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Woman stands in front of rubble in Kyiv
Cities in Ukraine have been under heavy bombardment since Russia invaded the countryImage: Andre Alves/AA/picture alliance

UK warns against postwar reset with Putin — as it happened

March 19, 2022

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the Ukraine invasion as a "turning point for the world" and said it would be a mistake to normalize ties with Russia's Vladimir Putin. Follow DW for the latest.

  • UN says nearly 850 civilians have been killed since the war started
  • Russia said it has used hypersonic weapons
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy calls for talks with Moscow
  • Ukraine's southern city of Zaporizhzhia declares 38-hour curfew

This lives updates article is now closed. For the March 20 edition, please go here.

Almost a third of Ukraine's economy has shut down

The Russian invasion has brought 30% of the Ukrainian economy to a standstill, Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko said.

He said the figure was based on preliminary data from tax payments.

However, the minister said that the country was still servicing its debt, relying on borrowing due to the fall in taxes and customs revenues.

"A default did not threaten us and does not threaten us. Firstly, our debt load is not so large, especially this year. Secondly, we carefully service our debts. We do not use such words. But for our aggressors, we hope it [default] will come soon," the Ukrainian Interfax news agency reported Marchenko as saying.

Air raids on Mykolaiv

Vitaly Kim, the head of the regional administration of Mykolaiv, said Saturday that Russian air raids were taking place over the southern Ukrainian city.

Kim said there was no time even to raise the alarm over the air raids.

"By the time we announce this tornado, it's already there," Kim said.

Orphan children reportedly trapped in Mariupol hospital

Nineteen children, many of whom are orphans, are reportedly stuck in a clinic in Mariupol, a city under siege since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began.

Alexei Voloshchuk, who briefly took shelter in a Mariupol sanatorium for minors, told AFP the children were in "huge danger."

The group consisted of childred aged four to 17. Before the war, the children had been sent to a sanatorium for minors specializing in pulmonary illnesses from nearby towns. Their caregivers have been unable to tend to them since Russia launched its invasion on February 24.

Over 6,600 evacuated from Ukrainian cities

Ukraine said it had evacuated 6,623 people through humanitarian corridors on Saturday.

The deputy head of the president's office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said that 4,128 had been evacuated from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, besieged by Russian forces.

Berlin welcomes refugees from Ukraine

Ukrainian zoo animals evacuated

Two lions and two tigers from Ukraine that were evacuated arrived at their new sanctuary in The Hague.

They were rescued by Dutch Stiching Leeuw association, which focuses on caring for big cats.

The association's director Robert Kruijff said the predators were "extremely traumatized" in addition to being under-nourished.

Kruijff was especially worried about the health condition of a female tiger.

"We don't know if she'll survive," he said.

Pope Francis visits Ukrainian children in hospital

Pope Francis visited Ukrainian children currently treated in the Vatican's pediatric hospital in Rome.

The Bambino Gesu hospital is currently treating 19 Ukrainian children. A total of 50 children have passed through the hospital in recent weeks.

The children were suffering from war wounds as well as oncological, neurological and other ailments prior to the war.

Moscow says Kyiv is preparing 'provocations' to manipulate the West

Russia's Ministry of Defense spokesman Igor Konashenkov accused Ukrainian authorities of plotting false-flag "attacks on diplomatic facilities of the United States and Western countries" in the western city of Lviv.

According to the Russian official, Kyiv intends to blame Russia for such attacks.

A false-flag attack is when an attack is blamed on a group or nation did not perpetrate the attack to drum up a reason for war.

Possible hypersonic missile use 'a worrying signal from the Russians'

The Russian Ministry of Defense said Kyiv would try to use these incidents to pressure NATO to implement a "no-fly zone" over Ukraine, or to gain more weapons.

NATO has hesitated to implement a "no-fly zone" to date and has instead opted to supply anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons out of concern of becoming embroiled in a direct confrontation with Russia.

Germany's Habeck warns about possible gas troubles for next winter

In a bid to secure alternatives to Russian energy, Germany's Minister for Economic Affairs Robert Habeck is travelling to Qatar.

Habeck recently visited Norway and is soon to visit the UAE.

Habeck cautioned, "If we do not obtain more gas next winter and if deliveries from Russia were to be cut then we would not have enough gas to heat all our houses and keep all our industry going."

He told public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk that next winter's energy supplies were "not yet completely guaranteed."

UN says nearly 850 civilians killed in the invasion

The UN human rights office says 847 civilians were killed in Ukraine since the February 24 Russian invasion of Ukraine was launched.

Most of the deaths counted by the UN were the result of artillery and missile strikes that hit civilian neighborhoods.

