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March 20, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

Zelensky tells CNN he's 'ready for negotiations' with Putin
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What we covered

  • A 5 a.m. (10 p.m. ET) deadline that Moscow gave Ukrainian officials in the besieged city of Mariupol to surrender to Russian forces has passed. Ukraine has rejected the ultimatum.
  • One person was killed after an explosion in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv Sunday.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN on Sunday that he’s open to negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but if they fail, it could result in a wider war.
  • US President Joe Biden and fellow world leaders will hold a set of emergency summits in Europe this week. But few observers believe anything they can agree upon will be enough to end the bloodshed in Ukraine. Biden has “no plans” to visit Ukraine, the White House says.
  • Want to help? Learn how to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine here. 
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Mariupol rejects Russia's demand to surrender as 5.a.m deadline passes

Civilians trapped in Mariupol are seen on the road on Sunday.

The Russian issued deadline for Mariupol authorities to surrender the city has now passed with Ukrainians rejecting the terms as a false choice.

The port city of Mariupol, which before the war was home to around 450,000 people, has been under near constant attack from Russian forces since early March with satellite images showing significant destruction to residential areas.

While the Russian ultimatum appeared to offer those who chose to surrender safe passage out of the city, it made no such guarantees for those remaining.

Russia has repeatedly been accused of targeting civilians, with trapped residents describing the onslaught as “hell.”

The Russian attacks have led to a total collapse in basic services — with residents unable to access gas, electricity or water. Bodies are being left in the street because there is either no one left to collect them, or it is simply too dangerous to try.

An official in the city said people are scared to leave their underground shelters even to get hold of essentials, meaning they were trying to drink less water and eat less food, only emerging to prepare hot meals.

Bombing of maternity hospital, theater: The city is increasingly bearing the brunt of Russia’s fierce assault on the country, with shelling day and night, said Major Denis Prokopenko, from the National Guard Azov Regiment. The assault has included deadly strikes on a maternity ward, and separate bombings of a theater and art school where hundreds of people were sheltering — the losses from which are still unknown as the rescue operations continue. The word “children” was spelled out on two sides of the theater before it was bombed, according to satellite images.

Civilians trapped: For weeks, Ukrainian officials have accused Russian forces of blocking evacuation corridors that would allow residents a safe escape from the city. Adviser to the mayor of Mariupol Petro Andrushenko said on his Telegram channel Sunday said people trying to flee the city in their cars were being shot at by Russian forces. The Ukrainian government said a relief convoy for the besieged city has repeatedly been blocked.

Taken against their will: On Sunday, the Mariupol City Council said residents are being taken to Russia against their will by Russian forces. Captured Mariupol residents were taken to camps where Russian forces checked their phones and documents, then redirected some of the residents to remote cities in Russia, the council said. Russia denied the accusations Saturday.

Why Russia wants to control Mariupol: The city is a strategic port that lies on a stretch of coast connecting the eastern region of Donbas with the Crimea peninsula, both of which have been under Russian control since 2014. Russian forces appear to be trying to take full control of the area to create a land corridor between the two regions, squeezing Mariupol with brutal military force.

“It is impossible to find words that could describe the level of cruelty and cynicism with which the Russian occupiers are destroying the civilian population of the Ukrainian city by the sea. Women, children, and the elderly remain in the enemy’s sights. These are completely unarmed peaceful people,” the Mariupol city council said last week.

US President Joe Biden will travel to Poland Friday

US President Joe Biden will travel to Warsaw, Poland on Friday, following his meetings in Brussels, Belgium with NATO allies, G7 and European Union leaders, according to a statement from White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda.

“The President will discuss how the United States, alongside our Allies and partners, is responding to the humanitarian and human rights crisis that Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked war on Ukraine has created,” Psaki said. 

Shopping center and cars on fire following Russian attack in Kyiv’s Podilskyi district: emergency services

Footage obtained by CNN shows an expolsion in the Podilskyi district of Kyiv on Sunday night.

A shopping center and cars in an adjacent parking lot caught fire following Russian bombardment in Kyiv’s Podilskyi district, Ukraine State Emergency Service said late Sunday.

