Russia running out of precision missiles in Ukraine: Pentagon

  • US President Joe Biden warns NATO would “respond” if Russian President Vladimir Putin uses a chemical weapon in the Ukraine war.
  • During trio of summits in Brussels, Western leaders promise to provide Ukraine with more military and humanitarian aid.
  • G7 nations say they are “appalled” by attacks in Ukraine and back an International Criminal Court probe into possible war crimes.
  • The UN General Assembly votes overwhelmingly for a second time to adopt a resolution demanding Russia end its war in Ukraine.

Here are all the latest updates:

59 percent of Russian missiles malfunctioned, downed or missed: Ukraine

Russia has launched some 1,200 cruise missiles since the invasion began on February 24, but 59 percent of them didn’t explode, were shot down or missed, Ukraine’s General Staff of the Armed Forces has said.

“Russia shot about 1,200 missiles, less than a half hit the target,” it said on Telegram.

“Others were either shot down by air defence forces, or hit wrong targets – mountains, forests, rivers,” it said.

“They have imprecise missiles and crooked hands,” it concluded sarcastically.

A senior Pentagon official said earlier that Moscow was running out of precision-guided munitions and was more likely to rely on so-called dumb bombs and artillery.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Vinnytsia, Ukraine.

Biden to visit near Ukraine border

Biden will travel to a town near the Polish-Ukrainian border, trying to signal Western resolve.

Air Force One will jet into the eastern Polish town of Rzeszow – bringing the US president less than 80km (50 miles) from the war-torn nation.

The trip is designed to underscore Washington’s willingness to defend NATO allies, as fears rise that the month-old war in Ukraine could yet spark what Biden has called “World War III”.

Marshall Islands says looking at ‘expelling’ Russian ships on its registry

The Marshall Islands is considering “expelling” from their ship registry any Russian yachts or boats that have been targeted by Western-led sanctions on Russia, its foreign minister has said.

The minister, Casten Nemra, whose country along with Panama and Liberia is popular for registering ships, told reporters on a trip to Taiwan that his Pacific island nation strongly condemned the Russian invasion.

“We also are one of the largest ship registry programmes for flagged ships throughout the global shipping industry,” he said.

“We are also looking into expelling any Russian ownership in terms of yachts or those that are listed and are on the sanction list. We will do our part in working, collaborating with a number of countries.”

Rescuers searching for survivors near Dnipro: Governor

Rescuers are searching for survivors among the debris after two missiles hit a Ukrainian military unit on the outskirts of the city of Dnipro, causing “serious destruction”, regional governor Valentyn Reznychenko has said on social media.

Ukraine hopes to open safe corridor from Mariupol

Ukraine hopes to open a safe corridor to evacuate civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol on Friday in private vehicles, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said.

Ukraine has retaken towns 35km east of Kyiv, UK says

Ukraine has retaken towns and defensive positions up to 35km (22 miles) east of Kyiv, helped by Russian forces falling back on overextended supply lines, the UK’s defence ministry has said.

Russian shelling kills 2 civilians in Luhansk: Governor

Indiscriminate Russian shelling has killed two civilians and caused multiple fires in the town of Rubizhne of the southeastern Luhansk region, the governor has said.

But the frontline has not changed despite intensive overnight shelling of several towns in Luhansk, Serhiy Hayday wrote on Facebook.

A part of Luhansk has been controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014, and their “People’s Republic” became a springboard for the Russian invasion that began on February 24.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Vinnytsia, Ukraine.

German ministry wants to halve dependence on Russian oil by summer: Spiegel

Germany’s economy ministry wants to halve the country’s dependence on Russian oil by the summer and have no Russian hard coal imports by the autumn, Der Spiegel magazine has reported, citing a ministry memo.

“By the middle of the year, Russian oil imports to Germany are expected to be halved,” Spiegel quoted the memo as reading. “By the end of the year, we aim to be almost independent.

“By autumn, Germany can be independent of Russian coal.”

200 Russian soldiers killed, 12 tanks, 2 planes destroyed

In the past 24 hours, Ukrainian forces killed some 200 Russian servicemen and repelled nine attacks, Ukraine’s General Staff of Armed Forces has said.

It also said on Facebook that 12 tanks, 20 armoured vehicles, 9 artillery systems, 3 planes and 3 drones have been destroyed.

Russia doesn’t divulge its losses, and the claims could not be independently verified.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Vinnytsia, Ukraine.

135 Ukrainian children killed: Prosecutors

The Russian invasion has killed 135 and wounded 184 children in Ukraine, the general prosecutor’s office has said.

Most of the killings took place in the Kyiv region (64), in the eastern Kharkiv region (44) and in the southeastern Donetsk region (46) that is partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists, it said.

Ukrainian officials and survivors accuse Russia of deliberately targeting civilians, apartment buildings, schools and hospitals.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Vinnytsia, Ukraine.

