Fourth round of Ukraine-Russia talks imminent | #cybersecurity | #cyberattack

Recap the latest developments from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.


  • The UN says at least 596 civilians have died since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including 43 children. A further 1067 have been injured.
  • Three UN agencies are calling for an immediate end to attacks on health care facilities.
  • The fourth round of talks between Russia and Ukraine is due to start at 9.30pm New Zealand time.
  • Multiple media outlets are reporting Russia is asking China for military and economic help.
  • Russia has effectively cut Ukraine off from maritime trade after establishing a distant blockade of the Black Sea coast, the UK says.

8.45pm: That concludes live updates from day 19 of the russian invasion of Ukraine.

Breakfast will have the latest developments from Ukraine from 6am on TVNZ1 and OnDemand.

8.35pm: Australia and the Netherlands taking legal action against Russia over the downing of MH17 through the International Civil Aviation Organization.

MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2014. It killed all 298 people onboard, including 38 Australians.

From the AAP:

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the legal action was a major step forward in truth and accountability for a “horrific” act of violence.

“The Russian Federation’s refusal to take responsibility for its role in the downing of Flight MH17 is unacceptable and the Australian government has always said that it will not exclude any legal options in our pursuit of justice,” Morrison says in a joint statement.

Australia and the Netherlands will rely on “overwhelming” evidence that the flight was brought down by a Russian missile in eastern Ukraine, an area that was under the control of Russian-backed separatists.

The missile belonged to Russia’s 53rd anti-aircraft military brigade, and was accompanied by a trained Russian military crew.

Both countries said the evidence showed the missile could only have been fired by the trained Russian crew, with the missile system later returned to Russia shortly after the incident.

Russia withdrew from negotiations with Australia and the Netherlands in October 2020 about MH17.

Russia did not return to the negotiating table, despite repeated requests from Australia and the Netherlands.

8.30pm: From the Associated Press:

Russian forces fired artillery strikes on suburbs northwest of Kyiv overnight and targeted points east of the capital, the head of the Kyiv region says.

A town councillor for Brovary east of Kyiv was killed in fighting there, regional administration chief Oleksiy Kuleba says on Ukrainian television.

He also reports strikes overnight on the northwest towns of Irpin, Bucha and Hostomel, which have seen some of the worst fighting in Russia’s stalled attempt to take the capital.

The general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces say that Russian troops have not made major advances over the past 24 hours, despite expanding strikes to the west.

Ukrainian forces are targeting Russian bases, targeting their logistical abilities, the general staff say in a statement on Facebook.

The general staff accused Russian forces of setting up firing positions and military equipment in churches and other civilian infrastructure so that Ukrainian forces can’t fire back. The accusation could not be immediately verified, though Associated Press reporters have seen Russian armoured vehicles in residential areas.

8.25pm: The fourth round of talks between Russia and Ukraine is due to start in just over an hour, at 9.30pm New Zealand time.

Earlier, Zelensky adviser Mykhailo Podoliak says Russia “is starting to talk constructively” and seems more “sensitive to Ukraine’s position”.

Russia previously said it would not back down on its so-called military operation unless Ukraine did the following:

  • Acknowledge Crimea as Russian territory
  • Recognise the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent states
  • Amend its constitution to enshrine neutrality, stopping Ukraine from entering any bloc

8.12pm: The BBC reports that, according to Ukrainian authorities, Antonov Airport in northern Kyiv has been hit by Russian shelling.

7.48pm: The UK’s Ministry of Defence says 2.5 million people have been forced from their homes because of the invasion.

It also says “indiscriminate Russian shelling and air attacks are causing widespread destruction” – citing the UN’s figures which find at least 1663 civilians have been killed or injured since February 24.

“As with previous such estimates, the true figures are likely to be significantly higher and will continue to climb as long as Russian operations continue.”

7.25pm: Pregnant woman, baby die after Russia bombed maternity ward

From the Associated Press:

A pregnant woman and her baby have died after Russia bombed the maternity hospital where she was meant to give birth, The Associated Press has learned.

Images of the woman being rushed to an ambulance on a stretcher had circled the world, epitomising the horror of an attack on humanity’s most innocent.

In video and photos shot on Thursday by AP journalists after the attack on the hospital, the woman was seen stroking her bloodied lower abdomen as rescuers rushed her through the rubble in the besieged city of Mariupol, her blanched face mirroring her shock at what had just happened. It was among the most brutal moments so far in Russia’s now 19-day-old war on Ukraine.

