Latest Ukraine updates: UN stresses ‘urgent’ need for talks

Ukraine-Russia news from March 11: UN says it is not aware of Ukraine biological weapons programme.

Ukrainian servicemen
Ukrainian servicemen walk during a training session outside Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 11 [Andrew Marienko/AP Photo]
  • US, G7 will revoke Russia’s ‘most favoured nation’ trade status.
  • UN Security Council holds meeting on Russian allegations of biological weapons in Ukraine.
  • UN says it is not aware of Ukraine biological weapons programme.
  • Ukraine’s UN envoy dismisses Russian accusations as ‘insane delirium’.
  • Russian strikes have hit east-central Dnipro for the first time since Moscow’s offensive began, killing at least one person.
  • President Vladimir Putin has backed allowing volunteers, including from abroad, to fight alongside Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine.
  • Russian troops approaching Kyiv appear to have repositioned and edged closer to the capital, according to satellite imagery and US intelligence assessments.


This live blog is now closed; thank you for joining us. For the latest news on March 12, go here.

Here are the updates for March 11:

Biden set to sign bill containing $13.6bn in Ukraine aid

Biden is set to sign a spending bill that contains $13.6bn in emergency military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

The US Senate gave final approval to the bill late on Thursday, sending it to Biden to sign into law.

“We’re giving the Ukrainians billions for food, medicine, shelter, and support for the over two million refugees who have had to leave Ukraine,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Read more on the legislation here.

Russian shelling prevents Mariupol evacuation, Ukraine says

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said Russian shelling prevented evacuees from leaving the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol while elsewhere Russian forces also stopped some buses of people trying to flee the Kyiv region.

In a video address, Vereshchuk said some planned evacuations were successful, including 1,000 people who were evacuated from the village of Vorzel in the Kyiv region.

Russian forces have laid siege to Mariupol. Ukraine says 1,582 civilians have died there in 12 days after the invasion.

Explosion in an apartment building in Mariupol
An explosion in an apartment building after Russian army tank fires in Mariupol, March 11 [Evgeniy Maloletka/AP Photo]

US says sanctions will continue until Putin ends ‘aggression’

The United States and its allies will not “lose focus” or “move on” from the Ukraine crisis, the State Department has said.

“There will be no relief from sanctions or other costs we have and will continue to impose on Russia until President Putin reverses course and relents and his brutal aggression,” spokesperson Ned Price said.


US warns its citizens against fighting in Ukraine

The State Department has renewed warnings to Americans against travelling to Ukraine to fight against the Russian invasion, saying that the US government would not be able to evacuate them.

“US citizens should not travel to Ukraine; those in Ukraine should depart immediately if it is safe for them to do so,” spokesperson Ned Price told reporters.

“Importantly, US citizens who travel to Ukraine – especially with the purpose of participating in the fighting in Ukraine – they face significant risks, including the very real risk of capture or death.”

Russian claims rejected at UN Security Council: AJE correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from the UN, has noted that Russia’s accusations that Ukraine has a biological weapons programme were rejected by members of the UN Security Council.

China’s ambassador to the UN, Zhang Jun, was the only member of the Council to have given “any credence whatsoever” to Russia’s claims, Hanna said.

“However, he was somewhat restrained in terms of his tone, calling very moderately for a full investigation because of the danger of any form of military and biological warfare,” Hanna said.

To read more on the Security Council meeting, click here.

Top Biden aide, UK’s Truss discuss assistance to Ukraine

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and UK Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss have discussed plans to penalise Russia and deliver assistance to Ukraine during a meeting in Washington, the White House has said.

“They discussed Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war in Ukraine. They also reviewed the ongoing coordination with Allies and partners to impose severe costs on Moscow for its aggression and to provide security, economic, and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement.

Ukraine urges Belarus to stay out of war

Ukraine is showing restraint towards Belarus but will fight back if Belarusian soldiers join the Russian invasion, Ukraine’s top security official Oleksiy Danilov has said.

Danilov said Ukraine was being careful in dealing with Belarus despite the country being used as a launchpad for Russian planes. If “one fighter crosses our border, we will fight back,” he added.

UN Security Council meeting concludes

A UN Security Council emergency meeting, in which Russia accused Ukraine of having a biological weapons programme, has come to an end.

Russian ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, said Moscow discovered an “emergency clean-up” of a US-backed military biological programme in Ukraine. But representatives of the US, UK and Ukraine dismissed the Russian allegations as “conspiracy theories”.

Ukraine accuses Russia of deliberately targeting residential areas

Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN, has accused Russia of ‘deliberately’ targeting residential areas in the country.

“A map seized by the Ukrainian troops from Russian prisoners of war confirms that bombardments of residential areas had been planned in advance,” Kyslytsya told the Security Council. “Captured Russian pilots at today’s press conference in Kyiv have reconfirmed that they deliberately dropped the bombs on residential areas.”

‘Insane delirium’: Ukraine slams Russian allegations of biological weapons

Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, has slammed Russia for convening the Security Council over allegations of biological weapons in Ukraine, which Washington, London and Kyiv have dismissed as false.

“I regret that the Security Council is being now manipulated by the Russian Federation to promote such an insane delirium,” Kyslytsya told the Council. “It is an utmost disregard by the Russian Federation [for] the members of [the] Security Council.”