Russian ex-president says Western sanctions won’t sway Kremlin

It is “foolish” to believe that Western sanctions against Russian businesses could have any effect on the Moscow government, Russian ex-president and deputy head of security council Dmitry Medvedev has been quoted as saying.

The sanctions will only consolidate the Russian society and not cause popular discontent with the authorities, Medvedev told Russia’s RIA news agency in an interview.

Missile attack reported on Ukraine military facility in Dnipro

Russian forces have fired two missiles at a Ukrainian military unit on the outskirts of Dnipro, the fourth-largest city in the country, according to regional emergency services.

The attacks destroyed buildings and set off two fires, it said, while the number of those killed and wounded was still being established.

Dnipro is west of the regions along the Russian border that have been controlled by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.

Al Jazeera could not verify the claim independently.

Biden to meet EU’s von der Leyen, announce gas deal

The US president is due to meet European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels, where he is expected to announce plans to increase shipments of liquefied natural gas to Europe.

Biden and von der Leyen issued a statement earlier pledging to sharpen sanctions against Russia, and step up humanitarian relief for Ukraine.

The statement said the two sides will boost energy cooperation to reduce the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels, and pledged to support the work of war crimes documentation experts in Ukraine

Read the statement here.

Three dead, 13 wounded in attack on Ukraine village: Report

At least three people have died and 13 were wounded when Russian forces fired on a village in the southern Mykolaiv region, according to the Ukrinform news website.

The Bashtansky council said the Russian attack on Thursday also damaged the town’s school and the mayor’s office, Ukrinform reported.

Evacuation train from Kyiv comes under fire: Report

Authorities in Ukraine say Russian forces attacked a train evacuating civilians from Kyiv to Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine, shattering the windows of three cars.

There were no casualties in Thursday’s attack, said an official with Ukraine’s national railway operator.

The Ukrainian interior ministry, meanwhile, reported “heavy artillery fire on Vyshhorod”, a town outside Kyiv. The attacks damaged an apartment block, it said.

Japan announces more Russia sanctions, steps up Ukraine aid

The Japanese government says it will freeze the assets of 25 more Russians and ban exports to 81 Russian organisations in response to Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also said Tokyo will offer an additional $100m in humanitarian aid to Ukraine and neighbouring countries supporting Kyiv.

Read more here.

EU leaders slam Russia ‘war crimes’, demand end to ‘aggression’ in Ukraine

EU leaders meeting in Brussels have issued a statement demanding an end to Russia’s “war of aggression against Ukraine” and slamming its attacks on the country’s civilian population and infrastructure.

“These war crimes must stop immediately. Those responsible, and their accomplices, will be held to account in accordance with international law,” the leaders said.

They added that the EU stands by Ukraine and will continue to “provide coordinated political, financial, material and humanitarian support”.

U.S. President Joe Biden and European Council President Charles Michel arrive for a European Union leaders summit, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at the Europa Building in Brussels
US President Joe Biden (left) and European Council President Charles Michel arrive for a EU leaders’ summit, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at the Europa Building in Brussels, Belgium, on March 24, 2022 [Johanna Geron/ Reuters]

‘We are getting closer to peace’: Zelenskyy reassures Ukraine

Ukraine’s president has spoken of hope and determination in his nighttime address to the nation, saying Ukrainians are “getting closer to victory”.

“The country must move toward peace, move forward. With every day of our defense, we are getting closer to the peace that we need so much,” Zelenskyy said. “We can’t stop even for a minute. For every minute determines our fate, our future, whether we will live.”

Zelenskyy said he had made appeals to Western leaders gathered in Brussels earlier on Thursday “all for one reason – so that Russia understands that we need to achieve peace”.

“Russia also needs to achieve peace.”

US envoy urges Mexico to side with Ukraine

A US diplomat has urged Mexican legislators to join Washington in supporting Ukraine against Russia after his Russian counterpart encouraged Mexico to defy “Uncle Sam”.

“The Russian ambassador was here yesterday making a lot of noise about how Mexico and Russia are so close. This, sorry, can never happen. It can never happen,” Ken Salazar, the US’s ambassador to Mexico, said in remarks at Mexico’s lower house of Congress.

“We have to be in solidarity with Ukraine and against Russia,” he said.

Zelenskyy urges Hungary not to block Ukraine’s EU bid

Ukraine’s president has appealed to Hungary not to block Kyiv’s bid to join the EU during his video address to the EU.

“Listen, Viktor, do you know what is happening in Mariupol?” Zelenskyy said, addressing Hungarian President Viktor Orban and referring to the besieged Ukrainian port city where tens of thousands are trapped with little access to food and water.

“I want to be open once and for all – you should decide for yourself, who you are for.”

Orban is widely considered to be Putin’s closest ally among EU leaders.

