A Ukranian armoured vehicle drives along a road in the Ukranian capital Kyiv on March 19, 2022.
A Ukranian armoured vehicle drives along a road in the Ukranian capital Kyiv on March 19, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

War rages in Ukraine for the 24th day on Saturday as Russian troops besiege and bombard cities in the biggest attack on a European nation since World War Two, which has also led to the biggest refugee crisis since then. Follow the latest developments from the war zone:


Kyiv says 228 killed in capital since start of war, including four children

Kyiv city authorities on Saturday said 228 people had been killed in the capital since Russia's attack of Ukraine began, including four children.

A further 912 people have been wounded, the Kyiv city administration said in a statement.

Ukraine to receive more US Javelin and Stinger missiles within days

Ukraine will receive a new shipment of US weapons within days, including Javelin and Stinger missiles, Ukraines National Security and Defence Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said in a televised interview on Saturday.

The (weapons) will be on the territory of our country in the nearest future. We are talking about days, Danilov said.

Ukraine's allies have delivered planeloads of weapons shipments to bolster its military against the Russian attack.

Satellite view of burning, heavily damaged apartment buildings and stores, as Russia's attack of Ukraine continues, Mariupol.
Satellite view of burning, heavily damaged apartment buildings and stores, as Russia's attack of Ukraine continues, Mariupol. Image Credit: REUTERS

Zelensky blasts Swiss banks, Nestle over 'business as usual' with Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday blasted firms including Nestle for carrying on business as usual with Russia "even though our children are dying", in a live address to a Swiss rally.

Zelensky urged Swiss companies to stop doing business in Russia and told the country's banks to freeze funds belonging to the Kremlin elite.

Speaking to a rally outside the Swiss parliament in Bern, Zelensky condemned firms that maintained business as usual despite the siege of Mariupol.

The thousands of demonstrators gathered in the square in front of the Federal Palace heard Zelensky's nine-minute speech translated in German, though technical problems interrupted the video from Kyiv.

Zelensky criticised Swiss companies for continuing to do business in Russia, singling out food giant Nestle.

The company's slogan is "good food, good life", he said.

Volodymyr Zelensky

"Business works in Russia even though our children are dying and our cities are being destroyed," and while people in Mariupol were "without food, without water, without electricity, under bombardment".

Zelensky said it was "painful" that those behind the conflict had funds stashed in Switzerland.

"The money of the people who unleashed this war is in your banks. Help fight this. So that their funds are frozen," he said, urging them to join the "fight against evil".

Zelensky called for them to be stripped of their properties and privileges, to cheers from the crowd.

Boris Johnson: Russian win would bring 'age of intimidation'

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Saturday that Russia's attack of Ukraine was a "turning point for the world," arguing that a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin's forces would herald "a new age of intimidation."

But the British leader was accused by opponents of making a crass comparison by likening Ukraine's fight against attack to the UK's exit from the European Union.

Speaking to a Conservative Party conference in Blackpool, northwest England, Johnson claimed Putin was "terrified" that the example of a free Ukraine would spark a pro-democracy revolution in Russia.

"That is why he is trying so brutally to snuff out the flame of freedom in Ukraine and that's why it is so vital that he fails," Johnson said.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

"A victorious Putin will not stop in Ukraine. And the end of freedom in Ukraine will mean the extinction of any hope of freedom in Georgia and then Moldova, it will mean the beginning of a new age of intimidation across Eastern Europe from the Baltic to the Black Sea," Johnson said.

Johnson praised Ukrainians' defense of their country, and added that it was also "the instinct" of people in the UK "to choose freedom." As an example, he said British voters opted in a 2016 referendum to leave the EU "because they wanted to be free to do things differently and for this country to be able to run itself."

Pope visits Ukrainian children war refugees in Rome hospital

Pope Francis on Saturday made a surprise visit to young Ukrainian war refugees being treated in a paediatric hospital in Rome.

