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Also: The federal government considers paying Canadians taking refugees into their homes; Volunteers finally arrive at Chernobyl nuclear plant to relieve 64 workers on duty there for past three weeks

A neighbor stands amid the destruction caused by a bomb in Satoya neighborhood in Kyiv.Rodrigo Abd/The Associated Press

This digest has now been archived.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

Here are the latest updates on the war in Ukraine:

  • The Russian military has offered the Ukrainian troops defending the strategic port of Mariupol to lay down arms and exit the city via humanitarian corridors, but that proposal was quickly rejected by the Ukrainian authorities.
  • In a plea for missile defence help, President Zelensky evoked the Holocaust in an address to Israel. Zelensky accused Vladimir Putin of trying to carry out a “final solution” against Ukraine.
  • Russia and Ukraine are getting closer to an agreement on “critical” issues and had nearly agreed on some subjects, according to the foreign minister of Turkey, which is helping to mediate peace talks.
  • The federal government is considering paying Canadians who open their homes to Ukrainian refugees, potentially in the form of a tax credit.
  • Russia’s military bombed an art school sheltering some 400 people in the embattled port city of Mariupol. It was the second time in less than a week that city officials reported a public building where residents had taken shelter coming under attack.

  • Rescuers work on the remains of a building damaged by shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine.STRINGER/Reuters

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11:55 p.m. ET

Ammonia leak contaminates area in east Ukraine

A warehouse with household goods is seen on fire after shelling, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Sumy, Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 18, 2022.STATE EMERGENCY SERVICE OF UKRAI/Reuters

An ammonia leak at a chemical plant in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sumy has contaminated an area with a radius of more than 5 kilometres, officials said early Monday.

Sumy regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyy didn’t say what caused the leak.

The Sumykhimprom plant is on the eastern outskirts of the city, which has a population of about 263,000 and has been regularly shelled by Russian troops in recent weeks.

Authorities urged people in Sumy to breathe through gauze bandages soaked in citric acid.

– The Associated Press


10:30 p.m. ET

Israel ‘the right place’ for holding talks with Russia, Zelensky says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday that Israel was undertaking many efforts to arrange top-level peace talks between his country and Russia and suggested they might take place in Jerusalem.

Zelensky, speaking in his daily video appeal to Ukrainians after addressing Israel’s parliament by video link, said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had been trying to act as an intermediary between Kyiv and Moscow.

“Of course, Israel has its interests, strategy to protect its citizens. We understand all of it,” said Zelensky, seated at a desk in his trademark khaki T-shirt.

“The prime minister of Israel, Mr. Bennett is trying to find a way of holding talks. And we are grateful for this. We are grateful for his efforts, so that sooner or later we will begin to have talks with Russia, possibly in Jerusalem.

“That’s the right place to find peace. If possible.”

– Reuters


8:30 p.m. ET

Ukraine refuses to surrender besieged Mariupol

The Russian military has offered the Ukrainian troops defending the strategic port of Mariupol to lay down arms and exit the city via humanitarian corridors, but that proposal was quickly rejected by the Ukrainian authorities.

Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said Sunday that all Ukrainian soldiers could leave the Azov Sea port Monday using safe routes for evacuating civilians that had been previously agreed with Ukraine and head to areas controlled by the Ukrainian authorities. He said that “all those who lay down arms will be guaranteed a safe exit from Mariupol.”

Mizintsev added that Russia will wait until 5 a.m. Monday for a written Kyiv’s response to the Russian proposal for the Ukrainian troops to leave Mariupol but didn’t say what action Russia will take if its “humanitarian offer” is rejected.

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in remarks carried by Ukrainska Pravda news outlet that Kyiv already had told Russia that “there can be no talk about surrender and laying down weapons.” She rejected the Russian statement as “manipulation.”

Mizintsev said that the deliveries of humanitarian supplies to the city will immediately follow if the Ukrainian troops agree to leave the city. He added that civilians will be free to choose whether to leave Mariupol or stay in the city.

