Ukraine-Russia war – latest: Putin says he will deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus

·43 min read

Russia will deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, Russian president Vladimir Putin has said.

Mr Putin said that such a move would not violate any nuclear nonproliferation agreements. He added that the US has stationed nuclear weapons on the territory of European allies.

The Russian president said he had agreed with president Lukashenko of Belarus, a supporter of the invasion, that Russia would place tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus “without violating our international obligations on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.”

Russia has moved ten aircraft to Belarus that would be capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons, president Putin claimed.

It comes after Russia‘s parliament speaker proposed banning the activities of the International Criminal Court (ICC) after the court issued an arrest warrant for Mr Putin, accusing him of the war crimes.

Vyacheslav Volodin, an ally of Mr Putin, said that Russian legislation should be amended to prohibit any activity of the ICC in Russia and to punish any who gave “assistance and support” to the body.

Key points

  • Putin ally threatens to ban ICC in Russia

  • Battle of Bakhmut ‘stabilising', says commander

  • Thousands of civilians ‘at the limit of existence’ in Bakhmut, says Red Cross

  • Ukraine plans counteroffensive in east and south

  • We don’t want conflict with Nato – Medvedev

Wagner mercenaries ‘running out of steam’ as Ukraine plans counteroffensive

07:30 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Russia’s Wagner mercenaries are “running out of steam” and Ukraine will soon launch a counteroffensive, a military official has said.

Commander Oleksandr Syrskyi claimed that the group, who have been at the front of Moscow’s assault on eastern and southern Ukraine, are losing “considerable strength” amid the fight for Bakhmut.

The Ukrainian military also claimed 1,020 Russian troops had been killed in the past 24 hours after unsuccessful attacks on Lyman, Avdiivka, Marinka and Shakhtarsk.

Eleanor Noyce has more.

Wagner mercenaries ‘running out of steam’ as Ukraine plans counteroffensive

More Britons urged to host refugees on Homes for Ukraine scheme anniversary

07:00 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Kyiv’s ambassador has urged more people in the UK to host refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion, on the one-year anniversary of the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Thanking Britons for standing “shoulder to shoulder” with Ukraine, ambassador Vadym Prystaiko said in a video message that 160,000 Ukrainian women and children had now arrived under the scheme since Vladimir Putin’s invasion last February – but warned that “some still need your help”.

Refugee charities told The Independent that Homes for Ukraine had been “riddled with flaws” in its first year, while councils cautioned that “significant challenges remain” to ensure Ukrainian refugees “can be supported in the long-term”.

Andy Gregory reports.

More Britons urged to host refugees on Homes for Ukraine anniversary

Russia pardons over 5,000 prisoners after fighting in Ukraine

06:30 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

More than 5,000 Russian prisoners who fought in Ukraine were pardoned after finishing their contracts to fight in the war, the founder of Russia's Wagner mercenary group said.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the boss of the Wagner Group, reportedly recruited thousands of men from prisons, offering them the chance of freedom in return for serving in some of the most dangerous battles in Ukraine.

"At the present time, more than 5,000 people have been released on pardon after completing their contracts with Wagner," Prigozhin said.

Spain's PM to push for 'territorial integrity' for Ukraine in China visit

06:00 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez said he would push for fair peace in the war in Ukraine that included "territorial integrity" during a state visit to China next week.

Mr Sanchez, speaking to journalists at the Ibero-American Summit meeting in the Dominican Republic, said he would discuss peace prospects with Chinese president Xi Jinping, who is trying to position himself as a mediator in the war between Russia and Ukraine.

"The most important thing ... is that when this peace is reached in Ukraine, it will be fair and lasting ... and when we talk about fair, I mean that the territorial integrity of Ukraine, which has been violated by Putin, is respected," Mr Sanchez said in a news conference.

Ukraine says battle for Bakhmut is ‘stabilising’

05:30 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

The top commander of Ukraine’s military said his forces are pushing back against Russian troops in the long and grinding battle for the town of Bakhmut.

“The Bakhmut direction is the most difficult. Thanks to the titanic efforts of the defense forces, the situation is being stabilised,” Gen Valerii Zaluzhnyi said in a post on Telegram giving a synopsis of a telephone call with Adm Sir Tony Radakin, Britain’s chief of defence staff.

The seven-month battle for Bakhmut, where Russian forces have closed in on three sides, is the longest clash of the war, with Russia deploying both regular soldiers and fighters of the mercenary Wagner Group.

Russian forces must go through Bakhmut to push deeper into parts of the eastern Donbas region, though Western officials say that the capture of the city would have limited impact on the course of the war.

More here.

Ukraine says battle for Bakhmut is 'stabilizing'

India says Russia is reneging on major arms delivery commitments due to war

05:00 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Russia is reneging on its weapon delivery commitments to India as arms supplies have hit a roadblock due to the war in Ukraine, according to the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The comments seem to be the first sign that India could recalibrate its dependency on Russia amid continuing border challenges it faces from its nuclear neighbours Pakistan and China.

The IAF told a committee of India’s lower house in parliament in a statement published that Russia had scheduled a “major delivery” this year, without specifying what this delivery was.

Shweta Sharma reports.

Russia reneging on major arms delivery commitments due to Ukraine war, says India

04:24 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

New Zealand foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta has expressed concern to China over any provision of lethal aid to support Russia in its war against Ukraine during a meeting with her Chinese counterpart.

Her press office yesterday detailed Mahuta’s cautionary remarks in Beijing, days after Chinese president Xi Jinping concluded his trip to Moscow, a warm affair in which Xi and Russian president Vladimir Putin praised each other and spoke of a profound friendship.

Mahuta’s four-day trip, which began Wednesday, was the first made by a New Zealand foreign minister to Beijing since 2018 but it came at an awkward time as Xi visited Moscow the same week to give Putin a diplomatic boost after the International Criminal Court said it wants to put him on trial for alleged war crimes.

