Latest Ukraine updates: Moscow threatens Western arms shipments

Ukraine-Russia news from March 12: Moscow says arms shipments to Ukraine ‘legitimate targets’, intensifies Kyiv attacks.

The debris of damaged houses, destroyed during a Russian aerial bombing in the village of Byshiv outside Kyiv, Ukraine.
The debris of damaged houses lies on the ground destroyed during a Russian aerial bombing in the village of Byshiv outside Kyiv, Ukraine [Thomas Peter/Reuters]
  • Fighting is raging northwest of Kyiv, with the bulk of Russian ground forces 25km (16 miles) from the centre of the Ukrainian capital.
  • Russia said its troops could target supplies of Western weapons in Ukraine.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin did not show a willingness to end the war during a call with the French and German leaders, a French presidency official said.
  • The humanitarian situation in the besieged port city of Mariupol continues to deteriorate with the UN citing reports of “looting and violent confrontations” among civilians over the few resources available.
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said about 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since Russia’s invasion started.


This live blog is now closed; thank you for joining us. For the latest news on March 13, go here.

Here are the updates for March 12:

Croatia criticises NATO after crash of Russian-made drone

Croatian officials criticised NATO for what they said was its slow reaction to a military drone that apparently flew from the Ukrainian war zone through the airspace of three NATO member states, before crashing in the Croatian capital.

The Russian-made unmanned aircraft crossed Romania and Hungary before entering Croatia and slamming late Thursday into a field near a student dormitory. Some 40 parked cars were damaged but no one was injured after a loud blast.

“We cannot tolerate this situation, nor should it have ever happened,” Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said while visiting the crash site. “This was a pure and clear threat and both NATO and the EU should have reacted,” he said. “We will work to raise the readiness not only of us but of others as well,” he added.

Satellite images show fires, severe damage in Mariupol

Satellite images show extensive damage to civilian infrastructure and residential buildings throughout the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, a private US company said.

Maxar Technologies said fires were seen in the western section of the Black Sea port city and dozens of high-rise apartment buildings had been severely damaged.

New US military aid includes anti-armour, anti-aircraft systems, small arms

Immediate US military assistance for Ukraine, authorised by President Joe Biden, will include anti-armour, anti-aircraft systems, and small arms, a senior administration official has said.

Ukrainian gymnastics overshadowed by war

Qatar’s gymnastics training centre is alive with activity as the Ukrainian gymnastics team and other world-class athletes double flip over the vault and perform intricate turns on the horizontal bars.

The Ukrainian team judge Bohdan Makuts introduces himself with a warm smile while keeping an eagle eye on the gymnasts. He understands from decades of experience how politics consistently overshadows sport, even as athletes try to steer clear. His country is at war with Russia, and his wife is taking care of his 81-year-old mother in the capital, Kyiv, a city under bombardment.

Read the full story here.

Two events in Kyiv have been cancelled because of the ongoing war in Ukraine [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]
Ukrainian gymnasts training at Qatar’s gymnastics training centre [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Humanitarian situation in some Ukraine cities ‘catastrophic’: Russian military

The humanitarian situation in Ukraine is deteriorating quickly and has become catastrophic in a number of cities, the Russian military said.

“Unfortunately, the humanitarian situation in Ukraine is continuing to deteriorate rapidly, and in some cities it has reached catastrophic proportions,” the head of the Russian National Defence Control Centre, Mikhail Mizintsev, said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.

Russia’s crackdown on Crimean Tatars foreshadows wider repression

A closer look at Russia’s policies in the annexed Crimea towards Tatars may provide an indication of what can happen with activists, officials and community leaders in southern Ukrainian territories that have recently fallen under Russian control, analysts say.

Read the full story here.

People in France, Italy protest against war

Demonstrators took to the streets of many European cities, including Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and Florence to protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Demonstrators hold a giant Ukrainian flag as they gather on the Place de la Republique square to protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Paris,
Demonstrators hold a giant Ukrainian flag as they gather on the Place de la Republique square in Paris, France [Benoit Tessier/Reuters]
Demonstrators gather in Santa Croce square to protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Florence, Italy, March 12, 2022.
Demonstrators gather in Santa Croce square in Florence, Italy [Chiara Negrello/Reuters]

Premier League disqualifies Abramovich

The Premier League board has disqualified Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich as a director at the English top-flight football club after he was sanctioned by the United Kingdom over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the league said in a statement

“The board’s decision does not impact on the club’s ability to train and play its fixtures, as set out under the terms of a licence issued by the Government which expires on 31 May 2022,” read a statement by the Premier League.

