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Live blog: Deadly strikes hit east Ukraine city, Zelenskyy visits frontline

Monday March 27, 2023

1910 GMT Russian missiles pound east Ukraine city, killing two, wounding dozens

Russian missiles punched through buildings in the eastern Ukrainian town of Sloviansk, killing two people in their cars and wounding more than 30, police said. 

A blood-stained cap lay at the side of the street, next to a parked car whose front seat was covered with blood and shattered glass.

Dmytro Nogin, a senior officer from Kramatorsk district police, told journalists that “at around 10:30 there was a missile attack on the city”.

“Two people have already died,” he said.

“It was people driving by, chance victims.”

Police said 32 were wounded, five very seriously, after two Russian-made S-300 missiles hit the street close to the centre. 

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1743 GMT — Zelenskyy, atomic agency chief discuss nuclear plant fears

The UN’s atomic energy chief warned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a meeting on Monday that the perilous situation at Europe’s largest nuclear plant “isn’t getting any better” as relentless fighting in the area keeps the facility at risk of a disaster.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant’s six reactors are in shutdown and it is receiving the electricity it needs to prevent a reactor meltdown through just one remaining power line. It has on occasion had to switch to emergency diesel generators to power its essential cooling systems.

In a meeting with Zelenskyy in southern Ukraine covered exclusively by The Associated Press, International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi said the situation at the plant remains tense becau se of the heavy military presence around it and a blackout that recently struck the facility, something that has occurred repeatedly since Russian forces took it over last year.

1605 GMT —
Ukraine counts heavy cost of Russian attacks on hydropower plants

Ukraine is trying to give hydropower facilities “maximum protection” by hiding equipment underground as it repairs an estimated $1 billion in damage from Russian air strikes, a senior industry official said.

Russia has targeted energy infrastructure since October in waves of attacks that have at times left millions of people without power.

Ihor Syrota, head of state-run hydropower generating company Ukrhydroenergo, said four of Ukraine’s nine hydropower plants had been damaged in Russian attacks that mainly targeted electrical equipment and machine rooms at plants on the Dnipro and Dniester rivers.

1602 GMT — EU Council chief vows support, ammunition for Ukraine

European Council President Charles Michel pledged to continue supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression “for as long as necessary,” adding that EU leaders will “massively ramp up” ammunition production to send to the war-torn country.

Michel met with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at Cotroceni Palace in Bucharest, where the two leaders discussed EU support for Ukraine, security issues in neighbouring Moldova, and Romania’s bid to join Europe’s ID check-free travel zone, also known as t he Schengen area.

“We are again stepping up our military support,” Michel told a news conference. “Last week, we agreed to urgently deliver one million rounds of ammunition to Ukraine. We will massively ramp up our production capacity.”

1427 GMT — German Leopard 2 tanks have reached Ukraine -security source

The 18 Leopard 2 battle tanks pledged by Germany to support Ukraine in its war against Russia have arrived in Ukraine, a security source said on Monday, confirming a report by Spiegel news magazine.

Besides the 18 main battle tanks, 40 German Marder infantry fighting vehicles, and two armoured recovery vehicles had also reached Ukraine, the security source said.

The German army trained the Ukrainian tank crews as well as the troops assigned to operate the Marder vehicles for several weeks on training grounds in Muenster and Bergen in northern Germany.

1135 GMT — Defending Bakhmut is a ‘military necessity’ – Ukrainian general

Ukraine’s ground forces commander has said his troops were continuing to repel heavy Russian attacks on the eastern city of Bakhmut and that defending it was a “military necessity.” 

Ukraine’s military said Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi had acted during a visit to the eastern front line to solve “problematic issues that prevent effective execution of combat tasks” and taken “operational decisions aimed at strengthening our capabilities to deter and inflict damage on the enemy.” 

It gave no details, and did not say when the visit took place, but Syrskyi’s comments signalled Ukraine’s intention to keep fighting in Bakhmut despite the heavy death toll there.

“The most intense phase of the battle for Bakhmut continues. The situation is constantly difficult. The enemy suffers significant losses in human resources, weapons and military equipment but continues to conduct offensive actions,” he said.

0911 GMT — Police chief survives assassination in Mariupol: Russian media

A police chief in the Russian-controlled Ukrainian port city of Mariupol survived an assassination attempt when his car was blown up, Russian state media has reported. 

Moscow-backed authorities in occupied Ukraine territories have periodically reported saboteur attacks they blame on Kiev. 

