A Ukrainian soldier holds a Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon (NLAW) that was used to destroy a Russian armoured personal carrier (APC) in Irpin, north of Kyiv, on March 12, 2022.
A Ukrainian soldier holds a Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon (NLAW) that was used to destroy a Russian armoured personal carrier (APC) in Irpin, north of Kyiv, on March 12, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

Russian forces inched towards Kyiv on Saturday and pounded civilian areas in other Ukrainian cities as concerns grew over the besieged southern port of Mariupol, where officials said more than 1,500 people had been killed. The conflict has forced more than 2.5 million people to flee Ukraine.  Follow the latest developments from the war zone:


Russian stock market trading halt extended to March 18

The Moscow Exchange equity market will remain shut until at least March 18, extending a record shutdown meant to shield domestic investors from the impact of harsh sanctions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The central bank announced the decision on its website Saturday and said a decision on whether trading would resume from March 21 would be announced later. Stock trading has been halted since February 25.

Local traders are bracing for a selloff as investors react to a slew of fresh measures over the past two weeks, including import bans on Russian oil by the US and UK The ruble slumped on Wednesday when foreign-exchange trading resumed after being shuttered since March 5.

Although Russia has promised to prop up its equity market with up to $10 billion when it reopens, strategists expect local stocks could sink as much as 50% as international sanctions hit everything from Russia's ability to access foreign reserves to the SWIFT bank-messaging system.

France says Putin is not ready to end Ukraine war, fighting rages

Fighting raged near Kyiv on Saturday and heavy shelling in other areas threatened new attempts to evacuate trapped civilians as France said Russian President Vladimir Putin showed no readiness to end the war in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Moscow was sending in new troops after Ukrainian forces put 31 of Russia's battalion tactical groups out of action in what he called Russia's largest army losses in decades. It was not possible to verify his statements.

He also said about 1,300 Ukrainian troops had been killed so far and urged the West to get more involved in peace negotiations. The president suggested Russian forces would face a fight to the death if they sought to enter the capital.

"If they decide to carpet bomb (Kyiv), and simply erase the history of this region, the history of the Kyivan Rus, the history of Europe, and destroy all of us, then they will enter Kyiv. If that's their goal, let them come in, but they will have to live on this land by themselves," he told a news conference.

Russian's army tanks move down a street on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine.
Russian's army tanks move down a street on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine. Image Credit: AP

Ukrainian foreign minister says ready to negotiate, but will not surrender

Ukraine was ready to negotiate to end the war started by Russia's attack more than two weeks ago, but would not surrender or accept any ultimatums, the country's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Saturday.

Speaking at a virtual event organised by the non-partisan, nonprofit organization Renew Democracy Initiative, Kuleba said civilian lives would be saved if Ukraine had fighter jets and more attack planes to destroy large military columns.

"We will continue to fight. We are ready to negotiate but we are not going to accept any ultimatums and surrender", Kuleba said, adding that Russia was putting forward demands that were "unacceptable".

Commenting on the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, the Ukrainian foreign minister said it was besieged but still under Ukrainian control.

The foreign minister added that Ukraine needed more military supplies and that more steps were needed to hit the Russian economy despite recent sanctions.

"If we had more planes we would have been able to save many more civilian lives mainly because the main striking force of Russia is in the air and they indiscriminately choose to attack.

As we continue to fight we will need more and more weapons," Kuleba added.

Zelensky open for talks with Putin in Israel

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he's open for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Israel ,but only if there is a cease-fire in place.

Zelensky said Saturday he told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that he would be ready to meet Putin in Jerusalem. Bennett visited Moscow for a meeting with Putin and spoke repeatedly with Zelensky and the leaders of France and Germany as he sought to help mediate an end to the war.

Zelensky said Bennett informed him about his talks with Putin, adding that he can't share details.

Putin has ignored numerous previous offers of talks from Zelensky.

Biden to authorise further $200m for Ukraine

US President Joe Biden is authorising the State Department to provide additional aid to Ukraine of up to $200 million.

The funds would cover weapons as well as military services, education and training as Ukrainians seek to repel a Russian invasion.

Joe Biden

The aid is part of broader US support in the form of aid and sanctions. When Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted that $1 billion in aid had been provided to Ukraine.

