March 28, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Travis Caldwell, Helen Regan, Amy Woodyatt, Maureen Chowdhury, Jason Kurtz and Kathryn Snowdon, CNN

Updated 0403 GMT (1203 HKT) March 29, 2022
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12:25 a.m. ET, March 28, 2022

Hollywood honors Ukraine at 94th Academy Awards

From CNN's Lisa Respers France

Mila Kunis speaks to the audience at the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday.
Mila Kunis speaks to the audience at the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Stars of the film industry recognized and honored Ukraine and its citizens at the 94th Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Mila Kunis, who was born in Ukraine, took a moment while introducing a best song of the year nominee and performance to address the anguish in her homeland.

"Recent global events have left many of us feeling gutted," Kunis said.
"Yet, when you witness the strength and dignity of those facing such devastation, it's impossible to not be moved by their resilience. One cannot help but be in awe of those who find strength to keep fighting through unimaginable darkness."

Kunis, who along with her husband Ashton Kutcher has raised millions for Ukraine, introduced Reba McEntire singing "Somehow You Do," a "song of resilience" from the film "Four Good Days."

After the performance, the following words flashed on the screen:

"We'd like to have a moment of silence to show our support for the people of Ukraine currently facing invasion, conflict and prejudice within their own borders. While film is an important avenue for us to express our humanity in times of conflict, the reality is millions of families in Ukraine need food, medical care, clean water, and emergency services. Resources are scarce, and we — collectively as a global community — can do more. We ask you to support Ukraine in any way you are able. #standwithukraine"
12:01 a.m. ET, March 28, 2022

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

Ukraine has slowed some of Russia's advances, but multiple cities are being hit with missiles, a presidential adviser said. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he is ready to accept a neutral, non-nuclear status as part of a peace deal with Russia.

Here are the latest developments in the war on Ukraine:

Russian strikes continue: Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhail Podoliak said the cities of Lutsk, Kharkiv, Zhytomyr and Rivne were among the locations hit by Russian missiles on Sunday. “More and more missiles every day. Mariupol under the 'carpet' bombing,” he said. “Russia no longer has a language, humanism, civilization. Only missiles, bombs and attempts to wipe Ukraine off the face of the earth.” A loud explosion followed by sirens were also heard in Kyiv early Monday, according to CNN teams on the ground.

Zelensky insists on sovereignty in talks: With a new round of peace talks slated for Tuesday in Istanbul, Zelensky said in a video posted to social media that peace and the restoration of normal life are the "obvious" goals of Ukraine. "Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity are beyond doubt. Effective security guarantees for our state are mandatory," he said. Zelensky also told journalists Sunday that a neutral, non-nuclear status for Ukraine in the form of a "serious treaty" was acceptable as part of a deal with Russia, but any agreement would have to be put to a referendum.

Biden says he was not calling for regime change: Trying to stem reaction from remarks made Saturday, US President Joe Biden said, "No," in response to a question from a reporter asking if he was calling for regime change. Biden had earlier said Russian President Vladimir Putin "cannot remain in power.” Other Biden administration officials have sought to walk back and clarify Biden’s comment.

Ukraine promises “immediate investigation” after video surfaces: An almost six-minute-long video shows what appear to be Ukrainian soldiers shooting men who are apparently Russian prisoners in the knees during an operation in the Kharkiv region. Asked about the video, a senior presidential advisor, Oleksiy Arestovych, said: "The government is taking this very seriously, and there will be an immediate investigation. We are a European army, and we do not mock our prisoners. If this turns out to be real, this is absolutely unacceptable behavior." CNN is not showing the video.

Putin eyeing "Korean scenario": Ukraine’s military intelligence head said Putin could be looking to carve Ukraine in two – like North and South Korea. Brig. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov 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. "[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," he said.

11:40 p.m. ET, March 27, 2022

Zelensky says Ukraine is ready to accept neutral, non-nuclear status

From CNN's Hande Atay Alam and Josh Pennington

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks with members of independent Russian media via video on Sunday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks with members of independent Russian media via video on Sunday. (YouTube/Ukraine Presidential Office)

Ukraine is ready to accept a neutral status as part of a peace deal with Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday in an interview with Russian independent journalists.

"Security guarantees and the neutral, non-nuclear status of our state. We are ready to accept this. This is the most important point," Zelensky said.

Zelensky told the journalists that, "this was the first point of principle for the Russian Federation, as I recall. And as far as I remember, they started the war because of this." 

Any agreement would have to be put to the Ukrainian people in a referendum, he said. But Zelensky once again stressed his desire to reach a concrete peace agreement.

"So this clause is a security guarantee clause for Ukraine. And since they say it's for them [security guarantees] as well, it's understandable to me, and it's being discussed. It's in-depth, but I'm interested in making sure it's not just another piece of paper." Zelensky added. 
"So we're interested in having that paper turned into a serious treaty to be signed."

Zelenksy also said, "the issues of Donbas and Crimea must be discussed and solved" in peace talks.

Some context: Zelensky's comments come as the Turkish presidency said the next round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegates will be held in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Tuesday.

Earlier, Zelensky told the Russian journalists he would refuse to sit down with Russia's negotiators if they seek to solely discuss the "denazification" of Ukraine. He said Ukraine will not discuss the terms "denazification" and "demilitarization" at all during talks with Russia. 