One of the pictures released by the Vatican showed the pope talking to a girl with a fully bandaged head and what appeared to be a tube in her throat.

Nineteen Ukrainian children are currently being treated at the two branches of the Bambino Gesu hospital for cancer, neurological conditions or serious war injuries caused by explosions, the Vatican said. About 50 children from Ukraine have been treated at the hospital since the war began.

"The blood and tears of children, the suffering of women and men who are defending their land or fleeing from bombardments shakes our conscience," Francis said in a message to a Church conference in Slovakia on Friday.

Pope Francis
Pope Francis visits Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital to thank for caring for Ukrainian children, who fled the Russian attack of Ukraine, in Rome, Italy, March 19, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

Chinese envoy says NATO shouldn't expand east

A Chinese diplomat says NATO should stick to what he claimed was a promise not to expand eastward.

In a speech on Saturday, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng criticised the far-reaching Western sanctions imposed on Russia after it attacked Ukraine and said the root cause of the war in Ukraine "lies in the Cold War mentality and power politics."

Echoing a Kremlin talking point, the Chinese envoy said if NATO's "enlargement goes further, it would be approaching the 'outskirts of Moscow' where a missile could hit the Kremlin within seven or eight minutes."

"Pushing a major country, especially a nuclear power, to the corner would entail repercussions too dreadful to contemplate," he said.

He expressed an understanding for Russian President Vladimir Putin's oft-repeated position, saying that NATO should have disintegrated and "been consigned to history alongside the Warsaw Pact."

"However, rather than breaking up, NATO has kept strengthening and expanding, and intervened militarily in countries like Yugoslavia, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan," he said. "One could well anticipate the consequences going down this path. The crisis in Ukraine is a stern warning."

He said Chinese President Xi Jinping in talks with US President Joe Biden on Friday urged the parties in Ukraine to demonstrate "political will and keep the dialogue and negotiation going. The US and NATO should also have dialogue with Russia to address the crux of the Ukraine crisis and ease the security concerns of both Russia and Ukraine."

Russians push deeper into Mariupol as locals plead for help

Russian forces pushed deeper into Ukraine's besieged and battered port city of Mariupol on Saturday, where heavy fighting shut down a major steel plant and local authorities pleaded for more Western help.

The fall of Mariupol, the scene of some of the war's worst suffering, would mark a major battlefield advance for the Russians, who are largely bogged down outside major cities more than three weeks into the biggest land attack in Europe since World War II.

Service members of pro-Russian troops in uniforms without insignia drive an armoured vehicle during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, on March 19, 2022.
Service members of pro-Russian troops in uniforms without insignia drive an armoured vehicle during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, on March 19, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

Ukraine calls on China to 'condemn Russian barbarism'

Ukraine on Saturday called on China to join the West in condemning "Russian barbarism", after the US warned Beijing of consequences if it backed Moscow's attack on the country.

"China can be the global security system's important element if it makes a right decision to support the civilised countries' coalition and condemn Russian barbarism," presidential aide Mikhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter.

More than 3.3m flee Ukraine, 6.5m internally displaced

More than 3.3 million refugees have now fled Ukraine since the Russian att, the United Nations said Saturday, while nearly 6.5 million are thought to be internally displaced within the country.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said 3,328,692 Ukrainians had left since the war began on February 24, with another 58,030 joining the exodus since Friday's update.

"People continue to flee because they are afraid of bombs, airstrikes and indiscriminate destruction," said UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi.

"Aid is vital but can't stop fear. Only stopping the war can."

Some 90 per cent of those who have fled are women and children. Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 are eligible for military call-up and cannot leave.

Refugees from Ukraine are seen in front of the Przemysl main railway station, where they wait to take a buses for further transportation, March 19, 2022.
Refugees from Ukraine are seen in front of the Przemysl main railway station, where they wait to take a buses for further transportation, March 19, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

UK warns against post-Ukraine reset with Putin

The West must not try to "normalise relations" with Russian President Vladimir Putin after his attack of Ukraine, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Saturday, calling the crisis a "turning point for the world".

