Biden says Nato ‘will respond in kind’ if Putin uses chemical weapons
In a further sign that Vladimir Putin is having to rethink his objectives, the Russian defence ministry said that having completed the “first phase” of operations they would now focus on the Donbas region.
Western officials said it could mean a “pause” in operations around Kyiv and elsewhere as the Russians move resources into the east of the county.
It comes as Russia’s president today formally approved a law which rules that Russians found guilty of disseminating fake news about the work of Moscow officials abroad could face up to 15 years in jail.
The sentence is similar to that drawn up as part of of a new law adopted earlier this month, devised to punish those who spread false information about the Russian armed forces, Interfax news agency said.
It cited a senior legislator as saying the new law was needed because people were spreading false news about Russian embassies and other organisations operating overseas.
US to sanction companies supplying tech to Russian forces, intelligence says
The White House is preparing hit companies it says provides goods and services to Russia’s military and intelligence services with sanctions, the WSJ reported on Friday.
Sanctions could be announced as early as next week, it said – citing US officials.
The treasury department declined to comment on the report.
Emily Atkinson25 March 2022 23:06
Wagner group mercenaries were involved in Zelensky assassination plot, says Ukraine
Ukrainian officials say that the Russian private army was involved in the assassination plot against President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, according to CNN.
“They wanted to assassinate the leadership of Ukraine: our President and Prime Minister. That was the goal and a couple of them were sent to Ukraine without any success,” said Markian Lubkivskyi, an advisor to Ukraine’s defence minister.
Mr Lubkivskyi claimed that the plot had been confirmed by Ukraine’s intelligence service and special forces who are protecting Mr Zelensky, who has spoken about the Kremlin’s desire to kill him.
The claims have not been independently verified.
Graeme Massie26 March 2022 00:13
‘The same enemy’: Syrians endured Russian bombing for years. Now they tell Ukrainians to expect the worst
A network of underground tunnels and earthen berms crisscross the muddy front line between Syrian opposition positions and Russian-backed regime forces just beyond the field to the south near the town of Saraqib.
The battle-weathered Syrian fighters here have been confronting the forces of Vladimir Putin and his local allies for much of the past decade. And along with other Syrians, they have some advice for Ukrainians trying to survive Russian air power and missiles: dig in, prepare for more heartbreak, and take solace in being on the right side of history.
“Ukrainian people, we love you,” exclaims Abu Taim al Mourad, a 45-year-old former nurse from Hama who is now among the fighters manning the front line, and cheerily praising the efforts of Ukrainians in holding back the Russian advance. “The Ukrainians fight like beasts, and we hope they win. We are fighting the same enemy, and if Russians lose there it’s good for us here.”
The Independent’s Borzou Daragahi reports from inside rebel-controlled Idlib province:
Emily Atkinson25 March 2022 23:53
Red Cross delivers over 500 tons of medical aid to Ukraine
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today announced that over 500 tons of medical aid had been delivered to Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion of the country on 24 February.
Supplies included 1,200 sleeping mats for displaced people in Dnipro, tarpaulin and plastic sheets donated to reinforce the homes of over 1,200 people in Donetsk, 9,800 litres of clean drinking water to Dokuchaevsk, and 50 tons of fuel for ambulances and insulin to a children’s hospital in Kyiv.
Emily Atkinson25 March 2022 23:42
Over 30 assaults on Ukrainian medical facilities recorded
At least 34 attacks on medical facilities in Ukraine have been documented by The Associated Press.
It comes as the UN high commissioner for human rights confirmed at least 1,035 civilians, including 90 children, have died and another 1,650 civilians have been wounded since the war started a month ago. It is thought those numbers are likely an undercount.
Emily Atkinson25 March 2022 23:32
Russian commander run over ‘deliberately’ by his own troops in Ukraine, Western officials say
A Russian brigade commander fighting in Ukraine has been run down by his own troops, according to Western officials.
Yuri Medvedev, commanding the 37th Motor Rifle Brigade, is believed to have been deliberately targeted due to anger at the number of casualties his unit experienced.
An initial report by officials said Colonel Medvedev had been “killed”, but this was later restated amid suggestions he had suffered leg injuries and been evacuated to Belarus.
My colleague Sam Hancock reports:
Emily Atkinson25 March 2022 23:23
Zelensky calls out Hungary for lack of support: ‘You have to decide for yourself who you are with’ – watch
Zelensky calls out Hungary for lack of support: ‘You have to decide for yourself who you are with’
Emily Atkinson25 March 2022 22:44
UK authorises further 65 Russian sanctions – MoD
Russia’s defence company was the latest state entity to be hit by UK sanctions as part of the country’s most recent wave of penalties against Moscow, defence officials say.
Tweeting today, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said: “The UK has sanctioned a further 65 individuals and entities with supporting links to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Among those sanctioned include Kronshtadt, Russian defence company and main producer of Russia’s Orion drone and other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).”
“These systems have been widely deployed in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Robust Ukrainian air defences has almost certainly limited manned flights beyond their front lines, hence Russia has highly likely been forced to use more UAVs instead.”
“This is probably leading to greater demand for, and attrition of, these assets. These sanctions will damage Russia’s defence industrial complex and limit their ability to replace their UAV losses.”
Emily Atkinson25 March 2022 22:29
Pictures capture the efforts of volunteers and neighbours trying to extinguish a fire at a house shelled by the Russian army in Horenychi – a village in the Bucha Raion of the Kyiv Oblast.
Emily Atkinson25 March 2022 22:13
EU fails to agree short-term solution for energy market crunch
EU leaders were unable to reach a consensus while debating a solution to the soaring cost of energy made worse by Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine, but did offer a compromise for Spain where spiralling fuel prices have led to 12 days of trucker blockades.
An intense debate on whether to cap energy prices, pitting some southern countries against Germany and the Netherlands, pushed the second day of an EU summit into the evening, with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez at one point walking out of the meeting room.
In the end, they settled on trade-off and left a number of issues unresolved.
Emily Atkinson25 March 2022 21:56
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