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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10:24 a.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Ukrainian foreign minister says US promised more defense support

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, second from left, meets with US President Biden in Warsaw, Poland on March 26.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, second from left, meets with US President Biden in Warsaw, Poland on March 26. (Evan Vucci/AP)

The United States has made assurances that there will be additional defense support for Ukraine, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Saturday.

"Today we did receive additional promises from the United States on how our defense co-operation will evolve," Kuleba told reporters in Warsaw, stressing that "no other country provided Ukraine with more support than the United States."

"Ukrainian stamina and Western weapons, mostly American weapons, is the recipe for success on the battleground," Kuleba said.

Earlier on Saturday, Kuleba and Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov met their US counterparts, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in Warsaw.

"We see that the United States are keen to move on with further sanctions," Kuleba also said.

"We have some European countries who need to be convinced and who need to be taken on board as well, so we agreed today with my counterpart, Secretary Blinken, on how we will be working together with them," the foreign minister added.

9:27 a.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Ukraine says 10 evacuation corridors have been agreed upon for Saturday

From CNN's Jennifer Hauser

Ten corridors in the Kyiv, Luhansk and Donetsk regions were agreed upon Saturday to evacuate civilians from settlements affected by the Russian invasion, according to Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.

In the southeast, private transportation is planned for people from the besieged city of Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia, but due to the blockade of buses by Russian forces at checkpoints, there won't be a centralized evacuation of Mariupol residents on Saturday, according to Vereshchuk.

Russian troops have entered the city of Slavutych, north of Kyiv, a move that has sparked protests among hundreds of Ukrainian civilians. Early Saturday, Oleksandr Pavliuk, head of the Kyiv regional administration, said "the Russian occupiers entered the city of Slavutych and seized the city hospital."  

"Slavutych, Dymer, Ivankiv - we hear you and we know that you need routes (for evacuation). We are working on it," according to Vereshchuk.

In the southern city of Kherson, Vereshchuk said residents are actively and "massively" protesting the occupation. 

9:35 a.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Biden says NATO countries must be in "lockstep" with each other as Russian invasion of Ukraine continues

US President Joe Biden meets with Polish President Andrzej Duda on March 26 in Warsaw, Poland.
US President Joe Biden meets with Polish President Andrzej Duda on March 26 in Warsaw, Poland. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden, while holding talks with Polish President Andrzej Duda, said that peace in Europe is directly related to stability in the United States, adding that lack of action in two world wars "has come back to haunt us."

"America's ability to meet its role in other parts of the world rests upon a united Europe, a secure Europe. We've learned from sad experience in two world wars, when we've stayed out of and not been involved in stability in Europe, it always comes back to haunt us, the United States," Biden said.

"So I've been saying for a long time, as a senator who visited here, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, as vice president for eight years, now as President, that stability in Europe is critically important to the United States in terms of our interest. Not only in Europe, but around the world," he continued.

Biden also said that he and US leaders see NATO's Article 5 as "a sacred commitment."

Article 5 is the principle that an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all members.

Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin thought he'd be able to divide NATO countries with his invasion of Ukraine.

"The single most important criterion in this time-changing world ... is that NATO stay absolutely, completely, thoroughly united. There be no separation in our points of view. That whatever we do, we do in unison, and everyone — everyone — comes along," he said.

The US President also acknowledged the strain of Ukrainian refugees upon Poland, referencing the situation at the US-Mexico border.

9:36 a.m. ET, March 26, 2022

It's approaching 3 p.m. in Kyiv. Catch up here

Here's what you need to know about Saturday's developments in the war in Ukraine.

Bombardments predicted to continue: Britain's Ministry of Defence said Saturday in its latest intelligence update that Russia prefers “indiscriminate” bombardments and will likely continue using “heavy firepower” on urban areas. 

In a video address on Friday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said the country's military had dealt "powerful blows" to Russia.

Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held an official meeting on Saturday, state media reported, to discuss maintaining the supply of advanced weapons for the conflict.

On the ground: Russian troops have entered the city of Slavutych, north of Kyiv — a move that sparked protests among hundreds of Ukrainian civilians. Slavutych was built for workers at the Chernobyl nuclear plant after the 1986 disaster left the area uninhabitable.

The Russian military on Saturday also claimed new missile strikes on military targets in western, central and southwestern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces have staged a counteroffensive in areas around Ukraine's second-largest city of Kharkiv, according to local officials.

Biden in Poland: After meeting with Ukrainian officials in Warsaw, US President Joe Biden is now holding talks with Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Biden is set to meet with Ukrainian refugees and will give a "major address" later in the day, according to the White House.

8:50 a.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Kyiv's regional military administration reports shelling in suburbs

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Lviv and CNN staff in Kyiv

The Kyiv region's military administration said Saturday that suburbs to the west and east of the capital had come under Russian shellfire in recent hours, adding that Russian forces were digging in within some districts.

Oleksandr Pavliuk, the head of the Kyiv regional military administration, said in a statement that the western suburbs of Маkariv, Bucha and Irpin were under shelling and that the community of Bilohorodka had come under rocket attack and missile strikes. 

