Ukraine latest updates: UN says 6.5m displaced inside Ukraine

Ukraine news from March 18: UN also estimates 3.2 million refugees have already fled the country.

UN says 6.5 million internally displaced in Ukraine due to war.

Chinese President Xi tells Biden Russia-Ukraine fighting is in “no one’s interest”.

At least 816 civilians killed in Ukraine since conflict began, UN says.

Russian attacks hit the capital, Kyiv, and Kharkiv and Kramatorsk in the east, causing deaths, Ukrainian officials say.

Missiles destroy an aircraft repair plant near the airport in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, Mayor Andriy Sadovy says.

Russian troops and separatist allies are fighting in the centre of Mariupol “against nationalists”, according to the Russian defence ministry.

The United Kingdom’s media regulator revokes Russian channel RT’s licence, citing links to Kremlin.

This live blog is now closed, thank you for joining us. You can follow all the latest updates on the Russia-Ukraine crisis on our new blog.

These were the updates on March 18:

18 Mar 2022 – 20:42 GMT

Ukraine says 9,145 people evacuated from cities on Friday

A total of 9,145 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Friday, a senior official has said.

The number is considerably more than managed to escape on Thursday.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office, said in an online post that 4,972 people had left the besieged city of Mariupol. A total of only 3,810 people were able to leave cities across the country on Thursday.

18 Mar 2022 – 20:25 GMT

White House says weapons shipped to Ukraine for defence

None of the weapons the United States is providing to Ukraine could be used to launch an attack on another country, the White House has said, stressing that those are intended for defensive purposes.

18 Mar 2022 – 20:10 GMT

UNSC: West dismisses Russian claims of bioweapons in Ukraine

Russia has renewed accusations of a US-backed biological weapons programme in Ukraine, allegations that were dismissed as “disinformation” by most members of the UN Security Council.

Representatives of the US and the UK – among others – rebuked Russia for requesting a Security Council meeting on Friday for the purpose of discussing its claims. Last week, the Security Council also held a session at Russia’s request to hear similar allegations.

Read more here.

18 Mar 2022 – 20:01 GMT

Russia calls Council of Europe a ‘Russophobic’ tool of the West

Russia’s outspoken foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, has accused the Council of Europe of being a “Russophobic” instrument serving Western interests.

The pan-European rights body expelled Russia on Wednesday after more than a quarter of a century of membership.

“Due to the Westerners’ Russophobic activity”, the Council of Europe is losing its reason for being, Zakharova said in a statement.

“By placing the service of the bloc’s interests above its own statutory objectives, the Council of Europe has been turned into an obedient instrument of the European Union, NATO and their satellites,” she added.

18 Mar 2022 – 19:40 GMT

Russia claims progress in talks with Kyiv on a neutral Ukraine

Russia’s top negotiator at talks with Ukraine has said that Moscow and Kyiv had brought their positions “as close as possible” on a proposal for Ukraine to become a neutral state.

The Kremlin on Wednesday said that a neutral Ukraine along the lines of Sweden or Austria was being discussed at talks with Kyiv to end three weeks of a Russian military operation there.

But Ukraine rejected the proposal and said it wanted its security to be guaranteed by international forces.

“The topic of neutral status and Ukraine’s non-accession to NATO is one of the key points of the talks, this is the point on which the parties brought their positions as close as possible,” Russia’s lead negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said on Friday, cited by Russian news agencies.

18 Mar 2022 – 19:21 GMT

Biden warns Xi of consequences if it offers support to Russia

President Joe Biden told Chinese President Xi Jinping that China would face consequences not just from the US but from the wider world if Beijing offers material support to Russia in its Ukraine war, a senior US official has said.

The official, briefing reporters on Biden’s nearly two-hour phone call with Xi, said the conversation between the two leaders “was direct, it was substantive and it was detailed.”

“We will see what decisions China makes in the days and weeks ahead,” the official said.

18 Mar 2022 – 19:12 GMT

Inside Story: Has Russia’s invasion of Ukraine stalled?

Moscow has yet to take over any of Ukraine’s biggest cities despite attacks by land, sea and air.

The war in Ukraine is now into its fourth week.

Russian tanks and military convoys remain at a standstill outside the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. Moscow has yet to take over any of Ukraine’s biggest cities despite attacks by land, sea and air.

Throughout this week, Russia has targeted mainly Ukraine’s residential areas. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin shows little sign of relenting.

What is the Kremlin’s military strategy and can its objectives be achieved?

18 Mar 2022 – 18:47 GMT

Putin accuses Ukraine of ‘war crimes’ in Macron call

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Kyiv of “war crimes” in a call with his French counterpart, saying that Moscow was doing “everything possible” to avoid civilian deaths in Ukraine.

“Attention was drawn to the numerous war crimes committed daily by the Ukrainian security forces,” the Kremlin said of the call between Putin and Emmanuel Macron.

“In particular massive rocket and artillery attacks on the cities of Donbas,” the Kremlin added, referring to Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east, part of which is controlled by pro-Moscow separatists.

Putin told Macron the Russian army was “doing everything possible to safeguard the lives of peaceful civilians, including by organising humanitarian corridors for their safe evacuation,” the Kremlin said.

Both leaders also discussed the continuing talks between Moscow and Kyiv to end the conflict in Ukraine in the telephone call, which was a “French initiative”, it said.

18 Mar 2022 – 18:15 GMT

Italy prepares plan to take in 175,000 Ukrainian refugees

Italy has drawn up plans to take in up to 175,000 Ukrainian refugees, a draft decree seen by the Reuters news agency has said.

The plan is expected to be approved by the cabinet later on Friday.

Some 53,600 Ukrainians, including 27,000 women and 21,600 children, have come to Italy so far following Russia’s invasion of their country on February 24, interior ministry data shows.

18 Mar 2022 – 17:28 GMT

French president Macron tells Putin he is “extremely concerned” about Mariupol

French President Macron has told his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, that he is “extremely concerned” about the situation in Mariupol, which has been hit by constant shelling in recent days, according to the French presidential office.

The call between the two leaders lasted just over one hour, the Elysee added.

18 Mar 2022 – 17:06 GMT

UN: 6.5 million displaced inside Ukraine due to war

The UN migration agency estimates that nearly 6.5 million people have now been displaced inside Ukraine, on top of the 3.2 million refugees who have already fled the country.

The estimates from the International Organisation for Migration suggests Ukraine is fast on a course in just three weeks towards the levels of displacement from Syria’s devastating war – which has driven about 13 million people from their homes both in the country and abroad.

The findings come in a paper issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It cited the IOM figures as “a good representation of the scale of internal displacement in Ukraine — calculated to stand at 6.48 million internally displaced persons in Ukraine as of March 16”.

18 Mar 2022 – 16:50 GMT

Britons prepare to welcome Ukrainians despite scheme concerns

Nick Beever proudly shows off the pristine spare bedroom at his home in the London suburbs, one of thousands of Britons ready to take part in a government programme to host Ukrainian refugees.

