Day 26 of Putin's war. Russian shelling causes ammonia leak in Sumy, Zelensky rejects Russian ultimatum to surrender Mariupol (UPDATED)

21 March 2022, 10:26 AM

Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine is well into its fourth week. Today, March 21th, is the 26th day of Putin's war.

UPDATE (1947):  Russian troops opened fire on a column of evacuees from Mariupol.

Most of the evacuees were children, Zaporizhzhia governor Oleksandr Starukh said in a statement. Starukh added that on March 21, more than 20 buses tried to leave Mariupol through the green corridor. It was difficult to cross the contact line because of shelling.

Video of day

“Today is a hard day, because children are suffering again. Four children were taken to the hospital. Three children came under fire in the former Gulyaipole district, now Pologovsky," the governor said. Families tried to escape from Mariupol to save themselves. But Russian troops started shelling. One child is in a critical condition. Another child from a family that came under shelling in Kamenskoye is in serious condition.

Meanwhile, Kyiv Oblast authorities said that yet another 48-hour curfew in Kyiv and Kyiv Oblast is needed for the law enforcers to hunt down saboteurs.

Earlier, Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskiy said that in 25 days since Russia started the invasion of Ukraine the authorities have registered more than 1,271 cases of state treason Most of the saboteurs operating on behalf of Russia in Ukraine hold Ukrainian citizenship, he said.

UPDATE (1752): Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has refused the latest Russian ultimatum - to surrender Mariupol by dawn on March 21 and abandon the city that Russia has been bombing non-stop for more than 15 days. 

The Russians have demanded that the city's Ukrainian defenders lay down their weapons and leave unarmed. Only after that would they promise to allow civilians to evacuate Mariupol, Russian National Defense Control Center Head Mikhail Mizintsev said in a statement.

"Ukraine cannot fulfill these demands,"Zelensky said in an interview with several public broadcasters, published by Suspilne. "They would first have to destroy us all to have their ultimatum fulfilled.  We would never give up Kharkiv, Mariupol or Kyiv. Neither residents of those cities, nor I, the president can do this.”

UPDATE (1645): A Russian warship has attacked Odesa from the sea for the first time since the start of Russian invasion, Odesa Mayor Hennadiy Trukhanov said at a briefing

Several private houses were destroyed in the attack, and one person has been injured, the mayor said.

Meanwhile the State Border Guards Service of Ukraine has reported more than 400,000 Ukrainians have returned to the country from abroad since the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24. Around 80 percent of the returnees are men.

In Kharkiv Oblast the Ukrainian army shot down a Russian fighter jet and two drones over Chuhuiv, Kharkiv Governor Oleh Synehubov has reported.

UPDATE (1424): Russian military police in occupied Kherson have been violently beating and shooting unarmed Ukrainians who are continuing to protest against the occupation. Locals reported that many people had been wounded. The exact number of casualties is unknown.

UPDATE (1300): Russia has shelled Zhytomyr Oblast using indiscriminate Grad multiple rocket launcher systems , Zhytomyr Governor Vitaly Bunechko has said in a video statement. Three Ukrainian servicemen and one civilian died as a result of the attack.

Meanwhile Russia has started conscripting men up to the age of 65 and students in the occupied territories of the Donbas.

UPDATE ( 1138): Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko has urged Kyivans to close all the windows and use protective masks on the streets of the Ukrainian capital. Due to massive fires caused in and around the capital by the Russian shelling, the air quality in the capital is very poor.

The mayor has also said Kyiv would again impose a long curfew starting at 2000 on March 21 and lasting until 0700 on March 23.  Stores and pharmacies will be closed for at least 48 hours. People are allowed to go outside only to run to a nearby air raid shelter.

Meanwhile Russian warships attacked Odesa from the Black Sea, destroying several residential buildings. No casualties have been reported, Odesa Oblast Council spokesperson Serhiy Bratchuk has said in a statement.

Early this morning there was a sea battle near the Odesa coast.

The number of soldiers Russia has already lost in Ukraine is now close to 15,000. The number of war crimes Russia has committed in Ukraine is also growing. Today the Russo-Ukrainian talks between delegates may continue.

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An overnight Russian airstrike on Kyiv caused a massive fire and almost destroyed a shopping mall in the Podil district of Kyiv. The massive blast, thought to have been from a missile, damaged most of the buildings in a nearby block. Eight people were killed in the attack, the Prosecutor's General of Ukraine has reported.

In Rivne Oblast the occupiers shelled a military test site, Rivne Mayor Oleksandr Trytiak said in a statement.  He also added that people were injured, but said he couldn't name the exact number of victims.

At 0750 firefighters managed to stop an ammonia leak in Sumy Oblast that occurred after Russian forces shelled the Sumykhimprom chemical factory.  Earlier, Ukrainian rescuers reported that the ammonia leak has affected a 5-kilometer area around the chemical factory. Previously, the Ukrainian authorities reported that Russia has been preparing a false flag operation against Ukraine with the use of chemicals.

Meanwhile, Chernihiv Oblast will impose a long curfew starting at 2000 on March 21 and ending at 0600 on March 22, Chernihiv Governor Vyacheslav Chaus has said in a statement.

He urged citizens not to leave shelters or apartments as Ukrainian law enforcers would be hunting the numerous sabotage groups working in the region.

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