Russia-Ukraine updates: Biden to announce $800M more in military aid, per source

(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, coming within about 9 miles as of Friday.

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

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

Mar 15, 9:55 pm
Biden to announce $800M in new military assistance to Ukraine: Source

President Joe Biden is planning to announce $800 million in new military assistance to Ukraine on Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The new assistance includes anti-armor and anti-aircraft weapons, the source told ABC News.

The funding is part of a $13.6 billion aid package to Ukraine that was included in the $1.5 trillion government spending bill that Biden signed into law Tuesday.

The law designates that $3.5 billion of the Ukrainian aid package go toward weapons, but leaves the exact military equipment and weaponry up to the administration. Biden is expected to provide more details Wednesday on how the $800 million will be spent.

Mar 15, 8:00 pm
EU leaders who came to Kyiv took a ‘courageous’ step: Zelenskyy

After meeting with the prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia in Kyiv on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that the European Union leaders took a “courageous, right” step.

“They are not afraid of anything. And they are more afraid for our fate. And they are here to support us,” Zelenskyy said in a video posted to Facebook.

“We absolutely trust these friendly countries,” he later said.

The leaders — Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, as well as Polish Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski — traveled to the Ukrainian capital on a European Union mission to show support for the country.

In another video, Zelenskyy said their visit was a “strong sign of support.”

The meeting’s “top agenda” was “international assistance and reconstruction of Ukraine,” according to Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

The leaders are working together “to ensure that the funds & property of the Russian Federation will be paid to Ukraine to restore everything destroyed by [the Russian] aggressor,” he said on Twitter.

-ABC News’ Matt Foster

Mar 15, 6:23 pm
US providing another $186M in humanitarian aid for Ukraine

The U.S. will provide an additional $186 million in humanitarian assistance to support Ukrainians displaced by the war, including those in the country and refugees who have fled, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Tuesday.

The funding, which brings the total U.S. assistance since the invasion began to $293 million, will support “food, safe drinking water, protection, accessible shelter and emergency health care,” he said in a statement.

The U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development are not directly providing this assistance but are working through international and non-governmental partners.

Russian bombardment and shelling continue to damage roads, bridges and railroads in Ukraine, making it difficult for aid workers to reach people in need, according to a senior administration official, who warned the situation is “rapidly getting worse.”

-ABC News’ Conor Finnegan

Mar 15, 5:18 pm
Thousands of civilians evacuate Mariupol during pause in attacks

A pause in Russian attacks on the besieged city of Mariupol has allowed for around 20,000 people to evacuate after almost two weeks of continuous bombardment, Ukrainian authorities said.

About 4,000 private vehicles were able to get civilians out of the city on Tuesday, according to Kirilo Timoshenko, an official from Ukraine’s presidential office. Of those, around 570 have reached the safer city of Zaporizhzhia to the north.

This is in addition to the 160 private vehicles that evacuated residents during a lull on Monday.

Some 300,000 people had been estimated to be trapped in the city. Russian attacks impeded previous efforts to get civilians out and to allow for humanitarian supplies to be brought in.

The Mariupol City Council reported Sunday that 2,187 residents had been killed since the start of the invasion. Vereschuk said last week that the city was “beyond a humanitarian disaster,” with most roads destroyed, little communication with the outside and no power, gas or heat.

Mar 15, 4:47 pm
4th round of Ukraine-Russia talks to resume Wednesday

The fourth round of talks between Ukrainian and Russian leaders will resume on Wednesday, Ukraine’s presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted.

Podolyak called it a “very difficult” process with “fundamental contradictions,” but added, “there is certainly room for compromise.”

State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Tuesday declined to say whether the department was optimistic about the talks, but said the U.S. hasn’t seen any action from the Kremlin to demonstrate “good faith.”

“We have yet to find a Russian interlocutor that is either able or willing to negotiate in good faith, and certainly not in the context of de-escalation,” he said.

-ABC News’ Conor Finnegan and Christine Theodorou

Mar 15, 3:50 pm
Food shortage ‘could be hell on Earth’

David Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Programme, is sounding the alarm about a global food shortage for the world’s most vulnerable populations if the war in Ukraine doesn’t end soon.

“You’re talking about the breadbasket of the world where we buy 50% of our grain from Ukraine. And so with the farmers on the battlefront, when it’s harvest time and planting time, it’s going to wreak havoc not just inside Ukraine, but worldwide,” Beasley told ABC News.

Before the war broke out, Beasley said climate, the pandemic and supply chain issues had already increased costs by millions, reduced available food and forced the WFP to cut distribution around the world.

“In the next nine months, if we don’t end this war quickly, it could be hell on Earth,” Beasley said.

-ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, Sam Sweeney

Mar 15, 3:30 pm
Fox News cameraman killed in Ukraine

Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski has been killed in Ukraine, according to Fox News.

Zakrzewski, 55, was newsgathering with correspondent Benjamin Hall on Monday in Horenka, outside of Kyiv, when their vehicle was hit by incoming fire, the network said.

Hall was injured and hospitalized in unknown condition.

“Pierre jumped in to help out with all sorts of roles in the field – photographer, engineer, editor and producer and he did it all under immense pressure and with tremendous skill,” a statement from Fox News PR said. “He was a professional, he was a journalist, and he was a friend. We here at the Fox News Channel want to offer our deepest condolences to Pierre’s wife, Michelle, and his entire family.”

Ukrainian producer and fixer, 24-year-old Oleksandra Kuvshynova, who was working for Fox News during the war, was also killed in the shelling, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Mar 15, 1:42 pm
Refugee numbers reach 3 million

Over 3 million refugees have now fled Ukraine, according to Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Over 1.5 million of those refugees are children, according to UNICEF spokesperson James Elder.

