March 26, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Barry Neild, Adrienne Vogt, Joe Ruiz and Ray Sanchez, CNN

Updated 12:04 a.m. ET, March 27, 2022
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1:46 p.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Three additional blasts heard in Lviv, regional military administration says

From CNN staff in Lviv

Maksym Kozytsky, the head of the Lviv regional military administration, said there were three additional explosions following a Russian strike earlier on a fuel depot.

"Another strike near Lviv," Kozytsky said on his Telegram account. "There were three more powerful explosions. The air alarm remains!"

After the initial strike on the fuel depot, Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said another strike had hit the city.

"As a result of new missile strikes on Lviv, significant damage was inflicted on infrastructure facilities," Sadovyi said in a tweet.

Residential buildings were not damaged, the mayor added.

1:46 p.m. ET, March 26, 2022

US president says Russia has "strangled democracy"

US President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland on March 26.
US President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland on March 26. (Evan Vucci/AP)

US President Joe Biden, speaking in Warsaw, said that Russia has "strangled democracy" in its invasion of Ukraine and called out Russian President Vladimir Putin's lies in justifying the war.

"Over the last 30 years, the forces of autocracy have revived all across the globe. Its hallmarks are familiar ones: contempt for the rule of law, contempt for democratic freedom, contempt for the truth itself," Biden said.

"Today, Russia has strangled democracy and sought to do so elsewhere, not only in his homeland. Under false claims of ethnic solidarity, he's invalidated neighboring nations. Putin has the gall to say he's 'denazifying Ukraine.' It's a lie. It's just cynical. He knows that. And it's also obscene. President Zelensky was democratically elected. He's Jewish. His father's family was wiped out in the Nazi Holocaust. And Putin has the audacity, like all our autocrats before him, to believe that might will make right," he said.

Biden then referenced US President Abraham Lincoln, who said "right makes might."

Biden also addressed the Russian president's criticism of NATO.

"A criminal wants to portray NATO enlargement as an imperial project aimed at destabilizing Russia. Nothing is further from the truth. NATO is a defensive alliance. It has never sought the demise of Russia," Biden said.

Putin made the choice to engage in war, Biden said.

"It's nothing less than a direct challenge to the rule-based international order established since the end of World War II, and it threatens to return to decades of war that ravaged Europe before the international rule-based order was put in place. We cannot go back to that. We cannot," he said.

He then outlined steps to stymie Russia, including sanctions and other economic actions.

1:37 p.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Biden assures Ukrainians "we stand with you"

US President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland on March 26.
US President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland on March 26. (Petr David Josek/AP)

US President Joe Biden opened his speech in Warsaw by referencing Poland-born Pope John Paul II's message to the Soviet Union in 1979.

“Be not afraid,” he said.

"We emerged anew in the great battle for freedom, a battle between democracy and autocracy, between liberty and repression. ... In this battle, we need to be clear-eyed. This battle will not be won in days or months either. We need to steel ourselves for the long fight ahead," Biden said outside the Royal Castle .

There was applause when he mentioned people from Ukraine in the crowd in Warsaw.

"Now in the perennial struggle for democracy and freedom, Ukraine and its people are on the front lines, fighting to save their nation, and their brave resistance is part of a larger fight for ... essential democratic principles that unite all free people," he said.

"My message to the people of Ukraine is a message I delivered today to Ukraine's foreign minister and defense minister, who I believe are here tonight: We stand with you. Period," he said.

1:22 p.m. ET, March 26, 2022

There has been another strike in Lviv, according to mayor

From CNN's Chandler Thornton

Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said another strike has hit the western Ukrainian city.

"Another rocket strike in Lviv," Sadovyi said in a tweet, adding "updating the information."

1:22 p.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Biden briefed on strike in Lviv as he is set to give speech in Poland

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Phil Mattingly

Fire and smoke rise following an explosion in Lviv, Ukraine, on Saturday, March 26.
Fire and smoke rise following an explosion in Lviv, Ukraine, on Saturday, March 26. (CNN)

US President Joe Biden was briefed on the strike on Lviv before leaving his hotel to deliver a speech in Poland, a White House official says. 

The White House has called the speech a "major address."

There are also Ukrainian refugees in the crowd assembled in front of the stage for Biden’s remarks, per a White House official.

