A woman carries a child as Ukrainian refugees cross the Ukrainian-Romanian border in Siret, northern Romania, on March 20, 2022.
ARMEND NIMANI / AFP
The United Nations says 10 million people have fled their homes in Ukraine, many heading abroad, in the three and a half weeks since Russia invaded the country and launched a full-scale war.
In that time, thousands have been killed or wounded as Vladimir Putin’s forces target residential areas. Shelling and airstrikes have caused widespread damage to buildings and infrastructure.
Moscow denies targeting civilians.
Follow our live blog below for Sunday’s latest developments and watch our live TV coverage in the video player above.
Today’s key points:
The content of the article:
- 1 Today’s key points:
- 1.1 Protesters in Poland block lorries heading for Belarus
- 1.2 10 million people have fled homes in Ukraine — UN
- 1.3 Pope slams war in Ukraine as ‘sacrilege’ and ‘repugnant’
- 1.4 New Australian sanctions target Russian aluminium
- 1.5 Ukraine ‘suspends activity’ of Russia-linked political parties
- 1.6 More urban bombardment likely, says UK defence ministry
- 1.7 ‘Huge economic losses’ for Ukraine after Mariupol steel plant bombing — MP
- 1.8 Russian military ‘bombed Mariupol art school sheltering hundreds’
- 1.9 Thousands of Mariupol residents ‘forcibly relocated to Russia’
- Ukrainian authorities say the Russian military bombed an art school in Mariupol where about 400 people had taken refuge. The attack has not been confirmed and the number of casualties is unknown.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of committing war crimes in Mariupol, saying in his latest video address that the siege of the city will go down in history for “terror that will be remembered for centuries to come”.Local authorities the besieged and battered southeastern port city say thousands of residents there have been taken by force across the border into Russia. The claim has not been confirmed.The Russian military said on Sunday morning that it has carried out a new series of strikes on Ukrainian military facilities with long-range hypersonic and cruise missiles. On Saturday it said the Kinzhal hypersonic missile was used for the first time in combat to destroy an ammunition depot in western Ukraine.The UN said on Sunday that 10 million people in Ukraine have now fled their homes since the Russian invasion.President Zelenskyy has moved to suspend the activities of 11 political parties with links to Russia.
Protesters in Poland block lorries heading for Belarus
Officials in Poland say that trucks headed for Belarus are backed up for 40 kilometres while they wait to reach the Koroszczyn border point as a group of protesters is blocking the road there. The protesters are calling for a ban on trade with Russia and its ally Belarus.
The protesters, Ukrainians and Poles, have been blocking access to the crossing – on and off – for some two weeks, to pressure Moscow into ending its war on Ukraine.
The latest round of the “NO Trade with Russia!” protest in eastern Poland began early Saturday.
Some 950 trucks were waiting to cross into Belarus early Sunday, according to spokesman for the local tax office, Michal Derus. The waiting time was 32 hours, he said.
The road leading to the border point has been closed and the police were separating the protesters from the trucks and the drivers, road infrastructure authorities said.
The pressure of truck traffic on the Koroszczyn border point increased after Poland’s largest crossing into Belarus, in Kuznica, was closed in November, following border guard clashes with Middle East migrants who were trying to illegally cross into Poland.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has called on the European Union to halt all land and sea trade with Russia. (AP)
10 million people have fled homes in Ukraine — UN
The claim comes from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, via Twitter. The figure amounts to almost a quarter of the country’s population, now believed to be either displaced inside Ukraine, or to have gone abroad.
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Sunday that 3,389,044 Ukrainians had left the country since the beginning of the Russian invasion on February 24. Around 90% of those who fled are women and children. Men between the ages of 18 and 60 can be called up and cannot leave.
As of last Wednesday, UN and related agencies estimated that some 6.48 million people were internally displaced in Ukraine.
Unicef, the United Nations children’s agency, said more than 1.5 million children were among those who fled abroad, and warned that the risks of trafficking and exploitation of human beings they face were “real and growing”.
Pope slams war in Ukraine as ‘sacrilege’ and ‘repugnant’
Pope Francis has denounced Russia’s “repugnant war” against Ukraine as “cruel and sacrilegious inhumanity.”
In some of his strongest words yet since Russia’s invasion on February 24, the pope told thousands of people in St Peter’s Square on Sunday that every day brings more atrocities in a “senseless massacre”.
“There is no justification for this,’’ Francis said, again stopping short of naming Russia as the aggressor. Pontiffs typically have decried wars and their devastating toll on civilians without citing warmongers by name.
Francis also called on “all actors in the international community” to work toward ending the war. “Again this week, missiles, bombs, rained down on the elderly, children and pregnant mothers,’’ the pope said. His thoughts, he said, went to the millions who flee. “And I feel great pain for those who don’t even have the chance to escape.’’
The pope said that “above all, defenceless life should get respected and protected, not eliminated.” That priority “comes before any strategy,’’ Francis said, before leading those in the square in a moment of silent prayer. (AP)
New Australian sanctions target Russian aluminium
Australia on Sunday passed new sanctions against Russia by banning exports of alumina and aluminium ores, including bauxite, and vowed to provide more weapons and humanitarian aid to Kyiv.
