March 21, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Travis Caldwell, Amy Woodyatt, George Ramsay and Hafsa Khalil, CNN

Updated 12:23 a.m. ET, March 22, 2022
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11:49 p.m. ET, March 20, 2022

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

From CNN's Claudia Dominguez

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

(Kyiv Police)
(Kyiv Police)

11:49 p.m. ET, March 20, 2022

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

From CNN's Hande Atay Alam 

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.”

11:49 p.m. ET, March 20, 2022

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

From CNN’s Pierre Meilhan

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.

11:49 p.m. ET, March 20, 2022

Zelensky: "I'm ready for negotiations" with Putin, but if they fail, it could mean "a third World War"

From CNN's Chandelis Duster

Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky speaks with CNN on Sunday, March 20.
Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky speaks with CNN on Sunday, March 20.  (CNN)

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.

“If there’s just 1% chance for us to stop this war, I think that we need to take this chance. We need to do that. I can tell you about the result of this negotiations — in any case, we are losing people on a daily basis, innocent people on the ground," he said.

He continued, “Russian forces have come to exterminate us, to kill us. And we can demonstrate that the dignity of our people and our army that we are able to deal a powerful blow, we are able to strike back. But, unfortunately, our dignity is not going to preserve the lives. So, I think we have to use any format, any chance in order to have a possibility of negotiating, possibility of talking to Putin. But if these attempts fail, that would mean that this is a third World War.”