3:16 p.m. ET, March 26, 2022

On the ground: Fire and thick smoke pour up from site of blast at fuel storage facility in Lviv

From CNN's Chandler Thornton and Adrienne Vogt

CNN’s Don Lemon reports from the scene of a fire in Lviv, Ukraine on Saturday.
CNN’s Don Lemon reports from the scene of a fire in Lviv, Ukraine on Saturday. (CNN)

CNN's Don Lemon is at the site of an industrial facility used for fuel storage in Lviv, Ukraine, where a blazing fire and thick black smoke are rising.

"According to the mayor, he believes it is a Russian military strike on this facility," Lemon reported.

Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said that "habitable infrastructure was not injured," in a tweet confirming the burning of the facility. Firefighters and first responders are on the scene. Residents of a nearby neighborhood are also outside waiting for more information.

Sadoyvi advised residents to continue staying in shelters until the air alarm stops.

Lemon and his team were pushed back because there is concern about another explosion, he said.

The situation is fluid.

12:01 p.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Mayor of Ukrainian city freed after Russian detention, according to political party

From CNN staff and Olga Voitovych

The mayor of the northern Ukrainian city of Slavutych was released by Russian forces Saturday after being detained, the Ukrainian political party Sluha Narodu said in a statement. 

"The abducted mayor of Slavutych is already at large," a statement said. "Rallies [against the Russians] continue in the city."

Russian troops on Saturday entered the city, which was built for workers at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, sparking protests by residents. 

In a video posted on Facebook, Mayor Yuri Fomichev was shown addressing residents on Saturday and telling them that they would have to "communicate with the occupiers" after Russian troops entered the town. Fomichev told residents the Russians would search for weapons but would leave the center of the city.

"They will check whether there is a weapon or whether someone is hiding with it. They will go to the police, they will go to the military recruitment office. It’s clear. They will do a spin [through town] here until noon. After lunch, they have to leave the city. There will be one checkpoint, and they will not be in the city. We are governing the city ourselves," he said.  

Fomichev added: "If someone needs to leave the city, we will agree on the procedure. We realize that now we must communicate with the occupiers. There is no other option. We do not have ... machine guns, grenade launchers, missiles, tanks. ... We do have hands, brains and hearts. This is the main thing we have. And love for Ukraine, for Slavutych!"

1:02 p.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Russian forces carried out strike near the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, according to regional official

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva and CNN staff in Lviv

Smoke rises above Lviv, Ukraine on March 26.
Smoke rises above Lviv, Ukraine on March 26. (Nariman El-Mofty/AP)

Ukrainian officials said Russian forces struck near the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, without providing extensive details. 

Maksym Kozytsky, head of Lviv regional military administration, said: "There were three powerful explosions near Lviv from the Velyki Kryvchytsi side, now there is an air alarm, so keep calm and stay in shelter."

"The Russian army struck at Lviv," Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said on Twitter. "We are waiting for information from the Military Administration. Stay in the shelters." 

The blasts were audible on the street in center of Lviv. 

Sadovyi warned in a followup tweet that there could be more strikes after explosions were heard in the city.

"It is possible that shelling will be repeated. Stay in the shelter!" the mayor tweeted.

At least two missiles struck Lviv Saturday, and there are reports of at least five people injured, according to Kozytsky.

He added there are still threats for more missile strikes, according to a post on his official Facebook account.

"Information about what was involved in a residential building or other infrastructure objects was not confirmed," Kozytsky said.

11:55 a.m. ET, March 26, 2022

London's mayor "embarrassed" by UK's response in helping Ukrainian refugees

From CNN's Peirre Meilhan

London Mayor Sadiq Khan speaks to the media ahead of a solidarity march for Ukraine on March 26 in London.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan speaks to the media ahead of a solidarity march for Ukraine on March 26 in London. (Aaron Chown/PA Images/Getty Images)

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the British government has “got to make it far easier” for Ukrainian refugees to come to the United Kingdom.

Khan, in an interview with talk radio station Leading Britain's Conversation, added that he is “embarrassed” by the UK’s response so far compared to other countries in Europe on the issue of refugees.

“There’s a disconnect between the actions of Brits and the actions of Londoners and the actions of our government and those in Parliament, as you have seen people across the country, including in London, opening their homes to Ukrainian refugees. You have seen the massive generosity in relation to donations,” Khan said, as he contrasted this with how “it is really hard though for Ukrainians to come here.”

Earlier in the day, Khan attended the London Stands With Ukraine march in solidarity with Ukrainians and to protest Russia’s invasion of the country.

More than 3.7 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion, the United Nations' Refugee Agency said Friday.