More here.

New Zealand tells China its concern on lethal aid to Russia

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons statement

02:00 , William Mata

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has spoken out against Vladimir Putin’s decision to store nuclear weapons in Belarus.

“As long as President Putin has nuclear weapons, Europe cannot be safe,” ICAN’s interim executive director Daniel Hoegsta said in a statement on Saturday.

“He justfies this dangerous escalation by citing decades of NATO nuclear sharing. As long as countries continue their complicity in considering nuclear weapons as anything other than a global problem, this helps give Putin cover to get away with this kind of behaviour.”

Gazprom reduces gas export to EU via Ukraine by 15 per cent - reports

Saturday 25 March 2023 23:00 , William Mata

Russian state gas provider Gazprom is set to reduce its export to the EU by 15 per cent.

The Kyiv Independent news site reported on Saturday that Gazprom recorded a gas transit flow of 42.5 million cubic meters from Russia to the EU through Ukraine's Sumy Oblast on March 24.

“On March 25, the volume fell to 36.2 million cubic meters, according to RBC,” a tweet added.

Ukraine war: A week in pictures

Saturday 25 March 2023 22:00 , William Mata

Wembley is welcoming Ukrainian refugees (Amanda Rose/Wembley Park) (PA Media)
Wembley is welcoming Ukrainian refugees (Amanda Rose/Wembley Park) (PA Media)
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
APTOPIX Russia Ukraine War (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
APTOPIX Russia Ukraine War (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

‘Russia’s assault on the Donbas town of Bakhmut has largely stalled ‘ UK government

Saturday 25 March 2023 21:00 , William Mata

Russia’s assault on the Donbas town of Bakhmut has largely stalled, the UK government has said in a tweet.

The Ministry of Defence wrote on Saturday that both sides have suffered huge casualties but that Russia’s own expenditure has led to things stalling.

The statement added: “The Russian situation has also likely been made worse by tensions between the Russian Ministry of Defence and Wagner Group, both of whom contribute troops in the sector.”

“Russia has likely shifted its operational focus towards Avdiivka, south of Bakhmut, and to the Kremina-Svatove sector in the north, areas where Russia likely only aspires to stabilise its front line..

“This suggests an overall return to a more defensive operational design after inconclusive results from its attempts to conduct a general offensive since January 2023.”

Zelensky: We cannot launch offensive without more weapons

Saturday 25 March 2023 20:11 , Holly Bancroft

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has said that his forces cannot launch a counter-offensive for Bahkmut without more weapons.

Speaking to the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, Mr Zelensky said: “We can’t launch it yet. Without tanks, artillery and Himars, we cannot send our brave soldiers to the frontlines.”

Himars, or high-mobility artillery rocket systems, can fire shells up to 50 miles. Western allies have expressed concerns that Ukrainian forces have been firing ammunition at a faster rate than they can be resupplied.

Mr Zelensky also told the Japanese newspaper that China’s peace plan, presented by President Xi to President Putin, was meaningless without respect for Ukraine’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Hungary: Criticism makes it hard to cooperate with West

Saturday 25 March 2023 19:00 , William Mata

Hungary’s foreign minister has spoken out (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Hungary’s foreign minister has spoken out (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The West's steady criticism of Hungary on democratic and cultural issues makes the small European country's right-wing government reluctant to offer support on practical matters, specifically NATO's buildup against Russia, Hungary's foreign minister said.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó also said Friday that his country has not voted on whether to allow Finland and Sweden to join NATO because Hungarian lawmakers are sick of those countries' critiques of Hungarian domestic affairs.

Lawmakers from the governing party plan to vote Monday in favor of the Finnish request but "serious concerns were raised" about Finland and Sweden in recent months "mostly because of the very disrespectful behavior of the political elites of both countries towards Hungary," Szijjártó said.

"You know, when Finnish and Swedish politicians question the democratic nature of our political system, that's really unacceptable," he said.

New Zealand tells China its concern on lethal aid to Russia

Saturday 25 March 2023 18:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has expressed concern to China over any provision of lethal aid to support Russia in its war against Ukraine during a meeting with her Chinese counterpart.

Her press office on Saturday detailed Mahuta’s cautionary remarks in Beijing, days after Chinese President Xi Jinping concluded his trip to Moscow, a warm affair in which Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin praised each other and spoke of a profound friendship.

Mahuta’s four-day trip, which began Wednesday, was the first made by a New Zealand foreign minister to Beijing since 2018 but it came at an awkward time as Xi visited Moscow the same week to give Putin a diplomatic boost after the International Criminal Court said it wants to put him on trial for alleged war crimes.

New Zealand tells China its concern on lethal aid to Russia

More funding announced as Kyiv asks for more Britons to take in Ukrainians

Saturday 25 March 2023 18:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

British households taking in Ukrainian refugees who have been in the country for more than a year are to receive an increased “thank you” payment as Kyiv’s ambassador implored more sponsors to offer accommodation.

The Ukrainian ambassador to the UK thanked the British people for their generosity in coming to the aid of those fleeing the conflict caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But Vadym Prystaiko added that “some still need your help” as he called for “those who can” to open their doors to families displaced from their homeland.

As part of the UK’s response to Russian president Vladimir Putin’s attack on Kyiv in February 2022, ministers established the Homes for Ukraine scheme, with thousands of volunteers coming forward to offer shelter to refugees.

More funding announced as Kyiv asks for more Britons to take in Ukrainians

Medvedev says Russia will nuke any country that tries to arrest Putin

Saturday 25 March 2023 17:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Dmitry Medvedev has said that any attempt to arrest Vladimir Putin would amount to a declaration of war against Moscow.