The Associated Press


8:00 p.m. ET

Russians in Poland struggle with guilt, shame, anger and feelings of helplessness

Anastasia Sergeeva, co-founder of the Free Russia Foundation in Warsaw, holds up a new flag that pro-democracy Russians living outside the country have adopted since the war in Ukraine began. They dropped the red stripe on the Russian flag, which for them symbolised blood.Anna Liminowicz/The Globe and Mail

Ever since Russian troops began bombing Ukraine last month, Dmitry Strotsev has been wrestling with guilt and shame.

Mr. Strotsev, 29, is among the small number of Russians who live in Warsaw and, though he fiercely opposes the war and has no time for Russian President Vladimir Putin, the invasion has left him struggling with a sense of responsibility.

“It’s hard to reconcile your thoughts, your feelings,” he said between sips of coffee in a downtown café. “Surely we do not blame all Germans for what the Nazis did, but at the time I guess every German was guilty. And right now every Russian is guilty.”

He paused to reflect on collective responsibility and what future generations will think. “I would also be the one who would be expressing a feeling of being sorry for all this, even though I was against it.”

The war has had more direct consequence as well. Mr. Strotsev’s partner, Maks Voronkin, is from Ukraine and the couple have been on an emotional roller coaster since the fighting broke out, vacillating between anger, hatred and numbness. Only recently has Mr. Voronkin, a 38-year old barber, been able to calm the constant rage he feels, but he said one look at the news and it comes rushing back.

Then two weeks ago, Mr. Strotsev’s citizenship cost him his job. He speaks four languages and worked as a translator in a venture-capital company in Warsaw. When he got into a dispute with his boss over working conditions, his employer abruptly cited Mr. Strotsev’s nationality and told him to leave. “Never have I ever experienced any kind of discrimination because I’m Russian in Poland, until now,” he said.

For other Russians living in Warsaw, the fallout from the war has been equally profound. There are only about 8,000 ex-pats here but nearly all have been left reeling by the conflict and how to respond.

Paul Waldie, in Warsaw


6:50 p.m. ET

Zelensky rejects recognition for Ukraine’s Russian-backed separatists

A serviceman of the Ukrainian Military Forces sands next a body, following fighting against Russian troops and Russia-backed separatists near the village of Zolote, Lugansk region on March 6, 2022.ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday that he would reject any peace agreement requiring that Ukraine recognize the independence of two Russian-backed separatist regions, but he suggested that there could be a “model of understanding” to be reached on the territories.

“There are compromises for which we cannot be ready as an independent state,” Zelensky said through an interpreter during an interview on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.” “You cannot just demand from Ukraine to recognize some territories as independent republics. These compromises are simply wrong.”

Zelensky laid out his vision for an agreement to end the war, prevent future conflicts with Russia, and “approach these territories which are temporarily occupied,” referring to the separatist regions.

He said that if Ukraine was unable to join the NATO military alliance, he would seek a more limited coalition of countries – including some NATO members – that could help deter future attacks from Russia.

“If NATO members are ready to see us in the alliance, then do it immediately – because people are dying on a daily basis,” he said. If not, he said, “Ukraine has to seek for other security guarantees from individual countries.”

Zelensky defended the value of the peace talks.

“I think that without negotiations, we cannot end this war,” he said. “I think that all the people who think that this dialogue is shallow and that it’s not going to resolve anything, they just don’t understand that this is very valuable.

“If there is just 1% chance for us to stop this war, I think that we need to take this chance. We need to do that.”

He stressed his hopes for peace even as he spoke of atrocities committed by Russian forces against the Ukrainian people, particularly children. “Russian forces have come to exterminate us, to kill us,” he said.

Now, he said, the Ukrainian “people are feeling hatred towards them, animosity, and they will continue to kill Russians because Russians have killed their children.”

Without a peace settlement, he warned, the war might escalate still more.