The ongoing warfare has led to additional support with Congress this week approving $13.6 billion in additional aid, a sum that includes $6.5 billion for the costs of sending troops and weapons to Eastern Europe and $6.8 billion for refugees and economic aid.

Biden plans to sign the spending bill with the additional aid when he receives it next week.

US ready to take diplomatic steps Ukraine will find helpful

The United States is willing to take diplomatic steps that the Ukrainian government would find helpful, a State Department spokesperson said on Saturday, after President Volodymyr Zelensky said the West should be more involved in negotiations to end the war.

"If there are diplomatic steps that we can take that the Ukrainian Government believes would be helpful, we're prepared to take them", the spokesperson said.

"We are working to put the Ukrainians in the strongest possible negotiating position, including by increasing pressure on Russia by imposing severe costs and by providing security assistance to help Ukrainians defend themselves."

Zelensky says 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers killed

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky says about 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in fighting since the start of the Russian invasion.

Speaking at a news conference Saturday, Zelenskyy said it would take Russia to carpet-bomb the Ukrainian capital and kill its residents to take the city.

He added that "if that is their goal, let them come."

Zelenskyy said that "if they carry out carpet bombings and wipe off the historic memory of the entire region, the history of Kyivan Rus, the history of Europe, they could enter Kyiv."

Volodymyr Zelensky

Pope renews calls to end war in Ukraine

Pope Francis is renewing calls for an end to the war in Ukraine, emphasizing the impact on children.

In a tweet on Saturday he wrote: "Never war! Think first about the children, about those who are deprived of the hope for a dignified life: dead or wounded children, orphans, children who play with the remnants of war."

Francis added: "In the name of God, stop!"

Ukrainian officials and the UN human rights office say dozens of children have been killed since the start of the war.

Scholz, Macron demand Ukraine ceasefire in call with Putin

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron called for an immediate ceasefire in the Ukraine conflict during a 75-minute phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, a German government spokesperson said.

"The conversation is part of ongoing international efforts to end the war in Ukraine," the spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the participants agreed to say nothing further about the substance of the phone call.

Scholz had earlier spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy about the situation, the spokesperson added.

French President Emmanuel Macron

Russia says weapons convoys 'legitimate targets'

Russia warned that Western convoys of weapons deliveries to Ukraine are "legitimate targets," stepping up its threats amid a major increase in military supplies to Kyiv's forces.

"We have warned the U.S. that pumping weapons into Ukraine by a whole range of countries is not just a dangerous path but are actions that turn these convoys into legitimate targets," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Saturday on state television, as cited by the RIA Novosti and Tass news services.

President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Russia plans to step up weapons deliveries to separatist areas in Ukraine and send thousands of fighters from the Middle East to join its forces in the country.

An explosion is seen in an apartment building after Russian's army tank fires in Mariupol.
An explosion is seen in an apartment building after Russian's army tank fires in Mariupol. Image Credit: AP

Russian forces capture outskirts of Mariupol

Ukraine's military says Russian forces have captured the eastern outskirts of the besieged city of Mariupol.

In a Facebook update Saturday, the military said the capture of Mariupol and Severodonetsk in the east were a priority for Russian forces. Mariupol has been under siege for over a week, with no electricity, gas or water.

Repeated efforts to evacuate people from the city of 430,000 have fallen apart as humanitarian convoys come under shelling.

Firefighters extinguish a fire on a house after shelling in Kyiv on March 12, 2022.
Firefighters extinguish a fire on a house after shelling in Kyiv on March 12, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

Russian official warns Finland, Sweden over NATO

A Russian foreign ministry official warned of unspecified "military and political consequences" should Sweden and Finland join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Sergei Belyaev told Interfax that the non-participation of the two countries in NATO was "an important factor in ensuring security and stability in northern Europe."

The Nordic nations held high-level security talks a week ago about the changing security situation in Europe. Sweden's prime minister on Tuesday cooled speculation about any near-term bid to join the defense bloc.

