War in Ukraine: As European leaders travel to Kyiv, Russia claims it holds Ukraine's Kherson region

Published March 15, 2022 at 8:08 AM EDT
A flag of Ukraine is displayed at a military checkpoint in the center of Kyiv on Tuesday.
Fadel Senna
AFP via Getty Images
A flag of Ukraine is displayed at a military checkpoint in the center of Kyiv on Tuesday.

Cease-fire negotiations continue on Day 20 of Russia's war in Ukraine. Here's what we followed today:

Kherson under dispute: The Russian military claimed it controls the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson in southern Ukraine, bordering Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.

Ukraine maintains control of Kyiv: Russian forces are about 10 miles away from the city center. The mayor has put a curfew in place from Tuesday evening through Thursday morning.

A protest on Russian TV news: A Channel One employee was immediately arrested after she interrupted the evening news, holding a sign reading "NO WAR."

Senior US defense official says there's been limited progress by Russian ground forces

Posted March 15, 2022 at 4:18 PM EDT

A senior U.S. defense official said the Pentagon continues to see "limited to no progress by Russian ground forces in achieving their objectives.”

The official said the bombardment of Kyiv continues, with civilian targets being struck "with increasing frequency,” although Russian forces have not appreciably advanced on the capital.

Russian forces remain on the outskirts of the northeastern city of Kharkiv facing stiff Ukrainian resistance, and the official said the Pentagon is "not seeing any imminent amphibious movement toward Odesa."

The official also said there is no movement of Russian forces stationed elsewhere in Russia being deployed, or Belarus inserting troops, but that “we have reason to believe the Russians are considering their resupply and manning options.”


Ukraine says Russia has now lost 13,500 soldiers in the war

Posted March 15, 2022 at 1:22 PM EDT

Ukraine has raised its casualty estimate for Russia’s forces, with its defense ministry saying the Russian Federation has lost more than 13,500 people.

Such figures are very difficult to confirm independently, due to the chaos of the war and both sides’ desire to discuss their own militaries in favorable terms.

Over the weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers had died since Russia started a war with its neighbor on Feb. 24.

The war is taking a terrible toll on Ukraine’s civilians, particularly those who live in cities that have been under constant attack. As of midnight on March 14, at least 691 civilians had died and another 1,143 were injured, according to the U.N. human rights office. The agency warns that its figures reflect only the casualties it has confirmed, and are likely a gross undercount of the real human cost.

"In Mariupol alone, municipal authorities report more than 2,500 civilian deaths, up from almost 1,600 on 11 March," the office said.

International Dispatch
From Berlin

German grocery stores ask customers not to stockpile

Posted March 15, 2022 at 12:47 PM EDT
A man in a face mask pushes a cart in front of an ALDI sign.
LEON KUEGELER/AFP via Getty Images
A customers is seen with a shopping cart at an ALDI Nord Store in Luenen, western Germany, on March 5, 2021. - The German discounter Aldi starts to sell Corona rapid tests throughout Germany from February 27, 2021. The sales quantity per customer will be limited to one pack, so that as many customers as possible can benefit, Aldi Nord and Aldi Sued announced on March 5. (Photo by LEON KUEGELER / AFP) (Photo by LEON KUEGELER/AFP via Getty Images)

Two years ago, it was toilet paper. Now, bottles of sunflower oil are reportedly flying off shelves in German supermarkets in reaction to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

In a bid to calm consumer mood, discount grocery giant Aldi and wholesaler Metro say they’re rationing goods as they see fit.

On Tuesday, Germany’s Grocery Retail Association asked consumers not to stockpile and “show solidarity” towards each other. According to the weekly magazine Der Spiegel, another supermarket chain, REWE, is also capping goods to what it says are “reasonable amounts” at the cash register.

Ukraine supplies vast amounts of raw material for sunflower oil, and Germany is a major importer. Cem Özdemir, Germany’s federal agriculture minister, says supply bottlenecks are not an issue but warns of further price hikes, a driving force behind what many see as panic buying.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres recently warned that Russia’s war in Ukraine — one of the world’s largest wheat exporters — could trigger the “collapse of the global food system” if it drags on, but this would seriously impact Africa and Asia, not Germany.

Germany’s largest tabloid, Bild — which sent reporters into supermarket aisles on Tuesday — confirms that while stocks of sunflower oil, flour and pasta are low in some stores, shortages are not widespread and currently short-lived.

When panic buying was rife at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic two years ago, Germany's then-Chancellor Angela Merkel asked people to stop, calling it senseless. But 10 years prior to this appeal, Merkel admitted in an interview that she’s partial to a spot of stockpiling, a habit formed during the first 35 years of her life in communist East Germany, where consumer goods were often in short supply.

