European leaders heading to Ukraine; 4 killed in Kyiv strike

    • The prime ministers of Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia are due to visit Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.
    • A strike on a housing block in Kyiv has killed at least four people, mayor says.
    • Governor says overnight Russian shelling caused “massive destruction” at the main civilian airport in Dnipro.
    • Mayor of capital announces 36-hour curfew.
    • Talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials are expected to resume.
    • UK announces 350 new sanctions listings on Russia.

Here are the latest updates:

Humanitarian aid convoy hits problems trying to reach Mariupol: Ukrainian deputy PM

Ukraine is facing new problems trying to deliver humanitarian aid to the besieged city of Mariupol, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said.

Vereshchuk said a convoy with supplies for Mariupol was stuck at nearby Berdyansk and accused Russia of lying about fulfilling agreements to help trapped civilians. Convoys of private cars were not sufficient to evacuate people from Mariupol and buses needed to be let through, she said.

UK says latest sanctions hit wealthy Russians worth 100 billion pounds

The United Kingdom’s latest round of sanctions has included Russian elites with a net worth of 100 billion pounds  ($130bn), and included Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov and foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, the foreign office has said.

“We are going further and faster than ever in hitting those closest to Putin – from major oligarchs, to his prime minister, and the propagandists who peddle his lies and disinformation,” UK Foreign Minister Liz Truss said in a statement.

The net worth figure was based on Forbes estimates, the foreign office said.

About 2,000 cars have left Ukraine’s besieged Mariupol: City council

About 2,000 cars have been able to leave the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol and a further 2,000 are waiting to leave, the city council has said in an online post.

“As of 14:00 (12:00 GMT), it is known that 2,000 cars have left Mariupol,” it said.

UK to ask Saudi Arabia to condemn Russia: PM’s spokesman

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will ask Saudi Arabia to condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in talks later this week, Johnson’s spokesman has said.

Asked if Johnson will ask Saudi Arabia to condemn Putin’s actions in Ukraine, the spokesman said: “Absolutely”.

“We certainly want to broaden the coalition against Putin’s actions,” the spokesman told reporters.

Zelenskyy urges Russian servicemen to surrender

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged Russian servicemen to surrender in order to be treated “with dignity”.

“You won’t take anything from Ukraine. You will be taking lives, there are many of you. But your lives will be taken too. Why should you die and what for?” Zelenskyy said in Russian as part of his televised address to Ukrainians.

“On behalf of the Ukrainian people, we are giving you a chance. A chance to survive. If you surrender to our forces, we will treat you the way people should be treated. People – with dignity, the way you have not been treated in your army, and the way your army does not treat ours,” he said.

Ukrainian president’s adviser: War to end by mid-April

An adviser to President Zelenskyy has said that even in the worst-case scenario the war with Russia may end by mid-April.

“We have two solutions. First – at talks that are taking place now with success, everything could be solved in the nearest future, within a week or two, with a full withdrawal of Russian troops,” Oleksiy Arestovych told popular television personality Dmytro Gordon.

“The second [solution] is if Russia gets more reserves, understanding that they will not reach an agreement with us now. And then there will be another attempt to attack Ukraine. Then we will need another week to crush them. And then they will have no reserves left. If the second solution takes place, it will all take another month, until mid-April,” he said.

Military analysts say unanimously that the Ukrainian military’s resistance and combat readiness caught Moscow by surprise.

Fears mount over ‘missing’ Russian anti-war TV protester

The United Nations and human rights organisations have warned Russia against punishing a Russian journalist who appeared on state TV brandishing an anti-war sign.

Read about it here.

A person interrupts a live news bulletin on Russia's state TV "Channel One" holding up a sign that reads "NO WAR
A person interrupts a live news bulletin on Russia’s Channel One state TV holding up a sign that reads ‘NO WAR. Stop the war. Don’t believe propaganda. They are lying to you here’ in this still image obtained from a video uploaded on March 14 [Channel One/via Reuters]

Ukraine: What does neutrality mean, and could it lead to peace?

For years, Ukraine has aspired to join NATO, a move that would significantly boost its military in the face of Russian aggression, but the chances of membership remain slim even as the war devastates the former Soviet country.

Russia refuses Western allegations that it wants to influence Ukraine, and claims its main desire is for Ukraine to be neutral, a buffer state, and out of NATO.

Read the article here.