The former Russian president and prime minister also warned that the threat of a “nuclear apocalypse” has not passed.

He has, in the past, often talked about the use of nuclear weapons in the context of last year’s Ukraine invasion, and has emerged as one of Mr Putin’s most hawkish and outspoken deputies.

His new comments come just days after he speculated that a hypersonic missile could be fired at the International Criminal Court (ICC) headquarters at The Hague after the tribunal issued an arrest warrant for Mr Putin.

Arpan Rai reports:

Medvedev says Russia will nuke any country that tries to arrest Putin

Russia strikes deal with Belarus to station tactical nuclear weapons

Saturday 25 March 2023 17:29 , Holly Bancroft

Russia has struck a deal with neighbouring Belarus to station tactical nuclear weapons on its territory, Tass news agency quoted President Vladimir Putin as saying on Saturday.

Such a move would not violate nuclear nonproliferation agreements, Mr Putin said, adding that the United States had stationed nuclear weapons on the territory of European allies.

Russia reneging on major arms delivery commitments due to Ukraine war, says India

Saturday 25 March 2023 17:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

n case you missed it...

Russia is reneging on its weapon delivery commitments to India as arms supplies have hit a roadblock due to the war in Ukraine, according to the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The comments seem to be the first sign that India could recalibrate its dependency on Russia amid continuing border challenges it faces from its nuclear neighbours Pakistan and China.

The IAF told a committee of India’s lower house in parliament in a statement published on Tuesday that Russia had scheduled a “major delivery” this year, without specifying what this delivery was.

Shweta Sharma reports:

Russia reneging on major arms delivery commitments due to Ukraine war, says India

Rescued Ukrainian children recount horrors of Russia deportation and ‘torture’

Saturday 25 March 2023 16:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukrainian children who returned from Russia after months of being deported have recounted the political indoctrination and mental trauma they endured during their detention.

At least 17 children, residents of besieged Kharkiv and Kherson, came back to Ukraine this week, non-profit Save Ukraine said in a release on Thursday.

An emotional video of their return to Ukraine from Crimea showed at least eight children, including teenagers, being reunited with their families after stepping out of a minivan.

Another social media post by Save Ukraine shows the children with their belongings at an undisclosed location in Ukraine.

Rescued Ukrainian children recount horrors of Russia deportation and ‘torture’

What is the latest in diplomacy from the war?

Saturday 25 March 2023 15:46 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Here is the latest on the diplomatic scene:

* Russian President Vladimir Putin held a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan, the Kremlin said on Saturday. Erdogan thanked Putin for his “positive attitude” in extending the Black Sea grain deal, the Kremlin said in a statement.

* Russia‘s parliament speaker on Saturday proposed banning the activities of the International Criminal Court after it issued an arrest warrant earlier this month for Putin, accusing him of the war crimes.

* Democratic and Republican U.S. senators urged the Biden administration on Friday to share information with the ICC as it pursues war crimes charges against Putin.

* Air force commanders from Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark said on Friday they have signed a letter of intent to create a unified Nordic air defence aimed at countering the rising threat from Russia.

Ukraine says battle for Bakhmut is ‘stabilising’

Saturday 25 March 2023 15:05 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The top commander of Ukraine‘s military said Saturday that his forces are pushing back against Russian troops in the long and grinding battle for the town of Bakhmut, and British military intelligence says Russia appears to be moving to a defensive strategy in eastern Ukraine.

“The Bakhmut direction is the most difficult. Thanks to the titanic efforts of the defense forces, the situation is being stabilised,” Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi said in a post on Telegram giving a synopsis of a telephone call with Adm. Sir Tony Radakin, Britain’s chief of defense staff.

The seven-month battle for Bakhmut, where Russian forces have closed in on three sides, is the longest clash of the war, with Russia deploying both regular soldiers and fighters of the mercenary Wagner Group.

Russian forces must go through Bakhmut to push deeper into parts of the eastern Donbas region, though Western officials say that the capture of the city would have limited impact on the course of the war.

Britain’s Defence Intelligence agency said on Twitter that “Russia‘s assault on the Donbas town of Bakhmut has largely stalled. This is likely primarily a result of extreme attrition of the Russian force.”

Russia is likely shifting its focus toward two other sectors, which “suggests an overall return to a more defensive operational design after inconclusive results from its attempts to conduct a general offensive since January.”

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of Donetsk province, where Bakhmut is located, said one civilian was killed in the Bakhmut fighting on Friday and another civilian was killed elsewhere.

Russian rockets hit the town of Kramatorsk during the night, but caused no injuries, Kyrylenko said.

Two people were killed and six injured in Russian firing on the southern Kherson region, the local administration said.

Kyiv ambassador urges more Britons to host refugees on Homes for Ukraine scheme anniversary

Saturday 25 March 2023 14:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Kyiv’s ambassador has urged more people in the UK to host refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion, on the one-year anniversary of the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Thanking Britons for standing “shoulder to shoulder” with Ukraine, ambassador Vadym Prystaiko said in a video message that 160,000 Ukrainian women and children had now arrived under the scheme since Vladimir Putin’s invasion last February – but warned that “some still need your help”.

Refugee charities told The Independent that Homes for Ukraine had been “riddled with flaws” in its first year, while councils cautioned that “significant challenges remain” to ensure Ukrainian refugees “can be supported in the long-term”.

More Britons urged to host refugees on Homes for Ukraine anniversary

Russia pardons 5,000 former criminals after fighting in Ukraine, Prigozhin says

Saturday 25 March 2023 13:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

More than 5,000 former criminals have been pardoned after finishing their contracts to fight in Russia‘s Wagner mercenary group against Ukraine, the founder of Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said on Saturday.

Wagner Group, originally staffed by battle-hardened veterans of the Russian armed forces, took on a much more prominent role in the Ukraine war after the Russian army suffered a series of humiliating defeats last year.