A total of 63 firefighters and 11 units worked to extinguish the flames that had reached as high as the third and fourth floors of the shopping center, the Emergency Service said. 

The mayor of Kyiv, as well as the city’s police, posted images of explosions in the Podilskyi district in Ukraine’s capital on Telegram Sunday.

One person was killed following the explosions, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

US can further broaden sanctions against Russia, deputy national security adviser says

US Deputy National Security Adviser Daleep Singh is speaks at a White House press conference on Feb. 24.

In an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes, US Deputy National Security Adviser Daleep Singh discussed how America has the ability to expand its sanctions against Russia, including reaching “the commanding heights of the Russian economy.”

“We can broaden our sanctions. Take the measures, take the sanctions we’ve already applied, apply them in more targets. Apply them to more sectors,” he said.
“More banks, more sectors that we haven’t touched.”

Asked what that might entail, Singh said, “Well, the commanding heights of the Russian economy. It’s mostly about oil and gas, but there are other sectors too. I don’t wanna specify them, but I think (Russian President Vladimir) Putin would know what those are.”

Singh described the impact of sanctions from the US and allies on the Russian economy, saying they’ve prompted Putin to take “some desperate measures.”

“He’s self-isolating his economy. Russia is now on a fast track to a 1980’s-style Soviet living standard. It’s looking into an economic abyss and that is that is the result of Putin’s choices and I can see from his reaction, that’s where it’s headed,” Singh said.
“This is Putin’s war. These are Putin sanctions and this is Putin’s hardship he’s putting on the Russian people.”

Ukraine rejects Russian ultimatum that Mariupol surrender by Monday morning. Here's what we know

The Russian Defense Ministry has presented an ultimatum to the leadership of the besieged city of Mariupol: surrender before dawn on Monday. 

Both the government in Kyiv and the Mariupol city authorities have flatly rejected the Russian terms. 

Here’s what we know:

Deadline looms: The Russian Ministry of Defense has called on Mariupol local authoritie to surrender the city to Russian forces by 5 a.m. Moscow Monday (4 a.m. Monday in Mariupol and 10 p.m. ET Sunday), according to Russian state media.

Ukraine rejects deadline: In an interview late Sunday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk rejected Russia’s terms, which were laid out in an eight-page document. 

 “We have already informed the Russian side about it. I wrote: ‘Instead of wasting your time to write an 8-page letter – open the corridor.’ We have informed the UN and the ICRC and are awaiting a response from the international community. This is a conscious manipulation and true hostage taking.” 

On its Facebook page, Mariupol city council also rejected Russian demands, saying “They gave time until the morning to formulate a response. But why wait so long?” There followed an expletive. 

Ceasefire:  The Russian Defense Ministry proposed “to the fighting parties to declare a ceasefire and guarantee its strict observance from 9:30 a.m. Moscow time,” (8:30 a.m. in Mariupol and 2:30 a.m ET).  

It would then open evacuation corridors to the city half-an-hour later, it said.

“All who lay down their arms are guaranteed safe passage out of Mariupol,” Russian state media outlet, RIA Novosti, quoted the head of the National Center for Defense Management, Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev,Mizintsev as saying. 

Russia blames Ukraine “bandits”: In calling on city officials to surrender, RIA Novosti quoted Mizintsev saying “we appeal to the odious bandits, who are responsible for hundreds of lives of innocent people, and now call themselves representatives of the official local authorities, of this unique city Mariupol.”

“It is you who now have the right to a historic choice – either you are with your people, or you are with bandits, otherwise the military tribunal that awaits you is only a minor thing that you have already deserved because of the despicable attitude towards your own citizens, as well as the terrible crimes and provocations already arranged by you,” Mizintsev said, according to RIA Novosti.

Some context: Mariupol has been under siege for several weeks and has seen some of the worst attacks in the war since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in February. These have included deadly strikes on a maternity ward, the bombing of a theater and art school, the losses from which are still unknown as the rescue operations continue.

Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky said Sunday that what Russian forces had done to Mariupol was an “act of terror that will be remembered for centuries”

Kyiv's mayor, police department post images of explosions in the Podilskyi district of Ukraine's capital

The mayor of Kyiv, as well as the city’s police, posted images of explosions in the Podilskyi district in Ukraine’s capital on Telegram Sunday.

One person was killed following the explosions, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said late Sunday. Several explosions were heard in Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv, according to CNN’s team on the ground.

Images from the Kyiv police below:

Fire and smoke seen bellowing after explosions occurred in the Podilskyi district of Kyiv.

Ukraine Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls Russia's actions in Mariupol "a chapter from WWII"

Oleg Nikolenko, Ukraine Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, called Russia’s actions in Mariupol on Sunday “a chapter from WWII.”

“First they came to destroy the cities, bombing hospitals, theaters, schools, and shelters, killing civilians and children. Then they forcibly relocated the scared, exhausted people to the invader’s land. A chapter from WWII? No – the actions of the Russian army, today in Mariupol,” Nikolenko wrote.

The Mariupol City Council said Saturday residents are being taken to Russia against their will by Russian forces.

Russia denied the accusations Saturday.

According to the Russian state media outlet, RIA Novosti, Russian Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev said nearly 60,000 residents of Mariupol have “found themselves in Russia in complete safety.”

Russian Ministry of Defense calls on Mariupol to surrender by 5 a.m. Moscow time Monday, Russian state media says

People dig a grave for victims killed during Ukraine-Russia conflict, in a the port city of Mariupol, Ukraine on March 20.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has called on Mariupol local authorities to surrender the city to Russian forces by 5 a.m. Moscow time Monday (4 a.m. Monday in Mariupol and 10 p.m. ET Sunday), according to Russian state-owned news agency, RIA Novosti.

The news agency said the Ministry of Defense would open humanitarian corridors to the city by 10 a.m. local time Monday (4 a.m. ET Monday) and “wants to receive a written response from Kiev to these proposals before 5:00.”

RIA Novosti attributed its reporting to comments made by the head of the National Center for Defense Management of the Russian Federation, Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev.

“From 10 a.m. to 12 o’clock – for all armed units of Ukraine and foreign mercenaries is a temporary suspension of fighting along the route agreed with Ukraine. From 12 o’clock, there will be a simultaneous passage of humanitarian convoys with food, medicine and basic necessities,” Mizintsev said.

This latest demand comes as the Mariupol City Council said Saturday residents are being taken to Russia against their will by Russian forces.

“Over the past week, several thousand Mariupol residents have been taken to Russian territory,” the city said in a statement. “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.”

Captured Mariupol residents were taken to camps where Russian forces checked their phones and documents, then redirected some of the residents to remote cities in Russia, the statement said, adding the “fate of the others is unknown.”

In calling on city officials to surrender, RIA Novosti quoted Mizintsev saying “we appeal to the odious bandits, who are responsible for hundreds of lives of innocent people, and now call themselves representatives of the official local authorities, of this unique city Mariupol.”

“It is you who now have the right to a historic choice – either you are with your people, or you are with bandits, otherwise the military tribunal that awaits you is only a minor thing that you have already deserved because of the despicable attitude towards your own citizens, as well as the terrible crimes and provocations already arranged by you,” Mizintsev said, according to RIA Novosti.

RIA also reported Mizintsev said nearly 60,000 residents of Mariupol “found themselves in Russia in complete safety.”

This post has been updated

Russian forces are still trying to circumvent Mykolaiv despite lack of progress, UK’s Ministry of Defense said

Russian troops in southern Ukraine are “still attempting to circumvent Mykolaiv as they look to drive west towards Odesa,” the British Ministry of Defense said late Sunday.

These forces, advancing from Crimea, “have made little progress over the past week,” the ministry tweeted.

Meanwhile, “Russian naval forces continue to blockade the Ukrainian coast and launch missile strikes on targets across Ukraine,” the ministry added, while warning “the blockade of the Ukrainian coast is likely to exacerbate the humanitarian situation in Ukraine (and) prevent vital supplies reaching the Ukrainian population.”

