Russia says ties with US close to rupture after Biden slams Putin

  • Moscow has warned ties with Washington are close to rupture after US President Joe Biden last week labelled his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a “war criminal“.
  • Odesa’s mayor says Russian forces have struck buildings on the outskirts of the key Black Sea port city for the first time.
  • A new curfew has been announced in Kyiv after deadly attacks killed eight in the capital, with the measure set to last from Monday evening until Wednesday morning.
  • Ukraine rejects Russian demand to surrender the besieged southern port city of Mariupol in the early hours of Monday morning.

Here are all the latest updates:

Kyiv mayor says stricter curfew imposed due to shelling threat

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko says a new, longer curfew is being introduced in the Ukrainian capital because local authorities expect further attacks by Russian forces.

“The reason for the curfew is linked to the likelihood of new shelling,” Klitschko said on national television.

Russia drops peace talks with Japan over Ukraine

Russia has announced it is abandoning talks with Japan aimed at signing a formal World War II peace treaty due to Tokyo’s response to Moscow’s military action in Ukraine.

“The Russian side, in the current conditions, does not intend to continue talks with Japan on the peace treaty due to the impossibility of discussing the core document on bilateral relations with a country that has taken an openly hostile position and is striving to cause harm to the interests of our country,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Tokyo last week announced plans to revoke Russia’s most-favoured nation trade status, expand the scope of asset freezes against Russian elites and ban imports of certain products over its incursion in Ukraine.

Russia and Japan have still not formally ended World War II hostilities because of a standoff over the islands known in Russia as the Kurils and in Japan as the Northern Territories.

Ukrainian defence minister accuses Russia of ‘state terrorism’

Russia is conducting “state terrorism” in Ukraine and will go on to attack other countries, Ukraine’s defence minister has said.

Speaking alongside British defence minister Ben Wallace during a visit to London, Oleksii Reznikov said 150 Ukrainian children had been killed since Russia invaded, with more than 400 schools and kindergartens and more than 110 hospitals destroyed.

“This is a state terrorism. That is why (the) Kremlin must be stopped, because it will go further. It will attack other countries,” Reznikov said.

Russia denies targeting civilians.

Ukrainian refugees, Russian exiles seek shelter in Turkey

As Moscow continues its military campaign in Ukraine, many anti-war Russians have flocked to Turkey.

And while the majority of Ukrainian refugees have fled to neighbouring European Union countries, a significant number are also settling in the country.

Read more here.

Russia summons US envoy, says ties close to rupture after Biden’s remarks

Russia has summoned the United States Ambassador to Moscow to warn him that remarks by Biden about Putin have pushed bilateral ties to the brink of collapse.

Biden said on March 16 that Putin was a “war criminal” for sending tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine.

“Such statements by the American president, which are not worthy of a high-ranking statesman, have put Russian-American relations on the verge of rupture,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement as it announced the summoning of John Sullivan.

Ukrainian defence minister accuses Moscow of lying about troop death toll

The number of Russian troops killed in Ukraine far exceeds the Kremlin’s official death toll, Ukraine’s defence minister has claimed.

“The Kremlin no longer knows how to explain the things that are happening,” Reznikov wrote on Facebook.

“After all, these days, they buried more soldiers in the regions of Russia than they officially acknowledged their losses. Lies no longer help them, but the truth scares,” he added.

Kyiv says at least 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed during Russia’s incursion, a number that dwarfs the toll of 498 provided by Moscow on March 2 – the only time it has provided figures for its losses to date.

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the figures provided by either side.

Service members of pro-Russian troops are seen in Mariupol
Kyiv and Moscow have provided vastly different tolls for the number of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

Russian troops open fire at protesters in Kherson: Reports

Russian troops have fired on a crowd of protesters in Kherson, wounding several people, according to local media reports.

Footage posted on social media appeared to show demonstrators gathering in the southern Ukrainian city’s main square. The sound of automatic gunfire could be heard and people were seen running.

Some reports said Russian forces used stun grenades.

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the reports or the video footage.

Kherson has witnessed regular anti-Russia protests since Moscow’s forces took control of the city at the beginning of March – the most strategically significant capture of Ukrainian territory yet.

At least 925 civilians killed in Ukraine, UN says

The UN’s human rights office (OHCHR) says it has confirmed at least 925 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia began its invasion on February 24, but warned the true toll is likely to be “considerably higher”.

