Russia-Ukraine updates: Zelenskyy says Russia’s ‘goal is Europe’

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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, 5:52 pm
Zelenskyy to address NATO summit remotely on Thursday

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will virtually address a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday, his office confirmed to ABC News.

“We are still working on the format,” his office said in a statement.

A NATO official also confirmed to ABC News that Zelenskyy will address the Extraordinary Summit of NATO Heads of State + Government and that they are still finalizing the details.

It is unclear if Zelenskyy will prerecord a statement or participate in the discussion.

-ABC News’ Oleksii Pshemyskyi and Aicha El Hammar Castano

Mar 22, 5:00 pm
Putin may be seeking ‘vengeance’ on Mariupol: State Department

The besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol seems to be facing particular brutalization by Russian forces, including “some of the most egregious accounts of what could constitute war crimes,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Tuesday.

The southeastern coastal city’s strategic location could be a factor, Price told reporters during a briefing. There may also be a “particular vengeance against this population,” he added, with Putin “having been under the impression — whether he was misinformed or just unwitting of reality — that his forces would not be greeted as anything other than the aggressors that they are.”

“Every day when it comes to potential atrocities, we are seeing, we are all witnessing additional evidence that the Russians are in fact committing atrocities, committing acts that may go above that threshold to include potential war crimes,” Price said.

Price said the U.S. still hasn’t confirmed Russia’s claims that it has evacuated thousands of Ukrainian civilians from the city to Russian territory.

-ABC News’ Conor Finnegan

Mar 22, 4:40 pm
Russia claims more than 360,000 people evacuated from Ukraine to Russia

Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed Tuesday that it has evacuated 366,182 people from Ukraine to Russia since the invasion began.

Russia said 19,442 people, including 3,448 children, were evacuated from the Luhansk and Donetsk regions to Russia on Monday, without the participation of Ukrainian authorities, Mikhail Mizintsev, the head of Russia’s National Defense Control Center, claimed in a press briefing.

Mizintsev claimed more than 68,000 residents were also evacuated from Mariupol without the Ukrainian authorities’ involvement.

He claimed these people “are now completely safe under the Russian Federation’s protection, and all those in need are receiving necessary aid.”

Russia claimed it opened humanitarian corridors from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Kharkiv on Tuesday.

Mar 22, 3:55 pm
No signs China has given Russia military aid: US official

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said there are no signs that China has given any military assistance to Russia to help with the war in Ukraine.

President Joe Biden held a video call with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday and Sullivan met with his counterpart in Rome on Monday over U.S. concerns that Beijing would aid Moscow.

Over a week ago, the U.S. confirmed that Russia asked China for military support and other aid since the invasion began.

“What I can tell you is we have not seen … the provision of military equipment by China to Russia,” Sullivan said. “The president made clear to President Xi the implications and consequences of any such provision of equipment, and they very well understand one another.”

When pressed on whether NATO allies would “put specific concrete steps in place” if China does provide assistance, Sullivan said Biden would be consulting with NATO and the EU.

“On April 1, the European Union is having a summit with China. And so this will be an opportunity, Thursday, for the United States and our European partners, to coordinate closely on what our message is. We believe we’re very much on the same page with our European partners, and we will be speaking with one voice on this issue,” Sullivan said.

-ABC News’ Elizabeth Schulze

Mar 22, 3:44 pm
Biden, allies to roll out new coordinated plans on Thursday

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said President Joe Biden and NATO allies will roll out new coordinated plans on Thursday in response to Russia’s continued invasion.

Sullivan said Biden is traveling to Europe “to ensure we stay united” with our allies and to send a message that they are committed to help Ukraine “for as long as it takes.”

“There will be hard days ahead in Ukraine. Hardest for the Ukrainian troops on the front lines and the civilians under Russian bombardment. This war will not end easily or rapidly,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said NATO allies will announce new sanctions, tighten existing ones, adjust troops on the Eastern Flank and outline plans to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian energy.

Sullivan did not disclose any specific details about the sanctions but hinted that new ones will focus on a joint effort to crack down on countries helping Russia “undermine, weaken or get around the sanctions,” calling it an “important part” of this next phase.

“We have applied an enormous amount of economic pressure, and in order to sustain and escalate that pressure over time, part of that is about new designations, new targets, but a big part of it is about effective enforcement and evasion, applying the lessons that we’ve learned from other circumstances where we have, in fact, imposed sanctions on countries,” Sullivan said.

In Poland, Sullivan said Biden will “engage” with U.S. troops, hold a bilateral meeting with President Duda and meet with experts involved in the humanitarian response.

-ABC News’ Justin Gomez

Mar 22, 3:14 pm
Zelenskyy addresses Italian lawmakers, saying Russia’s ‘goal is Europe’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed Italy’s Parliament on Tuesday, warning that “Ukraine is the gateway to Europe for Russian troops.”

He called for more sanctions so Russia “is looking not for military reserves or mercenaries somewhere in Libya or Syria, but for peace.”