The woman was rushed to another hospital, yet closer to the frontline, where doctors laboured to keep her alive. Realising she was losing her baby, medics say she cried out to them: “Kill me now!”

Surgeon Timur Marin found the woman’s pelvis crushed and hip detached.

Medics delivered the baby via cesarean section, but it showed “no signs of life,” the surgeon says.

Then, they focused on the mother.

“More than 30 minutes of resuscitation of the mother didn’t produce results,” Marin says.

“Both died.”

Accused of war crimes, Russian officials claim the maternity hospital had been taken over by Ukrainian extremists to use as a base, and that no patients or medics were left inside.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN and the Russian Embassy in London calls the images “fake news”.

Associated Press journalists, who have been reporting from inside blockaded Mariupol since early in the war, documented the attack and saw the victims and damage firsthand. They shot video and photos of several bloodstained, pregnant mothers fleeing the blown-out maternity ward, medics shouting, children crying.

7.08pm: An apartment block in Kyiv is on fire after shelling, according to videos and images from Ukraine’s State Emergency Service.

Images from Ukraine's State Emergency Service shows an apartment block on fire in Kyiv after shelling.

According to authorities, two people were found dead and three were hospitalised.

Images from Ukraine's State Emergency Service shows an apartment block on fire in Kyiv after shelling.

6.56pm: The latest developments from the US from 1News correspondent Anna Burns Francis:

6.26pm: CNN reports that the World Health Organization is worried that fighting in Ukraine could make the Covid-19 pandemic worse.

WHO says it is trying to limit the spread of the virus, but that there is a risk that it could be passed around the more than 2 million people who have fled Ukraine.

A Ukrainian serviceman guards his position in Mariupol, Ukraine.

There is also concern that Ukraine and its neighbouring countries have low vaccination rates, meaning they may experience the virus more severely.

However, the executive director of WHO’s health emergencies programme Dr Mike Ryan is warning against stereotypes of refugees and disease.

“Let us be very careful with our rhetoric because this always arises that in some way people fleeing the horrors of war are going to bring stuff with them. Europe has plenty of Covid as it stands, and it has got to deal with that, and Ukrainian refugees are not going to change the dial on that,” he says.

Our World in Data statistics show 35 per cent of its population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Of its westward neighbours, where many refugees are heading to, Moldova has the lowest vaccination rate of 29 per cent, while Hungary has the highest at 66 per cent.

6.05pm: More talks between Russia and Ukraine to come

Mykhailo Podoliak, an adviser to Zelensky, says talks will be taking place with Russia on Monday via video conference.

“Working groups are constantly functioning. A large number of issues require constant attention. On Monday, March 14, a negotiating session will be held to sum up the preliminary results…” Podoliak tweets.

He says on Telegram that Russia “is starting to talk constructively” and seems more “sensitive to Ukraine’s position”.

Russia previously said it would not back down on its so-called military operation unless Ukraine did the following:

  • Acknowledge Crimea as Russian territory
  • Recognise the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent states
  • Amend its constitution to enshrine neutrality, stopping Ukraine from entering any bloc

5.45pm: Mobil reduces fuel prices after New Zealand Government’s announcement

Following the Government’s Monday afternoon announcement that it will be slashing excise duty on fuel by 25 cents per litre from 11.59pm for the next three months, Mobil says it is immediately reducing its prices across all its petrol grades by the same amount immediately.

Mobil lead country manager Andrew McNaught says the fuel company wants to do its part in helping reduce the rising cost of living.

“International fuel prices have kept rising as a result of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed on Russia, [the] third-largest oil producer in the world.”

“Our product costs have risen significantly from the middle of December, and continue to rise. These costs on average have more than doubled since the beginning of December, and have increased more than 50 per cent in the last two weeks,” McNaught says.

Meanwhile, the Government is warning petrol companies not to pocket the profits from the reduction of excise tax.

5.19pm: From the Associated Press:

More than two weeks into a war he expected to dominate in two days, Putin is projecting anger, frustration at his military’s failures, and a willingness to cause even more violence and destruction in Ukraine, in the assessment of US intelligence officials.

US officials in recent days have publicly said they’re worried the Russian president will escalate the conflict to try to break Ukraine’s resistance.

Russia still holds overwhelming military advantages and can bombard the country for weeks more.