“If these attempts fail,” he said, “that would mean that this is a third World War.”

The New York Times


5:30 p.m. ET

Zelensky condemns ‘war crimes’ against besieged Mariupol

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that the siege of Mariupol will go down in history for what he called war crimes by Russia’s military.

The Associated Press


2:31 p.m. ET

Russian navy commander killed in Ukraine

A senior naval commander in Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has been killed in Ukraine, the governor of Sevastopol said on Sunday.

Post-Captain Andrei Paliy, deputy commander of the fleet, died during fighting in the eastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, Governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said on Telegram.

Sevastopol, which is a major base of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, is located on the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Reuters


2:00 p.m. ET

Volunteers finally arrive at Chernobyl nuclear plant to relieve 64 workers on duty there for past three weeks

A general view shows a New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure over the old sarcophagus covering the damaged fourth reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, in Chernobyl, Ukraine, April 5, 2017.Gleb Garanich/Reuters

After more than three weeks without being able to leave the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine, 64 workers were finally able to be rotated out, the plant said Sunday.

Staff at the plant, which includes more than 200 technical personnel and guards, had not been able to rotate shifts since Feb. 23, a day before Russian forces took control of the site, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which serves as a nuclear watchdog for the United Nations.

In a Facebook post, the plant said that to rotate the 64 workers, 46 volunteers were sent to the site to make sure operations at the plant could continue. It was unclear whether the remaining workers would also have an opportunity to be rotated.

For weeks, the International Atomic Energy Agency, known as the IAEA, has expressed concern for the workers at the Chernobyl site, calling for the staff to be rotated for their safety and security.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, director-general of the IAEA, said last week that he remained “gravely concerned about the extremely difficult circumstances for the Ukrainian staff there.”

The New York Times


1:35 p.m. ET

Zelensky presses Israel for missile defence help, evoking Holocaust

Demonstrators gather in Tel Aviv to attend a televised video address by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky.JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

President Volodymyr Zelensky evoked the Holocaust in an appeal to Israel for help defending Ukraine from the Russian invasion.

During a virtual address to the Israeli parliament, Zelensky questioned Israel’s reluctance to sell its Iron Dome missile defence system to Ukraine.

Zelensky accused Vladimir Putin of trying to carry out a “final solution” against Ukraine – using the Nazi term for its planned genocide of 6 million Jews during World War II. Zelensky, who himself is Jewish, also noted that a Russian missile slammed into Babi Yar – the spot of a notorious Nazi massacre in 1941 that now hosts Ukraine’s main Holocaust memorial.

“The people of Israel, you saw how Russian rockets hit Babi Yar. You know what this place means, where the victims of the Holocaust are buried,” he said.

“Everybody knows that your missile defence systems are the best … and that you can definitely help our people, save the lives of Ukrainians, of Ukrainian Jews.”

Reuters and The Associated Press


12:06 p.m. ET

Feds mull tax credit for Canadians helping Ukrainian refugees

The federal government is open to the idea of providing incentives such as tax credits to Canadians who help Ukrainians, says the immigration minister.

“Everything is on the table right now,” Sean Fraser told CTV’s Question Period when asked about the issue during a Sunday broadcast.

“We’re looking at different options right now to capitalize on the extraordinary goodwill of Canadians.”

Mr. Fraser was responding to a question about programs in the United Kingdom that are compensating residents of that country for costs related to taking in Ukrainian refugees.

Specifically, the minister was asked if he was ruling out a tax credit or income support for people who take in a refugee family.

“I wouldn’t rule out anything right now. We just want to make sure that we tailor the solutions for the needs of the people who are coming,” said the ministers.

He said work is under way with non-profit partners, and other ministries to best co-ordinate the “goodwill” of Canadians when it comes to helping Ukrainians affected by Russia’s ongoing invasion, and how the federal government can pay a supportive role.

Mr. Fraser did not offer any other details.

