UN estimates 3.8 million fled Ukraine, 1,119 civilians killed

Russia has advanced its strikes to the western Ukrainian cities where the majority of the civilians have taken refuge as the conflict enters its 32nd day.

Ukraine says it is mounting small counter-offensive actions as Russia's military tries to encircle its forces in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine says it is mounting small counter-offensive actions as Russia’s military tries to encircle its forces in eastern Ukraine.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

UN: 3.8 million people flee Ukraine

Over 3.8 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s attacks began a month ago, UN figures show, but the flow of refugees has slowed down markedly. 

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said 3,821,049 Ukrainians had fled the country — an increase of 48,450 from Saturday’s figures. Around 90 percent of them are women and children, it added.

Ukraine’s refugee crisis is Europe’s worst since World War II. In total, more than 10 million people are now thought to have fled their homes, including nearly 6.5 million who are internally displaced.

Ukrainian civilian death toll reaches 1,119

The United Nations human rights office has said 1,119 civilians had so far been killed and 1,790 wounded since Russia began its attacks on Ukraine.

Some 15 girls and 32 boys, as well 52 children whose sex is as yet unknown, were among the dead, the United Nations said in a statement; it covered the period between when the conflict began on February 24 and midnight on March 26.

Most of the civilian casualties were caused by explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes. The true casualty figures are expected to be considerably higher.

Macron warns against ‘escalation’ after Biden remarks

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for restraint in both words and actions, after US President Joe Biden described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “butcher” and said he should not remain in power.

“I wouldn’t use this type of wording because I continue to hold discussions with President Putin,” Macron said on France 3 TV channel. He said he would speak to Putin in the next two days to organise the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol.

The French leader told broadcaster France 3 that he saw his task as “achieving first a ceasefire and then the total withdrawal of (Russian) troops by diplomatic means.”

We want to stop the war that Russia has launched in Ukraine without escalation — that’s the objective…If this is what we want to do, we should not escalate things — neither with words nor actions.

French President Emmanuel Macron

Kiev: Referendum in occupied land would have no legal basis

Ukraine has said Russia holding a referendum in occupied Ukrainian territory would have no legal basis and would face a strong response from the international community, deepening its global isolation.

The Russian-controlled Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine could hold a referendum soon on joining Russia, its local leader was quoted as saying.

“All fake referendums in the temporarily occupied territories are null and void and will have no legal validity,” Ukraine’s foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said in a statement to Reuters news agency.

US ‘does not have policy’ of Russia regime change

The US envoy to NATO has said the United States does not have a policy of regime change in Russia, in the latest effort to clarify President Joe Biden’s statement that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.”

“The US does not have a policy of regime change in Russia. Full stop,” Julianne Smith told CNN’s “State of the Union” programme.

Smith said Biden’s remarks sought to underscore that the international community cannot empower Putin in Ukraine or pursue more acts of aggression.

Pope Francis condemns ‘senseless war’  in Ukraine

Pope Francis has condemned the “cruel and senseless war” in Ukraine, where “barbarous” acts were “destroying the future”.

“More than a month has gone by since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, of the beginning of this cruel and senseless war,” the pope said at the end of the Angelus prayer.

“War does not devastate the present only, but the future of a society as well,” he said, pointing to the fact that one in two Ukrainian children have been displaced. 

Polish TV holds global charity telethon for Ukraine

British artists Fatboy Slim and Craig David are among the music stars taking part in an English-language charity telethon for Ukraine being organised on Sunday by Polish state channel TVP.

The “Save Ukraine #StopWar” programme, which will also include Ukrainian footballing legend Andriy Shevchenko, is being broadcast to more than 20 countries, TVP World said in a statement. The two-hour show will start at 1530 GMT.

“Money will be raised for the victims of the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” the statement said.

Ukraine claims 16,600 Russian soldiers killed

Some 16,600 Russian soldiers have been killed in Ukraine since the start of the conflict, the Ukrainian military has said. On March 25, Russia, however, put the number at 1,351.

Ukrainian forces have also destroyed 121 Russian aircraft, 127 helicopters, 582 tanks, 1,664 armoured carriers, 294 cannons, 93 rocket launcher systems, and 52 air defence systems since February 24, according to the Ukrainian General Staff.

The Russian forces lost 1,144 vehicles, seven light speedboats, 73 fuel vehicles, and 56 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), it added.

Ukraine urges boycott of French retailer Auchan

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has called for a global boycott of French retail giant Auchan, whose CEO has defended a decision to remain in Russia citing the need to keep staff employed.

