March 26, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Barry Neild, Adrienne Vogt, Joe Ruiz and Ray Sanchez, CNN

Updated 12:04 a.m. ET, March 27, 2022
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9:35 a.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Biden says NATO countries must be in "lockstep" with each other as Russian invasion of Ukraine continues

US President Joe Biden meets with Polish President Andrzej Duda on March 26 in Warsaw, Poland.
US President Joe Biden meets with Polish President Andrzej Duda on March 26 in Warsaw, Poland. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden, while holding talks with Polish President Andrzej Duda, said that peace in Europe is directly related to stability in the United States, adding that lack of action in two world wars "has come back to haunt us."

"America's ability to meet its role in other parts of the world rests upon a united Europe, a secure Europe. We've learned from sad experience in two world wars, when we've stayed out of and not been involved in stability in Europe, it always comes back to haunt us, the United States," Biden said.

"So I've been saying for a long time, as a senator who visited here, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, as vice president for eight years, now as President, that stability in Europe is critically important to the United States in terms of our interest. Not only in Europe, but around the world," he continued.

Biden also said that he and US leaders see NATO's Article 5 as "a sacred commitment."

Article 5 is the principle that an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all members.

Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin thought he'd be able to divide NATO countries with his invasion of Ukraine.

"The single most important criterion in this time-changing world ... is that NATO stay absolutely, completely, thoroughly united. There be no separation in our points of view. That whatever we do, we do in unison, and everyone — everyone — comes along," he said.

The US President also acknowledged the strain of Ukrainian refugees upon Poland, referencing the situation at the US-Mexico border.

9:36 a.m. ET, March 26, 2022

It's approaching 3 p.m. in Kyiv. Catch up here

Here's what you need to know about Saturday's developments in the war in Ukraine.

Bombardments predicted to continue: Britain's Ministry of Defence said Saturday in its latest intelligence update that Russia prefers “indiscriminate” bombardments and will likely continue using “heavy firepower” on urban areas. 

In a video address on Friday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said the country's military had dealt "powerful blows" to Russia.

Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held an official meeting on Saturday, state media reported, to discuss maintaining the supply of advanced weapons for the conflict.

On the ground: Russian troops have entered the city of Slavutych, north of Kyiv — a move that sparked protests among hundreds of Ukrainian civilians. Slavutych was built for workers at the Chernobyl nuclear plant after the 1986 disaster left the area uninhabitable.

The Russian military on Saturday also claimed new missile strikes on military targets in western, central and southwestern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces have staged a counteroffensive in areas around Ukraine's second-largest city of Kharkiv, according to local officials.

Biden in Poland: After meeting with Ukrainian officials in Warsaw, US President Joe Biden is now holding talks with Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Biden is set to meet with Ukrainian refugees and will give a "major address" later in the day, according to the White House.

8:50 a.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Kyiv's regional military administration reports shelling in suburbs

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Lviv and CNN staff in Kyiv

The Kyiv region's military administration said Saturday that suburbs to the west and east of the capital had come under Russian shellfire in recent hours, adding that Russian forces were digging in within some districts.

Oleksandr Pavliuk, the head of the Kyiv regional military administration, said in a statement that the western suburbs of Маkariv, Bucha and Irpin were under shelling and that the community of Bilohorodka had come under rocket attack and missile strikes. 

Pavliuk added that Russian forces were entrenching in Bucha and another western suburb, Nemishaeve.

A Ukrainian counterattack north and west of the capital appeared to have made some headway earlier this week, with Ukrainian forces restoring control of the town of Makariv, which is about 40 miles west of Kyiv. Shellfire was audible in central Kyiv Saturday morning. 

The greatest damage from shelling was in the region's Bucha, Brovary and Vyshhorod districts, Pavliuk said.

8:42 a.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Chernihiv's population has dropped by more than half since invasion began, mayor says

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll in London

A man rides his bicycle in front of residential buildings damaged by shelling in Chernihiv, Ukraine on March 4.
A man rides his bicycle in front of residential buildings damaged by shelling in Chernihiv, Ukraine on March 4. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)

The mayor of the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, which is located about halfway between Kyiv and the Russian border, said the population has more than halved since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking during a virtual press briefing Saturday, Mayor Vladyslav Atroshenko said 120,000 to 130,000 residents remain in the city, compared to around 290,000 prior to Russia’s invasion, adding that the “the city is surrounded.”

Atroshenko said that Russian forces “consciously destroyed the only bridge connecting Chernihiv with a southern highway towards Kyiv.”

Atroshenko was referring to Russian warplanes destroying a key bridge on March 23, one of the last remaining routes linking it with other Ukrainian-held territory. 

The mayor said there are currently no evacuation corridors or “any safe way to bring or supplies, aid or wounded in or out.”

Atroshenko's remarks come as the city attempts to evacuate 44 people who have been severely wounded. Most are military-related, but the figure also comprises civilians, including three children, he said.