Seven civilians dead as Russia fired at evacuation convoy: Ukrainian authorities

Ukraine’s intelligence service has accused Russia of firing at a convoy that was evacuating women and children in an agreed humanitarian corridor from the village of Peremoha in the Kyiv region, killing seven people – including one child.

“After the attack, the occupiers forced the remnants of the column to turn back to Peremoha and are not letting them out of the village,” the intelligence service said in a statement, adding that the total number of wounded was unknown.

It said that the incident happened on Friday.

‘Let them come in’: Zelenskyy

President Zelenskyy has suggested Russian forces would face a fight to the death if they sought to enter the capital.

“If they decide to carpet bomb (Kyiv), and simply erase the history of this region, the history of the Kyivan Rus, the history of Europe, and destroy all of us, then they will enter Kyiv. If that’s their goal, let them come in, but they will have to live on this land by themselves,” he told a news conference.

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Ukrainian FM says ready to negotiate, but not surrender

Ukraine was ready to negotiate to end the war, but would not surrender or accept any ultimatums, said the country’s foreign affairs minister Dmytro Kuleba.

“We will continue to fight. We are ready to negotiate but we are not going to accept any ultimatums and surrender”, Kuleba said, adding that Russia was putting forward demands that were “unacceptable”.

Speaking at a virtual event organised by the nonpartisan, nonprofit organisation Renew Democracy Initiative, Kuleba also said civilian lives would be saved if Ukraine had fighter jets and more attack planes to destroy large military columns.

Biden authorises $200m in new weapons, military training for Ukraine

US President Joe Biden authorised $200m in weapons and other assistance for Ukraine, the White House said.

The decision brings total US security aid provided to Ukraine over the past year to $1.2bn, according to a senior administration official.

The funds can be used for weapons and other defence items from the Defense Department’s stock, as well as military education and training to help Ukraine.

Correspondent: Strong smell of explosives in Kyiv

Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen, reporting from Kyiv, said there is a smell of explosions and explosives in the city as Russian forces advance.

“[The smell is] really strong; it’s getting closer in the last days and even hours. You hear a lot more artillery fire, shelling; it’s mainly been coming from the northwest, a town called Irpin. There’s been heavy fighting for days [there] already,” Vaessen said.

“[Irpin] is basically the entrance into the capital, so it’s a very strategic point for the Ukrainian army and towns around Irpin have already fallen in Russian hands. Irpin is very much the last point before Russian forces can enter the capital.

“Also on the northwest flank of the capital, you can see that Russian forces are closing in … There was a huge bombardment this morning; eight rockets were fired at an air base in the south, so it’s very much a sense here that there’s going to be an encirclement around the capital. We don’t know when … no one knows how fast Russian forces are advancing.”

Ukraine to start 2022 spring sowing in coming days

Ukraine plans to start sowing spring grains in the coming days and has enough grain in stocks to ensure the population has enough bread, said Deputy Agriculture Minister Taras Vysotskiy.

He said the country, which consumes 8 million tonnes of wheat a year, had 6 million tonnes in stocks. Stocks also include 15 million tonnes of corn and a five year supply of sunflower oil.

Germany to take 2,500 Ukrainian refugees from Moldova

Germany will take in 2,500 refugees who have fled to Moldova from Ukraine, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said, as Eastern Europe’s efforts to aid refugees come under strain.

Speaking after meeting her Moldovan counterpart in Chisinau, Moldava, Baerbock said Germany was committed to helping Ukraine’s neighbours look after refugees and a corridor would be set up via Romania to bring people to Germany, mainly by bus.

‘Around 1,300’ Ukrainian troops killed since Russia invasion: Zelenskyy

“Around 1,300” Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since Russia’s invasion started, Zelenskyy said.

The Ukrainian president made the disclosure at a media briefing, the first time Kyiv had given such a toll since the beginning of fighting.

The UN so far has reported at least 1,546 civilian casualties, including 564 killed, but it believes such figure “is likely much higher,” as many reports are still pending corroboration.