And while the rest of the world reacts to horrific images of the war he started, Putin remains insulated from domestic pressure by what CIA Director William Burns calls a “propaganda bubble”.

Putin’s mindset — as tough as it is to determine from afar — is critical for the West to understand as it provides more military aid to Ukraine and also prevents Putin from directly taking on NATO countries or possibly reaching for the nuclear button.

Intelligence officials over two days of testimony before Congress last week openly voiced concerns about what Putin might do. And those concerns increasingly shape discussions about what US policymakers are willing to do for Ukraine.

Burns is a former US ambassador to Moscow who has met with Putin many times. He told lawmakers, in response to a question about the Russian president’s mental state, that he did not believe Putin was crazy.

“I think Putin is angry and frustrated right now,” he said last week. “He’s likely to double down and try to grind down the Ukrainian military with no regard for civilian casualties.”

4.48pm: National leader Christopher Luxon has responded to the Government’s announcement:

Meanwhile, the Greens say direct payments would have been better:

4.36pm: Finance Minister Grant Robertson says he will be topping up the national land transport fund to compensate for the expected loss of revenue following the drop in excise tax.

Robertson says the amount of revenue the Ministry of Transport estimates that will be lost because of the reduction is $350 million for the three-month period.

Some money to fill that gap will be from the Covid response fund, especially considering the reduction in MIQ costs, he says.

Read the full details of that announcement here.

4.15pm: NZ Government tries to ease Kiwis’ pain at the pump

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is announcing a number of changes to help Kiwis struggling with gas prices at the pump amid Russia’s invasion.

For the next three months, the Government will reduce both the road user charges (RUC) and the excise duty on fuel by 25 cents per litre.

The latter would save motorists about $11.25 to $17.25 each time they filled their tank, compared to current prices, Ardern says.

The drop in excise will come into effect from 11.59pm on Monday. However, the Government indicates there are some legislative and logistical restrictions that delayed the immediate reductions in RUC.

Ardern says the Government will also subsidise public transport by 50 per cent and expand public transport links. This will kick in on April 1 until the end of June.

She says New Zealand can’t control the war, but it could take steps to help ease the burden of the “wicked, perfect storm”.

She also says what’s happening around the world is also a signal for New Zealand to continue its transition away from fossil fuels.

3.50pm: Australia is announcing fresh sanctions to target people connected to Moscow. Among those included in the sanctions is Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and the CEO of energy corporation Gazprom Alexey Miller.

Roman Abramovich.

From the AAP:

Abramovich was one of seven wealthy Russians targeted by the UK government in a further round of sanctions last week, which involved asset freezes, travel bans and an embargo on transactions with UK individuals and businesses.

Australia’s latest round of sanctions also includes more than 30 Russian oligarchs, prominent business people and immediate family members.

“The sanctions reinforce Australia’s commitment to sanction those people who have amassed vast personal wealth and are of economic and strategic significance to Russia,” Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne says.

“Many of these oligarchs have facilitated, or directly benefited, from the Kremlin’s illegal and indefensible actions in Ukraine since 2014.”

Ukraine’s top diplomat in Australia accused Russia of instigating genocide as tanks deliberately target residential buildings.

Charge d’Affaires Volodymyr Shalkivskyi says fleeing through humanitarian corridors being offered by Russia has become risky because troops do not always honour the safe passage.

“We would like everyone who is on our side to send a strong message to Moscow that this kind of atrocity in the 21st century is not possible and Russia will pay the price,” he tells Adelaide radio station 5AA.

“We are determined to defend our country. There are no indications so far we can find compromise regarding peaceful resolution.”

Thousands of troops and civilians have been killed by Russian forces, including 85 children ranging from three months to 16 years old, the envoy says.

“This is genocide because hitting residential areas is a clear sign of genocide. Russia means to take out Ukrainian ethnicity from the map,” Shalkivskyi says.

“They would like to integrate Ukrainians into Russia without allowing us to have our culture, our language and our history.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has spoken to his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte about Russian sanctions, military and humanitarian support for Ukraine as well as implications for the Indo-Pacific region.

Morrison also says the two countries will continue to pursue accountability for MH17, which was shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

3.12pm: Photos from the Associated Press capture the extent of destruction across Ukraine.

