- US President Joe Biden says Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is weighing use of chemical weapons in Ukraine.
- The Pentagon says it will help gather evidence of “war crimes” in Ukraine, accuses Russian forces of indiscriminate attacks.
- All Chernobyl staff who wanted to leave the site have been rotated out, the UN’s nuclear watchdog says.
- More than 8,000 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities and towns through humanitarian corridors on Monday, an official has said.
- A new curfew is in effect in Kyiv, lasting until Wednesday morning, after the mayor had warned that more Russian shelling of the Ukrainian capital was likely.
- Russia summons the US ambassador over Biden’s recent comments labelling Putin a “war criminal”.
- US Ambassador John Sullivan has urged Moscow to follow international law and to allow consular access to American citizens detained in Russia.
Here are the latest updates:
Japan protests Russia move to drop peace talks
Japan says it “strongly protests” Russia’s decision to abandon talks on a World War II peace treaty because of Tokyo’s strong response to the invasion of Ukraine.
“The latest situation occurred as a result of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and Russia’s attempt to shift the issue to Japan-Russia relations is extremely unjustified and absolutely unacceptable,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in parliament.
Japan “strongly protests,” he added, condemning Russia for its actions to “unilaterally change the status quo by force.”
Russia’s use of hypersonic missiles ‘unlikely to materially affect’ war outcome: UK
The British Ministry of Defence says if Russian claims of deploying hypersonic missiles in Ukraine are true, the weapon is most likely a weapon known as the Kinzhal.
The claim “is highly likely intended to detract from a lack of progress in Russia’s ground campaign”, it said.
“Deployment of Kinzhal is highly unlikely to materially affect the outcome of Russia’s campaign in Ukraine,” it added.
Russia ‘kidnapped three Israeli citizens’: Ukraine official
Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, says Russian forces have “kidnapped” three Israeli citizens in Melitopol.
She urged the Israeli government to take a tougher stand against Russia.
“Ukrainian Jews and other Ukrainians are disappointed by Israel’s position and tonality in the matter of the Ukrainian-Russian war. I am sure that the Israeli people are on the side of Ukraine.”
Four children wounded in Russian attack on humanitarian corridor: Zelenskyy
Russian forces shelled along a humanitarian corridor on Monday, wounding four children who were among the civilians being evacuated, Ukraine’s president has said in his nighttime video address to the nation.
Zelenskyy said the shelling took place in the Zaporizhzhia region, the initial destination of those fleeing Mariupol.
Divide at UN over naming Russia in Ukraine aid resolution
France and Mexico are pressing members of the United Nations to mention Russia’s invasion in a resolution on the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine.
But South Africa is arguing against that approach, saying that inserting political issues may block consensus on helping civilians.
A French-Mexican draft resolution expected to be voted on this week in the 193-nation UN General Assembly makes clear that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is responsible for its humanitarian crisis.
A rival South African draft resolution circulated late Monday makes no mention of Russia, referring instead to “all parties”.
Unlike the Security Council, there are no vetoes in the General Assembly. But assembly resolutions are not legally binding, as Security Council resolutions are, though they do have clout in reflecting world opinion.
Kadyrov video claims to show Chechens in Mariupol
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has posted a video on his Telegram page that purported to show the arrival of Chechen fighters in the encircled Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
The accompanying text said: “They directly started the assault on the town, liberating district by district.”
“We will completely liberate Mariupol from Ukrainian nationalists and Banderites [followers of a nationalist movement] shortly,” it added.
Al Jazeera could not verify the authenticity of the video.
Russia carried out 300 aircraft sorties over Ukraine in past 24 hours: US official
A senior US defense official says the Russians have increased the number of military aircraft sorties over Ukraine over the past two days, doing as many as 300 in the last 24 hours.
But Russia still does not have air superiority over the country yet.
The official said Ukraine has also increased the pace of its military flights, but declined to provide numbers.
The official said that most of the military flights involve air-to-ground strikes, mainly on stationary targets, and that the Russian aircraft are not spending a lot of time in Ukrainian airspace. The Ukraine military has continued to use its short and long-range air defense systems and drones to target Russian aircraft.
