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March 24, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

See how Russia's war has unfolded in the last four weeks
03:18

What we covered

  • A month after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, its forces are being pushed back around Kyiv and are taking defensive positions northwest of the capital, a US official said. The Ukrainian Navy also said a Russian ship was destroyed in the occupied port of Berdyansk on the Azov Sea.
  • World leaders met in Brussels for a round of emergency summits of NATO, the European Council and the G7 as they sought to align their responses to Russia’s invasion, with the US announcing new sanctions and refugee assistance.
  • Ukrainian President Zelensky stopped short of requesting a no-fly zone in an address to NATO today, but called for military assistance and better air defenses.
  • Ukraine’s Foreign Minister urged Europe to ignore Moscow’s insistence that future deliveries of Russian gas be paid for in rubles, an announcement that saw European gas prices soar.
  • Want to help? Learn how to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine here. 
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93 Posts

Teen who escaped Mariupol: "You know that nowhere is safe"

17-year-old Yuliia Karpenko describes how she and her family lived in the besieged city of Mariupol.

Yuliia Karpenko, 17, and her family lived through winter without heat for weeks in their Mariupol home, taking shelter as the port city in southeastern Ukraine came under unrelenting fire by Russian forces.

Speaking from Berlin — where she recently escaped to with her mother — the teenager on Thursday described their life under Russia’s assault.

“On March 2 they turned off everything but gas — and they turned off gas a few days later,” she told CNN. At the time, the temperature outside had dropped as low as -7 degrees Celsius (19.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

Karpenko said the family melted snow for water and used candles to light their small shelter, while living with the mental stress of constant attacks.

“I couldn’t see my friends, I couldn’t talk to them, I could only talk to my family,” she said. “It’s a feeling of helplessness, and it’s the feeling that you don’t know when it ends … when you don’t have anything but the sound of bombings.

After she left Mariupol, her family’s building was directly hit, and much of it burned down, she said. Videos of the building show “nothing is left,” she added.

In Germany, Karpenko plans to find a school to attend and pursue higher education. But her stepfather, dogs and grandparents are still in Ukraine. “They didn’t want to leave,” she said.

European Council: Russia's "war crimes must stop immediately"

The European Council has called on Russia to immediately stop its “war crimes” in Ukraine, following a meeting of the council Thursday night.

The European Council, the governing body of the European Union (EU), concluded that Russia is directing attacks at civilians and civilian facilities like hospitals, medical facilities, schools and shelters.

“The war crimes must stop immediately,” the council said in documents shared online by the spokesperson of the council president. “Those responsible, and their accomplices, will be held to account in accordance with international law.”

Civilian aid: The council urged Russia to guarantee safe passage to civilians trapped in war zones to a destination of their choice, and to provide safe pathways for humanitarian aid into besieged cities like Mariupol.

The council also called on member states to step up efforts to facilitate and fund Ukrainian refugees. More than 3.6 million people have fled Ukraine since the invasion began last month, according to UN estimates.

Sanctions: The statement added that the European Union is ready to move quickly with further coordinated and “robust” sanctions on Russia and Belarus.

The council called on “all countries” to align with the sanctions, and warned that “any attempts to circumvent sanctions or to aid Russia by other means must be stopped.”

Australia imposes sanctions on Belarus President and his family for supporting Russia's invasion

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko is greeted by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 11.

Australia has placed sanctions on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko for supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Australia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday.  

The new set of sanctions also target 22 “Russian propagandists and disinformation operatives,” including senior editors from media outlets Russia Today, the Strategic Culture Foundation, InfoRos and NewsFront, according to the statement. 

Others include Lukashenko’s wife, Galina, and his son Viktor, who previously held senior national security roles in the government.

The statement said the sanctions are to “ensure that Russia and those who support its illegal, unprovoked invasion of its democratic neighbour, pay a high cost.”
Australia will “continue to impose further sanctions to inflict significant costs on those in Russia and Belarus who bear responsibility or hold levers of power,” it added.  