Another 1,496 civilians have been injured as of midnight on Sunday amid Russia’s onslaught, according to OHCHR’s figures.

“Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes,” the organisation said in a statement.

“OHCHR believes that the actual figures are considerably higher, especially in Government-controlled territory and especially in recent days, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration,” it added, citing several areas, including Mariupol.

How will the war end?

What would a de-escalation or an end to the war look like, and what would it mean for the two countries?

Read Al Jazeera’s analysis here.

Former president pledges Ukraine will ‘stop Putin’

Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has warned Ukraine is facing “the most difficult time in its history”, but called efforts to keep the Russian onslaught at bay “miraculous”.

“Through the country, Ukrainians have … stopped the Russian army and surprised the world,” Poroshenko told Al Jazeera from Kyiv.

“We are here to fight for the whole of Europe and fight for the whole world … we [will] stop Putin,” he added, before praising the “unique unity of the Ukrainians”.

“There is not any nation in the world that wants peace more than we [Ukrainians] do, but we never give up, and therefore it will be peace, not capitulation,” Poroshenko said.

“And if now we allow Putin to grab Ukraine, he will not stop, he will go as far as we, the world, allow him to go.”

Ukraine says all of its ports remain closed to ship traffic

All Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea and Azov Sea remain temporarily closed to ships seeking to enter or exit, Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry has said.

Ukraine’s military suspended commercial shipping at the country’s ports soon after Russia launched its invasion, stoking fear of supply disruptions.

Egyptian pound drops nearly 14 percent after Ukraine war prompts dollar flight

Egypt’s pound has depreciated by almost 14 percent after weeks of pressure on the currency as foreign investors pulled out billions of dollars from Egyptian treasury markets following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The pound dropped to 18.17-18.27 against the dollar, Refinitiv data showed, after having traded at around 15.7 pounds to the dollar since November 2020.

The downturn is likely to have a heavy toll on poor and middle-class Egyptians and came after the country’s central bank hiked interest rates by 100 basis points in a surprise overnight monetary policy meeting.

The central bank cited inflationary pressures triggered by the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine, which hiked oil prices to new records, as the basis for its decision.

EU foreign policy chief accuses Russia of ‘war crime’ over Mariupol attack

The EU’s top diplomat has called Russia’s attack on Mariupol “a massive war crime”.

“What’s happening now in Mariupol is a massive war crime, destroying everything, bombarding and killing everybody,” Josep Borrell said at the start of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

Read more here.

Eight killed in Kyiv attacks, Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office says

At least eight people were killed by Russian attacks on several houses and a shopping centre in Kyiv carried out late on Sunday evening, the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office has said.

Ukraine’s emergency services had earlier put the death toll from the attack in the capital’s Podilskyi district at four people.

Pictures and videos from the site of the attack on the Retroville mall, located on the northwestern outskirts of the city, showed it lying in smouldering ruins.

‘No progress’ between Moscow, Kyiv on key issues: AJE correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Moscow, says the absence of a breakthrough in talks between Russia and Ukraine until now indicates there has been “no progress whatsoever” on the key issues dividing the two sides.

“From a Russian perspective, they want the Ukrainians to recognise Crimea as Russian and Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states,” he said, citing the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014 and the two self-proclaimed separatist republics in eastern Ukraine.

“Then they would like to move forward with the idea of the neutral status of Ukraine – something that Ukraine has indicated it is open to – giving strong guarantees to the Russians that Ukraine won’t ever be contemplating the idea of joining NATO,” he added.

“The Russians say that the expansion of NATO eastwards has always been a major national security concern that was never addressed.”

INTERACTIVE- NATO members in Europe expand eastwards

Odesa mayor accuses Russian forces of attacking city outskirts for the first time

Odesa’s mayor has accused Russian forces of carrying out an attack on residential buildings on the outskirts of the Ukrainian Black Sea port city, marking the first such reported attack there.

The city council said there were no casualties from the attack, which reportedly hit buildings on the outskirts of the city, although it had sparked a fire.

“These are residential buildings where peaceful people live,” Odesa Mayor Gennadiy Trukhanov was quoted as saying.

A story of life and loss in wartime Ukraine

In this episode, Al Jazeera’s The Take podcast speaks to Ukrainian journalist Kateryna Malofieieva about her experiences of covering war and the personal cost of conflict in her home country.