This video grab taken from a handout footage released by the Russian Defence Ministry on March 12, 2022 shows Russian paratroopers taking control of an undisclosed airfield in Ukraine, according to the Russian Defence Ministry.
This video grab taken from a handout footage released by the Russian Defence Ministry on March 12, 2022 shows Russian paratroopers taking control of an undisclosed airfield in Ukraine, according to the Russian Defence Ministry. Image Credit: AFP

Macron, Scholz call with Putin under way

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have started a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine, the French presidency said on Saturday.

Macron had said at a European Union summit on Friday that he and Scholz would hold a fresh call with Putin in the coming hours after a previous three-way exchange on Thursday.

A warehouse storing frozen products is seen on fire after Russian shelling, in the village of Kvitneve in Kyiv region.
A warehouse storing frozen products is seen on fire after Russian shelling, in the village of Kvitneve in Kyiv region. Image Credit: REUTERS

Russia sending new troops after heavy losses: Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday that Russia was sending new forces to Ukraine after suffering what he said were its biggest losses in decades.

Zelensky also said he had spoken to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron about pressuring Russia to release the mayor of the city of Melitopol, who Ukraine says was kidnapped on Friday by Russian forces.

In a televised address, Zelensky urged Russia to uphold an agreed ceasefire to allow evacuations to proceed from the besieged port city of Mariupol, after blaming Moscow for the failure of previous attempts.

Russia warns US over arms shipments to Ukraine

A senior Russian diplomat is warning that Moscow could target Western shipments of military equipment to Ukraine.

Speaking Saturday, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Moscow has warned the US it would see the deliveries of Western weapons to Ukraine as targets.

Ryabkov said Russia "warned the US that pumping weapons from a number of countries it orchestrates isn't just a dangerous move, it's an action that makes those convoys legitimate targets."

He also denounced the US sanctions against Moscow as an "unprecedented attempt to deal a serious blow to various sectors of the Russian economy," but noted that Moscow will act in a measured way to avoid hurting itself.

Ryabkov said that Russia has no intention to expel Western media and businesses amid the soaring tensions with the West, adding that "we aren't going to escalate the situation."

A column of smoke rises from burning fuel tanks that locals said were hit by five rockets at the Vasylkiv Air Base, outside Kyiv, on March 12, 2022.
A column of smoke rises from burning fuel tanks that locals said were hit by five rockets at the Vasylkiv Air Base, outside Kyiv, on March 12, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

Mariupol residents dying for lack of medicines

Aid group Doctors Without Borders says some residents of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol are dying for lack of medication, while others killed in the fighting are being buried in makeshift graves by their neighbours.

The group, which is known by its French acronym MSF, says the city has been without drinking water or medicine for more than a week now. It says people are resorting to using water from the ground or tapping heating pipes, then boiling it on wood fires.

MSF says food is scarce and lack of cellphone or internet connectivity in Mariupol means only residents with access to a portable radio have information on what is happening beyond their immediate neighbourhood.

In a voice message Saturday shared with The Associated Press, one MSF staff member described seeing people who have died because of lack of medication adding that "there are a lot of such people inside Mariupol."

The aid worker said that there are "many people who were killed and injured and they're just lying on the ground. Neighbours (are) just digging a hole in the ground and putting their bodies inside."

Fighting rages outside Kyiv, evacuations threatened again

Conflict raged northwest of Kyiv on Saturday and other cities were encircled and under heavy shelling, while Ukrainian officials said fighting and threats of Russian air attacks were endangering attempted evacuations.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk had said the government planned to use agreed humanitarian corridors out of the besieged southern port city of Mariupol as well as towns and villages in the regions of Kyiv, Sumy and some other areas.

But the governor of the Kyiv region said fighting and threats of Russian air attacks were continuing during evacuation attempts and the Donetsk region's governor said constant shelling was complicating bringing aid into Mariupol.

An adviser to the Ukrainian presidency said earlier that 79 evacuation buses and two trucks with humanitarian cargo had left for Sumy on Saturday. Buses and trucks also left Zaporizhzhia for Mariupol, a video released by the deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential administration on social media showed.

