Education, World

Chile: students force closure of Santiago schools over sexual harassment and violence

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Chile: students force closure of Santiago schools over sexual harassment and violence” was written by Charis McGowan in Santiago, for theguardian.com on Sunday 27th March 2022 11.00 UTC

Student strikes have forced a string of school closures across Chile’s capital amid growing anger over sexist and violent behaviour only weeks after the country returned to in-person classes after two years of Covid-19 lockdowns.

“The demand is to stop the harassment,” said Javiera, 17, who was one of hundreds of girls to join protests outside the prestigious Santiago Lastarria school, after male students were found swapping intimate photos of their female classmates on Instagram. “We are demanding justice for victims, and for schools to stop protecting abusers.”

In the chats, the boys allegedly discussed gang-raping their fellow students and claimed the notorious “wolfpack” case in Pamplona, Spain, as “inspiration”.

Screenshots of the conversations circulated among female students in several Santiago schools, who organized the protest in solidarity with the affected students. The Lastarria school was closed for two days and the culprits have been suspended while an investigation takes place.

The district’s mayor, Evelyn Matthei, launched a support helpline for schoolchildren affected by gender violence and has pledged legal action. “These threats are a crime that warrants action beyond school protocols,” she said in a press conference.

Javiera believes a firm response from authorities is necessary. “Maybe [the schoolboys] haven’t caused physical harm to anyone, but such talk can often lead to something worse.”

Physical attacks have also taken place in Santiago’s schools this month. Last week, a 14-year-old was reportedly raped in a classroom by an older student during a lunch break. Students and parents staged protests outside the school’s locked gates, pelting the building with rocks while demanding explanations.

“I put my trust in this school and they return me a daughter who has been raped,” the girl’s father bitterly told a local news station. A statement from the school’s management confirmed the institution’s temporary closure to allow time to investigate “the very serious situation at hand”.

According to the government’s education department, schoolchildren’s sexual harassment complaints have increased by 56% in 2022 compared with the same period in 2018. A Unesco report concluded that Covid school closures across the world have had gendered impacts on children, “which may also increase their vulnerability to … gender-based violence”.

Valentina Carrasco is a 21-year-old student activist who has been fighting for sexual education reforms since she was at secondary school. She believes that the pandemic has exacerbated cases of gender violence in Chile: “Young people were at home for two years without seeing people, now they’re in classes again and everything has exploded.”

She believes the only way to remedy the country’s schooling crisis is to improve education. “Now more than ever we need inclusive sexual education programs that talk about consent and sexuality within a socio-cultural perspective.”

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World

Russia-Ukraine war latest: Zelenskiy calls on west to supply planes, tanks; Biden says ‘butcher’ Putin cannot remain in power – live

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Russia-Ukraine war latest: Zelenskiy calls on west to supply planes, tanks; Biden says ‘butcher’ Putin cannot remain in power – live” was written by Helen Livingstone (now); Vivian Ho ,Nadeem Badshah, Kevin Rawlinson, Tom Ambrose and Rebecca Ratcliffe (earlier), for theguardian.com on Sunday 27th March 2022 02.50 UTC

Video posted by the Guardian’s Shaun Walker shows the devastation wrought by the Russian campaign against the town of Mariupol:

There have been a number of reports that Ukrainian forces have retaken a number of towns across the country.

The Kyiv Independent newspaper reported that two small towns, Poltavka and Malynivka, in the south-eastern region of Zaporizhzhia had been liberated while earlier it reported that the town of Trostyanets in the northern region of Sumy had been regained.

CNN also reports that it has geolocated and verified several videos showing Ukrainian troops back in control of a number of villages in Sumy as well as Vilkhivka, a settlement roughly 32 kilometres from the Russian border in Ukraine’s northeast.

Some images from around Ukraine on Saturday:

Smoke rises after a Russian airstrike on Lviv.
Smoke rises after a Russian airstrike on Lviv.
Photograph: Pavlo Palamarchuk/Reuters
People taking shelter in Lviv look at their phone after a second set of blasts was heard in the city, just across the border from Poland. The missiles hit as US president Joe Biden visited Poland.
People taking shelter in Lviv look at their phone after a second set of blasts was heard in the city, just across the border from Poland. The missiles hit as US president Joe Biden visited Poland.
Photograph: Cheney Orr/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock
A Ukrainian police officer is overwhelmed by emotion after comforting people evacuated from Irpin on the outskirts of Kyiv.
A Ukrainian police officer is overwhelmed by emotion after comforting people evacuated from Irpin on the outskirts of Kyiv.
Photograph: Vadim Ghirdă/AP
A Ukrainian serviceman walks past a burnt-out car in the village of Krasylivka outside Kyiv.
A Ukrainian serviceman walks past a burnt-out car in the village of Krasylivka outside Kyiv.
Photograph: Marko Đurica/Reuters
A collapsed building in the besieged city of Mariupol.
A collapsed building in the besieged city of Mariupol.
Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Updated

Here’s a bit more from Ukrainian president Zelenskiy’s speech earlier, in which he warned Russia its invasion was only working to “derussify” Ukraine, where Russian is widely spoken.

By the way, we talked today with our military in Mariupol, with our heroes who defend this city, in Russian,” said the president, himself a native Russian speaker.

“Because there is no language problem in Ukraine and there never was.

But now you, the Russian occupiers, are creating this problem. You are doing everything to make our people stop speaking Russian themselves. Because the Russian language will be associated with you. Only with you.

With these explosions and killings. With your crimes. You are deporting our people. You are bullying our teachers, forcing them to repeat everything after your propagandists. You are taking our mayors and Ukrainian activists hostage. You are placing billboards in the occupied territories with appeals (they appeared today) not to be afraid to speak Russian.

Just think about what it means. Where Russian has always been a part of everyday life, like Ukrainian, in the east of our state, and where you are turning peaceful cities into ruins today.

Russia itself is doing everything to ensure that de-russification takes place on the territory of our state. You are doing it. In one generation. And forever. This is another manifestation of your suicide policy.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency has expressed concern for workers at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, after Russian forces on Saturday seized the town of Slavutych, where many people who work at the reactor live.

In a statement, the agency said director general Rafael Mariano Grossi,

Remained concerned about the ability of staff at the Chornobyl NPP to regularly rotate and return to their homes in the nearby city of Slavutych to rest. There has been no staff rotation at the NPP for nearly a week now, the [Ukrainian] regulator said …

The regulator said the last staff rotation was on 20-21 March, when a new shift of technical personnel arrived from Slavutych to replace colleagues who had worked at the Chornobyl NPP since the day before the Russian military entered the site, where radioactive waste management facilities are located. There was ‘no information when or whether’ a new change of work shift would take place, it said.

In the north-eastern city of Kharkiv, where a nuclear research facility has reportedly been damaged once again, the IAEA cited the Ukrainian regulator as saying “shelling was for a second day preventing measures to dispose of an unexploded [nearby] rocket”.

“Its nuclear material is subcritical and the radioactive inventory is low,” the IAEA continued. “Personnel at the facility were maintaining the operability of the nuclear installation’s equipment and radiation was within ‘standard limits’. However, it was not possible to restore off-site power to the facility due to the shelling, the regulator added.”

After the White House backpedalled on comments by president Joe Biden that appeared to call for regime change in Russia, prominent Putin critic and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov has called the US administration “pathetic”.

When a regime is repressive, murderous, dictatorial, and led by someone who has committed war crimes in multiple countries, including his own, what else should be hoped for and worked toward than regime change?” he wrote in the first of a series of tweets.

“When the President is right, the White House should stick with him instead of fumbling to apologize to a murderous dictator for speaking the truth. It’s pathetic,” he continued.

“Biden isn’t Trump, requiring an English to English translator! No dictator is legitimate. Don’t backpedal when you are right and in the right. Don’t play diplomatic games with a mass murderer.

In a possible shift on a plan to transfer Soviet-era fighter jets from Poland to Kyiv to boost Ukraine’s firepower in the skies – rejected earlier this month by the Pentagon as too not “tenable” – Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, says the US no longer objects, according to AFP.

“As far as we can conclude, the ball is now on the Polish side,” Kuleba said in written comments to the newswire after a meeting with US president Joe Biden in Warsaw.

Biden, who was winding up a whirlwind visit to Poland after holding a series of urgent summits in Brussels with Western allies, met both Kuleba and Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov in an emphatic show of support for Kyiv.

US president Joe Biden (R) meets Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba, second from left, and Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov, left.
US president Joe Biden (R) meets Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba, second from left, and Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov, left.
Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

Both ministers had made a rare trip out of Ukraine for the face-to-face talks, in a possible sign of growing confidence in their battle against Russian forces.

In the UK Ministry of Defence’s latest intelligence update, it says Russia has continued strikes across Ukraine, including on “many targets in densely populated civilian areas”.

It also said Russia continued to rely on so-called stand-off munitions – missiles launched from a distance – “in order to reduce their aircrafts’ exposure to Ukrainian air defence forces.”

“US reporting of up to 60% failure rates of these weapons will compound Russia’s problem of increasingly limited stocks forcing them to revert to less sophisticated missiles or accepting more risk to their aircraft,” it continued.

Zelenskiy calls on US and Europe to supply planes and tanks

In his nightly address to the Ukrainian people and the world, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has called on the US and Europe to supply more planes, tanks, anti-missiles defences and anti-ship weaponry, arguing that Europe’s own security was at stake.

“This [the weaponry] is what our partners have. This is what is covered with dust at their storage facilities. After all, this is all for freedom not only in Ukraine – this is for freedom in Europe,” he said.

“So who runs the Euro-Atlantic community? Is it still Moscow because of intimidation?” he added.

Referring to those who are defending the besieged port city of Mariupol, he continued:

I wish at least a percentage of their courage to those who have been thinking for 31 days how to transfer a dozen or two of planes or tanks …

Ukraine cannot shoot down Russian missiles using shotguns, machine guns, which are too much in supplies.

And it is impossible to unblock Mariupol without a sufficient number of tanks, other armored vehicles and, of course, aircraft. All defenders of Ukraine know that. All defenders of Mariupol know that. Thousands of people know that – citizens, civilians who are dying there in the blockade.

The United States knows that. All European politicians know. We told everyone. And this should be known as soon as possible by as many people on Earth as possible. So that everyone understands who and why was simply afraid to prevent this tragedy. Afraid to simply make a decision.”

Updated

Summary

Hello, I’m Helen Livingstone, taking over the blog from my colleague Vivian Ho. Here’s a summary of what’s been happening over the past 24 hours:

  • US president Joe Biden condemned Vladimir Putin as a “butcher” who could no longer stay in power in a historic speech in Poland. Biden appeared to urge those around the Russian president to oust him from the Kremlin, although US officials later said he had been talking about the need for Putin to lose power over Ukrainian territory and in the wider region.
  • As he spoke, Russian missiles rained down on Ukraine’s most pro-western city, just 40 miles from the Polish border. The timing of the attacks, only the third on west Ukrainian targets since the war began, and the closest to Lviv’s city centre and its residential areas, was clearly designed to send a message to the White House.
  • The Kremlin has again raised the spectre of the use of nuclear weapons in the war with Ukraine. Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president who is deputy chairman of the country’s security council, said Moscow could use them to strike an enemy that only used conventional weapons.
  • The comments prompted Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, appearing by video link at Qatar’s Doha Forum, to warn that Moscow was a direct threat to the world. “Russia is deliberating bragging they can destroy with nuclear weapons, not only a certain country but the entire planet,” he said.
  • Ukrainian troops are reporting that Russian forces are deploying white phosphorus against them near the eastern city of Avdiivka. While these reports cannot be confirmed, Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy told Nato leaders earlier this week that Russia had used phosphorus bombs that had killed adults and children.
  • Russian forces seized Slavutych, a northern town close to the Chernobyl nuclear site on Saturday and took its mayor, Yuri Fomichev, prisoner. However, after failing to disperse the numerous protesters in the main square on Saturday – despite deploying stun grenades and firing overhead – the Russian troops released the mayor and agreed to leave.
  • The Institute of Mass Media in Ukraine has documented 148 crimes against journalists and the media since the start of the Russian invasion. It said five journalists had been killed, six had been captured or kidnapped and seven had been wounded.
  • The Ukrainian parliament has confirmed a fresh Russian attack on the nuclear research reactor in Kharkiv. In a tweet, it quoted the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate as saying, “It is currently impossible to estimate the extent of damage due to hostilities that do not stop in the area of the nuclear installation.”
  • Tens of thousands of people gathered in central London to express solidarity with the people of Ukraine. After a rallying call by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, for people everywhere to protest against the bloodshed by taking to the streets, Trafalgar Square was transformed into a sea of yellow and blue.
  • Experts in the UK have warned that the country’s Homes for Ukraine scheme risks operating as “Tinder for sex traffickers”. The warning comes as evidence emerges that UK-based criminals are targeting women and children fleeing the war.

Updated

An updated tally on the total deaths of civilians in Ukraine thus far, according to the United Nations:

It is 1am in Ukraine and Ukrainian troops are reporting that Russian forces are deploying white phosphorus against them near the eastern city of Avdiivka.

While these reports can’t be confirmed, this is not the first time Ukraine has talked about Russia using white phosphorus in the invasion. This week, Volodymyr Zelenskiy told Nato leaders that “there were phosphorus bombs, phosphorus Russian bombs”. “Adults were killed again and children were killed again,” he said.

White phosphorus is used in war for a number of reasons – when a munition containing it explodes, the chemical inside creates a thick white cloud that many countries have utilized as a way to create a smokescreen for cover or to send a signal to troops.

But white phosphorous burns at the extremely high temperature of 800C or above, meaning that it could burn straight through to the bone if it were to come into contact with human flesh. It can also enter the bloodstream with prolonged exposure and poison organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys and cause multiple organ failure. The smoke created by the substance itself can also damage the lungs.

