Russia invades Ukraine updates: Attacks intensify around Kyiv

Russia invades Ukraine updates: Attacks intensify around Kyiv
The New Arab is providing live updates of the latest on the ground and additional analysis on the conflict's significance. 
16 min read
12 March, 2022

Russian forces inched towards Kyiv early 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.

Air raid sirens sounded in several cities, including the capital Kyiv, Odessa, Dnipro and Kharkiv, according to Ukrainian media.

More than two weeks after Moscow shocked the world by invading Ukraine, the United Nations and others said it may be committing war crimes in cities such as Mariupol, which for days has been under attack by Vladimir Putin's forces.

Survivors have been trying to flee Russian bombardment in a freezing city left without water or heating and running out of food. The situation is "desperate," a Doctors Without Borders official said.

The New Arab is providing live updates of the latest on the ground and additional analysis on the conflict's significance. 

Follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for more updates. 

4:00 AM
The New Arab Staff

The New Arab concludes its live coverage of the latest updates from the Russian invasion of Ukraine for today.

Here were the key developments:

Russia encircling Kyiv 

Russian forces advanced ever closer to the capital from the north, west and northeast. Russian strikes also destroyed an airport in the town of Vasylkiv, south of the city. 

Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Kiev is already effectively "under siege" as the army and volunteers prepare to defend the city, street by street. 

US authorises $200 mn military aid 

US President Joe Biden authorised $200 million in additional military equipment for Ukraine. Washington has already authorised $350 million of military equipment - the largest such package in US history.

Mosque shelled, cancer hospital hit 

A mosque housing 80 civilians, including some Turkish nationals, was shelled in the besieged southern port of Mariupol, Ukraine said, without specifying when. 

No immediate figures for casualties are available. 

A cancer treatment hospital and an eye clinic also came under fire in the city of Mykolaiv, near the strategic Black Sea port of Odessa, an AFP reporter witnesses. There are no reports of casualties. 

Mayor abducted 

Ukrainian lawmakers said Russian soldiers abducted the mayor of the southern city of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov. A senior official publishes a video showing soldiers escorting a man from a building, his head apparently covered in a black bag. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked France and Germany to help secure his release. 

Ukraine says Russians shot 7 evacuees 

Russian troops shot at a group of women and children evacuees leaving a village near Kyiv, killing seven, one of them a child, Ukraine's military intelligence service said.

West steps up sanctions 

Washington announced a ban on Russian seafood, vodka and diamonds, and along with the European Union, bans exports of luxury goods to Russia. 

Space station 'could crash' 

The head of Russian space agency Roscosmos warned that Western sanctions could cause the International Space Station to crash. 

Dmitry Rogozin said the sanctions are affecting supplies to the Russian part of the station, which corrects the station's orbit. 

Join us tomorrow for more news and analysis on the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for more.

3:57 AM
The New Arab Staff

NATO chief says Russia may use chemical weapons

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday that Russia might use chemical weapons following its invasion of Ukraine and that such a move would be a war crime, according to an interview in German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

"In recent days, we have heard absurd claims about chemical and biological weapons laboratories," said Stoltenberg quoted by Welt am Sonntag, adding that the Kremlin was inventing false pretexts to justify what could not be justified.


10:38 PM
The New Arab Staff

Women, children who died in Russian attack were escaping 'without green corridor' 

Women and children who Ukraine said died when Russian forces attacked a convoy escaping a village in the Kyiv region on Saturday were not as previously stated in an agreed evacuation corridor, the defence ministry said.

Ukraine's intelligence service initially said those who died outside Peremoha had been in a "green corridor" agreed with Russia.

A defence ministry statement later said people had in fact tried to escape by themselves, "so they began evacuating without the 'green corridor' agreed by the parties".

9:28 PM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine speaks to Israel about prospects for peace talks 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday that he had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and discussed the prospects for peace talks to end Russia's invasion. 

Zelensky also said he had asked Bennett for help in freeing the mayor of the city of Melitopol, whom Ukraine says was abducted by Russian forces.

9:04 PM
The New Arab Staff

Russia calls the humanitarian situation in Ukraine 'catastrophic' in some cities 

The Russian military said on Saturday that the humanitarian situation in Ukraine is deteriorating quickly and has become catastrophic in a number of cities. 