“So this is currently our guest room actually, but we hope to have one, maybe two Ukrainian refugees staying here,” Beever told AFP at the home he shares with his wife in Croydon, south London.

“Helping people is one of those duties you have as a member of society, as a human being,” said the 32-year-old teacher.

So far, more than 150,000 people have registered to take part in the “Homes for Ukraine” programme helping residents to offer accommodation to Ukrainian refugees, despite concerns over how it will work in practice.

18 Mar 2022 – 16:47 GMT

Zelenskyy: 130 rescued, ‘hundreds’ under Mariupol theatre rubble

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that 130 people had been saved after the bombing of a theatre in the port city of Mariupol under Russian siege, but “hundreds” were still trapped in the rubble.

Ukraine accused Russia of hitting the theatre on Wednesday. It had been feared that up to 1,000 people may have been taking refuge underground at the time of the blast. Russia has denied responsibility for the attack.

Read more here.

18 Mar 2022 – 16:41 GMT

Kremlin says Putin’s speech interruption due to technical glitch

The Kremlin has blamed a technical glitch for the interrupted transmission of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech to a packed Moscow stadium to mark the eighth anniversary of Crimea’s annexation.

During Friday’s speech, Russian state television suddenly cut away from Putin hailing what Russia calls its special operation in Ukraine and the bravery of its soldiers, to show patriotic songs being played at the event instead.

Read more here.

18 Mar 2022 – 16:36 GMT

Russia using UN to spread propaganda, Western states say

Russia is using the UN Security Council to spread disinformation and propaganda about its invasion of Ukraine, six Western members states have said.

They made the allegation at a council meeting called at Russia’s request to discuss its allegations that Ukraine is developing biological weapons.

“Russia is once again attempting to use this council to launder its disinformation, spread its propaganda, and justify its unprovoked and brutal attack on Ukraine,” the six countries with seats on the council said in a statement read out by US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

She was accompanied by representatives of France, Norway, Albania, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

18 Mar 2022 – 16:17 GMT

US targets Abramovich plane, 99 others over Russia export violations

The US Department for Commerce will move to effectively ground 100 aeroplanes that have recently flown to Russia and are believed to violate US export controls, including a plane used by Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, officials have told Reuters.

The list, seen by Reuters, includes 99 Boeing aeroplanes operated by Russian passenger and cargo carriers including Aeroflot, AirBridge Cargo, Utair, Nordwind, Azur Air and Aviastar-TU – as well as Abramovich’s Gulfstream G650 – and could further hinder Russian efforts to continue some international flights.

The Department of Commerce will warn companies and other entities around the world that any refueling, maintenance, repair, or spare parts or services violate US export controls and subject companies to US enforcement actions that could include “substantial jail time, fines, loss of export privileges, or other restrictions”, the department said.

The department said in a statement the action means “international flights from Russia on these aircraft are effectively grounded”.

18 Mar 2022 – 15:52 GMT

Pope asserts Ukraine right to defence in blasting Russia war

Roman Catholic Pope Francis has denounced the “perverse abuse of power” on display in Russia’s war in Ukraine and called for aid to Ukrainians who he said had been attacked in their “identity, history and tradition” and were “defending their land.”

Francis’s comments, in a message to a gathering of European Catholic representatives, marked some of his strongest yet in asserting Ukraine’s right to exist as a sovereign state and to defend itself against Russia’s invasion.

It came just days after Francis told the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, that the concept of a “just war” was obsolete since wars are never justifiable and that pastors must preach peace, not politics.

18 Mar 2022 – 15:45 GMT

Nothing suggests Putin’s intent has altered over Ukraine

There is no evidence to suggest that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s overall intent in Ukraine has altered despite the invasion failing to reach its original objectives, a Western official has said.

“I’ve seen nothing which suggests that the original intent of Putin has significantly altered,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Therefore … the difference between what was planned, what is being executed is at the moment, one of timing and they have failed to achieve their objectives in the time that they set out in their original objectives and their original plan.”

18 Mar 2022 – 15:34 GMT

Dutch, Germans to send three Patriot missile defence systems to Slovakia

The Dutch government has said it would send a Patriot missile defence system to Sliac, Slovakia, as part of NATO moves to strengthen air defences in Eastern Europe.

“The worsened safety situation in Europe as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine makes this contribution necessary,” Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said in a statement.

Germany is also sending two Patriot systems to Slovakia, the statement said.

18 Mar 2022 – 15:26 GMT

Ukraine says Russian forces not made fresh advances

Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar has said Ukrainian troops had prevented Russian troops from making any fresh advances.

Speaking on national television, Malyar said Russian forces had food and fuel supply issues and communications problems.

18 Mar 2022 – 15:18 GMT

Moscow wants Google to stop spreading ‘threats’ against Russians

Russia has demanded that Alphabet Inc’s Google stop spreading what Moscow labelled as threats against Russian citizens on YouTube amid the war in Ukraine.

Roskomnadzor, the regulator in Russia, said adverts on YouTube were calling for Russia’s communications systems and Belarus’s railway networks to be suspended and that their dissemination was evidence of the United States tech giant’s anti-Russian position.

Read more here.

18 Mar 2022 – 15:04 GMT

Ukraine war ups pressure for US oil; industry faces hurdles

In the oil fields of northern Montana, industry veteran Mac McDermott has watched crude prices whipsaw from $75 a barrel in January to more than $120 as Russia pressed its war in Ukraine, then down again when coronavirus worries in China raised the spectre of a global slowdown.

McDermott said his family-owned company will modestly increase drilling if oil prices stabilise. But for the next few months, he’s waiting on the sidelines and struggling to get enough workers to watch over roughly 100 oil wells the company operates. That includes some wells idled during the pandemic that he’s been trying to bring online since last year.

President Joe Biden’s move to ban Russian oil imports over its invasion of Ukraine was met with Republican demands to boost US production to address high petrol prices.

18 Mar 2022 – 14:45 GMT

Xi tells Biden Russia-Ukraine fighting is in ‘no one’s interest’

Chinese President Xi Jinping has told United States President Joe Biden during a secure video call that the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is in “no one’s interest”, Chinese state TV has reported.

The call, which began shortly after 9:00am on the US East Coast (13:00 GMT) on Friday, was months in the making and follows the first virtual meeting between Biden and Xi in November. It comes amid US concerns that Beijing may come to Moscow’s aid – either in giving military equipment or in bypassing sanctions – in the increasingly brutal offensive in Ukraine.

Read more here.

18 Mar 2022 – 14:30 GMT

Russia will respond to Bulgaria’s ‘hostile’ expulsion of diplomats

The Russian embassy to Sofia has said Bulgaria’s decision to expel 10 Russian diplomats was “yet another aggressive step” to which Moscow would respond accordingly.

In a statement on its Telegram channel, the embassy said it saw the expulsions as a sign of Bulgaria’s intention to cut Bulgarian-Russian relations to a minimum.

