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Also: Canada sanctions Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich; more than 2.5 million Ukrainians have fled the country

This digest has now been archived. Find the latest Russia-Ukraine updates here.

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People carry white flags as they cross the border between Bucha and Irpin, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Irpin, March 11, 2022. REUTERS/Serhii NuzhnenkoSERHII NUZHNENKO/Reuters

Here are the latest updates on the war in Ukraine:

  • Russia widened its military offensive in Ukraine on Friday, with attacks on a psychiatric facility and western airfields; Russian forces appeared be regrouping for a possible assault on the capital Kyiv
  • More than 2.5 million Ukrainians have fled the country and at least 564 civilians have killed, the UN said
  • The G7 and EU are stripping Russia of its favoured nation trade status in what President Biden called a ‘crushing blow’ to Putin and the Russian economy
  • Canada sanctioned Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich; Trudeau said the move won’t affect Canadian operations of Evraz North America, which supplies much of the steel for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

  • People stand near a damaged part of the National Science Center, Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology in Kharkiv, Ukraine.STRINGER/Reuters

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Russia-Ukraine war live updates from Thursday, March 10

10:45 p.m. ET

Guatemala receives first arrivals of Ukrainians fleeing conflict

Guatemala on Friday received its first arrivals of Ukrainian families fleeing their homeland since Russia’s invasion of its neighbor last month, authorities said.

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

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 to Guatemala since the Russian attacks on Ukraine began.

The Guatemalan government’s announcement was the first on Ukrainian arrivals from the trio of Central American countries known as the Northern Triangle, which have themselves seen much of their populations emigrate due to violence and poverty.

A rising number of both Ukrainians and Russians have fled to Latin America in recent months, including those who turn up at the United States-Mexico border.

- Reuters

10:25 p.m. ET

Zelensky alleges Russia abducted mayor

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia on Friday of abducting the mayor of the city of Melitopol, equating it to the actions of “ISIS terrorists.”

“They have transitioned into a new stage of terror, in which they try to physically liquidate representatives of Ukraine’s lawful local authorities,” Zelenskyy said in a video address Friday evening.

Kirill Timoshenko, the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, posted a video on the social media site Telegram, which he said showed a group of armed men carrying the mayor, Ivan Fedorov, across a square.

Russian forces captured the southern port city of Melitopol, with a population of 150,000, on Feb. 26.

The prosecutor’s office of the Luhansk People’s Republic, a Moscow-backed rebel region in eastern Ukraine, said on its website that there was a criminal case against Fedorov. The prosecutor’s office accused Federov of “terrorist activities” and of financing the nationalist militia Right Sector to “commit terrorist crimes against Donbass civilians.”

The office said it was looking for Fedorov and called for anyone with information about his whereabouts to contact them.

- The Associated Press

9:18 p.m. ET

Ukraine says shelling damaged cancer hospital

Ukrainian officials accused Russia damaging a cancer hospital and several residential buildings in the southern city of Mykolaiv with shelling from heavy artillery.

The hospital’s head doctor, Maksim Beznosenko, said several hundred patients were in the hospital during the attack but that no one was killed. The assault damaged the building and blew out windows.

Russian forces have stepped up their attacks on Mykolaiv, located 470 kilometres (292 miles) south of Kyiv, in an attempt to encircle the city.

Ukrainian and Western officials earlier accused Russia of shelling a maternity hospital in the southern city of Mariupol on Wednesday. Three people died in that attack.

- The Associated Press

7:53 p.m. ET

Mariupol ‘on the edge of total desperation,’ official says, as death toll mounts in besieged city

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A man walks with a bicycle in a street damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 10, 2022.Evgeniy Maloletka/The Associated Press

More than 1,500 people have been reported dead by municipal authorities in Mariupol, the Sea of Azov city that Russians forces have held under siege for nearly two weeks – but an adviser to the city’s mayor says the real number is likely far greater.

“We now estimate that number of people killed has reached 10,000. And if the Russians keep shelling, we may see more than 20,000 people killed because of the Russian attacks,” Petr Andryushchenko said in an interview.

Cut off from water and electricity, desperation has grown so acute, he said, that some have taken to drinking water from heating radiators.