Prigozhin emerged from the shadows and recruited thousands of men from prisons, offering them the chance of freedom in return for serving in some of the most dangerous battles in Ukraine.

“At the present time, more than 5,000 people have been released on pardon after completing their contracts with Wagner,” Prigozhin, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, said in an audio clip posted on Telegram.

Prigozhin said just 0.31% of those pardoned after Wagner service had gone on to commit crime, a figure he said was 10-20 times less than the standard indicators.

Prigozhin, sometimes dubbed “Putin’s Chef” for his sprawling catering businesses, is the most powerful of a group of Putin allies who now control what are essentially private armies that recruit top military officers, former spies and convicts.

The United States casts Prigozhin as an oligarch and has sanctioned him for attempts to interfere in U.S. elections and for spreading Russian disinformation across the globe.

Prigozhin, who served nine years in prison in Soviet times for robbery and other crimes before going into business during the 1990s, has admitted interfering in U.S. elections and acknowledged for the first time his role in founding Wagner.

Wagner, which has fought in Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic and Mali, casts itself as the most battle-hardened mercenary group in the world.

It dismisses Western criticism of what it says are sometimes harsh methods and strict discipline by pointing to the use of private military contractors by the United States and its allies around the world.

Putin ally threatens to ban ICC in Russia

Saturday 25 March 2023 12:53 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia‘s parliament speaker on Saturday proposed banning the activities of the International Criminal Court (ICC) after the court issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of the war crimes.

Vyacheslav Volodin, an ally of Putin’s, said that Russian legislation should be amended to prohibit any activity of the ICC in Russia and to punish any who gave “assistance and support” to the ICC.

“It is necessary to work out amendments to legislation prohibiting any activity of the ICC on the territory of our country,” Volodin said in a Telegram post

Putin and Erdogan hold phone call

Saturday 25 March 2023 12:14 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian resident Vladimir Putin held a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan, the RIA Novosti news agency reported, citing Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

The Turkish presidency said earlier on Saturday that Erdogan thanked Putin for his “positive attitude” in extending the Black Sea grain deal.

What is happening with Putin and ICC?

Saturday 25 March 2023 11:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Here is the latest update in Ukraine-Russia diplomacy:

* Russia‘s parliament speaker on Saturday proposed banning the activities of the International Criminal Court after it issued an arrest warrant earlier this month for President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of the war crimes.

* Democratic and Republican U.S. senators urged the Biden administration on Friday to share information with the ICC as it pursues war crimes charges against Putin.

* Air force commanders from Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark said on Friday they have signed a letter of intent to create a unified Nordic air defence aimed at countering the rising threat from Russia.

Ukrainian ballerina uprooted by war flies high again in Swan Lake

Saturday 25 March 2023 11:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

After the lights dim in Budapest’s magnificent opera house, Ukrainian ballerina Ganna Muromtseva flutters high with undulating arms as she performs the lead role in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. At the end, the audience bursts into applause.

One year ago, the 29-year-old dancer fled Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on a packed train with thousands of other refugees after the Russian invasion, wondering if she would ever be on stage again.

Muromtseva was at the peak of her career at the National Opera of Ukraine when the war rewrote all her plans.

She last performed in Kyiv on 22 February 2022.

Ukrainian ballerina uprooted by war flies high again in Swan Lake

New Zealand soldier who founded veterans’ charity killed fighting in Ukraine

Saturday 25 March 2023 10:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

In case you missed it...

A New Zealand soldier who co-founded a veteran’s charity has been killed in Ukraine, authorities said.

Kane Te Tai, 38, helped register the No Duff Charitable Trust to support veterans in crisis.

“It’s with immense sadness that we share the news that No Duff co-founder Kane Te Tai has been reportedly Killed In Action in the Ukraine,” the trust said on Wednesday in a statement on Facebook.

His death was also confirmed by Ukrainian authorities and the New Zealand embassy in Poland was trying to find out more details, the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement.

Te Tai had served as an army soldier from 2002 until 2009, according to New Zealand’s defense ministry.

New Zealand soldier who founded veterans’ charity killed fighting in Ukraine

Prince William thanks British troops for ‘defending freedom’ on surprise trip to Poland

Saturday 25 March 2023 10:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Prince of Wales has thanked British troops based an hour’s drive from the Ukrainian border for “defending our freedoms” as he kicked off a surprise trip to Poland.

William told soldiers at an air defence military base in the south-eastern Polish city of Rzeszow that their work to keep “an eye on” the situation in Ukraine is “really important”.

After arriving at the base on Wednesday afternoon, the prince, dressed casually in a black puffer jacket and trousers, was shown a missile launcher.

William said the two-day trip will allow him to personally thank troops and pay tribute to the “inspiring humanity of the Polish people” aiding Ukrainian refugees.

Prince William thanks troops for ‘defending freedom’ on surprise trip to Poland

What’s happening on the frontline?

Saturday 25 March 2023 09:42 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Here is the latest from the frontline:

* Some 10,000 Ukrainian civilians, many elderly and with disabilities, are clinging on to existence in horrific circumstances in and around the besieged city of Bakhmut, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

* Russian missile strikes and shelling killed at least seven civilians in northern and eastern Ukraine, regional officials said, including at least three women at a civilian refuge.

* Russia‘s defence ministry said its forces had destroyed a hangar housing drones belonging to Ukraine‘s armed forces in the southwestern Odesa region of the country.

* Russia wants to create demilitarised buffer zones inside Ukraine around areas it has annexed, an ally of President Vladimir Putin said, saying it might be necessary to push deeper into Ukraine if such zones cannot be set up.

Rescued Ukrainian children recount horrors of Russia deportation and ‘torture’

Saturday 25 March 2023 09:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukrainian children who returned from Russia after months of being deported have recounted the political indoctrination and mental trauma they endured during their detention.