Residents remove their belongings from a destroyed building after it was hit by artillery shelling in Kyiv
Residents remove their belongings from a destroyed building after it was hit by artillery shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 14, 2022 [Felipe Dana/AP Photo]

UK announces 350 new sanctions listings on Russia

The United Kingdom’s government has said it has added 350 new listings under its Russia sanctions regime and nine new listings under its cyber sanctions regime.

Death toll from air strikes on Kyiv rises to four: Mayor

Four people have been confirmed killed after air strikes hit Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

“Rescuers are still extinguishing the flames from early morning,” he said on the Telegram messaging app.

Analysts see 39 percent decline in Ukraine 2022 spring grain sowing area

The area sown with Ukraine’s 2022 spring grain crops could fall 39 percent to 4.7 million hectares (11.6 million acres) due to Russia’s military invasion, the APK-Inform agriculture consultancy has said.

The country, which harvested a record 86 million tonnes of grain in 2021, sowed 7.7 million hectares (19 million acres) of spring grains last year.

“After the invasion of Russian troops into the territory of Ukraine and as a result of ongoing and further active hostilities in many key regions, there is no physical opportunity to start sowing,” APK-Inform said in a report.

Germany’s Scholz urges immediate ceasefire in Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said all diplomatic channels should be kept open for an immediate ceasefire.

“It is a question of using all the formats of dialogue and maintaining them … and of pressing for a ceasefire to come soon, so that it comes immediately,” he told reporters after meeting Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Berlin.

UK says new laws will enable faster crackdown on Russian ‘dirty money’

New British legislation that came into effect overnight will allow the government to speed up its efforts to root out Russian “dirty money” parked in British assets, UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak has said.

“Our Economic Crime Act will enable us to crack down harder and faster on dirty money and those who support Putin and his regime,” Sunak said in a statement. The legislation received final approval in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Allies join G7’s WTO stance towards Russia: EU trade chief

Nine other countries have joined the Group of Seven (G7) nations in stripping Moscow of its privileged trade treatment, EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis has said.

The G7 nations announced on Friday that they were revoking Russia’s “most favoured nation” status, clearing the way for them to hit Russian imports with higher tariffs than applied to other World Trade Organization (WTO) partners or to ban certain Russian goods entirely.

Russia says it is unaware of US readiness to discuss Ukraine: Interfax

Russia has no knowledge of the United States being ready to make contact about the conflict in Ukraine, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has said.

Ryabkov said Moscow and Washington had diametrically opposed approaches to the situation, in quotes reported by Interfax news agency.

Help yourself by helping us, Zelenskyy tells northern European leaders

Europe must protect its own security by helping Ukraine defend itself against Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has told a meeting of Joint Expeditionary Force leaders in London via video link, urging them to send more weapons.

“We all are the targets of Russia and everything will go against Europe if Ukraine won’t stand so I would like to ask you to help yourself by helping us,” Zelenskyy told the leaders.

“You know the kind of weapon we need … without your support it would be very difficult. I’m very grateful but I want to say that we need more … I do hope that you will be able to enhance that scope and you will see how this will protect your security, your safety.”

Spain detains yacht linked to Russian oligarch Mikheyev: Police source

Spanish authorities have detained a yacht called “Lady Anastasia” owned by Russian oligarch Alexander Mikheyev, who is under European Union sanctions, a police source has told Reuters.

The yacht cannot leave the marina of Port Adriano in Mallorca, where it is now moored, the police source said.

Spanish authorities are complying with a EU decision to block assets owned by a list of wealthy Russians with links to Putin.

UN says woman who protested on Russian TV should not face reprisals

The United Nations human rights office has called on Russian authorities to make sure that an anti-war protester who interrupted Channel One television is not punished for exercising her right to free speech.

Ravina Shamdasani, UN human rights spokesperson, told a Geneva news briefing that Russian authorities should ensure that the woman “does not face any reprisals for exercising her right to freedom of expression”.

Red Cross hopes to evacuate civilians from besieged Sumy

The Red Cross is hoping to organise the evacuation of two convoys of some 30 buses with civilians out of the besieged northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy and their passage to a safe area.

Ewan Watson, spokesperson of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), told a UN briefing in Geneva that the operation would be carried out with the Ukrainian Red Cross but was not under way yet.

He noted there had been delays with similar evacuations from Mariupol, where he said people are “essentially being suffocated in this city now with no aid’.

Ukrainian region issues country-wide air raid warning

The northern Ukrainian region of Chernihiv issued a warning of countrywide air attacks, urging citizens to head to shelters.