Zelenskyy asks EU leaders for quick membership

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has thanked EU leaders for working together to support Ukraine and impose sanctions on Russia, including Germany’s decision to block Russia from delivering natural gas to Europe through the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

But during a video address to the European council, Zelenskyy lamented that these steps were not taken earlier, saying there was a chance Russia would have thought twice about invading.

He then appealed to the EU leaders to move quickly on Ukraine’s application to join the bloc.

“Here I ask you, do not delay. Please,” Zelenskyy said by video from Kyiv. “For us this is a chance.”

Putin’s defence minister resurfaces after disappearing from view

Russian state media has shown Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attending a meeting of top officials amid speculation about his whereabouts after he dropped out of public view weeks into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Shoigu, who is overseeing the war in Ukraine, had not been seen in public since March 11.

But the RIA state-owned news agency on Thursday showed Shoigu on a televised split screen of top officials as Putin spoke to his Security Council by video conference.

RIA made a point of zooming in on Shoigu in the top left-hand corner of a video screen set in front of Putin. The clip did not contain audio and did not show Shoigu speaking.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov attend a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (right) and Chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov (left) attend a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, on February 27, 2022 [Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi/Kremlin via Reuters]

Russia running out of precision munitions in Ukraine: Pentagon

A senior Pentagon official says Russia is running out of precision-guided munitions and it is more likely to rely on so-called dumb bombs and artillery.

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl speculated that he did not believe Putin wanted to have an all-out conflict with NATO.

Russia will emerge from Ukraine conflict weaker, more isolated: Pentagon

A US under secretary for defence policy says Russia will emerge from the conflict in Ukraine weaker and more isolated.

“I think with a high degree of certainty that Russia will emerge from Ukraine weaker than it went into the conflict. Militarily weaker, economically weaker, politically and geopolitically weaker, and more isolated,” Colin Khal said.

The Pentagon official also said an upcoming Pentagon defence strategy document would declare Russia an “acute threat”.

But Russia cannot pose a long-term system challenge to the US, unlike China, he said.

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

Three US officials have told the Reuters news agency that Russia is suffering failure rates as high as 60 percent for some of the precision-guided missiles it is using to attack Ukraine.

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

If true, the agency said, it 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.

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the figures.

Chechen forces ‘liberated’ Mariupol city hall: Kadyrov

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov says that his forces have taken control of the city hall in besieged Mariupol and hoisted the Russian flag.

“The guys are radioing to say that they liberated the building of the Mariupol authorities and put up our flag over it,” Kadyrov said on Telegram.

He also released a video later saying Moscow’s forces “have completely cleared the residential areas in the eastern part of the city”.

The footage showed a group of soldiers raising a flag bearing Kadyrov’s image over a damaged building.

“Soldiers raised a flag over the building of the Levoberejny district prosecutor’s office, the last one to be liberated,” he said.

Al Jazeera could not confirm the claims independently.

Belarus protests Polish call for peacekeeping force in Ukraine

Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, has said that a Polish proposal to deploy a Western peacekeeping force in Ukraine “will mean World War III”.

“The situation is very serious and very tense,” he added.

‘Catastrophe’ in Chernihiv as Russian troops accused of shelling food stores

A government official in the northern city of Chernihiv has told The Associated Press news agency that a “catastrophe” is unfolding for the local population with Russian troops deliberately targeting food stores in a near-month-long siege.

An air attack this week destroyed a bridge over the Desna River, which was a crucial route to bring in food and other aid from Ukraine-controlled territory further south.

“Humanitarian help, medicines and food used to be delivered into the city via this bridge,” City Council Secretary Olexander Lomako told AP in an audio message.

He estimated that more than 130,000 people are left in the city out of a prewar population of 285,000, but that Ukraine remains in full control.

Ukraine forces striking ‘high value’ Russian targets: UK

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence says Ukrainian forces have launched raids against “high value targets in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, including a landing ship and ammunition storage depots at Berdyansk”.

In its latest intelligence update, the ministry said such attacks will force the Russian military to “prioritise the defence of their supply chain and deprive them of much needed resupply for forces”.

“This will reduce Russia’s ability to conduct offensive operations and further damage already dwindling morale,” it added.

Ukraine says Moscow forcibly taking civilians to Russia

Ukraine says Moscow has forcibly taken 402,000 civilians from shattered Ukrainian cities to Russia, where some may be used as “hostages” to pressure Kyiv to give up.

Lyudmyla Denisova, Ukraine’s ombudsperson, said the figure included 84,000 children.

She said they were being held in primitive conditions with little food and water.

The Kremlin gave nearly identical numbers for those who have been relocated but said they wanted to go to Russia.

Ukraine’s rebel-controlled eastern regions are predominantly Russian-speaking, and many people there have supported close ties to Moscow.