YouTube blocks Russian state-funded media channels globally

YouTube has announced blocking access around the world to channels associated with Russian state-funded media, citing a policy barring content that denies or trivialises well-documented violent events.

The world’s most used streaming video service, which is owned by Alphabet Inc’s Google, said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine now fell under its violent events policy.

US and allies announce further sanctions on Russia

Biden has announced a new package of sanctions against Russia by the United and its allies, including revoking Moscow’s “most favoured nation” trade status.

Read more here.

Russia targeting hospitals, schools in Ukraine: UK envoy

Barbara Woodward, the UK’s ambassador to the UN, has accused Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine.

“Russia is invading Ukraine in violation of international law. Russia is killing hundreds of civilians through indiscriminate shelling of Ukrainian cities,” she said on Friday.

“It is using cluster munitions and thermobaric rockets, weapons designed to inflict maximum damage wherever they are deployed. It is targeting hospitals and schools and committing war crimes.”

Biden reaffirms support to Ukraine’s Zelenskyy

Biden has reaffirmed US support for Ukraine in call with his Ukrainian counterpart Zelenskyy, the White House has said.

“President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. spoke with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine to underscore his support for the Ukrainian people as they continue to defend their country against Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified attack,” the White House said in a statement.

“President Biden highlighted how the United States is continuing to surge security, humanitarian, and economic assistance to Ukraine. He also updated President Zelenskyy on the actions the United States is taking today in coordination with the G7 and the EU to further raise the costs on Russia.”

‘Utter nonsense’: UK envoy to UN slams Russian ‘disinformation’

The British ambassador to the UN has slammed Russia’s claim that Ukraine has a biological weapons programme as “yet another lie”.

“Russia has today brought into the Security Council a series of wild, completely baseless and irresponsible conspiracy theories. They are utter nonsense,” Barbara Woodward said during an emergency meeting.

“There is not a shred of credible evidence that Ukraine has a biological weapons programme… This is yet another lie in Russia’s disinformation campaign.”

UN political chief stresses ‘urgent’ need for negotiations to stop war

The need for negotiations to stop the war in Ukraine “could not be more urgent,” UN political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo has told the UN Security Council, urging Russia and Ukraine to build on contacts like the meeting between their foreign ministers in Turkey on Thursday.

“We call for such efforts to intensify, including to further secure humanitarian and ceasefire arrangements as a matter of priority,” DiCarlo said. “The logic of dialogue and diplomacy must prevail over the logic of war.”

Turkey moves embassy in Kyiv

Turkey has evacuated its embassy in Kyiv, a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Tanju Bilgic said staff at the mission would move to Chernivtsi near the Romanian border for security reasons, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Not aware of any ‘biological weapons programme’ in Ukraine: UN

The United Nations is not aware of any ‘biological weapons programme’ in Ukraine, the U.N. disarmament chief told a Security Council meeting, but warned that the possibility of an accident at Ukraine nuclear power plants was ‘growing by the day’.

Speaking at a UN Security Council meeting requested by Russia, to discuss Moscow’s claims, presented without evidence, of U.S. “biological activities”, Izumi Nakamitsu said situations like the war in Ukraine required strengthening of the international ban on biological weapons.

Online portal to gather war crime evidence: ICC

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has opened an online portal to gather evidence of war crimes in Ukraine, as he renewed his call to combatants to abide by the laws of war.

Prosecutor Karim Khan said in a written statement that he is “closely following the deeply troubling developments in hostilities”.

There have been reports in recent days of Russian strikes on civilian infrastructure in Ukrainian towns and cities, including the deadly strike on a maternity hospital in Mariupol earlier this week.

Firefighters work next to a heavily damaged building following an airstrike in Dnipro, Ukraine
Firefighters work next to a heavily damaged building following an airstrike, amid the ongoing Russian invasion, in Novokodatsky district, Dnipro, Ukraine March 11, 2022 [State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via Reuters]

Biden says US and allies will end normal trade relations with Russia

United States and its allies will strip Russia of the status guaranteeing equal treatment between international trade partners, the US president announced.

“The United States and our allies and partners continue in lockstep to ramp up the economic pressures on Putin and to further isolate Russia on the global stage,” Biden said at the White House in announcing the move to be taken jointly with NATO allies, the G7 and European Union.

Fourth round of sanctions coming: EU

The European Union is preparing a fourth round of sanctions on Russia, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The EU is to “come forward with a fourth package of sanctions,” von der Leyen said at a press conference at an informal EU leaders’ summit in Versailles.

Biden announces US ban on Russian vodka, diamonds, seafood

US President Joe Biden announced a ban on Russian seafood, vodka and diamonds, as Washington tightened sanctions against the Kremlin.

The ban targets goods from “several signature sectors of the Russian economy,” Biden said in a speech at the White House.

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden [File: Andrew Harnik/AP Photo]

Russian Olympic body challenges ban from winter sports event

The Russian Olympic Committee has made an urgent appeal to overturn a ban on its athletes competing at a European winter sports festival in Finland.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said it was setting a timetable for the case ahead of the Winter European Youth Olympic Festival being held from March 20-25.

The ROC appeal challenges a March 2 decision by the executive committee of the European Olympic Committees to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes as a result of the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine says Russian aircraft fired at Belarus from Ukrainian airspace

Ukraine’s air force has said Russian aircraft fired at a Belarusian settlement near the border with Ukraine from Ukrainian airspace to try to drag Minsk into the war.