At least 17 children, residents of besieged Kharkiv and Kherson, came back to Ukraine this week, non-profit Save Ukraine said in a release on Thursday.

An emotional video of their return to Ukraine from Crimea showed at least eight children, including teenagers, being reunited with their families after stepping out of a minivan.

Arpan Rai reports:

Rescued Ukrainian children recount horrors of Russia deportation and ‘torture’

Xi Jinping’s parting comment to Putin on leaving Moscow: ‘Changes are happening’

Saturday 25 March 2023 08:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Xi Jinping had a parting comment about China for his “dear friend” Vladimir Putin as he concluded his two-day trip to Moscow.

On Tuesday evening, Mr Xi shook Mr Putin’s hand and talked about unprecedented change.

Change is coming that hasn’t happened in 100 years. And we are driving this change together,” he said.

“I agree,” replied Mr Putin, to which the Chinese leader responded: “Take care of yourself, dear friend, please” and waved goodbye to the Russian president who wished him a “safe journey”.

Mr Xi’s ominous farewell message comes just hours after it was reported that the Russian president condemned British plans to send to Ukraine tank ammunition that contains depleted uranium and said Moscow would be forced to respond accordingly.

Maroosha Muzaffar reports:

Xi Jinping’s parting comment to Putin on leaving Moscow: ‘Changes are happening’

Putin ally proposes banning ICC in Russia

Saturday 25 March 2023 08:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia‘s parliament speaker on Saturday proposed banning the activities of the International Criminal Court (ICC) after the court issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of the war crimes.

Vyacheslav Volodin, an ally of Putin’s, said that Russian legislation should be amended to prohibit any activity of the ICC in Russia and to punish any who gave “assistance and support” to the ICC.

“It is necessary to work out amendments to legislation prohibiting any activity of the ICC on the territory of our country,” Volodin said in a Telegram post.

Volodin said that the United States had legislated to prevent its citizens ever being tried by the Hague court and that Russia should continue that work.

Any assistance or support for the ICC inside Russia, he said, should be punishable under law.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant earlier this month accusing Putin of the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine. It said there are reasonable grounds to believe that Putin bears individual criminal responsibility.

Russian officials have cautioned that any attempt to arrest Putin, Russia‘s paramount leader since the last day of 1999, would amount to a declaration of war against the world’s largest nuclear power.

 (Sputnik)
(Sputnik)

Medvedev says Russia will nuke any country that tries to arrest Putin

Saturday 25 March 2023 07:30 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Dmitry Medvedev has said that any attempt to arrest Vladimir Putin would amount to a declaration of war against Moscow.

The former Russian president and prime minister also warned that the threat of a “nuclear apocalypse” has not passed.

He has, in the past, often talked about the use of nuclear weapons in the context of last year’s Ukraine invasion, and has emerged as one of Mr Putin’s most hawkish and outspoken deputies.

His new comments come just days after he speculated that a hypersonic missile could be fired at the International Criminal Court (ICC) headquarters at The Hague after the tribunal issued an arrest warrant for Mr Putin.

“Has the threat of a nuclear conflict passed? No, it has not passed. It has increased. Each day when foreign weapons are delivered to Ukraine ultimately brings this same nuclear apocalypse closer…,” the deputy chairman of the Russian security council said.

Arpan Rai has more.

Medvedev says Russia will nuke any country that tries to arrest Putin

In pictures: Belongings lie strewn among the rubble of a school dormitory destroyed by Russian strikes

Saturday 25 March 2023 07:00 , Emily Atkinson

 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Battle of Bakhmut ‘stabilising', says commander

Saturday 25 March 2023 06:38 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

The battle in the besieged city of Bakhmut is “stabilising” due to strong pushback from Ukrainian soldiers, said Ukraine’s commander-in-chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi.

Lt Gen Zaluzhnyi in a Facebook post said he spoke to UK’s chief of defence staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin and informed him that the situation on Ukraine’s frontlines “is the toughest in the Bakhmut direction”.

“Due to the tremendous efforts of the defence forces, we are managing to stabilise the situation.”

Putin’s forces are said to outnumber Ukrainians by two or three times on the Bakhmut front, where an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 troops are currently fighting.

US sanctions Belarus

Saturday 25 March 2023 06:30 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

The US yesterday imposed sanctions on seven Belarusian elections officials, two state-owned automotive manufacturers and president Alexander Lukashenko's aircraft.

Mr Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus since 1994, intensified his repression after a wave of protests in 2020 following a presidential election that the West and Belarus’ opposition denounced as a sham.

The president also has close ties to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and has allowed him to station troops and weapons there to support his war in Ukraine.

Read more here.

US sanctions Belarus' election officials, president's plane

Elderly Ukrainian helicopters pummel Russians from afar

Saturday 25 March 2023 06:00 , Emily Atkinson

Skimming the treetops, three Soviet-era attack helicopters bank and swoop down on a field after an early-morning mission to the front lines in the fight against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Each day, they might fly three or four sorties, says the commander, whose two-crew Mi-24 helicopter, built about 40 years ago, is older than he is.

“We are carrying out combat tasks to destroy enemy vehicles, enemy personnel, we are working with pitch-up attacks from a distance from where the enemy can’t get us with their air defence system,” said the commander, who spoke on condition of anonymity for operational security reasons, in line with military regulations.

More on this here:

Elderly Ukrainian helicopters pummel Russians from afar

Five million Ukrainians don’t have access to drinking water, says minister

Saturday 25 March 2023 05:30 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Nearly five million Ukrainians do not have access to drinking water due to Russia's year-long war, according to the Ukrainian minister of environmental protection and natural resources.

Ruslan Strilets at a UN conference in New York said that nearly 70 per cent of Ukraine's population is at risk of being without water due to damaged infrastructure caused by Russia's incessant attacks, the Kyiv Independent reported.

The minister also warned of a possible nuclear disaster as the release of water from the Kakhkovka reservoir threatens to disrupt the cooling systems at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The nuclear plant has been occupied by Vladimir Putin's forces since last March.

"This would mean a possible Fukushima scenario in the middle of the European continent because of Russia," the minister said.

Rescued Ukrainian children recount horrors of Russia deportation and ‘torture’

Saturday 25 March 2023 05:00 , Emily Atkinson

Ukrainian children who returned from Russia after months of being deported have recounted the political indoctrination and mental trauma they endured during their detention.

At least 17 children, residents of besieged Kharkiv and Kherson, came back to Ukraine this week, non-profit Save Ukraine said in a release on Thursday.

An emotional video of their return to Ukraine from Crimea showed at least eight children, including teenagers, being reunited with their families after stepping out of a minivan.

Arpan Rai reports:

Rescued Ukrainian children recount horrors of Russia deportation and ‘torture’

Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau vow to continue to defend Ukraine

Saturday 25 March 2023 04:30 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

US president Joe Biden and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau yesterday vowed that the two nations remain committed to defending Ukraine as it tries to repel a Russian invasion that has no end in sight.

Mr Biden and Mr Trudeau met just days after Russian president Vladimir Putin and Chinese president Xi Jinping held talks for the first time since the start of the war.

But Biden argued that Western resolve remains stronger and warned Russia that the US, Canada and their allies would defend "every inch of Nato territory."

"We have significantly expanded our alliances," Mr Biden said with Mr Trudeau by his side during a joint news conference. "Tell me how in fact you see a circumstance where China has made a significant commitment to Russia? What commitment can they make?"

At an earlier appearance with Biden before the Canadian Parliament, Mr Trudeau said his country — which has provided Kyiv with artillery, ammunition, armor and tanks — remained committed to Ukraine's cause.

"As you well know, Mr president, Canada will continue to stand strong with Ukraine, with whatever it takes," Mr Trudeau said.

Russia reneging on major arms delivery commitments due to Ukraine war, says India

Saturday 25 March 2023 04:00 , Emily Atkinson

Russia is reneging on its weapon delivery commitments to India as arms supplies have hit a roadblock due to the war in Ukraine, according to the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The comments seem to be the first sign that India could recalibrate its dependency on Russia amid continuing border challenges it faces from its nuclear neighbours Pakistan and China.

The IAF told a committee of India’s lower house in parliament in a statement published on Tuesday that Russia had scheduled a “major delivery” this year, without specifying what this delivery was.

Shweta Sharma has more:

Russia reneging on major arms delivery commitments due to Ukraine war, says India

More funding announced as Kyiv asks Britons to take in more Ukrainians

Saturday 25 March 2023 03:30 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

British households taking in Ukrainian refugees who have been in the country for more than a year are to receive an increased “thank you” payment as Kyiv’s ambassador implored more sponsors to offer accommodation.

The Ukrainian ambassador to the UK thanked the British people for their generosity in coming to the aid of those fleeing the conflict caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But Vadym Prystaiko added that “some still need your help” as he called for “those who can” to open their doors to families displaced from their homeland.

Read more here.

More funding announced as Kyiv asks for more Britons to take in Ukrainians

UK should stay out of talks to halt Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – Lord Owen

Saturday 25 March 2023 03:00 , Emily Atkinson

The UK should stay out of negotiations to halt Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a former foreign secretary.

Lord Owen said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak should not talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin and any peace talks should be conducted by the two warring countries.

But he added there could be a role for US President Joe Biden as he is the negotiator that “really matters”.

Martina Bet reports:

UK should stay out of talks to halt Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – Lord Owen

Senators urge Biden to share information on war crimes with ICC amid Putin probe

Saturday 25 March 2023 02:00 , Emily Atkinson

Democratic and Republican US senators have urged the Biden administration to share information with the International Criminal Court that could assist as it pursues war crimes charges against Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The letter to president Joe Biden from Democrats Dick Durbin, Bob Menendez, Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse and Republicans Lindsey Graham and Thom Tillis, noted that Congress passed legislation to give the administration more flexibility in assisting the ICC.

“Yet, months later, as the ICC is working to build cases against Russian officials, including Putin himself, the United States reportedly has not yet shared key evidence that could aid in these prosecutions,” the letter said.

“Knowing of your support for the important cause of accountability in Ukraine, we urge you to move forward expeditiously with support to the ICC’s work so that Putin and others around him know in no uncertain terms that accountability and justice for their crimes are forthcoming,” the letter said.

Mary Dejevsky: Why the West should worry about the end to the Putin and Xi summit

Saturday 25 March 2023 01:00 , Emily Atkinson

This week’s Russia-China summit in Moscow was not unusual in itself, writes Mary Dejevsky. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have met many times more, and less, formally. They appear to have established an amicable and straight-talking relationship – their discussions were described by Putin at their closing press conference as “frank, open and friendly”.

Viewed through the longer lens of history, however, this visit may end up being seen as a unique, landmark, occasion: the point at which the global centre of gravity started seriously to shift from West to East.

Why the West should worry about the Putin and Xi summit | Mary Dejevsky

‘No indication Russia plans to use nuclear weapons'

Saturday 25 March 2023 23:23 , William Mata / Reuters

The US defence department said on Saturday that there are no indications that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons after Moscow’s announcement to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

“We have seen reports of Russia’s announcement and will continue to monitor this situation,” the department’s press office said in a written statement.

“We have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture nor any indications Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon. We remain committed to the collective defense of the NATO alliance.”

Canada and US ‘must be united against assertive China’

Friday 24 March 2023 23:00 , Emily Atkinson

The United States and Canada must together build a North American market on everything from semiconductors to solar panel batteries, in the face of growing competition, including from an “increasingly assertive China,” prime minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday.

Trudeau, speaking in the Canadian parliament ahead of a speech by Joe Biden, also expressed unity in supporting Ukraine and said the two allies must continue “to face down authoritarian threats, both at home and abroad.”

Creditors group provides assurances to support IMF steps to help Ukraine

Friday 24 March 2023 22:00 , Emily Atkinson

The Group of Creditors of Ukraine (GCU) body says it has provided financing assurances to support the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) approval for an upper credit tranche programme to help restore Ukraine‘s economy.

The Group of Creditors of Ukraine includes Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Britain, and the United States.

Mystery object found on seabed could provide vital clue to who blew up Nord Stream pipeline

Friday 24 March 2023 21:00 , Emily Atkinson

Denmark has invited the Russian-controlled operator of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to help recover a mystery object found on the seabed near the pipeline.

It come six months after sections of the pipeline were sabotaged. Russian President Vladimir Putin said he believes the object could be a signal antenna to activate an explosive in that part of the pipeline.

German, Swedish and Danish authorities are investigating the pipeline explosion that sparked four leaks on the two Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea in September, seven months after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Martha McHardy reports:

Mystery object found on seabed could provide clue to who blew up Nord Stream pipeline

Watch: Slovakia delivers first four MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine

Friday 24 March 2023 20:00 , Emily Atkinson

EU’s Borrell: Russia-China partnership has limits

Friday 24 March 2023 19:20 , Emily Atkinson

China’s partnership with Russia has limits, despite rhetoric to the contrary, and Europe should welcome any attempts by Beijing to distance itself from Moscow’s war in Ukraine, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Friday.

Borrell’s remarks followed a summit this week between Russian president Vladimir Putin and Chinese president Xi Jinping.

The two leaders declared a “no limits” partnership in February 2022, just days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

But Borrell said that while China had forged close economic and diplomatic ties with Russia, it had not formed a military alliance with Moscow and had not supplied arms to help Russia with its war in Ukraine.

“This unlimited friendship seems to have some limits,” Borrell told reporters in Brussels.

“China has not crossed any red lines for us.”

US sanctions Belarus' election officials, president's plane

Friday 24 March 2023 18:40 , Emily Atkinson

The U.S. imposed sanctions Friday on seven Belarusian elections officials, two state-owned automotive manufacturers and President Alexander Lukashenko‘s aircraft.

Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus since 1994, intensified his repression after a wave of protests in 2020 following a presidential election that the West and Belarus’ opposition denounced as a sham.

Lukashenko also has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and has allowed him to station troops and weapons there to support his war in Ukraine.

US sanctions Belarus' election officials, president's plane

Nordic countries plan joint air defence to counter Russian threat

Friday 24 March 2023 18:00 , Emily Atkinson

Air force commanders from Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark said on Friday they have signed a letter of intent to create a unified Nordic air defence aimed at countering the rising threat from Russia.

The intention is to be able to operate jointly based on already known ways of operating under NATO, according to statements by the four countries’ armed forces.

The move to integrate the air forces was triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year, commander of the Danish air force, major general Jan Dam, told Reuters.

“Our combined fleet can be compared to a large European country,” Dam said.

Norway has 57 F-16 fighter jets and 37 F-35 fighter jets with 15 more of the latter on order. Finland has 62 F/A-18 Hornet jets and 64 F-35s on order, while Denmark has 58 F-16s and 27 F-35s on order. Sweden has more than 90 Gripens jets.

Russia’s Wagner mercenaries ‘running out of steam’ as Ukraine plans counteroffensive

Friday 24 March 2023 17:20 , Liam James

Russia’s Wagner mercenaries are “running out of steam” and Ukraine will soon launch a counteroffensive, a military official has said (Eleanor Noyce writes).

Top ground forces commander Oleksandr Syrskyi claimed that the group, who have been at the front of Moscow’s assault on eastern and southern Ukraine, are losing “considerable strength” amid the fight for Bakhmut.

The Ukrainian military also claimed 1,020 Russian troops had been killed in the past 24 hours after unsuccessful attacks on Lyman, Avdiivka, Mariinka and Shakhtarske.

Wagner mercenaries ‘running out of steam’ as Ukraine plans counteroffensive

Forty prisoners of war killed in Ukraine conflict, says UN

Friday 24 March 2023 16:40 , Liam James

UN human rights monitors have documented 40 summary killings of Ukrainian and Russian prisoners of war (POWs), according to a new report.

“We are deeply concerned about the summary execution of up to 25 Russian prisoners of war and persons ordered to combat by Ukrainian armed forces, which we have documented,” Matilda Bogner, the head of the UN monitoring mission, said at a Kyiv press conference.

She said Ukrainian prosecutors were investigating some cases but none have been taken to court yet.

“In relation to the treatment of Ukrainian prisoners of war, we are also deeply concerned by the summary execution of 15 Ukrainian prisoners of war shortly after being captured by Russian armed forces,” Ms Bogner said.

The UN rights office, which has had a monitoring team in Ukraine since fighting broke out in areas of eastern Ukraine claimed by Russia-backed separatists in 2014, has said its findings are based on confirmed cases and typically understate actual tolls.

Russian fire kills 10 civilians, says Ukraine

Friday 24 March 2023 16:10 , Liam James

Long-range Russian bombardment killed at least 10 civilians and wounded 20 others in several parts of Ukraine overnight and into Friday, officials in Kyiv said, raising the toll from seven earlier.

Five people died in Kostiantynivka, in eastern Ukraine‘s Donetsk province, when a Russian missile hit an aid station. Prosecutors said the Russians attacked with S-300 anti-aircraft missiles. The civilians who died were refugees, according to Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko.

