Russia-Ukraine live updates: Several Ukrainian cities attacked with missiles

Written by on March 21, 2023

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(NEW YORK) — More than a year after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine, the countries are fighting for control of areas in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Ukrainian troops have liberated nearly 30,000 square miles of their territory from Russian forces since the invasion began on Feb. 24, 2022, but Putin appeared to be preparing for a long and bloody war.

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

Mar 21, 6:09 PM EDT
Explosions reported in several Ukrainian cities

Explosions were heard and felt in the cities of Odesa and Kherson and the regions of Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk on Tuesday evening, officials and people on the ground in Ukraine reported on social media channels.

During the attack on Odesa, Ukraine’s air defense shot down two X-59 guided missiles launched by Russian fighter jets, the Ukrainian Air Force said on its Telegram channel.

Russia fired four missiles at Odesa, Andriy Yermak, the head of the presidential office, said on his Telegram channel. Two rockets were shot down by Ukrainian air defense, and two rockets hit the city, he said.

Three people were wounded, and a three-story building on the complex of a monastery was damaged, Yermak said.

Three people were killed, and four were wounded as a result of Russian shelling in the Donetsk region, the Ukrainian Office of the Prosecutor General reported on Facebook.

-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman

Mar 21, 4:29 PM EDT
Ukrainian Patriot missile training at Fort Sill nearly complete

The Patriot missile training for Ukrainian troops at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, is wrapping up soon, an Army spokesman said Tuesday.

Sixty-five Ukrainian soldiers have been training at Fort Sill since mid-January in an expedited training cycle on using the Patriots — training that typically can last up to a year.

The Ukrainians will depart the Army post in the coming days for Europe, where they will receive additional training, before heading back to Ukraine “in the coming weeks,” Col. Marty O’Donnell of U.S. Army Europe/Africa told ABC News.

“In Europe, the Ukrainians training here will meet up with Ukrainians training in Europe, and with U.S., German, and Dutch equipment donations to validate the systems and ensure interoperability,” O’Donnell said.

-ABC News’ Luis Martinez

Mar 21, 12:48 PM EDT
US to speed up delivery of Abrams tanks to Ukraine

The United States is going to speed up the manufacture and delivery of the 31 Abrams tanks President Joe Biden approved sending to Ukraine, a U.S. official confirmed Tuesday.

Instead of making new tanks from scratch, the Department of Defense will now refurbish the hulls of several older models that will be equipped with more modern equipment, according to the official.

The new delivery target date is fall 2023, the official said; previously the anticipated delivery time was believed to be mid-2024.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby hinted at the accelerated timeline on Tuesday.

“We’re working on that,” Kirby said on MSNBC. “There’s some changes that you can make to the process to sort of speed that up.”

-ABC News’ Luis Martinez and Teresa Mettela

Mar 21, 11:49 AM EDT
Japanese PM visits Ukraine for 1st time during war

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited Ukraine on Tuesday for the first time since the start of Russia’s invasion.

In Kyiv, Kishida laid a wreath at the memorial for fallen Ukrainian soldiers. In Bucha, where Ukrainian officials said more than 400 civilians were killed last year by Russian forces, he laid a wreath outside a church before observing a moment of silence and bowing.

“The world was astonished to see innocent civilians in Bucha killed one year ago,” Kishida said. “I really feel great anger for all the atrocious acts.”

-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman

Mar 20, 6:33 PM EDT
Ukraine claims it destroyed Russian cruise missiles in Crimea drone attack

Ukrainian forces destroyed Russian Kalibr-NK cruise missiles in a drone strike in Crimea as the weapons were being transported by rail, the Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate said on their official Telegram channel Monday.

Sergey Aksyonov, an adviser to the head of the Republic of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, confirmed a drone attack on his official Telegram channel.

Debris from the aerial object damaged a household and a shop and one person was injured from the explosions, Aksyonov said.

-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman

Mar 19, 6:44 PM EDT
Indications China could be supplying electrical components to Russia military use, senior Ukrainian official says

Ukraine has been monitoring multiple flights between Russian and Chinese cities during which the aircrafts’ transponders are temporarily switched off, according to a senior Ukrainian official, who called it a cause for concern.

