Russia invades Ukraine updates: War kills 136 children so far, Kyiv says

Russia invades Ukraine updates: War kills 136 children so far, Kyiv says
The New Arab has been providing live updates of the latest developments on the ground from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
21 min read
26 March, 2022

The war in Ukraine has killed 136 children in the 31 days since the start of the Russian invasion, Ukraine's office of the prosecutor general has said early today in a message on the Telegram app.

Of the total, 64 children have been killed in the Kyiv region, the office said. A further 50 children have died in the Donetsk region, it said. Additionally, 199 children have been wounded.

Late on Friday, the UN said that some 3.7 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion on 24 February.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said 3,725,806 Ukrainians had fled the country - an increase of 50,854 from the previous day's figure. Around 90 percent of them are women and children, the agency added.

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

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6:00 PM
The New Arab Staff

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

Here were the key developments from Saturday:

Biden meets Ukraine ministers

Joe Biden meets two Ukrainian ministers in Warsaw, the first face-to-face talks between the US president and top Kyiv officials since Russia's invasion began.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov make a rare trip out of Ukraine in a possible sign of growing confidence in the fightback against Russian forces.

Biden calls Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a "butcher" while meeting Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw.

Over 3.7 million refugees

Over 3.7 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion a month ago, the UN says.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says 3,772,599 Ukrainians had fled the country - an increase of 46,793 from the previous day's figure.

Around 90 percent of them are women and children. The UN estimated that another 6.5 million people are displaced in Ukraine.

Russia signals scaled-down goals

In a surprise statement, Sergei Rudskoi, a senior Russian general, suggests the time has come for a considerably reduced "main goal" of controlling Donbas, an eastern region already partly held by Russian proxies.

The apparent scaling down of ambitions comes as a Western official reports that a seventh Russian general, Lieutenant General Yakov Rezantsev, has died in Ukraine and that a colonel was "deliberately" killed by his own demoralised men.

Complicating Moscow's challenges, invading troops are facing a counteroffensive in Kherson, the only major Ukrainian city under Russian control.

Kyiv curfew cancelled

The mayor of Ukraine's capital Kyiv cancels a curfew he had announced just hours earlier for the next day without providing further explanation.

"New information from the military command: the Kyiv curfew will not enter into force tomorrow," mayor Vitali Klitschko announces on Telegram.

The usual overnight curfew from 8:00 pm (1800 GMT) to 07:00 am (0500 GMT) will remain, but people will be allowed out on Sunday during the day.

Russia takes Chernobyl town

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

"I have been released. Everything is fine, as far as it is possible under occupation," Yuri Fomichev, mayor of Slavutych, tells AFP by phone, after officials in the Ukraine capital Kyiv announced he had been detained.

Join us tomorrow for the latest updates from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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5:03 PM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine conflict is 'strategic failure' for Russia: Biden

US President Joe Biden has called the conflict in Ukraine a "strategic failure" for Russia but said ordinary Russians were "not our enemy".

"Let there be no doubt that this war has already been a strategic failure for Russia," Biden said in a speech at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.

4:26 PM
The New Arab Staff

Georgia's breakaway region sends troops to Ukraine

Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia has sent troops to Ukraine to "help protect Russia", its leader said today, as Moscow's military campaign in the neighbouring country entered its 31st day.

"Our guys are going to fulfil their military duty with a proudly raised banner," the leader of South Ossetia, Anatoly Bibilov, said on Telegram.

He said the troops were "on fire."

"They understand perfectly that they are going to defend Russia, they are going to defend Ossetia too," Bibilov said.

"Because if fascism is not crushed at the distant frontiers, tomorrow it will again manifest itself here."

He did not say how many troops had been deployed but posted a video showing several buses and trucks on the move.

The announcement came on the 31st day of the Kremlin's military campaign in pro-Western Ukraine, with thousands of people killed and more than 10 million displaced.

