Ukraine war: Kyiv asks ICRC to obtain names of Mariupol residents deported to Russia

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A burned Ukrainian army vehicle stands on a street leading to the airport of the city of Mykolaiv on Friday, 25 March 2022

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War in Ukraine enters its 30th day after the invasion was launched by Moscow on 24 February.

The fighting has forced more than ten 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.

09:40

Saturday’s key points:

    Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk demanded from ICRC to acquire a list of Mariupol residents who are thought to have been taken to Russia. The Ukrainian government claims at least 15,000 citizens of the besieged city were forcibly deported by the Russian troops.

    Shelling and missile strikes continued overnight mostly in eastern Ukraine, with reports of explosions in Vinnytsya, Zhytomyr and Sievierodonetsk, where the Russian troops are accused of shelling food storage facilities.

    The German state of Lower Saxony outlawed the public display of the letter Z in support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with those breaking the law facing criminal charges. Bavaria has made a similar decision on Friday.

    Emmanuel Macron says France, Turkey and Greece will carry out “a humanitarian operation” to evacuate people from the besieged city of Mariupol “in the next few days”. The local authority said on Friday that people are starving.

    Russia’s army chief has said its main war effort will now focus on the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, having ‘mostly accomplished’ first phase objectives. Some see it as a sign that Moscow recognises its early strategy has failed.

11:47

Turkey: Mine-like object spotted in Bosphorus

Turkey’s defence ministry says a “mine-like” object has been “neutralised” at the northern entrance to the Bosporus Strait.

The sighting on Saturday of a possible naval mine followed warnings that explosive devices laid at the entrances to Ukrainian ports could break free in bad weather and cross the Black Sea.

Broadcaster NTV showed images of an object bobbing in the waves off Istanbul’s Sariyer district, on the Bosporus’ European coast. A Coast Guard vessel was stationed nearby.

A Defence Ministry statement said divers were dispatched to deal with the object. According to Demiroren News Agency, it was noticed by fishermen.

On 18 March, Turkey advised ships to keep a “sharp lookout” and report any possible mines that had drifted from Ukrainian ports.

11:08

Kyiv under weekend curfew again 

A new curfew will be introduced in Kyiv from Saturday night to Monday morning, the mayor of the Ukrainian capital, Vitali Klitschko, announced on Saturday.

“The military command has decided to strengthen the curfew. It will last from 8 pm on Saturday to 7 am on Monday,” the mayor said on Telegram.
 

10:21

Biden to meet with Ukrainian foreign and defence ministers

US President Joe Biden will attend a meeting in Warsaw on Saturday morning between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and their Ukrainian counterparts, the White House said.

“This morning, President Biden will make an appearance at the meeting between Secretaries Blinken and Austin and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov,” the White House said in an email, on the second day of the US chief executive’s visit to Poland.

This is President Biden’s first meeting with senior Ukrainian officials since the start of the Russian aggression on 24 February.

10:04

Zelenskyy to Doha Forum: Russia ‘threatens the world’ with nuclear arsenal

Making a surprise video appearance at Qatar’s Doha Forum, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticized Russia for what he described as threatening the world with its nuclear weapons.

“Russia is deliberating bragging they can destroy with nuclear weapons, not only a certain country but the entire planet,” Zelenskyy said in a video message to political and business leaders, which was translated into Arabic.

10:01

Russians reluctant to engage in urban warfare, UK Defence Ministry claims

A daily update by Britain’s Defence Ministry says Russian forces are proving unwilling to engage in large scale urban infantry operations, instead preferring to rely on the indiscriminate use of air and artillery bombardments in an attempt to demoralize defending forces.

Russia continues to besiege several major Ukrainian cities, including Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol.

The assessment says it is likely that Russia will continue to use its heavy firepower on urban areas as it looks to limit its already considerable losses at the cost of further civilian casualties.

09:44

Zelenskyy’s chief of staff asks for weapons’ ‘lend-lease’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff is calling on the West to create a new “lend-lease” program for Ukraine, referring to the World War II effort that sent US supplies to the Soviet Union to help it fight Nazi Germany.

“Today Ukraine is the holy grail of Europe, and without exaggeration, Ukraine is reviving those principles that gave life to current Western civilization,” Andriy Yermak said in an address late Friday.

He said what Ukraine needs most are real-time intelligence and heavy weapons.

Yermak also repeated the Ukrainian president’s calls for help in closing the skies over Ukraine to stop Russian bombing and missile attacks. The West has refused to impose a no-fly zone for fear of widening the war.

He said options include supplying Ukraine with air defence systems or fighter jets or creating an “air police force to protect civilian infrastructure”.

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