Ukraine Daily - Wednesday, 24 March 2022

Russian forces commit war crimes in Ukraine -- S confirms Russian army retreat near Kyiv -- Russia combat power in Ukraine declines below 90% of pre-invasion levels -- Russia uses white phosphorus bombs in Hostomel and Irpin -- and more

Ukraine Daily

Wednesday, March 24

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Russia’s war against Ukraine

US confirms Russian army retreat near Kyiv. A senior U.S. defense official told reporters on March 23 that Russian troops have moved 25-35 kilometers from their previously held position, about 50 kilometers east of Kyiv, CNN reports. Additionally, the official stated that Russia has increased its attacks in eastern Ukraine.

4,554 people evacuated from hot spots on March 23. According to Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, 2,912 people were evacuated from besieged Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia. In total, seven out of nine agreed-upon humanitarian corridors worked out on Wednesday.

Ukraine’s military: Eleven aerial targets of the Russian air force destroyed on March 23. According to the Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, seven airplanes, two cruise missiles, a helicopter, and a UAV were destroyed on March 23.

Reuters: Russia combat power in Ukraine declines below 90% of pre-invasion levels, US official says. It happened for the first time since the attack began.

US: Russian forces commit war crimes in Ukraine. “We’ve seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities,” reads the March 23 statement by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Russian occupying forces set up military base at Melitopol Air Base, fire missiles to other cities. Mayor of Melitopol Ivan Fedorov said on Facebook on March 23 that the city’s residents are essentially serving as living shields for the Russian military. He also said that Melitopol is on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe as a result of Russian occupation.

General Staff: Russian invaders try to undermine Ukraine’s sowing campaign. According to the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, Russian forces chaotically mine the Ukrainian territory and deliberately destroy agricultural machinery. This threatens the beginning of the sowing campaign in some Ukrainian regions.

Russia uses white phosphorus bombs in Hostomel and Irpin. Russian forces targeted the satellite towns of Kyiv with phosphorus bombs on the night of March 22, according to Irpin Mayor Oleksandr Markushin. The use of such weapons against civilians is banned by the Geneva Conventions.

Kharkiv Oblast shelled 32 times overnight on March 23. The Russian forces fired at Kharkiv with tank cannons, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and artillery, according to the governor of Kharkiv Oblast Oleh Synyehubov. 8 civilians were injured in Lozova, a city in Kharkiv Oblast, where 20 houses, a school and a kindergarten were damaged by Russian shelling.

Russian invaders destroy Chernihiv bridge to Kyiv. The bridge was used to evacuate civilians from Chernihiv, located 130 kilometers northeast of Kyiv, and bring humanitarian aid to the city, which has no electricity and suffers from the shortage of supplies.

Poll: 90% of Ukrainians believe Russia must pay for country’s reconstruction after war. According to the recent poll conducted by the Rating Group, a fifth of Ukrainians add that European countries and international organizations must pay for rebuilding Ukraine’s economy. Multiple answers were allowed. According to the poll, 53% of Ukrainians are unemployed because of war.

Ukrzaliznytsia says it was hacked. According to state railway operator Ukrzaliznytsia’s press service, online ticketing and telephone services are currently temporarily unavailable, but passenger data is safe and the situation will not affect the movement of trains.

Akhmetov: Mariupol’s metal factories won’t work under Russian occupation. Ukraine’s richest oligarch Rinat Akhmetov told the Wall Street Journal that his Azovstal and Ilyich metallurgical plants located in besieged Mariupol would not operate if the city is occupied by Russia. Together they employ 40,000 people, and are temporarily closed now.

Most fires in Chornobyl Exclusion Zone contained. Ukrainian Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Ruslan Strelets said in a televised interview on March 24 that more than 30 fires have been recorded in the area over the past two weeks. The International Atomic Energy Agency earlier reported on March 23 that it was informed by Ukraine that a forest near the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant was on fire.

Read our exclusive, on the ground stories.

While it may seem from the outside like Lviv hasn’t changed much since Russia’s all-out war began on Feb. 24, what’s happening in the western Ukrainian city is actually far from ordinary. Ukraine’s unofficial western capital Lviv is calm but prepares for war.

Stores have stepped up their attempts to supply about 2 million residents remaining in the capital with staples. Kyiv is keeping supply chains open amid defense of the city.

Ukrainian journalist released from Russian captivity: ‘They were most interested in finding organizers of pro-Ukrainian rallies’

The human cost of Russia’s war

Russian war kills 121 children since Feb. 24. 167 children were injured by Russian attacks, according to the Prosecutor General’s Office.

Health Minister: Russia damaged 58 ambulances, killed 6 medics since Feb. 24. Health Minister Viktor Lyashko says the ministry began supplying bulletproof vests to emergency medical workers, “who despite everything are rescuing Ukrainians.”

