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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12:05 a.m. ET, March 20, 2022

Our live coverage of the war in Ukraine has moved here.

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

Russia sustaining “unprecedented losses,” Zelensky says

From CNN's Yulia Shevchenko and Hira Humayun

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, early Sunday, March 20, 2022.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, early Sunday, March 20, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday said the Russian military has sustained “unprecedented losses” and that some Russian units have been "80 to 90% destroyed."

"Ukrainians have proven they can fight more professionally than an army that has been waging wars for decades in various regions and conditions. We respond with wisdom and courage to the great number of their equipment and soldiers sent to Ukraine," Zelensky said in a video message posted to social media.

He then switched from speaking Ukrainian to Russian and said in areas where heavy fighting have taken place, the front line of defense is "littered with corpses of the Russian soldiers."

"And these corpses, these dead bodies, are not being picked up by anyone. New units are being sent to advance right over them," he said.

Evacuation corridors: Zelensky said eight evacuation corridors were operating on Saturday but due to Russian shelling, authorities were unable to rescue people from Borodyanka in the Kyiv region. 

Authorities were also unable to deliver humanitarian aid to the cities in the southern Kherson region.

“The Russian troops have blocked our convoy. Why? Their goal remains the same. Again, they are trying to create an image for their propaganda as if Ukraine has left its citizens without the essentials, as if Russia is constantly rescuing them from something,” Zelensky said.

CNN is unable to independently verify Zelensky's claims of significant Russian losses.

11:38 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

What Russia is doing to Mariupol "will be remembered for centuries," Zelensky says

A long line of cars queue to leave the heavily damaged city of Mariupol following a recent lull on March 17.
A long line of cars queue to leave the heavily damaged city of Mariupol following a recent lull on March 17. (Maximilian Clarke/SOPA/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the sustained Russian attack on the besieged city of Mariupol is an "act of terror" that will be "remembered for centuries."

In a video message posted to Facebook early Sunday, the Ukrainian President said Mariupol will go down in history as an example of war crimes.

Earlier Saturday, Zelensky addressed the Swiss people via video link, saying Switzerland supported EU sanctions against Moscow and called for Switzerland to take further action against Russia.

“This means a lot for the Russian state apparatus, for the people who are used to thinking that power is money," he said in the Facebook message.

He said he urged Switzerland to take additional steps such as ensuring Swiss companies that have not yet left the Russian market would do so immediately.

“So that they don’t give a single dollar, Franc or Euro to the Russian war machine for killing our people. So that all those who are guilty of war against our country will not be able to enjoy life in Switzerland, the Swiss real estate and the Swiss banks.”

In the Saturday address, Zelensky singled out Swiss company Nestle, which has not left Russia.

"'Good food. Good life.' This is the slogan of Nestlé. Your company that refuses to leave Russia. Even now — when there are threats from Russia to other European countries. Not only to us. When there is even nuclear blackmail from Russia," he said.


11:22 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Russia has failed to gain control of Ukrainian air space, says UK Ministry of Defense

From CNN's Michelle Velez

Britain's military on Saturday said Russian forces have still not managed to gain air superiority over Ukraine.

"The Ukrainian Air Force and Air Defense Forces are continuing to effectively defend Ukrainian airspace," the UK's Ministry of Defense said in its latest defense intelligence update Saturday. 

The UK MoD said Russia has failed to gain air control over Ukraine and is largely depending on stand-off weapons, “launched from the relative safety of Russian airspace to strike targets within Ukraine.”

“Gaining control of the air was one of Russia’s principal objectives for the opening days of the conflict and their continued failure to do so has significantly blunted their operational progress,” the ministry said.  
10:12 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

US officials confirm Russia launched powerful hypersonic missiles against Ukraine. Here's what we know

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

Here's what we know about the weapon:

  • Russia's Ministry of Defense said Saturday it had launched hypersonic missiles against a military ammunitions warehouse in western Ukraine on Friday.
  • It said the missiles destroyed the structure in the Ukrainian village of Delyatin. CNN is unable to independently verify this claim. 
  • The defense ministry claimed it used its hypersonic "Kinzhal" missiles.
"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. 

Why were they used?

  • US officials confirmed to CNN that Russia launched hypersonic missiles against Ukraine last week and were able to track the launches in real time.
  • The launches were likely intended to test the weapons and send a message to the West about Russian capabilities, multiple sources told CNN.

What are hypersonic missiles?

  • Traveling at Mach 5 speed or faster (five times the speed of sound), hypersonic missiles fly into space after launch, but then come down and fly on a flight path similar to an airplane.
  • That low trajectory, coupled with high-speed and maneuverability make hypersonic missiles difficult for US missile defense satellites and radars to detect.
  • The Pentagon has made developing hypersonic weapons one of its top priorities, particularly as China and Russia are working to develop their own versions. 