“This is a war that Russia has been preparing for a long time. Which one person has been preparing for a long time. One! For decades,” Zelenskyy said. “Their goal is Europe.”

Zelenskyy compared the Russian invasion to the Nazis, saying, “The last one who did something like this in Europe were the Nazis, when they invaded other countries.”

-ABC News’ Christine Theodorou

Mar 22, 3:07 pm
Russia’s combat capability likely below 90%: US official

For the first time since the invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s combat capability has likely fallen below 90%, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters. The official said there are no tangible indications of reinforcements being brought in from elsewhere in the country.

“[This is] combat power that they assembled in Belarus and in the western part of their country prior to the invasion. It is not an assessment of all Russian military power,” the official said.

The official said there are “indications” that Ukrainian resistance is trying to retake some territory seized by Russian troops, such as the town of Izyum.

“What we’re starting to see are indications that they are now able and willing to take back territory that the Russians have taken,” said the official. “Whether this is a part of some sort of larger operational plan, we can’t say for sure.”

In Mykolaiv, northeast of Odessa, the Russians have been forced to reposition themselves to the area south of the city because Ukrainian resistance was so strong north of the city, the official said.

The logistical and resupply issues continue to plague Russian troops with the official noting that Russia now has concerns about fueling its ships in the Black Sea. Frostbite has also become an issue for Russian troops who continue to be inadequately supplied.

Ukrainian forces have mounted a strong resistance inside of Mariupol against the “significant number” of Russian forces that have made their way into the city, according to the official.

“The Ukrainians are fighting very, very hard to keep Mariupol from falling,” said the official.

Russia has fired more than 1,100 missiles in Ukraine, according to the official.

-ABC News’ Luis Martinez

Mar 22, 2:21 pm
Russian Defense Ministry claims forces are making advances

Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed its forces pursued the retreating Ukrainian units of the 54th separate mechanized brigade, and advanced 4 kilometers on Tuesday, approaching the settlement of Novomikhailovka.

Russian-backed Donetsk troops took control of the settlement of Verkhnetoretskoe and continues to attack units of the 25th Airborne Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry.

Russia claims two tanks, five infantry fighting vehicles, three field artillery pieces and seven off-road vehicles were destroyed.

Russia also claimed it fired air and sea-based high-precision long-range weapons at Ukrainian military facilities. It claimed it destroyed depots of fuel, lubricants, rocket and artillery weapons and ammunition.

The country’s defense ministry said its operational-tactical and army aviation hit 83 military facilities of Ukraine. Among them: four command posts, four anti-aircraft missile systems, three depots of rocket and artillery weapons and ammunition, as well as 68 places of military equipment accumulation.

Russia claimed air defense systems shot down 6 Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles in the air, including one Bayraktar TB-2 near the village of Merefa, Kharkiv region.

In total, since the beginning of the attack, 236 unmanned aerial vehicles, 185 anti-aircraft missile systems, 1,547 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 154 multiple rocket launchers, 612 field artillery guns and mortars, as well as 1,343 units of special military vehicles have been destroyed, Russia claims.

Mar 22, 1:11 pm
Hungarian president-elect visits town on border with Ukraine

Hungarian President-elect Katalin Novak visited the small town of Beregsurany on Tuesday. The town is a mile from the border with Ukraine.

Beregsurany, which has a population of about 600 people, has seen an influx in refugees fleeing Ukraine. Some days as many as 3,000 people pass through it.

The town has responded by setting up a local welcome center to facilitate registration, offering temporary beds until more permanent homes become available and providing counseling and care.

Novak is a member of Hungary’s far right, populist political party and closely works with Prime Minister Viktor Orban, known for his hardline stance on immigration and strict asylum policies.

Novak met with reporters after handing out pancakes to some of the refugees, a tradition started by a group of local women who make hundreds of pancakes daily for everyone coming over the border.

Novak said Hungarians are a welcoming people and want to help those who are fleeing violence and forced to leave their homes.

When pushed on why the politics are different for these refugees, compared to refugees from other countries like Syria, she said Hungary will always welcome people fleeing violence, but the country’s stance on mass migration remains the same.

She did not explain why certain people are considered “mass migration” and others are “seeking asylum.”

-ABC News’ Maggie Rulli

Mar 22, 12:50 pm
International Chess Federation imposes 6-month ban on Russian grandmaster Sergey Karjakin

Russian chess grandmaster Sergey Karjakin was found guilty of breaching an article in the FIDE Code of Ethics relating to public statements he has made in support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Three days after the invasion, Karjakin published an open letter on his verified Instagram account expressing his support for the Russian regime.

“I express to you, our Commander-in-Chief, my full support in protecting the interests of Russia, our multinational Russian people, eliminating threats and establishing peace! I wish you a speedy fulfillment of all tasks assigned to our valiant army,” he said in the post.

Karjakin has 21 days to appeal the decision.

-ABC News’ Christine Theodorou

Mar 22, 12:42 pm
Save the Children calls for immediate halt on intercountry adoptions

Save the Children is calling for an immediate ban on intercountry adoptions of children uprooted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to protect them from human traffickers or child abusers.