“This hostile demarche will soon get a relevant appraisal and a reaction, adequate to the new spirit of the bilateral relations,” the embassy said.

18 Mar 2022 – 14:20 GMT

The refugee trapped between Ukraine war and a Nigerian loan shark

Life in a refugee camp in Warsaw has left Vera* (surname withheld) without much to do other than reflect on all the war has cost her after she fled Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.

After more than three years at a Ukrainian university, she is left with little proof of her hard work and investment in her education but also financial uncertainty back home in her native Nigeria.

Read more here.

18 Mar 2022 – 14:10 GMT

Putin hails Russia’s ‘special operation’ in Ukraine to thousands in packed stadium

Russian President Vladimir Putin has hailed what Russia calls its special operation in Ukraine, appearing on stage at a rally at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium in front of thousands of people waving Russian flags.

Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24 in an effort to degrade its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and root out people it called dangerous nationalists.

18 Mar 2022 – 13:54 GMT

Fearing front-line deployment, some Russians resist conscription

As rumours of martial law spread across Russia in early March, some young men abruptly left their homeland, fearing they would be conscripted and sent to the battlefield in Ukraine.

They are among thousands of people who have fled Russia since February 24, as a crackdown grows on anti-war sentiment.

Read more here.

18 Mar 2022 – 13:50 GMT

Sudan: Russian influence and Ukraine war stir domestic tensions

On February 23, the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a group of Sudanese officials landed in Moscow.

The delegation was led by Mohamad Hamdan Dagalo – aka Hemeti – who is the deputy chairman of Sudan’s Sovereign Council and head of a powerful paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Read more here.

18 Mar 2022 – 13:44 GMT

At least 816 civilians killed in Ukraine since conflict began, UN says

The UN rights office (OHCHR) has said that at least 816 civilians were killed and 1,333 wounded in Ukraine through to March 17.

Most of the casualties were from explosive weapons such as shelling from heavy artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems, and missile and air raids, OHCHR said.

The real toll is thought to be considerably higher since OHCHR, which has a large monitoring team in the country, has not yet been able to verify casualty reports from badly hit cities like Mariupol.

18 Mar 2022 – 13:39 GMT

UK supports Ukraine’s position in peace talks

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy he supports Ukraine’s position in peace talks, Downing Street has said in a statement after a call between the two leaders.

“The Prime Minister offered his support for Ukraine’s position in negotiations and the President said the UK’s close involvement was highly valued,” the statement said.

18 Mar 2022 – 12:37 GMT

Ukraine president to address Japan parliament next Wednesday: NHK

Zelenskyy is set to deliver an online speech to Japan’s parliament at around 6pm Japan time (09:00 GMT) on March 23, public broadcaster NHK has said.

18 Mar 2022 – 12:35 GMT

Baltic nations expel 10 Russian diplomats

Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania have expelled a total of 10 Russian diplomats, the foreign ministries of the three Baltic countries have said.

Lithuania expelled four diplomats while Latvia and Estonia each expelled three.

The diplomats were expelled in a coordinated move “in connection with activities that are contrary to their diplomatic status and taking into account ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine,” Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics tweeted.

18 Mar 2022 – 12:33 GMT

Deadline approaches as bidders assemble to take Chelsea from Abramovich

A deadline of 21:00 GMT on Friday has been set for bidders to table offers to buy Chelsea, with business people from different continents forming unlikely alliances to acquire the Premier League club

Chelsea was initially put up for sale by owner Roman Abramovich following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine before sanctions were imposed on the Russian oligarch by the British government.

The European champions are currently operating under a special licence and are now effectively controlled by the British government.

18 Mar 2022 – 12:20 GMT

Kyiv mayor says one killed, 19 injured in attack

One person was killed and 19 wounded in an attack on a residential neighbourhood in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, Mayor Vitali Klitschko has said.

Among the wounded in Podil district were four children, he said in a video posted on Telegram.

He accused Russian troops of shelling residential buildings, kindergartens and a school.

18 Mar 2022 – 12:13 GMT

Ukraine will not give up EU bid as compromise to Russia, says Ukrainian official

Ukraine will not abandon its bid to join the EU to reach a compromise with Russia as part of an agreement to end the war, Zelenskyy’s deputy chief of staff has said.

“I will be categorical, this is absolutely unacceptable. It is our choice, the application for EU membership has been submitted and now it is being put into practice,” deputy chief of staff Andrii Sybiha said.

Speaking on national television, Sybiha said negotiations with Russia were continuing but difficult.

18 Mar 2022 – 11:55 GMT

Ukraine president says he expects progress on EU membership bid within months

Zelenskyy has said he spoke with the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and Ukraine expects progress to be made on its application to join the EU in the coming months.

“Had substantial conversation with EC President,” Zelenskyy said on Twitter. “EC opinion on UA (Ukraine) application for #EU membership will be prepared within few months. UA Government and EC are instructed. Moving to our strategic goal together.”

18 Mar 2022 – 11:54 GMT

Italy investigates Russia’s Kaspersky antivirus software

Italy’s data privacy watchdog has said it is investigating the “potential risks” that Russian antivirus software Kaspersky could be used to launch cyberattacks.

It followed what it called “alarms sounded by many Italian and European organisations specialised in computer security” over the potential use of Kaspersky software for hacking assaults.

The watchdog has asked the company to provide details on the number and profile of its Italian customers, and whether users’ personal data is “transferred outside the European Union” to Russia or elsewhere.

18 Mar 2022 – 11:33 GMT

Kyiv says 222 killed in capital since start of war, including 60 civilians

Kyiv city authorities have said 222 people had been killed in the capital since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, including 60 civilians and four children.

A further 889 people have been wounded, including 241 civilians, the Kyiv city administration said in a statement.

18 Mar 2022 – 11:21 GMT

‘We need defensive weapons now’: Klitschko

Wladimir Klitschko, the brother of Kyiv’s mayor and one of the symbols of the capital’s resistance against the Russian forces, told Al Jazeera Moscow’s invasion was a war targeting civilians.

“We are going to take care of our country and ourselves. If you [the West] can’t do it and close the sky, we are going to do it on our own,” the former boxing champion said, referring to Ukraine’s calls for a no-fly zone.

“We need defensive weapons, we need it now – in an hour is going to be too late.”

18 Mar 2022 – 11:15 GMT

World lenders see ‘extensive’ economic fallout from Ukraine war

The International Monetary Fund, World Bank and other top world lenders have warned of “extensive” economic fallout from the Ukraine war and expressed “horror” at the “devastating human catastrophe”.

“The entire global economy will feel the effects of the crisis through slower growth, trade disruptions, and steeper inflation,” read a joint statement from institutions including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

18 Mar 2022 – 11:13 GMT

Top sports court upholds FIFA ban on Russia

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has refused to suspend FIFA’s ban on Russia taking part in the playoffs for the 2022 World Cup finals.

CAS is still to rule on the legal basis of the ban, but a decision is not expected for several weeks at least.