4:01 PM
The New Arab Staff

Five hurt in strikes on fuel depot in west Ukraine city

At least five people were wounded today in strikes that targeted a fuel storage facility near Lviv, officials said, in a rare attack on the west Ukraine city one month into Russia's invasion.

"There were two missile strikes within Lviv," the regional governor Maksym Kozytsky said on social media, adding that, "according to preliminary data, five people were injured".

The city's mayor Andriy Sadovy said in a later post that "an industrial facility where fuel is stored caught fire" as a result of the attack.

"No residential buildings were damaged. All relevant departments are working on site," he wrote, urging residents to remain indoors until air sirens had halted.

Plumes of thick smoke could be seen in the city centre and Lviv residents were standing outside their homes to observe the dark clouds billowing in the wind.

Twenty-one-year-old Taras, who lives 10 kilometres (6 miles from the strikes, said he hear a loud whistling sound at around 4:30 pm (1430 GMT)

"After that I heard other passers-by shout 'missile'. Then I heard two explosions, one with a very loud boom that echoed in the sky and the other, with a weaker sound," he said.

Olga, 44, a bank employee displaced from Kyiv who was several kilometers from the affected site, said she was walking when she heard two loud explosions.

"Very black smoke began to raise up. It was clear that something holding fuel had been hit. Ambulances, police cars and fire engines drove quickly towards the bombed site," she told AFP by telephone, declining to give her surname.

Kozytsky, the governor, added in a later post that he had visited the scene of the strikes and that the situation was "under control".

3:41 PM
The New Arab Staff

Thousands of Russians rally against Putin in Prague

Thousands of largely Russian protesters rallied against President Vladimir Putin in central Prague on Saturday, calling on him to stop the war in Ukraine.

Around 5,000 people, according to the organisers, chanted "Russia without Putin", "Freedom for Russia, peace for Ukraine" and "Putin is not Russia" as they marched through Prague's historic centre.

"The Czech Republic is home to 40,000 Russians and up to now these Russians have been unknown to the Czechs," organiser Anton Litvin told AFP.

"We want to show that the Russians who live here are against Putin, against the war, that they support Ukraine," added the artist and activist, who has lived in Prague for ten years.

"The Russians here are not Putinists, they are Europeans," said Litvin, holding one of many blue-and-white flags carried by the protesters.

He explained it was actually the Russian tricolor of red, blue and white adjusted for the occasion.

"We didn't want that red stripe symbolising blood so we cut it off. Now it's just white snow and clear blue sky," Litvin said.

Banners carried by the protesters called on Russians to "raise their voice and fight the real enemy, not Ukraine" and labelled Putin as a killer.

Russians in Prague holding placards take part in an anti-war demonstration [Getty]
3:39 PM
The New Arab Staff

Russian oligarchs welcome in Turkey, foreign minister says

Russian oligarchs are welcome in Turkey but must abide by international law in order to do any business, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Saturday.

Turkey has strongly criticized Russia's invasion of Ukraine but opposes sanctions imposed by its NATO allies on principle.

"If Russian oligarchs... or any Russian citizens want to visit Turkey of course they can," Cavusoglu said in response to a question at the Doha Forum international conference.

"If you mean whether these oligarchs can do any business in Turkey, then of course if it is legal and not against international law, I will consider it," he said, adding: "If it is against international law then that is another story."

Two superyachts linked to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich have docked in Turkish resorts.

Western governments have targeted Abramovich and several other Russian oligarchs with sanctions as they seek to isolate President Vladimir Putin and his allies over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Mevlut Cavusoglu [Getty]
3:13 PM
The New Arab Staff

German states outlaw display of Russia's 'Z' war symbol

Two German states have said they have outlawed public displays of the "Z" symbol used by the Russian army in their invasion of Ukraine.

Anyone who brandishes the symbol at demonstrations or paints it on cars or buildings in a show of support for Vladimir Putin's war could risk up to three years in jail or a fine in Lower Saxony or Bavaria.