The official said the belief is that China could be supplying Russia with electrical components that Moscow needs for military equipment, thus diminishing the impact of Western sanctions.

The senior official, who spoke exclusively to ABC News on the condition of anonymity, added that Ukraine currently has “no proof” that China is supplying weaponry or ammunition to Ukraine.

The official also dismissed the notion of a Chinese-brokered peace plan in the near future and said Ukraine is focused on retaking more land from Russia and is preparing for a fresh offensive “in the spring or early summer.”

-ABC News’ Tom Burridge

Mar 19, 1:13 AM EDT
Putin arrives in Mariupol, marking first visit to newly annexed territories

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Mariupol to inspect a number of locations in the city and talk to local residents, the Kremlin press service said on Sunday.

Putin travelled by helicopter to the Ukrainian city, which has been occupied since last year by Russians. He drove a vehicle along the city’s streets, making stops at several locations.

The visit was Putin’s first to newly annexed territories.

Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin reported to Putin about construction and restoration work. In the Nevsky area, a newly built residential area, Putin talked with residents. He went inside a home at the invitation of one of the families.

Putin also inspected the coastline of the city in the area of a yacht club, a theater building that was heavily bombed with civilians sheltering inside and other memorable places of the city.

-ABC News’ Tanya Stukalova

Mar 18, 11:04 AM EDT
Putin visits Crimea on anniversary of annexation

Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Crimea to mark the ninth anniversary of the Black Sea peninsula’s annexation from Ukraine on Saturday, one day after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Russian leader accusing him of war crimes.

Putin visited an art school and a children’s center.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move that most of the world denounced as illegal. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has demanded that Russia withdraw from the peninsula as well as the areas it has occupied since last year.

Putin has shown no intention of relinquishing the Kremlin’s gains. Instead, he stressed Friday the importance of holding Crimea. “Obviously, security issues take top priority for Crimea and Sevastopol now,” he said, referring to Crimea’s largest city. “We will do everything needed to fend off any threats.”

-ABC News’ Edward Szekeres

Mar 17, 8:03 PM EDT
Biden calls Putin arrest warrant ‘justified’

President Joe Biden called the arrest warrant issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday by the International Criminal Court “justified,” though acknowledged it might not have strong teeth.

“Well, I think it’s justified,” Biden told reporters Friday evening. “But the question — it’s not recognized internationally, by us either. But I think it makes a very strong point.”

In a earlier statement on the warrant, the White House said it supports “accountability for perpetrators of war crimes.”

“There is no doubt that Russia is committing war crimes and atrocities in Ukraine, and we have been clear that those responsible must be held accountable,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in the statement.

-ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett and Davone Morales

Mar 17, 2:35 PM EDT
Turkey agrees to start ratifying Finland’s NATO bid

Turkey is beginning the process of ratifying Finland’s application to join NATO, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday, 10 months after both Finland and Sweden applied to become NATO members in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“At a critical time for our security, this will make our alliance stronger and safer,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement.

The breakthrough came as Finnish President Sauli Niinisto was in Ankara, Turkey, to meet with Erdogan.

Erdogan said Finland fulfilled its part of the agreements and therefore he saw no reason to further delay the ratification process. Erdogan did not provide an update on Sweden’s bid.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement, “We encourage Türkiye to quickly ratify Sweden’s accession protocols as well. In addition, we urge Hungary to conclude its ratification process for both Finland and Sweden without delay. … The United States believes that both countries should become members of NATO as soon as possible.”

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Mar 17, 11:54 AM EDT
ICC issues arrest warrant for Putin

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying in a statement Friday that Putin is “allegedly responsible for the war crime of” unlawfully deporting children from occupied areas of Ukraine and bringing them to Russia.

The ICC also issued an arrest warrant for Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s presidential commissioner for children’s rights, alleging she carried out the same war crime.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement that the arrest warrants “have no meaning for the Russian Federation” and “are legally null and void.”

Andriy Yermak, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, tweeted that the arrest warrants are “just the beginning.”

