Day 23 of Putin's war. Russia attacks Lviv, Kyiv, continues to shell Mariupol (UPDATED)

18 March 2022, 10:21 AM

Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine has been going on for over three weeks. Today, March 18th, is the 23rd day of Putin's war.  Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky continues to speak to top European parliaments, pushing to help Ukraine.

UPDATE (1900): Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, has published an update on Russo-Ukrainian negotiations. He hinted the negotiations are difficult, and both sides have decided to keep them secret to avoid speculation in the media. However, Ukraine's positions are unchanged: Kyiv requires a ceasefire, a withdrawal of Russia's troops from Ukraine, and strong security guarantees with concrete formulas.

Video of day

Earlier Podolyak asked experts to stop speculating about Ukraine's readiness to give up at least part of its demands to Russia.

UPDATE (1730): Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said the State Emergency Service will continue the rescue operation in the destroyed drama theater of Mariupol, despite the ongoing active shelling of the city.

In Izyum, Kharkiv Oblast, the invading Russians threw a unit of cadets into battle. Ukrainian army was forced to destroy the unit immediately, with some of the cadets being taken prisoner, Oleksiy Arestovych, an advisor to Ukrainian President has said during a press briefing.

"The fact that they have thrown cadets into a battle means that the Russians are close to defeat," Arestovych said.

He also claimed Ukrainian Air Defense units have shot down 10 Russian aircraft over the last 24 hours, including drones, at least four planes, and two helicopters.

Luhansk Oblast Governor Serhiy Haiday has rejected a Russian propaganda claim that the Russian army has taken control of the region.

Russians have entered parts of the towns of Rubizhne and Popasna, Haiday said.

"I hope that they will be kicked out soon," the governor wrote in a Facebook post. "As of now, part of Rubizhne is ours. Severodonetsk is ours. Lysychansk is ours. Part of Popasna is ours.  The towns of Hirskea and Zolote are ours."

UPDATE (1441): Ukrainian authorities have managed to rescue 130 people from a shelter under the drama theater in Mariupol that Russian forces bombed two days ago, Ukrainian Human-rights Ombudswoman Ludmila Denisova told Ukrainian TV channel Ukraina on March 18.

The fate of more than 1,300 people still thought to be trapped under the debris of the destroyed drama theater is still unknown, Denisova added.

Meanwhile Mariupol city council has reported that five buses with more than 500 evacuees from the besieged city have departed from the nearby Berdyansk to Zaporizhzia, where the exhausted people will find shelter, food, water and medical care.

Residents of Mariupol going to safety druing the evacuation from the besieged city on March 18. (Фото: MariupolRada)
Residents of Mariupol going to safety druing the evacuation from the besieged city on March 18. / Photo: MariupolRada

UPDATE (1323): Some 222 residents of Kyiv have been killed since the start of the Russian war against Ukraine on Feb. 24, Kyiv City Council has reported. Sixty of them were civilians, including four children.

More than 889 people were injured in attacks by Russian invading forces against the Ukrainian capital. The enemy has damaged 36 residential buildings, five private houses, six schools and four kindergartens.

Meanwhile 109 baby strollers were displayed on Lviv's central Rynok Square on March 18 to commemorate the 109 Ukrainian children who have been killed in Ukraine by Russian shelling and other attacks against civilians, Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said in a statement on March 18.

"This is the terrible price of war that Ukraine is paying today. We call on all adults around the world to stand as one shield to protect Ukrainian children and give them future," Sadovyi said, calling Europeans to press their governments to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

UPDATE (1238): Russians have not managed to achieve their planned goals of taking full control over Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, Ukraine's Army Gneral Staff has reported.  However, the enemy has managed to take control over Donetsk and Pivdennobuzkiy operational districts, where the Russians gained control over roads and several towns and villages. In Kyiv Oblast and Sumy Oblast the Russians have been regrouping their forces and trying to set up logistic chains for their army.

Invading Russian forces have been imposing a police-control regime in the occupied towns and villages of Kherson Oblast. Russia has already fired most of its Kalibr missiles at Ukraine and has activated the production facilities in Russia to produce more.

UPDATE (1100): Invading Russian forces shelled Kramatorsk, a city in Donetsk Oblast, killing at least two people and injuring six, Donetsk Oblast military administration has reported.

Elsewhere, heavy fighting has been going on in the towns of Irpyn, Bucha and Hostomel in Kyiv Oblast. In Bucha, Ukrainian air defense units shot down a Russian fSu-34 fighter-bomber using a U.S.-supplied Stinger man-air portable defense system.

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Ukrainian forces also shot down a cruise missile that was heading to Odesa.

Meanwhile top Ukrainian officials have described as naïve those European leaders who think that only Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is solely responsible for war in Ukraine, and not the Russian people as well.

"Chancellor Olaf Scholz trying to justify his indecisiveness offers to divide ordinary Russians & Putin (as the author of the war)," Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to the Ukrainian President's Office Head said in a tweet on March 18.  "In Europe, this may become a false trend. Because officially 71% of Russians support the war & mass killings of Ukrainians. Keep this in mind."

Russian forces continue shelling and bombing Ukrainian cities and towns all over the country. Overnight, the invading Russian forces attacked the village of Novi Petrivtsi in Kyiv Oblast, the city of Kharkiv, and the village of Merefa in Kharkiv Oblast. Russian warships launched at least six cruise missiles from the Black Sea to attack an aviation-repair factory in Lviv. The occupiers also burnt dozens of private houses in Sumy Oblast.

In Kyiv a Russian missile struck a residential building in the Podil District of Kyiv, killing at least one person and injuring 14, including four children, Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said in a statement. Six nearby houses, a school and a kindergarten were also damaged.

Mariupol remains in the most difficult situation. According to Mykola Osychenko, the president of Mariupol's local broadcasting association, who has managed to evacuate from the city, some 350,000 residents are still trapped in the city, which is under constant shelling by Russian forces.

He also said it was impossible to estimate how many people have been killed by the Russian attacks as there is no mobile communication in the city. This explains the conflicting reports about the number of victims and survivors in the Russian attack against Mariupol's drama theater.  As Donetsk governor Pavlo Kyrylenko has said in a statemen, rescuers are still working at the scene of the attack, trying to remove debris. Only after that will the local authorities announce the number of casualties, he said. The city remains under the constant Russian shelling. Moreover street fighting has been going on in the outskirts.

At the same time, local authorities have reported some 35,000 residents have left Mariupol for safety.  And today, Ukraine is to again open a humanitarian corridor from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia. The invaders are still preventing buses from taking people who don't have personal transport from the city, forcing locals to travel in heavily damaged cars, or even on foot. The Ukrainian government has prepared fuel tanks and buses for those Mariupol residents who manage to get to Berdyansk. From there, they are taken in buses to safety.

Today Ukraine has also opened humanitarian corridors from Sumy, Trostianets, Lebedyn, Konotop, Krasnopillya and Velyka Pysarivka to Poltava. The Ukrainian government has been also planning to deliver humanitarian aid to Izyum and Balakaleya.

Meanwhile, Russia has lost more than 14,000 soldiers during three weeks of war in Ukraine, Ukraine's Army General Staff said in a statement.

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