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Russia - Ukraine war | News summary for 23 March

Russia - Ukraine war live updates: Zelensky, Putin demands, Ukraine troops, Mariupol, gas prices, China, NATO...

Russia-Ukraine conflict: live updates


- Russian forces surrounded northwest of Kyiv by Ukrainian forces.

- Ukrainian forces push back eastern forces to 34 miles from center of capital putting Russians on defensive footing.

- US secretary of state, Antony Blinken: "Members of Russia’s forces have committed war crimes"

- President Biden lands in Brussels for meetings with NATO and G7 members

- Ukrainian leaders accuse Russia of taking food delivery and aid workers hostage as they were entering Mariupol

- Military  experts report Russian forces could run out of supplies within the next three weeks.

- Small Ukrainian cities have fended off Russian forces, knowing that many will see greater forces return after regaining strength

- President Zelensky reports that 100,000 people still remain trapped in Mariupol, drone footage captures the destruction.

- European leaders will discuss the resettlement of the more than 3.5 million Ukrainians that have fled to the block since the invasion began.

Russia-Ukraine: Conflict Background

- Foreign fighters like "Wali" are targets of the Russian army.

- What is the FSB?

- Sanctions on Russia begin to impact the cost of living  around the world.

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"Russian forces have almost certainly suffere thousands of casualties"

In its latest intelligence update on the war in Ukraine, the UK’s Ministry of Defence says Russia is exploring several ways to bolster its forces to make up for a high number of troop losses.

“Russian forces have almost certainly suffered thousands of casualties during their invasion of Ukraine,” the update says.

“Russia is likely now looking to mobilise its reservist and conscript manpower, as well as private military companies and foreign mercenaries, to replace these considerable losses.

It is unclear how these groups will integrate into the Russian ground forces in Ukraine and the impact this will have on combat effectiveness.”


Wildfires near Chernobyl mostly under control

There have been more than 30 forest fires recorded over the past two weeks around Chernobyl according to the Ukrainian Ecology and Natural Resources Minister. Most of those have been brought under control now the Kyiv Independent reports. 

The IAEA says they've received reports of slight increases in concentrations of radioactive caesium detected in Kyiv's air and at two nuclear power plants, but they did not pose significant radiological concerns.


Ukrainian journalist's father abducted by Russian forces

Svetlana Zalizetskaya, director of the RIA-Melitopol, has posted on her Facebook page the three men, one dressed as a civilian and two Russian soldiers with machineguns, came searching for her on Wednesday morning. After ransacking her parents' house and questioning them about her whereabouts, she says that they took away her father to an undisclosed location.

In a phone call with his captures, she was told that he is being kept in a basement somewhere and that they will release him if she comes to them.


Russian open radio channels reveal failures of invading forces

The use of unencrypted radio frequencies by Russian forces has allowed anyone with a radio to listen in. It has also let Ukrainian forces tack down and kill at least one general geolocating his signal.

Recordings by those who have been eavesdropping reveal serious failures in logistics and coordination between land and air units.


White House officials claim Russia has committed war crimes in Ukraine

For weeks the reports of sustained attacks on civilians and failure to respect humanitarian corridors have emerged from Ukraine. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied that Russian forces have done anything wrong but American officials are now on record as saying that Russian forces are thought to have committed war crimes in Ukraine. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday: "Today, I can announce that, based on information currently available, the US government assesses that members of Russia’s forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine."


Biden has arrived in Brussels and prepares to impose new sanctions

President Joe Biden has travelled to Europe for key talks regarding the situation in Ukraine with European leaders. On Thursday Biden will attend an emergency summit of NATO and will be present for a meeting of the European Parliament in Brussels, hoping to take a lead of Western powers. 

The President is expected to push for tougher new sanctions against Russia and Russian members of parliament in particular. 


Forest fire breaks out near Chernobyl nuclear power plant

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been an area of activity throughout much of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. FIrst it was captured by Russian soldiers, before being retaken by Ukraine, and sustained shelling in the area cut the electricity supply to the site, causing concern that the cooling system may no longer be operational. 

