March 19, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Luke McGee, Jeevan Ravindran, Joe Ruiz, Adrienne Vogt and Emma Tucker, CNN

Updated 12:05 a.m. ET, March 20, 2022
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10:39 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Mother shields baby daughter from shelling, prevents her being harmed, Ukrainian hospital says

From CNN's Jennifer Hauser in Atlanta

Olga and her husband Dmytro at the Ohmatdit Children's Hospital. According to the hospital, Olga covered the baby with her body, miraculously saving her daughter from injuries.
Olga and her husband Dmytro at the Ohmatdit Children's Hospital. According to the hospital, Olga covered the baby with her body, miraculously saving her daughter from injuries. (Ohmatdit Children's Hospital)

A mother covered her one-month-old baby with her body while their home was being shelled in Kyiv, according to a Facebook post from National Children's Specialized Hospital Ohmatdit on Friday.

The child was unharmed, but the mother sustained multiple injuries, the post said.

The child's mother and father were at home feeding their baby in the early morning hours when their building was shelled. They heard the sounds of shelling throughout the night getting closer and closer, the hospital said.

"When I went down to the yard, I saw that a shell had hit the kindergarten next to our house. There is no more ceiling, windows and doors in all the houses nearby. The debris of glass flew right on us," her husband said, according to the hospital.

The father was treated for scraping wounds to his leg and the mother underwent surgery for her injuries.  

A picture of the family in the hospital shows the mother feeding her baby with a large bandage around her head while the father looks on.

WATCH HERE:

6:35 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Ukraine says more than 6,600 people evacuated via humanitarian corridors on Saturday

From CNN’s Michelle Velez

People stand next to an evacuee bus after fleeing from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on March 19.
People stand next to an evacuee bus after fleeing from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on March 19. (Reuters)

At least 6,623 people have been evacuated via humanitarian corridors from besieged Ukrainian cities on Saturday, according to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a senior official in President Volodymyr Zelensky's office.

Tymoshenko said that 4,128 people, including 1,172 children, were evacuated from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia.

In the Kyiv region, 1,820 people have been evacuated from smaller towns and cities -- including Bucha, Bilohorodka, Piskivka and Horenychi -- and were then transported into the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, he said. 

In other parts of Ukraine, 675 people have been evacuated from the Luhansk region, Tymoshenko said.

6:35 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Mariupol residents forced to go to Russia against their will, city council says

From Olga Voitovch in Lviv

Residents from Mariupol, Ukraine wait for refugee accommodations in the Rostov region of Russia on March 16.
Residents from Mariupol, Ukraine wait for refugee accommodations in the Rostov region of Russia on March 16. (Arkady Budnitsky/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Residents of Mariupol, Ukraine, are being taken to Russian territory against their will by Russian forces, according to a statement Saturday from the Mariupol City Council.

“Over the past week, several thousand Mariupol residents have been taken to Russian territory. The occupiers illegally took people from the Livoberezhny district and from the shelter in the sports club building, where more than a thousand people (mostly women and children) were hiding from the constant bombing,” the statement read.

Captured Mariupol residents were taken to camps where Russian forces checked their phones and documents, the city council said, and then were redirected to remote Russian cities.

The besieged city is under almost constant bombardment, according to a major in Ukraine's army, and residents are rationing food and water as bodies are left in the streets.

There are also conflicting reports over the status of one of Ukraine’s key industrial facilities, the Azov steel plant, in Mariupol. New satellite imagery shows the destruction of the city's bombed theater, with the word "children" clearly visible on the outside of the building.

The statement quoted Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko, who said, "What the occupiers are doing today is familiar to the older generation, who saw the horrific events of World War II, when the Nazis forcibly captured people.”

"It is hard to imagine that in the 21st century people can be forcibly taken to another country," he added.
3:59 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

It's 10 p.m. in Ukraine. Here are the latest developments

Ukrainian soldiers carry the body of a soldier through debris at the military school hit by Russian rockets the day before, in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, on March 19.
Ukrainian soldiers carry the body of a soldier through debris at the military school hit by Russian rockets the day before, in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, on March 19. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)

As Saturday nears its end in Ukraine, this is what you need to know about Russia's invasion:

Status of attacks in key cities: Rescue efforts are taking place in the southern city of Mykolaiv on Saturday morning at the scene of a missile strike on barracks housing soldiers, regional official Vitalli Kim said. Dozens of troops are reported to have been killed in the attack by Russian forces, according to journalists from CNN Swedish affiliate Expressen who were at the scene.

The besieged city of Mariupol is under almost constant bombardment, according to a major in Ukraine's army, and residents are rationing food and water as bodies are left in the streets. There are also conflicting reports over the status of one of Ukraine’s key industrial facilities, the Azov steel plant, in Mariupol. New satellite imagery shows the destruction of the city's bombed theater, with the word "children" clearly visible on the outside of the building.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that Russia continues to make "incremental gains" in Ukraine's south and has used "brutal, savage techniques'' in the way it has targeted civilians.

