Live: Mariupol’s mayor describes theatre bombing as ‘genocide’

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A volunteer of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces stands next to his APC in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 16, 2022.

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Thursday marks the start of the third week of war in Ukraine, after the invasion launched by Moscow on 24 February.

The fighting has forced more than three million Ukrainians to flee their homes, with thousands of people killed or wounded and widespread damage in the wake of shelling and aerial bombardments.

Follow our live updates below or tune into Euronews in the video player, above.

06:56

Here are the latest key developments to know: 

    Thursday marks the start of the third week of fighting in Ukraine since Russian forces launched an invasion on 24 February. Moscow says it is not responsible for attacks on a theatre and swimming pool facility in the besieged southern Ukraine city of Mariupol where local authorities say more than a thousand civilians were sheltering. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy says the theatre is destroyed, and “the number of dead is not yet known.”  France, the UK and US have called for a United Nations Security Council meeting on Thursday to discuss Ukraine, ahead of a vote on a Russian resolution demanding protection for Ukrainian civilians in “vulnerable situations.” Britain’s UN mission says “Russia is committing war crimes and targeting civilians.” President Putin has spoken out on television to condemn Russians who don’t support his war efforts. “We will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and will simply spit them out” he said. The International Court of Justice, or ICJ, delivered a verdict on the Russia vs Ukraine case, ordering it to suspend its invasion.

13:08

UK to send missile defence system to Poland

Britain’s defence secretary says his country will deploy a missile defense system to NATO ally Poland in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking during a visit to Warsaw on Thursday, Ben Wallace said the UK is sending the Sky Sabre medium-range anti-air missile system to Poland with about 100 personnel. He said the move is “to make sure that we stand alongside Poland in protecting her airspace from any further aggression from Russia.”

The decision comes days after Russian missiles struck a military base in Yavoriv, Ukraine, just a few miles from the border with Poland.

The British promise of military support also comes as nearly 2 million of the more than 3 million refugees to flee Ukraine have arrived in Poland.

“As a NATO ally and a very old ally, it is very right that Britain stands by Poland as Poland carries much of the burden of the consequence of this war and stands tall and brave to stand up to the threats from Russia,” Wallace said.

12:45

French foreign minister: ‘Russia pretends to negotiate’

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has accused Russia of “pretending to negotiate” a ceasefire in Ukraine, while continuing to “make weapons speak.” 

Le Drian compared the situation in Ukraine to Russian tactics in Aleppo, Syria, and Grozny, Chechnya, of “indiscriminate bombardments, so-called humanitarian corridors designed to then accuse the adversary of not respecting them and talks with no other objective than to pretend to negotiate” the diplomat said in an interview with French newspaper Le Parisien. 

Russia-Ukraine talks continued on Wednesday, with Moscow saying they some sort of neutral status for Ukraine was up for discussion. However this concept of Swedish or Austrian-style neutrality proposed by Moscow was rejected by the Ukrainian side.

12:17

Lithuania joins calls for Ukraine no-fly zone

Lithuania’s parliament has unanimously adopted a resolution calling for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, joining countries including Estonia and Slovenia in the appeal.

The resolution said a no-fly zone would allow United Nations peacekeepers to ensure the security of humanitarian corridors and the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants and nuclear waste storage facilities.

Although Lithuania, Estonia and Slovenia are all members of NATO, the military alliance has categorically ruled out any role in setting up and policing a no-fly zone over Ukraine to protect against Russian airstrikes. 

On Wednesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said “this can become even worse if NATO (takes) actions that actually turned this into a full-fledged war between NATO and Russia.”

Prime Minister Janez Jansa of Slovenia has publicly called for a no-fly zone and Estonia’s Parliament also has urged its 29 NATO partners to consider the same.

11:57

‘I knew it was the last lunch’: One refugee’s final day in Kyiv

The day before Russia invaded Ukraine, Iryna Zemlyana made herself a nice breakfast, went to her favourite restaurant and saw her closest friends.

She went to her office to get important documents and to the dentist to find out what to do about her braces during the war. Her dentist laughed when she asked if there was a plan.

But 34-year-old Zemlyana, who has been training journalists to brave tough war conditions for eight years during the war in Ukraine’s east, wanted to be prepared and knew the conflict would break out soon.

“I just really knew that it was the last day of peace,” she said. “I asked my very good friend to have lunch with me. And we went to my favourite restaurant and I ate my favourite dishes and I just knew that it was the last lunch.”
Read the full story here.

Iryna Zemlyana after crossing the Polish border.11:53

Mariupol’s mayor calls theatre bombing ‘genocide’

“The only word to describe what has happened today is genocide, said Mariupol’s mayor, Vadim Boychenko, who described the “horror” after a Russian bomb hit the city’s Drama Theatre.

Local officials said “more than a thousand” civilians had been sheltering there after their own homes were destroyed in the fighting.

11:41

Further Russian airstrikes on Mariupol, Zelenskyy’s office says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office says Russia carried out further airstrikes on the besieged port city of Mariupol early on Thursday morning.

Zelenskyy’s office did not report casualties for the latest strikes. They come amid rescue efforts in the city after a theatre where hundreds had been sheltering was destroyed Wednesday in what Ukrainian authorities say was a Russian airstrike.

“People are escaping from Mariupol by themselves using their own transport,” Zelenskyy’s office said, adding the “risk of death remains high” because of Russian forces previously firing on civilians.

(AP)

11:39

Global economic growth could be more than 1 percentage point lower this year due to Ukraine war, OECD warns

Global economic growth could be more than 1 percentage point lower this year, due to the Ukraine war, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) warned on Thursday.

Inflation is also likely to be higher than it would have been if the war had not broken out. It could be 2 percentage points higher in the euro area and nearly 2.5% higher globally.

“With Russia supplying around 16% of the world’s natural gas and 11% of oil, energy prices have jumped alarmingly,” the OECD said. Gas spot prices more than 10 times higher than a year ago in Europe.

11:30

Kremlin rejects court order to suspend its offensive in Ukraine

The Kremlin on Thursday rejected the decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN’s highest court, to immediately suspend its invasion of Ukraine.

“We will not be able to take this decision into account,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

He said that both Russia and Ukraine had to agree in order to implement the decision.

The ICJ had ordered Russia in a 13-2 decision on Wednesday to immediately suspend hostilities in Ukraine.

“The Russian Federation shall immediately suspend the special military operations it commenced on 24 February 2022,” the court’s president, US judge Joan E. Donoghue, said.

11:18Are you willing to pay higher energy bills if it means cutting off Russian gas and oil?

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