Ian Bailey


11:30 a.m. ET

U.S. ambassador condemns allegations of forced deportations to Russia in Mariupol

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has condemned Russian forces for allegedly deporting thousands of residents of Mariupol to Russia forcibly.

The allegations were made on Saturday by the Mariupol city council via its Telegram channel.

“It is disturbing,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on Sunday. “It is unconscionable for Russia to force Ukrainian citizens into Russia and put them in what will basically be concentration and prisoner camps.”

Reuters


10:09 a.m. ET

Central Europe reaching capacity with influx of Ukrainian refugees

People walk beside tents after crossing the border from Ukraine to Poland at the border checkpoint in Medyka.FABRIZIO BENSCH/Reuters

Officials in Central Europe voiced concern on Sunday that they were reaching capacity to comfortably house some of the nearly 3.5 million refugees who have fled Ukraine

Most of the Ukrainians have arrived at border points in Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary, putting pressure on the European Union countries now attempting to shelter them.

“The Czech Republic is balancing on the edge of capacities where we are able to provide comfortable living conditions,” said Czech Interior Minister Vit Rakusan during a television debate. “Living in gyms, sleeping bags, or campsites is not good for life.”

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said seven humanitarian corridors would open on Sunday to enable civilians to leave front line areas.

More than 2 million Ukrainians have crossed into Poland since the invasion by Russia. Warsaw officials say this has increased the Polish capital’s population of 1.8 million by 17 per cent.

Reuters


9:30 a.m. ET

Russia and Ukraine getting closer to agreeing on “critical” issues

Russia and Ukraine are getting closer to an agreement on “critical” issues and had nearly agreed on some subjects, according to the foreign minister of Turkey, which is helping to mediate peace talks.

Mevlut Cavusoglu also said he was hopeful for a ceasefire if the sides don’t take a step back from the progress they have made toward an agreement.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that Moscow expected its operation in Ukraine to end with the signing of a comprehensive agreement on security issues, including Ukraine’s neutral status, Interfax reported.

Kyiv and Moscow reported some progress in talks last week toward a political formula that would guarantee Ukraine’s security, while keeping it outside NATO.

Reuters


8:24 a.m. ET

France mulls energy sanctions against Russia

Sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine are hurting its economy and President Vladimir Putin, France’s finance minister said on Sunday, adding that banning Russian oil and gas imports into the European Union remained an option for Paris.

“They’re hurting the Russian state and they’re hurting Vladimir Putin,” Bruno Le Maire told LCI television in an interview.

“Should we in the immediate stop buying Russian oil, should a little bit further down the line we stop importing Russian gas? The president has never ruled out these options.”

Reuters


7:51 a.m. ET

Russia announces first use of hypersonic missiles

Russia fired Kalibr cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea and hypersonic Kinzhal (Dagger) missiles from airspace of Crimea, the peninsula Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, to destroy a fuel storage facility used by the Ukrainian military, according to a Russian spokesman.

Russia also hit a Ukrainian military preparation centre where foreign fighters joining Kyiv’s forces were based.

Hypersonic missiles travel at speeds akin to ballistic missiles but are difficult to shoot down because of their manoeuvrability.

Reuters


6:43 a.m. ET

Russian assault on Mariupol continues as forces advance

Ukrainian authorities said Sunday that Russia’s military bombed an art school sheltering some 400 people in the embattled port city of Mariupol.

It was the second time in less than a week that city officials reported a public building where residents had taken shelter coming under attack. A bomb hit a Mariupol theatre with more than 1,300 believed to be inside on Wednesday.

There was no immediate word on casualties from the reported strike on the art school, which The Associated Press could not independently verify. Ukrainian officials have not given an update on the search of the theatre since Friday, when they said at least 130 had been rescued.

Mariupol, a strategic port on the Azov Sea, has been under bombardment for at least three weeks and has seen some of the worst horrors of the war in Ukraine. At least 2,300 people have died, some of whom had to be buried in mass graves, and food, water and electricity have run low.

The Associated Press