When asked about Zelenskiy’s comments on Russia using phosphorus bombs, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia “has never violated international conventions”.

For more on if Russia’s possible use chemical weapons – and how Nato would respond – read more here:

Updated

The Institute of Mass Media in Ukraine has documented 148 crimes against journalists and the media since the start of the Russian invasion:

  • 5 journalists killed
  • 6 captured or kidnapped
  • 7 wounded
  • 19 cybercrimes
  • 10 shellings of television broadcast towers
  • 5 shellings of journalists
  • 11 threats
  • 6 shutdowns of Ukrainian broadcasting
  • 4 blockings of internet access to media
  • 4 seizures and attacks on media outlets
  • 1 disappearance of a journalist

Updated

British foreign minister Liz Truss says the UK could lift sanctions imposed on Russian individuals and companies if Russia withdraws from Ukraine and commits to “no further aggression”, the Telegraph is reporting.

The British government has so far imposed sanctions on banks with total assets of £500bn ($658.65bn) and on oligarchs and family members with a net worth of more than £150bn pounds.

Sanctions could be lifted in the event of “a full ceasefire and withdrawal”, said Truss.

“What we know is that Russia signed up to multiple agreements they simply don’t comply with. So there needs to be hard levers. Of course, sanctions are a hard lever,” she said.

“Those sanctions should only come off with a full ceasefire and withdrawal, but also commitments that there will be no further aggression. And also, there’s the opportunity to have snapback sanctions if there is further aggression in future. That is a real lever that I think can be used.”

Updated

In the latest tally on the destruction wrought so far in Ukraine, the Ukraine minister for communities and territories development is reporting that Russian troops have destroyed an estimated 4,500 residential buildings, 100 businesses, 400 educational institutions and 150 health facilities.

Joe Biden sparked some concerns when he said in his fiery speech today in Poland that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”. Some said that statement skewed uncomfortably close to calling for a regime change, despite Biden’s foreign policy being firmly against a US-involved regime change. The White House immediately had to walk his statement back, saying that his point “was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region”.

This newest development is sure to raise some eyebrows in Moscow as well: a White House readout said that Biden took a phone call on Air Force One with democratic opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya of Belarus.

During the phone call, Biden thanked Tsikhanouskaya for attending his speech in Warsaw and “underscored the continued support of the United States for the Belarusian people in defending and advancing human rights, including freedom of expression, and free and fair elections”.

Belarus is one of the few allies that Russia has right now. Under Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, reports of torture and mass arrests of political dissidents have been widespread. In December, Tsikhanouskaya’s husband was sentenced to 18 years in prison for challenging Lukashenko, charged with organizing mass unrest and inciting social hatred as he campaigned to run for president.

Tsikhanouskaya took his place on the ballot in August’s presidential elections that ended in accusations of vote rigging, mass street protests, and a bloody crackdown on opposition.

Updated

In Prague today, a striking protest:

Activists pour red paint on the stairs of the Russian embassy in Prague.
Activists pour red paint on the stairs of the Russian embassy in Prague.
Photograph: Michal Čížek/AFP/Getty Images
The red paint is to symbolise the blood of the victims of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Some 3.7 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion a month ago, the UN said.
The red paint is to symbolise the blood of the victims of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Some 3.7 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion a month ago, the UN said.
Photograph: Michal Čížek/AFP/Getty Images

Updated

Ukrainian prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova has some numbers on journalists who have been killed or injured since the start of the Russian invasion:

Kharkiv is likely Ukraine’s second most-shelled city after Mariupol, with bodies stacked in the courtyard of morgues and missiles and rockets raining down each day.

But its people are resilient, digging deep within themselves to keep the city clean and morale high.

“We are scared, but we need to show people that the situation is under control and every day we are getting closer to victory,” governor Oleh Synyehubov, told the Observer.

Read more about Kharkiv here:

Updated

Update on Slavutych: the mayor of the small town near the Chernobyl site has made an address saying that though the city is now officially under Russian occupation, the city’s residents met its occupiers with a mass protest and vowed to keep the city Ukrainian.

The Ukrainian parliament has confirmed the attack on the nuclear research reactor in Kharkiv.

Nuclear research reactor in Kharkiv hit by Russian shelling

The Kyiv Independent is reporting that the nuclear research reactor in Kharkiv has been hit by Russian shelling.

In Slavutych, a northern town close to the Chernobyl nuclear site, unarmed residents met the incoming Russian troops with a mass protest.

Earlier today, the town of 25,000 residents was surrounded by Russian troops and its mayor, Yuri Fomichev, taken prisoner. After failing to disperse the numerous protesters in the main square on Saturday – despite deploying stun grenades and firing overhead – the Russian troops released the mayor and agreed to leave.

Read more here:

Updated

US to provide additional $100m to Ukraine

Reuters is reporting that the US intends to provide Ukraine with an additional $100m in civilian security assistance.

The funds would go toward building the capacity of the Ukrainian ministry of internal affairs with a view to “border security, sustain civil law enforcement functions, and safeguard critical governmental infrastructure,” said Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state.

An outdoor concert in Lviv was cut short as air raid sirens sounded – and soon afterwards the city was hit by missiles, wounding at least five. Lviv, in western Ukraine, is about 40 miles from the Polish border and has so far been spared the fighting and devastation experienced in cities located closer to Russia.

 

Mayor: nobody killed in Saturday missile strikes on Lviv

Nobody was killed in the missile strikes on Lviv today, according to Andriy Sadovyi, the mayor of Lviv.

Reuters is reporting that the missiles were fired from the Sevastopol in Crimea. Maksym Kozytskyy, the governor of the Lviv region, said that the strikes hit a fuel depot and a defence facility.

Though no one was killed, five people were wounded.

Updated

With the Russian invasion now firmly in its second month, Ukrainians fear that the northern city of Chernihiv will be the next Mariupol when it comes to death and destruction.

The Associated Press is reporting that, just like Mariupol, Chernihiv is similarly blockaded and pounded from afar by Russian troops, leaving the city’s remaining residents terrified with each blast and bodies lying uncollected in the streets.

“In basements at night, everyone is talking about one thing: Chernihiv becoming (the) next Mariupol,” 38-year-old resident Ihar Kazmerchak, a linguistics scholar, told the Associated Press via a cellphone with a dying battery.

“Food is running out, and shelling and bombing doesn’t stop,” he said.

Chernihiv is located between the Desna and Dnieper rivers, straddling one of the main roads that Russian troops invading from Belarus used on 24 February for what the Kremlin hoped would be a quick hit onward to the capital, Kyiv, just 147km (91 miles) away.

More than half of the city’s 280,000 residents have fled, with the mayor, Vladyslav Atroshenko, estimating the death toll from the war to be in the hundreds. This week, Russian bombs destroyed the city’s main bridge over the Desna on the road leading to Kyiv and rendered the remaining pedestrian bridge impassable, thus cutting off the last possible route for people to get out or for food and medical supplies to get in.

Updated

According to Reuters, a White House official has already responded to say that Joe Biden was not calling for a regime change in Russia with his comment that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”.

Updated

Russia has responded to Joe Biden’s remarks that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”:

In his speech tonight, Joe Biden took a strong stance in saying that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”. Some critics see this simple phrase as straying into the dangerous realm of calling for a regime change, while others are cautioning those critics to remember Biden’s penchant for off-the-cuff remarks.

Joe Biden also said Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”, appealing to the Russian people against the killing of innocent civilians, and telling Ukraine that the US stands with them.

He told a cheering crowd: “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power. God bless you all, and may God defend our freedom and may God protect our troops.”

And quoting Pope John Paul II, he said: “Never, ever give up hope, never doubt, never tire, never become discouraged. Be not afraid.”

President Biden also sent a direct message to the people of Russia to say they are not the “enemy”.

A free public transport scheme for Ukrainian refugees will be introduced in Northern Ireland.

Infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon made the announcement on Saturday, confirming that all Ukrainian refugees arriving in Northern Ireland will be able to receive free public transport from their point of entry to a final destination.

The temporary scheme will begin on all Translink bus and rail services from 30 March, PA reports.

Mallon said: “In the last few weeks, many Ukrainians, mostly women and children, have been forced to make the heart-breaking decision to leave their homes and their loved ones behind in search of safety.

“While many of those refugees are staying in neighbouring countries, some will be travelling to Northern Ireland to join family members or their host family.”

Updated

Sanctions have been sapping Russia’s strength and its currency has been reduced to rubble, President Biden added.

He said: “As a result of these unprecedented sanctions, the rouble almost was immediately reduced to rubble.”

To applause, the American leader added: “That’s true by the way – it takes about 200 roubles to equal one dollar.”

He added: “These international sanctions are sapping Russia’s strength, its ability to replenish its military and its ability to project power.

“And it is Putin, it is Vladimir Putin, who is to blame. Period.”

Biden’s speech in Poland has now concluded.

Updated

Joe Biden said Russia had been “bent on violence” and insisted there was “simply no justification or provocation” for the invasion.

The US President said: “There is simply no justification or provocation for Russia’s choice of war.

“It’s an example of one of the oldest human impulses, using brute force and disinformation to satisfy a craving for absolute power and control.

“It’s nothing less than a direct challenge to the rule-based international order established since the end of World War Two.”

Issuing a message to the people of Ukraine, President Biden said: “We stand with you – period.”

Updated

President Biden also accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of issuing “obscene” lies when falsely claiming he was working to de-nazify Ukraine with his invasion.

The US president said: “Today, Russia has strangled democracy and sought to do so elsewhere, not only in his homeland.

“Under false claims of ethnic solidarity, he has invalidated neighbouring nations.

“Putin has the gall to say he’s de-nazifying Ukraine. It’s a lie, it’s just cynical – he knows that.

“And it’s also obscene. President Zelensky was democratically elected, he’s Jewish, his father’s family was wiped out in the Nazi holocaust and Putin has the audacity – like all autocrats before him – to believe that might will make right.”

Updated

Biden said that Nato is a defensive alliance and it has never sought Russia’s demise.

He added that “swift and punishing” costs are the only solutions that will get Russia to change its course.

The US president, Joe Biden, said we must “steel ourselves” for a “long fight ahead” in Russia’s war with Ukraine.

Speaking in Poland, Biden said: “In this battle, we need to be clear-eyed. This battle will not be won in days, or months either. We need to steel ourselves for the long fight ahead.”

Updated

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko has told thousands of protesters in central London, including politicians and celebrities, to “keep together” with Ukraine.

Klitschko, a former world heavyweight boxing champion, speaking from a military bunker, told the crowd on a big screen near Nelson’s Column: “We defend right now the same principles.

“Please keep together with our country, keep together with Ukraine.”

In an online post, Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadoviy said no residential buildings had been hit by the strikes in the city which he said had set fire to a industrial facility storing fuel.
Reuters witnesses in central Lviv saw heavy black smoke rising from the northeast side of the city and a strong smell of burning filled the air. Men huddled together on the street to watch a plume of dark smoke rising behind an apartment block. Most residents appeared to stay indoors, peeking out from behind curtains as others hurried past on the road carrying their bags.

Professional clown Serhii Shershun has swapped the big top for a checkpoint in Kyiv.
More used to juggling and miming, the 50-year-old now totes a machine-gun as part of Ukraine’s huge mobilisation of civil defence volunteers. “I am against the enemy coming to my land and killing my people, my friends, my children, and the women – it’s not right,” he told AFP. Going by the professional name of ShiSh, Shershun says his wife is also a clown while his sons are taking up the trade as well, one as a juggler and the other at circus school.

We were on tour, we lived a peaceful life, we made people happy, and suddenly… it stopped,” added Shershun.

Smoke rises in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv following Russia’s attacks.
Smoke rises in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv following Russia’s attacks.
Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

People shelter underground following explosions in Lviv, western Ukraine.
People shelter underground following explosions in Lviv, western Ukraine.
Photograph: Nariman El-Mofty/AP

US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, will travel to Israel on Saturday and will meet with Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett, Blinken’s office said, in a visit that could be dominated by discussion of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Bennett has been trying to mediate an end to the month-old Russian invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reports.

Updated

Comments by the US president, Joe Biden, about his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin narrow the prospects for mending ties between the two countries, Tass news agency cited a Kremlin spokesman.

President Biden referred to Putin as a “butcher” during a visit to Nato ally Poland and said he was not sure Russia was changing its strategy in Ukraine, despite getting bogged down in some areas, Reuters reports.

Updated

Five people wounded after two rocket strikes hit Lviv

Five people were wounded after two rocket strikes hit Ukraine’s western city of Lviv on Saturday, regional governor Maksym Kozytskyy said.

Local authorities told residents to seek shelter in the wake of the powerful blasts on the city’s outskirts.
“There have been two rocket strikes within the (city) limits of Lviv,” Kozytskyy said in an online post. Earlier he had reported three powerful explosions in the eastern edge of Lviv, Reuters reports.

Summary

Here’s a summary of the most recent developments:

That’s it from me. Thanks for reading. My colleague Nadeem Badshah will be taking over.

Thousands have gathered in central London to express solidarity with the people of Ukraine, who the capital’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said had endured “unimaginable pain and suffering” over the past month.

Following the rallying call by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, for people everywhere to protest against the bloodshed by taking to the streets, large crowds assembled in the capital to show support for the embattled country.

On their route through London, demonstrators marched beneath Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace message on a huge electronic billboard in Piccadilly, many waving the yellow and blue of the Ukrainian flag as they passed.

The advance of Russian troops means large-scale evacuations from the war-scarred town of Chernihiv are no longer possible, its mayor has said.

The northern town has been a centre of fighting between Russian troops and Ukraine’s army. Earlier this week, city officials said Russian troops had deliberately targeted a key bridge linking the northern town with the capital, Kyiv, restricting opportunities to leave.