Zelensky says European sanctions on Russia were "a little late"

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to the European Council in a video posted to Facebook late Thursday night March 24.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked European Council members for putting sanctions on Russia — but said “it was a little late.”

In his address to the European Council posted to Facebook late Thursday night, Zelensky said if the sanctions had been preventative, there was a chance Russia would not have gone to war.

“You blocked Nord Stream 2. We are grateful to you. And rightly so. But it was also a little late. Because if it had been in time, Russia would not have created a gas crisis. At least there was a chance,” he told the council.

Zelensky told member states: “The Russian military does not see what dignity is. They do not know what conscience is. They do not understand why we value our freedom so much. This is what determines how the country will live.”

He said Russia has already destroyed 230 schools, 155 kindergartens and killed 128 children in Ukraine. 

“Whole cities, villages. Just to ashes. Nothing remains,” he said, “The Russian military killed journalists. Although they saw the inscription “Press” on them. They may not have been taught to read. Only to kill.”

In his address, Zelensky thanked member states for their support but stopped short of thanking Hungary, calling on Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban to “decide already” on its treatment of Russia.

“You hesitate whether to impose sanctions or not? And you hesitate whether to let weapons through or not? And you hesitate whether to trade with Russia or not? There is no time to hesitate. It’s time to decide already.” 

Workers at Chernobyl power plant are being put at risk by Russian shelling in a nearby town, IAEA says

A Maxar satellite image shows the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine on March 22. 

Russian shelling near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant has prevented personnel from rotating to and from the plant, according to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general Rafael Mariano Grossi. 

Ukraine’s regulatory authority told the IAEA on Thursday that shelling was endangering ‘the homes and families of those operational personnel that ensure the nuclear and radiation safety” of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

The background: Last month, Russian forces seized control of the Chernobyl power plant in northern Ukraine, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, and held staff hostage, according to Ukrainian officials.

Thursday’s news comes just days after workers at the power plant were able to finally rotate shifts and go home after working for nearly four weeks without a change of shift.

Need for rest and rotating: Grossi had said earlier that Chernobyl staff must be able to rest and rotate, stating this is a “vital element for safe and secure nuclear power operation.” 

But the Russian bombardment of the city of Slavutych, where many of the nuclear plant workers live, has put the personnel at risk, the IAEA said. 

Slavutych is located outside of the exclusion zone that was put in place after the 1986 disaster.

Ukraine likely conducted a successful attack against Russian ships, US assesses

The US has assessed that Ukraine likely did conduct a successful attack against Russian ships in Berdiansk, according to a defense official. It’s unclear, however, what type of weapon or weapons were used in the attack.

The assessment echoes a similar statement from the British Ministry of Defence, which said that Ukrainian forces have attacked “high-value targets” in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, including a landing ship and ammunition depots at Berdiansk. 

Earlier Thursday, Ukraine said they destroyed a landing ship docked at the Berdiansk port on the Sea of Azov. Video from the city showed plumes of smoke pouring out of the dock area, as well as multiple explosions. 

On Friday Ukraine’s armed forces named the Russian ship they said they attacked and destroyed in Berdiansk as the “Saratov.” In earlier reporting, the ship was named as the “Orsk.”

This post has been updated with new information from Ukrainian officials.

Ukrainians provide new details on Russian warship in Berdiansk they claim they destroyed

Ukrainian armed forces on Friday have now identified a large Russian landing ship that they said they destroyed at the port of Berdiansk in southern Ukraine the day before.

The port, which had recently been occupied by Russian forces with several Russian warships in dock, was rocked by a series of heavy explosions soon after dawn on Thursday.

Social media videos showed fires raging at the dockside, with a series of secondary explosions reverberating across the city.

The Ukrainian armed forces on Friday named the ship as the “Saratov.” In earlier reporting, the ship was named as the “Orsk.”