"Unfortunately, the humanitarian situation in Ukraine is continuing to deteriorate rapidly, and in some cities it has reached catastrophic proportions," said the head of the Russian National Defence Control Centre Mikhail Mizintsev.

The comments from Russia came on the 17th day of what Moscow has termed a "special military operation".  The US and EU as well as countries across the world have condemned Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, which so far has killed hundreds of civilians and forced millions to flee their homes. 

8:27 PM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine accuses Russia of planning fake referendum 

Ukrainian officials on Saturday accused Russia of planning a fake referendum on creating a pro-Moscow "people's republic" in the southern Black Sea city of Kherson.

Russian forces seized the port city - which has a population of 290,000 people - on March 3 following a three-day siege.

It was the first major city to fall following Moscow's invasion.

To read more about the city Kherson, click here. 

8:25 PM
The New Arab Staff

Biden authorises additional funds for Ukraine 

As Ukraine prepares for a further Russian onslaught, US President Joe Biden has authorised an additional $200 million in weapons and other assistance for Ukraine. 

The decision brings total US security aid provided to Ukraine to $1.2 billion since January 2021, and to $3.2 billion since 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine, according to senior administration officials.

Biden said 'the free world is coming together' to stand up to Mr. Putin [Getty]
5:43 PM
The New Arab Staff

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

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

Speaking at a virtual event organized by the non-partisan, nonprofit organisation 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.

Dmytro Kuleba [Getty]
4:24 PM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine: seven civilians dead after Russia fired at evacuation convoy

Ukraine's intelligence service accused Russia on Saturday of firing at a convoy of civilian evacuees from the village of Peremoha in the Kyiv region, causing seven deaths.

"After the attack, the occupiers forced the remnants of the column to turn back to Peremoha and are not letting them out of the village," the intelligence service said in a statement.

Russia has denied targeting civilians since it invaded Ukraine three weeks ago.

4:09 PM
The New Arab Staff

Zelensky describes 'fundamentally different approach' from Moscow in talks

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that Russia had adopted a "fundamentally different approach" in talks to end the conflict.

In a media briefing, Zelensky said that the approach was in contrast to earlier talks at which Moscow only "issued ultimatums" and that he was "happy to have a signal from Russia" after President Vladimir Putin said he saw "some positive shifts" in their dialogue.

Putin indicated previously that negotiations are "now being held on an almost daily basis".

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators have held several rounds of talks since Putin sent in troops to the country.

3:37 PM
The New Arab Staff

Fitch downgrades Russia oil, gas firms on default risk

Credit rater Fitch has today downgraded 28 Russian natural resources companies, including state gas giant Gazprom, warning they risk defaulting on payments under sanctions imposed for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Fitch Ratings said in a statement it had lowered the rating on the companies, which also include oil producer Lukoil and miner Rusal, from B to CC.

The latter rating implies some form of default on their payments was "probable".

It cited a Russian decree on March 5 that authorised Russian companies to settle debts to certain blacklisted foreign companies in rubles rather than foreign currency.

The move, announced as the ruble plunged, was a response to international sanctions imposed on Russia because of its February 24 invasion.

The decree, "against the backdrop of an escalating sanctions regime, could impose insurmountable barriers to many corporates' ability to make timely payments on foreign- and local-currency debt to certain international creditors," Fitch said.

3:14 PM
The New Arab Staff

Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear plants being run by Ukrainian staff - Russia

The Ukrainian nuclear power plants at Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia, both now under the control of Russian forces, are being run and managed by their Ukrainian staff, Russia's atomic energy agency Rosatom has said, according to the RIA news agency.

Rosatom's statement said an external power supply was being restored to the defunct Chernobyl plant, site of the world's worst nuclear accident in 1986, with the help of Russian specialists.

It also said activities to ensure safety at the plants were being carried out in coordination with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

2:47 PM
The New Arab Staff

'Around 1,300' Ukrainian troops killed since Russia invasion: Zelensky

"Around 1,300" Ukrainian troops have been killed since Russia invaded its pro-Western neighbour, the country's President Volodymyr Zelensky has said as Moscow's forces closed in on the capital Kyiv.

Zelensky made the disclosure at a media briefing, the first time Kyiv had given such a toll since the beginning of fighting.

On March 2 Russia said it had lost nearly 500 soldiers, but has not updated the figure since.

