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
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12:58 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Missing reporter among several journalists, activists and officials said to be detained by Russian forces

From CNN's Andrew Carey and Oleksandra Ochman in Lviv

A Ukrainian digital broadcaster said one of its reporters in the southeast of the country has gone missing and is believed to be held by Russian forces.

The broadcaster, Hromadske, said reporter Victoria Roshchina was last heard from on March 12, a day after filing a story from the Russian-occupied town of Enerhodar.

Ukraine’s Human Rights Commissioner Liudmyla Denisova said Saturday the government believed she had been kidnapped by Russian forces in the town of Berdiansk, which is on the Black Sea coast and also under Russian occupation.

Hromadske is a small broadcasting station that started in 2013 and is associated with the Maidan protests in Kyiv that began that year.

Roshchina’s disappearance comes amid reports of other activists and officials being held against their will in other parts of Russian-occupied Ukraine.

In Kherson region, a senior council official in the town of Nova Kakhovka was abducted three days ago, according to the town’s mayor. The wife of Dmytro Vasyliev said on her Facebook page that her husband had been detained because of his negative attitude toward Russia.

Ukrainian officials have said Russia wants to create a Kherson People’s Republic in the style of the pro-Russian statelets set up around Donetsk and Luhansk in 2014 and are demanding local councillors promote the move.

More: Elsewhere in Ukraine, Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov was freed from detention by Russian forces as part of a prisoner swap, Ukraine’s Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security said in a statement Thursday. Fedorov was taken to Luhansk after his detention and held for five days.

Also, Viktor Tereshchenko, mayor of the Velykoburlutska community in Ukraine's northeastern region of Kharkiv, has been released, according to a video message from Kharkiv Regional State Administration's head Oleh Syniehubov on Friday. On Thursday, Syniehubov said Tereshchenko was "captured" by Russian forces.

And on Sunday, Yevhen Matveyev, the leader of Dniprorudne, a small city north of Melitopol, was abducted by Russian troops, according to Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. CNN could not independently confirm the claim.

According to human rights organization ZMINA, about 17 people have been detained by Russian forces in Ukraine since the start of the war.

12:57 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

It's 6 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

A soldier walks near a damaged residential building in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 18.
A soldier walks near a damaged residential building in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 18. (Emin Sansar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

As night falls on Saturday in Ukraine, these are the latest developments in the war:

US says Russia has used hypersonic missiles: US officials confirmed to CNN that Russia launched hypersonic missiles against Ukraine last week, the first known use of such missiles in combat.

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

Zelensky tells Russia "it's time to talk": In a video message early Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Russian military's actions were worsening the situation for their own country, and that honest negotiations "without stalling" were the only way to mitigate the damage.

Status of forces: Russia has so far been "surprised by the scale and ferocity" of Ukrainian resistance and has been "forced to change its operational approach," the UK Ministry of Defence said in its latest intelligence update on Saturday.

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

Rescue operations underway: Rescue efforts are taking place in Mykolaiv on Saturday morning at the scene of a missile strike on a barracks housing 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.

12:23 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

UNICEF estimates 1.5 million children have fled Ukraine since start of Russia invasion

From CNN's Amy Cassidy in London

Ukrainian refugees wait to cross the border in Medyka, Poland on March 18.
Ukrainian refugees wait to cross the border in Medyka, Poland on March 18. (Angel Garcia/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Approximately 1.5 million children have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began and are at risk of being trafficked, according to UNICEF, the United Nations' children's agency.

“Countless others” are displaced inside the country as the war wages on, the agency said in a Saturday news release.

“The war in Ukraine is leading to massive displacement and refugee flows – conditions that could lead to a significant spike in human trafficking and an acute child protection crisis,” said Afshan Khan, UNICEF’s regional director for Europe and Central Asia.

“Displaced children are extremely vulnerable to being separated from their families, exploited, and trafficked," Khan continued. "They need governments in the region to step up and put measures in place to keep them safe.”

Between Feb. 24 and March 7, UNICEF said they identified more than 500 unaccompanied children crossing from Ukraine into Romania. The overall figure of unaccompanied children spilling over neighboring borders is “likely much higher,” the statement added. 

To scale up protection, the UN and civil society partners have set up information hubs in neighboring countries such as Poland, identified as “Blue Dots” to provide essential services for families.

UNICEF also urges Ukraine’s neighboring governments to scale up child protection screenings at the borders and at key areas, such as train stations, where refugees pass through. 

“In addition, UNICEF is calling on governments to improve cross-border collaboration and knowledge exchange between and among border control, law enforcement and child protection authorities and to quickly identify separated children, implement family tracing and reunification procedures for children deprived of parental care,” according to the statement.

11:39 a.m. ET, March 19, 2022

US officials confirm Russia has used hypersonic missiles against Ukraine

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand, Jim Sciutto and Barbara Starr

US officials confirmed to CNN that Russia launched hypersonic missiles against Ukraine last week, the first known use of such missiles in combat. The US was able to track the launches in real time, the sources said.

The launches were likely intended to test the weapons and send a message to the West about Russian capabilities, multiple sources told CNN.

Russia's Ministry of Defence said Saturday that it had launched hypersonic Kinzhal missiles against a military ammunitions warehouse in western Ukraine on Friday, destroying the structure in the Ukrainian village of Delyatin. CNN is unable to independently verify this claim. 

Traveling at Mach 5 speed or faster, hypersonic weapons are difficult to detect, posing a challenge to missile defense systems. Hypersonic missiles can travel at a far lower trajectory than high-arcing ballistic missiles, which can be easily detectable. Hypersonics can also maneuver and evade missile defense systems.

The Pentagon has made developing hypersonic weapons one of its top priorities, particularly as China and Russia are working to develop their own versions. 

CNN's Oren Liebermann contributed to this report.

12:38 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Nearly 850 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russian invasion began, UN says

From Sharon Braithwaite in London

Ukrainian policemen carry a body after a residential building was hit by shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 18.
Ukrainian policemen carry a body after a residential building was hit by shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 18. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)

As of Friday, at least 847 civilians — including 64 children — have been killed in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24, according to the latest update from the United Nations Human Rights Office on Saturday. 

This is an increase of 31 deaths compared to the previous daily update published on Friday. 

The OHCHR said 1,399 civilians have been injured, including 78 children, mostly caused by shelling and airstrikes. The actual toll is believed to be much higher, it added. 

"Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes," the OHCHR said. 

11:40 a.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Lviv mayor says his city has more than 200,000 Ukrainian refugees

Displaced Ukrainians wait in the train station as they flee from the war in Lviv, Ukraine on March 15.
Displaced Ukrainians wait in the train station as they flee from the war in Lviv, Ukraine on March 15. (Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The mayor of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, Andriy Sadovyi, said the number of refugees in his city is now more than 200,000, which is double his previous expectations.

"The population of city of Lviv is one million. And today we host one more city. We spent $1 million per day for Ukrainian refugees in Lviv," Sadovyi told CNN's Fredricka Whitfield on "Newsroom".

He said international organizations have helped with the refugee situation, plus the city has opened up schools, theaters and its arena to house refugees. Many residents of the city have also welcomed refugees into their homes.

Humanitarian aid is also being sent from Lviv to cities in eastern Ukraine, he added.

Sadovyi echoed other leaders of Ukraine, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, in calling for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which Western allies have said could lead to further escalation.

"Never give up!" he said at the close of the interview, raising his fist up.

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.