A day before the ship’s explosion, a lengthy news report on the Russian state-controlled international TV network, RT, had featured what they said was a Russian warship named “Orsk” which is the class of landing vessel as the “Saratov” — a class known to NATO as “alligator.” 

The Russian Ministry of Defense has made no official comment about the explosion.

In a statement, the Ukrainian armed forces said: “In the Azov operational zone, according to updated information, a large landing ship “Saratov” was destroyed during the attack on the occupied Berdiansk port. Large landing ships “Caesar Kunikov” and “Novocherkassk” were [also] damaged. Other losses of the enemy are being clarified.”

Several Russian ships had been unloading military equipment at Berdiansk in recent days, according to reports from the port by Russian media outlets.

The United States said that Ukraine likely did conduct a successful attack against Russian ships in Berdiansk, according to a defense official, though it is unclear what type of weapon or weapons were used in the attack. It echoes a similar statement from the British Ministry of Defence, which said that Ukrainian forces have attacked “high value targets” in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, including a landing ship and ammunition depots at Berdiansk.

Analysis of videos uploaded on Thursday showed that one Russian naval vessel left the port soon after the explosions.

RT is state-controlled Russian media and is considered a mouthpiece for the Kremlin. It has been under international sanctions since the beginning of the month.

This story has been updated with new information from Ukrainian officials.

CNN’s Andrew Carey, Tim Lister, Celine Alkhaldi, Olga Voitovych and Gianluca Mezzofiore contributed reporting to this post. 

Ukraine tells the US it needs 500 Javelins and 500 Stingers per day

A Ukrainian soldier holds the FGM-148 Javelin, an American-made portable anti-tank missile at a checkpoint near Kharkiv on March 23.

Ukraine has updated its extensive wishlist of additional military assistance from the US government in the past several days to include hundreds more anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles than previously requested, according to a document provided to CNN that details the items needed. 

The Ukrainians have submitted similar lists in recent weeks, but a recent request provided to US lawmakers appears to reflect a growing need for American-made Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and Javelin anti-tank missiles — with Ukraine saying it urgently needs 500 of each, daily.  

In both cases, Ukraine is asking for hundreds more missiles than were included in a similar list recently provided to US lawmakers, according to a source with knowledge of both requests. 

The new list comes as the Ukrainians have claimed they face potential weapons shortages amid an ongoing Russian assault – prompting some pushback from US and NATO officials who stress that more military aid is already going into the country. 

By March 7, less than two weeks into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US and other NATO members had sent about 17,000 anti-tank missiles and 2,000 anti-aircraft missiles into Ukraine. 

Since then, NATO countries, including the US, have kept the pipeline of weapons and equipment flowing, even as Russia has threatened to target the shipments.

The last of a US $350 million security assistance packaged approved in late-February arrived in Ukraine within the last few days, a senior defense official said, while the next two packages totaling $1 billion have already started to arrive.

US President Joe Biden said Thursday that “armor systems, ammunition and our weapons are flowing into Ukraine as I speak.” The defense official said it would be “multiple flights over many days” to get the equipment to Eastern Europe before it enters Ukraine at multiple land border crossings. 

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the United Kingdom announced they would ship 6,000 more missiles, including anti-tank and high explosive weapons, to Ukraine, along with about $33 million in financial backing for the Ukrainian military.

The list provided to CNN details several other urgent needs, including: jets, attack helicopters and anti-aircraft systems like the S-300. 

Two types of Russian-made jets are listed in the document, including one designed to provide close air support for troops on the ground. Ukraine has asked for 36 of each aircraft, according to the list provided to CNN. 

Some lawmakers in Congress believe the US should provide Ukraine with the weapons they’re requesting as quickly as possible. 

Sen. Jacky Rosen, a Democrat from Nevada, visited Poland and Germany last weekend to meet with civil society organizations helping Ukrainian refugees who’ve arrived in those countries as well as US troops stationed abroad helping with humanitarian efforts. 