Mr. Andryushchenko spoke to The Globe and Mail after he was able to leave Mariupol on Wednesday. The estimate of 10,000 dead, he said, is based on the severity of damage to residential neighbourhoods.

Russian forces have maintained what he called a “carousel” of attacks on the city, with intense artillery fire – dozens of shells an hour – followed by the appearance of Russian jets that drop heavy explosives, followed by more rounds of artillery. This week, military experts said they have found evidence that a one-tonne bomb had been dropped on the city.

Roughly 350,000 people have been locked in Mariupol since the end of February, Mr. Andryushchenko said. Attempts to establish safe evacuation corridors have repeatedly failed after shelling resumed during times agreed for the cessation of hostilities.

Those who remain “are hostages of Russian troops,” he said.

Nathan VanderKlippe, in Lviv

7:45 p.m. ET

More U.S. soldiers deploy to support NATO allies in Europe

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Soldiers with the U.S. Army's 87th Division Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Division Sustainment Brigade, board a chartered plane during their deployment to Europe, March 11, 2022, at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga.Stephen B. Morton/The Associated Press

U.S. soldiers are continuing to deploy to Europe, joining thousands already sent overseas to support NATO allies amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

About 130 soldiers from the 87th Division Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Division Sustainment Brigade gathered Friday at Hunter Airfield in Savannah, Georgia and departed on a chartered flight.

The soldiers are in addition to the estimated 3,800 soldiers from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division who deployed recently from nearby Fort Stewart.

A division commander said that soldiers are being told to prepare for about six months overseas. The Pentagon has ordered roughly 12,000 total service members from various U.S. bases to Europe.

The soldiers’ mission is to train alongside military units of NATO allies in a display of force aimed at deterring further aggression by Russia. The Pentagon has stressed U.S. forces are not being deployed to fight in Ukraine.

- The Associated Press

7:05 p.m. ET

Over 7,000 people evacuated from four Ukrainian cities on Friday, Zelensky says

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A woman who was evacuated areas around the Ukrainian capital, carries two babies after arriving at a triage point in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 9, 2022.VADIM GHIRDA/The Associated Press

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

Zelensky 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.

- Reuters

6:40 p.m. ET

Ukrainian officials warn of ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ Mariupol

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An explosion is seen in an apartment building after Russian's army tank fires in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 11, 2022.Evgeniy Maloletka/The Associated Press

Ukrainian authorities have warned of a humanitarian catastrophe in the port city of Mariupol, which has been encircled by Russian forces and cut off from deliveries of food and medicine.

Mariupol officials said Friday that 1,582 people had been killed in the 12 days since the siege began.

“There is a humanitarian catastrophe in the city and the dead aren’t even being buried,” Mariupol’s mayor’s office said in a statement Friday, calling for Russian forces to lift the siege.

Ukrainian authorities have accused Russian forces of shelling evacuation routes and preventing civilians from escaping the city of 430,000 people.

- The Associated Press

6:00 p.m. ET

Can Canadian oil and gas offer the world a solution to the current energy crisis?

In short order, a fragile network of the global energy supply has been upended, and Canada is forced to re-examine its role as a producer and exporter of fossil fuels after emphasizing ambitions to slash carbon emissions and eventually wean itself off oil and gas.

In the short run, Canada is limited in its ability to make big gains in oil and gas output owing to scarce new export pipeline capacity and a pullback in recent years in capital spending by producing companies. Even as oil prices have climbed in the past year, producers have directed their cash to paying down debt, and to boosting dividends and share buybacks.

But the latest run of oil prices to well above US$100 a barrel could reignite that spending.

Longer term, a major expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline to the West Coast is being built, as is a massive liquefied natural gas terminal further north. Beyond those, Canadians must decide if they want to be a bigger fuel source in North America and beyond in the name of energy security, while moving to a net zero economy – and if achieving both is even possible.

Jeffrey Jones, Patrick Brethour, Wendy Stueck, Brent Jang, in Toronto

4:42 p.m. ET

Power line repairs begin at Chernobyl, International Atomic Energy Agency says

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A satellite image shows a closer view of sarcophagus at Chernobyl, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Ukraine, March 10, 2022.MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES/Reuters

Ukraine told the International Atomic Energy Agency on Friday that technicians have started repairing damaged power lines at the decommissioned Chernobyl power plant in an effort to restore power supplies, the U.N. nuclear agency said.