“This is a PROVOCATION! The goal is to involve the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus in the war with Ukraine!,” Ukraine’s Air Force Command said in a statement.

Russian forces have stalled, Ukrainian presidential adviser says

Russian armed forces have made no progress in Ukraine in the last 24 hours, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych says.

“Our opponent has been halted in practically every direction by air strikes, rocket fire and ground attacks,” Arestovych told a news briefing.

Ukraine’s armed forces had staged counterattacks near Kyiv and Kharkiv, he added.

Chernobyl plant still without external power supply, Ukrainian inspectorate says

Ukraine’s State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate says the electricity supply to the defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant has not yet been restored, despite Russia’s energy ministry claiming on Thursday that Belarusian specialists had fixed the issue.

Ukraine warned on Wednesday that there was an increased risk of a radiation leak at the plant, which suffered the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986, after a high-voltage cable was severed during fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces and its external electricity supply was cut off.

When the external electricity supply is severed, an emergency diesel generator kicks in.

The inspectorate said attempts to restore the external power supply at the site, which sits near Ukraine’s border with Belarus and is currently occupied by Russian forces, were “in progress”.

Erdogan says inadequate Western response to Crimea crisis opened door to war

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised Western powers for failing to adequately respond to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, suggesting a stronger reaction to the move at the time could have prevented Moscow’s current offensive.

“Would we have faced such a picture if the West, the whole world, had raised their voices,” Erdogan said at the opening ceremony of the three-day Antalya Diplomacy Forum in southern Turkey. “Those who remained silent in the face of Crimea’s invasion are now saying some things.”

Erdogan added that Ankara, which has attempted to position itself as a mediator between Moscow and Kyiv, hoped “moderation and common sense will prevail and the weapons will fall silent as soon as possible”.

UN says 564 civilians killed in Ukraine

The UN’s human rights office (OHCHR) has confirmed the deaths of 564 civilians in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began, including 41 children.

OHCHR added the real toll is thought to be considerably higher since it has not yet been able to corroborate reports from areas where intense fighting is ongoing.

“Civilians are being killed and maimed in what appear to be indiscriminate attacks, with Russian forces using explosive weapons with wide area effects in or near populated areas,” it said.

“These include missiles, heavy artillery shells and rockets, as well as air strikes.”

Mayor estimates two million remain in Kyiv

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has said he believes there are nearly two million people still left in the Ukrainian capital.

Klitschko told the Reuters news agency that the city, normally home to some 3.5 million people, had enough vital supplies to last a couple of weeks and that supply lines remained open for now.

His brother Wladimir, who was also speaking to Reuters as part of a joint interview, added that some people who had fled Kyiv after Moscow launched its offensive were now returning to take part in the city’s defence as concerns mount over a possible large-scale assault by Russian forces.

A member of the Ukrainian Territorial Defence Force is seen keeping watch in central Kyiv
Kyiv has been fortified amid concern Russian forces could soon launch a large-scale assault on the city [Gleb Garanich/Reuters]

Russia could surround Odesa on three sides, mayor warns

The mayor of Odesa has warned Russian forces could soon surround the Ukrainian port city, located in the country’s southwest, on three fronts.

Gennadiy Trukhanov suggested Moscow’s forces would seek to advance from territories they have occupied in Ukraine’s Mykolaiv region towards Moldova’s separatist-controlled Transdniestria region, where Russian troops are based.

Such a move could cut Odesa, which sits on the Black Sea, off from the rest of Ukraine.

“Also, we think that while this is happening, Russian landing ships could surround us from the sea,” Trukhanov added.

Who are the volunteer fighters referred to by Russia?

Putin has said Russia should allow volunteer fighters from Syria and other countries to join Moscow-backed separatists fighting Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said there had been been “more than 16,000 applications” from potential recruits, mostly from the Middle East.

Many of them were individuals who had fought alongside Russian forces in the battle against the ISIL (ISIS) group, he claimed.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later confirmed that the potential recruits include fighters from Syria.

Damascus is a staunch ally of Moscow, which intervened in the Syrian civil war in 2015 to support President Bashar al-Assad, turning the tide of the conflict in his favour.

Ukrainian woman relives painful memories

For 90-year-old Nadia Tyvoniuk, the current war in Ukraine represents the second Russian invasion she has witnessed in her long life.

Click here to read more.

Zelenskyy says Ukraine is on course for victory

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Ukraine has reached a strategic turning point in its war with Russia and will overcome Moscow’s offensive, but cautioned that it was not possible to say how long fighting would continue.

“It is impossible to say how many days we still have to free Ukrainian land. But we can say we will do it. For we have already reached a strategic turning point,” he said in a televised address.

Hundreds of Tunisians stranded in Ukraine return home safely

Tunisian students caught up in the Russia-Ukraine war have given harrowing accounts of fleeing the fighting while leaving behind the lives they worked hard to build for years.

Read their stories here.

INTERACTIVE- Where are Ukrainians fleeing to DAY 16 _ 2.5 million

Ukraine says 78 children killed since Russian invasion

At least 78 children have been killed in Ukraine amid Russia’s offensive, Ukraine’s human rights ombudswoman has said.

Lyudmyla Denisova added that fighting around the besieged southeastern port city of Mariupol, the eastern town of Volnovakha and the town of Irpin in the Kyiv region meant the authorities had not been able to establish how many people had been killed or wounded in those places.

