Russian invades Ukraine: UN says Ukrainians enduring 'living hell'

Russian invades Ukraine: UN says Ukrainians enduring 'living hell'
Live Story
22 March, 2022

The UN has said that Ukrainians are enduring a "living hell", amid sieges and bombardments by Russian forces.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war in Ukraine was not only causing untold misery for Ukraine but also affecting people around the world.

"The Ukrainian people are enduring a living hell – and the reverberations are being felt worldwide with skyrocketing food, energy and fertiliser prices threatening to spiral into a global hunger crisis," the UN chief said.

He also said the war was "unwinnable" and that prolonging the war would only prolong the suffering of millions of people in Ukraine.

"What I said from this podium almost one month ago should be even more evident today. By any measure - by even the shrewdest calculation - it is time to stop the fighting and give peace a chance."

It comes as US President Joe Biden warned on Monday evening that a cornered Vladimir Putin could order Russian forces to use chemical or biological weapons.

Russia has already falsely claimed to have discovered a bioweapons laboratory in Ukraine and that Kyiv has chemical weapons stockpiles.

Biden said these claims indicate that a "cornered" Putin might be prepared to launch a "false flag operation" and blame Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has also said that if chemical weapons were used in Ukraine, Russia would be to blame.

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11:58 PM
The New Arab Staff

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.

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11:55 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The besieged port city of Mariupol is under continuous bombardment as Russian forces redouble their efforts to capture it after its leaders refused to surrender, Ukrainian officials said on Tuesday.

The city council said the pounding was turning Mariupol into the "ashes of a dead land". Russia's RIA news agency said Russian forces and units of Russian-backed separatists had taken about half of the city, citing a separatist leader.

The city council gave no details of casualties or damage from the latest bombing. A Reuters team that reached a Russian-seized part of the city on Sunday described a wasteland of charred apartment blocks and bodies wrapped in blankets lying by a road.

Ukraine says Russian shells, bombs and missiles have struck a theatre, an art school and other public buildings, burying hundreds of women and children sheltering in cellars.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, speaking on Ukrainian television on Tuesday, demanded the opening of a humanitarian corridor for civilians. She said at least 100,000 people wanted to leave Mariupol but could not.

The conflict has forced nearly a quarter of Ukraine's 44 million people from their homes, including more than 3.5 million refugees who have fled the country, half of them children.

10:59 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Wednesday said peace talks with Russia to end the month-long war were tough and sometimes confrontational, but added "step by step we are moving forward."

"We are continuing to work at different levels to encourage Russia to move towards peace ... Ukrainian representatives are participating in talks that are taking place virtually every day. It's very difficult, sometimes confrontational," said Zelenskiy. "But step by step we are moving forward."

"As of today, there are about 100,000 people in the city in inhuman conditions, completely blockaded, without food, without water, without medicines, subject to constant shelling, constant bombardment," he said.

8:24 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Ukrainian prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova on Tuesday said evidence shows Russia is committing 'genocide' through its siege on the strategic port city of Mariupol.

"What now I see in Mariupol it's not about war, it's about genocide," Venediktova told AFP.

"Theatres of war have some rules, some principles. What we see in Mariupol, [are] no rules at all," she added.

Ukraine will work to officially "qualify" the siege as genocide on the international stage, she pledged.

8:00 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Russia would only use nuclear weapons in the context of the Ukraine conflict if it were facing an "existential threat," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN International Tuesday.

"We have a concept of domestic security, and it's public. You can read all the reasons for nuclear arms to be used," Peskov said. "So if it is an existential threat for our country, then it can be used in accordance with our concept."

Peskov's comment came as interviewer Christiane Amanpour pushed him on whether he was "convinced or confident" that Putin would not use the nuclear option in the Ukrainian context.

6:51 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday said no one had ever thought the "special military operation" in Ukraine would take just a couple of days, the Tass news agency reported.

Peskov also reiterated Moscow's assertion the campaign was going to plan.

6:49 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

At least 12 people have been killed in strikes across eastern Ukraine, an official in Kyiv said Tuesday, nearly one month into Moscow's invasion.

"In the Donetsk region, Avdiivka was fired on by artillery and aircraft, the city was razed to the ground. Five civilians were killed and 19 were injured," Ukraine's ombudswoman, Lyudmyla Denisova, said in a statement.

She said the attack occurred late Monday.

In Lysychansk, 150 kilometres north of Donetsk, another Russian strike left two dead and three wounded, she said.

In the Kharkiv region, a Russian tank had targeted a civilian-marked car, killing three adults and a child, Denisova said.

And in Severodonetsk, one person was killed and around a dozen were wounded in a strike in front of a store, she added.

6:42 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United States has not seen evidence of any Chinese weapons shipments in recent days to its ally Russia, a top US official said Tuesday.

"What I can tell you is we have not seen... the provision of military equipment by China to Russia. But of course, this is something we are monitoring closely," National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said.


