Mariupol. Good news – 2,000 cars with evacuees left Mariupol. Approximately the same number of cars is still at the exit from the city, says Mariupol City Council. About 20,000 people left Mariupol along the humanitarian corridor in their own cars. Bad news – the doctors and patients of the Regional Intensive Care Hospital in Mariupol were taken hostage by Russian occupants. A representative of the medical personnel managed to send the following message: “One cannot leave the hospital. There’s shooting and shelling. We are staying in the hospital cellar. No car can approach the hospital, and this situation has not changed for two days. The multi-story houses around the hospital are on fire… Russians have forced over 400 people from the nearest area into the hospital. We are not allowed to leave”. Also during the day, the Russian troops have started the attack from the sea. Russian ships were stationed near the village of Bilosaraiska Kosa, from where the attack had started. Additionally, humanitarian aid cannot reach the city – trucks try to leave Berdyansk, then get blocked on the way to Mariupol, and later return back.
Cities under the attack. Yesterday, Russian troops attacked the Dnipro airport. They continue their strategy of destroying airports and airfields across Ukraine. Another 12-floor apartment block has been shelled in Kyiv. For the first time, the Russian occupiers bombed civilian targets in Zaporizhia, including one of the railway stations. Heavy battles took place in Rubizhne, Luhansk region. Air raids hit Berdychiv, Zhytomyr region and Marhalivka, Kyiv region. Explosions were heard during the whole night in Kherson. For days, almost all districts of Kharkiv have been shelled by the occupiers. In the Mykolaiv region, Berdyansk activist, Vitalii Shevchenko, has been abducted by Russian troops after the peaceful rally that he organized. In the Kyiv region, Bucha volunteers and employees of the administration were taken hostage by the occupiers, according to the city council. A television tower of broadcasting, radio communication and television concern came under fire by Russian occupiers in Vinnytsia.
Humanitarian situation. On March 15, seven of the nine humanitarian corridors were opened and almost 29,000 people were evacuated, says Minister Vereshchuk. The situation in the Kherson regions is deteriorating. In settlements, especially small ones, the situation is catastrophic. People are critically short of medical and food supplies. There is also a problem with electricity, gas and water supply. On Tuesday, 320 wards were evacuated from the Oskilky boarding school, and the authorities are counting on a “green corridor” from Izyum to continue the further evacuation.
Foreign policy. Prime-ministers visit. The prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia traveled to Kyiv to meet Zelenskyy. “The purpose of the visit is to confirm the unequivocal support of the entire European Union for the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine and to present a broad package of support for the Ukrainian state and society,” the Polish government wrote. They are the first Western leaders to visit Ukraine since the beginning of the war. After the meeting, Zelenskyi in his daily address to Ukrainians, expressed gratitude for the visit and called “all friends of Ukraine to visit Kyiv. It can be dangerous here, it is true. Because our sky is not yet closed to Russian missiles and aircraft.”
Council of Europe. Russia officially quits the Council of Europe shortly before it has been officially expelled. It is only the second country to leave the group since WWII. In practical terms, as the result of this decision Russian citizens will not be able to bring cases to the European Court of Human Rights, and the Russian government can re-introduce the death penalty. However, de jure Russia’s membership will terminate at the end of the financial year, namely 31 December. Meanwhile, following the decision of Russia leaving CoE, PACE officially recognized Transnistria as a Zone of Russian Occupation.
Ukraine-NATO. President Zelenskyi in his address to leaders of the British-led Joint Expeditionary Force gave a sign that he doesn’t expect Ukraine to join NATO anytime soon. “For years we have been hearing about how the door is supposedly open (to NATO membership) but now we hear that we cannot enter. And it is true, and it must be acknowledged,” he said. “I am glad that our people are beginning to understand this and rely on themselves and on our partners who assist us,” he added.
WTO. “The European Union, in collaboration with the G7 countries and other like-minded partners (Albania, Australia, Iceland, Republic of Korea, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway), will stop treating Russia as a Most-Favored-Nation within the WTO framework as of today.”, says European Commission Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis. The decision will deprive Russia of priority and favorable trade advantages. Now the countries will be allowed their own customs fee or ban Russian import of goods.
Negotiations – Round 4. The negotiations continue, however, the both teams have taken a break until today and continue working in the subgroups. “We’ll continue tomorrow. A very difficult and vicious negotiation process. There are fundamental contradictions. But there is certainly room for compromise. During the break, work in subgroups will be continued…”, says Adviser to the Head of the Office of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Environmental protection. Russian Defense Minister Shoigu has addressed a personal letter of request to Putin on cutting down Ukrainian forests at the defense areas. The wood will be used primarily for military purposes, unless it is not needed, then it will be sold and all profit will be directed at military purposes. Primarily this could concern currently occupied territories by Russia.
Digital security. Anonymous has successfully carried out a new cyberattack on Russian government websites including the FSB (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation). Anonymous also hacked a website of the Russian state-owned atomic energy company Rosatom and promised to share “several gigabytes of data” and information about the company’s security.
Media. Since the beginning of the war, at least 3 journalists have been killed by Russian troops. Three journalists were killed in Mykolaiv, Kyiv, and Irpin, according to Lyudmyla Denisova. Many journalists have been purposefully injured by the Russian forces since Feb. 24, she said. Yesterday, Fox News journalist, Pierre Zakrzewski, and Ukrainian producer, Oleskandra Kuvshynova, were killed near Kyiv, while another journalist was seriously injured. Russian troops violate the existing regulations and deliberately attack the press.
- Since February 24, the Russians have launched more than 900 missiles of various types in Ukraine.
- 3500 objects of infrastructure were destroyed by Russian troops. At least 28 religious buildings have been damaged or destroyed.
- Recent polls data: 56% of the respondents believe that the main goal of Russia’s invasion is the complete destruction of the Ukrainian people, and this view dominates in all the regions of Ukraine. The support for Ukraine’s accession to NATO has decreased slightly from a record 76% to 72% over the last two weeks. The main reason is the lack of the decision to close the sky over Ukraine, which almost 90% of Ukrainians demanded.
- General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced the total estimated losses of the Russian military as of 6 a.m., March 16, 2022: troops – around 13,800, tanks ‒ 430, APV ‒ 1375, artillery systems – 190, MLRS – 70, anti-aircraft warfare systems – 43, aircraft – 84, helicopters – 108, vehicles – 819, light speed boats – 3, fuel tanks – 60, UAV operational-tactical level – 11, special equipment – 10.
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