Agence France-Presse reports that the local mayor, Vladislav Atroshenko, has said: “City officials can no longer arrange humanitarian corridors or evacuate the wounded,” adding that a pedestrian crossing leaving the city was under “constant” attack from Russian troops.

“We are deciding on how to get the seriously injured out by any means. We can’t operate on them locally,” he said, saying some 44 people, both military and civilians were in need of medical attention.

He said that more than 200 civilians had been killed in the city since Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24, and that 120,000 remain in the city of an estimated pre-invasion population of nearly around 280,000.

Ukrainian prosecutors earlier this month said 10 people were killed by Russian forces earlier while waiting in a line to collect bread in the northern city.

Updated

 

Russian oligarchs are welcome in Turkey but must abide by international law in order to do any business, Reuters quotes the Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu as saying.

Turkey has strongly criticised Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but opposes sanctions imposed by its Nato allies on principle. Speaking at the Doha Forum international conference, Çavuşoğlu said:

If Russian oligarchs … or any Russian citizens want to visit Turkey, of course they can. If you mean whether these oligarchs can do any business in Turkey, then of course – if it is legal and not against international law – I will consider it. If it is against international law, then that is another story.

Two superyachts linked to the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich have docked in Turkish resorts, Reuters reports. Western governments have targeted Abramovich and several other Russian oligarchs with sanctions as they seek to isolate the Russian president Vladimir Putin and his allies over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Updated

The US president, Joe Biden, was in the region just over the Polish border to meet US troops shortly before the strikes.

The west of Ukraine has, until now, been lightly touched by the war, with attacks limited to strikes on a military base and an aircraft work shop.

Russia’s strike on Lviv during a presidential visit will be taken as a message to the US president, who called Putin a “butcher” during his visit to Poland. The Kremlin suggested it was focusing its efforts on eastern Ukraine on Friday but the attacks will raise fresh fears that Moscow has ambitions across the country.

Updated

Lviv hit by multiple missile strikes

Lviv has been hit by multiple missile strikes, Daniel Boffey writes from the western Ukrainian city. Smoke is bellowing across the city’s horizon. It appears that there were three missiles, with one landing close to the city’s communications tower. A spokesman for the military administration of Lviv region said:

There were three powerful explosions near Lviv on the side of Kryvchytsy, now there is an air alarm, so keep calm and be in shelter.

It appears that one of the targets may have been an oil refinery around a mile east of Lviv’s city centre. Igor Zinkevych, an official from Lviv’s city council, said:

There have been three powerful explosions near Lviv … Everyone should keep calm and stay indoors.

Updated

US offers Ukraine further military support

Joe Biden has risked the wrath of Vladimir Putin by offering Ukraine extra military support as Russian troops appeared to struggle to hold even the territory it has secured since the invasion began, Daniel Boffey and Shaun Walker write.

The US president’s pledge over “further defence cooperation” was said to have been made during a meeting with Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, in Warsaw on Saturday.

Biden’s administration has already made available $1bn worth of military lethal weapons, including Stinger anti-aircraft systems Javelin missiles, light anti-armour weapons.

Volodmyr Zelenskiy has been pushing the US to also facilitate the transfer of MiG-29 fighter jets from Poland but the White House is yet to be convinced by the Ukrainian president’s arguments, fearing a widening of the conflict.

The Kremlin had hinted on Friday that it may be scaling back its war ambitions, saying it was close to completing the “first phase” of its military campaign and would now focus on the complete “liberation” of Donbas in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking to the Guardian, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskiy and the lead negotiator in talks with Russia, said he did not believe that the Kremlin was downgrading its war aims. Describing the siege of Mariupol as a tactic to sow psychological terror and exhaustion, he said:

They had poor operational planning, and they realised it was advantageous for them to surround cities, cut off the main supply routes, and force people there to have a deficit of food, water and medicines.

Updated

Biden meets Ukrainian government ministers to discuss action against Putin

The US president, Joe Biden, and his secretaries of state and defence, Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin, have met Ukraine’s foreign and defence ministers, Dmytro Kuleba, and Oleksii Reznikov, to discuss Ukraine’s military, diplomatic and humanitarian situation, the White House has said.

Officials said the talked over “US efforts to rally the world in support of Ukraine’s fight against Russian aggression, including through the president’s meetings this week in Belgium and the significant military and humanitarian assistance the United States is providing to Ukraine”. The White House added:

They discussed further efforts to help Ukraine defend its territory. They also discussed the United States’ ongoing actions to hold President Putin accountable for Russia’s brutal aggression, in coordination with our allies and partners, including through the new sanctions actions announced by the president in Brussels on 24 March.

Updated

Poland is taking a “significant” responsibility in the humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, the US president, Joe Biden, said during a visit to Warsaw on Saturday, adding that the world should help lessen the burden.

Biden also told his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, he views Nato’s article 5 guarantee of mutual defence between member-states as a “sacred” commitment, Reuters reported.

Joe Biden during his meeting with the Polish president at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, 26 March 2022.
Joe Biden during his meeting with the Polish president at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, 26 March 2022.
Photograph: Marcin Obara/EPA

That’s it from me, Tom Ambrose, as I hand back to my colleague Kevin Rawlinson. I’ll be back tomorrow morning but goodbye from me for now.

Updated

Nastia arrived at the Warsaw bus station late at night with nowhere to go. The 25-year-old had made the difficult decision to leave her home and family in Vinnytsia oblast in west-central Ukraine.

Russian missiles had destroyed Vinnytsia’s airport, but her father could not leave because he is of fighting age, nor could her mother because she needed to care for Nastia’s two grandmothers, who are too sick to travel, Susie Armitage reports.

Now in Poland, terrified and unable to reach her mother, Nastia used Telegram to message someone who might be able to help: Caitlyn Simmons, a former Peace Corps volunteer who had been Nastia’s English teacher a decade earlier.

From her home in Columbus, Ohio, Simmons booked her former student a hotel room for the next day, then kept her company over Telegram while she passed a lonely night at the bus station. In the morning, Nastia’s first stop was the US embassy.

Updated

“Decide who you are with” Volodymyr Zelenskiy told the European Council, pointing to a choice that is becoming increasingly hard to avoid, as the sheer violence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine crystallises the division of the world into two camps.

The camp that stands with Russians is becoming easier to define with every passing day of the war. The colour-coded scoreboard at the UN general assembly in recent weeks, recording the votes on resolutions deploring the attack and calling for a ceasefire, could not have been clearer.

Among the 193 member states represented on the board, there have only been five pinpricks of red opposing the motion: Russia, Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Eritrea – a tight club of autocracies and totalitarian regimes with appalling human rights records.

They have been surrounded by a sea of green, the at least 140 countries who have supported expressions of rebuke at the world’s parliament.

Most of them are democracies, underlining one of the themes of Joe Biden’s foreign policy outlook, that the world is approaching a decisive struggle between democracy and autocracy, whose outcome is uncertain and therefore requires the active engagement of democratic nations.

Updated

Ukraine’s new agriculture minister, Mykola Solskyi, said on Saturday that Ukraine’s ability to export grains was getting worse by the day and would only improve if the war with Russia ended.

Speaking in a televised briefing, Solskyi said Ukraine, one of the world’s top grain producers, would normally be exporting 4-5 million tonnes of grain per month – a volume that has fallen to just a few hundred-thousand tonnes.

He said:

The impact [on global markets] is direct, dramatic and large. And it continues.

Every day the situation will become more and more difficult.

Updated

Ukraine has received additional security pledges from the United States on developing defence cooperation, its foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said on Saturday.

“We did receive additional promises from the United States on how our defence co-operation will evolve,” Kuleba told reporters, the Reuters news agency reported.

Joe Biden participates in a meeting with the Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, second from left, and the Ukrainian defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov.
Joe Biden participates in a meeting with the Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, second from left, and the Ukrainian defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov.
Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

Hello. I’m Tom Ambrose and will be with you for the next hour or so.

Updated

Russia reasserts right to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine

The Kremlin again raised the spectre of the use of nuclear weapons in the war with Ukraine as Russian forces struggled to hold a key city in the south the country.

Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president who is deputy chairman of the country’s security council, said Moscow could strike against an enemy that only used conventional weapons while Vladimir Putin’s defence minster claimed nuclear “readiness” was a priority.

The comments on Saturday prompted Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in an appearance by video link at Qatar’s Doha Forum to warn that Moscow was a direct threat to the world.

Russia is deliberating bragging they can destroy with nuclear weapons, not only a certain country but the entire planet.

Russia has approximately 6,000 nuclear warheads – the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world. In an interview on Saturday, Medvedev said Russia’s nuclear doctrine did not require an enemy state to use such weapons first. He said:

We have a special document on nuclear deterrence. This document clearly indicates the grounds on which the Russian Federation is entitled to use nuclear weapons. There are a few of them, let me remind them to you.

Number one is the situation when Russia is struck by a nuclear missile. The second case is any use of other nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies. The third is an attack on a critical infrastructure that will have paralysed our nuclear deterrent forces. And the fourth case is when an act of aggression is committed against Russia and its allies, which jeopardised the existence of the country itself, even without the use of nuclear weapons, that is, with the use of conventional weapons.

Medvedev added that there was a “determination to defend the independence, sovereignty of our country, not to give anyone a reason to doubt even the slightest that we are ready to give a worthy response to any infringement on our country, on its independence”.

Updated

The UK’s defence attaché, Air Vice-Marshal Mick Smeath has said Russian forces are continuing to avoid urban warfare in favour of bombarding civilian areas of the cities they are attacking.

The Ministry of Defence’s defence intelligence says Russia continues to besiege a number of major Ukrainian cities including Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol.

Russian forces are proving reluctant to engage in large scale urban infantry operations, rather preferring to rely on the indiscriminate use of air and artillery bombardments in an attempt to demoralise defending forces.

It is likely Russia will continue to use its heavy firepower on urban areas as it looks to limit its own already considerable losses, at the cost of further civilian casualties.

Biden arrives in Warsaw for talks

The US president, Joe Biden, has arrived at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw for talks with his counterpart the Polish president, Andrzej Duda, that will focus partly on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The presidents of the USA and Poland stand during the national anthems
The presidents of the USA and Poland stand during the national anthems
Photograph: Kacper Pempel/Reuters

Biden has been arguing that the “free world” opposes Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and that there is unity among major economies on the need to stop Vladimir Putin.

His trip to Warsaw includes meetings with the Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, and its defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov – his first face-to-face meeting with top Ukrainian officials since the start of the war.

Updated

Last week, we reported on the death of the Ukrainian gay rights activist Elya Shchemur, who was killed during Russian shelling in Kharkiv. Her colleagues at NGO Women’s Association Sphere have been in touch with a statement in her memory.

On 17 March 2022, the 22nd day of the escalation of the Russian military invasion in Ukraine, the body of the activist of KharkivPride and the volunteer of feminist and LGBT+ movements Elvira (Elya) Shchemur was retrieved from the rubble of the Kharkiv administrative building.

We started our work in 2020. Together, we staged a number of Pride performances in the city. Since then, Elya was actively involved in the preparation of different actions, fearlessly participating in public events.

She was sincerely devoted to our common goal and kept on fighting for human rights in Ukraine.

Our last common action was the “Hell Nicholas” (opposed to St Nicholas) at the General Consulate of the Russian Federation in Kharkiv, where we presented an antimilitary message from the LGBT+ community to President Putin.

Elya joined the volunteer unit, started helping barely an hour into the invasion and died at its headquarters as a consequence of the bombing of Kharkiv city centre.

We will remember Elya as energetic, motivated, positive and certainly inspiring. She will remain in our hearts this way.

Elya Shchemur, who died in Kharkiv
Elya Shchemur, who died in Kharkiv.
Photograph: KharkivPride / Sphere NGO

Updated

The US president, Joe Biden, is scheduled to give a major speech on the Ukraine crisis in Warsaw on Saturday, where he is expected to argue that Europe, Nato, and the world’s economies are unified against Russian aggression.

Biden’s speech will probably meet an extremely receptive audience in a country whose history has made it pro-American, pro-Nato, and vigilant against Russia. Appeals to the “free world” are not viewed as cynically here as they sometimes are in western Europe. Freedom is a hard-won and fragile achievement in Poland, though the country’s commitment to liberal democracy has been tested in recent years by a tide of rightwing populism and reactionary Catholicism; the president Andrzej Duda’s governing Law and Justice party has been hostile to LGBT rights and independent media and tightened control over the judiciary.

Over the past several months, the US has bolstered its eastern European allies with the temporary deployment of thousands of additional US troops in Poland, Germany, and Romania. After some strains in its relationships with the US and the European Union in recent years, Poland – which already hosted numerous American and Nato military bases and is a cornerstone of Nato’s eastern front – is enjoying a centre-stage position.

The US and Poland have sometimes disagreed about the best way to support Ukraine. Earlier this month, the US rejected a Polish proposal to send Soviet-era MiG fighter planes to Ukraine via American bases, which the White House viewed as too potentially escalatory.

Similarly, when Jarosław Kaczyński – a Polish politician considered even more influential than President Duda – recently suggested that Nato deploy a peacekeeping force to Ukraine, Washington quickly and quietly swept the idea off the table.

This is Biden’s second day in Poland. After stopping in Brussels to announce a plan to curb Europe’s dependence on Russian energy, Biden arrived on Friday in Rzeszów, a Polish city about an hour’s drive from the Ukrainian border, where he spoke to American paratroopers and received a briefing on the humanitarian crisis. He is scheduled to meet Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw.

Against most evidence to the contrary, the Russian military recently declared it has achieved the first phase of its war aims in Ukraine; observers have interpreted that statement as a possible sign that Russia is looking for a way to wind down the war.

