to Facebook.

Pushing for negotiation: Zelensky said the Russian military’s actions were worsening the situation for their own country, and that honest negotiations “without stalling” were the only way to mitigate the damage.

“We always insisted on negotiations,” Zelensky said, “We always proposed dialogue and solutions for peace. Not just during the 23 days of invasion.”

Civilian evacuations: The President added that 180,000 Ukrainians have been rescued through evacuation corridors to date, and that seven corridors were functioning in the country on Friday — six in the Sumy region and one in the Donetsk region.

Rescue work continues at the site of the destroyed theater in Mariupol. More than 130 people have been rescued, many of whom are injured, but there has not been any information released on casualties, he said.

A Chinese vlogger shared videos of war-torn Ukraine. He's been labeled a national traitor

Wang Jixian didn’t set out to become the Chinese voice of resistance in Ukraine. The 36-year-old resident of Odesa, a key target in Russia’s invasion of the country, simply wanted to show his parents he was fine.

“I’m coming back from buying groceries,” he said in a video posted to Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, on February 24, the first day of the invasion. Wang, a programmer originally from Beijing, described buying meat and fruit in the video, remarking that some food stores were still open.

But his mood darkened as the days passed and the Russian assault escalated. When he logged onto Douyin, he said he would see Chinese videos praising Russian troops or supporting the invasion.

His daily videos, posted across various platforms including YouTube and the Chinese messaging app WeChat, quickly gained traction as a rare voice offering Chinese audiences a glimpse into war-torn Ukraine — a stark contrast from Chinese state media, which has promoted Russian disinformation such as unfounded claims Ukrainian soldiers are using “Nazi” tactics.

In one widely-watched video, Wang held up his Chinese passport and said, “These Ukrainian guards are not Nazis, they are IT programmers, common people, barbers — these are the people.”

But in doing so, he had waded into the middle of a messy controversy, with China facing international pressure as it refuses to condemn Russia’s invasion, and an outpouring of pro-Russia sentiment on China’s highly restricted and censored social media — something Wang is hoping to change.

Read the full story:

01 wang jixian chinese vlogger

A Chinese vlogger shared videos of war-torn Ukraine. He's been labeled a national traitor

Norway searches for US military aircraft involved in "mishap" during NATO training

A US military aircraft participating in NATO exercises in Norway has been involved in a “mishap,” and a search and rescue operation is underway, according to the US Marine Corps.

The aircraft is an MV-22B Osprey assigned to the II Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) US military unit in Norway.

“The aircraft was participating in Exercise Cold Response 2022,” the Corps said in a statement. “Norwegian civil authorities are leading the search and rescue efforts at this time.”

“Although the nature of military service is inherently dangerous, the safety of our Marines, Sailors, Allies and partners is our top priority,” the statement said.

In a separate statement, Maj. Jim Stenger said, “We can confirm an incident has occurred involving a Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey aircraft. The aircraft was conducting training in Norway as part of Exercise COLD RESPONSE 22 at the time of the incident.”

“The cause of the incident is under investigation,” Stenger said. 

CNN identifies 2 buildings hit at Mykolaiv military base, where journalists report troops have been killed

Dozens of Ukrainian troops were reported to have been killed at a military base in Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine following a Russian strike on Friday March 18.

CNN has identified two locations at a military base in Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine that were hit by Russian strikes on Friday.

One location was documented by a photographer of the CNN Swedish affiliate Expressen, and another building was seen to be hit in photos and video on Telegram about 800 feet away to the north. 

It’s unclear if any individuals were killed in the military strike at the second location. At the location in the Expressen photos, a number of bodies are seen.

According to journalists who were at the scene from Expressen, dozens of Ukrainian troops are reported to have been killed at the military base.

Expressen correspondent Magnus Falkehed and photojournalist Niclas Hammarström reported that around 6 a.m. local time on Friday (12 a.m. ET), “two Russian fighter jets dropped what appeared to be five bombs,” destroying several buildings at the military barracks.

Rescuers at the scene used shovels and their bare hands to free survivors from the rubble of the buildings, according to the journalists. In dramatic video filmed by Expressen, one Ukrainian soldier is seen being pulled alive from wreckage.

Expressen quoted one of the surviving soldiers, 54-year-old Serhil, who was sleeping in the barracks opposite where the attack hit, as saying that “of the approximately 200 who were there, I would guess about 90 percent did not survive.”

“Glass flew everywhere. I prayed to God that I would have time to take shelter before more bombs came. There are always more bombs,” Nikita, a 22-year-old Ukrainian soldier, told Expressen.