Lithuanian president outlines plan for future without Russian gas, oil

Lithuania is working towards ending all imports of energy from neighbouring Russia, the country’s president has said.

“The gas interlink with Poland, the power undersea link with Sweden, synchronising power system with continental Europe – this all illustrates that Lithuania is preparing to live totally without Russian energy resources,” Gitanas Nauseda told a news conference in Vilnius.

“We’ve come most of the way, such as substituting pipeline gas for liquefied natural gas and being ready to use oil from other countries. Our power synchronisation will be complete soon and then Lithuania will be a good example for Europe,” he added.

Separatist leader says it will take more than a week to capture Mariupol: Report

A Moscow-backed separatist leader in eastern Ukraine has said it will take more than a week to take control of Mariupol, according to a report by Russian news agency Interfax.

“I am not so optimistic that two or three days or even a week will close the issue. Unfortunately, no, the city is big,” Interfax quoted Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), as saying.

Ukraine says Russia-backed separatists continuing “forced mobilisation measures”

Moscow-backed separatist authorities in two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine are continuing to conscript locals as part of “forced mobilisation measures”, Ukraine’s General Staff of Armed Forces has said.

The department said in a post on Facebook that males aged between 18-60 in the Stanychno-Luhansk village, in the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, had been notified of the need to arrive at a local police department on April 1 for registration.

“The reasons for this ‘registration’ are not explained, although it is connected with the next wave of mobilisation to the 2nd Army Corps to be sent to the combat areas,” the post read.

Kyiv mayor announces curfew from Monday evening to Wednesday morning

Kyiv’s mayor has announced a “reinforced curfew” in the Ukrainian capital from 8pm local time today (18:00 GMT) until 7am (05:00 GMT) on Wednesday.

Klitschko said shops, pharmacies and petrol stations would not open on Tuesday.

“I ask everyone to stay at home – or in shelters when the alarm sounds,” he said.

EU warns of ‘huge risk’ of child trafficking as Ukrainians flee

The EU’s home affairs commissioner has warned that vulnerable Ukrainian children are in “huge” danger of being trafficked as they flee from Russia’s offensive.

Ylva Johansson told a news conference in Estonia that about half of the 3.3 million Ukrainians who had fled to EU countries since the start of the war were children.

Ukraine has a high number of orphans and children born through surrogate mothers who had not been picked up by their parents. That increased the risk that they could be abducted or become victims of forced adoptions, Johansson said.

“There is a huge risk of vulnerable children being trafficked,” she added, noting there had already been reports of such instances.

INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine war Refugees DAY 26 March 21

Israeli PM says ‘very large’ gaps remain in bid to end conflict

Israel’s prime minister says that while there have been advances in cease-fire talks between Russia and Ukraine, “very large” gaps remain between the two sides.

Naftali Bennett said in a speech at the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper’s conference that Israel “will continue — together with other friends in the world — to try and bridge the gap and bring an end to the war”.

Israel has close relations with both Ukraine and Russia and Bennett has attempted to mediate between the two sides since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

He has held multiple phone calls with both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Putin in recent weeks and has offered to host a summit involving the pair in Jerusalem. Bennett also flew to Moscow earlier this month to meet with Putin in person.

Kremlin says Russian oil embargo would hurt Europe

The Kremlin has warned the EU it will be hit hard should it impose an embargo on Russian oil.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters such a move would harm the bloc’s energy balance.

EU foreign ministers to discuss sanctions on Russian oil sector

The EU’s foreign policy chief has said the bloc’s foreign ministers will discuss imposing more sanctions on Russia, including measures targetting the country’s oil sector, during talks later today.

“The ministers will discuss that,” Borrell told reporters ahead of the meeting in Brussels, responding to a question whether measures against Russian oil exports would be talked about.

Situation in Mariupol ‘very difficult’, Ukrainian official says

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister has described the situation in Mariupol as “very difficult” after Kyiv rejected a Russian ultimatum to surrender the city.

“Of course we rejected these proposals,” Iryna Vereshchuk said. “The situation there is very difficult.”

Moscow had offered to open humanitarian corridors for evacuations from Mariupol from 10am Moscow time (07:00 GMT) had the surrender proposal been accepted.

