March 18, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, George Ramsay, Jeevan Ravindran, Laura Smith-Spark, Peter Wilkinson, Adrienne Vogt and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, March 19, 2022
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1:16 p.m. ET, March 18, 2022

Polish prime minister will submit proposal for peacekeeping mission in Ukraine

From Anna Odzeniak in Przemsyl, Poland

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks during a summit in Warsaw, Poland, on March 14.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks during a summit in Warsaw, Poland, on March 14. (Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Poland plans to submit a proposal at a NATO summit in Brussels next week for a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Friday. 

Speaking at a news conference in Warsaw, Morawiecki told reporters that “at the next NATO summit, the proposal for a peace mission in Ukraine will be formally submitted.” 

Morawiecki was asked whether he thinks there was consensus for such a mission in Ukraine among NATO members. 

“Poland is very active in this forum, both in NATO and in the EU and we are the ones who urge them to take the following steps,” he said.  

“When the bombs are falling closer and closer to the Polish border, we will, of course, use this as an argument, both in the context of the most argument presented by [Ukrainian] President Volodymyr Zelensky, as well as the arguments formulated by us during our mission in Kyiv," he added. 

On Friday, Russia launched missile strikes near an airport in Lviv, a strategic Ukrainian city not far from the Polish border.

12:36 p.m. ET, March 18, 2022

Russian soldiers don't appear to be "particularly motivated" about Ukraine war, US Central Command head says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Russian soldiers do not seem “to be particularly motivated,” Gen. Frank McKenzie, the Commander of US Central Command, told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon Friday.

“They don’t appear, from where I sit at least, to be particularly motivated or particularly engaged in the campaign they’re undertaking,” McKenzie said of Russian forces fighting in Ukraine.

US Central Command oversees the US military presence in the Middle East. McKenzie is set to retire in the coming weeks.

11:36 a.m. ET, March 18, 2022

Activists set up strollers to mark the deaths of more than 100 children in Ukraine

Casualties in Russia's invasion of Ukraine are mounting. In central Lviv, local activists and authorities placed 109 empty strollers to symbolize the children who have been killed during the invasion.

According to the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine, 109 children had been killed. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights noted the office's report on Friday.

109 empty prams placed in the center of Lviv during the "Price of War" campaign organized by local activists and authorities to highlight the large number of children killed during Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Lviv, on March 18.
109 empty prams placed in the center of Lviv during the "Price of War" campaign organized by local activists and authorities to highlight the large number of children killed during Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Lviv, on March 18. (Roman Baluk/Reuters)

109 empty prams placed in the center of Lviv during the "Price of War" campaign organized by local activists and authorities to highlight the large number of children killed during Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Lviv, on March 18.
109 empty prams placed in the center of Lviv during the "Price of War" campaign organized by local activists and authorities to highlight the large number of children killed during Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Lviv, on March 18. (Roman Baluk/Reuters)

11:01 a.m. ET, March 18, 2022

It's 5 p.m. in Kyiv. Here are the latest developments in Ukraine

A Ukrainian serviceman stands among debris after shelling in a residential area in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 18.
A Ukrainian serviceman stands among debris after shelling in a residential area in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 18. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

Intense fighting and shelling continued across different parts of Ukraine on Friday. Here's what you should know:

Impacted areas: Multiple explosions were heard at about 6:30 a.m. local time and smoke was seen rising in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, according to a CNN team on the ground. Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said the Russian missiles struck an aircraft repair plant, which is close to Lviv airport. Russia launched six missiles toward the city, but two of them were intercepted by air defense systems, according to the Ukrainian armed forces.

One person died and four others were injured as a fire broke out after the remains of a downed rocket hit the five-story residential building in the Podilskyi district of Kyiv on Friday, Ukraine's Emergency Service said.

At least two people have died and six were wounded after a missile strike in the city of Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine, according to Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the Donetsk regional administration.

Russian losses: At least five Russian servicemen, including the commander of the Kostroma airborne forces, died in battle in Ukraine, Russian regional state TV network GTRK Kostroma reported Thursday.

Evacuations: Nine corridors to evacuate civilians from towns and cities badly hit by Russian attacks have been agreed for Friday, according to the Ukrainian government. For the second day running, one of the agreed corridors links the besieged southeastern city of Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia, which remains under Ukrainian control.

Biden-Xi call: A call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden was underway Friday. Since the war began, China has tried to project a neutral stance. It has not condemned Russian actions, and has refused to label the attack an invasion. Chinese diplomats have criticized NATO expansion and accused the United States of fueling the conflict. But they have also called for a diplomatic solution.

Though not military allies, China and Russia have in recent years burnished their partnership in trade, technology and coordination of military exercises, while becoming increasingly vocal about what they view as Western interference into their domestic affairs — pushing back on US-led sanctions and often voting as a bloc in the United Nations.