"It is incomprehensible to me how this symbol 'Z' could be used in our country to condone this crime," said Lower Saxony's interior minister Boris Pistorius.

"Z", a letter that features in the Latin alphabet but not in Cyrillic, first appeared on military vehicles rolling towards Ukraine, possibly to distinguish them from Ukrainian forces and avoid friendly fire.

But the sign has since become ubiquitous on cars on the streets of Moscow, clothing and across social media profiles on the Russian internet - a trend the Russian authorities are eager to encourage.

In the German state of Lower Saxony too, there had been examples of such displays, said the state's interior ministry.

Bavaria's Justice Minister Georg Eisenreich noted that freedom of opinion is a "great asset" but it "ends where criminal law begins".

"Sympathisers who use the symbol 'Z' of Russian forces in Bavaria must know that they may be liable to prosecution for approving criminal acts," he said.

"We will not allow violations of international law to be condoned," he said.

Germany's federal prosecutor has opened a probe into suspected war crimes by Russian troops since the invasion of Ukraine.

2:48 PM
The New Arab Staff

Children among 44 severely wounded people trapped in Ukraine's Chernihiv city - mayor

The mayor of Ukraine's northern city of Chernihiv said today that 44 severely wounded people, including three children, could not be evacuated to safer areas for treatment since the city had been cut off by Russian forces.

The city near the Belarusian border has been effectively surrounded, local authorities said on Friday, warning that it had become impossible to evacuate civilians or bring in humanitarian aid because a bridge linking the city to Ukraine's capital to the south had been destroyed by bombing.

Speaking on national television, Chernihiv Mayor Vladyslav Atroshenko said the situation was particularly critical for 44 wounded people needing emergency treatment.

"They can't survive here due to the severity of their wounds, they need urgent evacuation," he said.

He said there were still up to 130,000 people without heating, electricity or water supplies in Chernihiv, which he said was under heavy bombardment by Russian forces. The city had a pre-war population of around 290,000, he said.

On Friday, Russia's defence ministry said Russian forces had "blocked" Ukrainian cities, including Chernihiv, to tie down the Ukrainian military while Russia focused on taking control in the eastern Donbass region.

Russia has denied targeting civilians since its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, which it calls a "special military operation".

2:37 PM
The New Arab Staff

Kremlin says Biden's Putin comments limit prospects of mending ties

New comments by US President Joe Biden about his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin narrow the prospects for mending ties between the two countries, TASS news agency cited a Kremlin spokesman as saying today.

Biden referred to Putin as a "butcher" during a visit to NATO ally Poland and said he was not sure Russia was changing its strategy in Ukraine, despite getting bogged down in some areas.

Putin sent Russian troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what he calls a "special military operation".

Moscow denies targeting civilians.

2:25 PM
The New Arab Staff

Russia says not planning to call up reserves

Russia has said it did not plan to call up reservists as Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine entered its 31st day, denouncing what it claimed were "false" summons to Russian men by Kyiv's security services.

"The Russian defence ministry is not summoning and does not plan to summon any reservists to the military commissariats," spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement today.

In the statement posted on messaging app Telegram, Konashenkov said that "many" Russian men had in recent days received "false" phone calls notifying them of their summons to the military commissariats.

"All such fake calls are made from Ukrainian territory," Konashenkov said. "They absolutely do not correspond to reality and are a provocation of the Ukrainian special services."

While Ukrainian forces have stalled the initial Russian advance and launched some successful counterattacks, there are signs that both sides are digging in for a long conflict that neither can easily win.

2:04 PM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine's grain export situation worsening by the day, says agriculture minister

Ukraine's new agriculture minister Mykola Solskyi on Saturday said Ukraine's ability to export grains was getting worse by the day and would only improve if the war with Russia ends.

Speaking in a televised briefing, Solskyi said Ukraine, one of the world's top grain producers, would normally be exporting 4-5 million tonnes of grain per month - a volume that has fallen to just a few hundred-thousand tonnes.