It was not immediately clear whether other regions had issued similar warnings of new air strikes by Russia.

“Attention. Air raid ALL UKRAINE! Take shelter!” said the warning, shared in an online post.

UN: More than three million refugees flee Ukraine war

More than three million people have now fled Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24, according to the United Nations.

“We have now reached the three-million mark in terms of movement of people out of Ukraine,” Paul Dillon, spokesman for the UN’s International Organization for Migration, told reporters in Geneva.

INTERACTIVE_RefugeesDAY20 - March15_ 2.9 million

One child becoming a refugee every minute in Ukraine: UN

Some 1.4 million children have now fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24, meaning one child a minute has become a refugee, the UN has said.

“On average, every day over the last 20 days in Ukraine, more than 70,000 children have become refugees … essentially one child becoming a refugee every minute since the conflict started,” James Elder, spokesman for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), told reporters in Geneva.

Kremlin: Anti-war protest on state TV was ‘hooliganism’

The Kremlin has said that the actions of a woman who interrupted a live news bulletin on Russia’s state TV Channel One to denounce the war in Ukraine amounted to “hooliganism”.

The protester, in an act of dissent on Monday, held up a sign behind the studio presenter and shouted slogans denouncing the war in Ukraine.

“As far as this woman is concerned, this is hooliganism,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters, praising Channel One for what he called its quality, objective and timely programming.

Mariupol says around 300 evacuees have reached Zaporizhzhia

About 300 civilians from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol have reached the city of Zaporizhzhia after leaving in the first successful evacuation of residents on Monday, the Mariupol city council has said.

“As was reported, about 160 cars left Mariupol yesterday. As of 10:00 there is information that about 300 Mariupol residents reached Zaporizhzhia,” it said.

At least 200,000 people are in urgent need of evacuation from Mariupol, according to official Ukrainian estimates. Russia denies targeting civilians.

Gas through Russia’s Yamal pipeline reverses to flow eastwards

A section of the Russian Yamal-Europe pipeline has resumed eastbound gas delivery to Poland from Germany following normal, westbound supplies earlier in the morning, data from German network operator Gascade has shown.

According to the data, gas flows eastwards at the Mallnow exit point were at 4,296,828 kilowatt-hours per hour having flowed in the other direction earlier this morning.

Turkey awaiting Russian approval to evacuate citizens from Mariupol: Sources

Turkish defence ministry sources have said that Ankara is awaiting approval from Russian authorities pending a security evaluation to evacuate citizens from Ukraine’s southern port city of Mariupol.

The sources said land mines in the area had been cleared and work is continuing to open humanitarian corridors and for buses to enter the city.

Ukraine’s economy lost ‘at least’ half a trillion US dollars: Minister

Ukraine’s economy has lost “at least” half a trillion US dollars because of the Russian invasion, Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko has said.

“Lots of logistical chains have been broken, many businesses destroyed, and some simply can’t work because their staffers left [Ukraine],” he told Forbes magazine, according to a transcript of his interview published on his ministry’s website on Monday.

UK to ban exports of luxury goods to Russia, impose new import tariffs

The UK has said it would ban the export of luxury goods to Russia and impose new tariffs on 900 million pounds ($1.2bn) worth of Russian imports, including vodka.

“Our new tariffs will further isolate the Russian economy from global trade, ensuring it does not benefit from the rules-based international system it does not respect,” Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement.

Ukraine says ‘massive destruction’ at Dnipro airport after shelling

Overnight shelling has caused massive damage at the airport in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro, regional authorities have said.

“During the night the enemy attacked the Dnipro airport. Two strikes. The runway was destroyed. The terminal is damaged. Massive destruction,” Dnipro region governor Valentin Reznichenko said on Telegram.

Russian rockets destroy runway of Dnipro regional airport: Governor

Russian forces have fired rockets at the main civilian airport in Ukraine’s eastern Dnipro region overnight, destroying its runway and damaging the terminal building, regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko has said.

“It will take a lot of time to recover. We will win!” he said in an online post.

TV producer facing up to 10 years in jail: Lawyer

Marina Ovsyannikova, a producer of the Kremlin-controlled Channel One television network who interrupted a live broadcast Monday night with an anti-war banner, is facing up to 10 years in jail, a Russian lawyer has said.

Ivan Zhdanov, a Moscow-based attorney who works for Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, tweeted Tuesday that Ovsyannikova may face charges of creating “a false report about an act of terrorism”.