Updated

Western officials believe the Kremlin has lost eight high-level military officers since the invasion began; seven of whom have been killed. They are:

  • Maj Gen Andrey Mordvich: killed in action
  • Maj Gen Oleg Mityaev: killed in action
  • Lt Gen Yakov Rezanstev: killed in action
  • Maj Gen Vitaliy Gerasimov: killed in action
  • Maj Gen Andrei Sukhovetsky: killed in action
  • Maj Gen Andrey Kolesnikov: killed in action
  • Gen Magomed Tushaev: killed in action
  • Gen Vlaislav Yershov: sacked

Updated

The mayor of the besieged city of Mariupol has said he has spoken to France’s ambassador to Ukraine about options for evacuating civilians, after the French president, Emmanuel Macron, said he would propose to Russia a plan to help people leave.

Speaking on national television, Vadym Boichenko, said the situation in the encircled city remained critical, with street fighting taking place in its centre.

Updated

The Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu attends a meeting on the military-industrial complex and Russian arms production
The Russian defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, attends a meeting on the military-industrial complex and Russian arms production
Photograph: Russian Defence Ministry/AFP/Getty Images

The Russian defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, has been seen chairing an army meeting and discussing weapons supplies in a video posted by his ministry, Reuters reports; the first time he had publicly been shown speaking for more than two weeks.

In the video, uploaded on social media, Shoigu said he had discussed issues related to the military budget and defence orders with the finance ministry. Shoigu, who is overseeing what Russia calls its special military operation in Ukraine, said:

We continue ahead-of-schedule delivery of weaponry and equipment by means of credits. The priorities are long-range high-precision weapons, aircraft equipment and maintenance of engagement readiness of strategic nuclear forces.

The meeting was attended by top Russian army officials; including the chief of the general staff, Valery Gerasimov, who also had not been seen in public recently.

Shoigu appeared on screen in a video clip of a meeting between the president, Vladimir Putin, and his security council on Thursday, but was not shown speaking. Prior to that, he had not been seen in public since 11 March, fuelling speculation about his whereabouts, Reuters reports.

Updated

Kharkiv is facing perhaps the most intense Russian shelling campaign outside Mariupol. Civilians in Ukraine’s second largest city say they are being punished because troops held off Russian forces. Emma Graham-Harrison and Isobel Koshiw tell their stories:

Russians approach Chernobyl disaster site

Russian forces have taken control of the town of Slavutych, where workers at the defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant live, the governor of Kyiv region Oleksandr Pavlyuk has said.

According to Reuters, he said said Russian troops had occupied the hospital in Slavutych and kidnapped the mayor. The news agency said it could not independently verify the reports.

On Friday, Ukraine said its troops had repulsed a first attack by Russian troops closing in on the town.

The Ukrainian deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk holding a press conference in Kyiv earlier this month
The Ukrainian deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk holding a press conference in Kyiv earlier this month
Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

An agreement has been reached on the establishment of 10 humanitarian corridors on Saturday to evacuate civilians from frontline towns and cities, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said.

Speaking on national television, she said civilians trying to leave the besieged southern port of Mariupol would have to leave in private cars as Russian forces were not letting buses through their checkpoints around the southern port city.

The Reuters news agency reported that it could not independently verify this information. Ukraine and Russia have traded blame when humanitarian corridors have failed to work in recent weeks.

Updated

Lubkivskyi said he believes Kyiv’s forces could seize back Kherson, the first major city the invading forces took control of.

I believe that today the city will be fully under the control of Ukrainian armed forces. We have finished in the last two days the operation in the Kyiv region so other armed forces are now focused on the southern part trying to get free Kherson and some other Ukrainian cities.

An adviser to the Ukrainian defence minister remains sceptical over the Kremlin’s claims but has said the invading forces do appear focused on the east of the nation now. Markian Lubkivskyi has told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

We cannot believe the statements from Moscow because there’s still a lot of untruth and lies from that side. That’s why we understand the goal of (Vladimir) Putin still is the whole of Ukraine.

And the last information we got from the ground, a lot of attacks from the air from Ukrainian cities. That’s why I can’t say the information coming from Moscow is correct, because we see a difference.

We can see now that the enemy is focused on the eastern part of Ukraine but we are ready for any kind of attacks in different Ukrainian places.

In the UK, a government minister has warned that Moscow’s claims should be treated sceptically after hints at a possible scaling back of the conflict. Representing the UK government, the policing minister Kit Maltouse told BBC Breakfast:

I’m not qualified to say, but what I do know is there’s an awful lot of misinformation and disinformation flying around in this awful conflict. And we need to take care that what first appears may not in fact be the truth. Let’s hope there may well be a cessation of hostilities as soon as possible.

He said refugees have arrived in the UK through the homes for Ukraine scheme, but said the number would not be published until “next week”. He said 20,100 visas had been granted through the extended family route, with another 35,000 “in the process”.

The government has been heavily criticised for its reluctance to take in Ukrainians seeking refuge and for placing much of the burden of dealing with the issue on individuals.

Updated

Summary

It’s now 10.10 am in Ukraine. Here is a recap of where the crisis now stands:

  • Joe Biden will argue that the “free world” is united in its efforts to support the Ukrainian people, in a speech to be delivered on Saturday during his visit to Poland. Biden will also talk of efforts to hold Russia accountable “for its brutal war” and defend “a future that is rooted in democratic principles”, the White House said in a statement.
  • In a video address on Friday night, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said his country’s forces had “dealt powerful blows” to Russian troops, adding that their success in repelling attacks was leading the Russian leadership “to a simple and logical idea: talk is necessary.” He reiterated Ukraine’s terms, including sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  • Earlier, Russia’s defence ministry said the first phase of its military operation was “generally” complete, and that its forces would focus on the “liberation” of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. The comments prompted speculation that Russia is scaling back its ambitions.
  • Russia also said 1,351 of its soldiers have died in combat. Zelenskiy has claimed at least 16,000 Russians have been killed.
  • The UK’s ministry of defence warned on Saturday morning that it appeared likely Russia “will continue to use its heavy firepower on urban areas as it looks to limit its own already considerable losses, at the cost of further civilian casualties.” Russia continues to besiege a number of major Ukrainian cities including Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol, it said.
  • According to a briefing by a US official on Friday, Russia does not at the moment appear to be pursuing a ground offensive towards Kyiv. The official added: “They are digging in, they are establishing defensive positions, they don’t show any signs of being willing to move on Kyiv from the ground.” Airstrikes on Kyiv, however, were ongoing.
  • The immense human cost of the war has continued to mount. The Russian invasion has killed 136 children so far, while a further 199 children have been injured, according to an update posted on Facebook on Saturday by the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office. It is not possible to verify these figures. The UN rights office on Friday said that it had confirmed 1,081 civilian deaths and 1,707 injuries.

I’m now handing over to my colleague in London, Kevin Rawlinson.

Updated

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has called on energy producing countries to increase output so that Russia cannot use its oil and gas wealth to “blackmail” other nations, reports Reuters.

Addressing the Doha Forum international conference via video link on Saturday, Zelenskiy said no country is insured against shocks from disruptions to food supply happening because of Russia’s invasion of his country.

Updated

Russian ex-president and deputy head of the security council Dmitry Medvedev has said western sanctions against Russian businesses will not influence Moscow or prompt popular discontent.

Reuters has published a summary of his comments, which were made in an interview with Russia’s RIA news agency:

The west has imposed an array of sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, but one month into the war, the Kremlin says it will continue the assault until it accomplishes its goals of Ukraine’s “demilitarisation and denazification”.

“Let us ask ourselves: can any of these major businessmen have even the tiniest quantum of influence of the position of the country’s leadership?” Medvedev said. “I openly tell you: no, no way.”

Medvedev said there are several grounds under which Russia has the right to use nuclear weapons, including an attack on the country or encroachment on infrastructure as a result of which Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces would be paralysed.

That demonstrated Russia’s “determination to defend the independence, sovereignty of our country, not to give anyone a reason to doubt even the slightest that we are ready to give a worthy response to any infringement on our country, on its independence,” he said.

However, negotiations – even in the most difficult situations such as those around Ukraine – are Moscow’s preferred path to proceed, he added.

Medvedev said opinion polls showed three-quarters of Russians supported the Kremlin’s decision to carry out a military operation in Ukraine and even more supported the president, Vladimir Putin.

While downplaying the economic impact of sanctions, Medvedev said the Russian government would have to find “adequate solutions” on its own to spur the development of the aircraft, automotive and IT industries, among others.

Updated

The UK ministry of defence has posted its latest intelligence update, warning that Russia is likely to continue to use heavy firepower on urban areas “as it looks to limit its own already considerable losses”.

Here is the MoD’s latest analysis:

  • Russia continues to besiege a number of major Ukrainian cities including Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol.
  • Russian forces are proving reluctant to engage in large-scale urban infantry operations, rather preferring to rely on the indiscriminate use of air and artillery bombardments in an attempt to demoralise defending forces.
  • It is likely Russia will continue to use its heavy firepower on urban areas as it looks to limit its own already considerable losses, at the cost of further civilian casualties.

Updated

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has killed 136 children, says Ukraine’s prosecutor general

The war in Ukraine has killed 136 children so far, while a further 199 children have been injured, according to an update posted on Facebook by the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office. It is not possible to verify these figures.

On Friday, the UN rights office said that it had confirmed 1,081 civilian deaths and 1,707 injuries in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion.

Updated

Ukraine’s defence ministry has said its forces have continued to defend the capital, Kyiv, against Russian attacks, and claimed Russian troops were struggling to “maintain the necessary pace of combat and achieve the ultimate goal of the war”.

In a statement, the ministry said Russian forces were facing challenges in replacing personnel and supplies, due partly to international sanctions. Russian equipment was in a poor condition after being kept in long-term storage, it said.

Airstrikes by Russian forces had continued, however, the ministry added.

In the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, it claimed Ukrainian forces had destroyed eight Russian tanks, as well as shooting down three planes and three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

These claims have not been verified.

Updated

Ukraine has ‘dealt powerful blows’ to Russian forces – Zelenskiy

In a video address on Friday night, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said there must be serious conversations to end the war.

He reiterated Ukraine’s terms, including sovereignty and territorial integrity, and underlined that conditions should be “fair”.

Zelenskiy thanked Ukrainians who have fought against the Russian invasion, stating: “Over the past week, our heroic armed forces have dealt powerful blows to the enemy, significant losses.” He said more than 16,000 Russians have been killed, including commanders. Russia says 1,351 soldiers have died in combat.

“The armed forces continue to repel enemy attacks, in the south of the country, in Donbas, in the Kharkiv direction and in the Kyiv region,” Zelenskiy said. “By restraining Russia’s actions, our defenders are leading the Russian leadership to a simple and logical idea: talk is necessary. Meaningful, urgent, fair.”

 

Updated

Biden to argue the ‘free world’ is united in support of Ukraine during Poland speech

The US president, Joe Biden, will say that the “free world” opposes Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and that there is unity among major economies on the need to stop Vladimir Putin during a speech in Poland on Saturday, reports Reuters.

Biden will meet with the Polish president, Andrzej Duda, on Saturday, following three days of meetings with allies of the G7, European council and Nato.

Reuters has further detail:

Biden, who took office last year after a violently contested election, vowed to restore democracy at home and unite democracies abroad to confront autocrats including the Russian president and China’s leader, Xi Jinping.

Putin’s 24 February invasion of Ukraine, which Russia calls a “special operation”, has tested that promise and threatened to inaugurate a new cold war three decades after the Soviet Union unravelled.

In what US officials were billing as a major address in Poland, Biden “will deliver remarks on the united efforts of the free world to support the people of Ukraine, hold Russia accountable for its brutal war and defend a future that is rooted in democratic principles”, the White House said in a statement.

Biden and Duda will also meet privately to discuss security matters, including questions over how to arm Ukraine.

Updated

Here are some images from the past 24 hours in Ukraine and neighbouring countries.

In Kharkiv, residents have faced continued Russian shelling, including of civilian buildings, according to the local authorities. On Friday, a video appeared to show civilians shelled while receiving humanitarian aid in the city.

Volunteers help an elderly woman to go downstairs to a bomb shelter in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Friday, March 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Volunteers help an elderly woman to go downstairs to a bomb shelter in Kharkiv on Friday.
Photograph: Efrem Lukatsky/AP
People sit inside a subway car, parked in a station being used as a bomb shelter, as Russian attacks continue in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Friday, March 25, 2022.
People sit inside a subway car, parked in a station being used as a bomb shelter.
Photograph: Felipe Dana/AP

US officials said on Friday Russian forces appear to have halted their ground offensive aimed at capturing the capital, Kyiv, and were focused on gaining control of the Donbas region in the south-east.

Photographs captured by Associated Press show damaged buildings, including an Orthodox Church, at Yasnohorodka, a town on the outskirts of Kyiv. The Ukrainian army stopped the advance of the Russian army in the area, according to AP.

Damage is seen inside a Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Yasnohorodka, a rural town where the Ukrainian army stopped the advance of the Russian army, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, March 25, 2022. (AP Photo/ (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Rubble inside a damaged Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Yasnohorodka.
Photograph: Rodrigo Abd/AP
A member of the Ukraine territorial defense unit prepares to go to the front line in Yasnohorodka, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, March 25, 2022. (AP Photo/ (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
A member of a Ukrainian territorial defence unit prepares to go to the frontline in Yasnohorodka.
Photograph: Rodrigo Abd/AP

Some 3.7 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion a month ago, according to the UN.

A child refugee fleeing the war from neighboring Ukraine with her family reacts as she sits in a bus after crossing the border by ferry at the Isaccea-Orlivka border crossing, in Romania, Friday, March 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)
A Ukrainian child smiles from a bus after crossing the Romanian border by ferry.
Photograph: Andreea Alexandru/AP

Updated

Joe Biden will spend a second day in Poland on Saturday, where he will meet with the president, Andrzej Duda, and give a speech on Russia’s invasion.