"There are some around the world... who say that we're better off making accommodations with tyranny... I believe they are profoundly wrong," the British leader told his Conservative Party's Spring conference in Blackpool, northwest England.

"To try to renormalise relations with Putin after this, as we did in 2014, would be to make exactly the same mistake again, and that is why Putin must fail.

"This is a turning point for the world and it's a moment of choice. It's a choice between freedom and oppression," he added.

His Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned Saturday that peace talks to end the conflict could be a "smokescreen" for more extreme Russian military manoeuvres.

"I'm very sceptical," Truss told The Times newspaper in an interview.

"What we've seen is an attempt to create space for the Russians to regroup. Their attack isn't going according to plan.

"I fear the negotiation is yet another attempt to create a diversion and create a smokescreen. I don't think we're yet at a point for negotiation," she added.

Truss echoed comments by British intelligence that Putin could turn to "more and more extreme actions", noting "appalling atrocities already".

Russia fires at Kyiv suburbs, eastern Donetsk

Over the past 24 hours, Russian forces have fired at eight cities and villages in the eastern Donetsk region, using aviation, rocket and heavy artillery.

Ukraine's National Police said in a statement on Telegram Saturday that at least 37 residential buildings and infrastructure facilities were damaged, dozens of civilians were killed and injured as a result of the attacks. The Russian military were firing at Mariupol, Avdiivka, Kramatorsk, Pokrovsk, Novoselydivka, Verkhnotoretske, Krymka, and Stepne.

The statement said that "among the civilian objects that Russia destroyed are multistory and private houses, a school, a kindergarten, a museum, a shopping center and administrative buildings."

Kyiv northwestern suburbs of Bucha, Hostomel, Irpin and Moshchun have also been under fire on Saturday. The Kyiv regional administration reported that the city of Slavutich north of the capital was "completely isolated," and that Russian military equipment was spotted in the region northeast and east of Kyiv.

Zelensky calls for fresh talks, Russia says entered Mariupol centre

Ukraine's leader Volodymyr Zelensky made a fresh appeal for talks with Moscow Saturday, while Russia said its soldiers had entered the centre of besieged port city Mariupol.

As bitter fighting between local forces and Russian troops rages across the country more than three weeks into the attack, the two sides are already holding negotiations remotely.

But so far, as in previous rounds, the talks have yielded little progress, with both sides blaming the other, and none have been at the presidential level.

"This is the time to meet, to talk, time for renewing territorial integrity and fairness for Ukraine," Zelensky said in a video posted to Facebook.

"Otherwise, Russia's losses will be such, that several generations will not recover."

Russia's offensive remains largely stalled, a US defence official said, with troops about 30 kilometres (20 miles) east of the capital Kyiv and facing heavy resistance.

The official added that Russian forces had made no further progress into the northeastern city of Kharkiv, which they have encircled, and that Ukrainians were also defending the northern city of Chernihiv.

Britain's defence ministry said Russia was struggling to provide its forward troops "with even basic essentials such as food and fuel" because of Ukrainian attacks on their supply lines.

Poland proposes total EU ban on trade with Russia, PM says

Poland has proposed to the European Union that the bloc impose a total ban on trade with Russia, Prime Minister Mateus Morawiecki said on Saturday, urging tougher sanctions on Moscow for its attack on Ukraine.

"Poland is proposing to add a trade blockade to this package of sanctions as soon as possible, (including) both of its seaports... but also a ban on land trade. Fully cutting off Russia's trade would further force Russia to consider whether it would be better to stop this cruel war," Morawiecki said.

Earlier this week EU member states agreed on a fourth package of sanctions against Russia. Details were not disclosed, but the French presidency said Russia's "most-favoured nation" trade status would be revoked.

