Russia invades Ukraine: NATO leaders agree to strengthen eastern flank as war enters its second month

Russia invades Ukraine: NATO leaders agree to strengthen eastern flank as war enters its second month
NATO leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday agreed to strengthen their eastern flank by moving in 40,000 troops as Russia's invasion of Ukraine enters its second month.
12 min read
24 March, 2022

NATO agreed on Thursday to beef up its defences by moving 40,000 troops to its eastern flank in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said four new battlegroups will be sent to Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania 

Stoltenberg also said cyber defences are being strengthened and NATO will help Ukraine defend itself against "biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear threats". 

"We remain united and resolute in our determination to oppose Russia's aggression, aid the government and the people of Ukraine, and defend the security of all allies," a joint statement said after national leaders of NATO's 30 member countries met in Brussels.

Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February in Europe’s biggest offensive since World War II. Although, at first, a swift toppling of Ukraine's government seemed likely, one month on and Moscow is bogged down in a grinding military campaign of attrition.

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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12:28 AM

The New Arab's live coverage of the latest on the Ukraine-Russia crisis concludes for tonight.

Join us tomorrow for the latest news and analysis on Ukraine and Russia.

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12:22 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies


US assesses up to 60% failure rate for some Russian missiles

The United States assesses that Russia is suffering failure rates as high as 60% for some of the precision-guided missiles it is using to attack Ukraine, three US officials with knowledge of the intelligence told Reuters.

The disclosure could help explain why Russia has failed to achieve what most could consider basic objectives since its invasion a month ago, such as neutralizing Ukraine's air force, despite the apparent strength of its military against Ukraine's much smaller armed forces.

The US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information, did not provide evidence to support the assessment and did not disclose what precisely was driving high Russian missile failure rates.

7:38 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Ukraine passes bill to jail collaborators with Russia

Ukrainian lawmakers voted to punish anyone aiding and abetting Russian enemy forces with up to 12 years in jail, one month into Moscow's invasion.

Members of Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada voted overwhelmingly to impose punishments of 10 to 12 years for "intentional activities aimed at aiding the aggressor state", a statement on the parliament's website said.

Such activities include supporting the enemy or implementing its decisions, collecting or transferring funds or property to the enemy and its troops, as well as other types of collaboration.

6:47 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Kadyrov says his forces 'liberated' Mariupol city hall

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said that forces from his Russian region had taken control of the city hall in Ukraine's besieged southeastern port of Mariupol and hoisted the Russian flag.

Kadyrov posted on Telegram a video of a phone recording in Chechen, which he said was Russian parliamentary lawmaker Adam Delimkhanov speaking to "our valiant men".

"The guys are radioing to say that they liberated the building of the Mariupol authorities and put up our flag over it," the Chechen leader said on his Telegram, which has more than 1.4 million subscribers.

The former rebel-turned-Kremlin-ally wrote that Ukrainian "bandits who remained alive did not risk it and abandoned their positions... and fled".

6:28 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US making plans in case Russia uses chemical, nuclear weapons

The White House has set up a team of experts to plan how the United States could respond should Russia use weapons of mass destruction - chemical, biological or nuclear - during its invasion of Ukraine, senior administration officials said on Thursday.

Russia has repeatedly raised the prospect of using nuclear weapons as it struggles to overcome Ukraine's military during the month-old war that the Russian government calls a "special operation." This week, the Kremlin said such weapons would only be used in the case of an "existential threat."

US officials have warned that Russia's accusations that Ukraine might use chemical weapons are a lie, and also an indication Moscow may resort to their use, given past precedent.

President Joe Biden said on Thursday that if Russia were to use chemical weapons in its invasion of Ukraine, the United States would respond.

"We would respond, we would respond if he uses it. The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use," Biden said at a news conference in Brussels.

Read more here

5:53 PM
The New Arab Staff

'NATO has never been more united': Biden

US President Joe Biden said on Thursday that Russia's President Vladimir Putin failed to divide the West with his invasion of Ukraine.

"NATO has never, never been more united than it is today. Putin is getting exactly the opposite of what he intended to have as a consequence of going into Ukraine," Biden said after a meeting with NATO leaders.

5:50 PM
The New Arab Staff

Turkey says Russia, Ukraine remain at odds over territory 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that Kyiv and Moscow were in agreement on technical issues at peace talks, but that the sides remained at odds over territorial matters such as Crimea.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels following a NATO summit, Erdogan said the resolutions adopted by the alliance should not be perceived as a threat to Russia or any third country, but that they should be viewed as deterrence.

NATO member Turkey shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea. Ankara has tried to maintain good ties with both countries during the invasion and position itself as a meditator. 