Kremlin says crisis talks with Ukraine have continued by video link

Crisis talks between Moscow and Kyiv, which had been conducted in person in Belarus, have continued via a video link, Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, according to the RIA news agency.

Volnovakha town completely destroyed: local governor

The eastern Ukrainian town of Volnovakha has been completely destroyed following the Russian invasion but fighting continues for territory there to prevent a Russian encirclement, Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

A tank with the letters "Z" painted on it is seen in front of a residential building which was damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the separatist-controlled town of Volnovakha in the Donetsk region, Ukraine
A residential building was damaged during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in the separatist-controlled town of Volnovakha in the Donetsk region, Ukraine [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

Russia says it could target Western arms supplies to Ukraine

Russia said its troops could target supplies of Western weapons in Ukraine, where the Russian army has been advancing.

“We warned the United States that the orchestrated pumping of weapons from a number of countries is not just a dangerous move, it is a move that turns these convoys into legitimate targets,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told state television.

He said Moscow had warned “about the consequences of the thoughtless transfer to Ukraine of weapons like man-portable air defence systems, anti-tank missile systems and so on.”

Read the full story here.

Most business in Ukraine halted

Most Ukrainian businesses have stopped operating since Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine, said Zelenskyy.

His economic adviser previously estimated that the Russian invasion had already caused more than $100bn of damage.

Reports of looting and fighting among civilians in Mariupol: UN

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said people trapped in the besieged southern city of Mariupol were desperate, adding “there are reports of looting and violent confrontations among civilians over what little basic supplies remain in the city”.

A medical worker walks inside the maternity hospital damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine.
A medical worker walks inside the maternity hospital, damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine. [Evgeniy Maloletka/AP]

Moscow plans ‘pseudo’ independence referendum in Kherson port: Local official

Russian occupying forces are planning to stage a “pseudo” referendum in the southern Ukrainian port city of Kherson to create a breakaway region, said the deputy head of the local council.

“The creation of the (republic) will turn our region into a hopeless hole without life or a future,” Sergey Khlan said in a post on social media.

Aid workers warn over risks of human trafficking

Concerns on how to protect women from becoming victims of human trafficking at border crossing are growing.

Mornay, a former member of the French Foreign Legion who is helping refugees at the Medyka border crossing between Poland and Ukraine, told The Associated Press news agency that his team found three men trying to get several women into a van.

“I cannot say 100 percent they were trying to recruit them for sex trafficking, but when we approach them they got nervous and they just left immediately,” he said.

People arrive by ferry after fleeing from Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at the Isaccea-Orlivka border crossing, Romania.
People arrive by ferry after fleeing from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at the Isaccea-Orlivka border crossing, Romania [Stoyan Nenov/Reuters]

Romania’s local authorities also told AP they have been working on advising women to make sure to have their phone battery charged and to remember the car’s tag they board once they have crossed the border.

Annual global profit over sexual exploitation is around $32bn, a European Union commission report showed, a figure that rises during humanitarian crisis. “The risk of some capitalising on the pain of these people is very high,” said Andreea Bujor, an aid worker with World Vision Romania.

Germany, France demand ceasefire in call with Putin

In a 75-minute phone call with Putin, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron urged for an immediate ceasefire, a German government spokesperson said.

Following the conversation, the Kremlin released a statement making no mention of a ceasefire and a French presidency official said: “We did not detect a willingness on Putin’s part to end the war”.

The Kremlin said though that Putin informed the two European leaders about the state of negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv and responded to their concerns about the humanitarian situation in Ukraine.

Putin also talked “about the real state of affairs,” the Kremlin said, citing “numerous facts of the flagrant violation of the norms of international humanitarian law by Ukrainian forces”.

Italy seizes Russian billionaire sailing yacht

Italian police have seized a superyacht owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko, the prime minister’s office said, a few days after the businessman was placed on an EU sanctions list.

The 143-metre (470-foot) Sailing Yacht A, which has a price tag of 530 million euros ($578m), has been sequestered at the northern port of Trieste, the government said.

Since last week Italian police have seized villas and yachts worth more than 700 million euros ($764m) from high-profile Russians who have been placed on the EU sanctions list, said Economy Minister Daniele Franco.