Rosen said her biggest takeaway from the trip was the “sense of urgency,” on the ground. 

“They need all the tools to not just survive the war, but to win the war, so whether we provide them air to ground missiles, drones, all the military support,” Rosen told CNN.

Ukrainian forces make gains east of Kyiv while intense combat reported north of capital

There’s been heavy fighting in several directions around Kyiv Thursday, according to official Ukrainian accounts and social media videos geolocated by CNN. 

Ukrainian forces appear to have retaken territory to the east of the capital, reversing previous Russian gains. Social media videos geolocated by CNN showed Ukrainian troops along with some captured Russian armor in the small settlement of Lukyanovka, some 35 miles (or 55 kilometers) east of the capital. 

Russian forces moved into the district in the second week of March as they advanced from Sumy in the east, and the Ukrainian Defense Ministry reported civilian casualties as the area was evacuated. 

On Thursday, social media video depicted the aftermath of heavy battles, with a Ukrainian soldier in Lukyanovka saying that “the operation was completed, with absolute success, we knocked out the enemy.” 

The soldier added that three Russian tanks and nine infantry fighting vehicles were destroyed and that Ukrainian troops were moving to surround Russian units in the nearby village of Peremoha and other settlements in the region. 

Remember: There’s no way to verify the soldier’s claims, but US officials reported earlier this week that Ukrainian forces were pushing back Russian units to the east of Kyiv. The Ukrainians appear to have advanced from the south.  

To the north of Kyiv, Ukrainian officials reported heavy rocket attacks by Russian forces against the contested town of Irpin. 

Drone footage geolocated by CNN shows widespread devastation, with fires raging among a jumble of abandoned vehicles. 

The mayor of Irpin, Oleksandr Markushyn, told CNN Thursday that the town had come under heavy rocket fire. He said he had just left Irpin and one of his team had been killed. 

“Now there is a big fight in Irpin between Ukrainian and Russian armies. It is very dangerous to be here.” 

He said that 80% of Irpin is controlled by the Ukrainian army but the Russians were using GRAD rocket systems against the town. 

The same assessment was given later by Vadym Denysenko, an adviser to the Interior Minister, who said combat continued in Irpin and the neighboring towns of Bucha and Hostomel, which have seen persistent and sometimes intense fighting since the first days of the invasion. 

Biden and European Commission president say they are "united in condemnation" of Russia's invasion of Ukraine 

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (left), U.S. President Joe Biden (second left) and Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz (right) speak with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (center), European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (third from right) and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (second from right) before a G7 leaders' family photograph on March 24, 2022.

US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said they are “united in our condemnation of Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine” in a joint statement from the two leaders Thursday evening. 

“We are united in our support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. And we are united in our resolve to defend our shared values, including democracy, respect for human rights, global peace and stability, and the rules-based international order,” the statement reads, before going on to list “transatlantic efforts to support the Ukrainian people.”

Among the efforts the leaders highlighted, Biden and von der Leyen said “the United States and the European Union are supporting the work of war crimes documentation experts who are gathering evidence on the ground in Ukraine,” in addition to outlining their efforts on issues like food security and humanitarian relief.

Biden says he will "discuss China" with European Council after being asked if he trusts the country

US President Joe Biden told reporters he would “discuss China” with the European Council before heading into a meeting with the group on Thursday.

After greeting President of the European Council Charles Michel, Biden was asked by a reporter if he trusts China.

“Yes,” Biden answered, before adding “well, we’ll discuss China. I’ve spent some time with Xi Jinping and I hope we’re gonna get the chance to discuss China.”

Biden also said unity between the United States and Europe was “the single most important thing that we can do to stop this guy who’s, in our country, we believe he’s already committed war crimes.”