Rescuers work at the site of the National Academy of State Administration building damaged by shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Rescuers work at the site of the National Academy of State Administration building damaged by shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Image Credit: AP

Ukraine sees no major changes in fighting over past 24 hours, says official

Ukrainian authorities have not noticed any significant shifts over the past 24 hours in front line areas where Ukrainian troops are battling Russian forces, presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said on Saturday.

In an online video address, he said fighting was ongoing and named the southeastern city of Mariupol, the southern cities of Mykolaiv and Kherson, and the eastern town of Izyum as particular hotspots where Russian troops were on the offensive.

Ukraine says 112 children died in war so far

The Prosecutor General's office in Ukraine says a total of 112 children have been died in the country since the start of the Russian military operations.

The office says more than 140 children have been wounded since Feb. 24.

According to the UN children's agency, more than 1.5 million children had fled Ukraine. Most families have fled to Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Moldova and Romania.

UNCIEF says women and girls travelling on their own are especially at risk of gender-based violence.

Russia steps up threat to target arms shipments to Ukraine

Russia stepped up warnings that its forces would target convoys carrying weapons into Ukraine, five days after a deadly missile strike on a Ukrainian military training facility near Poland.

"We clearly said that any cargo moving into Ukrainian territory which we would believe is carrying weapons would be fair game," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a interview with state-run RT on Friday.

The US and its European allies have been accelerating weapons shipments to Ukraine, helping it to stall a Russian attack now in its fourth week. The training center targeted had been used by NATO as recently as February.

A cloud of smoke raises after an explosion in Lviv, western Ukraine, Friday, March 18, 2022. Image Credit: AP

Ukraine military orders 38-hour curfew in southern Zaporizhzhia city

The Ukrainian military imposed a 38-hour curfew in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia, starting at 1400 GMT on Saturday and ending early on Monday, deputy mayor Anatoliy Kurtiev said.

"Do not go outside at this time!" he said in an online post.

The regional capital has become an important point of transit for some of the 35,000 people estimated to have fled the besieged Mariupol city in the southeast.

Russia says using hypersonic weapons in western Ukraine

Russia used its newest Kinzhal hypersonic missiles for the first time in Ukraine on Friday to destroy a weapons storage site in the country's west, the defence ministry said.

"The Kinzhal aviation missile system with hypersonic aeroballistic missiles destroyed a large underground warehouse containing missiles and aviation ammunition" in the village of Deliatyn in the Ivano-Frankivsk region," the Russian defence ministry said on Saturday.

State news agency RIA Novosti said it was the first use of the Kinzhal hypersonic weapons during what Moscow calls a "special military operation" in pro-Western Ukraine.

Ukraine hopes ten humanitarian corridors will operate on Saturday

A humanitarian corridor for evacuations in Ukraine's Luhansk region will be opened on Saturday morning, regional governor Serhiy Gaiday said on Telegram.

"A humanitarian corridor has been agreed, we will try to evacuate people and bring food today. A 'regime of silence' has been agreed for March 19, starting at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT)," Gaiday said.

She said a corridor had been agreed for the besieged city of Mariupol, although the authorities' previous efforts to evacuate civilians there under a temporary ceasefire have mostly failed, with both sides trading blame.

Zelensky says 9,000 leave besieged Mariupol

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russian forces are blockading Ukraine’s largest cities to create a “humanitarian catastrophe” with the aim of persuading Ukrainians to cooperate with them.

He says Russians are preventing supplies from reaching surrounded cities in the center and southeast of the country.

“This is a totally deliberate tactic,” Zelensky said in his nighttime video address to the nation, filmed outside in Kyiv, with the presidential office in the lamplight behind him.

He said more than 9,000 people were able to leave besieged Mariupol in the past day, and in all more than 180,000 people have been able to flee to safety through humanitarian corridors.

