March 27, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Steve George, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Hafsa Khalil, Joe Ruiz, Mike Hayes, Maureen Chowdhury and Eric Levenson, CNN

Updated 12:49 a.m. ET, March 28, 2022
45 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
7:21 p.m. ET, March 27, 2022

Peace and restoration of normal life are "obvious" goals in new talks with Russia, Zelensky says

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London and Mariya Knight in Atlanta

A Ukrainian flag torn by fragments after Russian shelling flutter in Mykolaiv, a key city on the road to Odessa, Ukraine's biggest port on March 27.
A Ukrainian flag torn by fragments after Russian shelling flutter in Mykolaiv, a key city on the road to Odessa, Ukraine's biggest port on March 27. (Oleksandr Gimanov/AFP/Getty Images)

Peace and the restoration of normal life are the "obvious" goals of Ukraine as the country enters into a new round of talks with Russia next week, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday. 

Speaking in a video message posted to social media, Zelensky said as a new round of face-to-face negotiations kick off Tuesday in Istanbul, Ukraine is looking for peace "without delay."

"Our priorities in the negotiations are known," Zelensky said. "Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity are beyond doubt. Effective security guarantees for our state are mandatory. Our goal is obvious: peace and the restoration of normal life in our native state as soon as possible."

During a Sunday call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan emphasized the need for ceasefire in Ukraine "and peace between Russia and Ukraine as soon as possible," according to the Turkish presidency.

6:53 p.m. ET, March 27, 2022

Biden tells reporters he was not calling for Russian regime change

From CNN’s Sam Fossum

President Joe Biden addresses media representatives in Brussels on March 24.
President Joe Biden addresses media representatives in Brussels on March 24. (John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden told reporters Sunday he was not calling for regime change in Russia in his off-the-cuff remarks a day earlier.

"No," Biden said, in response to a shouted question from a reporter in the press pool asking if he was calling for regime change.

The question stemmed from Biden's comment Saturday at the conclusion of an address delivered outside the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland.

"For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power," Biden said of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Other Biden administration officials have sought to walk back and clarify Biden’s comment.

"The president's point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region," a White House official said. "He was not discussing Putin's power in Russia, or regime change."

6:46 p.m. ET, March 27, 2022

Missile strikes continue throughout Ukraine, official says

From CNN's Mariya Knight

A destroyed car is seen near a damaged apartment building in Kharkiv on March 27.
A destroyed car is seen near a damaged apartment building in Kharkiv on March 27. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian forces continued missile strikes across Ukraine Sunday evening, according to Mikhail Podoliak, an adviser to president Volodymyr Zelensky.

He mentioned the cities of Lutsk, Kharkiv, Zhytomyr and Rivne in a Twitter post.

“More and more missiles every day. Mariupol under the 'carpet' bombing,” he said.

“Russia no longer has a language, humanism, civilization. Only missiles, bombs and attempts to wipe Ukraine off the face of the earth,” he said.

6:52 p.m. ET, March 27, 2022

Ukraine promises "immediate investigation" after video surfaces of soldiers shooting Russian prisoners

From CNN's Tim Lister, Celine Alkhaldi, Katerina Krebs and Josh Pennington

Video has surfaced showing what appear to be Ukrainian soldiers shooting men who are apparently Russian prisoners in the knees during an operation in the Kharkiv region.

On the almost six-minute-long video, the Ukrainian soldiers are heard saying they have captured a Russian reconnaissance group operating from Olkhovka, a settlement in Kharkiv roughly 20 miles from the Russian border.

Asked about the video, a senior presidential advisor, Oleksiy Arestovych, said in an interview posted on YouTube Sunday: "The government is taking this very seriously, and there will be an immediate investigation. We are a European army, and we do not mock our prisoners. If this turns out to be real, this is absolutely unacceptable behavior."

In a separate briefing, Arestovych said, "We treat prisoners in accordance with the Geneva Convention, whatever your personal emotional motives."

CNN has reached out to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry for comment. In response, the ministry sent CNN a statement from the Armed Forces chief, Valerii Zaluzhnyi. The statement did not refer directly to the incident, but said, "In order to discredit Ukraine's defense forces, the enemy films and distributes staged videos showing inhuman treatment by alleged 'Ukrainian soldiers' of 'Russian prisoners.' 