A Ukrainian firefighter drags a hose inside a large food products storage facility which was destroyed by an airstrike on the outskirts of Kyiv.
A Ukrainian family who fled the war waits at the train station in Poland.
Ukrainian soldiers take cover from incoming artillery fire in Irpin.
An injured man is wheeled on a stretcher at a local hospital in Novoiavorisk, western Ukraine.
A woman walks past building damaged by shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

2.54pm: Krasnaya Zvezda – the official paper of Russia’s Defence Ministry – says 1400 troops that were injured in Ukraine have been discharged from a Moscow hospital.

“All of them have expressed willingness to rejoin their units after a full recovery,” Krasnaya Zvezda says.

On March 2, Russia’s Ministry of Defence said that 498 of its troops had been killed in Ukraine and 1597 more were wounded. Russia’s military hasn’t provided updated figures since.

Meanwhile, Ukraine estimates more than 12,000 Russian troops have been killed since Russia’s invasion.

2.40pm: Russia has effectively cut Ukraine off from maritime trade – UK

The latest update from the UK’s Ministry of Defence:

The ministry says Ukraine is effectively isolated from international maritime trade, as Russian naval forces have established a distant blockade of the Black Sea coast.

Russian naval forces are also striking targets throughout Ukraine, the ministry says.

It says one amphibious landing has already happened in the Sea of Azov.

2.27pm: From the Associated Press:

Zelensky says he will continue negotiating with Russia and is waiting for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

Zelensky has repeatedly called for a meeting with Putin. But so far, his requests have gone unanswered by the Kremlin.

He says in his daily address that his delegation has a “clear task” to do everything to ensure a meeting between the two presidents.

Zelensky says talks are held daily between the two countries via video conference. He says the talks are necessary to establish a cease-fire and more humanitarian corridors. He says those corridors have saved more than 130,000 people in six days.

The humanitarian convoy to the besieged city of Mariupol was blocked on Monday by Russian forces. Zelensky says they would try again on Tuesday.

1.55pm: The Kyiv Independent is reporting Ukrainian forces destroyed four Russian planes and three helicopters on Sunday local time.

1.39pm: From the Associated Press:

In this image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office and posted on Facebook early Saturday, March 12, 2022.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says it is a “black day” after Russia shelled a military base in the western part of his country.

Zelensky says in his daily address that Russia fired 30 rockets at the Yavoriv military base. He says the attack killed 35 people and injured 134 injured others.

The base is less than 25 kilometres from the Polish border. Zelensky says he has given Western leaders “clear warning” of the danger to the base. He asks NATO leaders again to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine. He warns “it is only a matter of time” before Russian missals fall on NATO territory.

Military analysts say the US, Britain and their European allies are unlikely to impose a no-fly zone because they believe it could escalate the war in Ukraine into a nuclear confrontation between NATO and Russia.

1.35pm: The Guardian’s Kyiv correspondent Isobel Koshiw is reporting Russian troops shelled houses and went house to house confiscating phones and laptops.

12.44pm: Russia has reportedly banned Instagram from operating in the country.

12.30pm: At least 35 people are dead in a Russian attack on a military base in Ukraine’s far west.

It is sparking warnings from NATO that any firing that crosses into Ukraine’s neighbours will lead to a full response from the West.

As the BBC’s Fergal Keane reports in the video below, the deadly attack has been called a significant escalation in the war.

11.45am: In this photo provided by the Ukrainian presidential press office on Sunday, Zelensky takes a picture with a wounded soldier during his visit to a hospital in Kyiv, Ukraine.

11.00am: Agenda Free TV founder Steve Lookner is reporting the governor of Mykolaiv Oblast posted on his Facebook that 200 units of Russian equipment have been “dispersed and surrounded” in Melitopol.

10.35am: The Kyiv Independent is reporting that Russian forces have completely destroyed seven Ukrainian hospitals and damaged additional 104.

10.19am: Russia is asking China for military and economic help

The BBC is reporting Russia is asking China for both military and economic assistance, according to reports in the Financial Times and New York Times newspapers.

BBC reports Moscow wants Beijing to provide military supplies to use in Ukraine.

“Citing unnamed US officials, the FT reported that Russia had been requesting Chinese equipment since the start of the invasion. The officials declined to specify what kind of equipment Russia is seeking,” the report says.

The report adds that there are indications that China may be preparing to help.

10.00am: Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky says he’s in regular communication with the EU president Charles Michel.

He says they have discussed issue of increasing financial support for Ukraine and sanctions on Russia.