18 Mar 2022 – 11:10 GMT

Russia demands that Google stop spreading threats against Russians on YouTube

Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor says it has demanded that Alphabet Inc’s Google stop spreading what it labelled as threats against Russian citizens on its YouTube video-sharing platform.

Roskomnadzor said adverts on the platform were threatening the life and health of Russian citizens and that their dissemination was evidence of the US tech giant’s anti-Russian position.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

18 Mar 2022 – 11:05 GMT

Norway boosts military spending by $340m: Minister

Norway has announced it would provide an additional three billion Norwegian kroner ($340m) this year to strengthen its military forces in the north near the Russian border.

“Even if a Russian attack on Norway is not likely, we must realise that we have a neighbour to the east that has become more dangerous and more unpredictable,” Norwegian defence minister Odd Roger Enoksen told a news conference.

18 Mar 2022 – 11:01 GMT

Putin complains of Ukrainian ‘war crimes’ in phone call with Scholz

Putin has complained of Ukrainian attacks in eastern Ukraine during a phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the Kremlin has said in a statement.

According to Moscow, Ukrainian missile launches targeted residential areas in the cities of Donetsk and Makiyivka, and resulted in a “significant number of human casualties”.

“These war crimes have been ignored by the West,” the statement said.

18 Mar 2022 – 10:59 GMT

More than 197,000 refugees from Ukraine recorded in Germany: Interior minister

More than 197,000 refugees from Ukraine have been registered in Germany so far, an interior ministry spokesperson has said on Friday.

18 Mar 2022 – 10:58 GMT

Putin discusses military operation with Russian security council: RIA

Putin has discussed Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine with his security council, RIA news agency has cited the Kremlin as saying.

18 Mar 2022 – 10:55 GMT

Ukraine says 130 people have been rescued so far from bombed Mariupol theatre

Ukrainian human rights ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova has said 130 people have been rescued so far from the rubble of a theatre hit by an air raid on Wednesday in the besieged eastern city of Mariupol.

In a televised address, Denisova said rescue work was continuing at the site, where many people were sheltering underground before the building was hit, according to the Ukrainian authorities.

18 Mar 2022 – 10:47 GMT

Bulgaria expels 10 Russian diplomats: TASS

Bulgaria has decided to expel 10 Russian diplomats after they were accused of allegedly carrying out “activities incompatible with their diplomatic status”, Russia’s TASS news agency has cited the Russian ambassador to the country as saying.

“We take this as an extremely unfriendly act and reserve the right to retaliate,” ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova told TASS.

18 Mar 2022 – 10:42 GMT

Kremlin says UK decision to revoke RT’s broadcast licence is ‘madness’

The Kremlin has described the UK’s decision to revoke the broadcast licence of Russian state-backed television channel RT as “madness”.

The UK’s media regulator, Ofcom, said in a statement that RT received funding from the Russian state and was not satisfied that RT could be a responsible broadcaster, revoking its licence with immediate effect.

18 Mar 2022 – 10:38 GMT

UN refugee agency says fewer Ukrainians fleeing

A UN refugee agency official has said that daily crossings by people fleeing violence in Ukraine have slowed in recent days, saying warmer weather might be a factor.

“We have seen a slowdown, a general slowdown,” said Matthew Saltmarsh via videolink from Poland, adding that warmer weather might be a factor.

However, he warned that any escalation of violence in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv might cause crossings to rise again.

18 Mar 2022 – 10:36 GMT

Russian finance ministry says it has met coupon payment obligations in full

Russia’s finance ministry has said it has fully met its obligations on paying coupons on dollar-denominated eurobonds due in 2023 and 2043, and said payment agent Citibank had received the funds.

Russia was due to pay $117m in coupon payments in what was seen as a test of its willingness and ability to repay international debt after being hit with sanctions over events in Ukraine.

18 Mar 2022 – 10:34 GMT

World Food Programme says supply chains ‘falling apart’ in Ukraine

A World Food Programme (WFP) official has said that food supply chains in Ukraine were collapsing, with a portion of infrastructure destroyed and many grocery stores and warehouses now empty.

Jakob Kern, WFP emergency coordinator for the Ukraine crisis, also expressed concern about the situation in “encircled cities” such as Mariupol, saying that supplies were running out and that its convoys had not yet been able to enter the city.

18 Mar 2022 – 10:33 GMT

Pope calls Ukraine war a ‘perverse abuse of power’ for partisan interests

Pope Francis has called the war in Ukraine a “perverse abuse of power” waged for partisan interests which has condemned defenceless people to brutal violence.

Since the war began, the Roman Catholic pope has not used the word “Russia” in his condemnations but has used phrases such as “unacceptable armed aggression” to get his point across.

His latest condemnation came in a message to a Catholic Church conference in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.

18 Mar 2022 – 10:31 GMT

Ukraine FM says he discussed further Russian sanctions with EU’s Borrell

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has said he has spoken with the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell about a further package of sanctions against Russia.

“We discussed the preparation of the 5th EU sanctions package on Russia. Pressure will keep mounting as long as it is needed to stop Russian barbarism. We also discussed protection and help for Ukrainians who fled from Russian bombs to the EU,” he said on Twitter.

18 Mar 2022 – 10:29 GMT

Poland to propose Ukraine peacekeeping mission at NATO summit: PM

Poland will formally submit a proposal for a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine at the next NATO summit, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said.

Poland’s governing party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski announced the idea of a peacekeeping mission during a trip to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on Tuesday.

18 Mar 2022 – 10:25 GMT

Germany’s Scholz urges ceasefire in call with Putin

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has called for a ceasefire in Ukraine during a phone call with Putin, a German government spokesperson has said.

In their nearly hour-long conversation, Scholz also stressed that the humanitarian situation needed to be improved and progress needed to be made in finding a diplomatic solution as soon as possible, the spokesperson said.

18 Mar 2022 – 10:22 GMT

Kremlin accuses Ukraine of trying to drag out peace talks

The Kremlin has accused Ukraine of trying to drag out peace talks, saying that Russia’s delegation was showing readiness to work faster than the Ukrainian side.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov also criticised Biden’s characterisations of Putin as “personal insults”. He said Biden’s comments were fuelled by irritation, fatigue and forgetfulness.

18 Mar 2022 – 10:07 GMT

Putin tells Scholz that Kyiv is stalling peace talks

Putin has told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during a phone call that Kyiv is attempting to stall peace talks with Russia but that Moscow was still eager to continue negotiations.

“It was noted that the Kyiv regime is attempting in every possible way to delay the negotiation process, putting forward more and more unrealistic proposals,” the Kremlin said in a readout of the call.

“Nonetheless the Russian side is ready to continue searching for a solution in line with its well-known principled approaches.”

18 Mar 2022 – 10:06 GMT

Poland to ‘de-Russify’ economy, says PM

Poland will act to “de-Russify” its economy, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said, removing dependence on Russia with plans to build new gas pipelines and subsidise farmers for rising fertiliser prices in order to keep food prices down.