Today it has been confirmed that a fire has broken out in a forest near to the site. The State Inspectorate for Nuclear Regulation of Ukraine warned yesterday: "Regulatory control over the state of nuclear and radiation safety at the Chornobyl NPP site and in the exclusion zone, is still impossible."

What is the FSB and what are Russia's methods of recruiting spies according to the FBI?

Multiple European sources report that Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered two senior officials in the Federal Security Service (FSB) be detained under house arrest, charged with “providing flawed intelligence about Ukraine”. The FSB grew from the ashes of the KGB, the Soviet-era secret service, and now plays a murky role in the continuation of President Putin's grasp on Russian society. 

We take a look at what it is, and how it operates...

Read more


Update on Russian losses after one month of war

The Russian military first entered into the Donbas region of Ukraine in the early hours of 24 February and has waged war against the Ukrianian people ever since. However despite the clear numerical advantage, the Russian troops have not managed to secure victory in Ukraine and have instead suffered significant losses. 

Ukrainian publication the Kyiv Independent has estimated the military losses sustained by Russia so far, claiming that more than 15,000 Russian soliders killed in the past month and huge amounts of weaponry and vehicles destoryed or captured. 


Blinken: US government believes Russia has commited war crimes

We’ve seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities. Russia’s forces have destroyed apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping centers, and ambulances, leaving thousands of innocent civilians killed or wounded.

Last week, I echoed President Biden’s statement, based on the countless accounts and images of destruction and suffering we have all seen, that war crimes had been committed by Putin’s forces in Ukraine. I noted then that the deliberate targeting of civilians is a war crime. I emphasised that Department of State and other U.S. government experts were documenting and assessing potential war crimes in Ukraine.

Today, I can announce that, based on information currently available, the US government assesses that members of Russia’s forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine.

Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State
What is the currency of Ukraine, how much is the hryvnia worth and how has its exchange rate changed?

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has had a devastating affect on all sectors of Ukrainian society and the rammifications will likely be felt long after the fighting stops. The Ukrainian economy has been devastated by the war and the agricultural trade that is usually so important in the 'breadbasket of Europe' has come to an abrupt end. 

We take a look at how the conflict has affected the Ukrainian currency...

Read more


Ukrainian forces begin to reclaim territory around Kyiv

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been focused on Kyiv in recent weeks as President Putin looks to wrestle control of the capital. However as the pace of the offensive has slowed it has allowed the defending forces to push back and begin to reclaim lands that had been lost over the past month. Four weeks into the conflict, this is a positive sign for Ukrainians and one that suggests the Russian invasion is continuing to stall. 


More military support offered to Ukraine

Sweden has today confirmed that it will send another 5,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine to help the country repel the invading Russian forces. Western powers have been extremely reluctant to become involved in the fighting due to a fear of retaliation from Russia, but are offered support in other ways. 

Within the last hour a spokesperson for the UK government has confirmed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will call for more assisstance to be offered to Ukraine:

"The Prime Minister set out his intention to use tomorrow’s G7 and NATO meetings to increase the pressure on Vladimir Putin’s regime and work with partners to substantively increase defensive lethal aid to Ukraine."


EU works to support countries accepting Ukrainian refugees

The President of the European Commission Ursula van der Leyden applauded the work of member states and Moldova to take in Ukrainian refugees. More than three million people, half of which are children, have fled the war torn country in the last week. The EU is putting together a spending will that will send around $3.4 billion dollars to countries taking in refugees to help them resettle those who have left.


European Commission unveils plans to reduce energy dependence on Russia

Global and European energy markets are going through turbulent times, particularly since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Europe needs to take swift action to ensure our energy supply for next winter, and to alleviate the pressure of high energy bills on our citizens and businesses. Today's proposals are another step forward in our intensive work on this front.

Kadri Simson, Commissioner for Energy
Which countries near Russia do US forces have bases?

The United States military has bases in over 900 confirmed bases in over seventy countries. The country with the highest number of US bases, 120, is Japan, followed by Germany with 119.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the US has also increased its military presence in Eastern Europe, especially as many of the former republics that made up the USSR became NATO members.

Read our full coverage for more on which eastern European countries are home to US bases.