On Wednesday, Ukrainian authorities said that Chernobyl, the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster, was knocked off the power grid, with emergency generators supplying backup power.

The Ukrainian nuclear regulator said Friday that workers repaired one section of the lines, but there still appears to be damage in other places, the IAEA said. Repair efforts would continue despite “the difficult situation” outside the plant, which was taken by Russian forces early in the invasion, it said.

The Ukrainian regulator said additional fuel was delivered for generators, but it remains important to fix the power lines as soon as possible. The IAEA reiterated that the disconnection “will not have a critical impact on essential safety functions at the site.”

The Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog said that it still isn’t receiving data from monitoring systems installed to monitor nuclear material and activities at Chernobyl, but transmission from the Zaporizhzhia plant — Ukraine’s biggest, which Russian forces seized last week — has been restored after being lost earlier this week.

- The Associated Press

3:51 p.m. ET

Kharkiv nuclear facility safe but war poses big risks, says institute director

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Tanks are seen during a media tour at the Malyshev transport engineering plant in Kharkiv, Ukraine Feb. 15, 2022.VYACHESLAV MADIYEVSKYY/Reuters

The head of a nuclear research facility in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv said on Friday that the grounds of the institute had been struck by Russian shells during recent fighting, but the core housing nuclear fuel remains intact.

He warned, however, that any future damage to equipment in the core could pose a danger.

“The facility, in working condition, doesn’t present any danger whatsoever,” said Mykola Shulga, director general of the National Science Centre Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology.

“However, if there is physical damage, a nuclear fuel leak is possible, radioactive elements (could escape) outside,” he told Reuters, speaking inside the facility.

“This obviously would be a huge, huge problem for the environment. In other words, what would happen would be comparable to a similar situation at any nuclear power station.”

While the inner areas of the institute were unscathed, some of the outer walls of the building were damaged by shrapnel and windows were blown in.

– Reuters

3:33 p.m. ET

How NATO jets are tracking Russian bombing missions in amazing detail

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A NATO AWACS aircraft approaches the Air Base number 5 during the Real Thaw 2018 exercise in Monte Real, Portugal Feb. 6, 2018.Rafael Marchante/Reuters

Russian bombing missions have been fairly steady recently but suddenly intensified Friday, when three Ukrainian cities were hit. Before Friday’s raids, there was speculation that Russian pilots had run short of smart (that is, guided) bombs. Or perhaps they were afraid of Ukraine’s ground-to-air Stinger missiles, which reportedly have taken down more than a few Russian fighter-bombers and helicopters – significantly more if Ukrainian claims are accurate.

While Lt.-Col. Guillaume did not know the ultimate destination of the Russian jets, he knew the make – Sukhoi – and their direction, altitude and speed. The incredibly detailed information came from our plane’s two main surveillance sources.

The first was the enormous radar dome, nine metres in diameter and 1.8 metres thick, which rotates six times a minute; it is mounted on two stalks atop the fuselage of NATO’s highly specialized E-3A AWACS jet. The acronym stands for Airborne Warning and Control System.

The second was a series of “listening ears” that protrude slightly along each side of the E-3A, near the front of the fuselage, and pick up electromagnetic “emissions” from aircraft. The two systems also allow the AWACS to determine the type of aircraft in an area. Besides the Sukhois, Lt.-Col. Guillaume spotted a Russian Beriev A-50 AWACS plane that was evidently providing surveillance for, or mission-control instructions to, the Russian fighter-bombers.

All that information and more was displayed on his computer screen. Aircraft considered “friendly” – NATO planes flying in NATO airspace – came up as blue dots; orange denoted probable Russian planes. “All this gives us what we call a ‘recognized air picture,’” he said.

Read more here.

Eric Reguly, from NATO Surveillance Mission AI8438

3:22 p.m. ET

Trudeau meets refugees in Poland, discusses Ukraine crisis with leaders

3:00 p.m. ET

WHO advises Ukraine to destroy pathogens in health labs to prevent disease spread as Russian warfare increases risk

The World Health Organization 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 told Reuters.

Like many other countries, Ukraine has public health laboratories researching how to mitigate the threats of dangerous diseases affecting both animals and humans including, most recently, COVID-19. Its labs have received support from the United States, the European Union and the WHO.