“If they in fact do [jail her], her deed will go down in history for sure,” he wrote.

Ovsyannikova unfurled the poster that read “No war. Stop the war. Don’t believe in propaganda. They lie to you here,” during a live broadcast about Russia’s steps to counter Western sanctions.

Before doing that, she recorded a video in which she said that “What is happening in Ukraine is a crime. The responsibility for this aggression lies with one man: Vladimir Putin.”

Kyiv mayor announces 36-hour curfew

A curfew will be imposed on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv from 8pm (18:00 GMT) on Tuesday to 7am (05:00 GMT) on Thursday, Mayor Vitali Klitschko has announced.

“It is prohibited to move around the city without special permission, except to go to bomb shelters,” Klitschko said.

“The capital is the heart of Ukraine, and it will be defended. Kyiv, which is currently the symbol and forward operating base of Europe’s freedom and security, will not be given up by us.”

Russian forces have been pushed back slightly from Mykolaiv city: Governor

The governor of Ukraine’s southern region of Mykolaiv has said the security situation is calmer in the area because Russian forces had been pushed back slightly from the regional capital, which they have been trying to seize.

In an interview on national television, Governor Vitaliy Kim said Russian troops continued to fire at the city of Mykolaiv and that 80 people were wounded on Monday, including two children.

“You can be 99 percent sure that Mykolaiv region will continue to hold back the advance of the Russian troops. There is the Bug River, which they need to force their way across in order to advance,” he said. “We will not give up the bridges to the invaders.”

Russian shelling kills four people in Rubizhne, Donetsk region: Report

Russian shelling has killed four people and destroyed a boarding school for disabled children, a hospital and three schools in the town of Rubizhne in the Ukrainian-controlled part of the southeastern Donetsk region, the Hromadske television network has reported.

Ukraine claims ‘more than 13,500’ Russian servicemen killed

Ukraine claims to have killed “more than 13,500” Russian servicemen since the invasion began on February 24.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces said that 404 Russian tanks, 1,279 armoured vehicles, 81 planes and 95 helicopters have been “destroyed”.

In a Facebook post, it added that the figures are being updated, and the verification is “complicated” by the high intensity of the fighting.

Russia’s Defense Ministry has reported the death toll only once, on March 2, saying that 498 servicemen had died in Ukraine – and claiming that 2,870 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on March 12 that 1,400 Ukrainian servicemen have been killed.

There is no way to verify the claims of both sides.

Visiting Central European PMs to present EU aid package for Ukraine

The Polish, Czech, and Slovenian prime ministers will present a European Union aid package for Ukraine during a visit to Kyiv, the Polish prime minister’s top aide Michal Dworczyk has said, adding that the leaders would speak on behalf of the EU.

“In Kyiv, in addition to a strong signal of support for Ukraine, a concrete support package will be presented by the prime ministers,” Dworczyk said. He said the delegation had crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border around 8am CET (07:00 GMT).

EU adopts fourth set of sanctions against Russia

The EU has adopted the fourth round of sanctions against Russia, banning the export of luxury goods and import of steel products, as well as targeting new oligarchs.

The EU imposed a new set of sanctions against Russia “in response to its brutal aggression against Ukraine and its people,” the European Commission announced in a statement welcoming the decision of EU member states.

“These sanctions will further contribute to ramping up economic pressure on the Kremlin and cripple its ability to finance its invasion of Ukraine,” the statement said.

Ukrainian presidential adviser says Ukraine war is at a crossroads

An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that the war in Ukraine is at a crossroads that could lead to an agreement at talks with Russia or a new Russian offensive.

“We are at a crossroads. Either we will agree at the current talks or the Russians will make a second attempt [at an offensive] and then there will be talks again,” adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said.

Hungary says energy supply is “red line” in terms of EU sanctions on Russia

The latest package of EU sanctions against Russia do not affect Hungary’s energy supplies and oil and gas group MOL can also continue crude production in the BaiTex field in Russia, Hungary’s foreign minister has said.

In a Facebook video, Peter Szijjarto said it was important for the Hungarian government to maintain European unity on sanctions but “we have a red line which is the security of Hungarian energy supply”.

Talks to continue Tuesday

One of Ukraine’s negotiators has said talks between Ukrainian and Russian officials will resume Tuesday.

“A technical pause has been taken in the negotiations until tomorrow for additional work in the working subgroups and clarification of individual definitions. Negotiations continue,” Mykhailo Podolyak said after negotiations were held on Monday via videoconference.