‘Many thousands’ volunteers from Middle East could join fight against Ukraine

“Many thousands” of volunteers from the Middle East could shortly join the rebels and fight “shoulder-to-shoulder” against the Ukrainian army, Denis Pushilin, the head of the Russia-backed separatist government in the Donetsk region, said in remarks broadcast on Russian state television.

His comments came after Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Russian authorities have received requests from over 16,000 people from the Middle East who are eager to join the Russian military action in Ukraine.

Russian space agency asks for end to sanctions

Russia’s space agency has sent NASA and other international partners a letter demanding an end to sanctions, saying they could threaten the International Space Station (ISS).

The head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, said on Twitter the letter appealed to the space agencies of the US, Canada and Europe to keep the space station operational.

He illustrated the appeal with a map showing the flight path of the ISS – and a potential fall zone that straddles much of the world but barely touches upon Russia.

Russian forces capture outskirts of Mariupol

Ukraine’s military says Russian forces have captured the eastern outskirts of the besieged city of Mariupol.

In a Facebook update, the military says the capture of Mariupol and Severodonetsk in the east was a priority for Russian forces. Mariupol has been under siege for over a week, with no electricity, gas or water. Repeated efforts to evacuate people from the city of 430,000 have fallen apart as humanitarian convoys come under shelling.

Klitschko accuses Russia of targeting city mayors

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has accused Russia of “terrorism” for targeting elected officials in Ukraine, and insisted Moscow’s forces would be “kicked out of every inch of our land”.

The comments come after a senior Ukrainian official shared a video that he said shows armed men carrying Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of the city of Melitopol, across a square.

“Occupiers left the city without its elected leader to paralyse Melitopol’s life support and thus demoralise and conquer local residents,” Klitschko said. “This is an act of terrorism.”

People protest the abduction of Mayor Ivan Fedorov, outside the Melitopol regional administration
People protest the abduction of Mayor Ivan Fedorov, outside the Melitopol regional administration building, after he was reportedly taken away by Russian forces in Melitopol, Ukraine [Courtesy of Deputy Head for President’s Office, Ukraine/Handout via Reuters]

Ukraine claims another Russian general killed

A Ukrainian official says that another Russian general has been killed in fighting.

Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the interior ministry, says Russian Major-General Andrei Kolesnikov was killed in action during fighting over Mariupol. He would be the third Russian general to die in the war, according to Ukrainian officials.

Kolesnikov’s death was not confirmed by the Russian military, which has kept a tight lid on information about its losses.

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Belarus sends combat units to southern border

Belarus has said it is deploying five combat units to its southern border to prevent “nationalist armed formations” from Ukraine from entering the country.

“The troop movements are in no way related to any preparations, let alone to any participation of Belarusian soldiers in the special operation on the territory of Ukraine,” said Deputy Defence Minister Viktor Gulevich in a statement.

Ukraine accuses its neighbour of planning to enter the war alongside Russia. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko vehemently denies this.

Russian forces have used Belarus as a base from which to attack targets in Ukraine with fighter jets and missiles.

Zelenskyy: Russia sending new troops after heavy losses

Russia is sending new forces to Ukraine after suffering what Zelenskyy described as Moscow’s biggest losses in decades.

Zelenskyy also said he had spoken to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron about pressuring Russia to release the mayor of the city of Melitopol, who Ukraine says was kidnapped on Friday by Russian forces.

In a televised address, Zelenskyy urged Russia to uphold an agreed ceasefire to allow evacuations to proceed from the besieged port city of Mariupol, after blaming Moscow for the failure of previous attempts.

Chernihiv governor says city under heavy attack

Ukraine’s northern city of Chernihiv is still facing heavy Russian shelling, the region’s governor Viacheslav Chaus said.

In a video address, Chaus said Russian troops were targeting civilian infrastructure “where there is no and has never been any military”.

“The peaceful population is dying and there are many injured,” he said.

Footage from a local television station showed large-scale destruction to several buildings and a stadium in the city.

Russian attacks continue during latest evacuation attempts, Ukrainian officials say

The governors of two Ukrainian regions, Kyiv and Donetsk, said in separate statements that Russian attacks were continuing in areas where Ukraine was trying to evacuate people and bring aid through “humanitarian corridors”.