5:01 AM
The New Arab Staff

Two "super powerful bombs" have been reported by local authorities in Mariupol on Tuesday as Ukrainian authorities made a fresh attempt at rescuing civilians from the besieged port city, AFP reported.

No immediate toll was given following the bombs.

More than 200,000 people are trapped in the strategic city described by those who managed to escape as a "freezing hell-scape riddled with dead bodies and destroyed buildings", Human Rights Watch said, quoting figures provided by a local official.

"It is clear that the occupiers are not interested in the city of Mariupol, they want to raze it to the ground, to reduce it to ashes," Mariupol's authorities said.

4:14 PM
The New Arab Staff

At least one person has died after drones attacked a scientific institute in the Ukrainian capital city Kyiv on Tuesday, according to officials and AFP journalists.

Military rescuers removed a body covered with a black plastic sheet from the scene, AFP journalists saw.

Soldiers at the scene pointed out a winged vehicle about a metre (three feet) long, smashed into two large pieces, that they said was a Russian drone.

"During today's air raid the armed forces of the Russian Federation used Orlan drones, one of which dropped a bomb, as a result of which the premises caught fire," the official, who asked not to be identified by name, told AFP.

"Later two more drones appeared and also tried drop bombs, they were downed. It used to be an industrial workshop here, a civilian institution. No military."

3:33 AM
The New Arab Staff

Over 10,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Ireland and that is likely to increase to around 40,000 by the end of April, according to Ireland's deputy prime minister Leo Varadkar.

Varadkar said the government would look to adapt event venues and military barracks as part of a drive to house the arrivals, as he warned that the influx would impact on public services and the country's finances. 

At least 3,528,346 people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on 24 February, the United Nations' Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said.

2:55 PM
The New Arab Staff

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday urged an end to the "absurd war" in Ukraine, following Russia's invasion of the country one month ago.

The chief warned that the conflict is "going nowhere, fast" and that the Ukrainian people are "enduring a living hell."

"Continuing the war in Ukraine is morally unacceptable, politically indefensible and militarily nonsensical," Guterres told reporters, according to Reuters.

2:14 AM
The New Arab Staff

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Tuesday on Pope Francis to mediate in his country's conflict with Russia to help alleviate human suffering, AFP reported.

Zelensky said he had held a telephone call with the pope about the "difficult humanitarian situation and the blocking of rescue corridors by Russian troops."

"The mediating role of the Holy See in ending human suffering would be appreciated," Zelensky wrote on Twitter after the call.

Pope Francis has previously called for an end to the "massacre" in Ukraine but has avoided mentioning Russia by name.

1:33 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Ukraine appealed to Russia on Tuesday to allow humanitarian supplies into Mariupol and let desperate civilians out of the besieged city, Reuters reported.

Officials in Mariupol - which President Volodymr Zelenskiy says has been devastated by Russian bombardment - say the port city on the Sea of Azov, which has a peacetime population of 400,000, has no food, medicine, power or running water.

"There is nothing left there," Zelenskiy said of Mariupol in a video address to the Italian parliament.

As he was speaking, the city council said Russian forces had dropped two large bombs on Mariupol but gave no details of casualties or damage. Reuters could not independently verify the report. Russia did not immediately comment on it.

"Once again it is clear that the occupiers are not interested in the city of Mariupol. They want to level it to the ground and make it the ashes of a dead land," the council said in a statement.

President Zelenskiy says Mariupol has been devastated by Russian bombardment [Getty]
12:52 PM
The New Arab Staff

Russian lawmakers on Tuesday approved legislation imposing jail terms of up to 15 years for publishing false information about Russia's actions abroad, AFP reported.

The bill sets out jail terms and fines for people who publish "knowingly false information" about actions abroad by Russian government agencies, as Moscow's invasion of Ukraine approaches one month.

The bill will need the approval of the upper house Federation Council and the signature of President Vladimir Putin before it becomes law.

The new bill expands on a law passed earlier in March that allows for up to 15 years in jail for publishing false information about the Russian army.

12:24 PM
The New Arab Staff

Journalist Zhanna Agalakova said on Tuesday she quit working with Russia's state-controlled Channel One broadcaster in protest of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

At the time of her resignation the journalist was the station's correspondent in Paris and said she spoke to her bosses to tell them "I cannot do this work any more."

She said she believed Russian television was being used to pump out Kremlin propaganda, and that the authorities had for years been stifling independent media.

"I left Channel One precisely because the war started," she said.

11:58 AM
The New Arab Staff

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told the Italian parliament on Tuesday that Ukraine was on the brink of surviving its war with Russian forces after Moscow invaded the country on 24 February.

Zelenskiy also warned he believes Russia wants to break through to the rest of Europe.

"For Russian troops, Ukraine is the gates of Europe, where they want to break in, but barbarism must not be allowed to pass," he said.