Mar 16, 12:15 PM EDT
Russia has committed ‘wide range of war crimes’ in Ukraine: UN-backed report

Russia has committed a “wide range of war crimes” and possible crimes against humanity in Ukraine, according to a new United Nations-backed investigation.

“The body of evidence collected shows that Russian authorities have committed a wide range of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in many regions of Ukraine and in the Russian Federation,” the human rights report by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine stated. “Many of these amount to war crimes and include willful killings, attacks on civilians, unlawful confinement, torture, rape, and forced transfers and deportations of children.”

Additionally, Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy-related infrastructure and use of torture “may amount to crimes against humanity,” the report concluded.

The commission said it conducted interviews with nearly 600 people, inspected graves, destruction and detention sites and consulted satellite imagery and photographs as part of its investigation.

Mar 16, 11:51 AM EDT
Poland to deliver MiG-29 jets to Ukraine ‘in the coming days’

Poland plans to deliver four MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine “in the coming days,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said at a press conference on Thursday.

The latest news shortens the timeline announced earlier this week by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who had said they might send the Soviet-designed fighter jets to Ukraine in the next four to six weeks.

Mar 16, 11:08 AM EDT
225 Russians killed in last 24 hours in Bakhmut

Ukrainian forces have killed 225 Russian fighters and injured another 306 in the past 24 hours in the Bakhmut area, according to Serhiy Cherevaty, the spokesman for the Eastern Group of Forces of the Ukraine army.

Russia and Ukraine have been locked in a brutal battle for the city in eastern Ukraine for months, with both sides seeing high rates of casualties.

Cherevaty said that in the last day, the occupiers in the area of Bakhmut and nearby villages — including Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Bohdanivka and Ivanivskoho — tried to attack Ukrainian positions 42 times. There were 24 combat clashes in the Bakhmut area alone.

In total, in the Bakhmut direction, the occupiers shelled Ukrainian positions 256 times with various types of artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, Cherevaty said. Of them, 53 shellings were in the area of Bakhmut itself.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Mar 15, 12:08 PM EDT
Putin says effort underway to increase weapons production

Russia is working to increase its weapons production amid an “urgent” need, President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.

“Prosecutors should supervise the modernization of defense industry enterprises, including building up capacities for the production of an additional volume of weapons. A lot of effort is underway here,” Putin said at a meeting of the Collegium of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation.

Putin added that the weapons, equipment and ammunition are “urgently” needed.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Mar 13, 4:04 PM EDT
White House welcomes Xi Jinping speaking to President Zelenskyy

The White House is welcoming reports that Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to soon speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for the first time since Russia’s invasion began, while cautioning that after speaking with Ukrainian counterparts, “they have not yet actually gotten any confirmation that there will be a telephone call or a video conference.”

“We hope there will be,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan said during a briefing on Air Force One. “That would be a good thing because it would potentially bring more balance and perspective to the way that the new PRC is approaching this, and we hope it will continue to dissuade them from choosing to provide lethal assistance to Russia.”

“We have been encouraging President Xi to reach out to President Zelenskyy because we believe that PRC and President Xi himself should hear directly the Ukrainian perspective and not just the Russian perspective on this,” Sullivan continued. “So, we have in fact, advocated to Beijing that that connection take place. We’ve done so publicly and we’ve done so privately to the PRC.”

Sullivan said the U.S. has “not yet seen the transfer of lethal assistance of weapons from China to Russia,” after previously warning it was being considered.

“It’s something that we’re vigilant about and continuing to watch carefully,” he added.

-ABC News’ Justin Gomez

Mar 13, 12:27 PM EDT
Russia agrees to 60-day extension of Black Sea Grain Initiative

Russia said Monday it will extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative after it expires on March 18, but only for 60 days. The announcement came after consultations between U.N. representatives in Geneva and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin.

“The Russian side, noting the package nature of the Istanbul agreements proposed by UN Secretary General António Guterres, does not object to another extension of the Black Sea initiative after the expiration of the second term on March 18, but only for 60 days,” Vershinin said, according to Russian media reports.

