Russia invades Ukraine news: Russian soldiers could be encircled as counter attacks disrupt Putin’s offensive, says UK

Putin spokesman refuses to rule out use of nuclear weapons

Russian troops bogged down and unable to make advances on the outskirts of Kyiv are facing “successful counter attacks” by Ukrainian forces and may even become encircled in the coming days, a British military intelligence update claims.

The Ministry of Defence said in an assessment published on Wednesday evening that Kyiv was “increasing pressure on Russian forces” north-east of the capital, and that Vladimir Putin’s battalions were now “facing considerable supply and morale issues”.

The intelligence note said: “Ukrainian forces are carrying out successful counter attacks against Russian positions in towns on the outskirts of the capital, and have probably retaken Makariv and Moschun.

“There is a realistic possibility that Ukrainian forces are now able to encircle Russian units in Bucha and Irpin.

“It is likely that successful counter attacks by Ukraine will disrupt the ability of Russian forces to reorganise and resume their own offensive towards Kyiv.”

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Zelensky seeks Nato’s ‘unrestricted’ support, including weapons

Volodymyr Zelensky has sought Nato’s “effective and unrestricted” support to Ukraine, including any weapons it needs to fight the Russian invasion.

“We ask that the alliance declare that it will fully assist Ukraine to win this war, clear our territory of the invaders and restore peace in Ukraine,” the Ukrainian president said in a video released late on Wednesday.

His remarks come on the eve of a Nato summit slated to be held later today, where he will be addressing the leaders virtually.

Mr Zelensky has also asked western powers to stay united amid what he called Russia’s efforts to “lobby its interests” with “some partners” to bring them over to its side.

“We will see who is a friend, who is a partner and who has sold out and betrayed us. Together we should not allow Russia to break anyone in Nato, the EU or G7, to break them and drag them to the side of war,” he said.

Arpan Rai24 March 2022 04:08

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Russian troops pushed back to the east of Kyiv, says US official

Russian forces that had advanced towards Kyiv in the last few days have been pushed back on the frontlines east of the capital, a US official said.

The troops sent in by Moscow are now about 55km (about 34 miles) away from Kyiv to the east, compared to their position recorded yesterday between 25-35km from the capital.

“To the northwest of Kyiv’s city centre, Russian forces are digging in, and they are establishing defensive positions,” the US official said, reported CNN.

Russian forces have struggled to advance along this line and remain 15-20km (9-12 miles) away from Kyiv’s city centre to the northwest, the official said.

Arpan Rai24 March 2022 03:42

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US readies contingency plan if Russia uses deadliest weapons – report

The White House has put together a team of national security officials for charting out the US and its allies’ response if Russia uses the deadliest weapons it has — chemical, biological and nuclear — against Ukraine.

Known as the Tiger Team, the battery of national security officials are also preparing the US’s response if Russia attacks convoys in Nato territory carrying weapons and aid to Ukraine, reported The New York Times, citing the officials present in the process.

All the contingencies being assessed by the team will be key to an upcoming Nato meeting today where leaders of all members states of the alliance will be present.

Arpan Rai24 March 2022 03:12

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Russia has lost 7,000 to 15,000 troops in Ukraine, says Nato

Between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in four weeks of war in Ukraine, Nato said in fresh estimates released on Wednesday.

Russia started its invasion exactly a month ago on Wednesday and may have already lost as many soldiers as it did in the entire 10 years of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Nato estimate suggests.

The Nato estimate was based on information received from Ukrainian authorities, as well as whatever information Russia has shared — purposefully or not — and from intelligence inputs collected from open sources, an official from the alliance said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Casualties on Ukraine’s end also remain unclear as the Zelensky administration has released little information about its own military losses.

No confirmed figure has been shared by the US and its allies monitoring the war.

Nearly two weeks ago, Mr Zelensky had said that about 1,300 Ukrainian servicemen had been killed in the war.

Arpan Rai24 March 2022 02:41

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Prominent theatre director taken hostage by Russia – officials

One of Ukraine’s best-known theatre directors Oleksandr Kniga has been taken hostage “in a fascist manner” by Russian troops early on Wednesday, the country’s culture minister Oleksandr Tkachenko said.

Mr Kniga has been taken to an unknown location, the culture minister said on Facebook.

According to witnesses, nine Russian military vehicles pulled up to the director’s home and led him out.

They warned neighbours that if they stepped out of their homes they would be killed, the witnesses said. “The whole world should know about this!” Mr Tkachenko said.

The 62-year-old theatre director founded the international theatre festival Melpomene of Tavria.

He had also protested against the presence of Russian troops in Kherson.

Arpan Rai24 March 2022 02:19

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Up to 40,000 Russian casualties in Ukraine, senior Nato official estimates

ICYMI: Earlier today, an unnamed Nato military officer estimated that Russia may have suffered as many as 40,000 casualties.

See here for more details about how this total was calculated:

Graeme Massie24 March 2022 01:58

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US arms to be flown to Ukraine

ICYMI: The first shipment from a new, $800 million arms package for Ukraine that US President Joe Biden authorised last week will start flying out of the United States in the next day or so, and will not take long to reach Ukraine, a senior defence official said.

The official did not specify which systems would be included in the first shipments but said priority would be given to the kinds of defensive weapons already being used by Ukrainian troops.

“We are already aggregating stocks in the United States and we’re getting ready to ship them over there,” the official said.

Graeme Massie24 March 2022 01:28

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Stark Ukraine drone footage shows scale of devastation in Mariupol as Russians shell residential areas

ICYMI: New drone footage and satellite imagery shows the large-scale devastation of the southern port city of Mariupol.

After more than three weeks of constant Russian bombardment, it resembles “hell on earth”, according to some residents who were able to escape.

My colleague Tom Batchelor has this report:

Graeme Massie24 March 2022 01:06

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Russian journalist killed in Kyiv shelling

A Russian journalist working for an independent news outlet was killed in shelling in Kyiv.

Oksana Baulina died in Russian rocket fire as she reported for The Insider in the capital’s Podilskyi District. A civilian was also killed in the incident, which saw two people with her wounded and hospitalised.

“The Insider expresses its deepest condolences to Oksana’s family and friends,” the outlet said in a statement.

“We will continue to cover the war in Ukraine, including such Russian war crimes as indiscriminate shelling of residential areas where civilians and journalists are killed.”

Oksana Baulina, the chief of video operations at the foundation run by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, speaks after a live broadcast at the office of the Foundation for Fighting Corruption in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 16, 2017. The independent Russian news outlet The Insider said that Oksana Baulina was killed Wednesday, March 23, 2022 when she was documenting the damage of a Russian shelling of the Podil district of the capital and came under a new strike.

(AP)

Graeme Massie24 March 2022 00:46

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‘Shelves need to be filled’: The Ukrainians who are keeping the economy running

A delivery firm CEO, food production boss and wine store marketing director tell The Independent’s Bevan Hurley how they have transformed their businesses to aid the war effort.

The Ukrainians keeping the economy running

A delivery firm CEO, food production boss and wine store marketing director tell The Independent’s Bevan Hurley how they have transformed their businesses to aid the war effort

Graeme Massie24 March 2022 00:32

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