To read more about this story: click here. 

5:48 PM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine is taking back ground, says Britain

British military intelligence said Ukraine is driving back Russian forces from the northwestern approach to Kyiv - echoing reports from the Pentagon that Ukrainian forces have taken back some lost ground after weeks of being on the defensive.

British intelligence says Ukrainian forces had "probably retaken" the towns of Makariv (70 kilometres west of Kyiv) and Moschun (35 kilometres northwest of Kyiv).

Makariv is a town just west of Kyiv [Getty]
4:59 PM
The New Arab Staff

G7 warns against use of chemical weapons in Ukraine 

The Group of Seven most industrialised countries warned on Thursday against any use of weapons of mass destruction against Ukraine, noting that Russia was bound by international treaties.

"We warn against any threat of the use of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons or related materials," the G7 said after a crisis summit in Brussels.

"We recall Russia's obligations under the international treaties to which it is a signatory, and which protect us all."

4:57 PM
The New Arab Staff

First prisoner swap between Moscow and Kyiv 

Russia and Ukraine have exchanged prisoners, Kyiv announced on Thursday, in what it said was the first swap of soldiers since Moscow ordered troops into Ukraine one month ago.

"Following an order from President Volodymyr Zelensky, the first fully-fledged exchange of prisoners of war has taken place," Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk wrote on Facebook.

"In exchange for 10 captured occupiers we rescued 10 of our servicemen," she said, referring to Russian and Ukrainian troops.

3:57 PM
The New Arab Staff

UN General Assembly approves resolution blaming Russia for Ukraine crisis

The UN General Assembly approved on Thursday a resolution blaming Russia for the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and urged for an immediate cease-fire.

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) is the main policy-making organ of the organisation, comprising all Member States. 

3:52 PM
The New Arab Staff

White House plans for possibility of a Russian chemical weapons attack

The White House has set up a team of experts to plan how the US could respond should Russia use weapons of mass destruction - chemical, biological or nuclear - during its invasion of Ukraine, senior administration officials said on Thursday.

This week, the Kremlin said such weapons would only be used in the case of an "existential threat".

US officials warned Russia's accusations that Ukraine might use chemical weapons are a lie, and also an indication Moscow may resort to their use, given past precedent.

The US will admit 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine, White House has said [Getty]
1:47 PM
The New Arab Staff

6 killed, 15 wounded in Russian strikes in Kharkiv: regional official

Russian strikes on the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv killed at least six civilians and wounded more than a dozen, the regional governor said on Thursday. 

"The Russians fired long-range weapons at a Nova Poshta office, near where Kharkiv residents were receiving aid," regional governor Oleg Synyegubov wrote on social media referring to a local postal delivery service.

"Preliminary information suggests six civilians were killed and 15 others were injured and hospitalized," he added.

1:44 PM
The New Arab Staff

Nearly 3.7 million people flee Ukraine 

Nearly 3.7 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion a month ago, the UN said on Thursday, warning that half of the country's children are now displaced.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said 3,674,952 Ukrainians had fled the country - an increase of 48,406 from the previous day's figure.

In total, more than 10 million people - over a quarter of the population in regions under government control before the February 24 invasion - are now thought to have fled their homes, including nearly 6.5 million who are internally displaced.

Around 50,000 people have fled Ukraine over the past day: UN [Getty]
12:26 PM
The New Arab Staff

International Red Cross, Russia discuss protecting civilians in Ukraine 

The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross on Thursday said he and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had discussed the need to protect civilians during Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"We certainly also discussed the international humanitarian law and provisions of the Geneva Convention in regard to conduct of hostilities... that civilians must be protected," Peter Maurer said at a joint press conference with Lavrov.

12:24 PM
The New Arab Staff

NATO wants China to honour its 'responsibilities' over Ukraine 

NATO leaders meeting in Brussels want China to oppose Russia's invasion of Ukraine and work for a peaceful end to the conflict, a senior US official said Thursday.

Briefing reporters at NATO headquarters during the talks, the official said several leaders said: "China needs to live up to its responsibilities within the international community as a UN Security Council member".

"We need to continue to call on China not to support Russia in its aggression against Ukraine," the official said.

11:30 AM
The New Arab Staff

Around 15,000 civilians illegally deported to Russia, says Ukraine 

Ukrainian authorities in besieged Mariupol said on Thursday about 15,000 civilians had been illegally deported to Russia since Russian forces seized parts of the southern port city.

Ukrainian officials say civilians trapped in Mariupol, which is normally home to about 400,000 people, face a desperate plight without access to food, water, power or heat.

Local authorities said on Sunday that thousands of residents had been taken by force across the border but did not provide a more precise figure.

