Rescuers work next to a residential building damaged by shelling, in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Rescuers work next to a residential building damaged by shelling by Russian troops, in Kyiv. Image Credit: REUTERS

War rages in Ukraine for the 20th day on Tuesday 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:

recent developments

Biden to announce $800m in new security aid to Ukraine

US President Joe Biden will announce $800 million in new security assistance to Ukraine on Wednesday, a White House official said, the same day that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to deliver a speech to the US Congress.

The announcement brings "the total (aid) announced in the last week alone to $1 billion," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

Zelensky is set to renew his appeals for more aid in his virtual address to Congress, as some lawmakers press the White House to take a tougher line over Russia's invasion.

Warsaw seeks NATO 'peace mission' to help Ukraine

Poland on Tuesday called for a NATO peace mission "protected by armed forces" to help Ukraine.

"This cannot be an unarmed mission," Vice Premier Jaroslaw Kaczynski said. "It must seek to provide humanitarian and peaceful aid."

Blinken discusses Ukraine's security needs with foreign minister

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Tuesday to discuss Ukraine’s security needs in its conflict with Russia, the US State Department said.

They also discussed ongoing diplomatic efforts to stop the war that began with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, according to the State Department.

The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on Russian military leaders and people it accused of being connected to human rights violations while imposing fresh measures on Moscow’s close ally Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.

Kuleba tweeted after his call with Blinken that he welcomed the new round of personal sanctions against Russian officials but added that there was need “to step up economic pressure on Russia.”

The State Department also said that Kuleba and Blinken discussed concern about damage to infrastructure and buildings and the resulting civilian deaths and injuries from the Russian invasion, which Moscow calls a “special operation.”

“We both agreed it is important to ensure safety and security of nuclear facilities in Ukraine”, Kuleba added in his tweet.

Ukraine official says room for compromise in 'difficult' talks

A senior Ukrainian official said on Tuesday that talks with Russia on ending the war were very difficult but said there was "certainly room for compromise," adding that negotiations would continue on Wednesday.

"We'll continue tomorrow - it's a very difficult... negotiation process. There are fundamental contradictions but there is certainly room for compromise," tweeted Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Talks had resumed via a video link on Tuesday. Ukrainian officials played up hopes the war could end sooner than expected, saying Moscow may be coming to terms with its failure to impose a new government on Kyiv by force.

In a hint of possible compromise, Zelenskiy said Ukraine was prepared to accept security guarantees that stop short of its long-term objective of NATO membership, which Moscow opposes.

More than 3 million people have fled Ukraine, says UNHCR

The number of Ukrainians fleeing abroad is now 3,000,381, the United Nations' Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday.

Second journalist working for Fox News killed in Ukraine

A second journalist working for Fox News Channel was killed in Ukraine in the same incident in which a Fox cameraman died when their vehicle was struck on Monday by incoming fire, the cable network said on Tuesday.

Oleksandra "Sasha" Kuvshynova, who was working as a freelance consultant for Fox News, was killed alongside cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski, the network said.

Around 29,000 evacuated from Ukraine cities Tuesday: Kyiv

Around 29,000 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Tuesday, most of them leaving the besieged port of Mariupol, said a senior government official.

Senior Ukrainian presidential official Kyrylo Tymoshenko said in an online post that about 20,000 people had left Mariupol in private cars. Ukraine earlier accused Russia of blocking a convoy trying to take supplies to the city.

Polish, Czech, Slovenian PMs arrive in Kyiv

The Polish, Czech and Slovenian prime ministers arrived in Kyiv by train on Tuesday, the first visit by foreign leaders to Ukraine's besieged capital.

"We have to halt this tragedy unfolding in the East as quickly as possible," Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a post on Facebook announcing their arrival.

Fox News cameraman, Ukrainian producer killed in Ukraine

An Irish cameraman for Fox News and a Ukrainian working as a producer for the US television network have been killed in Ukraine outside Kyiv, Fox News and Ukrainian media said Tuesday.

Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski was killed and correspondent Benjamin Hall was wounded when their vehicle was struck Monday by incoming fire in Horenka, outside the capital, Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott said.

Hall, a Briton who works as the network's State Department correspondent, remains hospitalized in Ukraine, Scott said in a statement.

The Fox team's Ukrainian producer, Oleksandra Kuvshynova, was killed in the same incident, according to local media outlet the Kyiv Independent.