Mar 15, 1:26 pm
Thousands of civilians evacuate Mariupol during pause in attacks

A pause in Russian attacks on the besieged city of Mariupol has allowed for about 2,000 private vehicles to evacuate civilians on Tuesday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereschuk said.

This is in addition to the 160 private vehicles that evacuated residents during a lull on Monday.

Russian attacks impeded previous efforts to get civilians out and to allow for humanitarian supplies to be brought in. The Mariupol City Council reported Sunday that 2,187 residents had been killed since the start of the invasion. Vereschuk said last week that the city was “beyond a humanitarian disaster,” with most roads destroyed, little communication with the outside and no power, gas or heat.

Mar 15, 1:14 pm
NATO leaders to meet March 24

NATO leaders will meet on March 24 to address the Russian invasion, NATO’s “strong support for Ukraine, and further strengthening NATO’s deterrence and defence,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted.

-ABC News’ Conor Finnegan

Mar 15, 1:06 pm
Russian TV anti-war protester fined and released

Anti-war protester Marina Ovsyannikova has been fined and released after crashing a Russian state news broadcast.

She told reporters she was interrogated for more than 14 hours and said she’d provide more comments on Wednesday.

-ABC News’ Patrick Reevell

Mar 15, 12:16 pm
Fox News cameraman killed in Ukraine

Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski has been killed in Ukraine, according to Fox News.

Zakrzewski, 55, was newsgathering with correspondent Benjamin Hall on Monday in Horenka, outside of Kyiv, when their vehicle was hit by incoming fire, the network said.

Hall was injured and hospitalized in unknown condition.

“Pierre jumped in to help out with all sorts of roles in the field – photographer, engineer, editor and producer and he did it all under immense pressure and with tremendous skill,” a statement from Fox News PR said. “He was a professional, he was a journalist, and he was a friend. We here at the Fox News Channel want to offer our deepest condolences to Pierre’s wife, Michelle, and his entire family.”

Mar 15, 11:34 am
US, EU, UK expand sanctions targeting Russia

The European Union Council on Tuesday imposed a fourth package of economic and individual sanctions, including restricting the export of luxury goods to Russia and banning new investments in Russia’s energy sector.

Sanctions also target “key oligarchs, lobbyist and propagandists pushing the Kremlin’s narrative on the situation in Ukraine,” the Council said in a statement.

“The aim of the sanctions is that President Putin stops this inhuman and senseless war,” Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said in a statement.

The United Kingdom is expanding sanctions targeting over 300 people including former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and oligarchs with an estimated worth of more than $94 billion.

The U.S. is also expanding sanctions, including against Russian Ministry of Defense officials.

The State Department is also implementing a new visa ban policy against Russian officials who have “cracked down on Russian citizens who have taken to the streets to protest their government’s brutal campaign in Ukraine” and “are responsible for suppressing dissent in occupied areas of Ukraine.”

In retaliation for sanctions from the U.S., Russia’s foreign ministry has announced personal sanctions against President Joe Biden and many top administration officials including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. The sanctions also target Biden’s son, Hunter, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

-ABC News’ Christine Theodorou, Tanya Stukalova, Patrick Reevell and Conor Finnegan

Mar 15, 7:51 am
Two killed in strike on Kyiv neighborhood

Two people were killed on Tuesday morning after Russian forces shelled residential areas in Kyiv, officials said.

The sound of large explosions echoed across Kyiv before dawn from what Ukrainian authorities said were artillery strikes. The shelling ignited a huge fire and a frantic rescue effort in the Svyatoshyn neighborhood.

Shockwaves from an explosion also damaged the entry to a downtown subway station that has been used as a bomb shelter. City authorities tweeted an image of the blown-out facade, saying trains would no longer stop at the station.

Mar 15, 5:51 am
Residents protest in Russian-occupied cities: UK military

Residents of Kherson, Melitopol and Berdyansk, cities occupied by Russian forces, have held “multiple” demonstrations protesting the occupation, the U.K. Defence Ministry said on Tuesday.

Protests in Kherson came as Russia may be making plans for a “referendum” to legitimize the region as a Russian-backed “breakaway republic,” similar to Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea, the Ministry said.

“Further protests were reported in the city yesterday with Russian forces reportedly firing warning shots in an attempt to disperse peaceful protesters,” the Ministry said.

Russia is likely to “make further attempts to subvert Ukrainian democracy,” the update said.

“Russia has reportedly installed its own mayor in Melitopol following the alleged abduction of his predecessor on Friday 11 March,” the update said. “Subsequently, the Mayor of Dniprorudne has also reportedly been abducted by Russian forces.”

Mar 14, 9:56 pm
Latest talks with Russia went ‘pretty good,’ will continue tomorrow, Zelenskyy says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy updated the status of negotiations with Russia in his latest address Monday, saying the latest talks went “pretty good” and will continue tomorrow.

Zelenskyy also addressed Russian troops, telling them they would be treated “decently” should they surrender.

“On behalf of the Ukrainian people, I give you a chance — chance to survive,” Zelenskyy said. “You surrender to our forces, we will treat you the way people are supposed to be treated. As people, decently.”

Zelenskyy also thanked the producer at a Russian state news channel who appeared on camera behind an anchor and held up an anti-war sign. She was later arrested.

“I am grateful to those Russians who do not stop trying to convey the truth,” he said. “To those who fight disinformation and tell the truth, real facts to their friends and loved ones. And personally to the woman who entered the studio of Channel One with a poster against the war.”

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