Two civilians were killed and nine were wounded in the town of Bilopillia in Sumy province by an overnight rocket and artillery barrage and airstrikes, officials in the northeastern region said.

In southern Ukraine, Russian shelling killed one person in the city of Kherson and killed another person and wounded four others in the town of Bilozerka, authorities said.

Rescuers work amid rubble and damages after a rocket strike on Kostiantynivka (Donetsk Police/Reuters)
Rescuers work amid rubble and damages after a rocket strike on Kostiantynivka (Donetsk Police/Reuters)
Strike hit aid station holding refugees, officials said (Donetsk Police/Reuters)
Strike hit aid station holding refugees, officials said (Donetsk Police/Reuters)

Russia reneging on major arms delivery commitments due to Ukraine war, says India

Friday 24 March 2023 15:40 , Liam James

Russia is reneging on its weapon delivery commitments to India as arms supplies have hit a roadblock due to the war in Ukraine, according to the Indian Air Force (IAF) (Shweta Sharma writes).

The comments seem to be the first sign that India could recalibrate its dependency on Russia amid continuing border challenges it faces from its nuclear neighbours Pakistan and China.

The IAF told a committee of India’s lower house in parliament in a statement published on Tuesday that Russia had scheduled a “major delivery” this year, without specifying what this delivery was.

India is the world’s biggest buyer of Russian arms, accounting for around 20 per cent of Moscow’s current order book and since 2018, the Narendra Modi government has signed a range of deals with Russia to import its air-defence missile systems, warships and assault rifles.

Russia reneging on major arms delivery commitments due to Ukraine war, says India

In pictures: Second cohort of Ukrainian artillery troops train in England

Friday 24 March 2023 15:16 , Emily Atkinson

Ukrainian soldiers fire an AS90 as they take part in a military exercise at a military training camp in an undisclosed location in England.

The second cohort of Ukrainian artillery recruits come to the end of their training on the formidable AS90 155mm self-propelled gun

 (AP)
(AP)
 (AP)
(AP)
 (AP)
(AP)

Spain says world must listen to China's voice to end war in Ukraine

Friday 24 March 2023 14:52 , Emily Atkinson

The world should listen to China’s voice in order to find a way out of the war in Ukraine, Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez has said in anticipation of his state visit to Beijing next week.

“China is a global actor, so obviously we must listen to its voice to see if between all of us, we can put an end to this war and Ukraine can recover its territorial integrity,” Sanchez told a news conference in Brussels following a meeting of the European Council.

 (AP)
(AP)

He is set to visit the Chinese capital on 31 March for talks with president Xi Jinping. The meeting between the two leaders is expected to mostly focus on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, in which China has described itself as “impartial” and put forward a 12-point peace plan while calling for a comprehensive ceasefire.

Sanchez has publicly backed Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s peace proposal, which includes demands to restore Ukraine‘s territory to the status quo before Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Russia wants demilitarised buffer zones in Ukraine, says Putin ally

Friday 24 March 2023 14:26 , Emily Atkinson

Russia wants to create demilitarised buffer zones inside Ukraine around areas it has annexed, an ally of President Vladimir Putin has said.

“We need to achieve all the goals that have been set to protect our territories, that is the territories of the Russian Federation,” former president Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with Russian media posted on Telegram.

We need to “throw out all the foreigners who are there in the broad sense of the word, create a buffer zone which would not allow the use of any types of weapons that work at medium and short distances, that is 70-100 kilometres, to demilitarise it,” the deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council said.

 (via REUTERS)
(via REUTERS)

Russia would have to push further into Ukraine if such zones were not established, he said, taking Kyiv the capital or even the Western Ukrainian city of Lviv. Ukraine says it will never accept Russian occupation of its land.

“Nothing can be ruled out here. If you need to get to Kyiv, then you need to go to Kyiv, if you need to get to Lviv, then you need to go to Lviv in order to destroy this infection,” said Medvedev.

Poland to get 800-900m euros from EU for arms for Ukraine, says PM

Friday 24 March 2023 13:50 , Emily Atkinson

The European Peace Facility, which is used to fund arms for Ukraine, will amount to at least 3.5 billion euros in the coming years, Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki declared on the sidelines of a European Union summit in Brussels today.

“Poland’s compensation from the facility for transferring arms to Ukraine will amount to some 300 million euros next month and 500-600 million in the following months,” Morawiecki told reporters.

 (AP)
(AP)

Thousands of civilians ‘at the limit of existence’ in Bakhmut, says Red Cross

Friday 24 March 2023 13:23 , Emily Atkinson

Some 10,000 Ukrainian civilians, many elderly and with disabilities, are clinging on to existence in horrific circumstances in and around the besieged city of Bakhmut, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Friday.

Russian forces have been trying for months to capture the city in Europe’s bloodiest infantry battle since World War Two.

Several thousand are estimated to remain in the city itself, said the ICRC’s Umar Khan, who has been providing them with aid in recent days.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

“For the civilians that are stuck there, they are living in very dire conditions, spending almost the entire days in intense shelling in the shelters,” he told a Geneva press briefing by video link from Dnipro in Ukraine.

“All you see is people pushed to the very limits of their existence and survival and resilience.”

Rescued Ukrainian children recount horrors of Russia deportation and ‘torture’

Friday 24 March 2023 12:00 , Liam James

Ukrainian children who returned from Russia after months of being deported have recounted the political indoctrination and mental trauma they endured during their detention.

At least 17 children, residents of besieged Kharkiv and Kherson, came back to Ukraine this week, non-profit Save Ukraine said in a release on Thursday.

An emotional video of their return to Ukraine from Crimea showed at least eight children, including teenagers, being reunited with their families after stepping out of a minivan.

Rescued Ukrainian children recount horrors of Russia deportation and ‘torture’