Biosecurity experts say Russia’s movement of troops into Ukraine and bombardment of its cities have raised the risk of an escape of disease-causing pathogens, should any of those facilities be damaged.

In response to questions from Reuters about its work with Ukraine ahead of and during Russia’s invasion, the WHO said in an e-mail on Thursday 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 WHO, a United Nations agency, said.

– Reuters

2:30 p.m. ET

U.S. slashes trade status with Russia, bans its alcohol, seafood and diamonds

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President Joe Biden speaks at the House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference, Friday, March 11, 2022, in Philadelphia.Patrick Semansky/The Associated Press

President Joe Biden announced Friday the U.S. will dramatically downgrade its trade status with Russia as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine and also ban imports of Russian seafood, alcohol and diamonds.

The broad trade shift, which revokes the “most favored nation” status for Russia, is being taken in co-ordination with the European Union and Group of Seven countries.

“The free world is coming together to confront Putin,” Biden said from the Roosevelt Room of the White House. He also said countries were adding new names to a list of Russian oligarchs who are facing sanctions, and the U.S. is cutting the flow of high-end American products such as expensive watches, cars and clothing.

“We’re banning the export of luxury goods to Russia,” he said.

Biden said there would be further retaliation if Ukraine is targeted with chemical weapons, a possibility that administration officials have warned about in recent days.

“Russia would pay a severe price if they used chemical weapons,” he said.

– The Associated Press

2:20 p.m. ET

Agriculture disruptions caused by war in Ukraine could ‘escalate food insecurity globally,’ UN agency warns

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Chinese candidate Qu Dongyu delivers his speech after being appointed as the new Director General of FAO during the 41st Conference in Rome, June 23, 2019.Riccardo Antimiani/The Associated Press

Poorer countries in northern Africa, Asia and the Middle East that depend heavily on wheat imports risk suffering significant food insecurity because of Russia’s war in Ukraine, and the conflict is poised to drive up already soaring food prices in much of the world, the UN food agency warned Friday.

Ukraine and Russia, which is under heavy economic sanctions for invading its neighbour two weeks ago, account for one-third of global grain exports.

With the conflict’s intensity and duration uncertain, “the likely disruptions to agricultural activities of these two major exporters of staple commodities could seriously escalate food insecurity globally, when international food and input prices are already high and vulnerable,” said Qu Dongyu, director-general of the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization.

The UN agency, known as FAO, also noted that Russia is the lead producer of fertilizer, and a key fertilizer component – urea – has jumped more than threefold in price in the last 12 months.

– The Associated Press

2:15 p.m. ET

UN says no evidence to back Russian claim of Ukraine biological weapons program

The United Nations on Friday said it had no evidence Ukraine had a biological weapons program while Washington and its allies accused Russia of spreading the unproven claim as a possible prelude to launching its own biological or chemical attacks.

Russia called the meeting of the 15-member U.N. Security Council to reassert through its envoy Vassily Nebenzia, without providing evidence, that Ukraine ran biological weapons laboratories with U.S. Defense Department support.

Member countries called the claim “a lie” and “utter nonsense” and used the session to accuse Russia of deliberately targeting and killing hundreds of civilians in Ukraine, assertions that Russia denies in a 15-day offensive it calls “a special military operation.”

Izumi Nakamitsu, the U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, told the council the United Nations is “not aware” of any biological weapons program in Ukraine, which joined an international ban on such arms, as has Russia and the United States along with 180 other countries.

– Reuters

2:05 p.m. ET

EU to ban steel imports from Russia, luxury goods exports to Moscow

The European Union will suspend Moscow’s privileged trade and economic treatment, crack down on its use of crypto-assets and ban exports to Russia of EU luxury goods and imports of iron and steel goods, the head of the European Commission said on Friday.

The measures amount to a fourth set of sanctions against Russia over its invasion last month of Ukraine, co-ordinated with the United States and other G7 allies.

“Tomorrow, we will take a fourth package of measures to further isolate Russia and drain the resources it uses to finance this barbaric war,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

Along with other Western allies, including the United States, the bloc will revoke Russia’s “most-favoured nation” trade status. This would open the door to the bloc banning or imposing punitive tariffs on Russian goods and putting Russia on a par with North Korea or Iran.