11:30 AM
The New Arab Staff

The mayor of the Ukrainian city of Boryspil, which is close to Boryspil international airport, advised civilians on Tuesday to leave the city if they can because of fighting nearby following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported.

Mayor Volodymyr Borysenko said in a video address that there was fighting in the Kyiv region where Boryspil is located.

"There is no need to be in the city now as there is already fighting going on in the area around it. I call on the civilian population to be smart, reach out to our call centre and leave town as soon as an opportunity arises," he said.

11:01 AM
The New Arab Staff

Around 500,000 Ukrainian refugees need support for mental health disorders, a representative for the World Health Organisation in Poland said on Tuesday.

The refugees are suffering from a range of health problems including diarrhea and dehydration, Paloma Cuchi, WHO representative in Poland, told a briefing in Geneva.

At least 3,528,346 people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on 24 February, the United Nations' Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said

10:46 AM
The New Arab Staff

At least five people have been killed - and over a dozen wounded- in Russian strikes in eastern Ukraine's Avdiivka on Monday, according to an official in Kyiv.

"In the Donetsk region, Avdiivka was fired on by artillery and aircraft, the city was razed to the ground. Five civilians were killed and 19 were injured," Ukraine's ombudswoman, Lyudmyla Denisova, said in a statement.

Kyiv has accused Moscow's troops of indiscriminately targeting medical facilities, residential areas, and bomb shelters since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Russia denies purposefully targeting civilians and has accused Ukrainian forces of using civilians as human shields.

10:27 AM
The New Arab Staff

The Kremlin said on Tuesday that it would like negotiations with Kyiv, aimed at bringing the Russian invasion of Ukraine to a halt, to have more substance.

"There is some kind of process happening. We would like more active and substantial (talks)," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists, according to AFP.

At least 3,528,346 Ukrainians have fled abroad following the invasion, according to the United Nations' Refugee Agency (UNHCR), who say more than 2 million crossed the border into Poland.

10:07 AM
The New Arab Staff

Oil prices could reach $300 a barrel if Russian crude was shunned by the West following the country's invasion of Ukraine, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak warned, according to TASS news agency.

Trading sources have said some buyers have been wary of buying Russian barrels to avoid becoming entangled in Western sanctions imposed after the invasion, Reuters reported.

Novak said it was impossible for Europe to avoid buying Russian oil and gas for now, saying European calls to halt purchases were political gestures to attract attention.

For more on this story, click here.

9:50 AM
The New Arab Staff

A World War II, Holocaust survivor has been killed by Russian shelling in Ukraine.

Boris Romanchenko, 96, died as Russian shelling hit his flat in the war-ravaged city of Kharkiv after surviving the Nazi Buchenwald concentration camp during World War II, the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp and the Bergen-Belsen camp.

"It is with horror that we report the violent death of Boris Romanchenko in the war in Ukraine," the memorial for the Buchenwald said on Monday in a statement.

"Putin managed to 'accomplish' what even Hitler couldn't," Ukraine's Defence Ministry said on its Twitter account. 

For more on this story, click here.

9:27 AM
The New Arab & agencies

US President Joe Biden also criticised India's stance on the invasion of Ukraine as "somewhat shaky", as New Delhi attempts to balance its ties with both Russia and the US.

"The Quad is, with the possible exception of India being somewhat shaky on some of this, but Japan has been extremely strong - so has Australia - in terms of dealing with Putin's aggression," he said, referring to the Quadrilateral Strategic Dialogue alliance between the US, Australia, Japan and India.

His statement comes just days after the Australian High Commissioner to India said that the US, Japan, and Australia "accepted" New Delhi's neutral stance.

9:05 AM
The New Arab Staff

The UN's Refugee Agency has said that more than 3.5 million Ukrainians have fled the country since the Russian invasion on 24 February.

The United Nations' Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said that 3,528,346 Ukrainians have fled to countries abroad over the past month.

More than 2 million had crossed the border into Poland.

Check out our website for updates on this story.

Millions of Ukrainians have fled the Russian bombing of cities in the east [Getty]
8:30 AM
The New Arab Staff

US President Joe Biden has issued his starkest warning yet that Russia might be planning to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine.

Speaking on Monday evening, Biden said there were signs that a "cornered" Vladimir Putin might consider unleashing unconventional weapons on Ukraine.

"They are also suggesting that Ukraine has biological and chemical weapons in Ukraine. That's a clear sign he's considering using both of those. He's already used chemical weapons in the past, and we should be careful of what's about to come," said Biden.

"[Putin's] back is against the wall and now he’s talking about new false flags he's setting up including, asserting that we in America have biological as well as chemical weapons in Europe - simply not true. I guarantee you."

Russia claimed to have discovered a US "bio lab" in Ukraine, leading to fears that Russia could be preparing a false flag operation in the country.



The New Arab Staff
The New Arab & agencies
The New Arab Staff & Agencies