"The impact (on global markets) is direct, dramatic and large. And it continues. Every day the situation will become more and more difficult," he said.

1:51 PM
The New Arab Staff

Missouri station offering Russian state radio to listeners

A man who runs a little-known, low-budget radio station in suburban Kansas City says he is standing up for free speech and alternative viewpoints when he airs Russian state-sponsored programming in the midst of the Ukrainian war.

Radio Sputnik, funded by the Russian government, pays broadcast companies in the US to air its programs. Only two do so: One is Peter Schartel's company in Liberty, Missouri, and one is in Washington, D.C.

Schartel started airing the Russian programming in January 2020, but criticism intensified after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Schartel said people accuse him and his wife of being traitors to the US and occasionally issue threats.

Some critics say he is promoting propaganda and misinformation, but Schartel maintains most people who call to complain haven't listened to the program.

"Some will talk to me, but others will still call me a piece of whatever," he said. "What I am thankful for is we are still living in a country where they can call me up. Even if they aren’t thinking about free speech they’re exercising that right."

Radio Sputnik is produced by the US-based branch of Rossiya Segodnya, a media group operated by the Russian government.

Sputnik is a radio station funded by the Russian government [Getty]
1:19 PM
The New Arab Staff

Totalenergies CEO says will not put new capital in Russia

Totalenergies CEO Patrick Pouyanne has said today that the company would not many any new investments in Russia.

"Clearly, what we said is that we are totally committed to apply all the sanctions," he said, adding that meant no new investment.

"So the question for us is what do we do with existing assets. And these ones we are not ready to give for zero to Russian people, to Russian oligarchs or to Russia."

Totalenergies [Getty]
1:07 PM
The New Arab Staff

Poland taking big responsibility in Ukraine crisis, says Biden

Poland is taking a "significant" responsibility in the humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, US President Joe Biden said during a visit to Warsaw, adding that the world should help lessen the burden.

Biden also told his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda he views NATO's Article 5 guarantee of mutual defence between member-states as a "sacred" commitment.

12:55 PM
The New Arab Staff

Misinformation has become 'WWIII', says Ukraine official

The Ukraine conflict has unleashed a "Third World War" over misinformation, an official from the beleaguered country has said today.

Russia's war on Ukraine has also forced a profound change in the way big tech companies are handling information, experts told the Doha Forum at which Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova put Ukraine's case.

Russia has put huge resources into getting across its message in the media and on social media platforms that its invasion of Ukraine is a "special operation", while President Vladimir Putin has said it intends to "denazify Ukraine".

"I believe we are entering a Third World War, not a conventional conflict but an information war," said Dzhaparova, a former journalist.

"It is like radiation -- you don't feel it, you don't touch it, but it affects you."

Dzhaparova said Russia's "narrativization" of the war had been one of the key elements that had made Ukrainians more determined to resist.

She said it was a bigger problem to convince Russians and other countries because of the effectiveness of the Russian campaign which has increased since its seizure of Crimea eight years ago.

As well as political leaders, the Kremlin has used social media, sports people and popular musicians to get its message across, she said.

"Russia has been very inventive in this field," according to the minister who said other countries were struggling to deal with it as "people don't know who to trust."

"The best weapon is the truth," she said. "But there are millions of Russians who just do not want to believe. When you show them the facts it just does not work."

12:33 PM
The New Arab

EU recovery fund could be repurposed over Ukraine - German finance minister

The European Union recovery fund set up to help the bloc recover from the Covid-19 pandemic could be repurposed in light of the war in Ukraine, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner was quoted as saying today.

"In view of the changed situation, I'm open to prioritising the available funds," Lindner told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper.

The minister who leads the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) added that what is needed are "investments in infrastructure, energy and competitiveness, but not more state consumption and postponed reforms".