Russian news agencies said at the time that buses had carried several hundred people Moscow calls refugees from Mariupol to Russia in recent days.

Mariupol city council accused Moscow of deporting thousands from the city [Getty]
11:27 AM
The New Arab Staff

Zelensky urges NATO to provide Kyiv with unrestricted military aid

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged NATO on Thursday to provide Kyiv with unrestricted military aid, one month into Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"To save people and our cities, Ukraine needs military assistance without restrictions. In the same way that Russia is using its full arsenal without restrictions against us," the Ukrainian leader told NATO representatives via video-link.

11:06 AM
The New Arab Staff

UK slaps more sanctions on Russian, Belarus entities  

Britain on Thursday slapped sanctions on 59 more Russians and entities and six Belarus entities. 

Targets of the latest asset freeze include Russian diamond giant Alrosa and shadowy mercenary group Wagner, as well as Polina Kovaleva - the stepdaughter of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov - and Sberbank chief executive Guerman Gref.

"Sixty-five entries have been added to the Russia and Belarus financial sanction regimes and are now subject to an asset freeze," read a statement from the Treasury.

10:18 AM
The New Arab Staff

Kremlin says Russia's expulsion of US diplomats is a forced measure 

Russia's foreign ministry says it is expelling US diplomats in retaliation for Washington's step to remove 12 of Moscow's representatives at the United Nations in New York.

"The US side has been given firm notice that any hostile action by the United States against Russia will be met with a resolute and appropriate response," the ministry says in a statement.

The United States Embassy in Moscow on Wednesday received a list of its diplomats that were declared "persona non grata". 

Washington said it was expelling 12 Russian diplomats from UN mission in New York [Getty]
10:15 AM
The New Arab Staff

Four people killed in Lugansk

At least four people were killed, including two children, and six wounded from overnight strikes in eastern Ukraine, the governor of the Lugansk region said.

The governor accused Russia of using phosphorus bombs.

Reporters on the ground have been unable to verify the claim.

9:31 AM
The New Arab Staff

Putin made a 'big mistake' by invading Ukraine: NATO

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of making a "big mistake" by invading Ukraine. The comments come as leaders gather on Thursday to discuss overhauling the alliance's eastern defences.

"President Putin has made a big mistake and that is to launch a war against an independent sovereign nation. He has underestimated the strength of the Ukrainian people, the bravery of the Ukrainian people and their armed forces," Stoltenberg said. 

Stoltenberg said the leaders of the US-led military alliance would "address the need for a reset of our deterrence and defence in the longer term", starting with agreeing on new deployments to eastern members Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria.

Stoltenberg told Vladimir Putin to stop 'nuclear sabre-rattling' [Getty]
9:29 AM
The New Arab Staff

Over half of Ukraine's children displaced from their homes 

More than half of all children in Ukraine have been displaced from their homes since Russia launched its full-scale invasion on February 24, the United Nations said on Thursday.

"One month of war in Ukraine has led to the displacement of 4.3 million children - more than half of the country's estimated 7.5 million child population," the UN children's agency Unicef said in a statement, adding that 1.8 million children had fled the country as refugees and 2.5 million were now displaced inside Ukraine.

8:44 AM
The New Arab Staff

Russian journalist killed in Ukraine 

A Russian journalist has become the fifth media worker killed since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.

Oskana Baulina, 42, was reporting for an opposition outlet in Kyiv when she was killed in Russian shelling.

She was reporting on the destruction of a Ukrainian shopping centre when the site was targeted again by Russian shelling.

Baulina was a reporter for the Russian-language independent news site The Insider.

She previously worked for Alexander Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation until Putin declared it an "extremist organisation" forcing her to eventually flee Russia.

8:40 AM
The New Arab Staff

Chelsea allowed to sell tickets after UK government makes changes to licence 

Chelsea, owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, have been told they can now sell tickets for certain matches.

The UK government had banned Chelsea from ticket sales for all games due to Abramovich's links with the Putin government, with only season ticket holders allowed to attend matches.

The West London club have now been given a license to sell tickets for away and cup games, and women's team matches.

Revenues generated from the ticket sales will go straight to the Premier League rather than the club.

Ambramovich put the club up for sale on March 2, five days after Russia invaded [Getty]
8:33 AM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine says it destroyed Russian navy vessel in Berdyansk 

Ukraine’s navy on Thursday reported destroying Russia’s large landing ship, Orsk, near the port city of Berdyansk.

A short Facebook statement about the ship was accompanied by photos and videos of fire and thick plumes of smoke in the port.

The Russian military has not commented on what happened to the ship.

Berdyansk - a port city in southeast Ukraine - has been under Russian control since February 27.