Non-white Ukrainian refugees detained in Europe

As millions of migrants flow out of Ukraine, stories of some migrants expereicing racism upon arrival to Europe has been documented. The Independnet took a closer look and found that some non-white migrants are being held in detention centers, while others are allowed to live freely. Many of these refugees are international students who had to abdonon their studies when the conflcit broke out and are searching for a way to get back to their home country as soon and safety as possible.


Coming up on one month since the Russian invasion

President Zelenskyy shared a video of air raid siren giving the world a glimpse of what his people have experienced over the last month.


President Zelensky addresses Japanese leaders

In a twelve minute speech to Japanese leaders, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy thanked the country for their support against Russia. Zelenskyy also spoke the appreciation of Japanese culture shared by the Ukrainian people. "Responsible nations must work together to protect peace," said the Ukrainian leader as he urged for greater support against Russian agression.


Nestle will suspend some of its brands in Russia

Facing mounting pressure from international leaders, including President Zelensky of Ukraine, the global food company Nestle has announced that it will suspend some of its brands in Russia. The company that it has said that it will continue to provide food essentials like infant formula but will cut back on less essential product lines, like candy. Nestle also announced that it whas stopped advertiizng in the country and has suspended all commercial investment in Russia.


Russia plans to attend G20 conference in December 2022

After the invasion of Crimea, Russia was kicked out of the G8, now questions are circling about Russia's participation in the G20. China has said that they will continue to support Russia's particaption in the global group, but other members have not voiced their support that such a decision.


EU says that its agricultural sector is "self-sufficient," warns that Ukraine conflict could impact other areas

While the European Union has said that they should be able to maintain their food supply as the conflict continues, there are stark warnings for other countries.

The vast majority of Ukraine's exports, eighty-four percent, are agriculture product. The invasion has seriously debilitated this sector and could have devastating impacts on the food security of other countries and Ukraine's economy.

Drone footage shows colossal damage as explosions hit factories in Mariupol

Drone footage from Mariupol captured as Russian bombardments continue. President Zelensky has said that more than 100,000 remain trapped in the city and are struggling to access water, food, and heat.


White House provides background on President Biden's European trip

We’ve made decisive moves on all three fronts, and President Biden’s trip will involve further actions on each of these three fronts.

He will attend an emergency NATO Summit, joined by the leaders of the other 29 NATO Allies.  He will join the G7 leaders.  And he will address the 27 leaders of the European Union at a session of the European Council.  He will have the opportunity to coordinate on the next phase of military assistance to Ukraine. 

He will join our partners in imposing further sanctions on Russia and tightening the existing sanctions to crack down on evasion and to ensure robust enforcement. 

Jake Sullivan , National Security Advisor

Russians likely reorganising before renewed northern offensive - UK intellgence update

Russian forces are probably reorganising before a renewed offensive in the north of Ukraine, the UK’s Ministry of Defence said in its latest intelligence update on Wednesday.

“The battlefield across northern Ukraine remains largely static with Russian forces likely conducting a period of reorganisation before resuming large-scale offensive operations,” the update says.

“Russian forces are attempting to envelop Ukrainian forces in the east of the country as they advance from the direction of Kharkiv in the north and Mariupol in the south.

“Russian forces are still attempting to circumvent Mykolaiv as they look to drive west towards Odesa.”


What does the UNHCR do to support refugees fleeing Ukraine?


Social spending will continue to be placed on the back burner in the US

While many progressives had argued for serious reductions in government spending, the crisis in Ukraine may "derail" these plans. Now with a military threat more close at hand, calls for reduction in the Department of Defenses' budget seem to have very little audience on Capitol Hill.


Mariupol continues to fight

Bombardments continue in Mariupol as President Zelenksky reports that over 100,000 people remain trapped in the city. This comes after Russian forces gave an order of surrender that was rejected by officials in the besieged city.


Hello and welcome to AS USA coverage of the Russia-Ukraine for 23 March. Ukrainian forces continue to stall the progress of Russian troops.

After nearly four weeks since the invasion began, Ukrainian forces continue to stall the progress of Russian troops. Foreign leaders will head to Brussels today to discuss the conflict and next steps as economies are impacted by sanctions and quickly rising energy prices.