Russia - Ukraine war live updates: summary 18 March
Ukraine - Russia war: live updates
Russian invasion of Ukraine headlines
- President Biden held a two hour call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, the White House has said China is not looking to join the West in condemning the Russian invasion.
- Over 3.2 million Ukrainians, half of which are children, have fled since the invasion by Russia began
- Russia has imposed sanctions on US officials including President Biden and former First Lady Hillary Clinton
- Mariupol mayor confirms that around 350,000 people are still trapped in the city. Officials report that the city's "last reserves of food and water are running out”
Russia - Ukraine conflict information
- Can families in the US sponsor Ukrainian refugees?
- How have sanctions impacted the Russian economy?
- What are the key dates for Russia to pay its state bonds?
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began a little over three weeks ago, diplomats from both countries have been negotiating behind the scenes. These negotiations, thus far, have not been fruitful.
During his daily address early in the morning on Saturday 19 March, President Zelensky affirmed that "negotiations on peace, on security for us, for Ukraine - meaningful, fair and without delay - are the only chance for Russia to reduce the damage from its own mistakes."
Speaking directly to those in Moscow, Zelensky said "It's time to meet. Time to talk. It is time to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine. Otherwise, Russia's losses will be so huge that several generations will not be enough to rebound."
On 18 March, President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met to discuss various topics including the invasion of Ukraine. The White House stated that China had not verbalized a new position on the issue and that the country is still developing a response.
This comes as the US has in recent days announced that it has intelligence that Russia has asked China for military assistance support their ongoing invasion of Ukraine. China has denied these claims.
Read our full coverage for more on China's response to the Russian invasion as well as high level take ways from the meeting between Biden and Xi Jinping.
The United Kingdom moves to ban Russian state TV channel RT
The decision way taken after the British government felt that RT was unable to provide impatial content on the Russian invasion.
Western nations have imposed several rounds of crippling sanctions on Russia and those who influence the decision-making process in Moscow since President Putin sent troops into neighboring Ukraine. Since then, Russian bank accounts around the world have been frozen and property seized in several countries in Europe.
To help track down assets purchased with ill-gotten gains siphoned out of Russia and stashed around the world, Western countries have teamed up forming the Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) multilateral task force. The entity which was announced after Russia invaded Ukraine was formerly launched on 16 March.
Where are Ukrainian refugees staying when they flee?
The World Health Organization's country office in Poland has released images of a refugee center filled with cots where Ukrainians fleeing the war are staying while they can be placed in more permanent housing.
After facing mounting international pressure, the oil field service Halliburton will suspend all business dealings in Russia.
Halliburton is one of the largest within the sector and the annoucement will deal a major blow to Russia's primary source of income. The company follows many others including Stabucks, McDonald's, Goldman Sachs, and others who have also permanetly or temporarily sustpended oppearations in Russia.
What did President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping discuss?
The leaders spoke for nearly two hours on Friday 18 March, with Ukraine being one of the most important topics of conversation. The White House has reported that the Xi Jinping did not say that China would join the United States and its allies in the categorical condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
"I would say the conversation was direct. It was substantive and it was detailed. The two leaders spent the preponderance of their time discussing Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine, as well as the implications of the crisis for U.S.-China relations and the international order," read a statemnet relaeased by teh White House.
EU leaders consider using sized Russian assets to fund rebuild of Ukraine
With various EU countries implementing sanctions against Russian tycoons, Bloomberg is reporting that various officials are questioning whether they could use those funds to fund the rebuilding effort for Ukraine after the war.
Russian cruise missile damages residential Kyiv neighborhood
Kyiv has held back Russian forces trying to encircle the capital for 23 days. The lack of forward movement has seen Russia resort to heavy shelling and aerial bombarment leaving in its wake startling damage as show from the detonation of a cruise missile that landed in a residential area of northern Kyiv in the early hours of Friday.
Nearly 10 million Ukrainians displaced by Russian invasion
Roughly 6.5 million Ukrainians have become internally displaced by the war according to the United Nations Migration Agency. Another 3.2 million have sought refuge outside Ukraine's borders in neighboring countries with the vast majority, 2 million, fleeing to Poland.
Odessa braces for Russian assualt
Odessa is Ukraine's third largest city and the last major port on the Black Sea not surrounded by Russian forces. The fierce Ukrainian resistance across the country has slowed the advance of the invading troops. The drive towards Odessa has not been able to capture Mykolaiv, nor Voznesens'k to the east which have important bridge crossings.
