Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiysays the time has come for peace talks, warning that it will otherwise take generations for Russia to recover from losses suffered during the war. He released a video address saying Ukraine wanted meaningful and honest negotiations with Moscow on peace and security without delay, Reuters reported. “The time has come for a meeting – it is time to talk.” Zelenskiy said Russian forces were deliberately blocking humanitarian supplies to cities under attack.
Ukraine’s position is unchanged in talks with Russia, Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said. Earlier today, a member of Russia’s negotiating team said Moscow and Kyiv were most aligned on Ukraine’s neutrality and giving up on joining Nato. Podolyak accused Russian statements of attempting “to provoke tension in the media”.
Russia says it has used a hypersonic weapon for the first time, to destroy an underground military depot in western Ukraine. Hypersonic missiles are fast weapons that can evade detection by missile defence systems. The defence ministry said it had destroyed a large underground depot for missiles and aircraft ammunition in the Ivano-Frankivsk region.
Ukraine’s interior minster told Associated Press it would take years to find and defuse all of the unexploded ordnance from the country. Denys Monastyrsky said: “A huge number of shells and mines have been fired at Ukraine and a large part haven’t exploded. They remain under the rubble and pose a real threat. It will take years, not months, to defuse them.”
Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, praised Fox News for its coverage of the war in Ukraine during an in-studio interview with the Russian state-controlled RT network. “We know the manners and the tricks that are being used by the western countries to manipulate media … If you take the United States, only Fox News is trying to present some alternative point of view,” he said.
Fighting has reached the centre of the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, where 350,000 civilians have been stranded with little food or water. The Russian defence ministry said its forces were “tightening the noose” around the city, and that “fighting against nationalists” was taking place in the city centre. Mariupol’s mayor, Vadym Boichenko, said fighting was “very active”. Hundreds of people remain buried under the rubble of a theatre that was hit by a Russian airstrike on Wednesday, Zelenskiy said. In a video address, he said more than 130 people had been rescued so far.
The Kyiv city administration said on Saturday that 222 people had been killed in Kyiv since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, including 60 civilians and four children. It said in a statement that a further 889 people had been wounded, including 241 civilians and 18 children, in the capital. The Guardian has not been able to verify these figures.
The US president, Joe Biden, described to China’s president, Xi Jinping, in a phone call today “implications and consequences” if Beijing provides material support to Russia as it attacks Ukrainian cities and civilians, the White House said. “The Ukraine crisis is something that we don’t want to see,” Xi was quoted by Chinese media as saying to Biden.
The European Union is considering creating a solidarity fund for Ukraine. The plan was announced on Friday and is meant to be used for people’s basic necessities. An EU official told Reuters the creation of the fund would be discussed at a summit of EU leaders next week.
Russian forces are “holding captive” a Ukrainian journalist, Victoria Roshchyna, according to the Ukrainian media outlet Hromadske. In a statement, Hromadske said it believed Roshchyna was detained by the Russian FSB around 15 March.
Six and a half million people are currently displaced within Ukraine, the UN said on Saturday, nearly twice as many as have managed to flee the country. The new figure, which dwarfs the 3.3 million refugees who have entered mainly EU territory, is a big jump on the UN’s last estimate of 1.85 million.
Vladimir Putin praised Russian “unity” over what the Kremlin is calling its special operation in Ukraine during a rare public speech at the national stadium in Moscow. As Putin was finishing his speech, the broadcast was suddenly cut off and state television showed patriotic songs. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov blamed a “technical failure”.
A World Food Programme (WFP) official said on Friday that food supply chains in Ukraine were collapsing, with a portion of infrastructure destroyed and many grocery stores and warehouses now empty. Jakob Kern, WFP emergency coordinator for the Ukraine crisis, also expressed concern about the situation in “encircled cities” such as Mariupol.
Pope Francis has denounced the “perverse abuse of power” on display in Russia’s war in Ukraine and called for aid to Ukrainians, whom he said had been attacked in their “identity, history and tradition” and were “defending their land”. Francis’ comments were some of his strongest yet