Zelensky says Ukraine must recognise it will not join NATO

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said Tuesday that his country should accept that it will not become a member of the US-led NATO military alliance, a key Russian concern it used to justify its attack.

"Ukraine is not a member of NATO. We understand that. We have heard for years that the doors were open, but we also heard that we could not join. It's a truth and it must be recognised," Zelensky said during a video conference with military officials.

Ukrainian region issues country-wide air raid warning

The northern Ukrainian region of Chernihiv issued a warning of country-wide air attacks on Tuesday, urging citizens to head to shelters.

It was not immediately clear whether other regions had issued similar warnings of new air strikes by Russian forces.

"Attention. Air raid ALL UKRAINE! Take shelter!," said the warning, shared in an online post.

Britain to ban exports of luxury goods to Russia, impose new import tariffs

Britain said on Tuesday it would ban the export of luxury goods to Russia and impose a new 35% tariff on 900 million pounds ($1.2 billion) worth of Russian imports, including vodka, metals, fertilisers and other commodities.

The move follows a series of economic sanctions announced by the government to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for attacking Ukraine. Further sanctions against wealthy Russians are expected to be announced later on Tuesday.

"Our new tariffs will further isolate the Russian economy from global trade, ensuring it does not benefit from the rules-based international system it does not respect," finance minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement.

The government said the export ban would come into effect shortly and it would soon set out which products were affected, but added they would likely include high-end fashion, works of art and luxury vehicles.

Image Credit: Graphic News

Ukrainian presidential adviser says Ukraine war is at a crossroads

An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskiy said on Tuesday that the war in Ukraine was at a crossroads that could lead to an agreement at talks with Russia or a new Russian offensive.

"We are at a crossroads. Either we will agree at the current talks or the Russians will make a second attempt (at an offensive) and then there will be talks again," adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said.

Boris Johnson blames Russian oil 'addiction'

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday underscored his drive for energy independence, saying the West's failure to wean itself from Russian oil and natural gas after the annexation of Crimea paved the way for the attack of Ukraine.

Western countries made a "terrible mistake" in returning to normal economic relations with Russia after the Crimean incursion and becoming even more dependent on Russian energy exports, Johnson wrote in a front page article in The Telegraph newspaper.

"And so when (Vladimir Putin) finally came to launch his vicious war in Ukraine, he knew the world would find it very hard to punish him. He knew that he had created an addiction," he said. "That is why he feels able to bomb maternity hospitals. That is why he is emboldened enough to launch indiscriminate assaults on fleeing families."

 Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson Image Credit: Reuters

Ending the world's dependence on Russian energy will starve Putin of cash, Johnson said as he made the case for the UK government's plan to phase out imports of oil and gas from Russia by the end of this year.

To replace Russian energy and cut carbon emissions, the UK must expand production of wind power, and invest in other forms of renewable energy including solar, tidal, geothermal and hydroelectric power plants, Johnson said. The UK must also reverse the "historic mistake" of moving away from nuclear energy, he said.

China looks to avoid Russia sanctions sideswipe

China is seeking to avoid taking a hit from US-led sanctions against Russia, a top Chinese diplomat said, an effort to prevent the world's second-biggest economy getting caught up in the fallout of Moscow's attack on Ukraine. The White House has called on Beijing to use its influence with Moscow to help end the conflict, and cautioned there'll be consequences for supporting the Kremlin.

US officials also warned European allies that Russia asked China for armed drones in the early days of the war, people familiar with the matter said. Beijing dismissed that news as "disinformation," and said it was urging a peaceful solution to the war in Ukraine.

European leaders going to Ukraine's embattled capital

The leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are traveling to Ukraine's capital Tuesday on a European Union mission to show support for the country as Russia's forces move closer to Kyiv.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said in a tweet: "The aim of the visit is to express the European Union's unequivocal support for Ukraine and its freedom and independence."

He will be joined by Slovak Prime Minister Janez Jansa, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is Poland's deputy prime minister for security and the leader of the conservative ruling party.

Russia's offensive in Ukraine edged closer to central Kyiv on Tuesday, with a series of strikes hitting a residential neighborhood in the capital as the two countries planned a second day of talks.