Russia says Ukrainian military facility hit with cruise missiles

Russia’s defence ministry says its air forces have hit a Ukrainian military facility in the country’s western Rivne region with cruise missiles.

“High-precision air-launched cruise missiles have struck a training centre for foreign mercenaries and Ukrainian nationalist formations,” ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

There was no immediate reaction to Moscow’s claim from Kyiv.

List of key events from day 26 in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

As the Russia-Ukraine war enters its 26th day, we take a look at the main recent developments.

Read more here.

A man stands amid the destruction caused by a bomb in Satoya neighbourhood in Kyiv, Ukraine
A man stands amid the destruction caused by a bomb in Satoya neighbourhood in Kyiv [Rodrigo Abd/AP Photo]

Moscow denies attacking Ukrainian chemical facilities

Russia’s Defence Ministry has said that Moscow does not plan to and has not attacked any chemical industry facilities in Ukraine, according to the Interfax news agency.

‘Another tense night’ in Kyiv

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Kiyv, says it has been “yet another very tense night” for the Ukrainian capital’s residents.

“Throughout the night, we have been hearing air raid sirens and there have been bombings this morning as well,” he said.

“Most of Kyiv’s residents have left but the most vulnerable – the elderly and the very frail who are sick – are actually the ones who’ve stayed behind, and those are the people who are cowering frightened in their apartments,” he added.

“A lot of people are sleeping in their corridors now, they just simply do not want to be near any glass windows as what we see constantly is the façade of buildings being blown away completely as these rockets land.”

Ukraine war could lead to global food crisis: France

The war between Ukraine and Russia – two of the world’s top crop producers – might lead to a food crisis “on the global” scale, French Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie has warned.

EU ministers will discuss the food situation with their Ukrainian counterpart in a video call, Denormandie said in remarks delivered before an agriculture meeting involving officials from the bloc.

Slovenia sending diplomats back to Kyiv

Slovenia is planning to send diplomats back to the Ukrainian capital this week, according to the country’s prime minister.

“We are working to make the EU do the same. Ukraine needs diplomatic support,” Janez Jansa announced on Twitter as he added that the diplomats will return to Kyiv on a voluntary basis.

Gazprom says it continues gas exports to Europe via Ukraine

Russian energy giant Gazprom has said it was continuing to supply gas to Europe via Ukraine in line with requests from European consumers.

The company said the requests stood at 104.7 million cubic metres for March 21.

Russian deadline over Mariupol passes

Moscow’s deadline for the Ukrainian forces in the southern city of Mariupol to surrender has expired at 5am (02:00 GMT).

Ukraine rejected a Russian call for Ukrainian forces in the besieged city to lay down their arms, saying “there can be no question of any surrender”.

An explosion is seen in an apartment building after Russian's army tank fires in Mariupol, Ukraine.
An explosion is seen in an apartment building after Russian army tank fires in Mariupol on March 11 [File: AP Photo]

Two villages in area affected by ammonia leak

Dmytro Zhyvytskyy, the governor of Sumy, says the villages of Novoselytsya and Verkhnya Syrovatka are within the area contaminated by an ammonia leak.

He said people within the affected area are recommended to take immediate shelter underground and if ammonia is detected, to breathe through gauze bandages soaked in citric acid.

‘No threat to Sumy’ from ammonia leak: Official

Zhyvytskyy says “there is no threat” to the city of Sumy from an ammonia leak at a nearby chemical plant because the wind is blowing away from the city.

He added that the leak at the Sumykhimprom plant is contaminating an area with a radius of 2.5km (1.5 miles), and not 5km (3 miles) as previously thought.

He did not say what caused the leak.

The Sumykhimprom plant is on the eastern outskirts of the city, which has a population of about 263,000 and has been regularly shelled by Russian troops in recent weeks.

Russia, Ukraine to resume online talks

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators will continue with their online talks on Monday, according to the Ukrainska Pravda news website.

David Arakhamia, a Ukrainian official, told the news outlet that the talks are continuing every day “at the level of expert groups”.

New Zealand to provide Ukraine with non-lethal military assistance

New Zealand says it will provide Ukraine with a further 5 million New Zealand dollars ($3.46m) in funds and non-lethal military assistance.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the money would be primarily directed to a NATO Trust Fund that provides fuel, rations, communication equipment and first aid kits to support Ukraine.