Atroshenko said there have been direct hits on hospitals, including Chernihiv District Hospital, which has been “destroyed.” Electricity and water supplies have also been impacted, with water being delivered by volunteers.

Chernihiv has seen some of the most intense shelling since Russia invaded Ukraine just more than four weeks ago. 

Among the more recent deadly attacks on March 16 was on a line of people in line for bread, in which officials said at least 10 people died. 

8:33 a.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Kyiv mayor cancels extended curfew Saturday

From CNN's Frederik Pleitgen in Kyiv

Smoke rises above residential areas of Kyiv, Ukraine following Russian attacks on March 25.
Smoke rises above residential areas of Kyiv, Ukraine following Russian attacks on March 25. (Alejandro Martinez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko on Saturday canceled an extended curfew planned for the capital.

In a statement on Telegram, Klitschko said the curfew -- planned to begin Saturday at 8 p.m. and run until 7 a.m. on Monday -- would not be introduced.

"Curfew time will remain normal - from 20:00 to 7:00 [8:00 pm to 7:00 am local time]," Klitschko said. "It will be possible to move around the capital and the region on Sunday afternoon."

8:07 a.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Military pageantry welcomes Biden to formal talks with Polish President Duda

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

US President Joe Biden participates in an arrival ceremony with Polish President Andrzej Duda on Saturday, March 26, in Warsaw, Poland.
US President Joe Biden participates in an arrival ceremony with Polish President Andrzej Duda on Saturday, March 26, in Warsaw, Poland. (Evan Vucci/AP)

US President Joe Biden has been welcomed to the Presidential Palace in Warsaw with a a show of pageantry ahead of bilateral talks with his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda.

He was greeted in a courtyard by Polish officials and an honor guard of Polish troops standing at attention.

Afterward, a band played the Star Spangled Banner followed by the Polish national anthem as the two presidents watched on, standing atop a red carpet.

The band struck up a march as Biden and Duda walked over to survey a cordon of Polish troops, who wore white caps and gold braiding to accent their blue uniforms.

The band paraded in front of the two presidents, followed by the marching troops, before Biden and Duda walked inside.

8:17 a.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Kremlin confirms Roman Abramovich's role in Ukraine-Russia negotiations

From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Lviv

Roman Abramovich attends a Chelsea FC match in Porto, Portugal in 2021.
Roman Abramovich attends a Chelsea FC match in Porto, Portugal in 2021. (Alexander Hassenstein/UEFA/Getty Images)

The Kremlin has confirmed that Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich has taken part in Russian-Ukrainian negotiations, amid media reports that Abramovich had surfaced as an interlocutor in facilitating potential peace talks. 

In a conference call Thursday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Abramovich "did take part in the negotiations at the initial stage, that is true."

Pressed further, Peskov gave few details, but added: "And now the negotiations are going on between the two negotiating teams – Russian and Ukrainian."

Peskov was answering a question regarding an article in The Wall Street Journal that reported that the Biden administration held off on sanctions on Abramovich at the urging of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, because of the oligarch's role in potentially negotiating peace. CNN has not independently confirmed such a discussion between Washington and Kyiv and Peskov provided no additional information. 

Separately, the Financial Times has reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin has personally endorsed Abramovich's potential role in talks, citing two two unnamed people with direct knowledge of the matter. CNN has not independently confirmed that reporting. 

It is unclear what role at this stage Abramovich is playing in prospective negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. 

7:18 a.m. ET, March 26, 2022

136 children killed since start of Russia's invasion, say Ukraine officials

At least 136 children have died and 199 have been injured in Ukraine since the invasion started just over a month ago, according to a statement released Saturday by the Ukrainian prosecutor general's office.

The statement said a 9-year-old, 11-year-old and 13-year-old were all killed in the past week from shelling by the Russian military. 

At least 64 of those killed were in Kyiv, according to the statement, adding that 570 educational facilities have also been damaged, with 73 completely destroyed.

CNN cannot independently verify these figures and the prosecutor general's office said: "These data are not conclusive, as it is not possible to inspect the sites of shelling in areas of active hostilities and in the temporarily occupied territories."

7:16 a.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Chinese senior diplomat meets Russian foreign minister in Moscow

From CNN’s Pierre Meilhan

As China faces criticism and pressure from the West for not denouncing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a senior Chinese diplomat traveled to Moscow to meet with Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Saturday.

Liu Xiaoming, China’s representative on Korean affairs said via Twitter he had “in-depth discussions on the Korean Peninsula situation and international issues of mutual concern.”

Liu also said he held his first face-to-face talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov.

The Chinese envoy’s visit comes on the heels of North Korea confirming it tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile, which represented its first long-range test in more than four years, marking a potential new era of regional confrontation as well as raising concerns with its neighbors including Russia and China.