The Russians have also increased naval activity in the northern Black Sea, but there are no indications at this point of an amphibious assault on Odesa. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the military’s assessment.
‘Not empty words’: Polish, Dutch leaders discuss further sanctions on Russia
The prime ministers of Poland and the Netherlands have held talks on additional steps to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the pair talked “about a blockade of all European ports to Russian ships and also on all sorts of sanctions, including on oil and gas”.
Dutch leader Mark Rutte said Putin has made a “very big mistake” by bringing war again to Europe.
“We will not accept this kind of aggression against a sovereign and democratic nation,” Rutte said. “And these are not empty words. We are showing we are willing to put out money where our mouth is.”
India ‘somewhat shaky’ in its response to Russian invasion of Ukraine: Biden
The US president has described India as an exception among Washington’s allies with its “shaky” response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Addressing a meeting of US business leaders in Washington, Biden said there had been “a united front throughout NATO and in the Pacific”.
“The Quad is, with the possible exception of India being somewhat shaky on some of this, but Japan has been extremely strong – so has Australia – in terms of dealing with Putin’s aggression.”
Indian oil refiners have reportedly continued to purchase discounted Russian oil, even as the West seeks to isolate Moscow.
Putin weighing use of chemical weapons in Ukraine: Biden
Russian accusations that Kyiv has biological and chemical weapons are false and illustrate that Russia’s president is considering using them himself in his war against Ukraine, Biden has said, without citing evidence.
Putin’s “back is against the wall and now he’s talking about new false flags he’s setting up including, asserting that we in America have biological as well as chemical weapons in Europe, simply not true,” Biden said at a Business Roundtable event.
“They are also suggesting that Ukraine has biological and chemical weapons in Ukraine. That’s a clear sign he’s considering using both of those.”
Potential Russian cyber attack would be ‘consequential’: Biden
Biden has offered US government help to companies to step up their defences, saying any potential Russian cyber attacks would be “consequential”.
“The magnitude of Russia’s cyber capacity is fairly consequential, and it’s coming,” Biden said.
US companies told to ‘harden’ defence against cyber attacks
US President Joe Biden has urged companies to “harden” their cyber defences amid concerns Russia could conduct “malicious cyber activity” in response to US sanctions over the war in Ukraine.
The White House said in a statement that the warning was based “on evolving intelligence that the Russian Government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks”.
“Most of America’s critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector and critical infrastructure owners and operators must accelerate efforts to lock their digital doors,” it said.
I’ve previously warned about the potential that Russia could conduct malicious cyber activity against the U.S. Today, I’m reiterating those warnings based on evolving intelligence that the Russian Government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks. https://t.co/wO2jJgg5SJ
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 21, 2022
Aid group concerned about potential child trafficking in Ukraine
Pete Walsh, country director of Save the Children in Ukraine, has said the organisation is concerned about the potential of human trafficking and child trafficking in the country amid the Russian invasion.
“One of our main focuses both in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries is to identify unaccompanied and separated children,” Walsh told Al Jazeera from the western city of Lviv.
“We must have some international agreements between the neighbouring countries and Ukraine to ensure safeguarding measures are put in place to protect children and prevent them from being trafficked.”
Ukraine’s Zelenskyy calls for meeting with Putin
A meeting with Putin is necessary to determine Russia’s position on ending the war, the Interfax Ukraine news agency quoted Ukrainian President Zelenskyy as saying in a television interview.
“I think that, without this meeting, it is impossible to fully understand what they [the Russians] are willing to do to stop the war,” Zelenskyy said.
US-Russia tensions may hinder issues beyond Ukraine: AJE correspondent
The spike in tensions between the US and Russia may affect the Biden administration’s policy goals beyond Ukraine, including efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal, Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett, reporting from Washington, has said.
“The fact that the US ambassador has been summoned in Russia – and the fact that ties are not only strained, but have the potential to be severed completely – could put a number of US policy objectives at risk,” Halkett said.
Ukraine war exposes cracks in US ties to Middle East allies
With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine dominating discussions around the world, the Biden administration has been promoting global unity against what it calls Putin’s “war of choice”.
