Ukraine war live updates: Kyiv refuses Russia’s ultimatum to surrender Mariupol

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Service members of pro-Russian troops are seen atop of tanks during Ukraine-Russia conflict on the outskirts of the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine March 20,

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Monday marks the 25th day of war in Ukraine 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.

06:51

Monday’s key points: 

    Ukrainian deputy prime minister and defence minister both refused Moscow’s ultimatum for the surrender of the southern port city of Mariupol, asking for the humanitarian corridor to be established as soon as possible — an option the Kremlin refuses.Earlier on Sunday President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of committing war crimes in Mariupol, saying in a video address that the siege of the city will go down in history for “terror that will be remembered for centuries to come”.Only four out of seven agreed humanitarian corridors were functioning on Sunday, with some 7,000 civilians evacuated, Ukrainian authorities said.At least eight people killed after the shelling of a shopping centre on the outskirts of Kyiv.The UN said on Sunday that 10 million people in Ukraine have now fled their homes since the Russian invasion.Radiation monitors at Chernobyl ‘have stopped working’, says Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory agency

17:54

Alleged attack on Russian teenager in Germany is ‘fake’, say police

An alleged fatal attack on a Russian teenager in Germany by a group of Ukrainians is “fake,” police have said.

Authorities in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia said they had “no information about such a violent assault or a death”, despite viral video footage of a woman crying as she shared a friend’s story about an alleged assault on a 16-year-old Russian-speaking boy in the town of Euskirchen.

Read more in our story here:

Alleged attack on Russian teenager is ‘fake,’ says German police

17:47

Russians claim shelled Kyiv shopping centre was weapons storage facility

The Russian military says it targeted a shopping centre on the outskirts of Kyiv because it was being used to store rockets. 

At least eight people were killed in Sunday’s attack on the Retroville shopping centre in northwest Kyiv. 

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on Monday that Ukrainian forces were using the shopping mall to reload multiple rocket launchers and store rockets used for shelling Russian troops.

He said that a battery of multiple rocket launchers and ammunition for them were destroyed in the strike. The defense ministry spokesman’s claims could not independently verified.

Residents of a nearby building, whose windows were blown out by the blast, said they had seen a mobile rocket launcher near the Retroville shopping centre several days earlier.

The shopping center in the densely populated Podil district was reduced to a smoldering ruin after being hit late Sunday by shelling that killed eight people, according to Ukrainian emergency officials. The attack shattered every window in a neighboring high-rise.

17:15

EU Commissioner highlights ‘huge risk’ of trafficking for Ukrainian women and children

There is a “huge risk” that Ukrainian children and women fleeing the war may fall victim to human trafficking, the European Union’s Home Affairs Commissioner warned on Monday.

Speaking during a visit to Estonia, Ylva Johansson told reporters there had been only a few reports of trafficking but that one big concern is the number of orphans in Ukraine, and the risks of vulnerable children being trafficked or being the victims of forced adoption.

Read more in our story here: 

‘Huge risk’ Ukrainian children can fall into trafficking

15:56

15:38

Russian court bans Facebook and Instagram for ‘extremism’

A Moscow court banned the Facebook and Instagram social media networks on Monday, saying they carry out “extremist” activities.

“The court has satisfied a lawsuit filed by the First Deputy Prosecutor General against the holding company Meta Platforms Inc. relating to the prohibition of its activities on Russian territory,” the court said in a message on Telegram.

Social networks run by Meta are “banned for extremist activity”, the court added.

US-headquartered Meta is the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, but also of the messaging application WhatsApp, which is not affected by this decision because the court ruled that it was not used as a means of “public dissemination of information”.

Russia’s security services, the FSB, earlier on Monday demanded an “immediate” ban on Facebook and Instagram, accusing them of activities “directed against Russia and its armed forces”.

Read more at our story here: 

‘Extremist’ Instagram and Facebook banned in Russia

euronewsMeta’s Instagram and Facebook have been banned, but the court decided WhatsApp could stay.

14:27

People in Mariupol are being hit ‘blindly and indiscriminately’

Greece’s consul general in Mariupol, who arrived in Greece after being the last European Union diplomat to be evacuated from the besieged Ukrainian city, said civilians in the city were being hit “blindly and indiscriminately.”

He estimated there were thousands of civilian victims.

“Mariupol will enter the list of cities that were completely destroyed by war,” Manolis Androulakis said Sunday after arriving at Athens airport, comparing it to cities devastated by past conflicts such as Chechnya’s Grozny, Syria’s Aleppo, Britain’s Coventry, Spain’s Guernica, and the Soviet Union’s Leningrad, now St. Petersburg.

Androulakis left Mariupol on 15 March, on a day when tens of thousands of people managed to flee the city, and reached Moldova three days later. He had earlier assisted in evacuating dozens of Greek nationals and members of Ukraine’s Greek community from the city.

Androulakis urged people to “unite our voices for a ceasefire. Because at the moment civilians are being hit, blindly and indiscriminately”.

13:41

Radiation monitors at Chernobyl ‘have stopped working’

Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory agency says the radiation monitors around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the site of the world’s worst meltdown in 1986, have stopped working.

In a statement Monday, the agency also said there are no longer firefighters available in the region to protect forests tainted by decades of radioactivity as the weather warms. The plant was seized by Russian forces on 24 February. 

According to Monday’s statement, the combination of risks could mean a “significant deterioration” of the ability to control the spread of radiation not just in Ukraine but beyond the country’s borders in weeks and months to come.

Management of the Chernobyl plant said on Sunday that 50 staff members who had been working nonstop since the Russian takeover have been rotated out and replaced.

12:06

More progress needed for Putin-Zelenskyy meeting

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says more progress must be made in talks with Ukraine before Russian President Vladimir Putin can meet his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Peskov says that “in order to talk about a meeting of the two presidents, first it’s necessary to do the homework, it’s necessary to hold talks and agree on the results.”

He adds that “so far significant movement has not been achieved” in the talks and that “there are not any agreements which they could commit to” at a joint meeting.

Ukraine and Russia’s delegations have held several rounds of talks both in-person and more recently via video link. Zelenskyy has said he would be prepared to meet Putin directly to seek agreements on key issues.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrive for a working session at the Elysee Palace, Dec. 9, 2019, in Paris.11:56

Latest from Kyiv

Here’s Euronews’ international correspondent Anelise Borges on the shelling of a shopping centre in Kyiv. 

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