"I emphasize that servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other legitimate military formations strictly adhere to the norms of international humanitarian law," Zaluzhnyi said. "I urge you to take into account the realities of informational and psychological warfare and trust only official sources."

It's unclear which Ukrainian unit may have been involved. The soldiers speak in a mixture of Ukrainian and Russian with Ukrainian accents.

The video comes as Ukrainian forces make gains east and south of Kharkiv. CNN geolocated and verified a long video uploaded on a Telegram Saturday showing a successful assault by Ukrainian troops of the Azov Battalion, in which they took a number of Russian prisoners in a rapid assault on Olkhovka, also known as Vilkhivka.

Some of the prisoners were stripped and blindfolded.

That video was posted by Konstantin Nemichev, a Kharkiv regional official who took part in the attack on Olkhovka. He told CNN he was not associated with the footage that emerged showing Ukrainian troops kneecapping Russian prisoners.

“This is not our location … I have not seen such a location,” he told CNN on Sunday.

He suggested the video was shot “maybe somewhere in the [Kharkiv] region.”

In the first response from Russian authorities, the chairman of the investigative committee of the Russian Federation, A.I. Bastrykin, said an investigation would be launched "to establish all the circumstances of the ill-treatment of captured soldiers by Ukrainian nationalists."

In a statement, Bastrykin said: "Footage appeared on the Internet in which prisoners were treated with extreme cruelty by Ukrainian nationalists. The video circulating online shows captured soldiers, being shot in both legs and not given medical assistance. According to some reports, illegal actions took place at one of the bases of the Ukrainian nationalists in Kharkiv region." 

CNN is not showing the video.

5:27 p.m. ET, March 27, 2022

Loud explosion heard in Kyiv

From Vasco Cotovio in Kyiv

A loud explosion followed by sirens were heard in Kyiv early Monday (Sunday ET), according to CNN teams on the ground.

5:26 p.m. ET, March 27, 2022

Zelensky refuses to sit down with Russia if they seek to solely discuss "denazification" of Ukraine

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy and Josh Pennington

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (Reuters)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has refused to sit down with Russia's negotiators if they seek to solely discuss the "denazification" of Ukraine.

Speaking with independent Russian journalists on Sunday, Zelensky said Ukraine is not discussing the terms "denazification" and "demilitarization" at all during talks with Russia. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has continuously framed his invasion of Ukraine -- a country with a Jewish president -- as a campaign of "denazification," a description dismissed by historians and political observers alike.

"We won't sit down at the table at all if all we talk about is some 'demilitarization,' or some 'denazification.' For me, these are absolutely incomprehensible things," Zelensky said. 

A previous meeting during which the Ukrainian side told their Russia counterparts not to use these terms did not prove "substantive at all," Zelensky added.

As the next set of talks between the two sides are set to kick off in Istanbul on Tuesday, Zelensky said he is "not against" conversations with Russia "as long as there is a result," adding he had advocated for dialogue even before the war started. 

11:24 p.m. ET, March 27, 2022

As Russian attacks strike Ukraine's cities, some displaced Ukrainians find a bit of peace in the mountains

From CNN's Salma Abdelaziz in Slavsko, Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war machine expanded Saturday and intensified its attacks on Ukraine, launching multiple cruise missiles into the heart of Lviv, a city once considered a safe haven for families fleeing violence. 

Everywhere is a target, and anyone can be a victim, it seems, but a few hundred families believe they’ve found the safest place in Ukraine, tucked away in the Carpathian Mountains. 

The remote urban settlement of Slavsko is a popular ski destination for locals, but as spring melted its snow-capped peaks and Russian troops invaded the country’s east, a lucky few found solace in the slopes.

Slavsko, a remote urban settlement, is located 138km south of Lviv, Ukraine.
Slavsko, a remote urban settlement, is located 138km south of Lviv, Ukraine. (Dan Hodge/CNN)

Many of the hotels welcomed the families, offering a handful of rooms for free and others at discounted rates. Staicy Chernilevskaia, who fled with her partner Ramir Holubov from Kharkiv, is among 50 people staying at the Karpatsky Zatyshok hotel. 