‘No safe location’

Authorities in the western city of Lviv say they are preparing for the worst.

“Today, we completely don’t have any safety location or region in our country,” Andriy Moskalenko, deputy mayor of Lviv, told Al Jazeera.

“They can do everything,” he said, referring to attacks by Russian troops in cities such as Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol. “They bombed children’s hospitals.”

China says G20 is not an appropriate forum to discuss Ukraine issue

The G20 grouping of nations is not an appropriate forum to discuss the Ukraine issue, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry has told a regular news conference in the Chinese capital.

The G20, or Group of 20, consists of 19 countries, including China and European Union member nations. Its next summit is set for October on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

China must not support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: UK minister

The United Kingdom says China should not support Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, UK junior foreign office minister James Cleverly has said.

According to United States officials, Russia has asked for military and economic support from Beijing, which signalled a willingness to provide aid. The US has warned China against providing military or financial help to Moscow.

“We continue to call upon China and indeed all countries to cease any support they may have to Russia,” Cleverly told BBC Television. “We want to build as broad a coalition of opposition to Russia as possible so of course we will have those conversations with the Chinese.”

Czech, Polish, Slovenian prime ministers to visit Kyiv on Tuesday

The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia will travel to Kyiv on Tuesday to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as representatives of European Union leaders, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala has said on social networks.

“The purpose of the visit is to confirm the unequivocal support of the entire European Union for the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine,” he said.

“The aim of this visit is also to present a broad package of support for Ukraine and Ukrainians.”

China does not want to be ‘affected’ by Russia sanctions: FM

China’s foreign minister has warned his nation does not want to be impacted by Western economic sanctions on Russia, state media has said, as pressure grows on Beijing to withdraw support from an isolated Moscow.

“China is not a party to the crisis, still less wants to be affected by the sanctions,” Wang Yi said, according to a readout of a phone call with his Spanish counterpart Jose Manuel Albares published on Tuesday.

Russia says its forces have taken control of Kherson region: Agencies

Russia’s defence ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov has said Russian forces had taken full control of all territory in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region, Russian news agencies have reported.

Russian forces shot down six Bayraktar TB-2 drones in the last 24 hours, the Interfax news agency reported, citing the ministry.

Reuters could not verify the reports independently.

Death toll from Monday’s strike in Rivne rises to 19

Vitaliy Koval, the governor of the northern region of Rivne, has said the death toll from a Russian air strike on a television tower in his region on Monday has risen to at least 19.

Ukraine aims to deliver aid to Mariupol and open more humanitarian corridors

Ukraine plans to open nine “humanitarian corridors” to evacuate civilians from areas besieged by Russian forces and will try to deliver humanitarian supplies to encircled Mariupol, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said.

France’s Attal says: French companies must implement sanctions against Russia

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal has said it is paramount that French companies apply sanctions against Russia decided by the EU.

“What matters is that French companies implement sanctions,” Attal told France 2 television, when asked about oil giant TotalEnergies.

TotalEnergies has condemned Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and has decided to suspend new investments in the country but has not followed the example of British peers BP and Shell that are withdrawing from Russia.

Two dead in strike on Kyiv housing block: Emergency service

A strike on a housing block in Kyiv has killed at least two people, the emergency service has said as several areas of the capital came under attack.

“The bodies of two people were recovered, 27 people were rescued,” Ukraine’s emergency service said on Facebook, adding that the 16-storey building was located in the Sviatoshynsky district in western Kyiv.

Another residential building in the Podilsk area also came under attack, it said.

Russia says there will be no domestic food shortages

Russia has said there is no risk of a food shortage on the domestic market and cautioned consumers against rushing out to stock up on staples after the West slapped sanctions on Russia.

“There are no conditions for risks of a shortage or for a reduction in product range,” Deputy Prime Minister Viktoria Abramchenko said in a statement.

“It is not worth driving up artificial demand with purchases for the future,” Abramchenko said. “We will reorient the market and establish mutually profitable trade, expand our partnership network with friendly countries.”

China denies US claim that Russia asked for help in Ukraine

China has denied claims by US officials that Russia had sought military assistance in Ukraine and accused Washington of spreading “malicious disinformation” that risked escalating the conflict.

“The U.S. has repeatedly spread malicious disinformation against China on the Ukraine issue,” the Chinese embassy in London told Reuters in a statement.

“China has been playing a constructive role in promoting peace talks,” it added.