This has given Odessa three weeks to build up defenses for an expected assault. Warships have been shelling towns outside Odessa but not the city itself yet.
Ukraine needs more "loitering munitions" not jets
The US will send Ukraine 100 Switchblade 300 drones, which are a loitering munition. These are Kamikaze weapons that have cameras integrated into them which can transmit images back to the operator and are difficult for th enemy to detect.
However, the version of the Switchblade being sent to Ukraine doesn't appear to be the 600, which could be used against armored vehicles and would be useful in urban warfare.
Two experts at Defence of Democracies argue that more lethal weapons of this type would more effective in the hands of the Ukrainian defenders, being that they are portable and don't need a fixed infrastructure that could be attacked as well as easier to deploy logistically.
How many bombing "mistakes" before Russian forces explain themselves
Okay, if we are talking about mistake, last morning was a mistake, 24 hours ago, two days ago was mistake. Huge mistake destroy the Drama [theater] in Mariupol. How many mistakes they do it? How many civilians have to [be] killed and after that explain about mistake from, from Russian forces?”
"This is genocide of the Ukrainian people"
The Russian forces have become bogged down in ther invasion of Ukraine unable to advance further. This has led them to use indiscriminate shelling and bombing of cities across Ukraine, but has been especially devastating in the cities that are beseiged.
Kahrkiv and Mariupol are reporting that as much as 80 percent of their cities have been damaged resulted in the deaths of many innocent civilians.
On Thursday Russian forces bombarded the Barabashovo Market in Kharkiv, the largest in Eastern Europe, multiple times. While in Mariupol the Drama Theater, where up to a thousand civilians were shelthering was bombed despite markings on the building for planes to see that children were inside.
After Biden - Xi call China signals it wants Russian - Ukraine conflict to end
On Friday, President Biden and Chinese President Xi spoke for the first time since November to discuss the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukriane. There had been reports that Russia was asking China for military weapons to use in its campaign against Ukraine.
This brought stern reaction from the Biden administration with Secretary Blinken saying that "China will bear responsibility for any actions it takes to support Russia’s aggression and we will not hesitate to impose costs."
The call between the two leaders was intended to convince Beijing, which has publically blame the US and West for the conflict, to distance itself from Russia's aggression. What could appear positive in that endeavour President XI told Biden "conflict and confrontation are not in anyone’s interest." As per the New York Times, a spokesman at China's foreign ministry has called for a ceasefire with China “deeply grieved by the increasing number of civilian casualties."
"There is no city centre left" - Mariupol mayor
Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko told the BBC that fighting has reached the city centre in the besieged southern town of Mariupol, confirming earlier Russian reports.
"Yes, they were really active today. Tanks and machine gun battles continue," he says. "Everybody is hiding in bunkers"
He said more than 80 percent of residential buildings are either damaged or destroyed, and 30 percent of them cannot be restored.
"There’s no city centre left. There isn’t a small piece of land in the city that doesn’t have signs of war," he said.
The theatre which was destroyed two days ago, with more than 1,000 people in it, is yet to be fully cleared.
Russia says negotiations making progress
Moscow and Kyiv are "halfway there" in agreeing on the issue of Ukraine's demilitarisation, and their views are most aligned on Ukraine's neutrality and giving up on joining Nato, Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky says.
Stickier negotiations will come when Russia demands territorial concessions from Ukraine.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the US and its allies have imposed crippling sanctions on Russian the likes of which have never been seen. With the freezing of Russia’s central bank assets, the nation’s currency, the rouble, has plummeted in value.
Interest payments on $117 million in dollar-denominated government debt came due on 16 March. Although the Russian finance ministry said the payment would be made in dollars there were doubts. A source told the Washington Post that JPMorgan Chase had acted as the intermediary or “correspondent” bank between the investors and Moscow.
WATCH: BBC crew in Kharkiv in the thick of the fighting
Lead by veteran war correspondent Quentin Somerville, the team follows a Ukrainian patrol. In one moment they have to flee a Russian bombardment.
Mass support in Russian stadium orchestrated by government
Maybe you have seen these clips of 'patriotic' Russians waving flags in support of their army in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. It looks rather spectacular, but the BBC has spoken to people outside once they left the event, and the picture is much more different.
Will Vernon, the senior producer of the BBC Moscow Bureau, tweeted what some people had to say.