“It’s mind boggling when you look at these mountains and read the news," Chernilevskaia said. "It seems like it’s not real.”

The couple’s families are still in Kharkiv where Russian artillery consistently strikes residential areas, according to Ukrainian officials. 

“You are here, you are safe, but you feel guilty,” Holubov said. 
Staicy Chernilevskaia and Ramir Holubov
Staicy Chernilevskaia and Ramir Holubov (Dan Hodge/CNN)

After a terrifying week spent sheltering in the car park of their apartment block in Kyiv and two failed escape attempts, 12-year-old Diana Kovalyova and her mother finally squeezed onto one of the overcrowded trains leaving the capital. 

But they didn’t know where to go until they remembered a family trip one summer to the ski resort. 

“We had good memories here,” said Larysa Kovalyova, Diana's mother. “The people were kind and we knew they would take care of us.” 

Diana Kovalyova and Larysa Kovalyova
Diana Kovalyova and Larysa Kovalyova (Dan Hodge/CNN)

Situated in a valley between two rivers, the idyllic town has one small gold-domed church and little interest to Russian firepower that has targeted military infrastructure and urban centers. 

“I feel safe here and also the view is perfect," Diana said. "I like it so much, but I hope the war is over soon and we can go home because living at home is still much better."

The town now hosts about 3,400 internally displaced people, nearly doubling its population, but the mayor says it’s not a burden. The community wants to share its mountain sanctuary. 

“We think that it is our duty to host people who were thrown out of their homes by the war,” Mayor Volodymyr Beha said. “We feel a responsibility to make them warm and comfortable.” 
Mayor Volodymyr Beha
Mayor Volodymyr Beha (Dan Hodge/CNN)

Some are staying in less traditional accommodations. Olesya Matiushenko found peace for her two children in a glamping pod perched atop the mountains. 

“My daughter wakes up every morning, opens the curtains, wipes the dew from the windows and says, ‘Mommy look!’” Olesya said with a smile as she looks out at her stunning view.

“It’s calming here," she said. "I feel lighter. And I start to believe everything will be okay.” 

Olesya Matiushenk and her children
Olesya Matiushenk and her children (Dan Hodge/CNN)

4:03 p.m. ET, March 27, 2022

Zelensky calls Mariupol siege a "humanitarian catastrophe," claims 2,000 children taken out by Russia

From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Lviv and Mariya Knight in Atlanta

A child looks out the window of a bus after a large convoy of cars and buses arrived at an evacuation point, carrying hundreds of people evacuated from Mariupol and Melitopol on March 25, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine.
A child looks out the window of a bus after a large convoy of cars and buses arrived at an evacuation point, carrying hundreds of people evacuated from Mariupol and Melitopol on March 25, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday called the Russian siege of the port city of Mariupol a "humanitarian catastrophe," claiming that Russian forces had taken over 2,000 children out of the city as part of what Ukrainian officials have described as a wave of civilian deportations to Russia.

Asked in an interview with independent Russian journalists to describe the situation, Zelensky said, "The reality is this: The city is blocked by the Russian military. All entrances and exits from the city of Mariupol are blocked. The port is mined. A humanitarian catastrophe inside the city is unequivocal, because it is impossible to go there with food, medicine and water. The Russian military is shelling humanitarian convoys. Drivers are being killed."

Zelensky added that Russian forces have engaged in the "forcible removal of people" to Russia.

"According to our information, more than two thousand children were taken out, that means stolen," Zelensky said. "Their exact location is unknown. They can be there with or without parents. All in all, it's a disaster. I can't tell you what that looks like at all. It's scary. They hold them like souls for an exchange fund."

CNN cannot independently verify claims about the number of children taken out of Mariupol and other towns into Russia. A pro-Russian separatist on Sunday said around 1,700 people are being "evacuated" daily to Russia from Mariupol and other cities.

Zelensky painted a grim picture of the situation in the city, which has been shattered by weeks of fighting. 

"To make you understand in the city there are corpses lying on the roads, on the sidewalks," he said. "Corpses are just lying around – no one cleans them – of Russian soldiers and citizens of Ukraine."