The ban on such exports is intended to hurt aluminum production in Russia, which depends on Australia for 20% of its alumina, according to Canberra.
A joint statement from several ministries said that the move will limit Russia’s capacity to produce aluminium, which is a critical export for Russia.
The government also said it will donate at least 70,000 tonnes of thermal coal to Ukraine to meet its energy needs. Australian coal producers have come into high demand from Ukraine and other countries such as Poland that have been reliant on Russian supplies.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has ordered activities of 11 political parties with links to Russia to be suspended.
The largest of them is the Opposition Platform for Life, which has 44 out of 450 seats in the country’s parliament. The party is led by Viktor Medvedchuk, who has friendly ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is the godfather of Medvedchuk’s daughter.
Also on the list is the Nashi (Ours) party led by Yevheniy Murayev. Before the Russian invasion. the British authorities had warned that Russia wanted to install Murayev as the leader of Ukraine.
Speaking in a video address early Sunday, Zelenskyy said that “given a large-scale war unleashed by the Russian Federation and links between it and some political structures, the activities of a number of political parties is suspended for the period of the martial law.” He added that “activities by politicians aimed at discord and collaboration will not succeed.”
Zelenskyy’s announcement follows the introduction of the martial law that envisages a ban on parties associated with Russia. (AP)
More urban bombardment likely, says UK defence ministry
The latest military intelligence assessment from the UK’s Ministry of Defence links Russia’s “indiscriminate shelling of urban areas” to the “limited progress” it has made in capturing Ukrainian cities.
It forecasts further “heavy firepower” targeting urban areas and causing more civilian casualties as Russia looks to “limit its own already considerable casualties”.
‘Huge economic losses’ for Ukraine after Mariupol steel plant bombing — MP
The Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, one of the largest in Europe, was heavily damaged by shelling, Ukrainian officials said on Sunday.
“The economic losses for Ukraine are huge. The environment is devastated,” said Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko. She posted a video on her Twitter account showing thick columns of smoke rising of an industrial complex. Euronews cannot verify its content.
Another politician, Serhiy Taruta, wrote on his Facebook page that Russian forces besieging Mariupol “virtually destroyed the factory”.
Russian military ‘bombed Mariupol art school sheltering hundreds’
Ukrainian authorities said on Sunday that the Russian military bombed an art school where about 400 people had taken refuge in Mariupol.
Local authorities said the school’s building was destroyed and people could remain under the rubble. The attack has not been confirmed and there was no immediate word on casualties.
“Yesterday (Saturday), the Russian occupiers dropped bombs on the G12 art school located on the left bank of Mariupol, where 400 Mariupol residents — women, children and the elderly — had refugees”, said the local authority of this port city besieged by the forces of Moscow.
“We know that the building was destroyed and that peaceful people are still under the rubble. The death toll is being clarified,” it added in a statement posted on Telegram.
Elsewhere in Mariupol, a group of 19 children, most of them orphans, were said to be “in great danger”, stranded in a sanatorium, their guardians having been unable to recover them because of the fighting, their relatives and witnesses told AFP on Saturday.
Last Wednesday Russian forces bombed a theatre in the city where civilians were sheltering. City authorities said 130 people were rescued but many more could remain under the debris.
Capturing Mariupol —- a city of 450,000 before the war — would be a strategic coup for Russia. The relentless bombardment by Putin’s forces has left hundreds of thousands of people trapped in appalling conditions. Amid a shortage of water, gas and electricity, people have spent nights spent in cellars with sub-zero temperatures. Bodies have been left lying in the streets for several days.
Thousands of Mariupol residents ‘forcibly relocated to Russia’
The city council in Mariupol has claimed that Russian soldiers forcibly relocated several thousand city residents, mostly women and children, to Russia.
The governor of the Donetsk region, Pavlo Kirilenko, also accused Moscow on Sunday of having “forcibly deported more than 1,000 inhabitants of Mariupol” living in the east of the city to Russia, without specifying when the alleged relocations took place.
Kirilenko said Russian forces have set up “filtration camps” where they “check the telephones” of Mariupol inhabitants before “confiscating their identity documents”. “Then they are sent to Russia,” he said on Facebook, adding that “their fate on the other side (of the border) is unknown”.
The claims by both the governor and Mariupol council have not been verified.
Russian news agencies have said buses have carried several hundred people Moscow calls refugees, from the southeastern port to Russia in recent days.
The vast majority of people trying to flee the fighting have looked to move west to more peaceful parts of Ukraine, or abroad.
Mariupol authorities said on Sunday that nearly 40,000 people have fled over the past week — almost 10% of its population. The city council said Sunday 39,426 residents have safely evacuated from Mariupol — using more than 8,000 of their own vehicles to leave via a humanitarian corridor via Berdyansk to Zaporizhzhia.
Several efforts have been made to create humanitarian corridors to evacuate people from the bombarded and besieged city. On Saturday Ukraine’s deputy prime minister described the latest attempt as “partially operational”.
For a summary of Saturday’s developments in the war Russia launched by invading Ukraine, click here.