In an unprecedented move to prevent economic fragmentation due to the pandemic, EU countries agreed in 2020 to jointly borrow 800 billion euros ($878 billion) to spend on rebuilding their economies to be greener and more digitised.

The EU will discuss in a few weeks whether it needs to jointly borrow more money in response to the challenges created by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, European Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said on Tuesday.

France is leading calls for new EU debt, while Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and other countries oppose such new borrowing now, arguing that the economic impact of the war in Ukraine is still unclear and that only 74 billion euros of the fund has been disbursed so far.

12:21 PM
The New Arab Staff

Kyiv mayor says Ukraine military imposes longer curfew

A longer curfew in the Ukrainian capital will be imposed from 2000 local time (1800 GMT) on Saturday until 0800 local time on Monday, the mayor of Kyiv said.

Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in an online post that the decision was made by the Ukrainian military, without giving further details.

Kyiv [Getty]
10:54 AM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine says 10 humanitarian corridors agreed for front line areas

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said an agreement has been reached on the establishment of 10 humanitarian corridors today to evacuate civilians from front line hotspots in Ukrainian towns and cities

Speaking on national television, she said civilians trying to leave the besieged southern port of Mariupol would have to leave in private cars as Russian forces were not letting buses through their checkpoints around the southern port city.

Ukraine and Russia have traded blame when humanitarian corridors have failed to work in recent weeks.

Stranded Ukrainians [Getty]
10:16 AM
The New Arab Staff

English town sends message to Putin, Ukrainian refugees

A peaceful market town in the east of England is uniting for Ukraine, sending aid trucks, prepping beds for refugees, and even raising funds with an expletive-laden pub cocktail.

Like many communities around Europe, the people of Diss, population 8,000, want to do their bit to help Ukraine, identifying with the immediacy and proximity of the conflict in a different way to wars in Syria, Afghanistan, or further afield.

"It's been very graphic, hasn't it? On the television, we've seen pictures of people like us, and you think 'blimey, what if that happened to me?'," said Debbie Gaze, who started a Facebook group to bring locals together to host those fleeing the Russian invasion.

"It could be my grandma. It could be my daughter.... I'd like someone to help take care of them if the roles were reversed," she told AFP.

Over 3.7 million Ukrainians have fled the country during Russia's month-long invasion, the United Nations says, including 1.5 million children.

Many prefer to stay in neighbouring eastern European countries, in the hope that Russian President Vladimir Putin's devastating invasion might soon end.

But others are fleeing further afield, including to Diss, around 80 miles (130 kilometres) northeast of London.

Diss is a typical pretty English market town, complete with tea rooms, a picturesque antique shop, and a sign warning drivers to watch out for ducks crossing the road.

"It's beautiful here, and it's quite rural, but it can also be quite lonely," said Gaze.

Within 24 hours of starting her online group, she had over 200 people in the tiny community saying "count me in, what can I do?".

Residents have been contacting fleeing Ukrainians via social media and helping with their visa applications.

Members of Diss Waveney Rotary Club collect donations to support Ukrainian refugees -Getty
9:54 AM
The New Arab

Mariupol mayor says discussed civilian evacuations with French ambassador

The mayor of the besieged city of Mariupol has spoken to France's ambassador to Ukraine about options for evacuating civilians after French President Emmanuel Macron said he would propose to Russia a plan to help people leave.

Speaking on national television, Mayor Vadym Boichenko said the situation in the encircled city remained critical, with street fighting taking place in its centre.

Ukrainian refugees [Getty]
9:38 AM
The New Arab Staff

Kyiv region head says Russian forces have seized Chernobyl workers' town

Russian forces have taken control of the town of Slavutych, where workers at the defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant live, the governor of Kyiv region Oleksandr Pavlyuk said today, according to Reuters.

In an online statement, Pavlyuk said Russian troops had occupied the hospital in Slavutych and kidnapped the mayor.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

On Friday, Ukraine said its troops had repulsed a first attack by Russian troops closing in on the town.