Ihor Zhovkva speaks to DW

US oil company Baker Hughes says it is quitting Russia

The US oil industry services company Baker Hughes will suspend new investments in Russia, one day after Halliburton and Schlumberger oil services company made similar announcements.

The Texas-based company, which also has a headquarters in London, said it is complying with relevant laws and sanctions. The announcement comes following a decision made by its corporate board.

Baker Hughes chairman and CEO Lorenzo Simonelli said, "The crisis in Ukraine is of grave concern, and we strongly support a diplomatic solution."

Halliburton said Friday it had ceased shipments of sanctioned parts and products to Russia weeks ago. Schumberger said it suspended investments and technology development arrangements.

BP, ExxonMobil and Shell were among the first companies to halt their business in Russia.

Zelenskyy to Swiss: Freeze oligarchs' bank accounts

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Switzerland to freeze the bank accounts of Russian billionaire oligarchs who he said were helping to wage war on his country.

He spoke by livestream to thousands of anti-war protesters in Bern, Switzerland. He also thanked the Swiss government for its support.

Zelenskyy said Ukrainian cities are being "destroyed on the orders of people who live ... in beautiful Swiss towns, who enjoy property in your cities" a reference to wealthy Russians who keep second homes in the Alpine nation.

"In your banks are the funds of the people who unleashed this war. Help to fight this evil. So that their funds are frozen. (...) It would be good to take away those privileges from them," he said to great applause.

Although not an EU member, Switzerland has fully adopted EU sanctions against Russian individuals and entities, including orders to freeze their bank accounts.

Swiss banks hold up to $213 billion (€192 billion) belonging to wealthy Russians, the country's financial industry association has said.

Russian cosmonaut denies link between flight suits and Ukraine

After Russian cosmonauts docked at the International Space Station wearing yellow inflight suits with blue accents — the national colors of Ukraine — cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev denied it was a signal of support for Kyiv.

He said that the suits were made up to six months before the Friday flight.

"You shouldn't look for secret signs and symbols in our uniforms," Artemyev was quoted as saying by the Russian space agency Roskosmos. "The color is just the color, it is in no way related to Ukraine."

Sergey Korsakov, Oleg Artemyev und Denis Matveyev wearing their yellow uniforms in the International Space Station
Russian officials dismissed the idea that the yellow suits were a signal of support for UkraineImage: Roscosmos/AP/picture alliance

China warns NATO against spreading further east

China's Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said the Cold War was at the root of the war in Ukraine.

In a speech Saturday, Le attacked Western sanctions against Russia following the February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

"Pushing a major country, especially a nuclear power, to the corner would entail repercussions too dreadful to contemplate,'' he warned.

He also echoed Kremlin talking points, arguing that if NATO "enlargement goes further, it would be approaching the 'outskirts of Moscow' where a missile could hit the Kremlin within seven or eight minutes."

Separatelly, Kyiv called on China to condemn "Russian barbarism" on Saturday after US President Joe Biden warned Xi Jinping against involving China in Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

UNICEF: 1.5 million children have fled Ukraine

Some 1.5 million children have left Ukraine since February 24, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell wrote on Twitter.

Russell also called for "strengthened measures" to protect children affected by the war.

The UN migration agency UNHCR says nearly 6.5 million people — adults and children — have been displaced inside Ukraine, on top of the 3.2 million refugees who have fled abroad.

Kyiv said both warring sides have agreed to establish 10 humanitarian corridors to bring aid to several besieged cities, including Mariupol and those around Kyiv and in the eastern Luhansk region.

They will also allow residents, who have been stuck for days with no power and limited food, to leave areas being bombarded by Russia's military.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said 190,000 civilians have already been evacuated.

Japanese PM presses India's Modi over Ukraine war

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, on a visit to New Delhi, said he would urge his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to take a tougher line on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Ahead of the talks, Kishida's office said he would ask Modi to "take action" over Russia's aggression.

While Japan has imposed sanctions on dozens of Russian individuals and entities, New Delhi has yet to take sides over the conflict.

India has abstained in three United Nations votes denouncing Moscow's actions, calling only for a halt to the fighting.

Along with the United States and Australia, India and Japan are members of the Indo-Pacific alliance known as "the Quad" that is seeks to counter China's rising influence in Asia.

The other three nations have sharply criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian cosmonauts wear Ukraine colors

Three Russian cosmonauts emerged at the International Space Station last night with inflight suits in the yellow and blue of the Ukrainian flag.

Normally cosmonauts wear standard-issue blue uniforms.