18 Mar 2022 – 09:09 GMT

High-profile Russian journalist accuses Moscow of ‘terrorism’

Alexander Nevzorov, a renowned television anchor and former politician, has said that Russia’s actions in the besieged southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol amount to “terrorism”.

“I can’t be silent any more. What’s happening in Mariupol is terrorism,” he wrote on his Telegram channel, referring to two weeks of bombardment and shelling of the Sea of Azov port city.

Kremlin-controlled media say that Russian troops are “liberating” Ukraine from ultra-nationalists and “neo-Nazis”.

They have also claimed that the Azov battalion whose members include ultra-nationalists and neo-Nazis are holding civilians in Mariupol “hostage”.

“Is this liberation when we kill hundreds of civilians to liquidate a dozen soldiers?” Nevzorov wrote, adding that he would have to leave Russia after his post.

18 Mar 2022 – 09:00 GMT

Russia’s illusions about the West are over, Lavrov says

Russia has lost all illusions about relying on the West and Moscow will never accept a view of the world dominated by a United States that wants to act like a global sheriff, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

18 Mar 2022 – 08:58 GMT

More than two million refugees have entered Poland: Border guard

More than two million refugees have entered Poland from Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, the Polish border guard has said.

“Today, March 18 at 09:00 (local time) the number of refugees from Ukraine exceeded 2 million. Mainly women and children,” the border guard wrote on Twitter.

18 Mar 2022 – 08:40 GMT

Russia’s RT says British media regulator is just a tool of the government

Russia’s state-funded RT television channel has said that the UK’s media regulator had unfairly revoked its broadcasting licence due to the conflict in Ukraine and accused it of being nothing but a tool of the British government.

“Ofcom has shown the UK public, and the regulatory community internationally, that despite a well-constructed facade of independence, it is nothing more than a tool of government, bending to its media-suppressing will,” Anna Belkina, RT’s deputy editor in chief, told Reuters.

“By ignoring RT’s completely clean record of four consecutive years and stating purely political reasons tied directly to the situation in Ukraine and yet completely unassociated to RT’s operations, structure, management or editorial output, Ofcom has falsely judged RT to not be ‘fit and proper’ and in doing so robbed the UK public of access to information.”

18 Mar 2022 – 08:37 GMT

Ukraine says at least three killed in shelling of eastern cities

Ukraine’s state emergency service said a multi-storey teaching building has been shelled in the eastern city of Kharkiv, killing one person, wounding 11 and trapping one person in the rubble.

Shells also hit the eastern city of Kramatorsk, killing two people and wounding six, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said in an online post.

18 Mar 2022 – 08:34 GMT

UK revokes licence of Russian TV channel

The UK has revoked the broadcasting licence of Russian state-funded television channel RT.

“Ofcom has today revoked RT’s licence to broadcast in the UK, with immediate effect,” the UK’s media regulator said in a statement, adding it did not consider it “fit and proper” for RT to operate in the country.

18 Mar 2022 – 08:30 GMT

Ukraine: Russia lost 14,200 servicemen

Ukraine’s defence ministry has said that Russia lost some 14,200 servicemen since the invasion began on February 24, including about 200 in the past 24 hours.

It also said that Ukrainian forces destroyed 450 Russian tanks, 1,448 armoured vehicles, 93 planes, 112 helicopters and 12 drones.

Russia’s defence ministry reported the death toll only once, on March 2, saying that 498 servicemen had been killed in Ukraine.

The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Russia lost some 7,000 soldiers in Ukraine.

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

18 Mar 2022 – 08:27 GMT

One killed, 11 wounded in Kharkiv shelling: Emergency service

Ukraine’s emergency service has reported one person killed and 11 wounded in shelling of a multi-storey teaching building in Kharkiv city.

18 Mar 2022 – 08:23 GMT

Biden calls Putin a ‘murderous dictator’

Biden has called Putin a “murderous dictator” and a “pure thug”, The Hill news website has reported.

The US president made the comments at the Friends of Ireland luncheon on St Patrick’s Day at the Capitol.

“My generic point is that, you know, now you have Ireland and Great Britain … standing together against a murderous dictator, a pure thug who is waging an immoral war against the people of Ukraine,” Biden said.

18 Mar 2022 – 08:17 GMT

Russian bombardment preventing evacuations from Luhansk region: Governor

The governor of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region has said frequent and widespread shelling by Russian forces is preventing the safe evacuation of civilians from towns and villages on the front line.

Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai said 59 civilians had been killed in the region since the start of the war, which he said had entirely destroyed some residential areas.

“There is not one community that hasn’t been under fire,” he said on national television, naming the towns of Severodonetsk, Rubizhne and Popasna as particular hotspots.

18 Mar 2022 – 07:59 GMT

Fighting in Mariupol city centre: Russian ministry

Russian troops and their separatist allies have been fighting in the centre of Mariupol, a strategic port city in the southeast of Ukraine, the Russian defence ministry has said.

“In Mariupol, units of the Donetsk People’s Republic, with the support of the Russian armed forces, are squeezing the encirclement and fighting against nationalists in the city centre,” the ministry said in Moscow.

18 Mar 2022 – 07:55 GMT

France says sanctions starting to affect Russia

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal has said sanctions imposed by Western countries on Russia were starting to have a “real impact”.

“We hope these sanctions will force [Russian President] Vladimir Putin to change his plans,” Attal told BFM TV.

Earlier this week, European Union member states agreed on a fourth package of sanctions against Russia.

18 Mar 2022 – 07:39 GMT

One killed, 4 wounded after parts of missile fall in northern Kyiv

One person has been killed and four wounded after parts of a Russian missile fell on a residential building in the northern part of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, emergency services have said.

The services said in a statement that 12 people were rescued and 98 were evacuated from the five-storey building.

18 Mar 2022 – 07:36 GMT

Russia says separatists ‘tightening the noose’ around Mariupol: RIA

Russia’s defence ministry has said that separatists in eastern Ukraine with help from Russia’s armed forces were “tightening the noose” around the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency has reported.

The defence ministry added that fighting was continuing in the centre of Mariupol.

18 Mar 2022 – 07:32 GMT

Strike in Lviv hit area close to the city: Correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Zein Basravi, reporting from Lviv, said ambulances and water trucks were heading to put out fires following an early morning attack close to the city.

“This is an area close to the city, with lots of old industrial buildings and plants.

“The mayor of Lviv said the area that was hit was completely levelled by multiple Russian missiles but there were no injuries and deaths,” he added.

“We’ve seen a few other attacks in the west of the country so far in this conflict but this is the closest one to Lviv.”

18 Mar 2022 – 07:26 GMT

Ukraine hopes nine humanitarian corridors will operate on Friday

Ukraine hopes to evacuate civilians through nine humanitarian corridors from cities and towns on the front line of fighting with Russian forces, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said.