Earlier Sunday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted he spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and told him he will advance “Ukraine’s interests at meetings of NATO and the G7,” set to take place this week.

“The UK will continue to step up military, economic and diplomatic support to help bring an end to this terrible conflict,” Johnson tweeted.

One killed following explosions in Kyiv

One person has been killed following explosions in Kyiv’s Podilskyi district, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said late Sunday.

Several explosions were heard in Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv, according to CNN’s team on the ground.

The explosions hit the Ukrainian capital’s Podil district, including residential and business areas, Klitschko said. The Podil neighborhood is part of the city’s larger Podilskyi District.

The blasts hit “some houses and on the territory of one of the shopping centers. Rescuers, paramedics and police are already on scene,” Klitschko said via Telegram.

Also via Telegram, Klitschko said rescuers are extinguishing a large fire in one of the shopping centers in the Podilskyi district of the capital. He added medical, rescue and police services are on site.

Earlier Sunday, massive anti-aircraft fire erupted above Kyiv. CNN saw anti-aircraft cannons firing into the night sky for several minutes in what appeared to be at least two anti-aircraft rockets that were also fired into the air.

It’s not clear what the Ukrainians were firing at, but the CNN crew saw an illuminated dot traverse the sky over the capital, which may have been an aircraft.

Nearly half of Chernobyl nuclear plant staff was able to rotate, UN nuclear watchdog says

Nearly half of Chernobyl’s nuclear plant staff were able to rotate and return to their homes, Ukraine’s nuclear regulator, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said Sunday.

Those who were able to leave the plant had been working for nearly four weeks, according to the IAEA.

IAEA Director Gen. Rafael Grossi tweeted that he welcomed news of the staff’s rotation, emphasizing “they deserve our full respect and admiration for having worked in these extremely difficult circumstances. They were there for far too long. I sincerely hope that remaining staff from this shift can also rotate soon.”

Grossi also said he is “continuing consultations with a view to agree on a framework for the delivery of IAEA assistance. The initiative aims to ensure safety and security at Ukraine’s nuclear sites.”

On March 15, Ukraine informed the UN’s nuclear watchdog the Chernobyl nuclear power plant had reconnected to the national electricity grid after losing on-site power. 

As of Monday, the site had been receiving all required power from the repaired line, enabling the staff to switch off the emergency diesel generators they were relying on since March 9, it said in a statement.

Since Russian troops took control of the nuclear plant on February 24, the plant’s 211 technical personnel and guards had not been able to leave, meaning they had been “in effect living there for the past three weeks,” according to the watchdog. 

The Ukrainian regulator told the IAEA the information it received regarding Chernobyl was “controlled by the Russian military forces” and consequently it could not “always provide detailed answers to all” questions posed.

Russian Ministry of Defense calls on Mariupol officials to surrender, Russian state media says

The Russian Ministry of Defense has called on Mariupol local authorities to surrender the city to Russian forces, according to Russian state media outlet, RIA Novosti.

The news agency attributed its reporting to comments made by the head of the National Center for Defense Management of the Russian Federation, Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev.

“We appeal to the odious bandits, who are responsible for hundreds of lives of innocent people, and now call themselves representatives of the official local authorities, of this unique city Mariupol. We are aware that in the current situation little depends on you, since you are under the full control of nationalist battalions, but we very much hope that you, including the mayor of the city, have at least something human in you left, at least a sense of compassion for the civilians entrusted to you,” Mizintsev said, according to RIA Novosti.

The Mariupol City Council said Saturday residents are being taken to Russia against their will by Russian forces.

“Over the past week, several thousand Mariupol residents have been taken to Russian territory,” the city said in a statement. “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.”

Captured Mariupol residents were taken to camps where Russian forces checked their phones and documents, then redirected some of the residents to remote cities in Russia, the statement said, adding the “fate of the others is unknown.”