Staggering numbers of refugees: Approximately 1.5 million children have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began and are at risk of being trafficked, according to UNICEF, while “countless others” are displaced inside the country.

The mayor of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv told CNN that about 200,000 refugees from around the country are in his city right now.

US says Russia has used hypersonic missiles: US officials confirmed to CNN that Russia launched hypersonic missiles against Ukraine last week, the first known use of such missiles in combat.

Russia's Ministry of Defense said Saturday powerful hypersonic "Kinzhal" missile destroyed a military ammunitions warehouse in western Ukraine on Friday.

Deaths climb: As of Friday, at least 847 civilians — including 64 children — have been killed in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24, according to the latest update from the United Nations, but the actual toll is believed to be much higher.

Biden to Europe next week: US President Joe Biden is set to go to a NATO summit in Brussels on March 24 and will also join a European Council meeting, according to the White House. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko today called on Biden to visit Ukraine while in Europe.

3:49 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Ukraine's foreign ministry claims more than 14,000 Russian personnel killed as of Saturday

From CNN's Chandler Thornton

A destroyed Russian tank sits on a main road after a battle near Brovary, north of Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 10. 
A destroyed Russian tank sits on a main road after a battle near Brovary, north of Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 10.  (Felipe Dana/AP)

The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said nearly 14,400 Russian personnel have been killed in Ukraine as of Saturday, with thousands of pieces of Russian equipment also lost since the Russian invasion into Ukraine.

According to a post from the ministry's official Twitter account Saturday, there have also been 95 Russian aircraft, 115 helicopters, 1,470 armored vehicles, 213 artillery pieces, and several other pieces of equipment items lost from the Russian Armed Forces since the invasion.

CNN is unable to verify these claims. 

Information from Russia is rarely forthcoming, and officials rarely report on its losses. 

The most recent figure seems to have been released on March 2, when Russia said 498 of its service members had died since the start of the campaign.

US estimates of Russian casualties range from between 3,000 to 10,000, according to information from US and NATO officials speaking to CNN. 

2:51 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Former Ukrainian president says Biden should come to Ukraine while in Europe next week

Former President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko speaks during an interview in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 18.
Former President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko speaks during an interview in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 18. (Miguel A. Lopes/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said US President Joe Biden should visit Ukraine while in Europe at a NATO summit in Brussels next week.

"Why don't — very good friend of mine, very good friend of Ukraine, Joe Biden, the leader of the global world, who demonstrate now the leadership — why don't he come visit here next week as a symbol of our solidarity?" Poroshenko, wearing a military vest and flanked by soldiers in Kyiv, said to CNN's Jim Acosta.

The President will travel to Brussels, Belgium, to participate in a NATO summit on March 24 and will also join a European Council meeting, according to the White House.

"That would be extremely right step for demonstration, the whole world is together with us against Russia," Poroshenko added. 

The President will travel to Brussels, Belgium, to participate in a NATO summit on March 24 and will also join a European Council meeting, according to the White House.

Biden will "discuss ongoing deterrence and defense efforts," during the NATO summit and reaffirm the US' commitment to its NATO allies, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday.

"He will also join a scheduled European Council summit to discuss our shared concerns about Ukraine, including trans-Atlantic efforts to impose economic costs on Russia, provide humanitarian support to those affected by the violence and address other challenges related to the conflict," she said.

Poroshenko also said Russian President Vladimir Putin is a "crazy maniac" and said Ukrainians have "bulletproof unity."

Poroshenko called for increased sanctions against Russia. "We need to give additional steps to increase the sanctions and to increase the supply of weapons to Ukraine to make Putin [go back] to Russia," he added. 

"We're not only fighting for Ukrainian soil. We're fighting for European security, freedom, and democracy and for global security. And for you also, for the United States," Poroshenko said. "My request is please, help us to save the world. Help us to save Europe. Help us to save you."

2:49 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Russian cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station in yellow and blue, sparking speculation

From CNN's Ross Levitt and Kristin Fisher

In this frame grab from video provided by Roscosmos, Russian cosmonauts Sergey Korsakov, Oleg Artemyev, and Denis Matveev participate in a welcome ceremony after arriving at the International Space Station on March 18. The crew emerged from the Soyuz capsule wearing yellow flight suits with blue stripes, the colors of the Ukrainian flag. 
In this frame grab from video provided by Roscosmos, Russian cosmonauts Sergey Korsakov, Oleg Artemyev, and Denis Matveev participate in a welcome ceremony after arriving at the International Space Station on March 18. The crew emerged from the Soyuz capsule wearing yellow flight suits with blue stripes, the colors of the Ukrainian flag.  (Roscosmos/AP)

A trio of Russian cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station Friday wearing bright yellow flight suits trimmed with blue, raising questions about whether the three were showing solidarity with Ukraine by wearing its national colors and rebuking their own government’s invasion. 