“Apparently, job losses in Russia are more important than the loss of life in Ukraine. If Auchan ignores 139 Ukrainian children murdered during this month of Russian invasion, let us ignore Auchan and all their products,” he wrote on Twitter.

ICRC denies aiding forced evacuations to Russia

The International Committee of the Red Cross has denied accusations that it helped organise or carry out forced evacuations of Ukrainians to Russia.

“The ICRC does not ever help organise or carry out forced evacuations. This applies everywhere we work. We would not support any operation that would go against people’s will and our principles,” the Geneva-based organisation said in a statement.

The ICRC statement did not specify what prompted the strong denial but it appears to be a response to accusations by Roman Rukomeda, a Ukrainian political analyst.

Türkiye welcomes 159 orphans after first ladies’ dialogue

Following up on conversations between the Turkish and Ukrainian first ladies, Türkiye has welcomed 159 orphans from Ukraine.

When Turkish first lady Emine Erdogan and her Ukrainian counterpart Olena Zelenska discussed the situation of children in orphanages in Ukraine, Zelenska asked for Türkiye’s help on the issue.

Officials of the Ukrainian Embassy in Ankara told the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Family and Social Services Ministry, and Interior Ministry about the orphans’ plight.

Türkiye took action to get the orphans in Ukraine to safety. Through joint efforts, 26 care staffers were also evacuated, and brought to Türkiye’s southern Antalya province via Poland.

Russia trying to split Ukraine – Ukraine intelligence chief

Russia is trying to split Ukraine in two to create a Moscow-controlled region after failing to take over the whole country, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence said. 

“In fact, it is an attempt to create North and South Korea in Ukraine,” Kyrylo Budanov said in a statement, adding that Ukraine would soon launch guerrilla warfare in Russian-occupied territory. 

Ankara and others must talk to Russia – presidential spokesman

Türkiye and other states must still talk to Russia to help end the offensive in Ukraine, Türkiye’s presidential spokesman said, adding that Kiev needed more support to defend itself. 

“If everybody burns bridges with Russia then who is going to talk to them at the end of the day,” Ibrahim Kalin told the Doha international forum.

“Ukrainians need to be supported by every means possible so they can defend themselves…but the Russian case must be heard, one way or the other.” 

Ukrainian rebel region may hold referendum on joining Russia

The Russian-backed self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine could hold a referendum soon on joining Russia, the rebel region’s news outlet cited local leader Leonid Pasechnik.

“I think that in the near future a referendum will be held on the territory of the republic,” Pasechnik said. “The people will exercise their ultimate constitutional right and express their opinion on joining the Russian Federation.” 

Russia last month recognised Luhansk and Donetsk self-proclaimed republics as independent and ordered what it called a peacekeeping operation in the region shortly after.

US has no strategy of regime change in Russia – Blinken

The United States has no strategy of regime change for Russia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters after President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”.

“I think the president, the White House, made the point last night that, quite simply, President Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else,” Blinken said during a visit to Jerusalem. 

“As you know, and as you have heard us say repeatedly, we do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia – or anywhere else, for that matter.”

Russia hits Ukraine’s Lviv with cruise missiles

Russia struck military targets in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv with high-precision cruise missiles, the Russian defence ministry said.

Russia hit a fuel depot being used by Ukrainian forces near Lviv with long-range missiles and used cruise missiles to strike a plant in the city being used to repair anti-aircraft systems, radar stations and sights for tanks, the ministry said.

“The armed forces of the Russian Federation continue offensive actions as part of the special military operation, ” the ministry’s spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement. 

IMF chief warns of unrest caused by crisis

The head of the International Monetary Fund is warning that the global economic strain caused by Russia’s offensive in Ukraine could stoke civil unrest in the Middle East and beyond.

Speaking at the Doha Forum in Qatar, Kristalina Georgieva said Russia’s offensive and the resulting sanctions on Moscow have forced the world’s poorest to bear the worst of the crisis as they grapple with inflated food costs and scarcer jobs. 

Georgieva hinted that the current situation evoked the lead-up to the 2011 uprisings known as the Arab Spring, when skyrocketing bread prices fueled anti-government protests across the Middle East.

Russian forces move toward separatist regions as bombs hit Lviv

The Russian military appears to be trying to encircle Ukrainian forces fighting in the separatist regions in the eastern part of the country, Britain’s Ministry of Defence says. 