As a first step, the EU will prohibit imports of iron and steel sector goods.

Von der Leyen said in a statement that the EU was working to suspend Russia’s membership rights of leading multilateral institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

“We will ensure that Russia cannot obtain financing, loans, or any other benefits from these institutions,” von der Leyen said.

– Reuters

1:46 p.m. ET

Ukraine says Russia wants to drag Belarus into war, warns of invasion plan

Ukraine said Belarus could be planning to invade its territory on Friday and accused Russia of trying to drag its ally into the war by staging air attacks on Belarus from Ukrainian air space.

Belarus has served as a staging post for Russian troops, missiles and aircraft, both before and after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, but it has not deployed its own forces in active battle.

Ukraine’s military accused Russian aircraft of firing at Belarusian border villages from Ukrainian air space on Friday to provide an excuse for an offensive.

“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 an online statement.

The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Air Force Command’s statement.

The alleged attacks took place as Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko was meeting Russian President Vladimir


1:30 p.m. ET

In the Prairies’ deeply proud Ukrainian farming communities, Russia’s war prompts grief and guilt

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Ernie Sirski is part of a group of volunteers that have created the Parkland Ukrainian Family 'Trust Fund' to help Ukrainian families relocate to the Dauphin area.Tim Smith/The Globe and Mail

Across the Prairies, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been deeply felt – especially within farming communities. Farmers, many of them Ukrainian-Canadian, have in recent weeks hosted rallies, raised money and attempted to secure the safety of family and friends back home.

“I go to bed almost every night and think, ‘Thank God my parents came to this country,’” said Ernie Sirski, a second-generation Ukrainian-Canadian farmer. Read the full story.

-The Globe’s Ann Hui

1:15 p.m. ET

Zelensky says Ukraine is on course for victory against Russian invasion

12:36 p.m. ET

YouTube blocks Russian state-funded media channels globally

YouTube is immediately blocking access around the world to channels associated with Russian state-funded media, the company said on Friday, citing a policy barring content that denies or trivializes 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.

“Our Community Guidelines prohibit content denying, minimizing or trivializing well-documented violent events, and we remove content about Russia’s invasion in Ukraine that violates this policy,” spokesman Farshad Shadloo said. “In line with that, effective immediately, we are also blocking YouTube channels associated with Russian state-funded media, globally.”


11:10 a.m. ET

EU, G7 revoke Russia’s favoured nation trading status

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President Biden on Friday said the United States would strip Russia of permanent normal trade relations and would take other steps to isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime as Western nations extended efforts to penalize Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times News Service

The Group of Seven countries and the European Union will revoke Russia’s “most favoured nation” trading status and seek to have it excluded from borrowing money from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as they tighten sanctions on President Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine.

The United States will also ban imports of Russian vodka, seafood and diamonds.

U.S. President Joe Biden announced these measures Friday, three days after imposing an embargo on Russian oil, gas and coal. Canada stripped Russia of most favoured nation status last week, hiking tariffs on most Russian imports to 35 per cent, and also imposed a ban on imports of Russian oil and petroleum products.

“As Putin continues his merciless assault, the United States and our allies and partners continue to work in lock-step to ramp up the economic pressures on Putin and to further isolate Russia on the global stage,” Mr. Biden said at the White House.

Most favoured nation status effectively guarantees a country the ability to trade under relatively low tariffs set by the World Trade Organization. Revoking it means Mr. Biden would be able to jack up tariffs. It would put Russia in the company of North Korea and Cuba as countries with whom the U.S. does not have normal trading relations.

The U.S. does about US$35-billion in annual trade with Russia, according to figures from the U.S. Trade Representative, representing one per cent of U.S. imports. A breakdown of U.S. imports from Russia compiled by the Progressive Policy Institute think tank lists petroleum products, palladium, crabs, iron, plywood and fertilizer components among the top items.

The EU is Russia’s largest trading partner, buying nearly 38 per cent of its exports in 2021, according to European Commission numbers. Russia was the EU’s fifth-largest trading partner. The EU imports roughly a third of its oil and gas from Russia, and has so far declined to impose an embargo on energy imports.

