The New Arab's live coverage of the latest on the Ukraine-Russia crisis concludes for today.
Join us tomorrow for the latest news and analysis on Ukraine-Russia.
NATO has said it will send more forces to its eastern borders, as the war in Ukraine continues to intensify.
In a meeting on Thursday, NATO is expected to announce that further troop deployments will be made to its eastern flank amid the threat from Russia.
"I expect leaders will agree to strengthen NATO's posture in all domains, with major increases in the eastern part of the alliance. On land, in the air and at sea," the body's chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.
NATO has also pledged to send bio and chemical suits to Ukraine amid the threat of unconventional attacks from Russia.
NATO has around 40,000 troops in eastern Europe including Poland and the Baltic states, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, Ukraine says 100,000 civilians remain trapped in the besieged port city of Mariupol, with fears of a Russian assault looming.
Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of keeping civilians hostage as shells continue to rain down on the city.
"Employees of the state emergency service and bus drivers have been taken captive," he warned.
He added that people are living under a "total blockade. Without food, water, medication. Under constant shelling, under constant bombing".
Ukrainian forces are continuing to repulse Moscow's assaults on the city although there are reports of Russian soldiers moving into Mariupol.
The New Arab is providing live updates of what's been happening on the ground in Ukraine and additional analysis on the conflict's significance.
Renault on Wednesday said it would suspend operations at its plant in Moscow while it assesses options on its majority stake in Avtovaz, the country's number one carmaker.
The French carmaker as a consequence revised its operating group margin to around 3% from at or above 4%.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy earlier accused Renault of financing the war and said Renault, among other French companies, must stop "financing the murder of children and women, of rape."
A total of 4,554 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Wednesday, a senior official said, considerably fewer than managed to escape the previous day.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president's office, said in an online post that 2,912 people had left the besieged city of Mariupol in private vehicles. On Tuesday, he said 8,057 people had managed to escape from cities across the country.
A Russian journalist for the investigative news outlet The Insider was killed when Russian troops shelled a residential neighbourhood in the Ukrainian capital, the outlet said Wednesday.
Oksana Baulina, who previously also worked for Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny's anti-corruption group, "died under fire in Kyiv" while "filming the destruction" caused by Russian shelling, The Insider said on its website.
The Insider journalist Oksana Baulina was killed in Kyiv.— Oleksandra Matviichuk (@avalaina) March 23, 2022
She made report about the destruction in the Podolsk district after the shelling by Russian troops and came under new missile fire.#RussianWarCrimes pic.twitter.com/hPTqVX04O9
Germany will send 2,000 additional anti-tank weapons to Ukraine to help it repel the Russian invasion, a parliamentary source told AFP on Wednesday.
The parliamentary source, who wished to remain anonymous, confirmed the 2,000 additional anti-tank weapons would be sent to Ukraine, confirming information circulating in the German media.
"We are one of the biggest suppliers of arms to Ukraine in the current situation," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told parliament on Wednesday.
"This does not make us proud, but this is what we must do now to help Ukraine," she added.
A top US official said Wednesday that new sanctions will be announced against Russian "political figures" and the wealthy elite close to President Vladimir Putin known as oligarchs.
"We, the United States, will announce a package of sanctions designations tomorrow that relate both to political figures, oligarchs,... as well as entities," National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said aboard Air Force One, which was en route to Brussels for NATO and EU summits on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Sullivan said Western partners were also looking to "coordinate on sanctions enforcement so that Russian efforts to evade the sanctions can be dealt with effectively."
Russia shelled several neighbourhoods in the Ukrainian capital on Wednesday, killing one person and injuring at least six others, according to city officials, as fierce fighting raged on Kyiv's outskirts against Russian forces seeking to encircle the city.
Kyiv mayor Viltali Klitschko said the casualties were the result of an air strike that hit a car park outside a shopping mall in Kyiv's Podil district.
"Dear Kyiv residents! The enemy is continuing to shell the capital," Klitschko said on Telegram.
Russia's demand for payments in rubles for gas deliveries to Europe constitutes a breach of contract, Germany warned Wednesday.
"The announcement of paying in rubles is... a breach of the contract and we will now discuss with our European partners how we would react to that," said German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, whose country imported 55 percent of its natural gas from Russia before Moscow invaded Ukraine.
While not involved in the Ukraine war, Russia and Iran have been indirectly involved in the crisis.
Russia and Iran have been key military backers of the Assad regime, pouring in thousands of militia fighters (in Tehran's case) into Syria and providing key air support (with Russia).
The foreign ministers of Iran and Syria met in Damascus to discuss the war in Ukraine on Wednesday.
While Syria has been stalwart in its support for Russia's actions in Ukraine, Iran has been a little more reticent about its position on the invasion.
The Syrian and Iranian foreign ministers are to discuss the latest developments in Iran’s negotiations to restore Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers and Assad’s visit to the United Arab Emirates last week.https://t.co/KKbSwtf9bx— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) March 23, 2022
The Spring Budget has been big news in the UK, with a squeeze on household budgets due to rises in energy prices, in part due to the Ukraine invasion.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak used the budget address to highlight the issue in Ukraine, which has dominated front-page news in the UK over the past month.