“We consider what is happening in Ukraine as a massive disruption to the international rules-based order and because of that it impacts all of us and that’s why we have taken these extraordinary measures,” Ardern told a news conference.

The New Zealand Defence Force will provide tactical equipment such as body armour, helmets and vests that are surplus to requirements, she added.

Ammonia leak reported at chemicals plant in Sumy

A Ukrainian official is raising the alarm over an ammonia leak at a chemicals plant in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy, besieged by Russian troops.

Zhyvytskyy, the Sumy regional governor, said the leak was reported at 4:30am local time (02:30 GMT) at the Sumykhimprom plant and that the area within a 5km radius around the plant was hazardous.

He did not say what had caused the leak.

Biden to visit Poland on Europe trip

Biden has added a stop in Poland to his upcoming trip to Europe for urgent talks with NATO, G7 leaders and European allies.

The US president, who leaves Washington, DC on Wednesday, will first travel to Brussels and then Warsaw, where he will hold a bilateral meeting with President Andrzej Duda, his spokeswoman said.

In the Polish capital on Friday, Biden will discuss the international response to “the humanitarian and human rights crisis that Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked war on Ukraine has created”, she added.

Deadly shelling in Chernihiv; air raids in Zhytomyr

Ukrainian media have said at least two people were killed in Chernihiv on Sunday when an artillery shell hit their car.

Ukrainska Pravda cited a witness as saying that the two men were out delivering water to the city’s residents.

Separately, Ukraine’s emergency services reported that an air raid in Zhytomyr wounded three people and damaged 13 buildings.

Odesa reports increase in Russian drone sightings

A Ukrainian official in Odesa says Russia has started “utilising unmanned aerial vehicles in urban areas of the region”.

But Maksym Marchenko, head of the Odesa Military Administration, noted that the “current situation in the region is quiet”.

Zelenskyy says Jerusalem ‘would be right place to find peace’

Ukraine’s president says Israel is undertaking many efforts to arrange top-level talks between his country and Russia and suggests they might take place in Jerusalem.

“The prime minister of Israel, Mr Bennett is trying to find a way of holding talks. And we are grateful for this. We are grateful for his efforts, so that sooner or later we will begin to have talks with Russia, possibly in Jerusalem,” Zelenskyy said during his nightly video address.

“That’s the right place to find peace. If possible.”

China will keep up ‘normal cooperation’ with Russia: Envoy

China’s ambassador to the US has defended his country’s refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, contending such a rebuke will do nothing to stop the violence.

Qin Gang told the CBS television network’s Face the Nation on Sunday that China’s condemnation would not help and that he is doubtful it would have any effect on Russia.

He said China wants “friendly, good neighbourly relations with Russia” and will keep up “normal trade, economic, financial, energy cooperation with Russia” as it continues “to promote peace talks” and urge an immediate ceasefire from Russia through negotiation and diplomacy.

Qin said China is not providing any military assistance to Russia. He insisted that China remains “against a war” and “will do everything” – short of condemnation – “to de-escalate the crisis”.

Ukraine rejects Russia demand for Mariupol surrender

Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, has rejected a Russian call for Ukrainian forces in the besieged city of Mariupol to lay down their arms, saying “there can be no question of any surrender”.

In comments to Ukrainska Pravda, Vereshchuk said the Russian forces were demanding a surrender before allowing the evacuation of civilians.

She described the demand as “real hostage-taking”.

One person reported dead in Kyiv shelling: Mayor

At least one person was killed in the shelling of residential houses and a shopping centre in Kyiv’s Podilskyi district, according to the city’s mayor.

Klitschko said rescue teams were putting out a large fire at the shopping centre.

Inside Story: Can talks end the war in Ukraine?

Representatives from Ukraine and Russia have met several times since Moscow’s invasion.

There are three main points of contention: a ceasefire, an end to all hostilities and humanitarian corridors. But there has been no progress so far.

So, do these talks serve any purpose?

UK says Russian forces still trying to circumvent Mykolaiv

The United Kingdom’s Defence Ministry said that Russian forces advancing from Crimea are still attempting to circumvent Mykolaiv as they look to drive west towards Odesa, adding that these forces have made little progress over the past week.

“The blockade of the Ukrainian coast is likely to exacerbate the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, preventing vital supplies reaching the Ukrainian population,” the ministry said in a Twitter post.