Citing an east Ukrainian separatist source, the TASS news agency reported that police chief Mikhail Moskvin’s car was blown up but that he was alive. 

0823 GMT — Zelenskyy, actor Orlando Bloom discuss support for children 

Assistance for Ukrainian children was on the agenda in a meeting between Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and British actor Orlando Bloom. 

“As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Orlando Bloom will support humanitarian aid and infrastructure reconstruction projects aimed at ensuring the interests of Ukrainia n children,” said a statement by the president’s office. 

The statement added that Bloom’s priorities also included the development of family care systems for children deprived of parental care, of infrastructure for early childhood development and the creation of youth projects and startups.

0807 GMT — Poland detains man for spying for Russia: prosecutors 

Poland has detained a foreign citizen on charges of spying for Russia, prosecutors said, as the largest country on NATO’s eastern flank finds itself increasingly targeted by Moscow’s intelligence services. 

The war in Ukraine has plunged what were already strained relations between Poland and Russia to new lows, with Warsaw saying it is frequently the subject of Russian espionage and disinformation. 

Prosecutors in the northern Polish city of Gdansk said in a statement that the suspect had been detained on March 21. 

0722 GMT — Russia may demand compensation over Nord Stream pipeline explosions: diplomat 

Moscow may seek compensation over damage from last year’s explosions on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, news agency RIA Novosti has reported, citing a Russian diplomat, who also said that the future of the projects was unknown. 

The pipelines, which connect Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea, were hit by unexplained blasts last September in what Moscow called an act of international terrorism. 

“We do not rule out the later raising of the issue of compensation for damage as a result of the explosion of the Nord Stream gas pipelines,” Dmitry Birichevsky, the head of Russia’s Foreign Ministry department for economic cooperation, said in an interview with the news agency. 

0658 GMT — NATO countries a party to Ukraine conflict: Russian security official 

The secretary of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, has said that NATO countries are a party to the conflict in Ukraine, according to excerpts from an interview with the Russian government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta

Rossiyskaya Gazeta cited Patrushev as saying: “In fact, NATO countries are a party to the conflict. They made Ukraine one big military camp. They send weapons and ammunition to the Ukrainian troops, provide them with intelligence”. 

Patrushev, a former chief of the FSB internal security service, is widely seen as one of the most hawkish members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

0327 GMT — Russia to complete infrastructure for super torpedo carriers in 2024

Russia plans to complete in early 2024 the construction of its coastal infrastructure in the Pacific Ocean for basing nuclear submarines that will carry the Poseidon nuclear-capable super torpedoes, the TASS news agency has reported. 

Russia said in January that it had produced the first set of the Poseidon torpedoes, four years after President Vladimir Putin announced the fundamentally new type of strategic nuclear weapon, confirming it would have its own nuclear power supply. 

There are few confirmed details about Poseidon in the public domain, but it is essentially a cross between a torpedo and a drone which can be launched from a nuclear submarine. 

0038 GMT — UN nuclear watchdog head may visit Russia soon: report

The UN nuclear watchdog head will not travel to Russia this week, but a visit is possible in the near future, Russian news agency RIA has reported, citing Moscow’s permanent representative to international organisations in Vienna. 

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi announced on Saturday that he would visit the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine this week to assess the serious situation there. 

When asked if Russia planned to invite Grossi to Moscow in the near future, permanent representative Mikhail Ulyanov said that was “quite realistic,” according to RIA.

0119 GMT — Ukrainian troops complete training in UK for Challenger 2 tanks

Ukrainian crews have completed training in the UK on Britain’s Challenger 2 main battle tanks and returned home, the Ministry of Defence said.

Training of Ukrainian tank crews was underway since the UK announced in January that it would send 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, the ministry said in a statement.

“UK military trainers spent several weeks training Ukrainian personnel how to operate and fight with the tanks. Instruction included how to command, drive and work together as a Challenger 2 tank crew and effectively identify and engage targets,” it added.

0005 GMT — Ukraine’s State Emergency Service receives over 100 drones

The State Emergency Service of Ukraine has received 109 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from a charity foundation, state-run media reported.

The service received drones from Razom for Ukraine, a non-profit Ukrainian-American human rights organization established in 2014 to support the people of Ukraine.

The active use of drones shows that they not only significantly help in the work of the State Emergency Service units but also change the course of the Russian fighting in some places, Ukrinform said, referring to a post on Telegram of the State Emergency Service.

For our live updates from Sunday (March 26), click here.

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