Russian troops abduct father of journalist in occupied Melitopol, demand her arrival. Journalist Svitlana Zalizetska, head of the Ria-Melitopol website, told Suspilne news outlet that Russian troops broke into her house and kidnapped her 75-year-old father. “They told my mother that they would release my father only after I come back,” said Zalizetska. According to her, Halyna Danylchenko, who was installed by Russian troops to run the city, told her to cooperate with the invaders.

Russian journalist killed by Russian shelling in Kyiv. Oksana Bauila, a reporter with Russia’s The Insider media outlet was on assignment at the site of a Russian shelling in Kyiv’s Podil district when the Russian forces launched another strike at the spot. According to The Insider, two people accompanying Baulina were injured and hospitalized, while one more civilian was killed.

At least 4 people injured by overnight Russian shelling in Kyiv. Russian shelling hit a shopping center, a high-rise residential building and some private houses on the night of March 23 in Kyiv’s Sviatoshynskyi and Shevchenkivskyi districts, according to Kyiv’s city administration.

Death toll in Russian attack of Kharkiv Oblast administration building grows to 24. Rescuers continue to search for bodies under the rubble at the site of the March 1 shelling in central Kharkiv, according to Yevhen Vasylenko, the head of the State Emergency Service in Kharkiv Oblast.

1,143 buildings destroyed in Kharkiv since beginning of full-scale invasion of Ukraine. According to Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov, Russian forces have destroyed 1,143 buildings in Ukraine’s second-biggest city, 998 of which are residential buildings, since Feb. 24.

Ukraine’s military: 15,600 Russian troops killed since Feb. 24. According to the report, Ukrainian troops have also destroyed 517 Russian tanks, 1,578 armored vehicles, 1,008 cars, 267 artillery pieces, 80 multiple rocket launchers, 47 surface-to-air missiles, at least 101 jets, 124 helicopters, 4 boats, 70 fuel tanks, and 42 drones.

WSJ: Up to 40,000 Russian troops killed, wounded, taken prisoner, or missing in Ukraine. The Wall Street Journal wrote that between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed since Feb.24. The news outlet quoted a senior NATO official.

International response

Swedish Defense Minister: Ukraine to receive 5,000 anti-tank weapons. The TT news agency quoted Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist saying that the country will provide additional anti-tank equipment. The country has already sent 5,000 anti-tank weapons and other military aid to Ukraine.

Stoltenberg: NATO to supply Ukraine with nuclear, chemical protection equipment. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance is expected to agree to provide Ukraine with “additional support including cyber security equipment” and supplies to “protect against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.”

NYT: US creates contingency plans in case Russia uses chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons in Ukraine. A team of national security officials, known as the Tiger Team, is also considering responses if Russia attacks convoys in NATO territories bringing weapons and aid to Ukraine, according to officials involved in the process. These contingencies will be central in an upcoming NATO meeting between the leaders of all member states on March 24.

EU doubles aid to Ukraine to $1.1 million. The European Council announced on March 23 that the initial budget of 500,000 euros ($550,297) has been doubled. The assistance measures are part of the European Peace Facility, which will allow the EU to “further support the capabilities and resilience of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”

UK to supply Ukraine with 6,000 defensive missiles. According to a U.K. government press release on March 24, the missiles include anti-tank and high explosive weapons. The U.K. will also provide £25 million ($33 million) to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce the package at the NATO and G7 leaders’ meeting this week.

Renault suspends manufacturing in Russia after international backlash. The French automobile company announced the decision on March 23, adding that it is assessing its options regarding its stake in Russia’s partially state-owned AvtoVAZ car manufacturer.

French Crédit Agricole, BNP Paribas leave Russia. France’s two largest banks by total assets – Crédit Agricole and BNP Paribas – are pulling out of Russia amid the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Crédit Agricole added that its priority was to support its 2,400 employees in Ukraine, who were helping ensure essential banking activities continued despite being “struck at full force by the war.”

Nestle to partly suspend operations in Russia, discontinues KitKat and Nesquik. Nestle faced backlash from consumers, activist groups and politicians for not pulling out from Russia after it invaded Ukraine. Now, the company says it will partly halt operations in Russia yet continue to provide essential food, such as infant food and medical/hospital nutrition.

Russia bans Google News service. Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, or Roskomnadzor, has banned Google News service, accusing it of spreading “false news” about Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Putin: Russia will only accept rubles for gas deliveries to EU members. Russian President Vladimir Putin said, during a televised government meeting, that “unfriendly countries” must pay for Russian energy in rubles and ordered the changes to be implemented within a week. EU member states are part of Russia’s official “unfriendly countries” list.

Belarus expels most Ukrainian diplomats, shuts Ukraine’s consulate general. “The Ukrainian embassy will continue to work in Belarus in a 1+4 format, meaning an ambassador and four staff members,” Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anatoly Glaz told Belta state-run news agency.

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Today’s Ukraine Daily was brought to you by Oleg Sukhov, Igor Kossov, Daria Shulzhenko, Dylan Carter, Oleksiy Sorokin, Olga Rudenko, Toma Istomina, Teah Pelechaty, Sergiy Slipchenko, and Lili Bivings.

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