18 Mar 2022 – 07:10 GMT

Plant in Lviv struck by missiles launched from Black Sea: Military

Ukraine’s military has said the aircraft repair plant in Lviv was struck by cruise missiles launched from the direction of the Black Sea.

The type of the missile was likely Kh-555, the military said, which are launched from heavy strategic bombers.

Similar missiles struck the Yavoriv military base in western Ukraine on Sunday.

18 Mar 2022 – 07:02 GMT

Saudi Arabia extends Ukrainians’ visas on humanitarian grounds: SPA

Saudi Arabia has issued a royal directive extending tourist and business visas of Ukrainian citizens without fees or fines for humanitarian considerations, state news agency SPA has said.

The extension will be automatic without the need to visit the migration authorities.

18 Mar 2022 – 06:50 GMT

Russia lost 7 planes, ‘exhausted’ human resources

Ukrainian servicemen downed seven Russian planes, one helicopter, three drones and three cruise missiles, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has said in a Facebook post.

In an earlier post, it showed the debris of a downed Russian helicopter. It also claimed that Moscow is running out of servicemen and has to mobilise civilians and hire Syrian “mercenaries”.

“Because the occupants have significantly exhausted human resources,” Russian top brass resorts to “extreme measures” such as mobilisation of civilians and volunteers, conscripts and cadets, as well as mercenaries from Syria, it said.

18 Mar 2022 – 06:45 GMT

Missiles destroy aircraft repair plant in Lviv: Mayor

Several missiles have hit an aircraft repair plant in Lviv, destroying its building, Mayor Andriy Sadovy has said.

The plant had been stopped and there were no casualties from the attack, he said.

Airstrike in Lviv in the early hours, closest to the city centre yet — Joe Stenson (@JoeStenson) March 18, 2022

18 Mar 2022 – 06:41 GMT

Abducted mayor says he was swapped for 9 Russian POWs

The mayor of the southern town of Melitopol who was abducted by separatists and charged with “terrorism”, has reportedly said he was swapped for nine captured Russian servicemen.

Ivan Fyodorov, 33, who was released on Wednesday, told the Nastoyashchee Vremya broadcaster on Friday that Russians threw him in a cell and pressured him for hours, while he heard people being tortured in neighbouring cells.

He said they wanted him to resign so that a Russian-appointed “mayor” could take over his duties.

Russians tried to create puppet administrations in a handful of Ukrainian towns and the city of Kherson, but their efforts were thwarted by massive pro-Ukrainian rallies.

18 Mar 2022 – 06:27 GMT

Russia sets up no-fly zone over Donbas: Interfax

Russia has established a no-fly zone over Ukraine’s Donbas region, according to a separatist official from the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Interfax news agency has said.

18 Mar 2022 – 06:22 GMT

Russian gas transit via Ukraine at maximum contractual volumes: RIA

The Ukrainian gas transmission system operator has seen Russian gas transit via Ukraine at maximum contractual volumes after two days of lower volumes, RIA news agency has reported.

18 Mar 2022 – 06:05 GMT

Russian missiles hit area near airport in Lviv: Mayor

Russian missiles have struck an area near the airport of Lviv, its mayor Andriy Sadovy has said, though he added that the airport itself had not been attacked.

Writing on messaging app Telegram, Sadovy said he could not give a precise address of the targeted area ” but it’s definitely not an airport”.

18 Mar 2022 – 06:03 GMT

Clouds of smoke rising from area of Lviv airport: AFP

A thick pall of grey smoke streamed across clear blue sky over Lviv’s airport in western Ukraine at 7:30am, an AFP reporter has witnessed.

Armed checkpoints turned motorists back from roads into the airport.

18 Mar 2022 – 05:25 GMT

Explosions heard in Lviv: Report

At least three explosions have been heard in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, according to the Ukraine 24 television station.

It posted a short video on Telegram in which a mushroom-shaped plume of smoke could be seen rising on the horizon.

18 Mar 2022 – 05:01 GMT

Ukraine military rules out Russian ground offensive on Kyiv in ‘near future’

Ukraine’s military says a Russian ground offensive on the Ukrainian capital in the “near future” is “improbable”, citing a lack of experienced commanders as well as heavy casualties and low morale among Russian forces.

It also said Russia is trying to replenish their losses with mercenaries from Syria and have already recruited 1,000 volunteers.

18 Mar 2022 – 04:24 GMT

Dozens of Turkish citizens evacuate Mariupol, many more remain

Turkey’s Anadolu Agency is reporting that at least 65 Turkish citizens and their relatives have managed to evacuate Mariupol.

Ismail Hacioglu, who heads Mariupol’s main mosque, told the state-run agency that the Turks who left on Thursday were people who had access to their own vehicles.

Some 87 Turkish citizens and their families remain in the city, he said, but the evacuation buses that were supposed to pick them up were unable to enter Mariupol on Thursday due to Russian attacks.

“The Turkish Foreign Ministry notified the Russian Foreign Ministry about the evacuation of Turkish nationals. That’s why the area where our mosque is located was not bombed,” he said.

18 Mar 2022 – 04:01 GMT

US citizen killed in Ukraine identified; he died while ‘trying to find food’

US media have identified the American citizen killed in Ukraine as 68-year-old Jimmy Hill.

Citing Hill’s family members, Fox News said the social worker was killed while trying to find food in the city of Chernihiv.

Hill’s sister, Cheryl Hill Gordon, wrote on Facebook that he was waiting “in a bread line with several other people when they were gunned down by Russian military snipers”.

She added, “His body was found in the street by the local police.”

Jimmy spent 1/2 the year in Ukraine, working as a social worker there. His longtime partner, who is Ukrainian, was sick with MS and they had been staying in a hospital since the war broke out. His sister understands he was out trying to find food when he was killed. — Mary McGuire (@mcguirereports) March 17, 2022

18 Mar 2022 – 03:30 GMT

Biden to speak with Xi

The presidents of the United State and China will speak at 9am Eastern time (13:00 GMT) on Friday, the White House says.

“This is part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication between the US and the PRC [People’s Republic of China],” it said in a statement.

“The two leaders will discuss managing the competition between the two countries as well as Russia’s war against Ukraine and other issues of mutual concern.”

18 Mar 2022 – 03:20 GMT

Latest Western arms supplies for Ukraine ‘not escalatory’: Analyst

Richard Weitz, a defence and military analyst with Wikistrat in Washington, DC, says the latest weapons supplies pledged for Ukraine by the US and other Western countries do not amount to an escalation.

“The weapons under discussion are the same that Western powers have been providing the Ukrainian armed forces for months, anti-air missiles, anti-tank and armour missiles, other types of light weapons. The S-300 systems that the Slovaks may provide are already in the Ukrainian inventory, and Russia has more advanced S-400 and S-500 systems,” he told Al Jazeera.

“So it seems to me, this is in line with what the alliance has been doing, providing the Ukrainians with the weapons and the munitions they need to replenish the stocks they have lost and take advantage of Russian tactical errors. But it’s not an escalatory move.”