Russia’s consultations in Geneva on the grain deal were not easy, Vershinin said. Russia will rely on the effectiveness of the implementation of the agreement on the export of its agricultural products when deciding on a new extension of the grain deal, according to reports.

Ukraine, which is a key world exporter of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and fertilizer, had its shipments blocked in the months following the invasion by Russia, causing a worldwide spike in food prices. The first deal was brokered last July.

Mar 12, 4:13 PM EDT
More than 1,100 Russians dead in less than a week, Zelenskyy says

Russian forces suffered more than 1,100 dead in less than a week during battles near the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, the focal point of fighting in eastern Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Sunday.

During his nightly address, Zelenskyy described the battles as “Russia’s irreversible loss.”

Russian forces also sustained about 1,500 “sanitary losses,” meaning soldiers were wounded badly enough to keep them out of further action, Zelenskyy said.

Dozens of pieces of enemy equipment were destroyed, as were more than 10 Russian ammunition depots, Zelenskyy said.

-ABC News’ Edward Seekers

Mar 10, 3:17 PM EST
Russia says Nord Stream explosion investigation should be impartial

The investigation into who was behind the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline explosion should be “objective, impartial and transparent,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russian news agency Interfax.

“I do not want to threaten anyone. I do not want to hint at anything either. I just know that this flagrant terror attack will not go uninvestigated,” Lavrov added.

Russia also said it will distribute its correspondence with Germany, Denmark and Sweden on the investigation of the Nord Stream explosion among the members of the United Nations Security Council soon.

Russia claimed the three countries are denying Russia access to information and participation in the investigation, first deputy permanent representative to the U.N. Dmitry Polyansky said in an interview, according to Russian news agency TASS.

-ABC News’ Anastasia Bagaeva and Tanya Stukalova

Mar 10, 3:03 PM EST
Russia says Nord Stream explosion investigation should be impartial

The investigation into who was behind the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline explosion should be “objective, impartial and transparent,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russian news agency Interfax.

“I do not want to threaten anyone. I do not want to hint at anything either. I just know that this flagrant terror attack will not go uninvestigated,” Lavrov added.

Russia also said it will distribute its correspondence with Germany, Denmark and Sweden on the investigation of Nord Stream explosion among the members of the United Nations Security Council soon.

Russia claimed the three countries are denying Russia access to information and participation in the investigation, first deputy permanent representative to the U.N. Dmitry Polyansky said in an interview, according to Russian news agency TASS.

Mar 10, 9:46 AM EST
Zelenskyy says Ukraine had nothing to do with Nord Stream explosions

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denied that Ukraine had anything to do with the Nord Stream gas pipeline explosions last year.

“As for the Nord Stream, we have nothing to do with it,” Zelenskyy said Friday.

The New York Times published a report that U.S. intelligence suggests that a pro-Ukrainian group sabotaged the pipeline.

Zelenskyy also suggested that the information being spread about the involvement of pro-Ukrainian groups in the attack could be done to slow down aid to his country.

-ABC News’ Natalia Shumskaia

Mar 09, 2:45 PM EST
Power returns to Kyiv, Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after attacks

Electricity supply has been fully restored in Kyiv after Russia’s overnight barrage of missile attacks on Ukraine, Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said in a Telegram post Thursday.

Also, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is now “receiving electricity for its own needs from the Ukrainian grid after power supply was cut,” Russian news agency Interfax reported.

-ABC News’ Tatiana Rymarenko and Natalia Shumskaia

Mar 09, 7:25 AM EST
Russia ‘brutalizing’ Ukrainian people, White House says

Russia’s overnight barrage of missiles aimed at civilian infrastructure may have knocked heat out to as much as 40% of Ukrainians, the White House said on Thursday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is attempting to “brutalize” the people of Ukraine, John Kirby, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America on Thursday.

“It also appears, George, that they were definitely targeting civilian infrastructure,” Kirby said. “I would agree with the Ukrainians. He’s just trying to brutalize the Ukrainian people”

Russian forces early on Thursday launched 81 missiles from land and sea, Ukrainian officials said. Eight uncrewed drones were also launched in what officials described as a “massive” attack.

