Latest on Russian-Ukrainian war: Putin ‘commits massive war crime’ as Mariupol refuses to surrender

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A moment shows the Russian bombardment of the commercial center of kyiv

Russian President Vladimir Putin is committing war crimes in Ukraine, senior European leaders have claimed, amid calls for new sanctions as the only way to stop him.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said “what is happening in Mariupol is a massive war crime. Destroy everything, bomb and kill everyone indiscriminately. It is something awful”. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala also accused Putin of committing war crimes.

It comes after at least eight people were reportedly killed when a Russian missile attack on a central kyiv district destroyed a shopping center overnight, with rescue teams continuing to search the rubble for survivors.

Elsewhere, Ukrainian officials have rejected a Russian demand that its forces in Mariupol lay down their arms and raise white flags in return for safe passage out of the beleaguered strategic port city.

Even as Russia intensified its attempts to bombard Mariupol in order to surrender, its offensive in other parts of Ukraine failed.

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Poland seeks constitutional change to increase defense spending

The Polish government wants to change its constitution so the country can spend more money on defense and can confiscate the assets of the Russian oligarch, following the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The Polish military must be immediately equipped to the highest standards, which is why one of the proposed changes to the constitution will be the exclusion of military spending and armaments from the public debt threshold,” a government spokesman said Monday.

They also expressed their desire to seize the assets of individuals and companies supporting Putin’s war in Ukraine. This money would then be donated to humanitarian causes, they added.

Warsaw also intends to impose higher taxes on companies that continue to operate in Russia.

For these plans to be implemented, other parties will need to support the Polish government, as changes to the constitution require a two-thirds majority in the lower house and an absolute majority in the opposition-controlled Senate.

RorySullivanMarch 21, 2022 12:27

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Boris Johnson says he offered Zelensky and his family refuge in the UK

Boris Johnson has said he offered Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his family sanctuary in the UK when Russia invaded Ukraine.

The possibility had been discussed “a long time ago”, said the British Prime Minister. But, he added: “Volodymyr has always been clear, his duty is to the Ukrainian people; he will stay there, he will take care of them.

“I have to say I admire him,” Mr Johnson added.

He also praised Mr Zelensky as a “heroic warlord” for the way he “brought his people together” and “mobilized the world”.

Tom BatchelorMarch 21, 2022 12:18 p.m.

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A Kyiv resident sweeps his destroyed apartment

An extraordinary photo shows a Kyiv resident sweeping his bomb-damaged apartment, which is missing a wall.

It is one of thousands of images to capture the daily devastation and trauma endured by those living in areas under Russian bombardment.

A man sweeps in his ruined apartment after the Russian bombing of a shopping center in Kyiv

(AP)

Tom BatchelorMarch 21, 2022 12:08

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Further EU sanctions unlikely for now as Germany pushes for break

The imposition of a new round of sanctions by the EU, including asset freezes and travel bans, seems unlikely at this time (AP reports).

A group of countries led by Germany wants a pause on the new measures for now, amid concerns over high energy prices and fears that Russia could halt gas exports to Europe.

Some also want to save sanction ammo for any new major wartime atrocity, such as the use of chemical weapons.

“We are doing everything to close the gaps in the sanctions” which have already been agreed, Ms Baerbock said.

But Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, whose country borders Russia and Belarus, warned of “sanctions fatigue”.

“We can’t get enough of imposing sanctions. We cannot get tired of offering assistance and help to Ukraine,” he said.

Mr Landsbergis said the EU needed to start thinking about what kind of attack from Russia would be a “red line” for tougher action.

Tom BatchelorMarch 21, 2022 11:59 am

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Lugansk warehouses hit by Russian shelling

Firefighters responded to a large-scale fire in a warehouse following a bombardment in Severodonetsk, Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine.

According to the Luhansk regional state administration, personnel from the National Emergency Service of Ukraine took part in putting out 10 fires on Sunday, which were caused by shelling by Russian occupation troops.

(EPA)

(APE)

Tom BatchelorMarch 21, 2022 11:47 am

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Ireland supports measures to ‘hold Putin to account’

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said his country was ‘certainly open to other accountability mechanisms in relation to the atrocities taking place in Ukraine at the moment’, the prospect of Vladimir Putin appearing before the International Criminal Court in The Hague seems unlikely.

Mr Coveney said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is probably the first “war to take place on social media, where people see live footage happening, and they are outraged by it”.

“There is a furor in the European Union among the public as to why can’t we stop this,” he said. “They want people to be held accountable for the decisions made and the brutality we have seen.”

Tom BatchelorMarch 21, 2022 11:38 am

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Support our appeal and petition to help the people of Ukraine

The Independent raising funds for the people of Ukraine – if you would like to donate, please click here to go to our GoFundMe page.

So far our appeal has raised £139,000 for Ukrainians, but they need more, please donate what you can to help support them.

The Independent also launched a petition calling on the UK government to be at the forefront of the international community in offering help and support to those in Ukraine.

To sign the petition, click here. We want to get 250,000 signatures as soon as possible to help put as much pressure on the government as possible, please add your support today.

Tom BatchelorMarch 21, 2022 11:33 am

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Slovenia to send diplomats back to Kyiv ‘soon’

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša tweeted that his country would “soon” send diplomats back to Kyiv.

He said he urged the EU to do the same.

Those returning to the war zone would be “volunteers”, he said.

Tom BatchelorMarch 21, 2022 11:22 am

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The girl who sang Frozen in Ukraine bomb shelter performs at a concert in Poland

Seven-year-old Ukrainian girl who sang ‘Let It Go’ from Disney’s hit Frozen while stuck in an air-raid shelter in Kyiv, he performed at a charity concert in Poland.

Amelia Anisovych fled her war-torn country for neighboring Poland earlier this month.

The girl’s performance won worldwide acclaim after the video was shared on Facebook by a woman who visited the bunker to help decorate it.

Tom BatchelorMarch 21, 2022 11:11 am

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Asks Switzerland to freeze the accounts of Russian oligarchs

Switzerland must freeze the accounts of Russian oligarchs in the country and confiscate their assets, the Polish Prime Minister said on Monday during a visit to Warsaw by Swiss President Ignazio Cassis (reports Reuters).

In an effort to force a Russian military withdrawal from Ukraine, Western countries have imposed numerous sanctions, including freezing the assets of the Russian central bank.

“They must be frozen, the assets of Russian oligarchs in Switzerland must be confiscated and I called on the president to ensure that Switzerland addresses this issue decisively,” Mateusz Morawiecki told a press conference.

Tom BatchelorMarch 21, 2022 10:57 a.m.

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