Mykolaiv, a southern city that sits along the Black Sea, has been a frequent target of Russian bombings. Prior to Friday’s bombings, Russian forces had already attacked Mykolaiv with cluster munition rockets in three separate attacks spanning a week, according to a Thursday report by Human Rights Watch.

These are the requests from Zelensky that Western allies have not yet fulfilled 

Two Polish Air Force MIG-29's are seen at the 22nd Air Base Command in Malbork, Poland on August 27, 2021.

While the United States and other NATO member nations have fulfilled a number of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s requests to help hinder Russian forces, they have stopped short of certain measures they say could risk an escalation in the war.

These are some of Zelensky’s asks left unfulfilled:

No-fly zone: Zelensky has repeatedly called on Ukraine’s allies to establish a no-fly zone over the country. A no-fly zone is an area where certain aircraft cannot fly for any number of reasons. In the context of a conflict such as the one in Ukraine, it would probably mean a zone in which Russian planes were not allowed to fly, to prevent them from carrying out airstrikes against Ukraine.

The problem with military no-fly zones is that they have to be enforced by a military power. If a Russian aircraft flew into a NATO no-fly zone, then NATO forces would have to take action against that aircraft. Those measures could include shooting the plane from the sky. That would, in Russia’s eyes, be an act of war by NATO and would likely escalate the conflict.

S-300 missile defense systems: This surface-to-air missile system can strike targets that are both higher in altitude and farther away than Stinger missiles are designed for.

Slovakia has preliminarily agreed to provide Ukraine with a key Soviet-era air defense system to help defend against Russian airstrikes, according to three sources familiar with the matter. But the US and NATO are still grappling with how to backfill that country’s own defensive capabilities, and the transfer is not yet assured.

MiG fighter jets: Earlier this month, the US dismissed a proposal from Poland to transfer its MiG-29 fighter jets to the United States for delivery to Ukraine.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement that the US did not believe Poland’s proposal was “tenable” and that it was too risky.

“The prospect of fighter jets ‘at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America’ departing from a U.S./NATO base in Germany to fly into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance,” Kirby said.

Read more about the aid that Western allies have provided so far here.

Mayor of Velykoburlutska community released after being "captured" by Russians, Kharkiv governor says

Viktor Tereshchenko, mayor of the Velykoburlutska community in Ukraine’s northeastern region of Kharkiv, has been released, according to a video message from Kharkiv Regional State Administration’s head Oleh Syniehubov on Friday.

On Thursday, Syniehubov said Tereshchenko was “captured” by Russian forces.

“The enemy’s released Viktor Tereshchenko. … I’ve just spoken to him. He is at hospital receiving treatment. He is a good man who stands firm and sticks up for his community, his residents, his electorate. Once again this only proves that the enemy shall not prevail and no one will surrender an inch of our land to the enemy,” Syniehubov said in the Friday statement.

He said that Russian forces did not allow the delivery of aid along the evacuation corridors, so local officials set up logistical aid centers in nearby towns that needed it most.

On Tuesday, the mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, who had been detained by Russian forces, was freed as part of a prisoner swap. On Sunday Yevhen Matveyev, the leader of Dniprorudne, a small city north of Melitopol, was abducted by Russian troops, according to Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

CNN could not independently confirm the claim.

Former US Presidents Bush and Clinton visit Ukrainian church in Chicago to show "solidarity"

Former US Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton visited the Saints Volodymyr & Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church in Chicago to “show solidarity with the people of Ukraine” on Friday March 18.

Former US Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton visited a Ukrainian church in Chicago to “show solidarity with the people of Ukraine.”

The presidents both tweeted video of their visit to Saints Volodymyr & Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church, each carrying bouquets of bright yellow sunflowers, the national flower of Ukraine.

“America stands united with the people of Ukraine in their fight for freedom and against oppression,” Clinton tweeted.

“America stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine as they fight for their freedom and their future,” according to a tweet from The George W. Bush Presidential Center.

From drones to missiles, here's the military aid that allies are sending to Ukraine

Ukrainian servicemen unload a plane with the FGM-148 Javelin, American man-portable anti-tank missile provided by the US to Ukraine on February 11.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has implored Western allies to provide his country with military aid as Russia continues its unprovoked invasion.

The US and other NATO member nations have fulfilled a number of Zelensky’s requests, while stopping short of certain measures they say could risk an escalation in the war.