Russian forces are advancing southward from the area around Kharkiv and north from Mariupol, the ministry said in an intelligence briefing.

Four missiles hit the outskirts of Lviv, just 60 km from the Polish border, local officials said. Another strike significantly damaged Lviv’s infrastructure but no deaths were reported from either attack.

Russia destroys Ukrainian fuel, food storage depots

Russia has started destroying Ukrainian fuel and food storage depots, meaning the government will have to disperse the stocks of both in the near future, Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko said.

Speaking on local television, Denysenko also said Russia was bringing forces to the Ukrainian border on rotation, and could make new attempts to advance in its offensive of Ukraine. 

Ukraine exports first grain by train to Europe

Traders have exported the first supplies of Ukrainian corn to Europe by train as the country’s seaports remain blocked due to the Russian operations, APK-Inform agriculture consultancy said. 

Ukraine is a global major grain grower and exporter and almost all its exports have traditionally been shipped from its Black Sea ports. Monthly grain exports exceeded 5 million tonnes before the offensive.

Traders and agriculture official have said Ukraine, which still has significant volumes of grain in stock, may start exporting by train via its western border. 

Ukraine asks Red Cross not to open office in Russia’s Rostov-on-Don

Ukraine has asked the International Committee of the Red Cross not to open a planned office in Russia’s Rostov-on-Don, saying it would legitimise Moscow’s “humanitarian corridors” and the abduction and forced deportation of Ukranians. 

The head of the ICRC said earlier after his talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that an agreement between the Russian and Ukrainian armies was needed before civilians could be evacuated properly from Ukraine. 

Russian media reported that Red Cross chief Peter Maurer asked Russia to facilitate the opening of a Red Cross office in Rostov-on-Don.

Kharkiv nuclear facility again hit by shelling

Ukraine’s nuclear watchdog says that a nuclear research facility in Kharkiv again has come under shelling by Russia and the fighting makes it impossible to assess the damage. 

The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate said that the neutron source experimental facility in the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology came under fire. 

Ukrainian authorities have previously reported that Russian shelling damaged buildings at the Kharkiv facility, but there has been no release of radiation.  

Russian forces occupy Ukraine’s northern Slavutych city: Mayor

Russian forces occupied Ukraine’s northern Slavutych city, according to its mayor.

Yuriy Fomichev said in a video message that city officials received a warning from Russian forces three days ago to surrender without a fight.

Noting they defended the city resolutely despite the warning, Fomichev said: “But Slavutych is under occupation as of today.” 

Russia takes control of town home to Chernobyl staff — Kiev

Russian forces took control of a town where the staff working at the Chernobyl nuclear site live and briefly detained the mayor, sparking protests, Ukrainian officials said.

“I have been released. Everything is fine, as far as it is possible under occupation,” Yuri Fomichev, mayor of Slavutych, told the AFP news agency by phone after officials in the Ukrainian capital Kiev announced earlier he had been detained.

Earlier, the military administration of the Kiev region, which covers Slavutych, announced that Russian troops had entered the town and occupied the municipal hospital.

Sattelite images show destruction of Ukrainian cities

US tech company Maxar Technologies has provided the latest satellite images after the Russian attack on the capital Kiev and encircling cities.

TV and radio tower at Izyum, a fuel depot in Kalynivka and buildings in Irpin and Horenka were destroyed in Russia’s attacks.

Zelenskyy demands 1% of NATO’s aircraft

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, visibly irritated, demanded Western nations provide a fraction of the military hardware in their stock piles and asked whether they were afraid of Moscow.

Ukraine needed just 1 percent of NATO’s aircraft and 1 percent of its tanks and would not ask for more, he said.

“We’ve already been waiting 31 days. Who is in charge of the Euro-Atlantic community? Is it really still Moscow, because of intimidation?” he added.

What is the price of this security? It is planes, tanks, missile defence, anti ship weapons for Ukraine. That is what our partners have… After all, this is all not only for the freedom of Ukraine, but for the freedom of Europe.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Russian sanctions can be lifted with conditions — UK

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has said that UK sanctions against Russia over its aggression on Ukraine could be lifted if Moscow committed to a full ceasefire and withdrew its troops.

“Sanctions should only come off with a full ceasefire and withdrawal, but also commitments that there will be no further aggression,” Truss told the Sunday Telegraph.

“And also, there’s the opportunity to have snapback sanctions if there is further aggression in future.”

For live updates from Saturday (March 26), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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