The Globe’s Adrian Morrow

10:42 a.m. ET

Life inside Kharkiv’s bomb shelters as Russia invades

10:20 a.m. ET

Russian forces bearing down on Kyiv

President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday Ukraine had reached a “strategic turning point” in the conflict with Russia, but Russian forces bombarded cities across the country and appeared to be regrouping for a possible assault on the capital Kyiv.

The governor of the Kharkiv region, on the Russian border, said a psychiatric hospital had been hit, and the mayor of the city of Kharkiv said about 50 schools had been destroyed there.

In the besieged southern city of Mariupol, the city council said at least 1,582 civilians had been killed as a result of Russian shelling and a 12-day blockade that has left hundreds of thousands trapped with no food, water, heat or power.

Russia’s defence ministry said the Black Sea port was now completely surrounded and Ukrainian officials accused Russia of deliberately preventing civilians getting out and humanitarian convoys getting in.

A new effort to evacuate civilians along a humanitarian corridor appeared to have failed.

“The situation is critical,” Ukrainian interior ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko said.


10:01 a.m. ET

Opinion: The forgotten victims of Putin’s war: Young Russian men

Among the heartbreaking scenes from Ukraine are the videos of young Russian men, many in their late teens and early twenties, phoning their mothers in tears from a muddy field to say that they’ve been captured by the Ukrainians in a war they didn’t expect, and don’t understand or agree with.

These videos have their propaganda value, of course, and Ukrainian forces, by filming and posting such private moments, may be committing a minor violation of the laws of war, although the calls themselves are a humane gesture. Read full story.

-The Globe’s Doug Saunders

9:38 a.m. ET

NATO chief says Ukraine needs more than ‘bare minimum’ humanitarian corridors

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NATO must not allow Russia's invasion of Ukraine to spill over into a war between the alliance and Moscow, its chief Jens Stoltenberg said on March 11, 2022, again ruling out a no-fly zone.STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday that humanitarian corridors constituted the “bare minimum” of what Ukraine needs at this moment, and called on Russia to withdraw its forces and engage in diplomatic efforts in good faith.

Talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in Turkey on Thursday made no apparent progress toward a ceasefire as the conflict entered its third week.

Speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of a forum in Antalya, Turkey, Stoltenberg said talks between the warring parties were important, but added any real solution was dependent on Russia withdrawing its troops.

“I continue to believe it is important that we work hard for a political, diplomatic solution,” Stoltenberg said. “The bare minimum is to establish humanitarian corridors where people can get out and humanitarian aid can get in.”

He said the nuclear rhetoric from Russian President Vladimir Putin was “dangerous” and “reckless,” and reiterated that NATO would not send troops or jets into Ukraine despite the repeated appeals from Ukrainian officials.


9:03 a.m. ET

8:49 a.m. ET

564 civilians killed so far in Ukraine, UN says

The UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Friday it has confirmed the deaths of 564 civilians in Ukraine since Feb. 24, including 41 children.

The real toll is thought to be considerably higher since it has not yet been able to corroborate reports from areas where intense hostilities are ongoing, OHCHR said. Most died from the use of explosive weapons, including heavy artillery shelling, missile and air strikes, it added.


8:23 a.m. ET

Putin sees ‘positive shifts’ in talks with Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday some progress had been made in Moscow’s talks with Ukraine, while the Kremlin said the conflict would end when the West took action to address Moscow concerns.

At a Kremlin meeting with Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, Putin said Western sanctions would not hinder Russian development and that Russia would end up stronger.

He then said Ukrainian negotiations were taking place practically every day.

“There are certain positive shifts, negotiators on our side tell me,” Putin said. “I will talk about all of this later.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukraine’s Dmytro Kuleba met in Turkey on Thursday in the highest-level talks since the conflict began. No breakthrough was made.


8 a.m. ET

Deutsche Bank faces criticism for remaining in Russia as others cut off links

Deutsche Bank faced stinging criticism from some investors and politicians on Friday for its ongoing ties to Russia after saying that leaving would go against its values, as other banks cut off links with the country.

Germany’s largest bank has dug in its heels amid pressure to sever ties after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, arguing that it needs to support multinationals doing business in Russia. Read full story


7:29 a.m. ET

Russia broadens attacks on Ukraine, destroying psychiatric facility

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A man walks past a damaged part of the National Science Center, Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 11, 2022.STRINGER/Reuters

Ukraine’s defence minister has accused Russian forces of killing more civilians than soldiers in his country, as new attacks struck a psychiatric facility and western airfields early Friday morning.