10:12 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Japan's Fumio Kishida says war in Ukraine "shakes the foundation of international order" during meeting with Indian leader

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, center, speaks during a joint press conference with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi in New Delhi, India, on Saturday, March 19.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, center, speaks during a joint press conference with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi in New Delhi, India, on Saturday, March 19. (T. Narayan/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Saturday told his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “shakes the foundation of international order” and required a stronger response.

The two leaders were meeting in India’s capital New Delhi to improve economic partnerships and strengthen security amid the Ukraine crisis.

“We confirmed any unilateral change to the status quo by force cannot be forgiven in any region, and it is necessary to seek peaceful resolutions of disputes based on international law,” Kishida told reporters after their meeting.

Modi did not comment directly on the situation in Ukraine, but acknowledged that geopolitical incidents were “presenting new challenges.”

Both countries are members of Quad — an informal security grouping that includes the United States and Australia as well.

But India is the only country from the group that has not explicitly condemned Russia’s attacks, calling repeatedly instead for “an immediate cessation of violence.”

Japan meanwhile has backed its condemnation of the Russian invasion with sanctions on Russian officials and oligarchs.

During the news conference Saturday, Kishida also announced a $42 billion investment in India over the next five years, adding to Japan’s ongoing support toward infrastructure development in India.

9:22 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Ukraine claims another Russian general killed during heavy fighting in southern Ukraine

From CNN's Tim Lister

A Ukrainian attack on an airfield in the south of the country last week killed a Russian general, according to the Ukrainian military's General Staff.

Amid heavy fighting between the cities of Mykolaiv and Kherson, Ukrainian forces carried out an attack on the airport at Chornobayivka, just north of Kherson, on Wednesday.

The airport was occupied by Russian forces and served as a forward command post of Russia's 8th Guards Combined Arms Army, according to Ukrainian officials.

Images and video geolocated by CNN showed three helicopters and multiple vehicles on fire at the airport.

Soon after the attack, Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said, "Burning enemy helicopters in Chornobayivka in the Kherson region is a demonstration of what is now happening to the occupying forces."

Ukraine's General Staff later said, "according to preliminary data" Russian Lieutenant-General Andrei Mordvichev, commander of the 8th Guards, had been killed.

CNN cannot independently verify the Ukrainian claim. Ukraine says that five Russian generals have been killed since the invasion began on Feb. 24.

9:45 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Putin in “total panic” fearing a pro-democracy uprising in Moscow, says UK's Boris Johnson

From CNN's Hira Humayun

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on March 11.
Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on March 11. (Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in “total panic” over the idea of a revolution in Moscow, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at a Conservative Party conference in Blackpool Saturday.

“Why did he decide to invade this totally innocent country? He didn’t really believe Ukraine was going to join NATO any time soon, he knew perfectly well there was no plan to put missiles on Ukrainian soil,” Johnson said in his address, which was broadcast on the Conservative Party’s Twitter page.

Johnson said Putin was “frightened” of Ukraine because of the country’s free press, free elections, democracy and open markets, and feared the Ukrainian model’s “implicit reproach to himself.”

“He has been terrified of the effect of that Ukrainian model on him and on Russia,” the Prime Minister said.
“And he’s been in a total panic about a so-called color revolution in Moscow itself. That’s why he’s trying so brutally to snuff out the flame of freedom in Ukraine; and that’s why it is so vital that he fails.”

10:31 p.m. ET, March 19, 2022

Friends and colleagues mourn death of Ukrainian ballet dancer killed in Russian shelling

From CNN's Jennifer Hauser

Artem Datsishin, a ballet dancer with Ukraine's National Opera House, has died after being injured in Russian shelling, according to social media posts from his friends and colleagues. 

Tatiana Borovik, who said on social media that she is a friend and colleague of Datsishin said he was injured on Feb. 26 in the Russian attack and later died in hospital.

"Farewell my dear man !! I can't express my heartache that is overwhelming me! May your memory be bright!!" she wrote on Facebook Thursday. 

CNN could not confirm the circumstances of Datsishin’s death.  

Datsishin was a "beautiful artist, a long-term soloist of the ballet corps" and "a wonderful man," Anatoly Solovyanenko, stage director at the National Opera of Ukraine said in a Facebook post Thursday. 

Alina Cojocaru, a former Royal Ballet dancer from Romania, told CNN affiliate ITN that she was dance partners with Datsishin when she was training in Ukraine. 

"Artem was one of the first partners I danced with when I was 15 in Kyiv. We both had the same teacher when I joined the theatre. My memory goes to how I knew them how we met and how we danced together. I could not comprehend that that’s a reality now happening," Cojocaru told ITN.

On Saturday, former Royal Ballet stars Alina Cojocaru and Ivan Putrov will reunite and be joined by several other international dance starts for a fundraising gala called "Dance for Ukraine" at the London Coliseum.