While it is possible that the suits are a sign of solidarity with Ukraine, there are also other possible explanations.

The head of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, posted pictures of media coverage speculating the cosmonauts were supporting Ukraine, and said, "Here some bandit cowards and their Anglo-Saxon sponsors don't know what else to come up with in their information war against Russia." He added that the crew were not representing Ukraine but wearing colors from their alma mater: Bauman Moscow State Technical University. 

“Sometimes the color yellow is just the color yellow. The flight suits of the new crew were designed to match the colors of the emblem of Bauman Moscow State Technical University, from where all three cosmonauts graduated. The design of the uniforms was coordinated long before the current events. Seeing the Ukrainian flag everywhere and in everything is just a clinic [in propaganda]," another Roscosmos official wrote in his Telegram channel "Closed Space."

Cosmonauts typically pick their flight suits months in advance, which would pre-date Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but it’s unclear when the cosmonauts for this selected a yellow-and-blue color scheme. 

“For Soyuz flights, typically the crew meets with the company that makes the suits months before flight and they are allowed two custom suits,” a NASA astronaut who has flown on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the ISS told CNN. “Typically, one suit is the same across the crew and the second suit is something personal.” 

“I think it would be a real challenge to make and launch these (flight suits) last minute. Not impossible though,” the astronaut added. 

When the three cosmonauts arrived at the space station Friday, they spoke to callers on the phone, one of whom asked about the yellow color, Commander Oleg Artemyev, responded jokingly, “We actually had a lot of yellow material, so we had to use it. So that’s why we had to wear yellow.”  

Artemyev and fellow cosmonauts Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov will spend the next six-and-a-half months aboard the space station. 

1:58 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Pope Francis visits Ukrainian refugee children in Rome hospital

From CNN's Nicola Ruotolo in Rome and Amy Cassidy in London

Pope Francis visits with hospitalized children who arrived from Ukraine at the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital in Rome, Italy, on Saturday, March 19.
Pope Francis visits with hospitalized children who arrived from Ukraine at the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital in Rome, Italy, on Saturday, March 19. (Vatican Media Handout/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Pope Francis visited 19 Ukrainian refugee children at the Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital in Rome on Saturday afternoon.

The young patients fled Ukraine during the first few days of the war, which started on Feb. 24 when Russia invaded Ukraine, and are receiving treatment for oncological and neurological diseases among others, as well as severe injuries from blasts, Vatican Press Director Matteo Bruni said in a statement.

“The Pope stopped in the rooms and visited all the little ones present, before returning to the Vatican," it read.

According to the Vatican, 50 Ukrainian refugee children have passed through the hospital since the conflict began.

1:41 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Italy offers to help rebuild Mariupol theater

From CNN's Mariya Knight and Maija Ehlinger in Atlanta

Debris is seen after a theater was damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine on March 17.
Debris is seen after a theater was damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine on March 17. (Azov Battalion/AP)

Italy has offered to help rebuild Mariupol's damaged theater during a call on Friday, according to Ukraine's minister of culture.

Italian Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini wrote on Twitter following his video call with Ukrainian Minister of Culture Oleksandr Tkachenko that the Italian Council of Ministers approved a proposal to provide Ukraine the resources to rebuild the theater on Wednesday.

"Theaters of all countries belong to the whole humanity," Franceschini added. 

Hundreds of Ukrainians, including many children, were taking shelter inside the theater when it was bombed on Wednesday.

"Minister Franceschini assured that Italy has full solidarity with Ukraine. He expressed support for our state and offered cooperation with our creative teams during the war," Tkachenko wrote on Telegram after the call. "Together, our Ministries in Ukraine and Italy will rebuild the Mariupol Drama Theater immediately after Ukraine's victory over the Russian occupiers." 

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Franceschini on Twitter Wednesday, saying that Italy "set a good example to follow. Together we will rebuild the country to the last brick." 

While the Mariupol Drama Theater is not an official UNESCO World Heritage site, Tkachenko wrote on his official Facebook page that the UNESCO Committee for the Protection of Cultural Heritage is providing "immediate support to Ukraine" and "expressed readiness to grant the status of enhanced protection of the main cultural heritage sites in accordance with the norms of the Haas Convention of 1954 and its protocols." 

This comes as more international cultural institutions have cut ties with Russia as a sign of solidarity with Ukraine.

During a Saturday telethon in Ukraine, Tkachenko said that "more than 70 organizations have abandoned cultural cooperation with Russia," including the Cannes Film Festival, the La Scala Theater and other large art exhibitions.