Ukraine war: Russia strikes new cities as Zelenskyy decries ‘outright terror’ in Mariupol

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A woman covers herself with a blanket near a damaged fire truck after shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, Thursday, March 10, 2022.

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Russian airstrikes have been reported on Friday on new Ukrainian targets, in Dnipro in central Ukraine and on Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk in the west of the country. Satellite images also indicate a Russian advance towards Kyiv.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described Russia’s refusal to allow evacuations from Mariupol as “outright terror”. Conditions in the large southern seaport where civilians are trapped are increasingly dire.

Washington and Kyiv fear Moscow is paving the way for the possible use of non-conventional weapons in Ukraine — highlighting unsubstantiated Russian claims that the US is developing biological weapons in Ukrainian territory.

Friday’s main developments:

    Russia has launched new airstrikes, on civilian areas of the central city of Dnipro, and on airfields at Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk in the west.Satellite images suggest Russia’s large military convoy outside Kyiv may be on the move towards the capital.President Zelenskyy has accused Russia of “outright terror” by refusing evacuations from Mariupol. Tens of thousands of people in the southern port city are without heat, water and food and the government says more than 1,300 have died in the siege.The UN Security Council will meet on Friday to discuss Russia’s unsubstantiated claims that the United States is conducting “military biological activities” in Ukraine. The White House has called the claim “preposterous”. Zelenskyy says it shows Russia is planning to use such weapons itself in Ukraine.The US Congress has adopted a new federal budget which includes nearly $14 billion (€12.7 billion) for economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine, as well as weapons and ammunition.Reuters reports that Meta is to change its hate speech policy in some countries in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, tolerating calls for violence among Facebook and Instagram users.

See our earlier updates on the war in Ukraine in our blog below. Apologies that due to technical problems we are currently unable to post new entries.

10:13

Russia claims ‘16,000 volunteers’ ready to fight

Vladimir Putin on Friday approved bringing “volunteer” fighters from around the world to join Russia’s Ukraine offensive.The Russian leader said it was in response to the West sending what he called “mercenaries” to fight for Ukraine.”If you see that people want to go there voluntarily, moreover not for money, and help those who live in the Donbas (eastern Ukraine), then you have to meet them and help them to join the combat zone,” Putin said, in response to a proposal from his defence minister.The minister, Sergei Shoigu, said Russia knew of “more than 16,000 applications” from countries in the Middle East, many of them from people who he said fought alongside Russia against the Islamic State group, according to a Kremlin transcript.Russia has been accused for years of using private paramilitaries, such as the nebulous Wagner group, and deploying them in conflict areas, in Syria as in the Central African Republic or Mali.Ukraine has announced the creation of a legion of volunteer foreigners integrated into its armed forces to fight Russian forces on its territory.(AFP and AP)09:59

Russia ‘did not attack Ukraine’ — Lavrov

The Russian foreign minister’s comments on Thursday raise further questions over dialogue with Moscow. No progress was reported after Lavrov met his Ukrainian counterpart in Turkey.

09:36

Casualties reported as Russia targets new cities in central and western Ukraine

Russian airstrikes on residential areas in the central city of Dnipro killed at least one person, according to the Kyiv Independent newspaper quoting emergency services.AP adds that the strikes hit near a kindergarten and apartment buildings, in the first direct attack on the city in central Ukraine since the Russian invasion. One strike hit a shoe factory, sparking a fire.The Kyiv Independent also quotes a military chief in western Ukraine as saying two servicemen were killed and six injured in a Russian air attack on an airfield at Lutsk in the west. Also in western Ukraine, Russian strikes hit an airport near Ivano-Frankiivsk, where the mayor said residents were ordered to shelters after an air raid alert.The attacks have sparked alarm that Putin is looking to expand his forces’ assault to new parts of Ukraine.Meanwhile AP quotes Russia’s defence ministry as saying that pro-Russian forces from the Donetsk People’s Republic have taken control of Volnovakha in eastern Ukraine, and narrowed the ring around the besieged port city of Mariupol.08:51

Russia attacks Kharkiv nuclear research institute 

Russian forces on Thursday shelled a nuclear research institute in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, setting buildings on fire, said Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the Interior Ministry.

Firefighters managed to extinguish the blazes, but Gerashchenko said a shell hit a building that houses equipment that could release radiation if it were damaged. According to the president’s office, there has been no change in the background radiation. (AP)

The reported attack followed more fighting in the northeastern city earlier in the day.