18 Mar 2022 – 02:42 GMT

Japan to sanction Russian defence officials, arms exporter

Japan says it will freeze the assets of 15 Russian individuals and nine organisations, including deputy defence ministers and head of Russia’s military intelligence (GRU), Igor Kostyukov.

The Japanese finance ministry said it will also sanction state-owned arms exporter, Rosoboronexport.

The latest measures mean Japan has now slapped sanctions on 76 individuals, seven banks and 12 other organisations in Russia.

18 Mar 2022 – 02:10 GMT

‘We are different now’: Zelenskyy tells Russia

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his country is different from the one Russia found in 2014 when it seized Crimea without a fight and backed separatists as they took control of the eastern Donbas region.

“The occupants thought they were going to Ukraine which they had seen before, in 2014-2015, which they corrupted and were not afraid of. But we are different now,” he said. “And it allows us to defend ourselves against a full-scale attack for 22 days.”

18 Mar 2022 – 02:05 GMT

‘Worst decision of your life’: Zelenskyy warns Russian war volunteers

Ukraine’s president has warned people considering joining the Russian war effort not to do so, saying “it will be the worst decision of your life”.

“Long life is better than the money they offer for a short one,” he said in his nightly video address.

18 Mar 2022 – 01:46 GMT

Russia’s invasion ‘faltering’ amid logistical problems: UK

The British Ministry of Defence says logistical problems are continuing to beset Russia’s “faltering invasion of Ukraine”.

“Reluctance to manoeuvre cross-country, lack of control of the air and limited bridging capabilities are preventing Russia from effectively resupplying their forward troops with even basic essentials such as food and fuel,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence update.

“Incessant Ukrainian counterattacks are forcing Russia to divert large number of troops to defend their own supply lines. This is severely limiting Russia’s offensive potential,” it added.

Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 17 March 2022 Find out more about the UK government’s response: 🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 — Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) March 17, 2022

18 Mar 2022 – 01:30 GMT

Australia imposes new sanctions on Russian banks, billionaires

Australia has placed sanctions on 11 additional Russian banks and government organisations, covering the majority of the country’s banking assets along with all entities that handle Russia’s sovereign debt.

“With our recent inclusion of the Central Bank of Russia, Australia has now targeted all Russian government entities responsible for issuing and managing Russia’s sovereign debt,” Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said in a statement.

She said Australia is also placing sanctions on two more Russian billionaires with links to business interests in the country – Oleg Deripaska and Viktor Vekselberg.

18 Mar 2022 – 00:56 GMT

Huge fire at Kharkiv market; rescue worker reported dead

Russian shelling has caused a fire at Kharkiv’s Barabashovo market, among the largest in Eastern Europe, according to Ukraine’s public broadcaster, Suspilne.

Within five hours, the fire “engulfed almost the entire area” and spread to private homes nearby, it said.

“As emergency workers were extinguishing the fire, Russian troops struck the market again with missiles: one rescuer was killed and another was hospitalized with multiple injuries,” it added.

More than a hundred people tried to put out the fire. As emergency workers were extinguishing the fire, Russian troops struck the market again with missiles: one rescuer was killed and another was hospitalized with multiple injuries. — SUSPILNE NEWS 📰 (@suspilne_news) March 17, 2022

One of the largest markets in Eastern #Europe, Barabashovo, is on fire in #Kharkiv. — NEXTA (@nexta_tv) March 17, 2022

18 Mar 2022 – 00:28 GMT

Rescue effort at Mariupol theatre hampered by ‘continuous shelling’

Mariupol city council says rescuers are continuing to clear rubble at the drama theatre and searching for survivors despite “continuous shelling”.

It said information about the victims “is still being clarified”.

More than a day after the air raid, there are no reports of deaths, and it is not clear how many people have emerged from the rubble.

One woman who said she had been preparing food for the people sheltering in the theatre said nearly 800 civilians were in the building when it was hit.

“I’d say only a hundred or so managed to disperse,” she said in a video circulated by Ukraine’s far-right Azov Battalion. The rest “are likely under rubble because there were a lot of people in the basement under the stage. And it’s the stage that got hit.”

18 Mar 2022 – 00:18 GMT

Russian forces accused of dropping 50-100 bombs on Mariupol everyday

Authorities in besieged Mariupol say Russian forces are dropping 50-100 bombs on the city every day, causing “enormous destruction”.

The Mariupol council, in a Telegram post, said the situation in the city is “critical” and that preliminary estimates show that about 80 percent of the city’s residential buildings have been destroyed.

18 Mar 2022 – 23:50 GMT

Ukraine urges FATF to blacklist Russia

Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian foreign minister, has called on member states of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global financial crimes watchdog, to exclude Russia from the consortium.

Kuleba said the member states must also designate Russia on “FATF’s blacklist without delay”.

As Russia commits more and more barbaric atrocities in Ukraine, it must be expelled from all civilized organizations and platforms. We call on all FATF member-states to exclude Russia from the consortium and designate it on FATF’s black list without delay. @FATFNews — Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) March 17, 2022

17 Mar 2022 – 23:00 GMT

Zelenskyy thanks Italy for offer to rebuild Mariupol theatre

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy has thanked the Italian government for offering to rebuild the theatre in the southern city of Mariupol that Kyiv says was bombed by Russian forces.

Italy’s Culture Minister Dario Franceschini had said his country is ready to reconstruct the building, adding that “theatres of all countries belong to the whole [of] humanity”.

“You set a good example to follow. Together we will rebuild the country to the last brick,” Zelenskyy responded on Twitter.

Thanks @dariofrance. You set a good example to follow. Together we will rebuild the country to the last brick. — Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 17, 2022

17 Mar 2022 – 22:36 GMT

A no-fly zone is a ‘military operation’: Analyst

A US-enforced no-fly zone over Ukraine would effectively be a “military operation” that risks escalating the conflict, Alyssa Demus, a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation think-tank, has said.

“In theory, it sounds like a good idea,” Demus told Al Jazeera. “But then when you get into the nitty-gritty of what a no-fly zone means in practice, it really is a military operation. So I think Russia would perceive that as a pretty significant escalation, and they’re a nuclear state.”

17 Mar 2022 – 22:11 GMT

Former Russian foreign minister condemns Kremlin’s diplomats

A former Russian foreign minister who served under Boris Yeltsin has condemned the Kremlin’s diplomats, calling their conduct during the country’s invasion of Ukraine “disgusting”.

Speaking to United Kingdom broadcaster Sky, Andrei Kozyrev said that Russian diplomats should resign, accusing them of having “disgraced themselves” by defending the invasion.

“They just spread the propaganda, and it’s not for decent diplomats to spread propaganda,” he said.

“They’ve disgraced themselves and listening to them or kind of negotiating with them under the circumstances is just a waste of time and waste of your own self-respect,” Kozyrev added.

17 Mar 2022 – 21:48 GMT

UN Security Council meeting concludes

The UN Security Council meeting that discussed the situation in Ukraine has adjourned. Representatives of Ukraine, the US and the UK, among others, accused Russia of targeting civilian areas and medical facilities in Ukrainian towns and cities.