Some have interpreted this to mean that the three cosmonauts — Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov — were be making a daring statement against the war. The Kremlin has launched a brutal crackdown on anti-war messages.

When asked about the suits, cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev said "we had accumulated a lot of yellow material so we needed to use it."

Russian space agency Roskosmos also said it was "just crazy" to see the Ukrainian flag "everywhere."

"The flight suits of the new crew are made in the colours of the emblem of the Bauman Moscow State Technical University, which all three cosmonauts graduated from," they said.

The three blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a six-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory yesterday.

They are joining the crew in place at the International Space Station of two Russians, four Americans and one German.

German TV channel launches news bulletin in Ukrainian

German broadcaster RTL has hired a Ukrainian anchor to host a daily news show for those who have fled their homeland after the Russian invasion.

The TV network said Karolina Ashion will present a 10-minute Ukrainian-language news program on weekdays.

The show will target the almost 200,000 people who have already arrived in Germany from Ukraine in the past month.

“We want to reach the people who are fleeing right now, who have to leave their home country, who may not speak English," said Malte Baumberger, the project manager.

Ashion arrived in Germany about a week ago, having traveled via Moldova and Romania.

Johnson sees no return of normal relations with Putin

British Prime Minister Boris said there is no going back on the relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"To try to re-normalize relations with Putin after this, as we did in 2014, would be to make exactly the same mistake again," Johnson told his Conservative Party conference.

People reportedly starting to leave Mariupol on foot

He said Putin's invasion of Ukraine was a "turning point for the world" and that it was vital it fails as "a victorious Putin will not stop in Ukraine."

Speaking at the same conference, the Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, warned that the Russia-Ukrainian peace talks were "smokescreen" for Moscow to regroup.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said, "Putin has been clear in his threats that all of us are at risk."

China slams NATO and Russian sanctions

China's vice foreign minister again blamed NATO for the war in Ukraine and criticized sanctions against Russia.

Le Yucheng described NATO as a "Cold War vestige'' and said, "sanctions against Russia are now going to such lengths that globalization is used as a weapon, even people from the sports, cultural, art and entertainment communities are not spared.''

His comments come after US President Joe Biden on Friday warned his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, Beijing would pay a steep price if it supports Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said cooperation between Russia and China would only become stronger.

"We, as two great powers, need to think how to carry on in this world," Interfax quoted Lavrov as saying.

US Soldiers to join NATO battlegroup in Bulgaria 

Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said that the United States has agreed to provide a Stryker mechanized infantry company for NATO's Bulgaria battlegroup.

He spoke after meeting US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Sofia.

"This is a strong sign to all of our allies in NATO," Petkov said.

Once Russia's closest ally during the Cold War, Bulgaria plans to host up 1,000 troops on its territory as NATO moves to strengthen its deterrence and defense on its eastern flank.

"I wanted to underscore the importance of the announcement that Bulgaria has established and is leading a NATO multinational battlegroup. It is an important step, and we fully support it," Austin said.

Bulgaria has ruled out providing military aid to Ukraine but would continue to provide humanitarian assistance.

German bank boss cautions against further sanctions

Deutsche Bank boss Christian Sewing said Germany should "should first let the sanctions that have been announced take effect "before taking further steps against Russia.

He told the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag sanctions hurt Russia, but they also "negatively affect us."

"We have to check again and again whether we need even stricter sanctions. But it is also clear to us that if the federal government deems it necessary, we will support it," he said.

Zaporizhzhia residents told to stay inside

The Ukrainian military has announced a 38-hour curfew in Ukraine's southern city of Zaporizhzhia.

"Do not go outside at this time," deputy mayor Anatoliy Kurtiev wrote on social media. 

Kurtiev said nine people were killed and 17 wounded in shelling the city's suburbs on Friday.

Russian forces have taken control of the nearby Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in Ukraine after it was hit by shelling two weeks ago. 

On Monday, Ukrainian authorities accused Russian troops of detonating an ammunition dump near the plant.

Russia claims to have used hypersonic missiles for the first time in combat

Russia's defense ministry claims it used hypersonic weapons to destroy targets in Ukraine.

"The Kynzhal aviation missile system with hypersonic missiles destroyed a large underground warehouse of missiles and aviation ammunition of Ukrainian troops in the settlement of Deliatyn, Ivano-Frankivsk region," Interfax quoted Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov as saying.

If true, it would be the first time Russia has used Kinzhal hypersonic missiles in combat operations.

It can reportedly travel as fast as Mach 10 over a distance as great as 1,200 miles (1931 kilometers), all while maneuvering. No existing defense equipment can stop them.

In October last year, Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, called China's tests of hypersonic missiles "very concerning."