UK prime minister: There is evidence that Russia may be trying to get around sanctions on gold

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses the media during a press conference following a NATO summit on March 24.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says there is evidence that Russia may be trying to get around the sanctions on their gold.

Speaking at a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday, Johnson said: “There is evidence that the Russians may be trying to get round — I mean the Russians are going to try to get round — the sanctions on their gold.”

The UK Prime Minister did not provide further details.

“We are taking steps to try to make sure there is no leakage, no sale of bullion into markets around the world,” Johnson added.

Earlier today the G7 leaders said in a joint statement: “We will continue to cooperate closely, including by engaging other governments on adopting similar restrictive measures to those already imposed by G7 members and on refraining from evasion, circumvention and backfilling that seek to undercut or mitigate the effects of our sanctions. We task the relevant Ministers in a focused initiative to monitor the full implementation of sanctions and to coordinate responses related to evasive measures, including regarding gold transactions by the Central Bank of Russia.”

Here's what Zelensky told G7 leaders during today's emergency meeting

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the G7 countries during a videoconference, Thursday March 24.

Addressing G7 countries via videoconference Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told them that they could be a “great group of peacekeepers” by stepping up sanctions and creating a new association called U-24.

Earlier on Thursday, Zelensky also addressed NATO leaders virtually.

“We can make your G7 group not just a great seven, but a great group of peacekeepers, a great seven peacekeepers. What do we need? Ukraine is very specific in answering this question. Every week we must step up sanctions against Russian aggression until it ends and peace is restored,” Zelensky told the G7 countries.

He added, “Next, we need to create a new system of security guarantees for Ukraine and our region. Real guarantees effective guarantees that can stop any aggression within 24 hours. Within 24 hours, we have proposed an association, a U-24. Something that the world needs not just to prevent wars, but also to stop active hostilities that have already begun and also to provide support to those countries that suffer from natural disasters or need support during pandemics or which face migration or food crises.”

Zelensky asked the leaders how many urgent summits would need to be held until the problems created by Russia can be solved.

“In the recent years, Russia has managed to create so many crises and so much instability that it has become the main problem for the world. A problem that is only increasing and we can’t even guess how many such urgent summits would have to be held before the problems created by Russia can be solved,” Zelensky told the G7 meeting.

Ukraine’s president warned G7 countries that Russia’s actions in Ukraine were leading to a global food crisis.

“Russia has destroyed global security architecture and dealt a powerful blow to international relations. But this is only the beginning. This war can be followed by a global food crisis. The longer there is no peace on Ukrainian land, the less food the world market will receive from Ukraine and many countries in Asia, Africa and even Europe may suffer extreme problems with access to basic foods and prices for food. This will definitely result in political destabilization and maybe that was the purpose of the Russian leadership. I don’t know,” Zelensky said. 

“But we must act immediately. We must immediately stop Russian troops and get them out of Ukraine. We need immediate peace before the world faces another level of problems. It is better to use sanctions against Russia now as much as possible to stop its military machine than later to deal with the consequences of a global food crisis,” the Ukrainian president added.

Zelensky called for a “full embargo to trade” with Russia, and to prevent Russia from using the GPS system.

“Unprecedented challenges require a full embargo to trade with Russia. Russia must be deprived of the opportunity to even use GPS in the war. It is important for this system not to help Russian missiles and bombs destroy peaceful cities,” Zelensky said.

“Russian banks and mainly the Central Bank of Russia must be completely blocked from the global financial system. War criminals must be left without any money and their frozen assets must be turned also into reparations,” he told G7 countries.

“This is in our interest, it is in your interests. It is in the interests of all democracies, because democracies must be able to defend themselves. Freedom must be armed. Life must triumph over death,” Zelensky said.

Ukraine’s president again accused Russia of deploying phosphorous munitions, certain usages of which are either banned or circumscribed under international law. CNN is not able to verify these claims. The US State Department also told CNN it was aware of the reports but said it was not in a position to confirm.