Moscow’s envoy dismissed reports of Russian atrocities as “propaganda”.

17 Mar 2022 – 21:42 GMT

US pushing China to pressure Russia to end war: AJE correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan has said the Biden administration is ramping up its public pressure campaign on China, urging the country to exert influence on Putin to end the invasion.

So far, China has taken what it describes as a neutral stance on the war, as it largely shies away from intervening in the affairs of other nations, Jordan reported from Washington.

“They have this ‘don’t meddle’ policy,” she said. “But the US is trying to pressure Beijing into actually taking a stand – not just a legal stand, but a moral stand, as well.”

17 Mar 2022 – 21:39 GMT

5,000 children born into Ukraine conflict: UNICEF official

A spokesperson for the UN’s child agency, UNICEF, has said at least 5,000 children have been born into the conflict raging in Ukraine.

“Each one of these [children] is an individual story, it’s a child who’s had their life turned upside down. It’s a family who have had their family torn apart,” Joe English told Al Jazeera from the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

“The children of Ukraine need peace urgently and they need it now,” English added.

17 Mar 2022 – 21:36 GMT

Why Security Council will not vote on Russia’s ‘humanitarian’ draft resolution

Al Jazeera’s Kristen Saloomey, reporting from the UN, said Ukraine’s ambassador delivered “an impassioned response” at the Security Council to Russia’s denial that it is the aggressor in the conflict.

Russia had put forward a humanitarian resolution that was expected to come up for a vote on Friday, Saloomey explained, but Moscow said it would no longer bring that measure to a vote.

“It was clear the US was not going to back that without wording in that resolution acknowledging that the reason for the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding there is the Russians’ aggression,” she said.

Friday’s meeting will still take place, she said, but the focus will be on Russia’s allegation of US-backed biological laboratories in Ukraine – a claim the US, Ukraine and other allies have rejected.

17 Mar 2022 – 21:26 GMT

Zelenskyy says he spoke to Macron, focused on ‘peaceful dialogue’

The Ukrainian president has said he spoke with France’s Emmanuel Macron, and the two leaders emphasised the “continuation of peaceful dialogue”.

“We must strengthen the anti-war coalition,” Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter.

Continued dialogue with 🇫🇷 President @EmmanuelMacron. Discussed the support for Ukrainians in the fight against Russian aggression, especially in the defense sphere. Emphasis was put on the continuation of peaceful dialogue. We must strengthen the anti-war coalition. #StopRussia — Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 17, 2022

17 Mar 2022 – 21:12 GMT

Ukraine says 3,810 people evacuated from cities: Interfax agency

A total of 3,810 people have been evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Thursday, the Interfax Ukraine news agency cited a senior official as saying, a far smaller number than on Wednesday.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told a briefing that approximately 2,000 people managed to leave the besieged city of Mariupol. President Zelenskyy said more than 60,000 people had been evacuated on Wednesday.

17 Mar 2022 – 21:08 GMT

Moscow rejects reports of Russian atrocities as ‘propaganda’

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya has rejected reports of atrocities in Ukraine as “propaganda”.

Nebenzya described allegations that Russia is targeting hospitals and residential areas, including recent accusations that Russian forces bombed a theatre sheltering civilians in the besieged southern city of Mariupol, as “fakes”.

“The hyped-up campaign of lies and disinformation in Ukraine is reaching new and new heights,” Nebenzya told the Security Council.

17 Mar 2022 – 20:44 GMT

US Congress moves to revoke Russia’s ‘most favoured nation’ trade status

The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved legislation to revoke Russia’s “most favoured nation” trading status, bringing the US closer to imposing higher tariffs and restrictions on Russian imports.

The House’s 428-8 vote sends the bill, requested by President Biden, to the Senate for likely approval as soon as next week.

The bill also would allow Biden to impose more penalties on Russian officials under the US’s Global Magnitsky Sanctions law.

17 Mar 2022 – 20:41 GMT

‘War is causing suffering well beyond Ukraine’s borders,’ says UK envoy

British Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward has called on Russia to end the war, saying that the conflict is causing suffering worldwide, not just in Ukraine.

“President Putin’s war is causing suffering well beyond Ukraine’s borders,” Woodward told the UN Security Council.

“Thousands of students – many from nations around this table – have been caught up in the violence. The war is spiking food and energy prices, bringing further pain to countries in the developing world already suffering from the impact of COVID and famine and conflict and climate. Millions of refugees have been taken in by countries across Europe.”

17 Mar 2022 – 20:39 GMT

More than 700 civilians killed so far in Ukraine, UN says

More than 700 civilians – including 52 children – have been killed in Ukraine since Russia invaded but the “actual number is likely much higher”, UN political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the Security Council.

“Hundreds of residential buildings have been damaged or destroyed, as have hospitals and schools,” DiCarlo said.

She added that the UN human rights agency has recorded 726 deaths, as well as 1,174 people injured, including 63 children, between February 24 and March 15. DiCarlo did not specify who was to blame. “This demands a thorough investigation and accountability,” she said.

17 Mar 2022 – 20:31 GMT

US envoy to UN calls on Putin to ‘end this madness’

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US envoy to the UN, has said the only way to end the war is for Putin to stop the invasion and withdraw Russian troops from Ukraine.

“There’s only one way, one way to end this madness,” Thomas-Greenfield told the UN Security Council.

“President Putin, stop the killing; withdraw your forces; leave Ukraine once and for all.”

17 Mar 2022 – 20:23 GMT

12 dead in dozens of attacks on Ukrainian health care: WHO

The World Health Organization has verified 43 attacks on health care in Ukraine, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the UN Security Council.

The attacks have resulted in the deaths of 12 people and injured dozens more.

“In any conflict, attacks on health care are a violation of international humanitarian law,” Tedros told the 15-member council, without specifying who was to blame for the attacks.

17 Mar 2022 – 20:18 GMT

Canada unveils new pathway to temporary residency for Ukrainians

Canada has unveiled details of a new immigration scheme that will allow Ukrainians to stay in the country for up to three years as temporary residents.

The government said overseas applicants must apply for a Canadian visitor visa online and provide fingerprints and a photo, and it also encouraged applicants to apply for a three-year work permit at the same time.

Ukrainian workers, students and visitors and their relatives already in Canada can also apply to extend their stay for up to three years, Ottawa said.

17 Mar 2022 – 20:07 GMT

Blinken accuses Russia of committing ‘war crimes’

The US Secretary of State has accused Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine, echoing Biden, who on Wednesday called Putin a “war criminal”.

“Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime. After all the destruction of the past three weeks I find it difficult to conclude that the Russians are doing otherwise,” Blinken told reporters.

Still, Blinken said US State Department experts are in the process of documenting and evaluating potential war crimes to help international efforts towards accountability.

Read more here.

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

Read all the updates from Thursday, March 17 here.