Shelling hits houses, shopping centre in Kyiv, mayor says

Residential houses and a shopping centre in Kyiv’s Podilskyi district were hit by shelling late on Sunday, the city’s mayor said.

“Rescue teams, medics and the police are already on site,” Klitschko said on his Telegram channel.

IAEA calls for more Chernobyl staff to be rotated soon

About half of the staff who have been working at the radioactive waste facilities at Chernobyl since Russian forces seized it last month have been relieved by other Ukrainian staff, the UN nuclear watchdog said.

“They were there for far too long. I sincerely hope that remaining staff from this shift can also rotate soon,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi said in a statement. Ukraine’s nuclear regulator informed the IAEA that the rotation had begun on Sunday morning, the agency said.

Russia gives Ukraine 5am deadline to surrender Mariupol

Russia says Ukraine has until 5am Moscow time (02:00 GMT) on Monday to respond to an offer on humanitarian corridors and laying down arms in the eastern port city of Mariupol.

“Lay down your arms,” Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, the director of the Russian National Centre for Defence Management, said in a briefing distributed by the defence ministry.

“A terrible humanitarian catastrophe has developed,” Mizintsev said. “All who lay down their arms are guaranteed safe passage out of Mariupol.”

Mariupol has suffered some of the heaviest bombardments since Russia launched its invasion. Many of its 400,000 residents remain trapped in the city with little if any food, water and power.

Mizintsev said humanitarian corridors for civilians would be opened eastwards and westwards out of Mariupol at 10am Moscow time (07:00 GMT) on Monday.

Ukraine says 7,295 people evacuated from cities on Sunday

A total of 7,295 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Sunday, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said, with four out of seven planned routes working.

Of the total, 3,985 people were evacuated from the besieged city of Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia city. The Ukrainian government planned to send nearly 50 buses to Mariupol on Monday for further evacuations, Vereshchuk said.

Exhausted staff at Chernobyl plant get relief

Management of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986, has said that 50 staff members who had been on the job since the plant was seized by Russian forces on February 24 have been rotated out and replaced.

Officials had repeatedly expressed alarm that the staff was suffering exhaustion after weeks of forced, unrelieved work and that this endangered the decommissioned plant’s safety.

The authority that manages the plant did not give specifics on how an agreement was reached to let the workers leave, and others come in to replace them.

Ukrainian evacuees arrive in Brovary, east of Kyiv

A convoy of vehicles carrying residents evacuated from the Ukrainian village of Bobryk has arrived in Brovary, a city east of the capital Kyiv.

The convoy included 20 buses and 250 cars, carrying about 1,600 people in total, including 843 children, officials said.

One Bobryk resident, Ihor Lytvyn, told The Associated Press news agency he was shot in the hand and his grandmother was shot in the leg when a Russian convoy drove through the village. Another resident, Serhiy Gyziy, stayed for a week in a shelter without water and electricity.

About 10 million people have fled their homes – more than 6 million of them have been displaced internally, and more than 3.3 million have fled Ukraine, the UNHCR said on Sunday.

Refugees wait for Ukrainian police to check their papers and belongings in Brovary, Ukraine
Refugees wait for Ukrainian police to check their papers and belongings in Brovary [Vadim Ghirda/AP Photo]

Japan presses UAE to pump more oil as Ukraine war spikes prices

Japan has urged the United Arab Emirates to pump more oil to calm markets rocked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the latest major consumer to lobby Gulf producers.

The plea by Japan’s foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi came during meetings with Emirati officials, which coincided with a visit by Germany’s economy minister, three weeks into the Russian offensive.

Hayashi asked “the UAE to contribute to the stabilisation of the international oil market by supplying a greater amount of oil, securing spare productive capacity as a leading member of OPEC+”, a Japanese foreign ministry spokesperson told an online briefing.

Negotiation only way to end the war, Zelenskyy says

The Ukrainian president has renewed his plea for talks with his Russian counterpart, taking to US television to say negotiations were the only way to “end this war”.

Zelenskyy stressed that he and Putin were the only principals able to thrash out a deal to stop the fighting, now in its fourth week.

But he signalled he would lay down red lines against ceding Ukrainian territory, including two pro-Moscow breakaway regions.

“I’m ready for negotiations with him,” Zelenskyy told CNN show Fareed Zakaria GPS through a translator. “I think without negotiations we cannot end this war.”

Click here to read all the updates from March 20.

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