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify Denisova’s claim.

Navalny calls for anti-war protests across Russia on Sunday

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny has called for anti-war protests in Russia’s capital, Moscow, and other cities across the country on Sunday.

“Mad maniac Putin will most quickly be stopped by the people of Russia now if they oppose the war,” Navalny said in a message posted on his Instagram account.

“You need to go to anti-war rallies every weekend, even if it seems that everyone has either left or got scared … You are the backbone of the movement against war and death,” he added.

More than 13,900 people have been arrested for taking part in a string of anti-war demonstrations held in dozens of cities throughout Russia since it began its offensive, according to protest monitoring group OVD-Info.

Putin sees ‘certain positive shifts’ in talks with Ukraine

Putin has said there has been some progress in Moscow’s talks with Ukraine, without providing details.

“There are certain positive shifts, negotiators on our side tell me,” the Russian leader said in a meeting with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko, adding that talks continued “practically on a daily basis”.

Putin did not elaborate further, but said in the televised remarks that he would go into more detail with Lukashenko.

Delegations from Ukraine and Russia have met for three rounds of talks so far, while the two countries’ top diplomats met for face-to-face talks in Turkey on Thursday.

No real Russians ashamed of Ukraine conflict, Kremlin claims

Russians who say they are ashamed of the country’s “special military operation” in Ukraine are not real Russians, the Kremlin has said.

“A real Russian is never ashamed to be Russian,” Kremlin spokesman Peskov told reporters during a news briefing when asked about a slogan – ‘ashamed to be Russian’ – that emerged in the wake of Moscow’s incursion in Ukraine.

“If someone says such things then they are just not Russian,” Peskov said.

Finland mulls joining NATO as Russia wages war in Ukraine

As the war in Ukraine rages on, another country with a storied history and long border with Russia is growing concerned.

Read more here.

UK sanctions Russian lawmakers over recognition of Ukraine’s breakaway regions

The United Kingdom has imposed asset freezes and travel bans on 386 members of the Russian Duma who voted in favour of recognising the independence of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine prior to Russia’s invasion.

“Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has today sanctioned 386 members of the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, for their support for the Ukrainian breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk,” the UK’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The new sanctions will ban those listed from travelling to the UK, accessing assets held within the UK and doing business here.”

NATO chief says humanitarian corridors a ‘bare minimum’ need

NATO’s secretary-general has said establishing humanitarian corridors in Ukraine is the “bare minimum” that must be done now as Russia’s offensive intensifies.

“I continue to believe it is important that we work hard for a political, diplomatic solution,” Jens Stoltenberg told Reuters on the sidelines of the diplomacy forum in Antalya, Turkey, a day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba held talks in the city.

“[But] the bare minimum is to establish humanitarian corridors where people can get out and humanitarian aid can get in,” he added.

Stoltenberg reiterated that NATO will not send troops or jets into Ukraine amid fears such a move could lead to a full-fledged war between the alliance’s 30-member states and Russia.

INTERACTIVE- NATO members in Europe expand eastwards
(Al Jazeera)

‘Credible reports’ of Russia using cluster munitions: UN

The UN’s human rights office says it has received “credible reports” of several cases of Russian forces using cluster munitions in populated areas in Ukraine, adding that indiscriminate use of such weapons might amount to war crimes.

“Due to their wide area effects, the use of cluster munitions in populated areas is incompatible with the international humanitarian law principles governing the conduct of hostilities,” OHCHR spokeswoman Liz Throssell told reporters at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva.

“We remind the Russian authorities that directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects, as well as so-called area bombardment in towns and villages and other forms of indiscriminate attacks, are prohibited under international law and may amount to war crimes.”

No casualties in eastern Ukraine psychiatric hospital strike

An alleged Russian air raid on a psychiatric hospital in Ukraine’s eastern Kharkiv region has caused no casualties, according to the country’s State Emergency Service.

“All 30 staff and 330 patients were in a bomb shelter at the time of the strike,” the service said in a statement.

Kremlin warns Meta will have to cease work in Russia if Reuters report is true

Moscow will end the activities of Meta Platforms in Russia if a report that it will allow users of its social media sites in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers proves true, the Kremlin’s spokesman has said.

Citing leaked internal emails, Reuters reported on Thursday that Meta will allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion, signalling a temporary change to its hate speech policy.

“We don’t want to believe the Reuters report – it is just too difficult to believe,” Peskov told reporters.

“We hope it is not true because if it is true then it will mean that there will have to be the most decisive measures to end the activities of this company,” he added.

Meta logo with Russian flag
Meta is the parent company of social media platforms Facebook and Instagram [File: Dado Ruvic/Reuters]

What do we know about Ukraine’s use of Turkish Bayraktar drones?

Ankara, which has good relations with both Moscow and Kyiv, has sold dozens of its combat drones to Ukraine since 2019.

Read more here.

Capture of Volnovakha will ‘increase pressure’ on Mariupol: AJE correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from Moscow, says Russian-backed separatists’ reported seizure of the southeastern city of Volnovakha is of significant strategic importance.

Volnovakha, he said, sits halfway between Donetsk and Mariupol and its capture would give rebel forces a straight line to Mariupol, allowing them to “increase the already intense pressure on … [the] port city”.