Sunak pledged £400 million in aid to Ukraine in budget.
The Treasury has blamed inflation, which has hit most households in the country, on the Ukraine crisis.
Spring statement £400million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine is coming out of the already-reduced UK aid budget, not new cash. Money obviously needed but it may mean cuts elsewhere, in countries also experiencing extreme hardship.— Jessica Elgot (@jessicaelgot) March 23, 2022
President Zelensky has spoken with UK PM Boris Johnson by phone
Had a phone conversation with @BorisJohnson. Received assurances of his support on the eve of tomorrow's important meetings. Discussed the course of hostilities and defense assistance to Ukraine. We will win together.— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 23, 2022
BREAKING: Russian govt official Anatoly Chubais has stepped down and left the country, citing his opposition to Putin’s war in Ukraine, sources tell Bloomberg News. He is highest-level official to break with the Kremlin over the invasion.— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) March 23, 2022
NATO leaders are set to agree extra support for Ukraine to deal with chemical and nuclear threats as it battles Russia's invading forces, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday.
"Tomorrow, I expect allies will agree to provide additional support, including cybersecurity assistance as well as equipment to help Ukraine protect against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats," Stoltenberg said ahead of an urgent NATO summit in Brussels Thursday.
NATO leaders are set to agree at a summit significant new troop deployments for eastern allies in response to Russia's war in Ukraine, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday.
"I expect leaders will agree to strengthen NATO's posture in all domains with major increases of forces in the eastern part of the alliance, on land, in the air and at sea. The first step is the deployment of four new NATO battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia," Stoltenberg told journalists ahead of an urgent summit happening Thursday.
Russia accuses US of hindering Ukraine talks
"The talks are tough, the Ukrainian side constantly changes its position. It's hard to avoid the impression that our American colleagues are holding their hand," Lavrov told students in Moscow.
He added that "the Americans simply see it as disadvantageous for them for this process to finish swiftly," claiming "they are counting on continuing to pump up Ukraine with weapons".
Read the full story here.
Kyiv urges West to supply offensive weapons to fight Russia
"Our armed forces and citizens are holding out with superhuman courage, but we cannot win a war without , offensive weapons without medium-range missiles that can be a means of deterrence," Ukrainian Presidential advisory Andriy Yermak said during a panel discussion late Tuesday.
"In our case, deterrence, not aggression," he added.
Read the full story here.
Kyiv said Wednesday that talks with Russia to end nearly one month of fighting were encountering "significant difficulties" after Moscow accused the United States of hindering peace efforts.
"The negotiations are continuing online. They are proceeding with significant difficulties because the Ukrainian side has clear and principled positions," Ukraine's lead negotiator Mykhaylo Podolyak told reporters in written comments.
His comments came after Moscow earlier accused Kyiv of shifting its negotiating position, saying the United States was working to keep Russia and Ukraine "in a state of military action as long as possible".
Ongoing talks between the two sides have failed to produce any breakthroughs despite earlier hopes that a document might be signed, following announcements from both sides.
Poland's Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski on Wednesday said the EU member had "expelled 45 Russian spies pretending to be diplomats."
"We are dismantling the Russian special services network in our country," Kaminski wrote on Twitter.
EU member states were given the greenlight on Wednesday by Brussels to offer limited subsidies and cheap loans to companies impacted by the war in Ukraine and the wave of sanctions against Russia.
"We need to mitigate the economic impact of this war and to support severely impacted companies and sectors," EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager said.
Russian casualties are reportedly growing
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces released the information claiming that as of March 22 the Russian military sustained 15,300 casualties. Over the ten years of the USSR’s war in Afghanistan, the reported number was 15,051.— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) March 23, 2022
There are fears that the invasion of Ukraine could lead to a tuberculosis outbreak in the city, as efforts to fight the disease are shattered by fighting.
Ukraine has long struggled with TB, a disease that kills 1.5 million people a year globally, according to the World Health Organization.
Ukraine records around 30,000 new cases annually and one of the world's highest rates of drug-resistant tuberculosis, which represented 29 percent of the country's new tuberculosis patients in 2018, according to WHO figures.
Ukraine has also accused Russia of seizing 15 rescue workers and drivers from a humanitarian convoy that was attempting to hurry supplies into the besieged city of Mariupol.
The port city has come under naval attack after weeks of air and land strikes.
Russian forces are continuing their assault on the port city of Mariupol where 100,000 civilians remain trapped.
The city has been encircled by Russian forces with humanitarian corridors opened to allow civilians out. Ukraine has accused Moscow of holding civilians hostage and targeting convoys as they leave the city.
Russia has decimated Mariupol, raining down rockets and shells on residential areas but Ukrainian officials have noted that the port has been largely untouched.
There are also reports of Russian soldiers entering the city.
NEW: Russian forces are now inside Ukraine's besieged city of Mariupol, including separatist forces that came from the Donbas region: senior U.S. defense official— Jack Detsch (@JackDetsch) March 22, 2022