It has now been over a month since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in late February. Here's the latest in the ongoing conflict:
New death toll in theater bombing: Mariupol city council says that based on eyewitness reports, it now believes around 300 people died in a Russian airstrike on a theater in the city on March 16. CNN has not independently verified the casualty figures. The building was being used as one of the main shelters in Mariupol, with estimates of the number of people taking refuge there ranging from between 800 to 1,300. Information about the full extent of the attack has been slow to emerge due to the almost complete breakdown of essential services in the city, including communication networks.
Battles on the ground: The UK's Ministry of Defense said Ukrainian forces have retaken towns and defensive positions on the eastern outskirts of Kyiv in its latest intelligence update. Further east, however, intense clashes around Izyum have left much of the city destroyed, city officials say, with new satellite images revealing the extent of the devastation in the region. The city has been caught in the crossfire as Russia attempts to link advances made in the Kharkiv region of northern Ukraine with its stronghold in the far east of the country.
Evacuation corridors: Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced two evacuation routes for Mariupol and occupied Melitopol on Friday. Speaking in a televised message, Vereshchuk said the corridors will link the two cities with Zaporizhzhia, which lies to the north and is still under Ukrainian control. A centralized evacuation is also planned by bus from the Russian occupied city of Berdyansk, the deputy prime minister said, adding that 48 buses are parked at the entrance to the city.
Biden heads to Poland: US President Joe Biden has departed Brussels, and is now heading to the Poland-Ukraine border region, where he plans to meet Polish President Andrzej Duda for a briefing on humanitarian aid efforts. Biden's visit to Poland is will be the second stop of his wartime trip��through Europe and is intended to highlight the massive refugee crisis that has ensued from Russia's war in Ukraine, the White House said.
US and EU announce joint task force: US President Joe Biden announced a new initiative meant to deprive Russian President Vladimir Putin of European energy profits used to “drive his war machine," adding that the United States would help Europe reduce its dependence on Russian oil and gas, and would ensure the continent had enough supplies for the next two winters. The United States will work toward supplying Europe with at least 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas in 2022, in partnership with other nations, the White House said. Speaking alongside Biden, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, hailed the joint energy task force as a "big step" in efforts to diversify gas supplies away from Russia.