Among the targets was a psychiatric residential facility about 80 kilometres from Kharkiv region, two days after the bombing of a children’s hospital and maternity ward in Mariupol.

On Friday, Russian shelling rendered the Oskil psychoneurological residential institution “uninhabitable,” Yuriy Shparaga, director of the social services department for the Kharkiv region, said in an interview.

“They have no electricity, they have no heat,” he said. Read full story

-The Globe’s Nathan VanderKlippe

6:53 a.m. ET

Canada sanctions Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich

Canada slapped sanctions on Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich on Friday, but said the move won’t effect the Canadian operations of Evraz North America, which supplies much of the steel for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Mr. Abramovich is the No. 1 target for sanctions recommended by jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Mr. Abramovich and four others, who enabled Mr. Navalny’s detention and work to prop up Vladimir Putin’s regime, were hit with an assets freeze and banned from doing business in Canada. Read full story.

-The Globe’s Marieke Walsh

6:31 a.m. ET

China pushes Russian disinformation about Ukraine, setting stage for possible chemical attack

False narratives advanced by Moscow about the war in Ukraine are being spread widely in China, boosted by Chinese officials and state media even as Beijing purports to remain neutral regarding the conflict.

As much of the world reacted in horror to Russia’s bombing of a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol this week, amid other strikes on civilians, Chinese outlets have promoted dubious claims by the Russian Defense Ministry that it discovered a “U.S.-financed military biological program” in Ukraine. Read full story.

-The Globe’s James Griffiths

6:26 a.m. ET

‘No more beds’: Eastern Europe’s aid effort under strain as Ukraine refugees keep arriving

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Ukrainian refugees wait at Przemysl train station, southeastern Poland, on Friday, March 11, 2022.Petros Giannakouris/The Associated Press

Eastern Europe’s volunteer-driven aid effort to help Ukrainians was showing signs of strains of Friday, with some cities running out of accommodation as the number of refugees passed 2.5 million and fierce fighting continued unabated.

Relief work in front line states – Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary and Moldova – has mainly been shouldered by ordinary citizens volunteering to drive, cook or house refugees, with the help of non-governmental organizations and local authorities.

But with the war now in its third week and the number of refugees continuing to swell, it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide sufficient help.

In Krakow, Poland’s second-largest city, one NGO described the situation at the city’s train station as “tragic.”

“There is nowhere to direct the refugees. They are stressed and confused, all kinds of help is needed, and above all, premises,” tweeted Fundacja Brata Alberta, an NGO that in normal times helps individuals with mental disabilities.

“We call many places, but the only answer is: there are no more beds. Government intervention necessary!”


5:28 a.m. ET

Russian strikes hit western Ukraine as offensive widens

Russia widened its military offensive in Ukraine on Friday, striking near airports in the west of the country for the first time as troops kept up pressure on the capital, Kyiv, and the U.S. and its allies prepared to revoke Russia’s favoured trading status in a new punishment for the invasion.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Russia used high-precision long-range weapons Friday to put military airfields in Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk “out of action.” He did not provide details.

The air strikes on the Lutsk airfield left two Ukrainian servicemen dead and six people wounded, according to the head of the surrounding Volyn region, Yuriy Pohulyayko. In Ivano-Frankivsk, residents were ordered to shelters after an air raid alert, Mayor Ruslan Martsinkiv said.

New satellite photos, meanwhile, appeared to show a massive convoy outside the Ukrainian capital had fanned out into towns and forests near Kyiv, with artillery pieces raised for firing in another potentially ominous movement.

The photos emerged amid more international efforts to isolate and sanction Russia, particularly after a deadly air strike on a maternity hospital in the southern port city of Mariupol that Western and Ukrainian officials decried as a war crime.

-The Associated Press

5 a.m. ET

Forty-eight schools destroyed in Ukrainian city of Kharkiv: mayor

The eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv is under relentless bombardment from Russian forces, the city’s mayor said in a televised interview on Friday.

“As of today, 48 (of the city’s) schools have been destroyed,” said Mayor Ihor Terekhov. The city has a peacetime population of about 1.4 million.