Ukraine aims to get supplies into Mariupol, evacuate more people

Ukraine will make a new attempt to deliver supplies to civilians trapped in the encircled city of Mariupol on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

She made her announcement as Vitaliy Koval, the governor of the northern region of Rivne, said the death toll from a Russian air strike on a television tower in his region on Monday had risen to at least 19.

Moscow on Monday allowed the first convoy of civilians to escape Mariupol, but a senior presidential aide said Russia had again blocked a humanitarian aid convoy trying to reach the city with supplies.

Obtaining safe passage for aid to reach Mariupol and for civilians to leave has been Kyiv's main demand at several rounds of talks. Previous attempts at a local ceasefire in the area have failed.

Vereshchuk said a convoy with humanitarian supplies would head for Mariupol on Tuesday.

"On the way back it will pick up women and children," she said.

Civilians have been trapped in the southern port city by Russian shelling for more than two weeks and have been without heating, electricity and running water for most of this time, the Ukrainian authorities say.

Residential areas hit in Kyiv, at least two dead

Strikes on residential areas in Kyiv killed at least two people early on Tuesday, emergency services said, as Russian troops intensified their attacks on the Ukrainian capital.

Two bodies were pulled from the rubble after a strike on a 16-storey building in the Sviatoshynsky district, the emergency service said in a Facebook post, adding that 27 people had been rescued from the site.

Another residential building in the Podilsk area also came under attack, it said.

"A fire started on the first five floors of a ten-storey residential building on Mostytska street as a result of ammunition fire," it said.

AFP journalists said they heard at least three powerful explosions in the centre of Kyiv early on Tuesday morning.

In Podilsk, smoke was still billowing from the blackened impact site in the middle of the building, said an AFP journalist at the scene.

Shattered glass and debris were spread around the explosion site while residents were throwing charred wreckage out of their windows.

Windows were blown out by the impact from surrounding blocks.

Separately, the emergency service said a private home was hit in the Osokorky district in southeastern Kyiv.

Rescuers work next to a residential building damaged by shelling, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv.
Rescuers work next to a residential building damaged by shelling, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv. Image Credit: REUTERS

Loud explosions heard in centre of Ukraine capital Kyiv

At least three powerful explosions were heard in the centre of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv Tuesday morning, AFP journalists said, although the cause was not immediately known.

An AFP journalist also saw a column of smoke rising in the distance, but was unable to get there due to a night curfew which is in effect until 0500 GMT.

Explosions are sometimes caused by air defence weaponry.

Russia pounds away at Ukraine as two sides plan more talks

A narrow diplomatic path stayed open as Ukraine and Russia planned another round of talks and Moscow's forces pounded away at cities across the country, including the capital, in a bombardment that deepened the humanitarian crisis. Shortly before dawn on Tuesday, large explosions thundered across Kyiv while Russia pressed its advance on multiple fronts. Elsewhere, a convoy of 160 civilian cars left the encircled port city of Mariupol along a designated humanitarian route, the city council reported, in a rare glimmer of hope a week and a half into the lethal siege that has pulverised homes and other buildings and left people desperate for food, water, heat and medicine.

Tracers are seen in the night sky as Ukrainian servicemen fire on the drone as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv.
Tracers are seen in the night sky as Ukrainian servicemen fire on the drone as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv. Image Credit: REUTERS

Ukraine war may lead to rethinking of US defense of Europe

Russian President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine and his push to upend the broader security order in Europe may lead to a historic shift in American thinking about defense of the continent. Depending on how far Putin goes, this could mean a buildup of US military power in Europe not seen since the Cold War. The prospect of a bigger US military footprint in Europe is a remarkable turnaround from just two years ago. In 2020, President Donald Trump ordered thousands of American troops out of Germany as part of his argument that Europeans were undeserving allies. Just days after taking office, President Joe Biden stopped the withdrawal before it could start, and his administration has stressed NATO's importance even as Biden identifies China as the main long-term threat to US.

UN chief: Ukraine war hitting poor nations reliant on wheat

The United Nations chief warned that Russia's war on Ukraine is holding "a sword of Damocles" over the global economy, especially poor developing countries that face skyrocketing food, fuel and fertilizer prices and are now seeing their breadbasket "being bombed."

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters that "Russia and Ukraine represent more than half of the world's supply of sunflower oil and about 30 per cent of the world's wheat" and that "grain prices have already exceeded those at the start of the Arab Spring and the food riots of 2007-2008."

