Russia-Ukraine live updates: Moscow responds to Biden on biological, chemical weapons

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(NEW YORK) — Russian forces are continuing their attempted push through Ukraine from multiple directions, while Ukrainians, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, are putting up “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.

The attack began Feb. 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation.”

Russian forces moving from neighboring Belarus toward Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, have advanced closer to the city center in recent days despite the resistance. Heavy shelling and missile attacks, many on civilian buildings, continue in Kyiv, as well as major cities like Kharkiv and Mariupol. Russia also bombed western cities for the first time this week, targeting Lviv and a military base near the Poland border.

Russia has been met by sanctions from the United States, Canada and countries throughout Europe, targeting the Russian economy as well as Putin himself.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Mar 22, 7:44 am
Several loud explosions heard in Kyiv

ABC News’ team in Kyiv reported hearing several loud explosions just before 1 p.m. local time.

The Ukrainian capital was reported to be relatively quiet earlier Tuesday.

Mar 22, 7:22 am
Several fires reported in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Several fires have erupted within the area around Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant, according to a press release from the Ukrainian parliament, which cited satellite images from the European Space Agency.

The Ukrainian parliament said the fires in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, a 1,000-square-mile restricted area of deserted land surrounding the shuttered plant, were likely caused by “shelling or arson” at the hands of Russian forces, which seized the site last month.

Mar 22, 7:06 am
Over 3.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine: UNHCR

More than 3.5 million people have been forced to flee Ukraine since Russian forces invaded on Feb. 24, according to the latest figures from the United Nations refugee agency.

The tally from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) amounts to just over 8% of Ukraine’s population — which the World Bank counted at 44 million at the end of 2020 — on the move across borders in 27 days.

More than half of the refugees are in neighboring Poland, UNHCR figures show.

Mar 22, 6:50 am
At least 925 civilians, including 75 children, killed in Ukraine: OHCHR

At least 925 civilians, including 75 children, have been killed in Ukraine since Russian forces invaded on Feb. 24, according to the latest figures from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Meanwhile, at least 1,496 civilians, including 99 children, have been injured, OHCHR figures show.

The tallies are civilian casualties that occurred in Ukraine from Feb. 24 to March 20 and have been verified by OHCHR, though the agency cautioned that the true numbers are believed to be “considerably higher.”

“Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes,” OHCHR said in a statement late Monday. “OHCHR believes that the actual figures are considerably higher, especially in Government-controlled territory and especially in recent days, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration.”

Mar 22, 6:43 am
Russia claims to have captured nine more localities in Ukraine

Russia claimed Tuesday that its troops have captured nine more localities in Ukraine.

According to a statement from the Russian Ministry of Defense, units of the Russian Armed Forces have advanced another 6 kilometers (about 3.7 miles) and have taken control of the southeastern village of Urozhaine in the Donetsk oblast, some 65 miles north of the besieged port of Mariupol where many civilians remain trapped under Russia bombardment.

Meanwhile, the defense ministry said Russia-backed separatist forces of southeastern Ukraine’s disputed Donbas region have also advanced and captured eight more areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

Mar 22, 6:28 am
Russia responds to Biden on biological, chemical weapons, claiming it has neither

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov on Tuesday denied allegations that Russia might be planning to use biological or chemical weapons in Ukraine.

“We have neither of these,” Ryabkov told reporters in Moscow. “What the Americans are saying are malicious insinuations — we’ve heard them all the time and we’ve given exhaustive answers to them for a long time. The problem is, the U.S. has no habit of listening to anyone but itself.”

Ryabkov’s comments came after U.S. President Joe Biden accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of falsely claiming that the United States and Ukraine are developing biological or chemical weapons for use against Russia — rhetoric that Biden said shows Putin is considering using those types of deadly weapons in Ukraine.

“He’s already used chemical weapons in the past, and we should be careful of what’s about to come,” Biden said Monday during remarks at the Business Roundtable’s CEO Quarterly Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Mar 22, 4:25 am
Russia-US relations ‘on the brink of a breakup,’ diplomat warns

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov warned Tuesday that the United States should stop supplying Ukraine with weapons and making threats to Moscow in order to “preserve relations” with Russia.

“They simply need to stop in their escalation, both verbal escalation and in terms of stuffing the Kyiv region with weapons. They need to stop producing threats to Russia,” Ryabkov said while answering questions from reporters in Moscow. “Meanwhile, if they do manage to somehow positively influence Kyiv, something that I not just doubt, but I am confident that it will not happen, unfortunately, then I think there will be a certain prospect for normalizing relations.”

“For now, we see a downward tendency in relations with our country through the fault of the U.S.,” he added. “We regret it, but it does not impact our determination to move toward accomplishing the goals of the special military operation and to adapt to the circumstances related to the American sanctions and the sanctions imposed by European satellites of the U.S. at its behest.”

When asked whether Moscow plans to recall its ambassador, Ryabkov told reporters that the future of Russia-U.S. relations depends on Washington.

“A note of protest was passed to the American ambassador yesterday. It said that the current developments put these relations on the brink of a breakup,” he said. “There is nothing here beyond what was said there: that the question is about a policy that the U.S. will choose.”

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