4:51 a.m. ET

Putin says Russia to welcome volunteers from Middle East to fight Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the green light on Friday to bring in thousands of fighters from the Middle East to fight against Ukraine.

At a meeting of Russia’s Security Council, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said there were 16,000 volunteers in the Middle East who were ready to come to fight with Russian-backed forces in the breakaway Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.

“If you see that there are these people who want of their own accord, not for money, to come to help the people living in Donbass, then we need to give them what they want and help them get to the conflict zone,” Putin said.

Shoigu also proposed that Western-made Javelin and Stinger missiles that were captured by the Russian army in Ukraine should be handed over to Donbass forces.

“As to the delivery of arms, especially Western-made ones which have fallen into the hands of the Russian army – of course I support the possibility of giving these to the military units of the Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics,” Putin said.

“Please do this,” he told Shoigu.


11:15 P.M. ET

Russians keep pressure on Mariupol; massive convoy breaks up

Russian forces kept up their bombardment of the port city of Mariupol on Thursday, while satellite photos showed that a massive convoy that had been mired outside the Ukrainian capital split up and fanned out into towns and forests near Kyiv, with artillery pieces moved into firing positions.

Satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies showed that 40-mile (64-kilometre) convoy of vehicles, tanks and artillery has broken up and been redeployed, the company said. Armoured units were seen in towns near the Antonov Airport north of the city. Some of the vehicles have moved into forests, Maxar reported, with towed howitzers nearby in position to open fire.

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

– Reuters

10:56 P.M. ET

U.S. Senate passes US$1.5-trillion government funding bill with Ukraine aid

The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved legislation providing US$1.5-trillion to fund the federal government through Sept. 30 and to allocate US$13.6-billion to aid Ukraine.

The 2,700-page bill passed in a bipartisan 68-31 vote, one day after the House of Representatives approved the package.

President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill into law, averting agency shutdowns ahead of the midnight Friday deadline when existing U.S. government funds expire.

The aid for Ukraine is designed to finance ammunition and other military supplies, as well as humanitarian support.

The legislation’s passage follows months of negotiations over the federal government’s funding and therefore policy priorities.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that this Ukraine aid package likely would be followed by additional measures to help Kyiv battle Russia and rebuild from the destruction brought by Moscow’s attacks.

The House also approved a bill that banned imports of Russian oil and called for reviewing Russia’s participation in some international trade programs, including the World Trade Organization.

That measure’s fate in the Senate was unclear. Biden is expected to call on Friday for an end of normal trade relations with Russia.


10:15 P.M. ET

Premier Li offers China’s help for ‘grave’ Ukraine situation

China’s premier on Friday called the situation in Ukraine “grave” and offered Beijing’s help in playing a “positive role” for peace while continuing to refuse to criticize Russia.

Li Keqiang told reporters at an annual news conference that “we support and encourage all efforts that are conducive to a peaceful settlement of the crisis.”

“The pressing task now is to prevent tension from escalating or even getting out of control,” Li said.

China has largely sided with Russia in the conflict, which it has refused to refer to as a war or invasion. The U.S. accuses Beijing of helping spread false news and disinformation coming out of Moscow.


9:30 P.M. ET

Opinion: By holding Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea FC hostage, Britain settles for whacking a lesser villain

In his pulpy London gangster film, RocknRolla, Guy Ritchie saved the villain’s role for oligarch Roman Abramovich.

The antagonist wasn’t called Abramovich. He was called Uri Omovich. But it was transparently Mr. Abramovich – a silken Russian aesthete in the midst of infiltrating upper-class British society, a component of which is running a soccer club.

The secret to a good movie villain is aspiration. It should be someone whose persona and lifestyle cause envy in the viewer. At the moment of RocknRolla’s 2008 release, nothing epitomized this hook better than the oligarch. And there was no more famous oligarch than Mr. Abramovich.

It isn’t hard to see the appeal. You pull a quick one in some dreary, far-flung place and then move your dirty money to a much nicer place. Once there, you spend lavishly to purchase an entrée, all while sitting a bit above the fray. It’s Gatsby with different set dressing.

That’s an old story. Mr. Abramovich’s addition was his common touch. In order to ingratiate himself with the local proletariat as well as the aristocrats, he bought a ball club.

Cathal Kelly

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