“Humanitarian cargo is moving towards Mariupol, we will inform you how it develops … The situation is complicated, there is constant shelling,” Donetsk governor Pavlo Kyrylenko told local media. “The situation is extremely difficult.”

Russia says it is in constant contact with US, ready for arms control talks

Russia is prepared to resume arms control talks with the US if Washington is, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

Ryabkov told RIA news agency that Moscow and Washington remain in constant contact, but that the Kremlin sees no signs that Washington is ready to continue a dialogue on Ukraine.

However, Ryabkov said proposals on security guarantees that Russia had sent to the US and NATO before Russian forces entered Ukraine last month were no longer valid as the situation had now changed completely.

Israel not pushing Ukraine to yield to Russian demands, Ukraine adviser says

A top Ukrainian adviser has pushed back against suggestions Israel tried to nudge Ukraine into caving to Russian demands during talks.

Israel, “just as other conditional intermediary countries, does NOT offer Ukraine to agree to any demands of the Russian Federation,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter. “This is impossible for military & political reasons. On the contrary, Israel urges Russia to assess the events more adequately.”

Israel has been engaged in diplomatic efforts to try to end the war in Ukraine. A report in Israel’s Walla news and Jerusalem Post had suggested, citing an unidentified Ukrainian official, that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had urged Ukraine to give in to Russia.

Mosque sheltering 80 civilians shelled in Mariupol

A mosque in the southeastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, where 80 civilians were taking shelter, has been shelled by Russian forces, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said.

“The mosque of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and his wife Roxolana (Hurrem Sultan) in Mariupol was shelled by Russian invaders. More than 80 adults and children are hiding there from the shelling, including citizens of Turkey,” the ministry wrote on its Twitter account.

The Ukrainian Embassy in Turkey said a group of 86 Turkish nationals, including 34 children, are among those sheltering in the mosque. No immediate figures for casualties are available.

Read more here

Russian rockets destroy Ukrainian airbase in Kyiv region

Russian rocket attacks have destroyed a Ukrainian airbase near the town of Vasylkiv in the Kyiv region.

The rocket attacks also hit an ammunition depot, Vasylkiv Mayor Natalia Balasynovych said.

In the capital’s eastern suburb of Brovary, a Ukrainian military intelligence reconnaissance centre was taken out of action, Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

Russians push toward Kyiv, keep up siege of other cities

Russian forces appeared to make progress from northeast Ukraine in their slow fight to reach the capital, Kyiv.

As part of a multi-front attack on the capital, the Russians’ push from the northeast appeared to be advancing, a US defence official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Combat units were moved up from the rear as the forces advanced to within 30km (18.6 miles) of Kyiv.

In Mariupol, unceasing barrages have thwarted repeated attempts to deliver food and water and to evacuate trapped civilians. And Kharkiv – Ukraine’s second-largest city – continues to be blockaded by Russian forces.

Italy seizes Russian oligarch Melnichenko’s Sailing Yacht A

Italian police have seized a superyacht from Russian billionaire Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko, a few days after the businessman was placed on an EU sanctions list following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The 143-metre (470-foot) Sailing Yacht A, which has a price tag of 530 million euros ($578m), has been sequestered at the northern port of Trieste, the government said.

Designed by Philippe Starck and built by Nobiskrug in Germany, the vessel is the world’s biggest sailing yacht, the government said.

Melnichenko owns major fertiliser producer EuroChem Group and coal company SUEK.

Ukraine official hopes Russia will observe ceasefire to allow civilian evacuation

Several humanitarian corridors out of Ukrainian towns and villages including from the besieged southern port of Mariupol will be open so civilians can leave, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said, adding she hoped Russia would observe a ceasefire to allow this to take place.

She said Ukraine plans to evacuate residents of several towns and villages in the regions of Kyiv and Sumy and some other areas where there is ongoing combat.

“I hope that the day will go well, all the planned routes will be open and Russia will fulfil its obligations to guarantee the ceasefire regime,” Vereshchuk said in a video address.

Sanctions could cause space station to crash: Roscosmos

Western sanctions against Russia could cause the International Space Station to crash, the head of Russian space agency Roscosmos warned, calling for the punitive measures to be lifted.

According to Dmitry Rogozin, the sanctions could disrupt the operation of Russian vessels servicing the ISS. As a result, the Russian segment of the station – which helps correct its orbit – could be affected, causing the 500-tonne structure to “fall down into the sea or into land”.