On Friday, a senior US defence official briefed reporters in Warsaw on the state of the war. Here’s a recap of the key points:

  • The US has observed more than 1,250 missile launches since the start of the invasion.
  • It appears that the Russians are at the moment not pursuing a ground offensive towards Kyiv, but “they are digging in, they are establishing defensive positions, they don’t show any signs of being willing to move on Kyiv from the ground”.
  • The US is still observing airstrikes on Kyiv, but nothing on the ground “in keeping with our assessment of a couple of days ago that they are going to prioritise the eastern part of the country”.
  • “We’re seeing the Ukrainians really go now on the offence around Kyiv. That includes to the west of it … The Russians are in a defensive position around Kyiv on the ground.”
  • Asked if the US has seen indications that Vladimir Putin has become more reckless in his tactics as Russia has not achieved its goals, the senior official said: “You can see for yourself how they have tried to make up for the fact that they haven’t been able to move well on the ground by the increasing use of airstrikes and missile strikes and artillery strikes on population centres.”

You can read the full remarks from the background briefing here.

Updated

On Friday, Russia’s defence ministry said the first phase of its military operation was “generally” complete, and that its forces would focus on the “liberation” of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

Has President Vladimir Putin scaled back his ambitions in Ukraine? He has previously stated his aim was to “denazify” the government and “liberate” the Donbas.

Associated Press has the following analysis:

The dug-in defensive positions taken recently by some Russian forces near Kyiv indicate a recognition of the surprisingly stout Ukrainian resistance.

On the other hand, Russian forces might be aiming to continue the war with a narrower focus, not necessarily as an endgame but as a way of regrouping from early failures and using the Donbas as a new starting point, one US analyst said.

AP writes that Russian forces are under great pressure in many areas of the country, and that US and others are accelerating their transfer of arms and supplies to Ukraine.

A month of fighting has left Russian forces stalled in much of the country, including on their paths toward Kyiv. A senior US defence official said Russian ground forces in the past few days have shown little interest in moving on Kyiv, though they are keeping up airstrikes on the capital.

“At least for the moment, they don’t appear to want to pursue Kyiv as aggressively, or frankly at all. They are focused on the Donbas,” the official said.

Updated

Hello, it’s Rebecca Ratcliffe with you as we continue our live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

It’s now 6am in Kyiv. Here is a summary of how the crisis currently stands:

  • In a video address late on Friday night, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, reiterated the need for peace talks and said his country’s forces had delivered “powerful blows” to Russia. “By restraining Russia’s actions, our defenders are leading the Russian leadership to a simple and logical idea: talk is necessary. Meaningful, urgent, fair,” he said, adding Ukraine would not give up territory.
  • The Russian defence ministry earlier said the first phase of its military operation was “generally” complete, saying the country will focus on the “liberation” of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. The comments appeared to suggest a downgrading of its objectives.
  • Joe Biden is visiting Poland, in a show of support for eastern European states. He will meet with the Polish president, Andrzej Duda, on Saturday, as well as with Ukrainian refugees and the Warsaw mayor, Rafał Trzaskowski, to discuss relief efforts. Poland has received more than 2.2 million refugees from Ukraine.
  • The immense human toll of the war continues to escalate. The UN said a confirmed 1,081 civilians had died and 1,707 had been injured, with the real toll expected to be significantly higher.
  • Authorities in Mariupol have said as many as 300 people were killed in a Russian bombing of a theatre last week, putting a death toll for the first time on the deadliest single attack since Moscow launched its invasion.
  • Putin on Friday signed into law a bill introducing jail terms of up to 15 years for publishing “fake” information about any of Russia’s actions abroad. On Friday, he also claimed the west was supposedly discriminating against Russian culture, comparing the treatment of Russian cultural figures to that of the “cancelled” Harry Potter author JK Rowling.

Updated

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GlaxoSmithKline says it will not start any new clinical trials in Russia

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “GlaxoSmithKline says it will not start any new clinical trials in Russia” was written by Julia Kollewe, for theguardian.com on Thursday 17th March 2022 12.28 UTC

GlaxoSmithKline has joined other drugmakers in halting new clinical trials in Russia while still providing essential medicines to the country. Like others in the sector, it will push on with existing trials.

It said it would not start any new clinical trials and would not enrol new patients into existing trials in Russia, echoing steps taken by its British rival AstraZeneca and the US firms Pfizer and Eli Lilly. GSK has already stopped advertising its products in the country and will donate any profits made there to humanitarian relief efforts.

GSK is trialling medicines from various therapy areas across its portfolio in Russia, because the country’s regulatory authorities require local clinical data to be included in the submissions of drugs for approval.

It employs 1,100 people in Russia and 400 in Ukraine, where it has paused trials and all other operations. Russia and Ukraine together account for 1% of its £34bn annual sales. GSK does not have any manufacturing sites in Russia or Ukraine.

AstraZeneca, Britain’s biggest pharmaceutical firm, is still conducting clinical trials of new medicines in Russia and Ukraine, despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine three weeks ago.

They are thought to include a trial of the combined use of its Covid-19 vaccine with the Russian Sputnik Lite jab, involving 100 volunteers in Russia and 100 volunteers in Azerbaijan. AstraZeneca, in partnership with Russia’s sovereign wealth fund and the Russian pharmaceutical firm R-Pharm, announced interim results of intermediate clinical trials to evaluate the safety of the combination in mid-February.

Sir Mene Pangalos, AstraZeneca’s executive vice-president of biopharmaceuticals research & development, told the Guardian that it was important to push ahead with clinical trials.

“The most important thing for us is to keep our employees safe and to make the supply of medicines to all these countries remains so people don’t get sick,” he said.

“From a practical perspective, we have a lot of trials that are running in both Ukraine and in Russia. It’s trying to keep business continuity for those clinical trials which are important for patients and physicians but ultimately also important … [for] our research and development pipeline.”

Pfizer said this week that it would no longer start new clinical trials in Russia, and donate all profits from its subsidiary there to Ukraine relief causes. The US drugmaker will continue to supply life-saving medicines to Russia as “a voluntary pause in the flow of our medicines to Russia would be in direct violation of our foundational principle of putting patients first”.

Eli Lilly said: “We also have suspended all investments, promotional activities, and new clinical trials in Russia, as well as the exportation of non-essential medicines to that country. Our Russian operations are now only focused on ensuring people suffering from diseases like cancer and diabetes continue to get the Lilly medicines they need.”

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Ukraine-Russia war latest: homes in Kyiv and Kharkiv struck by shelling; Zelenskiy to address US Congress – live

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Ukraine-Russia war latest: homes in Kyiv and Kharkiv struck by shelling; Zelenskiy to address US Congress – live” was written by Tom Ambrose (now) and Samantha Lock (earlier), for theguardian.com on Wednesday 16th March 2022 08.32 UTC

Ukraine’€™s armed forces are launching counteroffensives against Russian forces “in several operational areas,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter.

“This radically changes the parties’€™ dispositions,” he added, without giving details.

More on this as it comes.

The Netherlands and other Nato countries will continue to deliver weapons to Ukraine even as these deliveries could become the target of Russian attacks, Dutch defence minister Kajsa Ollongren said on Wednesday.

“The Netherlands and other countries will continue to deliver weapons to Ukraine”, Ollongren said at her arrival for a meeting with Nato defence ministers in Brussels.

“Ukraine has the right to defend itself, we will continue to support it.”

Dutch Minister of Defense Kajsa Ollongren speaks to the press ahead of an extraordinary meeting of the NATO Council.
The Dutch defence minister, Kajsa Ollongren, speaks to the media ahead of an extraordinary meeting of the Nato council. Photograph: Stéphanie Lecocq/EPA

Updated

A senior Ukrainian official said it was an “open question” whether a humanitarian corridor would be opened on Wednesday to evacuate more civilians from the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

Deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk also said in a video address that Russian forces were in control of a hospital they captured on Tuesday in Mariupol, and that 400 staff and patients there were being held hostage.

Russian troops had opened fire from artillery positions on the grounds of the hospital, she said. Reuters was unable immediately to verify the information.

Updated

The British Foreign Secretary said sanctions from the UK and other western nations were having a “debilitating affect on the Russian economy” but urged allies to go further.

Liz Truss, speaking to Sky News, said:

What we know is that Vladimir Putin’s plans are not going according to plan.

He is not making the progress expected, and we know the sanctions we’ve put on are working.

They are having a debilitating affect on the Russian economy… Those sanctions are really beginning to bite.

Truss said further British sanctions should be expected, saying “we’ve got more individuals on our list” as well as companies to target, but called for allies to do more, PA Media reported.

Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss arrives in Downing Street to attend weekly Cabinet meeting in London, United Kingdom on March 15, 2022.
Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss arrives in Downing Street to attend weekly Cabinet meeting in London, United Kingdom on March 15, 2022. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

She noted that the European Union had sanctioned three Russian banks compared with the UK and US targeting 10 major banks, and said “we’d like to see them sanction even more banks”, while also arguing that more sanctions could come “collectively” from the 141 countries that voted against Russia at the UN General Assembly.

The emergency services in Ukraine’s eastern region of Kharkiv region said on Wednesday that at least 500 residents of the city have been killed since Russia invaded on 24 February.

Reuters was unable immediately to verify the information. Russia denies targeting civilians.

Russian rocket attack in Kharkiv.
Russian rocket attack in Kharkiv. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

I’m Tom Ambrose and I’ll be bringing you all the latest news over the next three hours.

Summary

Hello it’s Samantha Lock with you as we cover the latest developments from Ukraine. Before I hand over to my colleague Tom Ambrose here is a quick recap of where we stand on day 21 of Russia’s war.

  • In Kyiv, a 12-storey residential building has been damaged after it was hit by Russian shelling this morning.
  • Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv also came under attack overnight with two people confirmed dead and two residential buildings destroyed, Ukraine’s state emergency services said in an update this morning.
  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy gave a late-night national address where he confirmed meetings between Ukrainian and Russian officials continue, adding that “the positions at negotiations are more realistic now”.
  • However, Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said there are “fundamental contradictions” in talks aimed at ending Russia’s military attack but there is “certainly room for compromise”.
  • Addressing Russian citizens, Zelenskiy said the war would end in “disgrace, poverty, year-long isolation [and] a brutal repressive system”. “If you stay in your posts, if you don’t speak out against the war, the international community will strip you off of everything you have earned over the years. They are working on it,” he said.
  • Zelenskiy is due to address US Congress on Wednesday and is likely to make fresh calls for a no-fly zone and requests for more military aid, including fighter jets.
  • EU leaders vowed support for Ukraine during a visit to Kyiv. The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia arrived in the capital earlier on Tuesday in a show of support for Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who briefed them on the war with Russia. Poland’s Jarosław Kaczyński called for a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine, with Czech prime minister Petr Fiala saying: “You are not alone. Our countries stand with you. Europe stands with your country”.
  • Nato is set to tell its military commanders on Wednesday to draw up plans for new ways to deter Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, including more troops and missile defences in eastern Europe, officials and diplomats said. The Ukrainian minster for defence, Oleksii Reznikov, is expected to plead for more weapons from individual Nato countries, according to a Reuters report.
  • US president Joe Biden is expected to announce an additional $800m in security assistance to Ukraine on Wednesday, a White House official said as reported by Reuters news agency.
  • The US Senate unanimously passed a resolution late on Tuesday night condemning Russian president Vladimir Putin as a war criminal, a rare show of unity in the deeply divided Congress.
  • Russian forces have reportedly taken patients and medical staff of a hospital in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol hostage. According to the BBC, the city’s deputy mayor Sergei Orlov said there were 400 people in the hospital and the Russian army were “using our patients and doctors like hostages”.
  • About 2,000 cars were able to leave Mariupol, according to local authorities.
  • A woman who interrupted a live news programme on Russian state TV last night to protest against the war in Ukraine has been fined 30,000 roubles (£215) by a Russian court. Marina Ovsyannikova, a Russian television producer, was found guilty of flouting protest legislation, the Russian state news agency RIA reported.
  • The UK is to impose sanctions on 370 more Russian individuals, including more than 50 oligarchs and their families with a combined net worth of £100bn. More than 1,000 individuals and entities have now been targeted with sanctions since the invasion of Ukraine, with fresh measures announced against key Kremlin spokespeople and political allies of Putin, including the defence minister, Sergei Shoigu.
  • Boris Johnson will visit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday to ask the Gulf states to produce more oil and help the UK reduce dependence on Russian oil.
  • More than 100,000 people in the UK have offered homes to Ukrainian refugees in the first 24 hours of a government scheme that allows families and individuals to bring them to the UK.
  • China’s ambassador to the US penned an interesting op-ed for the Washington Post, saying his government knew nothing of Russia’s plans and would have tried to stop it if they had.
  • China also lambasted Taiwan’s humanitarian aid for Ukraine and sanctions on Russia as “taking advantage of other’s difficulties” after the island announced it was sending more funds donated by the public for refugees.
Two women hold anti-war placards in Istanbul, Turkey
Two women hold anti-war placards in Istanbul, Turkey Photograph: Dilara Senkaya/Reuters

Updated

Russian state energy giant Gazprom has said it continues shipping gas to Europe via Ukraine, with daily volumes set at 95m cubic metres, in line with customers’ requests but down 13% from 109.6m cubic metres on Tuesday, according to a Reuters report.

Updated

The Ukrainian military says 13,800 Russian soldiers have died since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February.

According to the report released by Ukraine’s ministry of defence, a further 430 tanks, 1,375 armoured combat vehicles, 190 artillery systems and 108 helicopters have also been destroyed.

Updated

Two people confirmed dead and residential building destroyed in attack on Kharkiv

Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv also came under attack overnight with two people confirmed dead and two residential buildings destroyed.