“The top priority now is to ease the situation, instead of adding fuel to the fire, and work for diplomatic settlement rather than further escalate the situation.”

Multiple explosions heard in central Kyiv

News outlets and journalists in Kyiv are reporting several loud explosions in the Ukrainian capital.

Kyiv Independent, a local news outlet, says “heavy explosions” were heard in the city early in the morning, while a foreign journalist there said he woke up to “several huge explosions in central Kyiv”.

New law lets Russian airlines keep planes leased from foreign firms

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law letting Russian airlines register planes leased to them by foreign companies and continue flying them.

The bill has rattled global leasing firms days before a March 28 deadline to repossess aircraft worth $10bn as a result of Western sanctions imposed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian airlines have almost 780 leased jets, with 515 leased from abroad.

The new law, part of Russia’s measures to combat the sanctions, says it aims “to ensure the uninterrupted functioning of activities in the field of civil aviation”.

Zelenskyy thanks protester who disrupted Russian news show

Ukraine’s president has thanked a Russian anti-war protester who disrupted a live news bulletin on Russia’s state television.

“I am grateful to those Russians who do not stop trying to convey the truth. To those who fight disinformation and tell the truth, real facts to their friends and loved ones,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.

“And personally to the woman who entered the studio of Channel One with a poster against the war.”

Japan freezes assets of 17 Russians

Japan has decided to freeze the assets of an additional 17 Russians, including billionaire Viktor Vekselberg and family members of banker Yuri Kovalchuk, who is a close confidant of the Russian president.

The other 11 people subject to asset freezes are members of Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma.

Altogether, Japan has now sanctioned 61 Russian individuals over Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

China calls for Russia, EU talks

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi has called for talks between Europe and Russia so that the two sides may “find reasonable solutions to their security concerns” and “set up a balanced, effective and sustainable European security framework”.

Wang’s appeal came during a phone call with his Spanish counterpart, Jose Manuel Albares, on Monday, according to Chinese state media.

War could be over by May: Ukraine official

An adviser to the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff says the war in Ukraine is likely to be over by early May when Russia runs out of resources to attack its neighbour.

“I think that no later than in May, early May, we should have a peace agreement, maybe much earlier, we will see, I am talking about the latest possible dates,” Oleksiy Arestovich said in a video published by several Ukrainian media.

“We are at a fork in the road now: there will either be a peace deal struck very quickly, within a week or two, with troop withdrawal and everything, or there will be an attempt to scrape together some, say, Syrians for a round two and, when we grind them too, an agreement by mid-April or late April.”

A “completely crazy” scenario could also involve Russia sending fresh conscripts after a month of training, he said.

Russia asked China for ‘five types of military equipment’: FT

The Financial Times says the US has told its allies that Russia asked China for five types of military equipment.

The British newspaper cited officials familiar with the content of the US diplomatic cables.

It said the US claims the Russian request included surface-to-air missiles, drones, intelligence-related equipment, armoured vehicles, and vehicles used for logistics and support.

Russia denies making any such request.

US tells allies China is open to providing Russia with military support: FT

The Financial Times says the US has told its allies that China has signalled a willingness to provide military assistance after Russia requested equipment including surface-to-air missiles.

The British newspaper cited officials familiar with the content of US diplomatic cables.

Biden pledges to welcome Ukraine refugees with ‘open arms’

US President Joe Biden has renewed support for Ukraine in a Twitter post, saying that his government will send Kyiv weapons, money, food and aid and will welcome Ukrainian refugees with “open arms”.

Russia ‘possibly planning to use chemical or biological weapons’: UK

The British Ministry of Defence says Russia could be planning to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine in a “false-flag operation”.

In its latest intelligence update, the ministry said “such an operation could take the form of a faked attack, a staged ‘discovery’ of agents or munitions or fabricated evidence of alleged Ukrainian planning to use such weapons”.

Satellite images show Mariupol damage

A satellite image shows a color infrared view of fires burning near Fontanna street, in eastern Mariupol, Ukraine, March 14, 2022. Picture taken March 14, 2022. Satellite image ©2022 Maxar
A satellite image shows a colour infrared view of fires burning near Fontanna street, in eastern Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 14, 2022 [Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters]
A satellite image shows burning and destroyed apartment buildings and the Port City Shopping Mall in western Mariupol, Ukraine, March 14, 2022.
A satellite image shows burning and destroyed apartment buildings and the Port City shopping mall in western Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 14, 2022 [Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters]

Chechen fighters ‘leading’ Russian assault on Mariupol

The Kremlin-backed leader of the Russian region of Chechnya says that Chechen fighters are spearheading a Russian offensive on the strategic port of Mariupol.