2:13 PM
The New Arab Staff

Governor of Ukraine's Kyiv region says evacuations ongoing

Evacuations of civilians from frontline towns in Ukraine's Kyiv region were proceeding today and are planned to continue on Sunday, regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba told local media.

"We will try to get people out every day, as long as it's possible to observe a ceasefire," he said. 

2:00 PM
The New Arab Staff

2.6 million flee Ukraine war: UN

The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine since the Russian invasion two weeks ago is now nearly 2.6 million, the UN has said.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said there were 2,597,543 refugees who had fled Ukraine so far, in the latest update on Saturday afternoon.

The figure was 92,650 higher than the last count on Friday.

This is the largest exodus of refugees in Europe since World War II, according to UN refugee agency chief Filippo Grandi.

1:39 PM
The New Arab Staff

Putin slams 'flagrant violation' of international humanitarian law by Ukraine forces: Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin has slammed what he said was the "flagrant violation" of international humanitarian law by Ukraine's forces as he held phone talks with the leaders of France and Germany, the Kremlin said.

"Putin informed (them) about the real state of affairs" in Ukraine, his office said in a statement. "In particular, numerous examples of the flagrant violation of the norms of international humanitarian law by Ukrainian security forces were cited," the statement said.

Putin accused the Ukrainian army of "extrajudicial executions of dissenters" and "taking hostages and using civilians as human shields", the Kremlin said.

He also claimed that the Ukrainian army were deploying heavy weapons near hospitals, schools, and kindergartens.

"At the same time, nationalist battalions are systematically disrupting operations to rescue the population, intimidating civilians during evacuation attempts," the Kremlin said.

1:15 PM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine bans fertiliser exports - agriculture ministry

Ukraine, a major global producer of agricultural products, has banned exports of fertilisers given the Russian invasion, the agriculture ministry said today.

Ukraine has already banned exports of some agricultural commodities and introduced licenses for its key export goods - wheat, corn and sunflower oil.

"The cabinet of ministers is introducing a zero quota for the export of mineral fertilisers that is a de facto ban on the export of fertilisers from Ukraine," the ministry said in a statement.

It said the ban would help "to maintain balance in the domestic market" and applied to nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and complex fertilisers.

12:51 PM
The New Arab Staff

Russia engineers inspect seized Ukraine nuclear plant

Russian engineers have arrived to measure radiation at a Ukrainian nuclear plant, the seizure of which during Moscow's invasion of the country sparked international alarm, officials said.

Russia occupied Zaporizhzhia, Europe's biggest atomic power plant, after its forces attacked it on March 4.

Its reactors appeared undamaged after the assault despite a fire that broke out there after tanks bombarded it.

Officials from Russia's nuclear firm Rosatom arrived at the site on Friday, the Ukrainian nuclear agency Energoatom said in a message on Telegram.

The Russians told Ukrainian personnel they were there "to evaluate the radiation level" and "help to repair the plant" which was hit by shells, Energoatom said.

At the time of the attack, Moscow's UN ambassador denied that Russia had shelled the plant.

The Ukrainian agency said that the Russians had come directly to the site because Ukrainian personnel had refused to collaborate with them.

It said one of the Russians who arrived at the plant had introduced himself as the new civil and military administrator of the area and declared the plant part of Russian territory, to be run by Rosatom.

With six reactors, Zaporizhzhia can power up to four million homes and produces about a fifth of Ukraine's electricity. It opened in 1985.

12:35 PM
The New Arab Staff

Italy seizes Russian oligarch Melnichenko's Sailing Yacht A

Italian police have seized a super-yacht from Russian billionaire Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko, the prime minister's office said today, a few days after the businessman was placed on an EU sanctions list following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The 143-metre (470-foot) Sailing Yacht A, which has a price tag of 530 million euros ($578 million), has been sequestered at the northern port of Trieste, the government said.

Designed by Philippe Starck and built by Nobiskrug in Germany, the vessel is the world's biggest sailing yacht, the government said.

Melnichenko owned major fertiliser producer EuroChem Group and coal company SUEK.

The companies said in statements on Thursday that he had resigned as a member of the board in both companies and withdrawn as their beneficiary, effective on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for Melnichenko, Alex Andreev, said the businessman had "no relation to the tragic events in Ukraine. He has no political affiliations".

"There is no justification whatsoever for placing him on the EU sanctions list," Andreev said.

"We will be disputing these baseless and unjustified sanctions, and believe that the rule of law and common sense will prevail."