“As a result of an artillery attack on the multi-storey buildings in the Nemyshlyansky district of Kharkiv, several apartments in two residential buildings were destroyed,” Ukraine’s state emergency services said in an update this morning.

Rescuers worked to put out the blaze, rescuing four people from the collapse of a building but were unable to save two others who were killed in the attack, the agency added.

A school also reportedly came under attack at around 3am with part of a building destroyed.

Two residential buildings in Kharkiv were destroyed overnight, according to Ukraine’s state emergency services
Two residential buildings in Kharkiv were destroyed overnight, according to Ukraine’s state emergency services Photograph: Ukraine’s state emergency services

Updated

The UK Ministry of Defence has issued its latest intelligence report on the situation in Ukraine, saying Russian forces are “struggling to overcome the challenges posed by Ukraine’s terrain” and have stalled in their advance.

The report reads:

Russian forces are struggling to overcome the challenges posed by Ukraine’s terrain.

Russian forces have remained largely tied to Ukraine’s road network and have demonstrated a reluctance to conduct off-road manoeuvre. The destruction of bridges by Ukrainian forces has also played a key role in stalling Russia’s advance.

Russia’s continued failure to gain control of the air has drastically limited their ability to effectively use air manoeuvre, further limiting their options.

The tactics of the Ukrainian armed forces have adeptly exploited Russia’s lack of manoeuvre, frustrating the Russian advance and inflicting heavy losses on the invading forces.”

Updated

Kyiv struck by Russian shelling this morning

A 12-storey residential building has been damaged after it was hit by Russian shelling in Kyiv’s Shevchenkivskyi district this morning.

Ukraine’s state emergency services said they received a report at 6.16am, confirming shell fragments fell into the building causing the top floor to collapse as well as damaging a nine-storey building next door.

The agency said the building erupted in a blaze but fires were put out by 7.45am with no burning observed in the neighbouring building. Two people were injured and 37 were evacuated from the building, it added.

Work on the search for victims and dismantling of structures continues.

The attack comes as residents plunged into a new two-day curfew across the city and hunkered down in bunkers, underground shelters and their homes.

A 12-storey residential building has been damaged after it was hit by Russian shelling in Kyiv
A 12-storey residential building has been damaged after it was hit by Russian shelling in Kyiv Photograph: Ukraine’s state emergency services
Ukraine’s state emergency services said they received a report at 6.16am, confirming shell fragments fell into the building causing the top floor to collapse
Ukraine’s state emergency services said they received a report at 6.16am, confirming shell fragments fell into the building causing the top floor to collapse Photograph: Ukraine’s state emergency services

Updated

The aftermath of Russian missile strikes on residential districts in Kyiv can be seen in the photos below.

Russian troops intensified their attacks on the Ukrainian capital with a series of powerful explosions rocking several neighbourhoods on Tuesday.

A blaze breaks out at a 16-story apartment building hit by Russian attacks in the Sviatoshynskyi district of Kyiv
A blaze breaks out at a 16-story apartment building hit by Russian attacks in the Sviatoshynskyi district of Kyiv Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Firefighters work to extinguish flames in an apartment building hit by shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine
Firefighters work to extinguish flames in an apartment building hit by shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine Photograph: Felipe Dana/AP
A police officer seen outside a damaged apartment building in Kyiv
A police officer seen outside a damaged apartment building in Kyiv Photograph: Marcus Yam/LOS ANGELES TIMES/REX/Shutterstock

Zelenskiy to address US Congress and call for tougher line against Russia

Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, will deliver a virtual address to the US Congress on Wednesday, the latest in a series of speeches to western leaders as he works to galvanise support for his besieged nation.

Zelenskiy is expected to call on the US once again to “close the skies” over Ukraine.

He is also likely to press to be supplied with fighter jets by Nato allies that Ukrainian pilots can fly up against Russian air forces, and steeper economic sanctions in the face of an advancing Russian assault.

The Biden administration has so far flatly ruled out an option of the west imposing a no-fly zone over the country, determined to avoid inevitable direct combat between the US and Russian forces – a conflict the US president has said would lead to “world war three”.

The Biden administration also rejected an offer from Poland to turn over its Soviet-era fighter jets to Ukraine, which had been made only if the US and Nato facilitated the transfer. Administration officials argued the move could be seen as escalatory by Moscow.

A Ukrainian scientist in Antarctica has told of watching the war unfold in his homeland from afar.

Yan Bakhmut was 15,500km miles away from his home in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv when the Russian invasion began. Working as a geophysicist at the Vernadsky Station, Ukraine’s only research base in Antarctica, he has watched the horrors of the war unfold from an agonising distance.

Now his year-long assignment to the remote outpost is nearing its conclusion and he faces the bitter task of returning to Europe and a country that has changed forever.

Bakhmut’s mother and girlfriend have left for Poland while his father and grandmother fled to western Ukraine. Professors at the institute where he worked before taking up his post in Antarctica have joined the territorial defence units.

“It’s impossible to describe, you can only live through it when you are thousands of kilometres away from everything and everyone you know and love, when you can’t influence anything,” Bakhmut said in a phone call with the Guardian.

Updated

While we are on the topic of China, the Guardian’s correspondent in Taipei, Helen Davidson, brings us this story.

Lu Yuguang of Chinese news outlet Phoenix TV appears to have gained exclusive access to Moscow’s side of the invasion of Ukraine.

Lu, a veteran war reporter, is perhaps the only foreign correspondent embedded with Russian troops as they continue the brutal invasion of Ukraine.

He has filed reports from cities under Russian attack since the invasion began almost three weeks ago, including in Mariupol where local authorities say thousands of people have been killed.

Read the full story below.

China would have tried to stop war if it had known about it, says ambassador to US

China’s ambassador to the US has penned an interesting op-ed for the Washington Post, saying his government knew nothing of Russia’s plans and would have tried to stop it if they had.

Beijing has been under huge pressure over its ties with Russia, claims that Russia has sought military and economic assistance from it, and questions over what China knew about the invasion before it began.

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, met with Russia’s Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Beijing Winter Olympics for a significant meeting where they signed a “limitless” partnership.

Not long after, Russia attacked Ukraine. Analysts and US officials have been suggesting China might have known Putin was planning something, but not the extent of it. There is debate attached to this, including whether the narrative allows China an “out”, to withdraw support from Russia.But in the op-ed published today, ambassador Qin Gang says the Chinese government had no idea it was coming.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk to each other during their meeting in Beijing last month
Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk to each other during their meeting in Beijing last month Photograph: Alexei Druzhinin/AP

There have been claims that China had prior knowledge of Russia’s military action and demanded Russia delay it until the Winter Olympics concluded.

Recent rumours further claimed that Russia was seeking military assistance from China.

Let me say this responsibly: Assertions that China knew about, acquiesced to or tacitly supported this war are purely disinformation. All these claims serve only the purpose of shifting blame to and slinging mud at China. There were more than 6,000 Chinese citizens in Ukraine. China is the biggest trading partner of both Russia and Ukraine, and the largest importer of crude oil and natural gas in the world. Conflict between Russia and Ukraine does no good for China. Had China known about the imminent crisis, we would have tried our best to prevent it.”

It’s an interesting position to take, suggesting Xi had no idea what was going to happen, despite the “limitless” partnership and one-on-one meeting with Putin just a couple of weeks earlier.

Qin’s piece also railed against the global campaign of sanctions, which China generally opposes (despite having issued some itself in the past), and said the threat of using them against Chinese companies was “unacceptable”. It also again emphasised Beijing’s view that the Taiwan issue – which many have compared to Ukraine – is an entirely different and separate situation. Essentially, Beijing recognises Ukraine as a sovereign nation and says it respects that territorial integrity, while it considers Taiwan to be a breakaway province of China and therefore a domestic internal issue. Taiwan famously does not agree with this stance.

The Group of Seven (G7) industrialised nations will hold an online meeting after 12pm GMT to discuss Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Japanese finance minister Shunichi Suzuki said on Wednesday, Reuters is reporting.

Suzuki, who made the comment in parliament, did not specify whether the meeting would be held among G7’s financial leaders or other representatives.

As the war in Ukraine rages on, Russia is ramping up one of its most powerful weapons: disinformation. Social media companies are scrambling to respond.

False claims about the invasion have been spread by users in Russia as well as official state media accounts. Russia frequently frames itself as an innocent victim and has pushed disinformation including that the US was providing biological weapons to Ukraine (denounced by the White House as a “conspiracy theory”) and that victims of an attack on a Ukrainian hospital were paid actors.

In response, companies including Meta, YouTube and Twitter have announced waves of new measures, spurred by pressure from the Ukrainian government, world leaders and the public.

But experts say the tech industry’s response has been haphazard and lacks the range and scope to tackle sophisticated disinformation campaigns. And even when policies exist, observers fear they are poorly and inconsistently enforced.

Read the full story below.

The US Senate has unanimously passed a resolution condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin as a war criminal, a rare show of unity in the deeply divided Congress.

The resolution, introduced by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and backed by senators of both parties, encouraged the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague and other nations to target the Russian military in any investigation of war crimes committed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Reuters quotes Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in a speech on the Senate floor ahead of the vote:

All of us in this chamber joined together, with Democrats and Republicans, to say that Vladimir Putin cannot escape accountability for the atrocities committed against the Ukrainian people.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin toasts during a reception for Russian military servicemen
Russian President Vladimir Putin toasts during a reception for Russian military servicemen Photograph: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Britain’s latest intelligence report appears to corroborate with information released by Ukraine’s military officials overnight.

The Ukrainian military earlier published its daily operational report, claiming Russian military leadership has approved the “early release” of cadets to fight in combat against Ukraine.

According to the report released by Ukraine’s ministry of defence, Russia is having trouble providing its troops with ammunition and “has lost (completely destroyed, or lost ammunition) 40% of units involved in operations on the territory of Ukraine”.

“The worst situation remains in the area of Mariupol, where the opponent tries to block the city in the western and eastern outskirts of the city,” military officials from the general staff of the armed forces of Ukraine added.

Ukrainian servicemen walk past wrapped statues at a Basilica in Lviv, western Ukraine
Ukrainian servicemen walk past wrapped statues at a Basilica in Lviv, western Ukraine Photograph: Daniel Leal/AFP/Getty Images

The UK ministry of defence has issued its latest intelligence report on the situation in Ukraine, saying Russia is increasingly seeking to generate additional troops to bolster and replace its personnel losses.

The report reads:

Russia is increasingly seeking to generate additional troops to bolster and replace its personnel losses in Ukraine. As a result of these losses it is likely Russia is struggling to conduct offensive operations in the face of sustained Ukrainian resistance.

Continued personnel losses will also make it difficult for Russia to secure occupied territory.

Russia is redeploying forces from as far afield as its Eastern Military District, Pacific Fleet and Armenia. It is also increasingly seeking to exploit irregular sources such as Private Military Companies, Syrian and other mercenaries.

Russia will likely attempt to use these forces to hold captured territory and free up its combat power to renew stalled offensive operations.”

Negotiations ‘more realistic’ Zelenskiy says

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy provided a more optimistic view of the positions of Ukraine and Russia at upcoming peace talks saying negotiations are sounding “more realistic” while his top aide indicated there were still “fundamental contradictions” in Russia’s response.

In a national address, Zelenskiy said:

Meetings continue. I am told that the positions at the negotiations sound more realistic.

However, more time is still needed for decisions to be in the interests of Ukraine.”

However, Mykhailo Podolyak, a member of the Ukrainian delegation and presidential aide said there are “fundamental contradictions” in talks aimed at ending Russia’s military attack on Ukraine but compromise is still possible.

We’ll continue tomorrow. A very difficult and viscous negotiation process. There are fundamental contradictions. But there is certainly room for compromise.”

Talks resumed Tuesday, with both sides having signalled progress.

Zelenskiy said that the Russians “have already begun to understand that they will not achieve anything by war” and called Monday’s talks “pretty good”.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday at a press conference that “talks are now continuing on giving Ukraine neutral military status, in the context of security guarantees for all participants in this process”, as well as on “demilitarising Ukraine”, the Interfax news agency reported.

Lavrov is set to meet his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Moscow on Wednesday to discuss the Ukraine conflict, the Russian ministry said.

Updated

China’s government on Wednesday lambasted Taiwan’s humanitarian aid for Ukraine and sanctions on Russia as “taking advantage of other’s difficulties” after the island announced it was sending more funds donated by the public for refugees.

Asked about Taiwan’s aid and sanctions at a news conference in Beijing, Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said Taiwan’s government was trying to latch onto the issue for its own purposes, according to a Reuters report. Referring to Taiwan’s ruling party, she said:

The Democratic Progressive Party authorities are using the Ukraine issue to validate their existence and piggy back on a hot issue, taking advantage of other’s difficulties.

Their attempts to incite confrontation and create hostility through political manipulation will not succeed.”

Taiwan’s government says that on Ukraine it has a duty to stand with other democracies.

Late on Tuesday, Taiwan’s foreign ministry announced a second $11.5m donation to help refugees after an initial donation this month of $3.5m. President Tsai Ing-wen has gifted one month of her salary.

The war in Ukraine has garnered broad sympathy in Taiwan, with many seeing parallels between Russia’s invasion and the military threat posed by China, which views the democratically governed island as its own territory.

Taiwan has joined in Western-led sanctions on Russia, while China has refused to condemn the Russian invasion, saying last week the Chinese Red Cross would provide humanitarian assistance worth 5 million yuan ($786,000) to Ukraine, its first publicly announced aid to the country since the war.

‘Disgrace, poverty, year-long isolation’: Zelenskiy’s predictions for Russia

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy delivered some stern words to Russians during a late-night national address. In case you missed his earlier remarks, a brief run-down is here:

The third week is coming to an end. We all want peace. We all want victory. And there’s a feeling that just a little bit longer and we will achieve what we, Ukrainians, are entitled to by right.

