Zelensky refuses to sit down with Russia if they seek to solely discuss "denazification" of Ukraine
From CNN's Niamh Kennedy and Josh Pennington
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has refused to sit down with Russia's negotiators if they seek to solely discuss the "denazification" of Ukraine.
Speaking with independent Russian journalists on Sunday, Zelensky said Ukraine is not discussing the terms "denazification" and "demilitarization" at all during talks with Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has continuously framed his invasion of Ukraine -- a country with a Jewish president -- as a campaign of "denazification," a description dismissed by historians and political observers alike.
"We won't sit down at the table at all if all we talk about is some 'demilitarization,' or some 'denazification.' For me, these are absolutely incomprehensible things," Zelensky said.
A previous meeting during which the Ukrainian side told their Russia counterparts not to use these terms did not prove "substantive at all," Zelensky added.
As the next set of talks between the two sides are set to kick off in Istanbul on Tuesday, Zelensky said he is "not against" conversations with Russia "as long as there is a result," adding he had advocated for dialogue even before the war started.
11:24 p.m. ET, March 27, 2022
As Russian attacks strike Ukraine's cities, some displaced Ukrainians find a bit of peace in the mountains
From CNN's Salma Abdelaziz in Slavsko, Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war machine expanded Saturday and intensified its attacks on Ukraine, launching multiple cruise missiles into the heart of Lviv, a city once considered a safe haven for families fleeing violence.
Everywhere is a target, and anyone can be a victim, it seems, but a few hundred families believe they’ve found the safest place in Ukraine, tucked away in the Carpathian Mountains.
The remote urban settlement of Slavsko is a popular ski destination for locals, but as spring melted its snow-capped peaks and Russian troops invaded the country’s east, a lucky few found solace in the slopes.
Many of the hotels welcomed the families, offering a handful of rooms for free and others at discounted rates. Staicy Chernilevskaia, who fled with her partner Ramir Holubov from Kharkiv, is among 50 people staying at the Karpatsky Zatyshok hotel.
“It’s mind boggling when you look at these mountains and read the news," Chernilevskaia said. "It seems like it’s not real.”
“You are here, you are safe, but you feel guilty,” Holubov said.
After a terrifying week spent sheltering in the car park of their apartment block in Kyiv and two failed escape attempts, 12-year-old Diana Kovalyova and her mother finally squeezed onto one of the overcrowded trains leaving the capital.
But they didn’t know where to go until they remembered a family trip one summer to the ski resort.
“We had good memories here,” said Larysa Kovalyova, Diana's mother. “The people were kind and we knew they would take care of us.”
Situated in a valley between two rivers, the idyllic town has one small gold-domed church and little interest to Russian firepower that has targeted military infrastructure and urban centers.
“I feel safe here and also the view is perfect," Diana said. "I like it so much, but I hope the war is over soon and we can go home because living at home is still much better."
The town now hosts about 3,400 internally displaced people, nearly doubling its population, but the mayor says it’s not a burden. The community wants to share its mountain sanctuary.
“We think that it is our duty to host people who were thrown out of their homes by the war,” Mayor Volodymyr Beha said. “We feel a responsibility to make them warm and comfortable.”
Some are staying in less traditional accommodations. Olesya Matiushenko found peace for her two children in a glamping pod perched atop the mountains.
“My daughter wakes up every morning, opens the curtains, wipes the dew from the windows and says, ‘Mommy look!’” Olesya said with a smile as she looks out at her stunning view.
“It’s calming here," she said. "I feel lighter. And I start to believe everything will be okay.”
4:03 p.m. ET, March 27, 2022
Zelensky calls Mariupol siege a "humanitarian catastrophe," claims 2,000 children taken out by Russia
From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Lviv and Mariya Knight in Atlanta
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday called the Russian siege of the port city of Mariupol a "humanitarian catastrophe," claiming that Russian forces had taken over 2,000 children out of the city as part of what Ukrainian officials have described as a wave of civilian deportations to Russia.
Asked in an interview with independent Russian journalists to describe the situation, Zelensky said, "The reality is this: The city is blocked by the Russian military. All entrances and exits from the city of Mariupol are blocked. The port is mined. A humanitarian catastrophe inside the city is unequivocal, because it is impossible to go there with food, medicine and water. The Russian military is shelling humanitarian convoys. Drivers are being killed."
Zelensky added that Russian forces have engaged in the "forcible removal of people" to Russia.
"According to our information, more than two thousand children were taken out, that means stolen," Zelensky said. "Their exact location is unknown. They can be there with or without parents. All in all, it's a disaster. I can't tell you what that looks like at all. It's scary. They hold them like souls for an exchange fund."
CNN cannot independently verify claims about the number of children taken out of Mariupol and other towns into Russia. A pro-Russian separatist on Sunday said around 1,700 people are being "evacuated" daily to Russia from Mariupol and other cities.