Current concerns about German consumer behavior suggest Merkel is not the only one who finds the habit difficult to shake.

On the ground

A veteran Fox News video journalist has been killed in Ukraine

Posted March 15, 2022 at 12:39 PM EDT

A veteran video journalist for Fox News, Pierre Zakrzewski, was killed outside Kyiv after the vehicle he was traveling was struck by incoming fire on Monday, the network has announced.

Zakrzewski had repeatedly covered conflict in the field for Fox News — including in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. He was 55 years old.

In a memo, Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott hailed what she called Zakrzewski’s unmatched talent and passion.

She praised him for his work behind the scenes to help Fox's Afghan freelancers get safely out of Afghanistan after U.S. forces withdrew from that country.

The Fox News reporter accompanying him remains hospitalized in Ukraine. Benjamin Hall's condition has not been disclosed.

On the air, Hall rejected claims by Fox host Greg Gutfeld that Western media outlets were exaggerating conditions in Ukraine to generate an emotional reaction against Russia's invasion. Hall called it "an absolute catastrophe."


A custom LEGO retailer sold Zelenskyy and Molotov cocktail figurines to help Ukraine

Posted March 15, 2022 at 12:17 PM EDT

An American minifigurine company says it raised thousands of dollars in relief for Ukraine in a single day, thanks to some custom designs and speedy shoppers.

Chicago-based Citizen Brick announced earlier this month that it would be selling custom minifigures of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and flaming Molotov cocktails to raise money for Ukrainian refugees. The impromptu sale would last for just one day, and supplies were limited.

The figurines sold out "almost immediately," the company said, raising a total of $16,540.

It said on Facebook that it had donated that entire amount to the nonprofit humanitarian organization Direct Relief to help bring medical supplies to those in need. The post included a screenshot of a donation receipt from Direct Relief.

The Zelenskyy figures sold for $100, and the Molotov cocktails were $10 each.

"We made as many as possible in a frantic 24 hrs, with the CB crew coming in on their day off to print," they wrote. "We know there were some folks who tried to get one and couldn't. We hope they'll consider making a direct donation to a relevant charity nonetheless."

The human toll

Nearly 2 million people have fled Ukraine for Poland, where some cities are feeling the strain

Posted March 15, 2022 at 12:03 PM EDT
A woman holds her 2-month-old baby in a temporary shelter in a gym of a high school in Przemysl, near the Ukrainian-Polish border, on Tuesday.
Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP via Getty Images
A woman holds her 2-month-old baby in a temporary shelter in a gym of a high school in Przemysl, near the Ukrainian-Polish border, on Tuesday.

About 3 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began in February, the United Nations says — a remarkable pace that has placed Ukraine among the world's worst refugee crises.

According to the U.N. Refugee Agency, 2.97 million people have left Ukraine since Feb. 24. Another U.N. agency, the International Organization for Migration, said Tuesday that more than 3 million people had left.

"The people who are coming over are in a bit more of a state of shock. They've experienced conflict more directly in many cases. There often may be people with fewer means, with less financial support," said Matthew Saltmarsh, a spokesperson for the U.N. Refugee Agency.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has previously called it the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

The vast majority of the refugees have fled for countries neighboring Ukraine’s western border. Countries in the European Union —including Ukraine’s neighbors Poland, Slovakia and Hungary — have offered Ukrainian refugees the right to live, work and receive welfare across the EU for up to three years without special legal status.


The lion’s share have gone to Poland, where the number of refugees that have arrived – 1.8 million – matches the population of the capital city, Warsaw.

Cities near the border with Ukraine, like Rzeszow, have swelled with refugees and humanitarian workers, and some local officials say they are “reaching saturation points,” Saltmarsh said.

And in major cities like Warsaw and Krakow, some services have reached capacity. Now, Polish officials are urging refugees to seek shelter in the country’s smaller cities.

But the number of refugees crossing each day has slowed, from over 200,000 at the peak to 130,000 or less in recent days.

Saltmarsh attributed the dip to a variety of factors, including increasingly unsafe roads in eastern Ukraine and recent cold weather.

And many Ukrainians are riding out the conflict in the relative safety of western Ukraine, where airstrikes have been largely limited to military targets, he said.

"If things intensify, it's quite possible that you might get another big push through to the border, another big number of people coming through,” said Saltmarsh.

U.K. fields more than 100K offers to house Ukrainian refugees

Posted March 15, 2022 at 11:53 AM EDT
People fleeing the conflict in Ukraine cross the Moldova-Ukraine border checkpoint near the town of Palanca, on March 14, 2022, after Russia's military invasion of Ukraine.
Gil Cohen-Magen
AFP via Getty Images
People fleeing the conflict in Ukraine cross the Moldova-Ukraine border checkpoint near the town of Palanca on Monday.