Zelenskiy added that meetings between Ukrainian and Russian officials continue.

Meetings continue. I’m being reported that the positions at negotiations are more realistic now. However, we need more time to make sure that the decision is in the interests of Ukraine.

The president said Russia has lost masses of equipment, soldiers and Russian generals.

Many Russian conscripts have been killed. There are tens of officers among killed invaders, and one more general was killed today. The occupants committed new and apparent war crimes, shelled on peaceful cities, civilian infrastructure.

The number of rockets used by Russia against Ukraine has already exceeded 900. There are so many air bombs that it’s impossible to count them.”

Zelenskiy addressed Russians: “Citizens of Russia, any of you who has had access to truthful information might have already realised how this war will end for your country: with disgrace, poverty, year-long isolation, a brutal repressive system”
Zelenskiy addressed Russians: “Citizens of Russia, any of you who has had access to truthful information might have already realised how this war will end for your country: with disgrace, poverty, year-long isolation, a brutal repressive system” Photograph: Telegram

Addressing Russian citizens, Zelenskiy switched to Russian:

Citizens of Russia, any of you who has had access to truthful information might have already realised how this war will end for your country: with disgrace, poverty, year-long isolation, a brutal repressive system that will treat Russian citizens as inhumanely as you, occupants, treated Ukrainians. What will come next depends on your actions.

I want to address Russian officials and everyone who is involved with the incumbent government. If you stay in your posts, if you don’t speak out against the war, the international community will strip you off of everything you have earned over the years. They are working on it. This includes propaganda, the fourth estate in Russia. If you continue working for propaganda, you put yourself at a bigger risk than you face if you just resign: the risk of sanctions and international tribunal for the propaganda of aggressive war, for justification of war crimes. Quit your jobs. Several months without a job is better than a whole life under international prosecution.”

Updated

Summary

Hello it’s Samantha Lock with you as we cover the latest developments from Ukraine.

It is day 21 of Russia’s war on its neighbour. Here is where the situation currently stands:

  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy gave a late-night national address where he confirmed meetings between Ukrainian and Russian officials continue, adding that “the positions at negotiations are more realistic now”.
  • However, Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said there are “fundamental contradictions” in talks aimed at ending Russia’s military attack but there is “certainly room for compromise.”
  • Addressing Russian citizens, Zelenskiy said the war would end in “disgrace, poverty, year-long isolation [and] a brutal repressive system”. “If you stay in your posts, if you don’t speak out against the war, the international community will strip you off of everything you have earned over the years. They are working on it,” he said.
  • Zelenskiy is due to address US Congress on Wednesday and is likely to make fresh calls for a no-fly zone and requests for more military aid, including fighter jets.
  • EU leaders vowed support for Ukraine during a visit to Kyiv. The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia arrived in the capital earlier on Tuesday in a show of support for Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who briefed them on the war with Russia. Poland’s Kaczyński called for a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine, with Czech prime minister Petr Fiala saying: “You are not alone. Our countries stand with you. Europe stands with your country”.
  • Nato is set to tell its military commanders on Wednesday to draw up plans for new ways to deter Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, including more troops and missile defences in eastern Europe, officials and diplomats said. Ukrainian minster for defence, Oleksii Reznikov, is expected to plead for more weapons from individual Nato countries, according to a Reuters report.
  • US President Joe Biden is expected to announce an additional $800m in security assistance to Ukraine on Wednesday, a White House official said as reported by Reuters news agency.
  • The US Senate unanimously passed a resolution late Tuesday night condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin as a war criminal, a rare show of unity in the deeply divided Congress.
  • US secretary of state Antony Blinken predicted there will be an independent Ukraine “a lot longer than there’s going to be a Vladimir Putin,” in an interview with CNN on Tuesday.
  • A series of Russian strikes hit a residential neighbourhood in Kyiv on Tuesday morning, igniting a huge fire and prompting a frantic rescue effort in a 15-storey apartment building. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said five people were killed in the airstrikes.
  • Russian forces have reportedly taken patients and medical staff of a hospital in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol hostage. According to the BBC, the city’s deputy mayor Sergei Orlov said there were 400 people in the hospital and the Russian army were “using our patients and doctors like hostages”.
  • About 2,000 cars were able to leave Mariupol, according to local authorities.
  • A woman who interrupted a live news programme on Russian state TV last night to protest against the war in Ukraine has been fined 30,000 roubles (£215) by a Russian court. Marina Ovsyannikova, a Russian television producer, was found guilty of flouting protest legislation, the Russian state news agency RIA reported.
  • The UK is to impose sanctions on 370 more Russian individuals, including more than 50 oligarchs and their families with a combined net worth of £100bn. More than 1,000 individuals and entities have now been targeted with sanctions since the invasion of Ukraine, with fresh measures announced against key Kremlin spokespeople and political allies of Putin, including the defence minister, Sergei Shoigu.
  • Boris Johnson will visit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday to ask the Gulf states to produce more oil and help the UK reduce dependence on Russian oil.
  • More than 100,000 people in the UK have offered homes to Ukrainian refugees in the first 24 hours of a government scheme that allows families and individuals to bring them to the UK.

As usual, for any tips and feedback please contact me through Twitter or at samantha.lock@theguardian.com

The Guardian keeps you up to the minute on the crisis in Ukraine with a global perspective and from our team around the world and around the clock. Thank you for reading and please do stay tuned.

Local residents ride bicycles past a damaged residential building in Volnovakha in the Donetsk region, Ukraine
Local residents ride bicycles past a damaged residential building in Volnovakha in the Donetsk region, Ukraine Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

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Life and Style

From colour schemes to lighting: how interiors can lift our mood and make for happier homes

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “From colour schemes to lighting: how interiors can lift our mood and make for happier homes” was written by Claire Coleman, for theguardian.com on Monday 14th March 2022 14.31 UTC

Take a moment to imagine yourself in a room where it’s hard to see the floor because the space is so cluttered. It’s not immediately clear what the purpose of the room is – there’s a desk in one corner, a sofa in the other, and sandwiched in between is an exercise bike. The walls are painted an oppressive shade of brown, and very little light comes in through the windows so the space is illuminated mainly by a bare bulb giving out a blue-ish glow.

This doesn’t feel like somewhere you’d want to spend time, and if the very thought of it is making you feel uneasy, uncomfortable or even stressed, you’re far from alone. There’s increasing evidence that the environments we spend time in can have a huge impact on our emotional wellbeing.

One company that has spent many years looking at people’s thoughts and feelings about how they live is IKEA. It publishes an annual report based on thousands of responses from people worldwide, and the latest, IKEA’s Life at Home report 2021, confirms the intimate connection between how we feel about our homes and how we feel about ourselves – 40% of people who took part said their mental health improved when they felt positive about their homes.

But our homes don’t just affect our wellbeing, they have an impact on our relationships too. An earlier IKEA report, from 2017, found that 40% of people said they lived with things they hated but couldn’t throw away because they belonged to someone else … but about 40% of those surveyed said they had thrown away something that belonged to someone they lived with, without telling them.

Over the past two years, our relationship with our homes has been more important than ever. We’ve needed them to feel welcoming and comforting, our sanctuaries if you like. But what does it take to make a home a sanctuary? IKEA’s research identified three important aspects to achieving this: having a place that makes best use of its space; rooms that function well; and that promote a sense of emotional stability.

“IKEA champions every home to be a haven, a sanctuary that fulfils our everyday needs – whether that’s a place to work, sleep, relax or socialise – or, these days, all four,” says Marie Tenglund, UK interior design leader. “This is especially pressing because the past couple of years have put huge pressure on our living spaces, demanding that they be – often simultaneously – offices, restaurants, cinema and schools.”

With us cramming so much activity into our homes they can start to feel claustrophobic, which is why being able to create a sense of space is important. But one of the enemies of spaciousness is clutter – an interior blight that has been shown to have a negative effect on relationships. A survey carried out in 2018 found that 66.5% of people admitted to arguing over clutter with someone they live with.

Fortunately there are solutions at hand to help us find a place for everything. IKEA has developed clever storage that can fit into the smallest spaces, or double as other types of furniture – the Smastad bench comes with space for storing away bits and pieces, while the Hol side table, another two-in-one piece of furniture, also has storage that will help us clear surfaces of clutter. As well as creating space, the right furniture can help a room function well, which all contributes to the sense of our home as our sanctuary.

Given the amount of time we spend in our bedrooms, there’s been a lot of focus in recent years on the importance of creating a bedroom environment that’s conducive to sleep, because we know that our bodies take their mental cues from the physical space around us. But this is true for more than just sleep – and can be applied to other rooms or areas too. A paper from the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, which looked at people working from home during the early months of the pandemic, observed that having a dedicated work space and an ergonomic and adjustable workstation led to better physical and mental wellbeing.

This indicates that having specific zones for different activities is important, and even seems to apply to where and how we choose to eat our meals. A study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that children who watched TV during lunch and dinner were more likely to be overweight than those who didn’t, while a paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that people who played computer games while they ate felt less full afterwards and were more likely to snack.

If a family has a dining table and some chairs, they’re more likely to sit down to a meal together rather than eating in front of the TV or computer, so a meal becomes a sociable time to catch up with each other. Worried you don’t have space? IKEA has plenty of solutions for even the smallest area, from dining tables such as the Norden, which comfortably seats four but folds down to take up no space at all, to the Ingatorp with its drop leaf and cutlery drawer.

Houseplants at home
Bring the outside in by adding houseplants to the home – they are shown to improve emotional and mental health. Photograph: Inter IKEA Systems BV

Nobody’s saying that a folding table is going to keep the family together, but all these things feed into IKEA’s pillars of sanctuary – making great use of space, helping that space function well and contributing to emotional stability. Part of that comes from having a clutter-free, function-focused area, but there are so many other marginal gains to be made around the home when it comes to incrementally improving mood and happiness.

Consider the colour of your home furnishings. Extensive research has shown that, as humans, we attach meaning to different colours and that these colours can have an impact on how we feel. One experiment looked at how people responded to the same living room decorated in either reds or blues, and found that red was seen to be exciting and stimulating, while blue invoked feelings of calm and peace.

Even when you’ve settled on a shade, you still need to think about lighting – broadly speaking, the more daylight the better – a paper in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine highlighted that the more daylight you have during your working day, the more likely you are to be physically active and to sleep better. But it’s also about the artificial lighting in your home. Yes, of course, it has to be functional – you have to be able to see what you’re doing – but it’s also about the temperature, or the hue. Warmer light has reddish or orange undertones, while cooler light is bluer. Research suggests that cooler light makes workers more productive while warmer light can make people more inclined to help and to resolve conflict. IKEA’s smart lighting solutions allow you to change the hue of the light in your home so it’s perfect for giving you a kickstart in the mornings, or helping you relax at night.

However, one of the easiest things you can do to improve your environment, without changing a lightbulb or rearranging your storage, is to bring the outside in. A 2019 review in the Journal of Environmental Horticulture pulled together a wealth of evidence around the ways in which houseplants can improve your emotional and mental health. It seems that houseplants are a shortcut to a happier home, from reducing anxiety to improving creativity, productivity, happiness and life satisfaction. So take your pick, will you go for silvery succulents in cool, white pots or a willowy floor plant that brings an eye-catching splash of green into your home. If you’re feeling lazy, you could easily go faux – and hardly anyone will know as artificial plants are so realistic nowadays.

The science is clear – when it comes to affecting our moods and relationships, interior design has the potential to make a huge impact. It’s just a question of knowing what to tweak to make our homes and our lives better. So make 2022 the year that your home becomes a sanctuary that wraps you in love, rather than somewhere you just happen to live.

Discover more clever and imaginative ways to make sure your living space is your sanctuary at IKEA.com

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Environment, Human Rights, India

‘Women of the wild’: the platform giving India’s nature experts a voice

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “‘Women of the wild’: the platform giving India’s nature experts a voice” was written by Anne Pinto-Rodrigues, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 8th March 2022 09.02 UTC

“I wish these things wouldn’t happen to anyone,” says Akanksha Sood Singh, a wildlife film-maker based in Delhi. “But if it has happened, this is a safe space for women to come and to share their experiences.”

The safe space Sood Singh is referring to is the Instagram account Women of the Wild – India, which showcases “the untold stories of women working for science and nature”. The platform gives them a chance to promote their expertise, but also somewhere to share their experiences of working in what are often male-dominated fields where sexual harassment can often feature.

Sood Singh, like most other professionals, attended several online programmes during the pandemic. “In many of the webinars I attended, there were no women on the panel,” she says. “If there were one or two women, they were mostly moderators.”

Around the same time, Sood Singh, who is part of an advisory group at Jackson Wild (previously known as the Jackson Hole wildlife film festival), was planning a film-making workshop for early and mid-career female Stem professionals, in partnership with the organisation. She had an extremely difficult time finding women to take part in the workshop. “I spent 10 days trying. I just lost it,” she says. “This couldn’t be happening in the 21st century.”

Angry and frustrated at the lack of female representation in various forums, Sood Singh launched the Women of the Wild – India account in May last year, followed by accounts for Pakistan and Malaysia. “It’s not at all easy for women in Pakistan,” says Sood Singh. “You have to have very open-minded parents to allow you to study science.”

Before launching the platform in India, Sood Singh emailed the 20 to 30 women that she knew working in these areas and asked them to respond to four simple questions about why they had chosen their careers, what challenges they faced when starting out, what was the one event that strengthened their resolve to continue, and what would their message be for anyone reading the post.