Izyum psychiatric hospital hit by Russian raid, regional governor says

Russian forces have struck a psychiatric hospital near the eastern Ukrainian town of Izyum, according to a regional official who described the alleged attack as a “war crime”.

Kharkiv Governor Oleh Synegubov said 330 people had been at the hospital at the time of the attack. He added that 73 people had been evacuated and that the number of casualties was being established.

“This is a war crime against civilians,” Synegubov wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify Synegubov’s claim.

Kharkiv mayor says city under ‘non-stop bombardment’

The mayor of Ukraine’s northeastern city of Kharkiv says it is under “non-stop bombardment” from Russian forces.

Ihor Terekhov said in a televised interview that at least 48 of Kharkiv’s schools had been destroyed in the attacks.

Terekhov’s remarks came as Synegubov claimed Russian forces had shelled residential areas of the city – Ukraine’s second-largest – 89 times in one day.

It was not immediately clear which day Synegubov was referring to.

State nuclear company says Ukrainian plants stable

All of Ukraine’s nuclear power stations are operating stably and radiation levels at the sites remain unchanged, the country’s state operator has said.

But Energoatom warned staff at the Zaporizhzhia plant, which was captured by Russian troops last week, are now facing psychological pressure from Moscow’s forces which negatively affects their work and “endangers nuclear and radiation safety”.

“Employees of the station are under strong psychological pressure from the occupiers, all staff on arrival at the station are carefully checked by armed terrorists,” the company said.


Two Ukrainian servicemen killed in Lutsk airfield attack, official says

Russian air raids on an airfield in Lutsk killed two Ukrainian servicemen and wounded six other people, the head of the surrounding Volyn region, Yuriy Pohulyayko, has said.

Pohulyayko said on the Telegram messaging app that four rockets had been fired at the site by a Russian bomber at about 5:45am local time (03:45 GMT).

EU aims to double military aid for Ukraine, Borrell says

The European Union’s executive arm aims to double the bloc’s military aid to Ukraine and has proposed earmarking another 500 million euros ($550m) for this purpose, the EU’s foreign policy chief has said.

“Everybody was completely aware that we have to increase our military support to Ukraine,” Josep Borrell told reporters as he arrived for the second day of a meeting of EU leaders in Versailles, France. “I am sure the leaders will approve this money.”

The EU is also considering imposing more sanctions on Russian oligarchs and the Russian economy, Borrell added.

‘What are you doing here?’: Ukrainians recount Russian occupation

As Russian forces push closer to Kyiv, Al Jazeera has spoken to civilians forced to flee their homes in the nearby city of Bucha.

Read their accounts of Moscow’s offensive here.

More than 2.5 million people have fled Ukraine, UN says

More than 2.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion on February 24, according to the UN’s migration agency.

“The number of people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance is increasing by the hour,” the International Organization for Migration (IOM) tweeted.

Separately, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said at least 1.85 million people were displaced within Ukraine.

Dnipro attack ‘to have ripple effect’

Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid said the aerial attack on Dnipro took place at about 6:15am local time (04:15 GMT), targeting an industrial complex in Ukraine’s third-largest city.

Reporting from near the site, she said police had blocked access to it as a search for unexploded ordnance was ongoing.

“We do know that a heavy machinery factory was hit, along with what was described as a coal-enhancing factory and a third location next to the kindergarten,” Abdel-Hamid added.

“This is the first time this city is targeted since the beginning of the war. Many people were expecting this to happen, saying it was not a matter of if but when,” she said, noting that the attack was “certainly going to have a ripple effect on the people living here”.

Where are the Russian forces near Kyiv now?

A huge Russian military convoy that had been stationed outside Kyiv since last week appears to have dispersed, according to a United States-based satellite-imaging company, as the city braces for a possible ground assault.

Maxar Technologies said satellite images taken on Thursday showed that the 64km (40 miles) long line of vehicles, tanks and artillery has broken up and been redeployed.

The assessment came as a senior US defence official said on Thursday that Russian forces advancing on Kyiv from the northwest had edged 5km (3 miles) closer to the city in the previous 24 hours, placing them just 15km (9 miles) from its centre.

Meanwhile, a separate tranche of soldiers advancing on the capital from the northeast was about 40km (25 miles) from the city, the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, added at a Pentagon news briefing.

The official said the “multiple lines of advance towards Kyiv” indicate Moscow aims to encircle the city.

A satellite image shows troops and equipment deployed in trees, in Lubyanka at the northwest of Antonov airport, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Ukraine, March 10, 2022.
Some Russian vehicles have moved into forests amid Moscow’s apparent redeployment of its forces near Kyiv, Maxar reported [Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters]

Putin says Russia must welcome volunteer fighters

Russia’s president has said his country should allow volunteers to fight alongside Moscow-backed separatists who are battling Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking to the Russian Security Council, Putin said he also supported giving arms captured from Ukrainian forces to Russian-backed separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.

Russia’s defence minister told the meeting there were more than 16,000 potential recruits – mostly from the Middle East – who were ready to fight alongside the rebel forces in the self-proclaimed people’s republics in Donetsk and Luhansk.

Read more here.

Ukraine civilian deaths higher than military losses, defence minister says

Ukraine’s defence minister says Russian forces have killed more Ukrainian civilians than soldiers.

“I want this to be heard not only in Kyiv but all over the world,” Oleksii Reznikov said.