4:00 p.m. ET, March 27, 2022

It's Sunday night in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN Staff

A Ukranian serviceman enters the destroyed regional headquarters of Kharkiv, Ukraine on March 27.
A Ukranian serviceman enters the destroyed regional headquarters of Kharkiv, Ukraine on March 27. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

The Russian military on Sunday confirmed strikes on fuel depots in Lviv and outside of Kyiv Saturday, saying it had targeted fuel supplies for Ukrainian troops.

At least five people were reportedly injured after at least two missiles struck Lviv, a city in western Ukraine that had been previously spared the worst of Russia's brutal onslaught.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeated his plea to international partners for stronger military assistance, saying his country is only asking for 1% of NATO's tanks and planes. In a video message posted to social media Saturday, Zelensky said the need to strengthen common security in Europe was raised during his two conversations with Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Here are more of the latest headlines in the Russia-Ukraine conflict:

  • US ambassador to NATO: No evidence yet that the Kremlin will limit their sights on the Donbas region: Julianne Smith, the US's ambassador to NATO, discussed Russia's supposed changing focus, on Sunday with CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union." Smith said she didn't think "we have evidence of that quite yet," that the Kremlin will limit their sights on the Donbas region, but that the US and allies will be looking for it. "But what we do have evidence of is the fact that the Russians have not succeeded in their original aims. And that was, as you well know, to take Kyiv in just a couple of days," she said. Smith also defended the new actions NATO and the US introduced to continue to punish Russia in the wake of the US President's trip, even as Ukrainian officials have voiced disappointment in the lack of support.
  • Next round of Russia-Ukraine talks will be held in Istanbul this week: The next round of talks between Russia and Ukraine will be held in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Tuesday, according to the Turkish presidency. A statement from the Turkish Presidency's Communications Directorate said during a phone call on Sunday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin "agreed that the next meeting of the Russian and Ukrainian delegations will be held in Istanbul." Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin told CNN International Anchor Becky Anderson on Sunday that the talks will take place Tuesday. However, Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia said earlier that the meeting would take place Monday. Previous negotiations have yielded little result.
  • Putin eyeing "Korean scenario" for Ukraine, says Ukrainian military intel chief: Ukraine’s military intelligence head says Russian President Vladimir Putin could be looking to carve Ukraine in two – like North and South Korea. Brig. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine's Defense Intelligence Agency, said Russia’s operations around Kyiv had failed and it was now impossible for the Russian army to overthrow the Ukrainian government. Putin’s war was now focused on the south and the east of the country, he said. “There is reason to believe that he is considering a 'Korean' scenario for Ukraine. That is, [Russian forces] will try to impose a dividing line between the unoccupied and occupied regions of our country. In fact, it is an attempt to create North and South Korea in Ukraine.”
  • US Ambassador to NATO says there's no US policy on regime change in Russia: US President Joe Biden's administration continued on Sunday to clean up his off-the-cuff remark that Vladimir Putin "cannot remain in power," made on his final day in Europe. Julianne Smith, the US's ambassador to NATO, called Biden's surprising comments a "principled human reaction," made after he spent the day seeing the firsthand tragedies of war, when he visited with hundreds of Ukrainian refugees, in a Sunday interview with CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union." Smith said the "US does not have a policy of regime change in Russia, full stop."
  • US senator: "There is one individual that's trying to make regime change in Europe, and that's Vladimir Putin": US Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner avoided directly criticizing President Biden's remark Saturday that Russian President Vladimir Putin "cannot remain in power," instead shifting focus onto Putin, saying, "There is one individual that's trying to make regime change in Europe, and that's Vladimir Putin trying to change the regime in Ukraine." Asked by CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union" if he thinks the United States' policy should be for a regime change, Warner said, "The stated policy is the White House's point and that has not changed. It is up to the Russian people to determine who's going to be in power in the Kremlin."
  • French foreign minister says there will be “collective guilt” if nothing is done to help Mariupol: The French foreign minister Jean Yves Le Drian said during the Doha Forum that there will be "collective guilt" if we do nothing to help Mariupol. "Mariupol is the new Aleppo," Le Drian said. Speaking at the Doha Forum to CNN's Becky Anderson, Le Drian said "there is an invading power, which to reach its own ends, it is taking a population hostage in Mariupol. This is truly unacceptable."