Russia has asked China for military and economic support and Beijing has expressed some openness to this request, according to US intelligence and diplomacy officials. It is not yet clear whether China intends to provide Russia with that help, US officials familiar with the intelligence tell CNN — but according to the White House, Biden will lay out the potential ramifications of such an action during the call with Xi.

1:04 p.m. ET, March 18, 2022

UN: More than 800 people have been killed since Russia began invading Ukraine

From CNN's Sarah Diab

Relatives stand around the coffin of a Ukrainian soldier on March 15 in Lviv, Ukraine.
Relatives stand around the coffin of a Ukrainian soldier on March 15 in Lviv, Ukraine. (Alexey Furman/Getty Images)

At least 816 people have been killed and 1,333 have been injured since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, the United Nations Human Rights Office said Friday. 

Most of the casualties were due to “the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems and missile air strikes," the OHCR said in a report.

Those killed include 152 men, 116 women, seven girls, and 16 boys, as well as 36 children, and 489 adults whose sex is yet unknown, the UN agency said.

The OHCR said, it “believes that the actual figures are considerably higher, especially in Government-controlled territory and especially in recent days, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration.” 

11:14 a.m. ET, March 18, 2022

Russia's foreign minister says Russia will target any weapons shipments entering Ukraine

From CNN's Amy Cassidy

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks during a press conference in Moscow, Russia on March 17.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks during a press conference in Moscow, Russia on March 17. (Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Any weapons shipments entering Ukraine will be a “legitimate” target for Russia, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday, according to Russian state news agency TASS. 

"We have made it very clear that any cargo that will enter the territory of Ukraine, which we will consider ... [carrying] weapons, will become a legitimate target," he reportedly told state TV channel RT.

Some context: A number of NATO countries have pledged military aid to Ukraine ranging from drones to anti-tank missiles. 

Lavrov said Soviet and Russian-made missile defense systems, which are available to some NATO countries, cannot be legally transferred to third countries, according to TASS.

10:50 a.m. ET, March 18, 2022

Xi says China and US have a responsibility to ensure peace, according to Chinese state media

From CNN’s Yong Xiong in Seoul, South Korea

China and the US have a responsibility to ensure peace, Chinese President Xi Jinping told US President Joe Biden during a video call Friday, according to Chinese state media CCTV.

“As permanent members of the UN Security Council and the world's two largest economies, we must not only lead the development of China-US relations down the correct path, but also shoulder our international responsibilities and make efforts for world peace and tranquillity,” Xi is reported to have said on the video call.

“The world is neither peaceful nor tranquil,” Xi acknowledged. “The Ukraine crisis is something we don't want to see.”

10:21 a.m. ET, March 18, 2022

"Conflict not in anyone’s interest," Xi tells Biden

From CNN’s Beijing Bureau

Conflict and confrontation is not in anyone’s interest, Chinese President Xi Jinping said to US President Joe Biden on a video call Friday morning, according to Chinese state media.

“State-to-state relations cannot go to the stage of military confrontation. Conflict and confrontation are not in the interests of anyone. Peace and security are the most cherished treasures of the international community,” CCTV quoted Xi as saying on the call.

Some context: The call between the two world leaders started at 9:03 a.m on Friday. It is their first known discussion in months, the White House said Thursday.

It comes days after a US diplomatic cable suggested China has expressed some openness to providing Russia with requested military and financial assistance as part of its war on Ukraine. It is not yet clear whether China intends to provide Russia with that assistance, US officials familiar with the intelligence told CNN earlier this week.

"This is part of our ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication between the United States and the PRC," Psaki had said, using the abbreviation for the People's Republic of China.

9:37 a.m. ET, March 18, 2022

5 reasons the Biden-Xi call is so important

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

As the call between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping gets underway, here's why it's important amid all the ongoing flurry of telephone diplomacy.

  1. It comes at a critical moment in the Russia-Ukraine war: According to US officials, China is weighing whether to provide military or financial assistance to Russia, which has requested it as its military sustains major losses in Ukraine. If China agrees, it could dampen its relationship with the West for decades to come.
  2. China could provide Russia with a range of support: On their phone call, Biden hopes to make clear to Xi the downsides of assisting Russia's war, either through military or financial assistance.
  3. US must manage a "cold-blooded" partnership: Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, US officials were watching warily as Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Xi grew closer. CIA Director Bill Burns said last week the partnership was rooted in "a lot of very cold-blooded reasons." Since then, the partnership without limits has been tested as Xi weighs how to respond to Russia's war in Ukraine.
  4. American allies in Asia are watching closely: Russia's invasion has sent ripples of anxiety across the world. One place watching closely is Taiwan, the self-governing island claimed by China. Beijing has recently stepped-up military flights close to the island and warned against American support.
  5. Biden and Xi have very different worldviews: Before the conflict in Ukraine, Biden appeared intent on refocusing American foreign policy toward Asia, where he views the competition between the US and China as a defining challenge of the next century. And while the Ukraine crisis has preoccupied the White House in recent weeks, officials insist they are still able to maintain their overriding vision.

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