Majority of Luhansk region occupied by Russia: governor

Approximately 70 percent of the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine is occupied by Russian troops, according to Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk Oblast.

Areas that remained under the control of Kiev faced constant shelling and dozens of civilians were injured or killed.

Haidai wrote on Facebook that there were no humanitarian corridors for people to safely leave the region.

Zelenskyy says Ukraine at ‘turning point’

Ukraine’s president has said that his country had “reached a strategic turning point” in the war with Russia.

“It’s impossible to say how many days we will still need to free our land, but it is possible to say that we will do it,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said via video from Kyiv.

“We are already moving towards our goal, our victory.”

Air-raid sirens heard across most of Ukraine: Reports

Air-raid sirens were heard across most Ukrainian cities urging people to seek shelters, local media reports have said.

Sirens were heard in the capital city, Kyiv, and in Lviv, Odesa, Kharkiv, Cherkasy, as well as in the Sumy region in the northeast of the country, Ukrainian media outlets reported.

Russian forces appeared to be regrouping earlier for a possible assault on Kyiv, with satellite images showing them firing artillery as they closed in on the capital.

Guatemala receives first arrivals of Ukrainians fleeing conflict

Guatemala has received its first arrivals of Ukrainian families fleeing their homeland since Russia’s invasion of its neighbour last month, authorities have said.

The eight Ukrainians were the first to arrive in the Central American country “for humanitarian reasons,” an immigration spokesperson told Reuters news agency.

Another flight carrying 10 more Ukrainians is set to arrive later in the evening, officials said. It is unclear how many may have arrived privately in Guatemala since the Russian attacks on Ukraine began.

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UN experts say Russian media law amounts to information ‘blackout’

A Russian law giving Moscow stronger powers to crack down on independent journalism is placing Russia under a “total information blackout” on the war in Ukraine, UN independent experts have said.

Moscow last week blocked Facebook and other websites and passed a law that imposed a prison term of up to 15 years for spreading intentionally “fake” news about the military.

“Russia’s recent adoption of a punitive ‘fake war news’ law is an alarming move by the government to gag and blindfold an entire population,” three independent UN experts appointed by the top UN rights body, the Human Rights Council, said in a statement.

” … the law places Russia under a total information blackout on the war and in so doing gives an official seal of approval to disinformation and misinformation,” they continued.

US sanctions Russian board members at Novikombank and ABR Management

The US has sanctioned several board members at Novikombank and ABR Management, including Vice Governor of St Petersburg Vladimir Nikolaevich Knyaginin, over the Ukraine crisis, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

More than 7,000 people evacuated from four Ukrainian cities

A total of 7,144 people were evacuated from four Ukrainian cities on Friday, President Zelenskyy has said in a televised address, a sharply lower number than those who managed to leave in each of the two previous days.

Zelenskyy accused Russia of refusing to allow people out of the besieged city of Mariupol and said Ukraine would try again to deliver food and medicines there on Saturday.

Yellen expects spillovers from Russia sanctions

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said that the US economy was strong while acknowledging that inflation was a problem and there would be spillovers from sanctions against Russia.

She also said that a tighter monetary policy to fight inflation could cause a recession, but she had confidence in the Federal Reserve’s ability to balance that.

US accuses Russia of violating ‘nuclear safety principles’

The US has accused Russia of violating nuclear safety principles, saying it was concerned by “continued Russian firing on nuclear facilities” in Ukraine but added that there were no signs detected yet of any radiological release.

“We are monitoring reports of damage to a research facility in Kharkiv. Near-term safety risk is low, but the continued Russian firing on nuclear facilities must cease”, US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said on Twitter.

UK says Russia attacked western Ukraine cities

The United Kingdom has said Russian air and missile forces had conducted raids in the past 24 hours against the western Ukrainian cities of Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk.

Russian tactical aircraft supporting the advance of Russian ground forces were primarily relying on unguided “dumb” munitions, the UK Ministry of Defence intelligence update posted on Twitter said.

Images show Russian military units moving closer to Kyiv

Satellite images have shown that Russian military units were continuing to deploy closer to Kyiv and actively firing artillery towards residential areas, a US private company said.