Chechnya’s regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov said on the messaging app Telegram that Chechen fighters went 1.5 kilometres (about 1 mile) inside the Sea of Azov city before pausing their attack when night fell.

Kadyrov said his close associate Adam Delimkhanov is leading Chechen fighters in Mariupol.

More than 43,000 people in UK offer their homes to Ukraine refugees

The UK has launched a programme for British residents to sponsor refugees from Ukraine, with 43,800 people signing up to offer their homes in the first five hours.

British media said the programme’s website crashed at one point on Monday evening due to the level of interest.

Protesters briefly seize London mansion linked to Russian oligarch

Protesters in London briefly took over a mansion linked to the sanctioned Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, unfurling the Ukrainian flag as well as a banner stating “This property has been liberated” from a balcony at the building at 5 Belgrave Square.

Police said later on Monday that four protesters who gained entry to the building’s balcony “have come down and been arrested”.

New Zealand announces ‘Special Ukraine Policy’

New Zealand’s government says it will introduce a new policy that will enable about 4,000 family members of Ukrainian-New Zealanders to move to the country in the short term.

Ukrainian-born New Zealand citizens and residents will be able to sponsor a Ukrainian family member and their immediate family, Immigration Minster Kris Faafoi said in a statement.

Those accepted will be granted a two-year work visa and their children will be able to attend school.

“The 2022 Special Ukraine Policy will be open for a year and allow the estimated 1,600 Ukrainian-born citizens and residents in New Zealand to sponsor parents, grand-parents and adult siblings or adult children and their immediate family,” Faafoi said. “This is the largest special visa category we have established in decades.”

China in ‘tough spot’ amid Russia’s reported request for aid: Analyst

Brett Bruen, a former Obama administration official, says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine poses both risks and opportunities for China.

“China is in a tough spot at the moment because on the one hand, they see an opportunity with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to weaken the West and try to reorder the international order. But at the same time, there’s a whole number of risks … both economic and security,” he told Al Jazeera.

“The fact that this invasion has not gone according to plan is certainly concerning for Beijing and that is going to weigh heavily on their next move.

“China was fine to go along if this was going to be a quick and relatively easy invasion. The more complicated it gets, the more it complicates China’s position. What the Americans are doing right now is to publicly put that pressure on Beijing to force them into making a decision. And I think the near unanimity in the international community on this makes it even more challenging for Beijing to be an outlier.”

Spanish authorities ‘immobilise’ superyacht believed to be linked to Russian oligarch

Spain’s prime minister has said that authorities in Barcelona “immobilised” an 85-metre (279-foot) superyacht valued at $153m (140 million euros) while links to a prominent Russian armament tycoon are investigated.

The Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that the seized yacht is named Valerie, which is linked to Rostec defence firm chief Sergey Chemezov, an ally of Russian President Putin.

“Today we have temporarily immobilised a yacht of one of Russia’s most prominent oligarchs, and there will be more to come,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said late on Monday during an interview in LaSexta television.

US not currently discussing importing oil from Venezuela: White House

The White House has said the US is not currently discussing importing oil from Venezuela, dampening speculation that Washington could look to Caracas for help amid concerns over global energy supplies due to the war in Ukraine.

“It’s not an active conversation at this time,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

US President Joe Biden is looking for ways to relieve pressure on oil prices due to the conflict, after his administration last week announced a ban on imports of Russian oil and gas. Europe is also working to become less reliant on supplies from Moscow.

Effect of war on civilians reaching ‘terrifying’ level: UN chief

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said the effect of the war in Ukraine on civilians is reaching “terrifying proportions”, as he confirmed the UN emergency fund would allocate an additional $40m to ramp up assistance.

“This funding will help get food, water, medicines & other livesaving aid into the country,” Guterres wrote on Twitter.

Efforts continue to restore external power to Chernobyl plant, Ukraine tells IAEA

Ukraine has informed the UN’s nuclear watchdog that efforts were continuing to resume external electricity supplies to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement.

On Sunday, Ukrainian specialist teams repaired one of two damaged power lines connecting the site to the grid, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.

The agency also said it was aware of reports that Russian forces carried out munition explosions at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, and was “seeking information about the situation” from Ukraine.

