Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine is well into its fourth week. Today, March 19th, is the 24th day of Putin's war.
UPDATE (2119): Ukraine evacuated more than 6,623 people on March 18. More than 4,120 people left Mariupol for Zaporizhzhia. Some 1,820 evacuees left destroyed villages and towns in Kyiv Oblast. Some 675 people were evacuated from Luhansk Oblast.
UPDATE (2007): Invading Russian troops have been deporting Ukrainians to Russia by force, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko has said in a statement.
During the last week, several thousand Mariupol residents have been taken to Russia by force, he said.
The invaders illegally removed people from the city's Left Bank district and shelters in the building of the city's sports club, where more than a thousand people (mostly women and children) had been hiding from the constant bombing.
Fighting took place in these areas. To save the lives of Mariupol residents, the Armed Forces of Ukraine withdrew from places crowded with civilians, and the aggressor took advantage of this.
It is known that the captured Mariupol residents were taken to filtration camps, where the invaders checked people's phones and documents. After the inspection, some Mariupol residents were redirected to remote cities in Russia, the fate of others remains unknown.
"What the invaders are doing today is familiar to the older generation, who saw the horrific events of World War II, when the Nazis forcibly captured people. It is hard to imagine that in the 21st century people would be forcibly deported to another country. Not only are Russian troops destroying our peaceful Mariupol, they have gone even further and started deporting Mariupol residents. All war crimes on the part of Russia should be punished the most severely, ”Boychenko said.
UPDATE (2000): In a phone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Russian, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has spelled out his demands to Ukraine to end the war he started on Feb. 24.
-Ukraine's neutrality. He wants Ukraine to denounce its aspirations for NATO membership;
- disarmament and guarantees of mutual security in the context of the Austrian model;
- "Denazification" - a baseless and false accusation against Ukrainians, which Putin has used as the motivation for a full-scale invasion of Russia;
- removing obstacles to the widespread use of the Russian language in Ukraine. Also a false claim, Russian is still dominant in Ukraine despite the state protection of Ukrainian as the only official language;
- recognition of the legitimacy of Russia's occupation of Crimea;
- recognition of self-proclaimed "L / DNR" as independent states within the borders of all Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
According to Erdogan's spokesman, the latter points are "the most difficult" and unacceptable for Ukraine and the international community.
At the same time Ukraine's President Zelensky has publicly called Putin to meet him as the "time has come to end this war and to restore Ukraine's territorial integrity."
Due to the widespread speculations about the Russo-Ukrainian negotiations in the media, fears grow among Ukrainian public that Ukrainian government might accept some of the Russian demands. Ukraine's Parliament Head Ruslan Stefanchuk has said in an interview Ukraine might soon need to change its constitution with regard to its aspirations to join NATO.
UPDATE (1720): Kyiv Oblast is on the verge of flooding, the Kyiv Oblast Council has reported. The waters of the Irpin River have risen to dangerous levels after the Russian invaders blew up a nearby dam on Feb. 26. Vitaly Selyk, the head of the Urban Council of Kyiv NGO has said that one village is almost completely flooded, and there is a risk that several other villages will also be flooded.
Earlier in February, the Russian invaders fired a rocket at the Kyiv dam. Fortunately, Ukrainian air defense systems managed to destroy the rocket before it hit its target. If destroyed, the Kyiv Sea reservoir held back by the Kyiv dam could cause tremendous environmental damage, and will likely result in thousands of casualties in Kyiv and nearby regions.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government has finally counted how many Russian prisoners of war have been taken captive in Ukraine. Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister, has said that as of March 19, there are 562 Russian POWs in Ukraine. She also said that Ukraine will create a National Information Bureau aimed at accumulating and processing all data regarding Russian POWs, MIA soldiers from both sides, as well as civilians abducted by the Russian invaders. This new bureau will also systemize data about all Russian soldiers killed in action in Ukraine. Vereshchuk said that Ukraine has been cooperating with the Red Cross on this initiative since the start of the war, and has sent information on every Russian soldier identified to the organization.
Meanwhile in Luhansk Oblast, the Ukrainian military has shot down a deadly Russian missile launched by a Russian OTR Tochka missile system. Ukrainian soldiers used a Stinger system to intercept the deadly missile, Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai has reported.
Another Russian missile has destroyed a house in Rubizhne, Luhansk Oblast, killing one woman and two children.
UPDATE (1247): Evacuation corridors have been operating in Ukraine. People are fleeing from heavy fighting zones in Mariupol, Kyiv and Sumy oblasts. Mariupol city council reported that five buses with more than 470 evacuees on boards have finally reached Zaporizhzhia.
Meanwhile in Zaporizhzhia, the local authorities have imposed a two-day curfew that starts at 1600 on March 19 and will last until 0600 on March 21, Zaporizhzhia Oblast Governor Oleksandr Starukh reported. He did not explain the reason for such a long curfew but asked people not to leave their houses for 48 hours at least for their own safety. "The defense of the city continues," the governor said.
Zaporizhzhia has become the main shelter and hub for evacuees from Mariupol and other Donetsk Oblast towns and cities where active fighting has been going on for more than 20 days.
The Ukrainian Army has killed the commander of the 8th Army of the Southern Military District of the Russian Federation, Lieutenant General Andrei Mordvichev, near the village of Chornobaivka in Kherson Oblast, Ukrainian Presidential advisor Oleksiy Arestovych said in a briefing. Chornobaivka has become a Nemesis of the Russian military, with Ukrainian forces already having destroyed Russian military vehicles and soldiers there six times. After being attacked, the Russian army kept returning to the same area over and over and stationed themselves at the same positions - only to be wiped out again.
The Russian army continues to attack Ukraine, attacking towns and cities, killing civilians, as it has been doing for more than three weeks. The General Staff of the Ukrainian Army has reported Russia has been trying to send more troops to Ukraine, deploying additional military reserves from a base in Armenia. Ukrainian military intelligence has reported that many Russian soldiers are refusing to take part in Russia's war on Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on Russia to accept Ukraine's proposals in negotiations, as this is the only way for the Kremlin to stop losing thousands of its people in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, since early morning there has been heavy fighting over the Azov steel factory in the besieged city of Mariupol, the Azov Regiment of the National Guard of Ukraine has reported.
The biggest steel factory in the region, which used to employ hundreds of people and also was the biggest contractor of the local port, has been almost destroyed.
- More than 112 children have already died in Russian shelling since the start of the war on Feb.24.
- In Sumy Oblast Russian occupiers started abducting and torturing locals, Sumy oblast council has reported.
- The first prisoner-of-war camps for Russian soldiers have been set up in Ukraine.
- More than 3 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of Russia's war against Ukraine. Some 6.5 million Ukrainians have become internally displaced persons, the United Nations reports.
- UK's Defense Ministry has said Russia has changed its strategy in Ukraine from a full scale offensive to a war of attrition.
- Viktoria Roshchyna, a Ukrainian journalist working for Hromadske in Berdyansk, was abducted by Russia's FSB security service and taken to an unknown location, Ukraine's Prosecutor General Office has reported. Another journalist and photographer, Maksim Levin, has been missing for six days, his friends and colleagues have reported on social media.
This morning Kyiv woke up to a toxic smoke that covered the whole capital. Although air quality controlling apps showed the air toxicity was about 196, Kyiv Oblast Council has urged citizens not to panic. The toxic smoke has been caused by windless weather and burning grass around the city, oblast council has said.