11:35 AM
The New Arab Staff

Macron, Scholz call with Putin under way - Elysee

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 today.

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.

11:14 AM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine’s president says Russia sending new troops after heavy losses

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

Zelenskiy 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, Zelenskiy 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. 

Zelenskiy [Getty]
10:55 AM
The New Arab Staff

Russia says it is in constant contact with US, ready for arms control talks

Russia is prepared to resume arms control talks with the United States if Washington is, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has said today, according to RIA news agency.

Ryabkov said that Moscow and Washington remain in constant contact, but that the Kremlin sees no signs that Washington is ready to continue a dialogue on Ukraine.

However, Ryabkov said proposals on security guarantees that Russia had sent to the United States and NATO before Russian forces entered Ukraine last month were no longer valid as the situation had now changed completely.

10:34 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israel not pushing Ukraine to yield to Russian demands, Ukraine adviser says

A top Ukrainian adviser has pushed back against suggestions Israel tried to nudge Ukraine into caving to Russian demands during talks.

A report in Israel's Walla news and Jerusalem Post had suggested, citing an unidentified Ukrainian official, that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had urged Ukraine to give in to Russia.

Israel, "just as other conditional intermediary countries, does NOT offer Ukraine to agree to any demands of the Russian Federation," Ukrainian adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter.

"This is impossible for military & political reasons. On the contrary, Israel urges Russia to assess the events more adequately."

10:15 AM
The New Arab Staff

Russia says it could target Western arms supplies to Ukraine

Russia has said its troops could target supplies of Western weapons in Ukraine, where the Russian army has been advancing since late February.

"We warned the United States that the orchestrated pumping of weapons from a number of countries is not just a dangerous move, it is a move that turns these convoys into legitimate targets," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told state television.

He said Moscow had warned "about the consequences of the thoughtless transfer to Ukraine of weapons like man-portable air defence systems, anti-tank missile systems and so on."

Ryabkov said Washington had not taken Moscow's warnings seriously and added that Russia and the US were not holding any "negotiation processes" on Ukraine.

9:45 AM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine says Russian forces shelled mosque in Mariupol

Russian forces have shelled a mosque in the southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, where more than 80 adults and children, including Turkish citizens, have taken refuge, Ukraine's foreign ministry said today.

Ukraine has accused Russia of refusing to allow people out of Mariupol, where a blockade has left hundreds of thousands trapped. Russia blames Ukraine for the failure to evacuate people.

"The mosque of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and his wife Roxolana (Hurrem Sultan) in Mariupol was shelled by Russian invaders," the foreign ministry said in a tweet.

"More than 80 adults and children are hiding there from the shelling, including citizens of Turkey."

It did not say if there were any people killed or wounded.

9:32 AM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine expects new wave of Russian attacks on Kyiv, Kharkiv and Donbass regions

Ukraine expects a new wave of attacks on the Kyiv, Kharkiv and Donbass regions after a slowdown in Russia's offensive, Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the Ukrainian president's chief of staff, said today.

Arestovych also said Ukraine did not expect Belarus to join the Russian invasion force.

9:15 AM
The New Arab Staff

Russia says sanctions could threaten space hub

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 today, 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.

8:45 AM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine at 'turning point', Zelenskiy says as Russians regroup near Kyiv

Air raid sirens blared across most Ukrainian cities this morning urging people to seek shelters, local media reported, after President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the war had reached a "strategic turning point".

Russian forces appeared to be regrouping, possibly for a fresh offensive which could target the capital Kyiv, Ukraine's military and Britian's defence ministry said.

With the Russian assault in its third week, Zelenskiy, who has rallied his people with a series of addresses from the capital Kyiv, said Ukraine had "already reached a strategic turning point".

"It is impossible to say how many days we still have (ahead of us) to free Ukrainian land. But we can say we will do it," he said. "We are already moving towards our goal, our victory."

Zelenskiy [Getty]
8:30 AM
The New Arab Staff

Russian forces squeeze Kyiv, surround Mariupol

Russian forces inched towards Kyiv today 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.

Air raid sirens sounded Saturday in several cities, including the capital Kyiv, Odessa, Dnipro and Kharkiv, according to Ukrainian media.

More than two weeks after Moscow shocked the world by invading Ukraine, the United Nations and others said it may be committing war crimes in cities such as Mariupol, which for days has been under attack by Vladimir Putin's forces.