March 27, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Steve George, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Hafsa Khalil, Joe Ruiz, Mike Hayes, Maureen Chowdhury and Eric Levenson, CNN

Updated 12:49 a.m. ET, March 28, 2022
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12:51 a.m. ET, March 27, 2022

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

Smoke rises after an airstrike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Lviv, Ukraine March 26. 
Smoke rises after an airstrike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Lviv, Ukraine March 26.  (Vladyslav Sodel/Reuters)

US President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin "cannot remain in power" during a speech in Poland and a Ukrainian city, which until now has been largely spared from Russian assault, was hit by missiles on Saturday.

Here are the latest developments in the war on Ukraine:

Missiles strike Lviv: The city's Mayor Andriy Sadovyi called for air defense of Ukraine after a series of Russian missiles struck a fuel storage facility and a military infrastructure site in the western Ukrainian city, close to the Polish border. At least five people were reportedly injured in Lviv, which been previously spared the worst of Russia's brutal onslaught, local officials said.

Biden's speech: In neighboring Poland, Biden declared that Russian President Vladimir Putin "cannot remain in power" during a sweeping speech that called on democracies to stand together. The White House said afterward that it was not a call for regime change. The US President also said that Russia has "strangled democracy" in its invasion of Ukraine and warned Putin to not "even think about moving on one single inch of NATO territory.” He also labeled Putin a "butcher" after visiting with Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw earlier in the day. The US also said it intends to provide “an additional $100 million in civilian security assistance" to Ukraine.

Zelensky calls for more aid: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated his plea for international partners to step up their military assistance, saying his country only asks for 1% of NATO's tanks and planes. In a Saturday video message, Zelensky said the need to strengthen common security in Europe was raised during his two conversations with Polish President Andrezj Duda Saturday. 

Ukrainian counterattacks: Ukrainian officials say the country's military has retaken several villages from Russian troops in a series of counterattacks. Kharkiv's regional administrator said a number of villages around Malaya Rogan were retaken by Ukrainian forces and video shows Ukrainian troops in control of Vilkhivka, one of the settlements. The success of Ukrainian forces around Kharkiv has been mirrored further north, near the city of Sumy, where Ukrainian troops have liberated a number of settlements, according to videos geolocated and verified by CNN. A separate counterattack in the south also led to the liberation of two villages from Russian forces northwest of Mariupol, according to the Zaporizhzhia regional military administration.

Captured city: Zelensky said Russia will not "subdue" the captured Slavutych, after Russian forces entered the city Saturday following days of fighting. The city was built to house workers of the nearby Chornobyl nuclear power plant and hundreds of locals amassed in the city square protesting the arrival of the troops. Russian forces briefly detained the city's mayor but eventually released him, according to a statement from Ukrainian political party Sluha Narodu. 

Evacuations: Two seriously injured children and an infant with pneumonia were among 5,208 people evacuated Saturday, the deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine said. Among them were 4,331 residents of the besieged city of Mariupol, who reached the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia. It came as Ukrainian authorities said bus convoys trying to evacuate civilians were being stopped and held by Russian forces, as part of what they claimed to be a pressure campaign to force some residents to go to Russia. 

11:42 p.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Ukraine says counterattack east of Kharkiv recaptures villages from Russian forces

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy, Tim Lister and Josh Pennington

(From Telegram)
(From Telegram)

A Ukrainian counterattack that began on Friday to the east of the city of Kharkiv has led to the recapture of several villages, according to the regional administrator.  

CNN has geolocated and verified a video showing Ukrainian troops in control of Vilkhivka, one of the settlements that's roughly 32 kilometers (20 miles) from the Russian border in Ukraine's northeast.

Oleg Synegubov, Kharkiv regional administrator, said that a number of villages around Malaya Rogan were retaken by Ukrainian forces. The villages are roughly 20 kilometers (12 miles) from central Kharkiv, which has been nearly encircled by Russian forces since the early weeks of the invasion.

Video shows firefight: Additional video, published on Telegram Saturday, shows an intense firefight between Ukrainian forces — including members of the Azov Battalion — and Russian forces in the village of Vilkhivka. The Azov Battalion began as an ultra-nationalist militia in eastern Ukraine, and has since been absorbed into the Ukrainian military.

In the video, the firefights between Russian and Ukrainian forces are seen among the houses and backyards of the village. At one point, Ukrainian troops move toward the village school, where Russian forces appear to be holed up.

The soldier who uploaded the edited the video, claimed on Telegram the battalion had killed "about 70 troops," and commandeered a number of Russian military vehicles. CNN could not confirm the Russian military deaths, or the vehicle captures.