A Red Cross worker carries an elderly women during evacuation in Irpin, some 25 km (16 miles) northwest of Kyiv, Friday, March 11, 2022. Kyiv northwest suburbs such as Irpin and Bucha have been enduring Russian shellfire and bombardments for over a week prompting residents to leave their home. Image Credit: AP

Italy seizes Russian billionaire's $578 million yacht

Italian financial police has seized a Russian-owned superyacht valued at 530 million euros ($578 million) in the port of Trieste as part of seizures of oligarch wealth to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to halt the attack on Ukraine.

The "Sy A" yacht was identified by Italian police as belonging to belonging to billionaire Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko, who made a fortune in fertilizer production and coal energy. It was seized Friday evening.

Video shows police in cars with flashing lights approaching the triple-mast yacht and officers boarding it.

Italian authorities last week seized some 143 million euros ($156 million) in luxury yachts and villas belonging to Russian billionaires in such picturesque retreats as Sardinia, the Ligurian coast and Lake Como.

A man looks at the gutted remains of Russian military vehicles on a road in the town of Bucha, close to the capital Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Russia on Tuesday stepped up shelling of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, pounding civilian targets there. Casualties mounted and reports emerged that more than 70 Ukrainian soldiers were killed after Russian artillery recently hit a military base in Okhtyrka, a city between Kharkiv and Kyiv, the capital. Image Credit: AP

UK reports fighting near Kyiv, cities shelled

Britain's Defense Ministry says fighting northwest of Kyiv has continued with the bulk of Russian ground forces now around 25 kilometers from the center of the city.

A daily intelligence update says elements of the large Russian military column north of Kyiv have dispersed. It says this is likely to support a Russian attempt to encircle the Ukrainian capital. According to the brief, it could also be an attempt by Russia to reduce its vulnerability to Ukrainian counterattacks, which have taken a significant toll on Russian forces.

The update says that beyond Kyiv, the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol remain encircled and continue to suffer heavy Russian shelling.

France ready to host 2,500 Ukrainian refugees from Moldova: Minister

France is ready to accept 2,500 Ukrainians who are currently in Moldova, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said.

"The European Commission is coordinating an operation to relocate Ukrainian refugees from Moldova to volunteer countries. At the request of the President of the Republic [Emmanuel Macron], France declares that 2,500 Ukrainians from Moldova will be accepted on our land," he tweeted overnight Saturday.

Earlier this week, Darmanin said that around 7,500 Ukrainians have entered France since February 24, when Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine responding to calls for help from the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics in countering the aggression of Ukrainian troops.

Ukraine says mosque sheltering 80 civilians shelled in Mariupol

A mosque in the southeastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, where 80 civilians were taking shelter, has been shelled by Russian forces, Ukraine's foreign ministry said on Saturday.

"The mosque of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and his wife Roxolana (Hurrem Sultan) in Mariupol was shelled by Russian forces. More than 80 adults and children are hiding there from the shelling, including citizens of Turkey," the ministry wrote on its Twitter account.

UN calls for safe corridor for Black Sea ships

The International Maritime Organization, a UN oversight body for international seafaring and the law of the sea, is calling for a safe corridor in the Black and Azov seas to let commercial ships evacuate.

Many of the waters are mined, and Russian navy vessels are off the shores of Ukraine. Explosions have hit at least two cargo ships in the area and dozens of others have been stranded.

The IMO Council held an emergency session and said it deplored the attacks of the Russian Federation aimed at commercial vessels, their seizures, including search and rescue vessels, threatening the safety and welfare of seafarers and the marine environment.

Sanctions may cause ISS to crash, warns Russia

Russia’s space agency has sent Nasa and other international partners a letter demanding an end to sanctions, saying they could threaten the International Space Station.

In a tweet Saturday, the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, said the letter appealed to the space agencies of the United States, Canada and Europe to keep the space station operational.

He illustrated the appeal with a map showing the flight path of the ISS — and a potential fall zone that straddles much of the world but barely touches upon Russia.

Four NASA astronauts, two Russian cosmonauts and one European astronaut are currently on the space station.

Rockets destroy Ukrainian airbase in Kyiv region: Mayor

Russian rocket attacks destroyed a Ukrainian airbase near the town of Vasylkiv in the Kyiv region on Saturday morning, Interfax Ukraine quoted the local mayor as saying.