9.35am: US warns China against aiding Russia evade sanctions

From the Associated Press:

The US and China are sending top aides to Rome on Monday as tensions between the two countries mount over the Russia-Ukraine war and worries spread that the conflict will take even darker turns.

In advance of the talks, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan bluntly warns China to avoid helping Russia evade punishment from global sanctions that have hammered the Russian economy.

“We will not allow that to go forward,” he says.

9.27am: NetBlocks is reporting a cyber attack in Ukraine.

8.45am: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is calling for an urgent humanitarian agreement in Ukraine.

“The human suffering in Mariupol is immense. History will look back at what’s happening with horror if no agreement is reached by the sides as quickly as possible,” ICRC says on Twitter.

8.15am: From the Associated Press:

Ukrainian international Andriy Yarmolenko was back in West Ham’s squad for the first time since being granted compassionate leave due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and was in tears after netting the opening goal to help his team beat Aston Villa 2-1 in the English Premier League.

Yarmolenko celebrated his 70th-minute goal by dropping to his knees with both arms pointing up to the sky as he was mobbed by his teammates.

Yarmolenko had received a standing ovation from both sets of fans as he came on as a 53rd-minute substitute for Michail Antonio.

8.05am: The UN says at least 596 civilians have died since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including 43 children.

7.49am: From the Associated Press:

People attend a pro-Ukraine protest rally in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, March 13, 2022..

Tens of thousands of people rallied Sunday in cities across Europe to protest against Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, with small vigils taking place in Russia as well despite a crackdown by authorities against such demonstrations.

German trade unions called a protest in Berlin, where sunny weather boosted the turnout. The march led from the city’s Alexanderplatz — a large square named after Russian Tsar Alexander I — to a site near the Brandenburg Gate.

Many participants carried flags in the blue and yellow colours of Ukraine, while others bore banners reading “Stop the War” and “Peace and Solidarity for the people in Ukraine.”

7.00am: European media NEXTA is reporting that Russian planes dropped bombs over the city of Dergachi, near Kharkiv.

NEXTA posted footage to Twitter showing a plume of smoke rising from a building.

6.40am: From the Associated Press:

Police inspect site of a drone crash in Zagreb, Croatia.

A military drone that apparently flew all the way from the Ukrainian war zone over three European NATO-member states before crashing in an urban zone of the Croatian capital was armed with an explosive device, Croatia’s defense minister said on Sunday local time.

The Soviet-made aircraft crossed Romania and Hungary before entering Croatia, slamming into a field near a student dormitory late Thursday. About 40 parked cars were damaged in the large explosion, but no one was injured.

6.20am: The first foreign journalist has died in the crossfire of the conflict. American journalist Brent Renaud was shot dead as he filmed refugees fleeing Irpin. Two other journalists were also shot and taken to hospital. A statement from Kyiv regional police said that Russian troops opened fire on a car, and that one journalist died.

6.08am: From the Associated Press

Waves of Russian missiles pounded a military training base in western Ukraine on Sunday, killing 35 people in an attack on a facility that has served as a crucial hub for cooperation between Ukraine and the NATO countries supporting it in its defense against Moscow’s grinding assault.

More than 30 Russian cruise missiles targeted the sprawling facility, which lies not far from the border with NATO member Poland and that has long been used to train Ukrainian military personnel, often with instructors from the U.S. and other countries in the western alliance.

5.55am: From the Associated Press

Three UN agencies are calling for an immediate end to attacks on health care facilities in Ukraine, calling them “an act of unconscionable cruelty.”

In a joint statement Sunday, the UN Children’s Fund, the World Health Organization and the UN Population Fund said that “horrific attacks are killing and causing serious injuries to patients and health workers, destroying vital health infrastructure and forcing thousands to forgo accessing health services despite catastrophic needs.”

“To attack the most vulnerable — babies, children, pregnant women, and those already suffering from illness and disease, and health workers risking their own lives to save lives — is an act of unconscionable cruelty,” they said.

Since the start of the war at least 12 people were killed and 34 were injured, while 24 facilities and five ambulances were damaged or destroyed, the agencies said.

They said that some 4300 children have been born since the conflict began and 80,000 Ukrainian women are expected to give birth in the next three months, with oxygen and other medical supplies running dangerously low.

“The health care system in Ukraine is clearly under significant strain, and its collapse would be a catastrophe. Every effort must be made to prevent this from happening,” they said.

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