Claims of Russian prisoners: The soldier also claimed the battalion took 27 Russian troops prisoner. In the edited video, a number of apparently captured Russian soldiers are seen blindfolded and some are stripped of most of their clothes.

They are seen in the video being crammed into the back of cars and trucks and driven away by members of the battalion. Some were clearly injured.

Ukrainian counterattacks: The success of Ukrainian forces around Kharkiv has been mirrored further north, near the city of Sumy, where Ukrainian troops have liberated a number of settlements, according to videos geolocated and verified by CNN. A separate counterattack in the south about 63 miles (103 kilometers) northwest of Mariupol also led to the liberation of two villages from Russian forces, according to the Zaporizhzhia regional military administration.

11:42 p.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Ukraine says counterattack northwest of Mariupol recaptures two villages from Russian forces

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy, Tim Lister and Josh Pennington

A counterattack by Ukrainian forces 63 miles (103 kilometers) northwest of Mariupol has led to the recapture of two villages from Russian forces, according to the Zaporizhzhia regional military administration.

"The Melitopol Territorial Defense Battalion, together with other units of the Zaporizizhia Defense Forces, have successfully liberated the villages of Poltavka and Malynivka east of Huliaipole from the Russian occupiers," the administration said on their Telegram channel Saturday evening.

Sensory satellite data from the NASA's Fire Information for Resource Management System provided additional evidence, and confirmation, that intense fighting took place in the two villages.

The data showed that dozens of explosions took place in the two villages over the last 14 hours.

11:42 p.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Russia will not "subdue" the captured city of Slavutych, Ukrainian President warns

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London

Earlier Saturday, hundreds of locals amassed in the city square in a protest following the arrival of Russian troops.
Earlier Saturday, hundreds of locals amassed in the city square in a protest following the arrival of Russian troops. (Mattia Nelles/Twitter)

Russia will not "subdue" the captured city of Slavutych, a defiant Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday.

Russian forces that entered the city are encountering the same spirit of resistance evident in other parts of the country, the president said in a video posted to social media.

"Free Slavutych which the invaders cannot subdue," he said. 

Earlier Saturday, hundreds of locals amassed in the city square in a protest following the arrival of Russian troops.

Images and video geolocated by CNN showed a crowd of about several hundred people.

"Slavutych is Ukraine!" they chanted in the main square. "Glory to Ukraine."

Zelensky said every "demonstration of our resistance ... proves that Ukraine is a country full of life."

Russian forces briefly detained the city's mayor but eventually released him, according to a statement from Ukrainian political party Sluha Narodu. 

The UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), condemned Russia's seizure of the city, which was built to house workers of the nearby Chornobyl nuclear power plant. 

The IAEA said in a statement it was closely monitoring the situation. The agency's director general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, voiced concerns about the ability of power plant staff to return safely to their homes.

Some background: The arrival of Russian forces in Slavutych came after several days of shelling against the city, which is strategically located close to the Dnieper River, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of Kyiv and close to the border with Belarus.

According to local officials, the city has been isolated almost since the beginning of the Russian invasion.

11:41 p.m. ET, March 26, 2022

Biden says Putin "cannot remain in power," but White House says it's not call for regime change

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

US President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland on March 26.
US President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland on March 26. (Evan Vucci/AP)

US President Joe Biden declared forcefully Saturday that Russian President Vladimir Putin "cannot remain in power," but the White House said afterward that it was not a call for regime change.

"For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power," Biden announced at the very conclusion of a capstone address delivered at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.

“The President’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change," a White House official said.

Biden's line that Putin "cannot remain in power" was not in his prepared remarks, a White House official said.

US officials had said previously said removing Putin from power was not their goal.

"For us, it's not about regime change. The Russian people have to decide who they want to lead them," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier this month.

The Kremlin's response: “This is not to be decided by Mr. Biden," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "It should only be a choice of the people of the Russian Federation.”

11:41 p.m. ET, March 26, 2022

US secretary of state announces $100 million in new security assistance to Ukraine

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Saturday that the United States intends to provide “an additional $100 million in civilian security assistance" to Ukraine.

The money is intended "to enhance the capacity of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs to provide essential border security, sustain civil law enforcement functions, and safeguard critical governmental infrastructure in the face of President Putin’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack,” according to the statement.

"The increased funding will continue a steady flow of personal protection equipment, field gear, tactical equipment, medical supplies, armored vehicles, and communication equipment for the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service and the National Police of Ukraine," the statement said.