According to Maxar Technologies, multiple homes and buildings were on fire and widespread damage, as well as impact craters, were seen throughout the town of Moschun, northwest of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

Blinken, Kuleba concerned about Russian ‘disinformation campaigns’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba shared concerns over Russia’s “disinformation campaigns” during a phone call on Friday, the State Department has said.

The two top diplomats spoke hours after the UN Security Council convened at Moscow’s request to address Russian allegations that Kyiv was developing a biological weapons programme, claims that Washington has forcefully rejected.

Blinken and Kuleba also discussed Ukraine’s direct talks with Russia that took place in Turkey earlier this week, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

Russia accused of using cluster munitions, incendiary weapons

Oleksandra Matviichuk, head of the Center for Civil Liberties in Kyiv, said the group has gathered evidence of Russian forces using unguided bombs, cluster munitions and incendiary weapons.

“That’s why we have so [many] casualties among civilian populations,” Matviichuk told Al Jazeera.

She added that the centre also has gathered evidence of deliberate Russian bombings of civilian infrastructure and humanitarian corridors along which civilians are seeking to leave conflict areas. Russia has denied it targets civilians.

ICC prosecutor opens online portal to gather evidence

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has opened an online portal to gather evidence of war crimes in Ukraine.

Prosecutor Karim A A Khan said in a statement that he is “closely following the deeply troubling developments in hostilities”, after recent reports of Russian attacks on hospitals and other civilian infrastructure.

“If attacks are intentionally directed against the civilian population: that is a crime. If attacks are intentionally directed against civilian objects: that is a crime. I strongly urge parties to the conflict to avoid the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas,” he said.

Technicians repairing damaged power lines at Chernobyl, IAEA says

Ukraine has informed the UN’s atomic energy watchdog that technicians have started repairing damaged power lines in an effort to restore external electricity supplies to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant site.

Electricity supplies to the plant, which is currently under Russian control, were cut off entirely earlier this week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement.

“Ukraine’s regulatory authority said work that began on the evening of 10 March had succeeded in repairing one section, but off-site electrical power was still down, indicating there was still damage in other places,” the statement said.

US sanctions Russians over support for N Korea weapons programme

The US has announced economic sanctions against two Russian individuals and three entities over their support for North Korea’s weapons programme.

The sanctions target “a network of Russia-based individuals and entities complicit in helping the DPRK procure components for its unlawful ballistic missile systems,” the treasury under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in a statement, referring to North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Money transfers from abroad will be paid only in roubles, Russia’s central bank says

Russians receiving money transfers from foreign banks will only be allowed to withdraw the cash in roubles, the central bank has said, the latest move in a bid to cope with Western sanctions.

The bank said the new temporary measure would come into effect on Saturday. It did not give an end date.

The bank said on Tuesday that until September 9, banks could not sell hard currency to Russian citizens.

US imposes more sanctions on Putin’s inner circle, Russian oligarchs

The US has announced more sanctions on members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, as well as oligarchs and others who backed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Treasury Department said in a statement that three family members of Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov were targeted by the sanctions, as was the management board of the sanctioned VTB Bank.

Twelve members of the Russian Duma were also blacklisted, the department said.

Russia to supply Belarus with modern weapons: Belta news agency

The leaders of Russia and Belarus have agreed that Moscow would supply its neighbour with the most up-to-date military equipment in the near future, the official Belarus Belta news agency said.

Belta also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko agreed at their Kremlin meeting on joint steps for mutual support in the face of Western sanctions, including on energy prices.

The news agency did not provide additional details.

US defence secretary to attend NATO meeting in Brussels

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will attend a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels on March 16, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby has said.

“We can expect the defence ministers to talk seriously about what NATO is doing to better shore up its defences,” Kirby told reporters.

Austin also will later travel to Slovakia for further discussions with leaders there, Kirby said.

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

US President Joe 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’s desk for final approval.

“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.

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

YouTube blocking access to Russian state-owned media

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

The world’s most used streaming video service said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine now fell under its violent events policy and violating material would be removed.

YouTube spokesperson Farshad Shadloo said the blocking of the Russian outlets was in line with that policy.

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 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 Ukrainian capital area.

Russian forces have laid siege to Mariupol, and Ukraine says 1,582 civilians have died there since the invasion began.

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

Read all the updates from Friday, March 11, here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies