March 19, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Luke McGee, Jeevan Ravindran, Joe Ruiz, Adrienne Vogt and Emma Tucker, CNN

Updated 12:05 a.m. ET, March 20, 2022
26 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
12:39 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Luxembourg's prime minister brought up concerns about Mariupol to Putin in call on Saturday

From CNN’s James Frater in London

Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel attend a news conference on March 1 in Berlin, Germany.
Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel attend a news conference on March 1 in Berlin, Germany. (Hannibal Hanschke/Pool/Getty Images)

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, Bettel said. 

“Just spoke to Vladimir Putin again. Since our last exchange, the situation on the ground has worsened, especially in the city of Mariupol. The images that reach us are intolerable. The goal needs to remain de-escalation, adoption of ceasefire & furthering negotiation processes.” Bettel said via Twitter.

The besieged city of Mariupol has been the site of heavy attacks from Russia forces, including a strike on a maternity and children's hospital and the bombing of a theater being used as a shelter. It continues to face desperate conditions, and as many as 2,500 civilians have died there, Ukrainian officials estimate.

1:23 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Putin lays out demands of Ukraine prior to any ceasefire negotiations in call with Turkey's president

From CNN's Isil Sariyuce

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on March 2.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on March 2. (Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin laid out several issues to achieve a ceasefire with Ukraine in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Thursday, according to a Turkish presidential spokesperson.

Erdoğan offered to bring both Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Turkey to facilitate negotiations to end the war, Turkish presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalin said in an interview with the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet published Saturday.

Kalin said while Zelensky was ready to meet, Putin laid out issues to be resolved before any leadership-level negotiations could take place.

"The first is Ukraine's neutrality, that is, its renounce from NATO membership. Second, disarmament and mutual security guarantees in the context of the Austrian model. Third, the process that the Russian side refers to as 'de-Nazification'. Fourth, removing obstacles to the widespread use of Russian language in Ukraine. It is understood that some progress has been made in the first four articles of the ongoing negotiations. It is too early to say that there is full agreement or that an agreement is about to be signed," Kalin told the newspaper.

Putin and other government officials have repeatedly made false accusations toward Ukraine as their motivations for the invasion, baselessly saying the country must "denazify."

Kalin added Putin made two more demands that were "the most difficult issues," one being the recognition of the annexation of Crimea and the two "so-called" republics in Donbas. Kalin said these final two issues "are not acceptable demands for Ukraine and the international community."

"If a point is reached in the first four articles and an agreement is reached, there can be a discussion at the leaders' level regarding the fifth and sixth articles," Kalin said in the interview, adding if the negotiations take place, "it may be possible to reach an agreement and end the war."

Kalin said Erdoğan urged to Putin that the ceasefire must be made permanent. Turkey's Directorate of Communications said Thursday that Erdoğan offered to host both presidents in either Istanbul or Ankara, saying “consensus on some issues may require talks at leadership level."

10:01 a.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Group of bipartisan US senators visit Germany and Poland to discuss Russia's invasion of Ukraine

From CNN's Sarah Fortinsky

Ten US senators are on a bipartisan congressional delegation to Poland and Germany, visiting a Polish refugee processing center and meeting with German lawmakers.

Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana discussed the delegation with Fox this morning from the refugee center, which he said was just two miles from the Ukrainian border.

He described seeing mothers pushing their children in strollers, calling it "heartbreaking."

Daines said the group of 10 senators met with leaders and generals from the 82nd Airborne just an hour before the interview at a location that Daines said was about 50 miles away. He said they received a briefing on the ongoing situation. Daines also said that on Friday night, the 10 senators visited the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and had dinner with several members of the German Bundestag. 

He said the members were grateful for the increase in funding from NATO countries and referred to the crisis as "their 9/11."

The senators met with leaders at Wiesbaden Army Airfield, according to a tweet from Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, who is leading the CODEL. Many senators posted photos in front of a sign at the Gen. John Shalikashvili Mission Command Center. Ernst also tweeted photos from meetings the group of senators had with US Ambassador to Germany Amy Gutmann and with the German State Secretary of the Federal Foreign Office.

Ernst and Daines are joined by Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, John Cornyn of Texas, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Roger Marshall of Kansas, and Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Jacky Rosen of Nevada, and Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine, who caucuses with Democrats.

10:53 a.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Curfew in Zaporizhzhia begins Saturday afternoon and will last until Monday, local official says

From CNN’s Tim Lister

People stand outside of the Zaporizhzhia State Circus, which is serving as the logistics hub for displaced residents on March 15 in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine.
People stand outside of the Zaporizhzhia State Circus, which is serving as the logistics hub for displaced residents on March 15 in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. (Dmytro Smolyenko/Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Getty Images)

Oleksandr Starukh, head of the Zaporizhzhia regional council, announced that a curfew in Zaporizhzhia will begin Saturday at 1600 local time (10 a.m. ET) and end on Monday at 0600 local time (midnight ET). 

“For your own safety please do not go out into the streets or other public places during this time (except with specially issued passes and ID cards),” Starukh said on social media. 

“Defense of the Zaporizhzhia region continues,” he added. 

More background: Zaporizhzhia has been the destination for thousands of people leaving Mariupol, the besieged city on Ukraine's southern coast. The nearby nuclear power station in Enerhodar was captured by Russian soldiers earlier in the month.

Kyiv also implemented a 35-hour curfew on Tuesday evening.

8:55 a.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Russia says it has destroyed Ukrainian radio and electronic intelligence centers in south of country

From CNN's Claudia Rebaza

Russia's Ministry of Defence said Saturday that the "Bastion" coastal missile system destroyed the centers of radio and electronic intelligence of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the settlements of Veliky Dalnyk and Velikodolinskoe of the Odesa region along the Black Sea.

CNN is unable to independently verify Russia’s claims. 

"On the night of March 19, Russian operational-tactical, army and unmanned aircraft hit 69 military facilities in Ukraine," the ministry said.

The ministry claims that in total, "since the beginning of the special military operation, 196 Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles, 1438 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 145 multiple rocket launchers, 556 field artillery pieces and mortars, as well as 1237 units of special military vehicles have been destroyed." 

9:26 a.m. ET, March 19, 2022

People in Mariupol risking their lives each time they leave shelter, Ukrainian Army major says

From Khrystyna Bondarenko, Ivan Watson, AnneClaire Stapleton and Tom Booth in Ukraine 

Residents carry their belongings as they leave Mariupol, Ukraine on March 16.
Residents carry their belongings as they leave Mariupol, Ukraine on March 16. (Maksim Blinov/Sputnik/AP)

People sheltering in Mariupol from some of the most intense fighting anywhere in Ukraine are risking their lives each time they step foot outside their underground bunkers, a Ukrainian army commander stationed in the city has told CNN. 

With Russia’s assault in its fourth week, Major Denis Prokopenko of the National Guard Azov Regiment said the besieged city was now under almost constant bombardment. 

“Usually, Mariupol is under fire during the whole day and night. Sometimes there is 30 minutes of silence, but then the city is again under attack [from] tanks, artillery, multiple rockets, and [aircraft] like bombers and helicopters,” he said. 

The Azov Battalion is an ultra-nationalist militia that has since been integrated into the Ukrainian armed forces.

People are reluctant to leave their underground shelters even to get hold of essentials, meaning they were trying to drink less water and eat less food. One of the few times people did leave the shelter was to prepare hot food, he said.  

“People are cooking food in the streets, risking their lives under the continuous shelling and bombing. The temperature is minus 5 degree Celsius in the street,” Prokopenko told CNN. 

Basic services like gas, electricity and water are all out. 

Bodies are left lying in the street because there is either no one left to collect them or it is simply too dangerous to try. 

Prokopenko said no one knew the exact number of people killed.  

“Some people are buried under ruined buildings, buried alive,” he said.  

Information about a huge attack three days ago on a theater in Mariupol being used as a shelter has been slow to emerge.  

Prokopenko said he believed the building, which also acted as the city’s main humanitarian assembly station, was providing temporary home to about 800 people when it was hit. 

Former Donetsk regional head Sergiy Taruta said on Thursday that 1,300 people were in the building when it was bombed.

Prokopenko confirmed earlier reports that continued Russian artillery fire made attempts to get survivors out of the building very difficult. 

Figures released by several Ukrainian leaders, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, say 130 people have been rescued, among them one person with serious injuries. 

8:27 a.m. ET, March 19, 2022

It's just past 1 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Soldiers conduct search efforts at the scene of a missile strike in Mykolaiv, Ukraine.
Soldiers conduct search efforts at the scene of a missile strike in Mykolaiv, Ukraine. (Niclas Hammarström/Expressen)

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky called for negotiations on peace "without delay," otherwise Russia's losses would be "huge," in a video message on Saturday morning.  

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that Russia continues to make "incremental gains" in Ukraine's south and has used "brutal, savage techniques'' in the way it has targeted civilians.

Some examples of that brutality: Rescue operations are still underway in Mykolaiv Saturday morning at the scene of a missile strike on a barracks housing Ukrainian soldiers, regional boss Vitalli Kim said. Dozens of troops are reported to have been killed in the attack by Russian forces, according to journalists from CNN Swedish affiliate Expressen who were at the scene.

Russia's Ministry of Defense said Saturday hypersonic Kinzhal missiles destroyed a military ammunitions warehouse in western Ukraine on Friday.

Other key cities Lviv and Kramatorsk were also hit Friday by Russian attacks, according to Ukrainian authorities.

But Kyiv holds on. Satellite images show the Russian military digging in, constructing protective earthen berms around its military equipment northwest of Kyiv. According to NATO officials, Russia's offensive to capture the capital has largely stalled. The Ukrainian army said Russia’s two main routes for attacking Kyiv have been blocked.

2:32 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Battle rages for control of huge steel plant in Mariupol

From Andrew Carey and Yulia Kesaieva in Lviv 

The Azov Steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine on February 17, 2022. Due to conflicting reports from both sides, it is currently unclear whether Ukraine remains in control of the plant. 
The Azov Steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine on February 17, 2022. Due to conflicting reports from both sides, it is currently unclear whether Ukraine remains in control of the plant.  (Pierre Crom/Getty Images)

There are conflicting reports over the status of one of Ukraine’s key industrial facilities – the Azov Steel plant in Mariupol.   

Late Friday, a government advisor reported the plant was in Russian hands after ongoing battles with Ukrainian troops for control of the seafront site. 

But in an update Saturday, the Azov battalion, which has a large presence in Mariupol, said the plant remained in their hands.  

“The enemy has not reached this far into the city. The [Ukrainian] navy, along with the Azov battalion, along with the police, continue defending the city and its civilians,” battalion member Vladislav Sobolievskyi told Ukrainian television.  

“Today the Azov Steel plant is under our control. Air strikes hit the whole city, including the plant, but the enemy has not laid his hands on our plant.” 

The giant steelworks lies immediately to the east of Mariupol city centre. Losing control of the facility to Russian forces would be a huge setback to Ukrainian efforts to hang on to the city. 

8:17 a.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Hypersonic Kinzhal missiles destroyed military warehouse in western Ukraine, Russian Ministry of Defense says

Russia's Ministry of Defense said Saturday powerful hypersonic "Kinzhal" missiles destroyed a military ammunitions warehouse in western Ukraine on Friday.

"On March 18, the Kinzhal aviation missile system with hypersonic aeroballistic missiles destroyed a large underground warehouse of missiles and aviation ammunition of Ukrainian troops in the village of Delyatin, Ivano-Frankivsk region," the ministry said. 

CNN is unable to independently verify this claim. 

The ministry has previously made claims that the highly maneuverable missile, which travels faster than the speed of sound, is unmatched for potency when coupled with its MiG-31 fighter jets.

In his 2018 annual address to Russia's parliament, President Vladimir Putin said Russia had developed an "invincible" missile that could deliver a warhead at hypersonic speed.