He likened it to a "Sputnik moment," a reference to the Soviet Union's pioneering launch of a satellite in 1957, giving it an early lead in the space race and shocking the US.

Humanitarian corridor open in Luhansk

The governor of Ukraine's Luhansk region has said a humanitarian corridor for evacuation would be open on Saturday.

"A humanitarian corridor has been agreed, we will try to evacuate people and bring food today," regional governor Serhiy Gaiday said on Telegram.

Fighting has hampered efforts to evacuate civilians, but the local authorities hope a temporary ceasefire can hold on Saturday to allow trucks to distribute food, medicine, and other aid to people most in need.

Luhansk is in Ukraine's coal-rich Donbas region. On Friday, Russia's Defense Ministry claimed it controlled more than 90% of the area.

Humanitarian corridor to be opened in Luhansk

Japan's Kishida to stress unity on Ukraine in meeting with India's Modi

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will urge a unified approach on Ukraine when he meets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday.

He is on his first bilateral as Prime Minister to India and will meet Modi in New Delhi.

"Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine coincides with this trip, I'd like to emphasize the importance of international unity and confirm that Japan and India will work together on various issues," Kishida said ahead of his visit.

Japan and India are part of the Quad security grouping, with the United States and Australia. After Russia's invasion of Ukraine, they agreed; "any attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force, such as this time, must not be tolerated in the Indo-Pacific region."

Although not mentioning it by name, the message was aimed at China.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was scheduled to virtual address Japan's parliament next Wednesday.

Former US presidents show support for Ukraine

Former US presidents Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, laid flowers outside a Ukrainian church in Chicago in a show of support for the Ukrainian people.

"America stands united with the people of Ukraine in their fight for freedom and against oppression," Clinton wrote on Twitter.

It is a message echoed on the Twitter handle of Bush's foundation.

The two men from different political parties also wore ribbons with the colors of Ukraine's flag.

They said the initiative aimed to show their solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

Earlier in the conflict, former President Barack Obama slammed Russia's "brazen attack" on Ukraine. He has posted several messages on social media directing people to help Ukrainians through ordinary organizations deployed on the ground.

Ukraine loses access to Sea of Azov

Ukraine's defence ministry said that it had "temporarily" lost access to the Sea of Azov in the face of Russian advances around Mariupol.

"The occupiers have partially succeeded in the Donetsk operational district, temporarily depriving Ukraine of access to the Sea of Azov," Ukraine's defence ministry said.

The ministry did not specify whether Ukraine had regained access to the sea, but said that Russian forces had been pushed back from approaches toward the southern city of Mykolaiv.

Russia on Friday said that it was "tightening the noose" around Mariupol.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy: 'The time has come to meet, to talk'

Ukraine's Zelenskyy calls for talks with Moscow

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for meaningful peace and security talks with Russia in a Saturday video address.

Zelenskyy said that the talks were "Russia's only chance to reduce the damage of its own mistakes."

"I want everyone to hear me now, especially in Moscow. The time has come for a meeting, it is time to talk," Zelensky said.

"The time has come to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine," Zelenskyy added.

"Otherwise, Russia's losses will be such that it will take you several generations to recover."

Zelenskyy said that there was, as of yet, no information about how many people have been killed in the besieged southeastern port city of Mariupol after a theatre was struck on Wednesday. According to Ukraine's president, more than 130 people had been rescued so far.

Bilateral talks between Russia and Ukraine have been ongoing for weeks with no major breakthroughs.

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of stalling negotiations in phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. 

Summary of Friday's events in Ukraine-Russia crisis

US President Joe Biden spoke with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Friday by video call and warned China against giving Russia military and economic assistance.

The UN migration agency says nearly 6.5 million people have been displaced inside Ukraine, in addition to the 3.2 million who have already fled the country.

The Dutch government said it would send a Patriot missile defense system to Sliac, Slovakia, as NATO moved to strengthen air defenses in Eastern Europe. According to the Dutch government statement, Germany will send two Patriot systems.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said rescue work was ongoing at the site of a bombed theater in Mariupol from where 130 people had so far been recovered alive.

President Vladimir Putin praised the war waged on Ukraine as a "heroic" mission by the Russian army during a patriotic rally at a Moscow stadium.

The Bulgarian foreign ministry declared 10 Russian diplomats "persona non grata" and demanded that they leave the country within 72 hours, accusing them of carrying out activities incompatible with their diplomatic status.

The Baltic states also expelled a total of 10 Russian diplomats on Friday: three from Latvia and Estonia each and four from Lithuania.

Ukraine peace talks: Can Russia be trusted?

lo,sdi/aw (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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