The international children’s charity warned in a statement Tuesday that “during mass movement of refugees, well-meaning people may attempt to ‘rescue’ children from the crisis-affected area in the mistaken belief that they will be better cared for in other environments.” But Save the Children stressed that “the best place for children is with their families and communities, and adoption is not an appropriate response for unaccompanied children until authorities and agencies have made all efforts to trace and reunite them with their families.”

The organization also warned that “not everybody attempting to foster or adopt children from Ukraine does so with the best intentions.”

Save the Children is calling on states to support a moratorium on all adoptions “until appropriate safeguards are in place” for the unaccompanied children who have fled Ukraine as well as those who have been uprooted within the country. Ukraine has suspended its intercountry adoption program until further notice in the wake of the ongoing war. But Save the Children noted that “it is important for receiving countries to also suspend intercountry adoption proceedings to ensure the appropriate international standards and safeguards.”

Save the Children staff in Romania have reported seeing some kids arriving from Ukraine unaccompanied, while others have been separated from their families in the chaos of fleeing their homes. The organization said many are under 14 and showing signs of psychological distress.

“There is so much upheaval in a child’s life during this time that the best place for them is with their families, relatives, and communities, rather than being removed to a foreign country and language. The most protective environment for a child is the safety and stability of their own family,” Amanda Brydon, global head of child protection advocacy for Save the Children, said in a statement. “At this stage of this crisis, an immediate moratorium on intercountry adoptions is critical to ensure that children are safe and that where possible and in their best interests, they are reunited with their caregivers or verified family members. Sending funds to trusted humanitarian agencies for their response to this crisis is one of the best ways to be able to support such children currently.”

Mar 22, 12:10 pm
US, St. Jude airlift 4 Ukrainian children with cancer

The U.S. Department of State announced Tuesday that it has coordinated with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital “to provide necessary life-saving and immediate care to four Ukrainian children whose ongoing cancer treatment was disrupted” by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The State Department helped airlift these pediatric cancer patients and some of their immediate family members from Poland to the international airport in Memphis, Tennessee, where they were subsequently transported to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“There, the patients will be able to safely resume critical cancer therapy disrupted by the Kremlin’s aggression,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. “They will receive the specialized care they desperately need, and their family members will be afforded sustenance, security, and support from St. Jude.”

Over 3.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russian forces invaded on Feb. 24, and more than half went to neighboring Poland, according to the latest figures from the United Nations refugee agency.

“Children are among the most vulnerable in a crisis, and these pediatric oncology patients need urgent and highly specialized medical care. We are proud to stand with European partners who are also treating children whose life-saving care in Ukraine has been made impossible by Putin’s war,” Price added. “We recognize, however, that the children transported represent a small proportion of the thousands of patients whose cancer treatment has been interrupted and, who, even amid a pandemic and with compromised immune systems, were forced to flee their homes. That is why, together with our allies and partners, we will continue to support our Ukrainian partners as we seek to save lives and bring this needless war to a close.”

-ABC News’ Conor Finnegan

Mar 22, 10:57 am
Nobel winner to auction medal to benefit refugees

Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov announced Tuesday that he and independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta have decided to auction off their 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Medal and donate the proceeds to the Ukrainian Refugee Fund.

“There are already over 10 million of refugees,” Muratov wrote on the Novaya Gazeta website, “I ask the auction houses to respond and put up for auction this world-famous award.”

Muratov is the editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta and won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize with journalist Maria Ressa.

Mar 22, 10:00 am
Russian troops fire gas at peaceful protesters in Kherson

Russian troops fired gas into a crowd of peaceful protesters in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson on Tuesday.

Video from the scene, taken by journalists, shows projectiles landing in a square in central Kherson where residents had gathered to protest Russia’s occupation of the city. Loud bangs can be heard and the crowd suddenly disperses as people attempt to flee the smoke and gas emitting from the canisters around them. People are seen coughing and covering their faces as they run away.

-ABC News’ Julia Drozd and Fergal Gallagher

Mar 22, 7:58 am
Several loud explosions heard in Kyiv amid curfew

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, which marks the first full day of a 35-hour curfew, set to expire Wednesday morning.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said Tuesday that Ukrainian troops expelled Russian forces from Makariv, a suburb of Kyiv, after a fierce battle. However, Russian forces pushing toward Kyiv were able to take partial control of other northwestern suburbs, Bucha, Hostomel and Irpin, according to the defense ministry.

Mar 22, 7:57 am
Pope Francis calls Zelenskyy, gets invited to Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he received a telephone call from Pope Francis on Tuesday.

Zelenskyy made the comment at the start of his 11-minute impassioned speech to Italy’s parliament via video link, after which he received a standing ovation.

Ukraine’s ambassador to the Holy See, Andryi Yurash, later took to Twitter to confirm the call, saying Zelenskyy had a “very promising” conversation with the pontiff and invited him to visit Ukraine.

The Holy See Press Office has not yet released a statement on the call.

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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