MENA faces food shortages amid Ukraine war: WFP spokesperson

Nations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) face food shortages as the conflict in Ukraine continues, a spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP) has said.

Ukraine and Russia are major exporters of wheat around the world, with Lebanon relying on Ukrainian wheat for up to 50 percent of its supply, compared with 42 percent for Tunisia and 22 percent for Yemen, said Shaza Moghraby.

“It’s definitely going to have a ripple effect. And you know, this comes at a time when we were warning about unprecedented hunger,” Moghraby told Al Jazeera. “It could not come at a worse time.”

Putin unlikely to provoke NATO to enter war: US analyst

Russia President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to provoke NATO forces to enter the war in Ukraine as Russian forces continue to suffer logistics and organisational failures, said Lauren Speranza, a director at the Center for European Policy Analysis in Washington, DC.

“I do think he would be hesitant to actually fully escalate this war to bring in NATO,” Speranza told Al Jazeera. “There is no successful political or military endgame for Russia.”

A war involving NATO “would be disastrous for Mr Putin, perhaps even more so than the war that’s already going on in Ukraine”, she added.

Ukraine’s president seeks to extend martial law

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has submitted a bill to parliament that seeks to extend martial law for another 30 days from March 24, according to the president’s website.

Zelenskyy declared martial law on February 24, the day Russia launched its all-out invasion of Ukraine. Read more about what the measure entails here.

image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office and posted on Facebook, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks in Kyiv.
Zelenskyy has called for additional support from Ukraine’s allies amid Russia’s continuing military advance [File: Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP]

Russia temporarily bans export of sugar, wheat to ex-Soviet countries

Russia’s prime minister has signed a decree banning the export of white and raw sugar until August 31 to neighbouring Eurasian Economic Union states, a government statement said.

The statement said Russia would also ban wheat, rye, barley and maize exports until June 30.

Deputy Prime Minister Viktoria Abramchenko said, however, that the country would keep on providing special export licences to traders within its current quota.

US defence secretary adds Bulgaria to European trip

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is adding a stop in Bulgaria to a Europe trip focused on bolstering NATO allies as war rages on in Ukraine, the Pentagon has said.

Austin will leave on Tuesday for Brussels, where he will attend a NATO meeting before travelling to Slovakia. In Bulgaria, Austin will meet military and civilian leaders, it said, without offering further details on his agenda.

Bulgaria, Moscow’s closest ally during the Cold War, is now a European Union and NATO member state that has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

More than 4,000 evacuated from front-line cities: Ukraine’s deputy PM

Ukraine was able to evacuate more than 4,000 people from front-line cities on Monday via seven humanitarian corridors, its Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a video statement.

She said three other humanitarian corridors did not operate successfully and she accused Russian forces of firing on civilians who were evacuating the Kyiv region.

Russia has repeatedly denied firing on civilians.

Fox News correspondent injured in Ukraine

A correspondent for Fox News was injured and hospitalised on Monday while covering the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the United States television network said.

Benjamin Hall, a Briton who covers the US Department of State for Fox News, was injured while “newsgathering outside of Kyiv”, Fox News said in a statement.

“We have a minimal level of details right now, but Ben is hospitalized and our teams on the ground are working to gather additional information,” it said.

INTERACTIVE_RefugeesDAY19 - March 14_2.8 million

World Bank approves $200m in additional funding for Ukraine

The World Bank has announced it is making available nearly $200m in additional and reprogrammed financing to bolster Ukraine’s social services for vulnerable people, on top of the $723m approved last week.

The financing is part of a $3bn package of support the World Bank previously announced for Ukraine over the coming months.

Can the UAE be a safe haven for Russia’s oligarchs?

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), and in particular, the emirate of Dubai, has a reputation for being a playground for the rich, and one that does not ask too many questions about how wealth has been obtained.

That looks likely to continue, despite increasing Western pressure to squeeze Russia financially – turning the UAE into an even more attractive proposition for rich Russians seeking a safe haven for their wealth and undermining the effort to force Russia to pull back from its invasion of Ukraine.

Read more here.

US official raises ‘deep’ concern over China’s alignment with Russia

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has raised “deep” concerns over China’s alignment with Russia in an “intense” seven-hour discussion with China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, a senior Biden administration official said.

In a statement, the White House said the pair discussed a range of issues in US-China relations, “with substantial discussion of Russia’s war against Ukraine”.

“They also underscored the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between the United States and China,” it said.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Read all the updates from Monday, March 14 here.

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