The rocket attacks also hit an ammunition depot, Vasylkiv Mayor Natalia Balasynovych said.

Air raid sirens heard across most Ukraine

Air raid sirens were heard across most Ukrainian cities early on Saturday morning urging people to seek shelters, local media reported.

Sirens were heard in the capital city of Kyiv, the western city of Lviv in Odessa, and Kharkiv, Cherkasy, as well as in the Sumy region in northeast of the country, a number of local Ukrainian media reported.

Russian forces appeared to be regrouping on Friday for a possible attack on Kyiv, with satellite images showing them firing artillery as they closed in on the capital.

Ukraine says shelling damaged cancer hospital

Ukrainian officials accused Russia damaging a cancer hospital and several residential buildings in the southern city of Mykolaiv with shelling from heavy artillery.

The hospital’s head doctor, Maksim Beznosenko, said several hundred patients were in the hospital during the attack but that no one was killed. The attack damaged the building and blew out windows.

Russian forces have stepped up their attacks on Mykolaiv, located 470 kilometers (292 miles) south of Kyiv, in an attempt to encircle the city.

Ukrainian and Western officials earlier accused Russia of shelling a maternity hospital in the southern city of Mariupol on Wednesday. Three people died in that attack.

Images show Russian military units continuing to deploy closer to Kyiv

Satellite images taken on Friday showed Russian military units were continuing to deploy closer to Ukraine's capital Kyiv and were firing artillery toward residential areas, a US private company said.

Maxar Technologies said multiple homes and buildings were on fire and widespread damage and impact craters could be seen throughout the town of Moschun, northwest of Kyiv.

220312 maxar
This multispectral satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows an artillery battalion actively firing in a southeasterly direction near Antonov Airport, during the Russian invasion, in Ozera, Ukraine, Friday, March 11, 2022. Image Credit: AP

Maxar said one image showed elements of a Russian artillery battalion actively firing in a southeasterly direction, a bright muzzle flash coming from one of the guns. It said it could not confirm the battalion's targets, but that the damage observed in Moschun was about 7km southeast of the artillery deployment.

Another image showed long lines of cars carrying people trying to flee Kyiv, and another showed that fires continued to burn at Antonov Airport.

Russian forces bombarded cities across the country on Friday and appeared to be regrouping for a possible assault on Kyiv as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said his country had reached a "strategic turning point" in the conflict.

US accuses Russia of violating 'nuclear safety principles'

The United States has accused Russia of violating nuclear safety principles, saying it was concerned by "continued Russian firing on nuclear facilities" in Ukraine but added that there were no signs detected yet of any radiological release.

"We are monitoring reports of damage to a research facility in Kharkiv. Near-term safety risk is low, but the continued Russian firing on nuclear facilities must cease", US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Friday on Twitter.

Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

Ukrainian President Zelenskiy said his country had reached a "strategic turning point" in the conflict. Satellite images showed Russian military units closer to the capital Kyiv and firing artillery toward residential areas.


* The situation in Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol was critical, officials said, as Russian forces tightened their noose around the Black Sea port and the death toll from shelling and a 12-day blockade reached almost 1,600.

* Britain said Russian air and missile forces had conducted strikes in the past 24 hours against the western Ukrainian cities of Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk.

* Ukraine said neighbour Belarus could be planning to attack its territory and accused Russia of trying to drag its ally into the war by staging air attacks on Belarus from Ukrainian air space.

Economy and Sanctions

* US President Biden joined with allies to hit Moscow on trade and shut down development funds, and announced a ban on imports of Russian seafood and diamonds. 

* The United States also imposed sanctions on Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, three family members of Putin's spokesperson, as well as lawmakers.

* Washington will revoke Russia's "most favoured nation status" US House Speaker Pelosi said. Other G7 nations and the European Union are expected to follow. 


* Facebook owner Meta Platforms said a temporary change in its content policy, only for Ukraine, was needed to let users voice opposition to Russia's attack; Moscow opened a criminal case after the company said it would allow posts such as "death to the Russian fighters."

United Nations

* The United Nations said it had no evidence Ukraine had a biological weapons program while Washington and its allies accused Russia of spreading the unproven claim as a possible prelude to launching its own biological or chemical attacks.

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