Akanksha Sood Singh, founder of the Women of the the Wild - India Instagram platform.
Akanksha Sood Singh launched the Women of the Wild – India platform in May 2021. Photograph: Akanksha Sood Singh

Environment reporter Aditi Rajagopal was the first to be featured on the Women of the Wild – India account. “When Akanksha spoke to me about her idea, I loved it! By being the first to be featured, I hoped it would make other women comfortable to put their names and faces out there,” she says. Since then, more than 400 scientists, researchers, film-makers, journalists, photographers, artists, animal rescuers and others in a wide range of professions have been profiled on the account.

They include an environmental lawyer, a youth climate leader, a member of a village forest protection squad, the founder of a plastic upcycling service and the leader of India’s largest youth movement to conserve water. Rajagopal says: “It’s heartwarming to see so many women doing incredibly important work in fields and positions I didn’t even know existed.”

Sood Singh says: “I see in the comments and DMs [direct messages] how one woman’s journey becomes a plan for another to work through her challenges.”

Followers of the account can review the institutions they work for anonymously if they prefer. A post inviting reviews of the Centre for Wildlife Studies (CWS) received more than 100 comments, many of which alleged experiences of various forms of harassment, lack of advancement opportunities and a toxic work environment.

A few days after the CWS review, Krithi Karanth, chief conservation scientist at the organisation, shared a post on the CWS Instagram account titled Working towards a safer and inclusive work environment at CWS. Karanth, who took up her role in November 2018, wrote: “This is a wake-up call for me, CWS and many others”, adding that the organisation would “address all legitimate issues raised by those who work with us”.

A review of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) also received nearly 100 comments, with accounts of gender-based discrimination in the workplace. Bittu Sahgal, the BNHS president, responded directly to the comments, acknowledging: “It’s a systemic change that we need. It will happen.” Sahgal set out steps being taken at the BNHS to address complaints, including internal one-on-one conversations.

To date, more than 20 organisations have been reviewed on Women of the Wild – India and Sood Singh is hopeful that women coming into these organisations will experience a better environment.

“In the feedback that I receive, I see that a sense of ownership has set in with the women who follow the account,” she says. “They take this to be a very safe space. They consider it ‘their’ space.”

Women of the Wild is constantly evolving and Sood Singh hopes to set up a mentorship programme. “We still have a lot to figure out. The conversations have just started. I want to make these conversations mainstream.”

In the meantime, she says: “No one can say that they couldn’t find a woman to be on a panel of experts.”

Find more age of extinction coverage here, and follow biodiversity reporters Phoebe Weston and Patrick Greenfield on Twitter for all the latest news and features

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Culture, India

TV tonight: meet the reporters on India’s only female-run newspaper

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “TV tonight: meet the reporters on India’s only female-run newspaper” was written by Hollie Richardson, Ali Catterall and Phil Harrison, for The Guardian on Wednesday 9th March 2022 06.00 UTC

Storyville: Writing With Fire

10pm, BBC Four

From the moment we meet Meera Devi – chief reporter of India’s only newspaper run by women (who are from the lowest caste, Dalit) – it’s clear why her story has earned this incredible, vital documentary a nomination at this year’s Oscars. After interviewing a woman who says the police won’t log her multiple reports of rape, Meera charges down to the station demanding answers. It’s just one of the ways that this newspaper is stirring a revolution in spite of the fact that everybody around the team expected it to silently fail. Hollie Richardson

Mary Berry’s Fantastic Feasts

8pm, BBC One

Mary Berry is back, and once again she is doing the work of the foodie gods. This time, youth charity worker Soraya is in for a treat as three of her friends are throwing her a surprise thank you party, with Berry teaching them how to bake goodies. Wholesome, needed content. HR

Your Body Uncovered With Kate Garraway

8pm, BBC Two

Kate Garraway guides more patients with long-term medical conditions on a “fantastic voyage” through their own bodies. Here, she meets Rozi, grandmother to 23 children, whose lungs have been damaged by Covid-19, and airline cabin crew member Adrian, who has a painfully large prostate. Ali Catterall

Interior Design Masters With Alan Carr

9pm, BBC One

The TV formula de nos jours gets another airing in this new season of the interior design-themed mashup of The Apprentice and The Great Pottery Throw Down. The contenders begin by designing flats in Manchester. “My style is as if Dolly Parton and RuPaul lived in Tony Montana’s LA mansion,” promises/threatens Abi. We can’t wait … Phil Harrison

Michael Mosley: Who Made Britain Fat?

9pm, Channel 4

The man behind the Fast 800 diet puts together a strong case against the government and the part it plays in the UK’s obesity crisis. Why have their 689 policies around this problem previously failed? Are they powerless to help? And how much damage is obesity doing to the NHS? Mosley is passionate, and his investigation takes him to speak with the likes of George Osborne and Jamie Oliver. HR

Frayed

10pm, Sky Max

Things get particularly awkward in Sarah Kendall’s dark comedy tonight when Sammy (Kendall) bumps into Bambi (a comically wonderful Kerry Godliman) – her husband’s former mistress, who “gave him crabs” and was with him in a hotel room when he died – at her new legal aide’s office. Later, Sammy receives a call telling her to leave London and get back to Australia, pronto. HR

Live sport

Uefa Champions League football Man City v Sporting Lisbon 7pm, BT Sport 2. The last-16 second-leg match.

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India, Opinion, World

Narendra Modi walks diplomacy tightrope with Vladimir Putin on Ukraine

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Narendra Modi walks diplomacy tightrope with Vladimir Putin on Ukraine” was written by Hannah Ellis-Petersen South Asia correspondent, for theguardian.com on Thursday 10th March 2022 05.00 UTC

As the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, picked up the phone to Vladimir Putin this week – the latest in several phone calls between the two leaders since Russia invaded Ukraine – he put forward a suggestion.

Modi’s push, according to an Indian government statement, was that Putin should have a “direct conversation” with the Ukrainian prime minister, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in order to “greatly assist ongoing peace efforts”.

It was the latest signal from India that while it has refused publicly to condemn Russia’s violent and merciless actions in Ukraine, it might not approve of them.

Since Putin embarked on his invasion of Ukraine, much criticism has been directed at India for its refusal to openly repudiate Russia.

India has abstained in multiple UN security council votes against Russia’s actions, isolating it from the west, and in statements it has made vague references to the need for dialogue, diplomacy and respect for territorial integrity, without ever naming Russia directly.

To many, this is tacit approval for Putin from a country that has been an unwavering ally since before the cold war.

But for those familiar with India’s diplomatic history and traditions, the picture is far less black and white.

“India has never named names, as far as its allies are concerned,” said Avinash Paliwal, the deputy director of Soas’s South Asia Institute. “But India’s displeasure with Moscow is visible in how they are dealing with the Ukrainians, visible in the statements it is making at the UN, and visible in their repeated calls for a de-escalation of violence.”

Narendra Modi meets with Vladimir Putin in India in December.
Narendra Modi meets with Vladimir Putin in India in December. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has certainly put India – which considers both Russia and the US to be close and vital allies – in a difficult position, evident in the cautious diplomatic tightrope it has been walking the past few weeks.

There is, as Paliwal described it, a “historical hangover” in favour of Russia in India which dates back to the cold war and the USSR’s support for India in the bloody Bangladesh war in 1971.

The Indo-Russian relationship has continued to be nurtured by successive prime ministers (Modi and Putin met as recently as December) and, most crucially for India, Russia is its biggest supplier of weapons, with between 60% and 80% of India’s weapons and defence systems bought from Russia. India has also long seen Russia as a crucial counterbalance to an increasingly powerful China.

With India engaged in an ongoing tense military standoff with China along its Himalayan border, where a buildup of troops and weapons continues on both sides, and its relationship with its nuclear-armed neighbour and rival Pakistan remaining testy, India finds itself in no position to jeopardise the flow of defence equipment from Russia.

Within India, where sympathy for Russia is still prevalent both in the policymaking corridors of New Delhi and in the wider public consciousness, there is also little pressure for Modi to denounce Russia’s actions. As the conflict broke out, #IStandWithPutin gained significant traction on Indian social media.

Yet India has far from publicly taken Russia’s side and, as Syed Akbaruddin, India’s former permanent representative to the UN, pointed out, in its own subtle way, India’s statements around the invasion of Ukraine have increasingly diverged from Russia’s.

“Yes, India is abstaining when most of the world is voting against Russians, but in our mind, abstention is absolutely not support,” said Akbaruddin. “This whole action has left us in a space, not of our liking, not of our wanting, so why would we support it.”

Akbaruddin said there were “at least four or five” moments in recent weeks where India had increasingly distanced itself from the Russian position, including when they expressed “regret at the outbreak of hostilities”.

“Without mentioning Russia’s name, this is our way of condemning the actions of those responsible for the violence,” Akbaruddin said.

He also said India had, in an unusual move, outright denied statements made by Putin that Ukrainians had taken Indian students hostage, while also sending several planes of humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

This week Modi made phone calls to both Putin and Zelenskiy, and made repeated calls for a diplomatic solution. Nonetheless, India has not yet positioned itself as a mediator in the same vein as Israel or Turkey and has been accused by Ukrainian diplomats of not fully utilising its leverage with Russia to stand Putin down.

Activists protest in Kolkata, India, against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Activists protest in Kolkata, India, against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Photograph: Debarchan Chatterjee/NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock

India’s other priority, pulling it in the opposite direction, is to protect its flourishing relationships with the US, Europe and the UK.

India’s non-defence trade with Russia is only $9bn (£6.8bn), compared with about $100bn with the US, and it has ongoing trade deal negotiations with the UK. Unlike China, Russia’s other significant ally, India has remained silent on the issue of Nato’s expansion.

Tanvi Madan, director of the India project at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said that while India’s position on Russia’s invasion had thrown some “turbulence” into the US-India relationship, the White House has been understanding of India’s historical relationship with Russia and its security vulnerabilities vis-a-vis China, and so it was unlikely to disrupt diplomatic ties.

Most worrying for India, said Madan, was the increasing closeness between Russia and foe China, which could have an impact on the choices Moscow makes when its China and India security partnerships are in tension.

“The true ramifications for India are still being figured out,” said Madan. “But it’s likely there could be some tough decisions ahead.”

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India, Opinion

BJP claims election victory in four states including Uttar Pradesh

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “BJP claims election victory in four states including Uttar Pradesh” was written by Hannah Ellis-Petersen in Delhi, for The Guardian on Thursday 10th March 2022 15.05 UTC

India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party has claimed victory in four significant state elections, in a sign of the power of Hindu nationalist politics across the country.

The BJP defied historical precedent and retained power in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous and politically significant state with more than 180 million voters. Early results on Thursday showed the party had won at least 266 out of 403 seats, giving it a clear majority.

It was the first win for an incumbent party in the state in more than three decades, and ensures the chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu monk known for his hardline views, will be the first in the state’s history to remain in power for a second consecutive term.

It secures Adityanath’s status as one of the most powerful figures in the BJP and a potential successor to the prime minister, Narendra Modi, as well as offering a ringing endorsement for the hardline Hindu nationalist agenda that Adityanath has enacted over the past five years.

During his time as chief minister, Adityanath, who dresses in saffron robes and led his own “Hindu army”, often used communal rhetoric seen as targeting Muslims. He banned the slaughter of cows, an animal that is holy to Hindus, and brought in an anti-conversion law to counter “love jihad”, a disproven conspiracy theory that Muslims are forcing Hindu women into marriage in order to convert them to Islam. Journalists and activists were also routinely harassed and charged, and the Uttar Pradesh police have been accused of routinely murdering Muslims and Dalits under Adityanath’s watch.

Utter Pradesh was one of the states hit hardest by the brutal second wave of Covid-19 that engulfed India, with corpses filling up the Ganges River as hospitals and burial grounds become overwhelmed, and the state has one of the highest unemployment rates in India.

But Adityanath’s win has been credited to his development agenda and perceived crackdown on crime, as well as the popularity of Hindu nationalist politics, which is shifting the country away from its secular roots.

Holding on to the bellwether state was seen as essential for the BJP as it built up to the national elections in 2024. Early results showed the party, which has ruled India’s central government since 2014, also held on to power in the states of Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.

In the Uttar Pradesh capital, Lucknow, BJP workers rode bulldozers to the party offices in celebration of their win. In a victory speech, Adityanath told the crowds: “Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, today the BJP won a majority in Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. The voters have blessed Modi’s policies of development and good governance.”

BJP supporters of celebrate outside the party office in Lucknow.
BJP supporters of celebrate outside the party office in Lucknow. Photograph: Sanjay Kanojia/AFP/Getty Images

The assembly results have been portrayed as a final nail in the coffin for India’s once formidable National Congress party, the country’s oldest political party and main national opposition for the BJP. On Thursday, it became evident that Congress had lost seats in Goa and Manipur and failed to win back its former stronghold of Punjab, one of the few states where it had still held power. In Uttar Pradesh, it won just a single seat.

“The revolution marches on” was the headline on an editorial in the Indian express newspaper, which called the results “sobering” and added: “It sends a plain and simple message … the BJP simply has no competition.”

Instead, in a victory that could be transformative for India’s future political landscape, it was the relatively new Aam Admi party (AAP), which is in power in Delhi but previously had limited presence outside the capital, that claimed a landslide win in Punjab, where the comedian turned politician Bhagwant Mann will become chief minister.

The Punjab win could set AAP up as a national contender in the 2024 elections, as various regional parties jostle to fill the opposition vacuum left by a weakened Congress.

Congress leaders issued sombre statements following the results. “This is a challenging moment for the Congress party and Punjab most certainly has been a disappointment,” said a party spokesperson, Aadil Singh Boparai.

Rahul Gandhi, the de facto Congress leader, said in a tweet that the party “humbly accept people’s verdict. We’ll learn from this.”

The former government minister Ashwani Kumar, who recently quit the Congress party, described it as a moment of reckoning. “One thing is clear,” he said. “The Gandhi leadership no longer delivers for the Congress.”

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