He did not provide death tolls. Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify Reznikov’s claims or the losses on the Russian side.

Attacks target cities across Ukraine: AJE correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, reporting from the city of Lviv in western Ukraine, says Russian attacks have taken place in major urban centres across Ukraine.

“In Kharkiv, to the east … the institute of physics and technology was narrowly missed by air strikes – it houses an experimental nuclear reactor,” Hull said.

“In Chernihiv, in the north, critical infrastructure came under attack … a water pipeline was said to have been hit there and in Lutsk, to the northeast of Kyiv, and Ivano-Frankivsk, pretty close to where I am here … military airfields have been struck by air strikes as part of an ongoing effort by the Russians to impede the ability of Ukraine’s air force and air defences to operate,” he added.

Russian gas flows on key pipelines to Europe remain steady

Russia continued to send pipeline gas into Germany via Nord Stream 1 and Poland and into Slovakia via Ukraine at broadly unchanged levels, pipeline operator data has shown.

The pipeline usually accounts for about 15 percent of Russia’s supply of gas to Europe but had been operating in reverse mode at Mallnow from December 21, which helped drive up European gas prices.

UK’s Sunak says Ukraine invasion creating ‘significant uncertainty’

The UK’s economy faces significant uncertainty due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, finance minister Rishi Sunak has said after the release of stronger-than-expected growth data for January.

“We know that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is creating significant economic uncertainty and we will continue to monitor its impact on the UK, but it is vital that we stand with the people of Ukraine to uphold our shared values of freedom and democracy and ensure Putin fails,” Sunak said.

Sunak is due to give a half-yearly update of economic growth and borrowing forecasts on March 23.

Board of steelmaker Evraz quits after Abramovich sanction

Russian steelmaker Evraz has said 10 members of its board had quit following the UK’s sanction of its largest shareholder, Roman Abramovich, and the suspension of its shares, with only the chief executive remaining.

It said it is waiting for further clarifications from the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation.

Potential buyers for Chelsea can approach UK government: Minister

Anyone interested in buying Chelsea Football Club can approach the British government and make a proposal, it has said after it sanctioned Abramovich, the club’s current owner.

“As the licence conditions are written today, the sale would not be allowed. However, if a buyer emerged it would be open to that buyer or to that football club to approach the government and ask for the conditions to be varied in a way that allows that sale to take place,” the UK’s technology minister Chris Philp told broadcaster Sky News.

Air raid sirens west of Kyiv

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Kyiv, says air raid sirens have been going off from what it was believed to be the west of the capital.

“We did hear that early in the morning there were some strikes in the west of the city.”

Ukraine hopes ‘humanitarian corridor’ from Mariupol will open on Friday

Ukraine hopes a humanitarian corridor will be opened successfully for civilians to leave the besieged southern port city of Mariupol on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said.

Residents have been cowering under fire, without power or water, in the city of some 400,000 people for more than a week and attempts to arrange a local ceasefire and mass evacuation effort have failed repeatedly.

Russia to lose ‘most favoured nation status’ over Ukraine: Sources

The US, together with the Group of Seven nations and the EU, will move to revoke Russia’s “most favoured nation” status, multiple people familiar with the situation told Reuters.

Stripping Russia of its favoured nation status paves the way for the US and its allies to impose tariffs on a wide range of Russian goods, which would ratchet up pressure on an economy already heading into a recession.

Ukraine says it will no longer buy Russian nuclear fuel

Ukraine’s Energoatom has said it will no longer buy Russian nuclear fuel.

Ukraine operates Soviet-era nuclear reactors, importing its fuel from Russia and the US.

US VP heads to Romania

US Vice President Kamala Harris will head to Romania on Friday to discuss the growing refugee crisis created by Russia’s offensive.

Harris will meet President Klaus Iohannis in Bucharest, her second stop on a three-day trip through Eastern Europe.

She met Polish leaders and Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw on Thursday and offered US support to calls for an international war crimes investigation against Russia.

Hungary PM Orban says EU will not sanction Russian gas or oil

The EU will not impose sanctions on Russian gas or oil, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said.

“The most important issue for us has been settled in a favourable way: there won’t be sanctions that would apply to gas or oil, so Hungary’s energy supply is secure in the upcoming period,” Orban added in a video posted on his Facebook page.

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Russia says military airfields in Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk taken out: Reports

Russian troops have launched a high-precision, long-range attack on two military airfields in the Ukrainian cities of Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk and have taken them out of action, Russian news agencies have quoted Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov as saying.

The mayor of Ivano-Frankiivsk, Ruslan Martsinkiv, ordered residents in the neighbouring areas to head to shelters after an air raid alert. The mayor of Lutsk also announced an air raid near the airport.

The raids were far to the west from the main Russian offensive.

About 222,000 evacuated to Russia from Ukraine: TASS

About 222,000 people have been evacuated to Russia from Ukraine and its two Moscow-backed rebel regions, Russia’s TASS news agency has reported, citing an unidentified source.

Russian-backed separatists capture Ukraine’s Volnovakha: RIA

Russian-backed separatists have captured the Ukrainian city of  Volnovakha north of the besieged Azov Sea port of Mariupol, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency has quoted the country’s defence ministry as saying.

Volnovakha is strategically important as the northern gateway to Mariupol.