The military aid provided to Ukraine so far includes weapons that range from portable drones to complex, long-range missile systems. Here’s what’s been sent:

Switchblade drones: Small, portable, so-called kamikaze drones that carry warheads and detonate on impact. The smallest model can hit a target up to six miles away, according to the company that produces the drones, AeroVironment. It’s unclear which size model the US will send to Ukraine.

Stinger anti-aircraft missiles: These heat-seeking, anti-aircraft missiles have a range of about five miles and 11,000 feet. Critically, Stinger missiles can distinguish between enemy and friendly aircraft.

Javelin anti-tank weapons: This guided missile system can be shoulder-fired by a single solider and has a range of up to 8,200 feet.

AT-4 anti-armor systems: These Swedish anti-armor weapons are “lightweight, single-shot and fully disposable,” according to the company that produces them, Saab Bofors Dynamics.

Patriot air defense missile system: The US also delivered two missile defense systems to Poland this month intended to deter Russia and boost Poland’s security amid Western concerns that the Ukraine conflict could spill into NATO-aligned nations.

The Patriot air defense missile system — Patriot stands for “Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept of Target” — is designed to counter and destroy incoming short-range ballistic missiles, advanced aircraft and cruise missiles.

The battery includes missiles and launching stations, a radar set that detects and tracks targets, and an engagement control station, according to the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance.

Continue reading the full story here:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to Congress by video to plead for support.

Ukraine has requested military aid. Here's how allies are providing assistance

This US Army veteran is teaching Ukrainians in Lviv how to treat war wounds

A US Army veteran is in western Ukraine teaching first-aid classes to Ukrainian civilians, in case they need to treat wounds during the war with Russia.

Dr. Robert Lim is among the medics and doctors that the Global Surgical and Medical Support Group is bringing to Ukraine.

Lim, who was an Army surgeon for 20 years, headed up a training at a local gym in Lviv, where he instructed teachers, engineers, dancers and even high school students how to use tourniquets and keep an injured person breathing.

“I’m afraid, because we are not prepared. I am not a professional soldier, but I understand it is better to meet the enemy being prepared and with the right skills,” civil engineer Marian Pakholok told CNN’s Scott McLean.

Lim also taught other doctors and medical professionals how to treat wounds rarely seen during peacetime.

Dr. Tania Boychuk, a dermatologist, told McLean she is planning on joining the military.

“I plan to go to the war front,” she said, adding that she has close friends who are there as well.

UN and partners complete first humanitarian aid convoy to Sumy, Ukraine

Aid supplies are unloaded in Sumy, Ukraine, on March 18.

The United Nations announced Friday that alongside its partners in Ukraine it completed the first convoy of humanitarian aid to the city of Sumy, which is located in the northeast of the country.

“The 130 metric tons of essential aid includes medical supplies, bottled water, ready-to-eat meals and canned food that will directly help some 35,000 people. In addition to these items, the convoy brought equipment to repair water systems to help 50,000 people,” UN Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine Amin Awad said in a statement Friday. “The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) facilitated the dialogue for the safe passage of the humanitarian convoy.”

Supplies were provided by the World Food Programme, UN Refugee Agency, World Health Organization, and the UN Children’s Fund, as well as the nongovernmental organization People in Need, according to the statement.  

“We count on the continued cooperation of all parties as the United Nations and our humanitarian partners scale up our relief operation to respond to the grave humanitarian crisis caused by this war. We are here to help the most vulnerable civilians caught in the fighting, wherever they are in Ukraine. We need unhindered and sustained humanitarian access to do so,” Awad added.

Health workers struggle to get crucial insulin to people with diabetes in Ukraine's war zones

Continuing to face attacks from Russian forces, Ukrainian hospitals are strained by growing numbers of casualties and finite medical supplies. There are shortages across all types of medication, but limited access to insulin supplies has led to an uptick in conditions related to uncontrolled diabetes.

“There’s been significant shortages of insulin across the country and many, many actors and people in different areas calling out for that supply,” Kate White, an emergency program manager for Doctors Without Borders, told CNN.

According to Valentina Ocheretenko, chair of the Ukrainian Diabetes Foundation, the country has enough insulin to supply its needs for three months. The challenge is getting it to the people who need it.

There are over 2.3 million people with diabetes in Ukraine, according to the International Diabetes Federation, making up 7.1% of the population. For some people with type 1 diabetes, immediate access to insulin is a necessity for survival.

“We have enough insulin in the country, and a lot of humanitarian aid … is bringing more and more, but we have big problems with logistics,” Ocheretenko told CNN.

Most of Ukraine’s insulin supply is imported or made domestically by two pharmaceutical manufacturing companies, Indar and Farmak, both of which are in Kyiv, said Dr. Orest Petrychka, medical director of the Clinical Center of Endocrinology Lviv. Insulin is provided to people who need it for free in Ukraine.