11:40 p.m. ET, March 27, 2022

Peace and restoration of normal life are "obvious" goals in new talks with Russia, Zelensky says

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London and Mariya Knight in Atlanta

A Ukrainian flag torn by fragments after Russian shelling flutter in Mykolaiv, a key city on the road to Odessa, Ukraine's biggest port on March 27.
A Ukrainian flag torn by fragments after Russian shelling flutter in Mykolaiv, a key city on the road to Odessa, Ukraine's biggest port on March 27. (Oleksandr Gimanov/AFP/Getty Images)

Peace and the restoration of normal life are the "obvious" goals of Ukraine as the country enters into a new round of talks with Russia next week, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday. 

Speaking in a video message posted to social media, Zelensky said as a new round of face-to-face negotiations kick off Tuesday in Istanbul, Ukraine is looking for peace "without delay."

"Our priorities in the negotiations are known," Zelensky said. "Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity are beyond doubt. Effective security guarantees for our state are mandatory. Our goal is obvious: peace and the restoration of normal life in our native state as soon as possible."

During a Sunday call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan emphasized the need for ceasefire in Ukraine "and peace between Russia and Ukraine as soon as possible," according to the Turkish presidency.

11:40 p.m. ET, March 27, 2022

Missile strikes continue throughout Ukraine, official says

From CNN's Mariya Knight

Russian forces continued missile strikes across Ukraine Sunday evening, according to Mikhail Podoliak, an adviser to president Volodymyr Zelensky.

He mentioned the cities of Lutsk, Kharkiv, Zhytomyr and Rivne in a Twitter post.

“More and more missiles every day. Mariupol under the 'carpet' bombing,” he said.

“Russia no longer has a language, humanism, civilization. Only missiles, bombs and attempts to wipe Ukraine off the face of the earth,” he said.

11:39 p.m. ET, March 27, 2022

Biden tells reporters he was not calling for Russian regime change

From CNN’s Sam Fossum

President Joe Biden addresses media representatives in Brussels on March 24.
President Joe Biden addresses media representatives in Brussels on March 24. (John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden told reporters Sunday he was not calling for regime change in Russia in his off-the-cuff remarks a day earlier.

"No," Biden said, in response to a shouted question from a reporter in the press pool asking if he was calling for regime change.

The question stemmed from Biden's comment Saturday at the conclusion of an address delivered outside the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland.

"For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power," Biden said of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Other Biden administration officials have sought to walk back and clarify Biden’s comment.

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

11:39 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. 

However, Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia said earlier that the meeting would take place Monday. Previous negotiations have yielded little result.

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. 

11:39 p.m. ET, March 27, 2022

Ukraine promises "immediate investigation" after video surfaces of soldiers shooting Russian prisoners

From CNN's Tim Lister, Celine Alkhaldi, Katerina Krebs and Josh Pennington

Video has surfaced showing what appear to be Ukrainian soldiers shooting men who are apparently Russian prisoners in the knees during an operation in the Kharkiv region.

On the almost six-minute-long video, the Ukrainian soldiers are heard saying they have captured a Russian reconnaissance group operating from Olkhovka, a settlement in Kharkiv roughly 20 miles from the Russian border.

Asked about the video, a senior presidential advisor, Oleksiy Arestovych, said in an interview posted on YouTube Sunday: "The government is taking this very seriously, and there will be an immediate investigation. We are a European army, and we do not mock our prisoners. If this turns out to be real, this is absolutely unacceptable behavior."

In a separate briefing, Arestovych said, "We treat prisoners in accordance with the Geneva Convention, whatever your personal emotional motives."

CNN has reached out to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry for comment. In response, the ministry sent CNN a statement from the Armed Forces chief, Valerii Zaluzhnyi. The statement did not refer directly to the incident, but said, "In order to discredit Ukraine's defense forces, the enemy films and distributes staged videos showing inhuman treatment by alleged 'Ukrainian soldiers' of 'Russian prisoners.' 

"I emphasize that servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other legitimate military formations strictly adhere to the norms of international humanitarian law," Zaluzhnyi said. "I urge you to take into account the realities of informational and psychological warfare and trust only official sources."

It's unclear which Ukrainian unit may have been involved. The soldiers speak in a mixture of Ukrainian and Russian with Ukrainian accents.

The video comes as Ukrainian forces make gains east and south of Kharkiv. CNN geolocated and verified a long video uploaded on a Telegram Saturday showing a successful assault by Ukrainian troops of the Azov Battalion, in which they took a number of Russian prisoners in a rapid assault on Olkhovka, also known as Vilkhivka.

Some of the prisoners were stripped and blindfolded.

That video was posted by Konstantin Nemichev, a Kharkiv regional official who took part in the attack on Olkhovka. He told CNN he was not associated with the footage that emerged showing Ukrainian troops kneecapping Russian prisoners.

“This is not our location … I have not seen such a location,” he told CNN on Sunday.

He suggested the video was shot “maybe somewhere in the [Kharkiv] region.”

In the first response from Russian authorities, the chairman of the investigative committee of the Russian Federation, A.I. Bastrykin, said an investigation would be launched "to establish all the circumstances of the ill-treatment of captured soldiers by Ukrainian nationalists."

In a statement, Bastrykin said: "Footage appeared on the Internet in which prisoners were treated with extreme cruelty by Ukrainian nationalists. The video circulating online shows captured soldiers, being shot in both legs and not given medical assistance. According to some reports, illegal actions took place at one of the bases of the Ukrainian nationalists in Kharkiv region." 

CNN is not showing the video.

11:53 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.