Zelensky painted a grim picture of the situation in the city, which has been shattered by weeks of fighting.
"To make you understand in the city there are corpses lying on the roads, on the sidewalks," he said. "Corpses are just lying around – no one cleans them – of Russian soldiers and citizens of Ukraine."
4:00 p.m. ET, March 27, 2022
It's Sunday night in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know
From CNN Staff
The Russian military on Sunday confirmed strikes on fuel depots in Lviv and outside of Kyiv Saturday, saying it had targeted fuel supplies for Ukrainian troops.
At least five people were reportedly injured after at least two missiles struck Lviv, a city in western Ukraine that had been previously spared the worst of Russia's brutal onslaught.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeated his plea to international partners for stronger military assistance, saying his country is only asking for 1% of NATO's tanks and planes. In a video message posted to social media Saturday, Zelensky said the need to strengthen common security in Europe was raised during his two conversations with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
Here are more of the latest headlines in the Russia-Ukraine conflict:
US ambassador to NATO: No evidence yet that the Kremlin will limit their sights on the Donbas region: Julianne Smith, the US's ambassador to NATO, discussed Russia's supposed changing focus, on Sunday with CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union." Smith said she didn't think "we have evidence of that quite yet," that the Kremlin will limit their sights on the Donbas region, but that the US and allies will be looking for it. "But what we do have evidence of is the fact that the Russians have not succeeded in their original aims. And that was, as you well know, to take Kyiv in just a couple of days," she said. Smith also defended the new actions NATO and the US introduced to continue to punish Russia in the wake of the US President's trip, even as Ukrainian officials have voiced disappointment in the lack of support.
Next round of Russia-Ukraine talks will be held in Istanbul this week: The next round of talks between Russia and Ukraine will be held in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Tuesday, according to the Turkish presidency. A statement from the Turkish Presidency's Communications Directorate said during a phone call on Sunday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin "agreed that the next meeting of the Russian and Ukrainian delegations will be held in Istanbul." Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin told CNN International Anchor Becky Anderson on Sunday that the talks will take place Tuesday. However, Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia said earlier that the meeting would take place Monday. Previous negotiations have yielded little result.
Putin eyeing "Korean scenario" for Ukraine, says Ukrainian military intel chief: Ukraine’s military intelligence head says Russian President Vladimir Putin could be looking to carve Ukraine in two – like North and South Korea. Brig. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine's Defense Intelligence Agency, said Russia’s operations around Kyiv had failed and it was now impossible for the Russian army to overthrow the Ukrainian government. Putin’s war was now focused on the south and the east of the country, he said. “There is reason to believe that he is considering a 'Korean' scenario for Ukraine. That is, [Russian forces] will try to impose a dividing line between the unoccupied and occupied regions of our country. In fact, it is an attempt to create North and South Korea in Ukraine.”
US Ambassador to NATO says there's no US policy on regime change in Russia: US President Joe Biden's administration continued on Sunday to clean up his off-the-cuff remark that Vladimir Putin "cannot remain in power," made on his final day in Europe. Julianne Smith, the US's ambassador to NATO, called Biden's surprising comments a "principled human reaction," made after he spent the day seeing the firsthand tragedies of war, when he visited with hundreds of Ukrainian refugees, in a Sunday interview with CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union." Smith said the "US does not have a policy of regime change in Russia, full stop."
US senator: "There is one individual that's trying to make regime change in Europe, and that's Vladimir Putin": US Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner avoided directly criticizing President Biden's remark Saturday that Russian President Vladimir Putin "cannot remain in power," instead shifting focus onto Putin, saying, "There is one individual that's trying to make regime change in Europe, and that's Vladimir Putin trying to change the regime in Ukraine." Asked by CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union" if he thinks the United States' policy should be for a regime change, Warner said, "The stated policy is the White House's point and that has not changed. It is up to the Russian people to determine who's going to be in power in the Kremlin."
French foreign minister says there will be “collective guilt” if nothing is done to help Mariupol: The French foreign minister Jean Yves Le Drian said during the Doha Forum that there will be "collective guilt" if we do nothing to help Mariupol. "Mariupol is the new Aleppo," Le Drian said. Speaking at the Doha Forum to CNN's Becky Anderson, Le Drian said "there is an invading power, which to reach its own ends, it is taking a population hostage in Mariupol. This is truly unacceptable."
3:12 p.m. ET, March 27, 2022
Next round of Russia-Ukraine talks will be held in Istanbul on Tuesday, Turkish presidency says
From CNN's Niamh Kennedy, Becky Anderson, and Isil Sariyuce
The next round of talks between Russia and Ukraine will be held in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Tuesday, according to the Turkish presidency.
A statement from the Turkish Presidency's Communications Directorate said during a phone call on Sunday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin "agreed that the next meeting of the Russian and Ukrainian delegations will be held in Istanbul."
Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin told CNN International Anchor Becky Anderson on Sunday that the talks will take place Tuesday.
Erdogan and Putin discussed the "latest situation in the Russia-Ukraine war" and the negotiation efforts between Russia and Ukraine, according to the Turkish Presidency readout of the call.
"During the meeting, President Erdogan underlined the necessity of establishing a ceasefire and peace between Russia and Ukraine as soon as possible and improving the humanitarian situation in the region and stated that Turkey will continue to contribute in every possible way during this process," the statement continued.
3:34 p.m. ET, March 27, 2022
Putin eyeing "Korean scenario" for Ukraine, says Ukrainian military intel chief
From CNN's Andrew Carey and Yulia Kesaieva in Lviv
Ukraine’s military intelligence head says Russian President Vladimir Putin could be looking to carve Ukraine in two – like North and South Korea.
Brig. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine's Defense Intelligence Agency, said Russia’s operations around Kyiv had failed and it was now impossible for the Russian army to overthrow the Ukrainian government. Putin’s war was now focused on the south and the east of the country, he said.
“There is reason to believe that he is considering a 'Korean' scenario for Ukraine. That is, [Russian forces] will try to impose a dividing line between the unoccupied and occupied regions of our country. In fact, it is an attempt to create North and South Korea in Ukraine.”
Budanov said Russia remained intent on establishing a land corridor from the Russian border to Crimea, and said he expected to see an attempt to unite Russian-occupied territories into a single entity.
“We are already seeing attempts to create "parallel" authorities in the occupied territories and to force people to give up [the Ukrainian] currency,” Budanov said, adding that he expected Ukrainians to resist Russia’s political efforts.
2:22 p.m. ET, March 27, 2022
Russian media watchdog forbids distribution of Zelensky interview
From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Lviv
Moscow's media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, issued a statement Sunday warning Russian news outlets against rebroadcasting or distributing an interview between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and a group of independent Russian journalists.
The lengthy video interview, posted in full on Zelensky's Telegram channel, featured questions from some of Russia's most prominent independent journalists, including author Mikhail Zygar and Tikhon Dzyadko, the editor-in-chief of the recently shuttered channel TV Rain.
"Russia must know the truth," Zelensky said. "Russian journalists from the Zygar YouTube channel, TV Rain, the Meduza portal, and the Kommersant and Novaya Gazeta publications received answers to all questions."
Roskomnadzor followed with a statement on Telegram noting that some of the outlets have formally been branded as "foreign agents" by the Russian government.
"Roskomnadzor warns the Russian media not to publish this interview," the statement said. "The media outlets conducting the interviews will be subject to scrutiny to determine the extent of responsibility and the appropriate response to be taken."
Kyiv mayor: Online schooling to resume in Ukrainian capital Monday
From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Lviv
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said Sunday that schools in the Ukrainian capital would reopen online on Monday.
"On March 28, the educational process will resume in the capital — in online format," Klitschko said in a statement on Telegram. "It will be more adapted to current conditions. And using different educational platforms for students."
Klitschko added: "An important task today is for the city to live and work even under such strict martial law. They [the Russians] are trying to intimidate us. That will not work! We will not give up!"
12:49 a.m. ET, March 28, 2022
Qatar not planning on new investments in Russia until there is more “clarity on stability,” foreign minister says
From CNN’s Zeena Saifi in Doha
Qatar’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, told CNN’s Becky Anderson in an interview that investment in Russia is currently “under a lot of review” and Qatar is not thinking about increasing its investments there until there is a “better environment and more political stability.”
“Right now with the current situation we are not thinking about any new investments there. Even in Europe, until we have some clarity on the stability of the situation … Well, not entire Europe, but the areas where we are feeling that there are some tensions or we might have any political risk, because we have to look at it from all the dimensions,” Al-Thani told CNN on the sidelines of the Doha Forum.
The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) has sizable investments in the Russian oil giant Rosneft, which Al-Thani said was a decision made based on “commercial assessment and is still ongoing,” however, will not increase for the time being.
While Qatar’s stance is against any act of aggression or the use of power against a sovereign country, the foreign minister says he has been keeping his communication channels open with all parties. He said he speaks to his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts frequently to “offer our help or contribution to de-escalate the situation and put an end to this war," and was in Moscow recently meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
“What I believe and from my conversation with my counterpart there in Russia is that they are willing to engage on the demands that they have put forward. Now, how far the Ukrainian government is willing to give on those demands, this is really the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian people’s decision … We should focus on having a ceasefire, humanitarian corridors, bringing the humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and instead of having this conflict and disagreement in a battlefield, to be around the table,”
Qatar has often played a mediation role in de-escalating conflicts and bringing adversaries to the table, especially between the Taliban and the United States and between the West and Iran over the JCPOA. The Foreign Minister told CNN he believes this policy is the best way forward.