“About the patients in the conflict zones, I am afraid they can be cut off from the supply of insulin … because of actions of targeted terror held by Russian troops or by the physical impossibility to supply this insulin to patients … from the pharmacy,” Petrychka told CNN.

Continue reading the full story here:

VOLNOVAKHA, UKRAINE - MARCH 12: A view of a damaged hospital as civilians continue to hide in a bomb shelter under the hospital amid Russian-Ukrainian conflict in the city of Volnovakha, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on March 12, 2022. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

With Ukraine's conflict zone cut off from insulin supplies, concerns escalate for people with diabetes

Russia constructing earthen berms to protect military positions northwest of Kyiv, satellite images show

Protective berms are seen around Russian military equipment near Ozera on March 17.

The Russian military is quite literally digging in, constructing earthen berms around its military equipment northwest of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, according to Maxar Technologies’ analysis and satellite images.

The new satellite images show the protective berms around Russian military equipment near Ozera and the Antonov Air Base. 

Additional Russian military equipment, and some berm construction, are also seen in the villages of Zdvyzhivka and Berestyanka, further northwest.

White House downplays Lavrov's remarks on weapons shipments: "That's a threat that he has made before"

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 18 in Washington, DC.

The White House downplayed threats made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov against material assistance coming into Ukraine after US President Joe Biden pledged to send more than $800 million in security assistance. On Friday, Lavrov said any weapons shipments entering Ukraine will be a “legitimate” target for Russia. 

“That’s a threat that he has made before,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins during a press briefing Friday, adding that “there are no US troops operating inside Ukraine,” with all US forces operating exclusively in NATO territory. 

“As we’re talking about the operations of the movement of convoys, and the movement of assistance, those are not the bodies that would be moving those assistance within Ukraine,” Psaki said. “We watch closely what the actions are, the continued escalatory actions of the Russians, and we will watch closely if they follow up on that threat.” 

As CNN previously reported, Lavrov reportedly said the Russians had “made it very clear that any cargo that will enter the territory of Ukraine, which we will consider … [carrying] weapons, will become a legitimate target,” according to state TV channel RT. A number of NATO countries, including the US, have pledged military aid to Ukraine ranging from drones to anti-tank missiles.

Lavrov said Soviet and Russian-made missile defense systems, which are available to some NATO countries, cannot be legally transferred to third countries, according to TASS.

But Psaki added that some of the convoys were also bringing humanitarian assistance. 

“We continue to have the means of getting that assistance in and we have effectively been doing that in recent days,” she added, “so we will continue to work through those channels.”

It's just after 10 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

As Friday ends in Ukraine, here’s a look at the latest developments that have happened so far in the war.

Hundreds likely still under rubble: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that 130 people have been rescued from the bombed theater in the city of Mariupol so far. Hundreds of people were taking shelter at the theater when it was bombed on Wednesday. Speaking on Ukrainian TV, Zelensky said that rescue operations are continuing at the site despite the difficulties. However, hundreds of people are still under the rubble in Mariupol, Zelensky added.

Impacted areas: Lviv, Kramatorsk and a district in Kyiv were hit by Russian weapons, according to Ukrainian authorities. But the Ukrainian army offered a rosy assessment of Russian advancement on Kyiv, saying Russia’s two main routes for attacking the capital city have been blocked. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also said on Friday that the US has “seen a number of missteps” by Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday told Russian President Vladimir Putin that he was concerned about the situation in Mariupol, the Ukrainian city that has been hit by constant shelling over recent days, according to the Elysée Palace.

Evacuations: Nine corridors to evacuate civilians from towns and cities badly hit by Russian attacks had been agreed for Friday, according to the Ukrainian government. For the second day running, one of the agreed corridors links the besieged southeastern city of Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia, which remains under Ukrainian control.

New satellite images from Maxar Technologies are showing more areas in Mariupol have been destroyed from intense firefights between Russian and Ukrainian militaries. Just southwest of Mariupol, a line of cars — residents evacuated from the city — was seen traveling along the highway toward Berdyansk.

Deaths mount: The United Nations estimates that over 800 Ukrainian civilians have lost their lives since the Feb. 24 Russian invasion began, but “believes that the actual figures are considerably higher.”

Biden and Xi speak: US President Joe Biden told CNN that his call with Chinese President Xi Jinping Friday “went well.” According to the White House, Biden “described the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia” in a nearly two-hour phone call with China’s leader.