But despite those efforts, the conflict has highlighted cracks in some of the United States’ most prominent alliances in the Middle East, notably with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia appear to be sending a message to the US, Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a Middle East fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, told Al Jazeera: “’We’re going to act upon our interests and not what you think our interests are.’”
US, European leaders underscore support for Ukraine
The leaders of the United Kingdom, United States, France, Germany and Italy have discussed via phone their “coordinated response to the escalating crisis in Ukraine”, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office has said.
“The Prime Minister underlined his horror at President Putin’s use of increasingly brutal tactics in Ukraine, such as siege warfare and the targeting of civilians,” the UK government said in a statement.
“The leaders affirmed their ongoing commitment to support Ukraine militarily, diplomatically and economically, equipping the democratically-elected government in Kyiv with the tools it needs to defend itself,” it added.
I spoke with President Macron, Chancellor Scholz of Germany, Prime Minister Draghi, and Prime Minister Johnson today to discuss our coordinated responses to Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine, and our ongoing support for the Ukrainian people. pic.twitter.com/e7TksIH56H
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 21, 2022
Biden meets with private sector CEOs to discuss mitigating price increases
Biden and other top officials from his administration have met with 16 CEOs of major companies to discuss dealing with the economic effects of the war in Ukraine, the White House has said.
“They conveyed the Administration’s commitment to continue imposing heavy costs on Putin to degrade Russia’s war machine and support the people of Ukraine, while taking concrete actions to mitigate the price increases on American consumers caused by Putin’s action,” the White House said in a statement.
“Participants also discussed the need to work together to address Putin’s disruptions to global markets and supply chains, especially for energy and agricultural commodities, and identify alternative sources of supply for key goods.”
More than 8,000 people evacuated on Monday: Ukrainian Deputy PM
A total of 8,057 people were safely evacuated on Monday through seven humanitarian corridors from Ukrainian towns and cities under fire, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said.
Among those brought to safety were 3,007 residents of the city of Mariupol, which has been under siege from Russian troops for more than two weeks.
Biden not planning to visit Ukraine: White House
The United States has not explored options for President Joe Biden to visit Ukraine during his upcoming trip to Europe, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
Psaki told reporters the decision was about increasing the “efficiency” of the US president’s trip amid the security risks that would come with visiting Ukraine.
Pentagon says it will help gather evidence of war crimes in Ukraine
The Pentagon has accused the Kremlin of carrying out indiscriminate attacks as part of an intentional strategy in Ukraine.
“We certainly see clear evidence that Russian forces are committing war crimes and we are helping with the collecting of evidence of that,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
“But there are investigative processes that are going to go on, and we’re going to let that happen. We’re going to contribute to that investigative process.”
All Chernobyl staff who wanted to leave have been rotated out: IAEA
The remaining technical staff who had been on duty at Chernobyl’s radioactive waste facilities since Russian forces seized the site last month have now been relieved, the UN nuclear watchdog has said.
“Ukraine’s regulatory authority said about half of the outgoing shift of technical staff left (Chernobyl) yesterday and the rest followed today, with the exception of thirteen staff members who declined to rotate,” the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement on Monday.
Any compromises with Russia will need to go to referendum: Zelenskyy
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that any compromises agreed to with Russia to end the war would need to be voted on by Ukrainians in a referendum.
“The people will have to speak up and respond to this or that form of compromise. And what they [the compromises] will be is the subject of our talks and understanding between Ukraine and Russia,” Zelenskyy said in an interview published by the public broadcasting company Suspilne.
He said issues that could be raised in any referendum could concern territories occupied by Russian forces, including Crimea, or security guarantees offered to Ukraine by countries in lieu of NATO membership.
US ambassador to Russia calls on Moscow to abide by international law
The US ambassador to Russia has called on the Russian government to follow international law, the State Department said, after Moscow summoned John Sullivan over strained relations with Washington.
The department confirmed that a meeting took place between Sullivan and the Russian government, during which the ambassador also called for consular access to US citizens detained in Russia.
Russia’s foreign ministry earlier said it summoned Sullivan over President Joe Biden’s recent comments labelling his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” amid the invasion of Ukraine. It said the remarks “put Russian-American relations on the verge of rupture”.
Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.
Read all the updates from Monday, March 21 here.