08:35

EU, US and G7 ready to hit Russia’s trade status

The European Union, the United States, together with the Group of Seven nations, are expected to move on Friday to revoke Russia’s “most favoured nation” trade status.This would allow higher tariffs to be imposed on some Russian imports, further putting pressure on the Russian economy which is said to be heading for a deep recession.Reuters reports that President Biden will make an announcement on Friday morning, Washington time.The moves come on top of a raft of unprecedented sanctions, export controls and banking restrictions.Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed such talk on Thursday, saying the country has endured sanctions before. ″We will overcome them,” he said at a televised meeting of government officials. He did, however, acknowledge the sanctions create “certain challenges”. (with AP)08:11

Airstrikes reported in Dnipro and Lutsk

Airstrikes have targeted civilian areas early on Friday, killing one person in Dnipro in central Ukraine, according to Ukrainian emergency services. The city had so far been spared by Russian forces.
“There were three airstrikes on the city, on a kindergarten, a residential building and a two-story shoe factory where a fire then broke out. One person died”, the emergency services said in a statement.
The town of Lutsk in northwestern Ukraine was also targeted by airstrikes.
“The military airfields of Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk (western Ukraine) have been decommissioned”, said Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.
“Explosions on the side of the airport. Everyone safe! Do not publish any photos, addresses or contact details!”, the mayor of Lutsk Ilhor Polishchuk warnedon Facebook.
The municipal heating service Lutskteplo also posted on Facebook about interruptions “due to the explosions”.(AFP)08:04

Zelenskyy accuses Russia of ‘outright terror’ in Mariupol

The Ukrainian president has blasted Moscow for refusing to allow civilian evacuations from the southern port city. Not one person reportedly left Mariupol on Thursday in spite of repeated efforts to organise humanitarian corridors.“They have a clear order to hold Mariupol hostage, to mock it, to constantly bomb and shell it,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address to the nation. He said the Russians began a tank attack right where there was supposed to be a humanitarian corridor. “They want to destroy the people of Mariupol. They want to make them starve,” said Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk. “It’s a war crime.” She claims that more than 1,300 people have died in the 10-day siege.Residents have no heat or phone service, and many have no electricity. Nighttime temperatures are regularly below freezing, and daytime ones normally hover just above it. Bodies are being buried in mass graves. The streets are littered with burned-out cars, broken glass and splintered trees. (AP)07:53

Russian military convoy outside Kyiv ‘on the move’

Satellite photos appear to show that a massive convoy that had been mired outside the Ukrainian capital has split up and fanned out into towns and forests near Kyiv, with artillery pieces moved into firing positions.

The Ukrainian capital has been braced for an onslaught, its mayor boasting that the city has become practically a fortress protected by armed civilians.

The satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies showed that 64-kilometre convoy of vehicles, tanks and artillery has broken up and been redeployed, the US company said. Armoured units were seen in towns near the Antonov Airport north of the city. Some of the vehicles have moved into forests, Maxar reported, with towed howitzers nearby in position to open fire.

The convoy had massed outside the city early last week, but its advance appeared to have stalled amid reports of food and fuel shortages. US officials said Ukrainian troops also targeted the convoy with anti-tank missiles.

A US defence official speaking on condition of anonymity said some vehicles were seen moving off the road into the tree line in recent days, but the official could not confirm whether the convoy had dispersed. (with AP)

The latest British military intelligence assessment of Russian activity suggest renewed offensive operations are likely, including against Kyiv.

07:40

US and Ukraine fear Moscow may be planning chemical attack

The UN Security Council will meet on Friday to discuss Russia’s claims that the United States is conducting “military biological activities” in Ukraine.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki Psaki called the claim “preposterous.”

“This is all an obvious ploy by Russia to try to justify its further premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine,” Psaki tweeted.

Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy said the accusation itself is a bad sign.

“That worries me very much because we have often been convinced that if you want to know Russia’s plans, they are what Russia accuses others of,” he said in his nightly address to the nation.

“What does it mean, that we’re being accused of preparing chemical attacks? Have you decided to conduct a dechemicalisation of Ukraine? With what? With ammonia? With phosphorus? What else have you prepared for us?”

“What do you plan to hit with chemical weapons? A maternity hospital in Maripul? A church in Kharkiv? A children’s hospital … Or a laboratory, most of which are from Soviet times and do regular science, regular. Not war technology,” he went on.

Russia has a track record of stocking and occasionally using non-conventional weapons.

(with AP)

07:19Friday’s main developments:

    Russia has launched new airstrikes, on civilian areas of the central city of Dnipro, and on airfields at Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk in the west.Satellite images suggest Russia’s large military convoy outside Kyiv may be on the move towards the capital. President Zelenskyy has accused Russia of “outright terror” by refusing evacuations from Mariupol. Tens of thousands of people in the southern port city are without heat, water and food and the government says more than 1,300 have died in the siege.The UN Security Council will meet on Friday to discuss Russia’s unsubstantiated claims that the United States is conducting “military biological activities” in Ukraine. The White House has called the claim “preposterous”. Zelenskyy says it shows Russia is planning to use such weapons itself in Ukraine.The US Congress has adopted a new federal budget which includes nearly $14 billion (€12.7 billion) for economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine, as well as weapons and ammunition.Reuters reports that Meta is to change its hate speech policy in some countries in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, tolerating calls for violence among Facebook and Instagram users.

For a summary of Thursday’s developments click here.

Additional sources • Reuters

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