Chernobyl [Getty]
9:26 AM
The New Arab Staff

Biden to meet Ukrainian ministers in Warsaw

Joe Biden today prepared to meet in Warsaw with two Ukrainian ministers in the first face-to-face meeting between the US president and top Kyiv officials since Russia's invasion began.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov will be making a rare trip out of Ukraine in a possible sign of growing confidence in the fightback against Russian forces.

The White House said Biden would "drop by" a meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin with Kuleba and Reznikov in the Polish capital.

Biden last met Kuleba in Washington on February 22 - two days before Russia began its assault.

Since then, Kuleba has also met with Blinken in Poland next to the border with Ukraine on March 5.

Biden is on the second and final day of a visit to Poland after he met with EU and NATO leaders in Brussels earlier in the week.

US President Joe Biden arrives at Warsaw Chopin International Airport [Getty]
9:03 AM
The New Arab Staff

Russian defence minister seen speaking at army meeting after long public silence

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu was seen chairing an army meeting and discussing weapons supplies in a video posted by his ministry today, the first time he had publicly been shown speaking for more than two weeks.

In the video, uploaded on social media, Shoigu said he had discussed issues related to the military budget and defence orders with the finance ministry.

"We continue ahead-of-schedule delivery of weaponry and equipment by means of credits. The priorities are long-range high-precision weapons, aircraft equipment and maintenance of engagement readiness of strategic nuclear forces," said Shoigu, who is overseeing what Russia calls its special military operation in Ukraine.

The meeting was attended by a number of top Russian army officials including the chief of the General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, who also had not been seen in public recently.

Shoigu appeared on screen in a video clip of a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and his Security Council on Thursday, but was not shown speaking.

Prior to that, he had not been seen in public since March 11, fuelling speculation about his whereabouts.

8:51 AM
The New Arab Staff

Russia fuelling nuclear arms race: Zelensky

Russia's "bragging" about its nuclear weapons is fuelling a dangerous arms race, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky told the Doha Forum today.

Zelensky also called on Qatar, which organises the annual meeting of international political and business leaders, to increase production of natural gas to counter Russian efforts to use energy as a weapon.

"They are bragging that they can destroy with nuclear weapons not only a certain country but the entire planet," Zelensky said in a live video message to the forum on the 31st day of the Russian military assault against his country.

When Ukraine dismantled its nuclear stockpile in the 1990s it was given "security assurances from the most powerful countries in the world", including Russia, he said in comments translated into English for the conference.

"But these assurances did not become guarantees. And in fact, one of the countries supposed to give one of the greatest security promise started to work against Ukraine and this is the ultimate manifestation of injustice," Zelensky added.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends the Doha Forum via video [Getty]
8:30 AM
The New Arab Staff

US to sanction Russian firms providing tech to Moscow's military - WSJ

The Biden administration is preparing sanctions targeting Russian companies it says provides goods and services to Moscow's military and intelligence services, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

The US Treasury Department sanctions could be announced as early as next week, the report said, citing US officials.

The Treasury Department declined to comment on the report.

Most of the companies that are expected to come under the reported sanctions - including Serniya Engineering and equipment maker Sertal - were earlier added to a US list banning exports of sensitive technologies to them, according to the report.

While that blackballs the firms, it does not ban all business dealings, the report added.

8:15 AM
The New Arab Staff

Turkish President Erdogan talks with Zelensky

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky by telephone, discussing the situation in Ukraine and negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv, Erdogan’s office said late on Friday.

Erdogan told his counterpart that he had raised Turkey’s support for Ukrainian territorial integrity at a recent NATO summit, where he had relayed the diplomatic efforts made by Turkey in one-one-one meetings with other leaders, according to a statement from the Turkish presidency.

Ankara, which has close ties with both Russia and Ukraine, has positioned itself as a neutral party, seeking to facilitate negotiations between the warring sides.