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Foreign policy. US President Biden arrived in Poland on Friday to meet with US troops, Ukrainian refugees and a number of officials, including Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defense. On Sunday evening, he gave an official speech in Warsaw with the main message saying: “What is happening in Ukraine will change the 21st century. This is not a war of Russia against Ukraine, this is a war of tyranny against the whole world. The United States will be steadfast with Ukraine in absolutely everything until Ukraine’s victory. Nothing will force the United States to turn away from Ukraine and weaken support, on the contrary, there shall be only strengthening the ties between two countries. At the same time there won’t be a quick win. We need to be clear: this battle will not be won in days or months either. We need to steer ourselves for the long fight ahead.” However, Biden’s off-the-script remark that Putin ‘cannot remain in power’ sparked some discussions even in closer circles. A number of officials later clarified that neither the US nor the EU wants to impose regime change in Russia. Meanwhile, the US President has announced further sanctions, namely closing the American and European ports to the Russian vessels. Ukraine’s position remains unchanged: along with the sanctions, there is need for more weapons to prevent further air raids and missile attacks.
Cities under attack. On Saturday, the occupants were pushed 35-70 km away from Kyiv according to the Ministry of Defense. However, regular artillery strikes continue. First, the Russian military forces invaded the town of Slavutych on Saturday and seized the city hospital there. During a local peaceful rally, Russian troops threw grenades at the protesters. They also had abducted the city’s Mayor, who was subsequently released after a few hours. Later in the day, information appeared that the city is under Russian control, but after checking for weapons in the city, Russian troops regrouped and occupied all block posts at the entrances to the city. During the weekend, Russia launched a number of missiles targeting oil and gas refineries. In Lviv, cruise missiles hit an oil and gas refinery plant belonging to the Ukrainian Railway and one of the city’s factories. These missiles were launched from Sevastopol. State Emergency Services have extinguished the fire at the plant after nearly 16 hours. Russia’s Ministry of Defense has confirmed the attack on Lviv. The shelling in Lviv coincided with President Biden’s visit to the Polish city close to the border, where he was meeting Ukrainian refugees right before his meetings in Warsaw later in the day. The same day a missile hit an oil refinery plant in Dubno, near Rivne. The plant was completely destroyed. A similar attack hit Lutsk on Sunday – missiles launched from Belarus hit an oil refinery plant there as well. On Sunday evening, strong explosions were registered in Lutsk, Kyiv, Rivne, Kharkiv, and Zhytomyr nearly at the same time. In Chernihiv, local authorities report it is easier to count undamaged houses as the majority of the cities’ infrastructure is either damaged or destroyed. The nuclear research facility in Kharkiv has been under attack once again. Heavy fighting continues for the control of Izium, Kharkiv region. Near Avdiivka, Donetsk oblast, Russians are reportedly using banned phosphorus ammunition.
Mariupol. Mariupol City Council reports that the Russian occupiers forced doctors and patients out of the City Hospital №1, along with the people who were hiding from the shelling in the basement there, approximately 700 people altogether. Meanwhile, the city’s mayor reports 50% of the population was evacuated from the city (out of the total population of 540 thousand before the war), among those are about 60 thousand people who left through the humanitarian corridor to the territory controlled by Ukraine. According to preliminary estimates, 20-30 thousand citizens of Mariupol were deported to the occupied territories or Russia. 90% of the cities’ infrastructure has been either damaged or destroyed. The humanitarian and evacuation corridors will not work on Monday, March 28, as Ukrainian intelligence is warning against provocations from the Russian troops.
Liberation. Trostyanets, Sumy oblast, was liberated from the Russian army after days of occupation. In the Zaporizhia region, territorial defense units liberated two villages from the invaders — Poltavka and Malynivka.
Abductions and deportations. In Melitopol, the Russian troops gathered the heads of condominiums and offered them to report the apartments ‘where the fascists live’. Namely, this refers to all those who are in opposition to Russian forces and show support to the Ukrainian government. Human rights protection group, Euromaidan SOS, reports that at least 36 people have been abducted or disappeared since the beginning of the war. The organization calls for support to liberate the missing people, as the attacks on activists and the opposition continue.
Iryna Vershchuk, Minister of Temporary Occupied Territories, informed that Russian troops plan to deport ethnic Armenians, Azerbaijanis and Meskhetian Turks from Russian-occupied Kherson to the temporarily occupied Crimea.
Еnergy security. CERN, European Organization for Nuclear Research, suspends the participation of CERN scientists in all scientific committees of institutions located in the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus, and vice versa; suspends all upcoming events as well as new agreements related to Russia or Belarus.
Find out more about Europe’s (in)dependency on Russian gas in our new factsheet prepared by Oksana Aliieva, Energy Policy and Climate Change Expert.
Media. Since the beginning of a full-scale war against Ukraine, 12 journalists have been killed and 10 got injured, reports Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova. Russia has committed 148 crimes against journalists and the media in Ukraine. More than 70 media outlets were forced to shut down due to editorial seizures, threats, and temporary occupation. Six cases of abduction and torture of journalists were recorded.
International media got under heavy critique, incl. CNN and Sky News, as they continued to live stream the shelling of Lviv from the premises close to the explosion on Saturday. Currently, there are restrictions on reporting, posting photos or live streaming of missile strikes before the official authority statements as those might help to adjust the aim and enable repeat attacks.
President Zelenskyi gave a virtual interview to Russian opposition media — ‘Zygar’, ‘Dozhd’, ‘Medusa’, ‘Kommersant’, and ‘Novaya Gazeta’. Following the interview, Russian regulator, Roskomnadzor, called on the media to refrain from publishing the interview. The journalists based outside of Russia have released it anyway. The main messages were:
- Security guarantees are the priority at the negotiations.
- Ukraine is ready for the exchange of prisoners and the dead. However, Russia shows no interest in taking back their corpses: ‘It’s scary. When there is such an attitude towards one’s own – what is the attitude towards others.’
- Putin has disgraced the Russian language in Ukraine, and Ukrainians will be ashamed to use it. Attitude towards Russians has unprecedentedly aggravated. There has been a global, historical, cultural split, which is much worse than the war.
- Ukraine’s vision of victory — to reduce the number of victims as much as possible, to reduce the duration of this war. Russia has to withdraw its troops back, as it was before February 24, before the attack.
Culture. The Holocaust memorial in Drobytsky Yar near Kharkiv was damaged due to Russian artillery shelling. According to the Kharkiv State Archives, between 16 000 and 20 000 Holocaust victims were shot there. It is the second Holocaust memorial to be shelled — on March 1, Russian missiles hit Babyn Yar in Kyiv. Ukraine’s government has set up a database of alleged war crimes against the country’s heritage, so that the damages can be recorded — and those who targeted them can someday be held accountable. Read how museum curators and volunteers in Ukraine are trying to relocate or protect artworks, cultural artifacts and public monuments as the Russian invasion grinds on.
Negotiations. Next round of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia will take place on March 29 in Turkey. Ukraine’s points of the agenda remain unchanged — security guarantees, territorial integrity and state’s sovereignty.
- General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced the total estimated losses of the Russian military as of 6 a.m., March 28, 2022: personnel – around 17 000, tanks ‒ 586, APV ‒ 1,694, artillery systems – 302, MLRS – 95, anti-aircraft warfare systems – 54, fixed-wing aircraft – 123, helicopters – 127, soft-skinned vehicles – 1150, boats and light speed boats – 7, fuel tankers – 73, operational-tactical level UAV – 66, special equipment – 21.
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