Air raids in Ukraine’s Dnipro kill one: Emergency services

Three air raids in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro have killed at least one person, state emergency services have said, in what appeared to be the first direct attack on the city.

“There were three air strikes on the city, namely hitting a kindergarten, an apartment building and a two-story shoe factory, starting a fire. One person died,” the emergency services said in a statement.

Firefighters work next to a heavily damaged building following an airstrike in Dnipro, Ukraine
Firefighters work next to a heavily damaged building following an air attack in Dnipro, Ukraine [State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via Reuters]

Russia demands that US stop Meta’s ‘extremist activities’

Russia’s embassy in the US has demanded that Washington stop the “extremist activities” of Facebook owner Meta Platforms, which has temporarily lifted a ban on calls for violence against the Russian military and leadership.

“Meta’s aggressive and criminal policy leading to incitement of hatred and hostility towards Russians is outrageous,” the Russian embassy said in a statement. “The company’s actions are yet another evidence of the information war without rules declared on our country.”

The embassy said it wanted the US authorities to “stop the extremist activities of Meta and take measures to bring the perpetrators to justice”.

Biden looks forward to signing US spending bill, White House says

The White House has welcomed the Senate’s passage of legislation providing $1.5 trillion to keep the federal government operating beyond this week and $13.6bn to help Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion.

“The bipartisan funding bill proves once more that members of both parties can come together to deliver results for the American people,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said. “It will reduce costs for families and businesses, support our economic recovery, and advance American leadership abroad.”

She said President Joe Biden looked forward to signing the legislation, and its “historic support for the Ukrainian people as they defend their country and democracy”.

Kazakh airline suspends flights to Russia over insurance issues

Kazakhstan’s flagship carrier, Air Astana, has suspended all flights to Russia and over Russian territory because such flights can no longer be insured, the company has said.

Air Astana, in which Britain’s BAE Systems owns a 49 percent stake, said it was working with the government of Kazakhstan, Russia’s neighbour and close ally, on resolving the issue.

US Congress passes budget including $14bn for Ukraine

The US Congress has passed a huge omnibus 2022 spending bill including almost $14bn in humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine.

Lawmakers had been facing the latest in a series of shutdown showdowns, with government funding due to expire at midnight on Friday into Saturday, meaning thousands of workers would have been sent home without pay.

With the deadline fast approaching, senators in the legislative body’s upper chamber followed their House of Representatives colleagues, who approved the $1.5 trillion package on Wednesday.

Biden to call for an end of normal trade relations with Russia

Biden on Friday will call for an end of normal trade relations with Russia and clear the way for increased tariffs on Russian imports, a source familiar with the situation has told Reuters.

China Premier calls Ukraine situation ‘disconcerting’

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has said the Ukraine situation was “disconcerting” and that it is important to support Russia and Ukraine in ceasefire talks.

Speaking at a news conference at the close of an annual parliamentary session, Li did not directly answer questions from Reuters about whether China will refrain from condemning Russia no matter what that country does, or whether China is prepared to provide further economic and financial support for Russia as it faces sanctions.

WHO says it advised Ukraine to destroy pathogens in health labs to prevent disease spread

The World Health Organization (WHO) advised Ukraine to destroy high-threat pathogens housed in the country’s public health laboratories to prevent “any potential spills” that would spread disease among the population, the agency has told Reuters.

In response to questions from the news agency about its work with Ukraine ahead of and during Russia’s invasion, WHO said in an email that it has collaborated with Ukrainian public health labs for several years to promote security practices that help prevent “accidental or deliberate release of pathogens”.

“As part of this work, WHO has strongly recommended to the Ministry of Health in Ukraine and other responsible bodies to destroy high-threat pathogens to prevent any potential spills,” the UN agency said.

Besieged city of Mariupol enduring bombardment ‘every 30 minutes’

Mariupol mayor Vadym Boychenko has said 400,000 people are trapped in the port city, which he claimed had gone through “two days of hell”.

“Every 30 minutes planes arrived over the city of Mariupol and worked on residential areas, killing civilians – the elderly, women, children,” Boychenko said in an online post.

Petro Andrushenko, an adviser to the mayor, said the Russians wanted to “delete our people”.

“They want to stop any evacuation,” Andrushenko said.

Satellite photos show break-up of Russian convoy outside Kyiv

Satellite photos have shown that a massive Russian convoy that had been mired outside the Ukrainian capital since last week appeared to have dispersed.

Satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies showed the 64-kilometre (40-mile) line of vehicles, tanks and artillery has broken up and been redeployed, with armoured units seen in towns near the Antonov airport north of the city. Some of the vehicles have moved into forests, Maxar reported.

The convoy had massed outside the city early last week, but its advance appeared to have stalled amid reports of food and fuel shortages. US officials said Ukrainian troops also targeted the convoy with anti-tank missiles.

Maxar image - russian troops near Kyiv
A satellite image shows troops and equipment deployed amid Russia’s continuing invasion of Ukraine in Ozera, northeast of Antonov airport, Ukraine [Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters]

Moscow to open humanitarian corridors from five Ukrainian cities

The Russian defence ministry will declare a ceasefire on Friday and open humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of Ukrainians from five cities, the RIA Novosit and Interfax news agencies have reported.

The agencies quoted Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the Russian National Defence Control Centre, as saying people could either travel to Russia or other cities in Ukraine.

“From 10:00am Moscow time [07:00 GMT] on March 11, 2022, the Russian Federation will declare a ‘regime of silence’ and is ready to provide humanitarian corridors,” Interfax reported, citing a statement from Mizintsev.

The five cities are Kyiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Mariupol and Chernihiv. So far, no civilians have been able to leave Mariupol.

Ukraine says more than 280 schools attacked since start of invasion

Ukraine’s minister of education has said more than 280 educational facilities have been damaged or destroyed by “bombing and shelling”.

“The enemy ruthlessly destroys kindergartens, schools, vocational schools, colleges, universities,” Serhiy Shkarlet said. “But the most brutal and painful losses are hundreds of lives lost at the hands of the aggressor.”

Situation in besieged city of Mariupol ‘a total horror’

Maria Moskaleno, who managed to escape Mariupol last week, says her parents remain trapped there.

“It’s a total horror, it’s a humanitarian catastrophe,” Moskaleno told Al Jazeera. “They don’t know, will they have food till the end of the blockade.”

According to Moskaleno, her parents have been cooking food “on the streets”, with branches of wood from surrounding trees.

“It’s a disaster, it’s really scary … Russians are constantly bombing … constantly, rockets are flying around them, they’re really scared, they just don’t have hope of salvation,” she added.

UN Security Council to convene at Russia’s request

The UN Security Council (UNSC) will convene on Friday at Russia’s request to discuss Moscow’s claims, presented without evidence, of US biological activities in Ukraine, diplomats have said.

The US has dismissed Russia’s claims as “laughable”, warning Moscow may be preparing to use chemical or biological weapons itself.

Ukraine says civilians unable to leave Mariupol; Zelenskyy blames Russian ‘terror’

Not a single civilian was able to leave the encircled Ukrainian city of Mariupol as Russian forces failed to respect a temporary ceasefire to allow evacuations, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister has said.

Meanwhile, efforts to send food, water and medicine into the city failed when Russian tanks attacked a humanitarian corridor, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

“This is outright terror … from experienced terrorists,” he said. “The world needs to know this. I have to admit it – we are all dealing with a terrorist state.”

Top US aid official hails ‘solidarity’ of Ukraine’s neighbours

The head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has praised countries neighbouring Ukraine for their “solidarity and generosity” in welcoming more than two million refugees amid the war.

“The unity of these frontline states — Moldova, Slovakia, Romania, Poland & Hungary — has taken Putin by surprise,” Samantha Power said on Twitter.

Russian forces shell Ukraine institute that has experimental reactor, parliament says

Russian forces shelled an institute in the city of Kharkiv that is home to an experimental nuclear reactor and a neighbouring hostel is on fire, the Ukrainian parliament has said.

In a tweet, the parliament’s official website said fighting close to the Institute of Physics and Technology was continuing.

Ukraine banking leader calls for stiffer financial sanctions on Russia

Valeria Gontareva, a former governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, says seized Russian assets should be used to help rebuild Ukraine.

The sanctions imposed by Western nations against Moscow are having “seismic negative affects to the Russian economy”, Gontareva told Al Jazeera.

She said that is not enough, however, because revenue from Russian oil and gas sales will be sufficient to continue financing the continuing war.

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UN and partners boost presence and aid supplies inside Ukraine

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric has said humanitarian organisations are “deploying additional staff across Ukraine and are working to move supplies to warehouses in different hubs” within the country and outside.

He added that an estimated 1.9 million Ukrainians have been internally displaced, while more than 2.3 million have now crossed the western border in search of safety.

Dujarric also said the World Food Programme was “deeply concerned about the impact of conflict on Ukraine’s food security and the waning ability of families in embattled areas, to feed themselves”.INTERACTIVE- Where are Ukrainians fleeing to DAY 15 _ 2.3 million

US urges Russia to allow civilians to safely depart Ukrainian cities

Washington has urged Moscow to allow civilians to safely depart Ukrainian cities and towns besieged by Russian troops, saying the forces now encircle multiple cities after having destroyed much of the critical infrastructure.

“Putin’s military plan to quickly capture Ukraine, it is clear now, has failed. So he’s now turning to a strategy of laying waste to population centres to try to break the will of the people of Ukraine, something he will not be able to do,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters.

Ukraine tells IAEA it has lost all contact with Chernobyl after power cut

Ukraine has told the UN’s nuclear watchdog that it has lost all contact with the radioactive waste facilities at Chernobyl next to the defunct power plant, which is now held by Russian forces.

“Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] that it had lost today all communications with the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant [NPP], the day after the Russian-controlled site lost all external power supplies,” the IAEA said in a statement, adding that before, there was contact by email.

Hungary intervenes to stabilise fuel supply amid surge in demand

Hungary’s government has ordered a truck stoppage for four days starting on Saturday and cut the excise tax on fuel as part of efforts to stabilise fuel supplies after a surge in demand in recent days, Orban’s chief of staff has said.

“Supply is ensured, there is no reason for panic and the government maintains the cap on fuel prices,” Gergely Gulyas said during a news conference.

Facebook, Instagram to temporarily allow calls for violence against Russians

Meta Platforms will allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion in a temporary change to its hate speech policy, according to internal emails seen by Reuters.

The social media company is also temporarily allowing posts that call for the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in countries including Russia, Ukraine and Poland, according to a series of internal emails to its content moderators.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Read all the updates from Thursday, March 10, here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies