- The Pentagon has said it will help gather evidence of “war crimes” in Ukraine, accusing Russian forces of indiscriminate attacks.
- Biden warns of possible Russian cyber attack in the US.
- All Chernobyl staff who wanted to leave the site have been rotated out, the UN’s nuclear watchdog says.
- More than 8,000 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities and towns through humanitarian corridors on Monday, an official has said.
- A new curfew is in effect in Kyiv, lasting until Wednesday morning, after the mayor had warned that more Russian shelling of the Ukrainian capital was likely.
- Russia says it has summoned the US ambassador over President Joe Biden’s recent comments labelling Vladimir Putin a “war criminal”.
- US Ambassador John Sullivan has urged Moscow to follow international law and to allow consular access to American citizens detained in Russia.
Here are the latest updates:
Biden says potential Russian cyber attack would be ‘consequential’
Biden has urged the private sector to strengthen cybersecurity to fend off a potentially “consequential” Russian cyber attack, offering US government help to companies to step up their defences.
“The magnitude of Russia’s cyber capacity is fairly consequential, and it’s coming,” Biden said.
Putin’s ‘back is against the wall’: Biden
United States President Joe Biden has said that Putin’s “back is against the wall” in Ukraine, warning that the Russian president may lash out and stage false flag operations to improve his position.
“He wasn’t anticipating the extent or strength of our unity,” Biden said. “And the more his back is against the wall, the greater severity of the tactics he may employ.”
Biden urges US companies to ‘harden’ defence against cyber attacks
United States President Biden has urged companies to “harden” their cyber defences amid concerns Russia could conduct “malicious cyber activity” in response to US sanctions over the war in Ukraine.
The White House said in a statement that the warning was based “on evolving intelligence that the Russian Government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks”.
“Most of America’s critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector and critical infrastructure owners and operators must accelerate efforts to lock their digital doors,” it said.
I’ve previously warned about the potential that Russia could conduct malicious cyber activity against the U.S. Today, I’m reiterating those warnings based on evolving intelligence that the Russian Government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks. https://t.co/wO2jJgg5SJ
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 21, 2022
Aid group concerned about potential child trafficking in Ukraine
Pete Walsh, country director of Save the Children in Ukraine, has said the organisation is concerned about the potential of human trafficking and child trafficking in the country amid the Russian invasion.
“One of our main focuses both in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries is to identify unaccompanied and separated children,” Walsh told Al Jazeera from the western city of Lviv.
“We must have some international agreements between the neighbouring countries and Ukraine to ensure safeguarding measures are put in place to protect children and prevent them from being trafficked.”
Ukraine’s Zelenskyy calls for meeting with Putin
A meeting with Putin is necessary to determine Russia’s position on ending the war, the Interfax Ukraine news agency quoted Ukrainian President Zelenskyy as saying in a television interview.
“I think that, without this meeting, it is impossible to fully understand what they [the Russians] are willing to do to stop the war,” Zelenskyy said.
US-Russia tensions may hinder issues beyond Ukraine: AJE correspondent
The spike in tensions between the US and Russia may affect the Biden administration’s policy goals beyond Ukraine, including efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal, Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett, reporting from Washington, has said.
“The fact that the US ambassador has been summoned in Russia – and the fact that ties are not only strained, but have the potential to be severed completely – could put a number of US policy objectives at risk,” Halkett said.
Ukraine war exposes cracks in US ties to Middle East allies
With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine dominating discussions around the world, the Biden administration has been promoting global unity against what it calls Putin’s “war of choice”.
But despite those efforts, the conflict has highlighted cracks in some of the United States’ most prominent alliances in the Middle East, notably with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia appear to be sending a message to the US, Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a Middle East fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, told Al Jazeera: “’We’re going to act upon our interests and not what you think our interests are.’”
Read more here.
US, European leaders underscore support for Ukraine
The leaders of the United Kingdom, United States, France, Germany and Italy have discussed via phone their “coordinated response to the escalating crisis in Ukraine”, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office has said.
“The Prime Minister underlined his horror at President Putin’s use of increasingly brutal tactics in Ukraine, such as siege warfare and the targeting of civilians,” the UK government said in a statement.
“The leaders affirmed their ongoing commitment to support Ukraine militarily, diplomatically and economically, equipping the democratically-elected government in Kyiv with the tools it needs to defend itself,” it added.
I spoke with President Macron, Chancellor Scholz of Germany, Prime Minister Draghi, and Prime Minister Johnson today to discuss our coordinated responses to Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine, and our ongoing support for the Ukrainian people. pic.twitter.com/e7TksIH56H
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 21, 2022
Biden meets with private sector CEOs to discuss mitigating price increases
Biden and other top officials from his administration have met with 16 CEOs of major companies to discuss dealing with the economic effects of the war in Ukraine, the White House has said.
“They conveyed the Administration’s commitment to continue imposing heavy costs on Putin to degrade Russia’s war machine and support the people of Ukraine, while taking concrete actions to mitigate the price increases on American consumers caused by Putin’s action,” the White House said in a statement.
“Participants also discussed the need to work together to address Putin’s disruptions to global markets and supply chains, especially for energy and agricultural commodities, and identify alternative sources of supply for key goods.”
More than 8,000 people evacuated on Monday: Ukrainian Deputy PM
A total of 8,057 people were safely evacuated on Monday through seven humanitarian corridors from Ukrainian towns and cities under fire, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said.
Among those brought to safety were 3,007 residents of the city of Mariupol, which has been under siege from Russian troops for more than two weeks.
Biden not planning to visit Ukraine: White House
The United States has not explored options for President Joe Biden to visit Ukraine during his upcoming trip to Europe, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
Psaki told reporters the decision was about increasing the “efficiency” of the US president’s trip amid the security risks that would come with visiting Ukraine.
Pentagon says it will help gather evidence of war crimes in Ukraine
The Pentagon has accused the Kremlin of carrying out indiscriminate attacks as part of an intentional strategy in Ukraine.
“We certainly see clear evidence that Russian forces are committing war crimes and we are helping with the collecting of evidence of that,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
“But there are investigative processes that are going to go on, and we’re going to let that happen. We’re going to contribute to that investigative process.”
All Chernobyl staff who wanted to leave have been rotated out: IAEA
The remaining technical staff who had been on duty at Chernobyl’s radioactive waste facilities since Russian forces seized the site last month have now been relieved, the UN nuclear watchdog has said.
“Ukraine’s regulatory authority said about half of the outgoing shift of technical staff left (Chernobyl) yesterday and the rest followed today, with the exception of thirteen staff members who declined to rotate,” the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement on Monday.
Any compromises with Russia will need to go to referendum: Zelenskyy
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that any compromises agreed to with Russia to end the war would need to be voted on by Ukrainians in a referendum.
“The people will have to speak up and respond to this or that form of compromise. And what they [the compromises] will be is the subject of our talks and understanding between Ukraine and Russia,” Zelenskyy said in an interview published by the public broadcasting company Suspilne.
He said issues that could be raised in any referendum could concern territories occupied by Russian forces, including Crimea, or security guarantees offered to Ukraine by countries in lieu of NATO membership.
US ambassador to Russia calls on Moscow to abide by international law
The US ambassador to Russia has called on the Russian government to follow international law, the State Department said, after Moscow summoned John Sullivan over strained relations with Washington.
The department confirmed that a meeting took place between Sullivan and the Russian government, during which the ambassador also called for consular access to US citizens detained in Russia.
Russia’s foreign ministry earlier said it summoned Sullivan over President Joe Biden’s recent comments labelling his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” amid the invasion of Ukraine. It said the remarks “put Russian-American relations on the verge of rupture”.
Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.
Read all the updates from Monday, March 21 here.