In calling on city officials to surrender, RIA Novosti quoted Mizintsev, saying: “It is you who now have the right to a historic choice – either you are with your people, or you are with bandits. Otherwise the military tribunal that awaits you is only a minor thing that you have already deserved because of the despicable attitude towards your own citizens, as well as the terrible crimes and provocations already arranged by you.”

RIA went on to report the Colonel-General said nearly 60,000 residents of Mariupol “found themselves in Russia in complete safety.”

Senior Russian naval officer killed near Mariupol, Russian officials say

A deputy commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, Captain of the First Rank Andrei Paliy, was killed during fighting in the region of the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, two senior Russian officials said.

In a statement on Telegram, Mikhail Razvozhaev, the governor of Sevastopol, said, “Andrei Nikolaevich chose to defend his homeland as his life’s work and died for our peaceful future. In 1993, he refused to take the oath of allegiance to Ukraine, remained loyal to Russia by leaving for [Russia’s] Northern Fleet.”

Sevastopol is the headquarters for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. The port city is in Crimea, annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014.

Ekaterina Altabaeva, a Russian senator from Sevastopol, said on VK.com, a popular Russian social network, that the city had “suffered a heavy, irreparable loss.”

According to Altabaeva, Paliy graduated from the Kyiv Higher Naval Political School – a school for political officers of the Soviet navy – and took part in Russia’s 2008 war against Georgia.

“I knew Andrei Nikolaevich personally. An officer with a capital O, a courageous defender of our Motherland, devoted to the oath and to the Navy,” she said. “Andrei Nikolaevich loved Sevastopol with all his heart. His whole life was dedicated to the Hero City.”

Thousands of Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began nearly one month ago, US and NATO officials told CNN this week, and Russia is now struggling to resupply those forces as it faces sagging troop morale and fierce Ukrainian resistance.

US and allied intelligence assessments vary widely as to exactly how many Russian forces have been killed to date, sources familiar with the intelligence tell CNN. But even the lowest estimates are in the thousands.

One such assessment found approximately 7,000 Russian troops have been killed so far, said one of the sources. But that figure, first reported by The New York Times, is on the higher end of US estimates, which vary because the US and its allies have no precise way of counting casualties. Some estimates place the number of Russian troops killed in Ukraine at about 3,000, while others suggest more than 10,000 have died.

More than 7,200 people evacuate Mariupol using four humanitarian corridors Sunday, Ukraine Deputy PM says

A mother embraces her son after he escaped Mariupol and arrived at the train station in Lviv on Sunday, March 20.

Four of the seven established humanitarian corridors out of the besieged southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol were operational on Sunday, said Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.

In total, almost 7,295 people were evacuated during the day, Vereshchuk said in a video address. Among them, 3,900 people were evacuated from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia by buses and private transport.

“Due to the violation of the ceasefire, the evacuation from Borodyanka to Bila Tserkva failed for the second day in a row, and it was not possible to deliver humanitarian aid to the village of Mala Rohan. Communication with six people who were supposed to deliver aid to the city of Vovchansk was lost,” Vereshchuk said.

Russia’s Defense Ministry also released a statement Sunday, claiming to have evacuated more than 330,000 people – including 68,963 children – since the invasion’s beginning.

The United Nations said within the invasion’s first week, more than one million Ukrainian refugees fled to neighboring countries.

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

A neighbor stands amid the destruction caused by a bomb in the Satoya neighborhood in Kyiv on Sunday, March 20.

The Russian military claimed on Sunday that it had launched a series of strikes on military targets in Ukraine employing hypersonic and cruise missiles on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

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

It’s late Sunday night in Kyiv. Here are more of the headlines from Sunday in the Russia-Ukraine conflict:

  • Zelensky: “I’m ready for negotiations” with Putin, but if they fail, it could mean “a third World War”: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday he is ready to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but warned that if any negotiation attempts fail, it could mean the fight between the two countries would lead to “a third World War.” “I’m ready for negotiations with him. I was ready for the last two years. And I think that without negotiations, we cannot end this war,” Zelensky told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an exclusive interview Sunday morning.
  • More than 900 civilians killed in Ukraine, UN says: At least 902 civilians have been killed and 1,459 injured since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said Sunday. The OHCHR added that most of the casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes. In a statement, the UN body detailed the 902 deaths as “179 men, 134 women, 11 girls, and 25 boys, as well as 39 children and 514 adults whose sex is yet unknown.”
  • Mariupol struggles to learn more about art school bombing: An advisor to Mariupol’s mayor said in an update on the art school that was bombed by Russian forces in the last hours that city officials are struggling to learn more about how many people were hiding in the school that was acting as a shelter. Petro Andrushenko wrote on social media: “So far, there is no exact operational data on how many people were hiding in the shelter or the number of casualties. I expect we will have it later today. But the situation is difficult and there is nowhere to get the data from.” An earlier estimate from the city council put the number sheltering in the school building at 400.
  • White House says Biden has “no plans” to visit Ukraine this week: White House press secretary Jen Psaki said there are “no plans,” for US President Joe Biden to travel to Ukraine this week as he heads to Europe for snap emergency summits.
  • US and NATO officials struggle to decipher the status of peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine: US and NATO officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin has not backed off his original demands in peace talks with Ukraine and there is a heavy dose of skepticism in western capitals about how credible Moscow’s engagement truly is – even as the status of those negotiations remains difficult to decipher, according to multiple sources briefed on the situation.

Turkish foreign minister: Turkey wants Ukraine's independence recognized and is working hard to achieve peace

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Lviv on March 17.

Turkey wants to see Ukraine’s independence recognized and is working hard to achieve peace, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said during a party gathering in Antalya on Sunday.

While Turkey has strong ties to both Ukraine and Russia, the war between two large neighbors of Turkey is affecting the country as well as the rest of the world, he said. 

“We strongly objected the annexation of Crimea in 2014. If the world had given the proper response to Crimea annexation, then, we wouldn’t be in this situation today” Çavuşoğlu added. 

He believes both sides are close to an agreement in fundamental areas. Ukraine’s independence is among the conditions discussed which Turkey wants it to be guaranteed. Along with UN Security Council and Germany, Turkey wants to be guarantors for Ukraine’s independence. 

Ibrahim Kalin, the presidential spokesperson, posted updates on his Twitter page indicating Turkey is continuing their efforts to end the war in Ukraine. He took parts of his interview with Al Jazeera and posted this update: “The humanitarian toll is becoming heavier by the day. There will be no winners in this war. A peace deal is not impossible.” 

Kalin added: “The most difficult conditions to agree are Russia’s demand of recognition of Crimea annexation under Russia and also recognition of so-called independence of two republics in Donbas region. They are main issues and I think they are most difficult to reach an agreement on, Kalin added. The other four topics in discussion are Ukraine’s neutrality, disarmament and security guarantees for Ukraine, and work so-called de-Nazification”. 

Both officials emphasized President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has continuous communications with both Russian and Ukrainian officials in this process to achieve an end to the war.

Turkey hosted an international meeting last week, including a meeting between Ukrainian and Russian Foreign Ministers. 

Here's a look at daily life for Ukrainians who remain in Lviv

As recent as last Friday, Russia launched missile strikes near an airport in Lviv, a strategic Ukrainian city not far from the Polish border that had until now largely been spared from the relentless bombardment witnessed across the rest of Ukraine during the war.

There are over 200,000 internally displaced people now in Lviv, a city of just over 700,000 people.

As Russia’s invasion spreads further west of the city, these images capture moments of daily life in Lviv.

A girl receives communion during a church service at Saints Peter and Paul Garrison Church on Sunday, March 20 in Lviv, Ukraine. The city has served as a stopover and shelter for the millions of Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion.
A woman prays during a church service at Saints Peter and Paul Garrison Church in Lviv on Sunday.
Children play by the monument to Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko in Lviv on Sunday.
Men play chess on a bench in the boulevard leading to the Lviv Opera House on March 20.
People walk by a monument covered by protective screen in case of shelling on Sunday in Lviv.
A man and a woman wrapped in the Ukrainian national flag walk the street on March 20 in Lviv.

