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News Item: War in Ukraine: Latest developments

Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

– Mariupol theatre hit –

Authorities in the besieged port city of Mariupol say Russian forces bombed a theatre where “hundreds” of civilians were taking shelter and share a photo showing the middle part of the building completely destroyed.

The pavement outside the building was clearly marked “children” according to aerial photos. No death toll has yet been given.

– Zelensky warns Berlin of new ‘wall’ –

A day after pleading with the US Congress to send more help to Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses Germany’s parliament by video link.

He warns that Russia is building a new “wall” in Europe and calls on Chancellor Olaf Scholz to tear it down, echoing US President Ronald Reagan’s Cold War appeal to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Zelensky has been on a virtual tour of Western parliaments, each time receiving a standing ovation from MPs for his wartime leadership.

– No default –

Russia’s finance ministry says it has carried out interest payments on two foreign bonds, easing fears of a debt default as the country reels from unprecedented Western sanctions.

– One killed by Kyiv rocket –

One person is killed and three injured when a downed rocket hits a Kyiv apartment block, emergency services say, bringing to at least seven the numbers killed in the capital since Monday.

The city, which has so far been spared the onslaught seen in other cities but is hemmed in by Russian forces on two sides, emerges from a 36-hour curfew.

– ‘War criminal’ –

President Joe Biden brands Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” for the first time. The Kremlin quickly punches back, calling the comment “unacceptable and unforgivable”.

Britain’s mission to the UN also accuses Russia of war crimes and French prosecutors have opened a war crimes probe into the death of Franco-Irish Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski who was shot dead near Kyiv.

– Ukraine’s ‘9/11’ –

In an impassioned video address to the US Congress, Zelensky likens Russia’s invasion to 9/11 and the attack on Pearl Harbor which drew the US into World War II.

After pleading with allies to impose a no-fly zone and showing a harrowing montage of the devastation wrought on Ukrainian civilians, US lawmakers give him a standing ovation.

– US weapons aid –

Shortly after, Biden announces a massive package of military aid for Ukraine, including S-300 missile defence systems, 100 Switchblade “kamikaze” drones and thousands more anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles.

– Ten killed in bread queue –

Ukraine says 10 people were killed after coming under fire while queueing for bread in the northern city of Chernigiv.

– Mayor freed –

The mayor of Melitopol is freed almost a week after he was reportedly abducted by Russian forces. He was reportedly released as part of an exchange for several young Russian conscripts captured by Ukraine.

– Putin doubles down –

In meeting with regional officials, Putin repeats claims that the “pro-Nazi Kyiv regime” is carrying out “genocide” and trying to obtain “weapons of mass destruction”, including developing “military biological programmes” with the “financial support of the Pentagon.”

– ‘Not easy’ for Russia –

Putin says the West’s “economic blitzkrieg” against Moscow has failed, but admits the situation is “not easy” for Russians and announces an increase in all social payments.

– Ukraine sets out demands –

After days of cautious optimism about peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, Zelensky reiterates his demands: an end to the war, security guarantees and a return to sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Russia’s media regulator Roskomnadzor blocks access to at least 32 websites, ramping up a crackdown on the media launched after the start of the war.

Media affected include the BBC, the award-winning investigative website Bellingcat and regional site