He again appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold talks with him directly. “It’s time to meet, time to speak,” he said. “I want to be heard by everyone, especially in Moscow.”

He noted that the 200,000 people gathered in and around a Moscow stadium on Friday for a flag-waving rally was about the same number of Russian troops sent into Ukraine three weeks ago.

Zelensky then asked his audience to picture the stadium filled with the thousands of Russians who have been killed, wounded or maimed in the fighting.

3 cosmonauts arrive at space station in yellow and blue

Three Russian cosmonauts have arrived at the International Space Station wearing flight suits in yellow and blue colours that match the Ukrainian flag.

The men were the first new arrivals on the space station since the start of the Russian military operations in Ukraine last month.

Video of one of the cosmonauts taken as the capsule prepared to dock with the space station showed him wearing a blue flight suit. It was unclear what, if any, message the yellow uniforms they changed into were intended to send.

Oleg Artemyev was asked about the yellow flight suits when the newly arrived cosmonauts were able to talk to family back on Earth.

He said every crew chooses its own flight suits, so that they are not all the same.

“It became our turn to pick a color. But in fact, we had accumulated a lot of yellow material so we needed to use it. So that’s why we had to wear yellow,” he said.

Artemyev, Denis Matveyev and Sergey Korsakov blasted off successfully from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan in their Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft at 8:55pm Friday (11:55 a.m. EDT). They smoothly docked at the station just over three hours later, joining two Russians, four Americans and a German on the orbiting outpost.

Ukraine 'temporarily' loses access to Sea of Azov

Ukraine lost access to the Azov Sea during Russia’s attack on the southern port city of Mariupol, the Ukrainian General Staff said late Friday.

Mariupol is the key commercial port on the Azov Sea, which is connected to the much larger Black Sea by a narrow strait.

The General Staff said the Russian forces were still trying to storm Mariupol and the fighting was ongoing. It was unclear from its statement whether the Russians have seized the city.

Putin appears at big rally

Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared at a huge flag-waving rally at a packed Moscow stadium on Friday and lavished praise on his troops fighting in Ukraine, three weeks into the military operation that has led to heavier-than-expected Russian losses on the battlefield and increasingly authoritarian rule at home.

Russian President Vladimir Putin seen on the big screen as he delivers his speech at the concert marking the eighth anniversary of the referendum on the state status of Crimea and Sevastopol and its reunification with Russia, in Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 18, 2022, with a banner reading "For Russia" projected in the backgroud. Image Credit: Vladimir Astapkovich/Sputnik Pool Photo via AP

In a rare public appearance by Putin since the start of the war, he praised Russian troops: “Shoulder to shoulder, they help and support each other,” he said. “We have not had unity like this for a long time,” he added to cheers from the crowd.

Moscow police said more than 200,000 people were in and around the Luzhniki stadium. The event included patriotic songs, including a performance of “Made in the U.S.S.R.,” with the opening lines “Ukraine and Crimea, Belarus and Moldova, it’s all my country.”

Video feeds of the event cut out at times but showed a loudly cheering crowd that broke into chants of “Russia!”

Putin’s appearance marked a change from his relative isolation of recent weeks, when he has been shown meeting with world leaders and his staff either at extraordinarily long tables or via videoconference.

Ukrainian firefighters extinguish a blaze at a warehouse after a bombing in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 17, 2022. Image Credit: AP

Key developments in the Russia-Ukraine conflict

— Russia has attacked the outskirts of the western city of Lviv, a crossroads for people fleeing the conflict and for others entering to deliver aid or fight.

— President Vladimir Putin appeared at a huge patriotic rally in Moscow and praised the Russian military

— President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping spoke as the White House looks to deter Beijing from providing assistance to Russia.

— Rescuers search for survivors at a Mariupol theater hit by Russian airstrike; 130 rescued, hundreds still missing

— An estimated 6.5 million people have been displaced inside Ukraine, on top of the 3.2 million who have already fled the country