Pavliuk added that Russian forces were entrenching in Bucha and another western suburb, Nemishaeve.

A Ukrainian counterattack north and west of the capital appeared to have made some headway earlier this week, with Ukrainian forces restoring control of the town of Makariv, which is about 40 miles west of Kyiv. Shellfire was audible in central Kyiv Saturday morning. 

The greatest damage from shelling was in the region's Bucha, Brovary and Vyshhorod districts, Pavliuk said.

8:42 a.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Chernihiv's population has dropped by more than half since invasion began, mayor says

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll in London

A man rides his bicycle in front of residential buildings damaged by shelling in Chernihiv, Ukraine on March 4.
A man rides his bicycle in front of residential buildings damaged by shelling in Chernihiv, Ukraine on March 4. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)

The mayor of the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, which is located about halfway between Kyiv and the Russian border, said the population has more than halved since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking during a virtual press briefing Saturday, Mayor Vladyslav Atroshenko said 120,000 to 130,000 residents remain in the city, compared to around 290,000 prior to Russia’s invasion, adding that the “the city is surrounded.”

Atroshenko said that Russian forces “consciously destroyed the only bridge connecting Chernihiv with a southern highway towards Kyiv.”

Atroshenko was referring to Russian warplanes destroying a key bridge on March 23, one of the last remaining routes linking it with other Ukrainian-held territory. 

The mayor said there are currently no evacuation corridors or “any safe way to bring or supplies, aid or wounded in or out.”

Atroshenko's remarks come as the city attempts to evacuate 44 people who have been severely wounded. Most are military-related, but the figure also comprises civilians, including three children, he said.

Atroshenko said there have been direct hits on hospitals, including Chernihiv District Hospital, which has been “destroyed.” Electricity and water supplies have also been impacted, with water being delivered by volunteers.

Chernihiv has seen some of the most intense shelling since Russia invaded Ukraine just more than four weeks ago. 

Among the more recent deadly attacks on March 16 was on a line of people in line for bread, in which officials said at least 10 people died. 

8:33 a.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Kyiv mayor cancels extended curfew Saturday

From CNN's Frederik Pleitgen in Kyiv

Smoke rises above residential areas of Kyiv, Ukraine following Russian attacks on March 25.
Smoke rises above residential areas of Kyiv, Ukraine following Russian attacks on March 25. (Alejandro Martinez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko on Saturday canceled an extended curfew planned for the capital.

In a statement on Telegram, Klitschko said the curfew -- planned to begin Saturday at 8 p.m. and run until 7 a.m. on Monday -- would not be introduced.

"Curfew time will remain normal - from 20:00 to 7:00 [8:00 pm to 7:00 am local time]," Klitschko said. "It will be possible to move around the capital and the region on Sunday afternoon."

8:07 a.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Military pageantry welcomes Biden to formal talks with Polish President Duda

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

US President Joe Biden participates in an arrival ceremony with Polish President Andrzej Duda on Saturday, March 26, in Warsaw, Poland.
US President Joe Biden participates in an arrival ceremony with Polish President Andrzej Duda on Saturday, March 26, in Warsaw, Poland. (Evan Vucci/AP)

US President Joe Biden has been welcomed to the Presidential Palace in Warsaw with a a show of pageantry ahead of bilateral talks with his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda.

He was greeted in a courtyard by Polish officials and an honor guard of Polish troops standing at attention.

Afterward, a band played the Star Spangled Banner followed by the Polish national anthem as the two presidents watched on, standing atop a red carpet.

The band struck up a march as Biden and Duda walked over to survey a cordon of Polish troops, who wore white caps and gold braiding to accent their blue uniforms.

The band paraded in front of the two presidents, followed by the marching troops, before Biden and Duda walked inside.

8:17 a.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Kremlin confirms Roman Abramovich's role in Ukraine-Russia negotiations

From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Lviv

Roman Abramovich attends a Chelsea FC match in Porto, Portugal in 2021.
Roman Abramovich attends a Chelsea FC match in Porto, Portugal in 2021. (Alexander Hassenstein/UEFA/Getty Images)

The Kremlin has confirmed that Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich has taken part in Russian-Ukrainian negotiations, amid media reports that Abramovich had surfaced as an interlocutor in facilitating potential peace talks. 

In a conference call Thursday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Abramovich "did take part in the negotiations at the initial stage, that is true."

Pressed further, Peskov gave few details, but added: "And now the negotiations are going on between the two negotiating teams – Russian and Ukrainian."

Peskov was answering a question regarding an article in The Wall Street Journal that reported that the Biden administration held off on sanctions on Abramovich at the urging of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, because of the oligarch's role in potentially negotiating peace. CNN has not independently confirmed such a discussion between Washington and Kyiv and Peskov provided no additional information. 

Separately, the Financial Times has reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin has personally endorsed Abramovich's potential role in talks, citing two two unnamed people with direct knowledge of the matter. CNN has not independently confirmed that reporting. 

It is unclear what role at this stage Abramovich is playing in prospective negotiations between Ukraine and Russia.