Estonia's prime minister: "Putin must not win this war"

Estonia's Prime Minister Kaja Kallas takes part in a debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on March 9.

“Putin must not win this war,” Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, adding that it was “heartbreaking” to see what Russia is doing in Ukraine.

“We are trying to do everything what we can to support and help Ukraine to fight this war. Putin must not win this war,” Kallas said on “State of the Union.” 

Kallas, who will be attending the upcoming NATO summit, said that NATO’s strategy should focus on ending the war by using “smart containment”, meaning that NATO should move from a “deterrence posture” to a secure “defense posture,” raising NATO nations’ contribution to strengthen each nation’s defense and ultimately NATO as a whole and focusing on cooperation. 

“There are some capabilities that are too expensive for any individual state, but if we do them together here in Europe to protect our territories, we are stronger,” she said, nations should move to isolate Russia “at all the political levels that is possible.”

When asked about Poland’s proposal to send peacekeepers to Ukraine, Kallas said that first peace must be achieved, and that Russia is not showing any intentions of achieving it. 

“We can only have a peacekeeping mission if we have peace, but you know, if you look at what is happening in Ukraine, peace is nothing that we see there. It’s a war that is going on, and I don’t see that Russia has any intention of doing anything to achieve peace. So first we should have peace, then, to keep it,” she said. “Sometimes in order to achieve peace, we have to have the willingness to use military power.” 

Kallas said they do not see the possibility of a third World War in Europe and that the effort should be on ending this war.

Kallas also compared deportations happening in Mariupol to what Russia did in the 1940s where Estonians were put in “cattle cars” sent to Siberia. 

She said that Putin’s is feeding into the right-wing narrative in Europe and the US by creating a refugee crisis.

“He is creating this huge migration pressure to Europe and what we see in different countries, we also see that the Far Right now picking up the tone” and not helping refugees coming from Ukraine, she added. 

“The enemy is Russia and not the refugees,” Kallas said.

US and NATO officials struggle to decipher the status of peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine

US and NATO officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin has not backed off his original demands in peace talks with Ukraine and there is a heavy dose of skepticism in western capitals about how credible Moscow’s engagement truly is — even as the status of those negotiations remains difficult to decipher, according to multiple sources briefed on the situation.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has recently indicated he is willing to consider some concessions to Russia to help bring an end to the violence, including a neutrality policy albeit one underpinned by robust security guarantees, raising more questions about the current state of talks and specific elements of any peace deal that may be under consideration. 

“I’m ready for negotiations with [Putin]. I was ready for the last two years. And I think that without negotiations, we cannot end this war,” Zelensky told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an exclusive interview Sunday morning, but warned that if any negotiation attempts fail, it could mean the fight between the two countries would lead to “a third World War.”

Ukrainian and Russian negotiators have met four times since the start of Russia’s invasion.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov weighed in on the possibility of Ukraine agreeing to neutral status during a media event in Moscow on Saturday, saying “after our operation in Ukraine ends, and I hope its ends with a signing of a comprehensive agreement on the issues I mentioned — security issues, Ukraine’s neutral status with the guarantees of its security as the President [Putin], a couple of months ago as I recall, commented at a news conference on our initiative of non-expansion of NATO, he said we understood every country needs guarantees of its security,” said Lavrov.

But details on negotiations remain scant with many NATO countries, and the US, remaining on the outside looking in when it comes to the secretive peace talks, with one European defense official calling negotiations “a bit of a dark avenue right now.”

The Biden administration still sees no indication that Putin is willing or ready to deescalate the conflict — making it difficult for US officials to be optimistic about the current state of negotiations, one source familiar with the situation said. 

But at the same time, this source also said that the US is not pressuring Ukraine to accept or reject specific concessions and is not involved in the negotiation process. 

CNN has reached out to the US National Security Council for comment but hasn’t received a response.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a concert in Moscow on March 18, 2022, to mark the anniversary of the annexation of Crimea.

US and NATO officials struggle to decipher status of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine

Kylie Atwood and Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report