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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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.