He told reporters that 45 African and least developed countries import at least one-third of their wheat from Ukraine and Russia, and 18 of them import at least 50%. These countries include Egypt, Congo, Burkina Faso, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, he said.

"All of this is hitting the poorest the hardest and planting the seeds for political instability and unrest around the globe," Guterres warned, saying the most vulnerable countries had already been trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and contend with record inflation, rising interest rates and looming debt before the Ukraine war.

A picture shows anti-aircraft missiles in the sky a few kilometers from Kyiv, Ukraine.
A picture shows anti-aircraft missiles in the sky a few kilometers from Kyiv, Ukraine. Image Credit: AFP

Japan announces sanctions on additional 17 Russians

Japan has decided to freeze assets of an additional 17 Russian individuals, the Ministry of Finance said on Tuesday.

Eleven members of the Russian Duma, five family members of banker Yuri Kovalchuk, as well as billionaire Viktor Vekselberg were targeted in the sanctions, it said.

The move brings the total number of Russians targeted by Japan's asset freezes in response to the Ukraine crisis to 61, the ministry said in a statement.

Firemen evacuate a man from an apartment building hit by shelling in the Obolon district of Kyiv, Ukraine.
Firemen evacuate a man from an apartment building hit by shelling in the Obolon district of Kyiv, Ukraine. Image Credit: AFP

Biden expected to meet with NATO leaders in Brussels 

US President Joe Biden is expected to travel to Brussels next week to meet with NATO leaders to discuss Russia's war in Ukraine, US and foreign sources familiar with the situation said.

The plan, which is still being finalised, calls for Biden to meet with other leaders from the NATO alliance in Brussels on March 23, said three of the sources.

They cautioned that the plans could still change given the rapidly evolving situation in Ukraine.

The meeting comes as Russian forces continue to escalate their attacks on Ukraine.

One source said Biden could also travel to NATO member Poland, where concerns are running high after a Russian attack on a large Ukrainian base just miles from the border killed 35 people.

NATO members are worried about being drawn into a military conflict with nuclear power Russia. Biden has repeatedly said that the United States will not send forces into Ukraine, but will defend "every inch" of NATO territory.

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said that the United States was closely engaged with its NATO partners and European allies but that there had not been any final decision about a presidential trip.

War could be over by May, says Ukrainian presidential adviser

The war in Ukraine is likely to be over by early May when Russia runs out of resources to attack its neighbour, Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to the Ukrainian president's chief of staff, said.

Talks between Kyiv and Moscow - in which Arestovich is not personally involved - have so far produced very few results other than several humanitarian corridors out of besieged Ukrainian cities.

In a video published by several Ukrainian media, Arestovich said the exact timing would depend on how much resources the Kremlin was willing to commit to the campaign.

"I think that no later than in May, early May, we should have a peace agreement, maybe much earlier, we will see, I am talking about the latest possible dates," Arestovich said.

"We are at a fork in the road now: there will either be a peace deal struck very quickly, within a week or two, with troop withdrawal and everything, or there will be an attempt to scrape together some." A "completely crazy" scenario could also involve Russia sending fresh conscripts after a month of training, he said.

Still, even once peace is agreed, small tactical clashes could remain possible for a year, according to Arestovich, although Ukraine insists on the complete removal of Russian troops from its territory.

Russia keeps up attacks in Ukraine as two sides hold talks

Russia and Ukraine kept a fragile diplomatic path open with a new round of talks Monday even as Moscow's forces pounded away at Kyiv and other cities across the country in a punishing bombardment the Red Cross said has created ``nothing short of a nightmare'' for civilians.

Meanwhile, a convoy of 160 civilian cars left the encircled port city of Mariupol along a designated humanitarian route, the city council reported, in a rare glimmer of hope a week and a half into the lethal siege that has pulverized homes and other buildings and left people desperate for food, water, heat and medicine.

The latest negotiations, held via video conference, were the fourth round involving higher-level officials from the two countries and the first in a week. The talks ended without a breakthrough after several hours, with an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying the negotiators took "a technical pause" and planned to meet again Tuesday.

The two sides had expressed some optimism in the past few days. Mykhailo Podolyak, the aide to Zelenskyy, tweeted that the negotiators would discuss "peace, ceasefire, immediate withdrawal of troops & security guarantees."