"Many said they worked in the public sector (e.g. schoolteachers), and that they had been pressured into attending by their employers. One group of teachers, from a town near Moscow, were being told what to say to us by a woman who appeared to be from the local administration."
"In comparison to opposition rallies, most people didn't want to talk, be filmed or answer any questions. Some would cover their faces or put up their hoods when we said we are journalists. Many seemed embarrassed or ashamed to be there."
Since the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian ruble has decreased in value by thirty percent and now one ruble is worth less than a penny. Before the invasion the exchange rate had stood at around $0.11 for each ruble.
The Russian stock market has not opened since the invasion began, over fears that it could crash, putting the country's economy at greater threat of complete collapse. Tentatively, the market will reopen on Friday 18 March, but this date could be pushed back once again.
After the United States and European countries froze Russian currency assets, the Central Bank of Russia was unable to buy them back and the country was forced to increase their key interest rate to twenty percent. This was done in attempt to slow the movement of currency through the market but also led to a run on banks and ATMs, with many Russians worried that currency could become scarce.
HRW chief discusses Kharkiv destruction
In Kharkiv, Russian military forces showed disregard for civilian lives through repeated apparent indiscriminate attacks in populated areas. Russia’s military may believe they can disregard the laws of war in their assault on Kharkiv, but the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over war crimes committed in Kharkiv and there will be accountability for those responsible.
Human Rights Watch produces interactive map showing destruction of Kharkiv
More than 450 civilians were reportedly killed or injured in the first 11 days of the war, in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, as a result of Russian airstrikes and artillery shelling of populated areas, Human Rights Watch said on Friday morning.
The rights group has produced a map showing the attacks using eyewitness testimony, as well as location services through google maps. The attacks Human Rights Watch documented took place between February 24 and March 5.
“Our city centre is being erased,” one Kharkiv resident told Human Rights Watch.
While the US reaction to Chinese diplomacy is yet to fully manifest, the diplomatic stand-off between the US and Russia continues unabated.
In response to sanctions imposed by the United States, Russian President Vladimir Putin has directed the Russian Foreign Ministry to create a "stop list" of US officials who are now banned from entering Russia. A Ministry press release stated that starting 15 March, Russia would bar entry to "President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, as well as several agency heads and other prominent US figures."
President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jingping will speak today
After delegations from the United States and China held meetings this week to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and other matters, the two heads of state of these countries will meet later today.
It is expected that Biden will make it clear to Xi that any act of support towards the Russian invasion will be taken seriously. Above all, the US has warned of possible economic consequences should the Chinese begin to send military aid to Russian forces fighting in Ukraine.
3.1 million Ukraniains have fled their country in the last three weeks
Millions more are expected to leave in the coming days as European states begin to feel the pressure of absorbing 3.1 million people, half of which are children. This is no easy task and a reminder that as people seek refuge from war, famine, economic uncertainty, climate change, and more the global community must reform its systems to support them. Freedom of movement is a fundamental human right not a privilege for those who can afford it.
Russia claimed on Thursday that it had made the first of its debt interest payments that it must fulfil to stave off its first external debt default since 1917. The first payment, of $117 million, has been paid, according to the Russian government, but there doubts remain over how Russia can wield its foreign reserves while under stringent sanctions by much of the west.
Russia averts foreign-currency debt default
Not since 1918 has Russia renigged on a foreign-currency debt when the Bolshevik Party refused to repay investors on all prior bonds issued by the Tsars or the Russian government. Worries were abound as a $117 million interest payment denominated in dollars came due on Wednesday.
The Russian finance ministry said the payments were made but reports came out that those owed money hadn't received any funds. It's now reported that transfers have been received in dollars and not rubles which would have resulted in a default had it not been corrected within the 30-day grace period.
Biden to tell Xi China will bear responsibility if it supports Russian aggression
Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a press conference on Tuesday said that Russia is committing war crimes by intentionally targeting civilians citing the destruction witnessed over the past three weeks.
He also called on nations with direct influence with Russia to pressure Moscow into ending "this war of choice." He singled out China for moving in the opposite direction and not condemning the Russian aggression.
Over concerns that China may supply Russian with military equipment to use in Ukraine, President Biden will speak to President Xi to "make clear that China will bear responsibility for any actions it takes to support Russia’s aggression and we will not hesitate to impose costs."
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We'll bring you all the latest from Ukraine and Eastern Europe as the Russian invasion crosses the three-week mark. European nations are looking to impose tough new sanctions against Russia while negotiations continue between Russia and Ukraine.