Eleven regions and cities were targeted in an attack that lasted at least seven hours, officials said.

Kirby said on Thursday that the White House expects to see more fighting on the ground in Ukraine for at least the “next four to six months.”

“We know that the Russians are attempting to conduct more offensive operations here when the weather gets better,” he said.

Mar 09, 3:59 AM EST
Zelenskyy decries Russia’s ‘miserable tactics’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday said Russian officials had returned “to their miserable tactics” as they launched at least 81 missiles at Ukrainian sites overnight.

“The occupiers can only terrorize civilians. That’s all they can do. But it won’t help them,” he said on Telegram. “They won’t avoid responsibility for everything they have done.”

He added, “We thank the guardians of our skies and everyone who helps to overcome the consequences of the occupiers’ sneaking attacks!”

Mar 09, 3:34 AM EST
81 missiles launched in ‘massive’ Russian attack, Ukraine says

Waves of missiles and a handful of drones were launched overnight by Russia, targeting energy infrastructure and cities across Ukraine, officials said.

The attack on “critical infrastructure” and civilian targets lasted throughout the night, Verkovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, said on Twitter. Energy was being gradually restored on Thursday morning, the body said.

Ukraine’s parliament and military said at least 81 missiles were fired from several bases. Eight Iranian-made drones were also launched, the military said.

Ukraine destroyed 34 cruise missiles and four drones, military officials said on Facebook.

“Russia’s threats only encourage partners to provide long-term assistance to Ukraine,” said Yehor Chernev, deputy chairman of the Committee on National Security, Defense and Intelligence.

Russia “will be sentenced as a terrorist state” for its attacks, Ruslan Stefanchuk, Rada’s chairperson, said on Twitter.

Mar 09, 12:35 AM EST
Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant now running on diesel generators, energy minister says

The last line that fed the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant has been damaged following missile strikes, and the plant is now working on diesel generators, according to the Ukrainian energy minister, Herman Galushchenko.

Mar 09, 12:16 AM EST
Emergency power outages nationwide due to missile attacks, provider says

DTEK, the largest private grid operator in Ukraine, said emergency power outages are in effect due to the missile attacks in the Kyiv, Odesa, Mykolaiv and Dnipro regions.

Mar 09, 12:27 AM EST
Multiple missile strikes reported across Ukraine

Multiple explosions have been reported in city centers all over the country, including Dnipro, Odesa, Kyiv, Zaporizhzhia, Vinnytsia, Khmelnytskyi and Kharkiv.

Residents in multiple areas are being asked to shelter in place, and communication and electricity has been impacted.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said multiple explosions were reported in the Holosiiv district.

The governor of Kharkiv, Oleh Syniehubov, said Russia struck the city at least 15 times overnight.

The head of the Odesa Regional Military Administration said there had been no casualties and that the power supply is being restricted.

Mar 08, 2:05 PM EST
Ukraine says it was not involved in Nord Stream Pipeline bombings

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov denied Ukraine was involved in the bombing of the Nord Stream pipeline, which carries natural gas from Russia to Germany. While the pipeline was not active at the time of the bombing last September, it was filled with fuel.

The denial comes after The New York Times reported that intelligence reviewed by U.S. officials suggests a pro-Ukrainian group carried out the Nord Stream bombings last year.

After the story broke, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius warned against “jumping to conclusions” about who carried out the explosion, suggesting it could have been a “false flag” operation to blame Ukraine.

German authorities were reportedly able to identify the boat used for the sabotage operation, saying a group of five men and one woman using forged passports rented a yacht from a Poland-based company owned by Ukrainian citizens. The nationalities of the perpetrators are unclear, according to a separate report by Germany’s ARD broadcaster and Zeit newspaper.

“We have to make a clear distinction whether it was a Ukrainian group, whether it may have happened at Ukrainian orders, or a pro-Ukrainian group [acting] without knowledge of the government. But I am warning against jumping to conclusions,” Pistorius said on the sidelines of a summit in Stockholm.

A Russian diplomat said Russia has no faith in the U.S.‘s “impartiality” in the conclusions made from intelligence.

-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman

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