Australia imposes sanctions on Belarus president, adds new ones on Russia

Australia has imposed sanctions on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and members of his family, and 22 Russian individuals, whom it called “propagandists and disinformation operatives”.

The latest sanctions will target editors from organisations including RT, the Strategic Culture Foundation, InfoRos and NewsFront, Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said in a statement.

Belarus continues to provide strategic support to Russia and its military forces “in their assault on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”, Payne said.

IAEA concerned over shelling of Chernobyl staff town

The UN’s atomic watchdog (IAEA) has expressed “concern” after Ukraine warned of Russian bombardment of the town where staff working at the Chernobyl nuclear site live.

“Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today that Russian forces were shelling Ukrainian checkpoints in the city of Slavutych where many people working at the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant live, putting them at risk,” the Vienna-based UN agency said in a statement.

Its director-general, Rafael Grossi, said the incident came “just a few days after technical staff at the Chornobyl (plant) were finally able to rotate and go to their homes in Slavutych and rest after working for nearly four weeks without a change of shift”.

Canada to increase oil, gas exports

Canada plans to increase oil and gas exports this year by up to 300,000 barrels per day, the country’s natural resources minister has said, as nations seek to wean themselves off Russian energy supplies.

Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said in a statement that the move – which would amount to an increase of about 5 percent – aims to help Canada’s allies respond to “an energy security crisis” caused by Russia’s ongoing invasion.

“Our European friends and allies need Canada and others to step up,” said Wilkinson.

Read more here.

US Senate delays vote to revoke ‘most-favoured-nation’ trade status for Russia

Legislation removing “most-favoured-nation” trade status for Russia has been delayed in the US Senate at least until next week, after some Republicans raised concerns that its human rights provisions might be too broad.

The bill was blocked despite legislators’ insistence that they wanted to show a united front in supporting the government in Kyiv, a month after Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine.

It is expected to pass next week, although the delay stymied efforts by Biden’s fellow Democrats to pass it in time for his meetings on Thursday with allies in Europe.

Ukraine says 3,343 people evacuated on Thursday

A total of 3,343 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Thursday, a senior official has said, fewer than the 4,554 who managed to escape the previous day.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in an online post that 2,717 people had left the besieged city of Mariupol.

She accused the Russians of blocking humanitarian aid convoys into the city for the last three days.

G7 warns against threat of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons

The G7 countries have warned against the threat of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, rebuking Russia over what they called “completely unfounded” allegations of bioweapons in Ukraine.

“We recall Russia’s obligations under the international treaties to which it is a signatory, and which protect us all,” the countries said in a joint statement.

Read the full statement from the G7 here.

Russia’s Daniil Medvedev shrugs off Wimbledon ban threat

Tennis star Daniil Medvedev has shrugged off the possibility of being barred from this year’s Wimbledon after the status of Russian players at the tournament was called into question by the UK government.

British Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston told a parliamentary hearing last week the government could require Medvedev to provide assurances he did not support Putin before being allowed to compete at Wimbledon.

“Don’t have any response to Wimbledon,” Medvedev said. “I will need to see what happens next. I try to take it tournament by tournament. I mean, there are always different rules, regulations in order to play or not to play.”

Ukraine to feature heavily in Blinken’s Middle East trip

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s upcoming trip to the Middle East and North Africa will be heavily dominated by discussion of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Iran, a US official has said.

“Both of those are going to be really at the top of the agenda,” Washington’s top diplomat for Near Eastern affairs, Yael Lempert, told reporters.

Blinken is set to visit Israel, the West Bank, Morocco and Algeria from March 26 to 30.

Iran and Ukraine to top Biden’s agenda in Middle East trip [File: Saul Loeb/Pool via AP]

G7 backs ICC probe into war crimes in Ukraine

The G7 countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – have backed the International Criminal Court’s probe into possible war crimes in Ukraine, saying they are “appalled” by Russian attacks on Ukrainian towns and cities.

“We will work together to support the gathering of evidence of war crimes,” the G7 said in a joint statement.

“The siege of Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities, and the denial of humanitarian access by Russian military forces are unacceptable. Russian forces must immediately provide for safe pathways to other parts of Ukraine, as well as humanitarian aid to be delivered to Mariupol and other besieged cities.”

Biden renews warnings to China against aiding Russia in Ukraine

US President Joe Biden has reiterated his warnings to China against coming to Russia’s aid in Ukraine, saying he made clear “the consequences” of such assistance to Chinese President Xi Jinping during a phone call last week.

The US president said Xi understand that China’s economic interests are with the West, not Russia, he said.

“I made no threats, but I pointed out the number of American and foreign corporations who left Russia as a consequence of their barbaric behaviour,” Biden told reporters of his conversation with Xi.

Read more here.

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

Read all the updates from Thursday, March 24 here.

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