There have been more than 100,000 offers by the British public to host Ukrainian refugees in the U.K., according to an announcement on Tuesday by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities.

The country’s Homes for Ukraine program, which aims to settle refugees fleeing the war, is open to British individuals, organizations and businesses that want to provide accommodations.

“It’s fantastic that over 100,000 people and organisations have recorded their interest in supporting Ukrainians fleeing the war through the Homes for Ukraine scheme,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a tweet.

“Thank you to everyone across the country who has stepped up to offer their help so far,” he added.

While some in the British public may be eager to accept refugees, the U.K. government has continued to face criticism over its cumbersome and risk-averse process for admitting those escaping the violence in Ukraine. The Home Office announced on Monday that 4,600 visas had been granted through its Ukraine Family Scheme, which allows people to stay in the U.K. for up to three years if they meet certain criteria.

Around 3 million people have fled the war in Ukraine so far, according to the UN’s Refugee Agency.

The European Union — which the U.K. left last year — announced an emergency plan in early March that allows Ukrainian refugees to live and work in the bloc for three years.


Duolingo sees spike in people learning Ukrainian

Posted March 15, 2022 at 11:29 AM EDT
A Duolingo logo is seen displayed on a smartphone screen with a computer keyword in the background in Athens, Greece on December 9, 2021.
Nikolas Kokovlis
NurPhoto via Getty Images
The language app Duolingo says the number of learners studying Ukrainian has jumped by 485%.

More and more people have taken up studying Ukrainian on Duolingo since the start of the war, thelanguage learning platform said Monday.

The number of language learners studying Ukrainian on Duolingo has rocketed by 485%, according to the latest data from the company, which it says is accurate as of last Monday. The company says it will donate ad revenue from people learning Ukrainian — at least for the next year — to Ukrainian relief efforts.

"We are devastated by the ongoing war in Ukraine, and stand in solidarity with Ukrainians seeking safety and everyone working towards peace," said CEO and co-founder Luis von Ahn. "We believe that education is a human right, and our role in the world is to educate."

Much of the spike is concentrated in the U.S., which is where Duolingo has the most learners.

But in Poland, the number of users learning Ukrainian has increased by 1,800%. The language learning platform said the spike in Poland could be attributed to many in the country who are welcoming refugees. Poland has accepted more than 1.8 million refugees from Ukraine, according to data from the United Nations.

The company also said it was nixing all monetization in Russia and Belarus, but the app will remain available in these countries. The countries made up about 1% of the company's revenue in 2021.

"Language learning builds empathy and connection between cultures, and we believe there is value in continuing to teach the English language for free in Russia, given the current information environment in the country," the company said.

Von Ahn also said the company would freeze all streaks — or the record of days in a row a user completed at least one lesson — for language learners in Ukraine.

On the ground

Russia says its military has taken control of the entire Kherson region

Posted March 15, 2022 at 10:31 AM EDT
Protesters hold signs reading "Kherson is Ukraine!" and "NATO, close Ukraine's sky"
Lluis Gene
AFP via Getty Images
Protestors demonstrate hold signs reading "Kherson is Ukraine!" and "NATO, close Ukraine's sky" during a demonstration in support of Ukraine and to protest against Russia's invasion of the country last week in Barcelona. After overrunning the city of Kherson, Russia's military now says it has gain control of the region, which borders Crimea.

The Kherson region in southern Ukraine — where Kherson became the first large city to fall to Russian forces — is now entirely under Russia’s control, the Russian defense ministry said on Tuesday.

The next step in Russia’s strategy to extend control in the area will focus on calling for a public referendum to declare Kherson an independent republic — a tactic that the Kremlin could use as a pretext to cement its power in Kherson, according to many Ukrainian media outlets.

But on Saturday, the regional council held a special meeting where it affirmed Kherson’s place in Ukraine, “and there will be no pseudo-republics on its territory,” Ukrayinska Pravda reports. And on Sunday, thousands of people gathered in Kherson to protest against Russia’s occupation of the city.

The Kherson region borders Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.


On the ground

How to help refugees when you've become one yourself

Posted March 15, 2022 at 10:11 AM EDT
Women and children in jackets walk in front of red and white tents.
Christopher Furlong
Getty Images
Refugees fleeing Ukraine receive food from the International Red Cross and other organizations at the Vysne Nemecke border crossing on Sunday in Slovakia.

Nearly 3 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded late last month, and the situation is growing increasingly dire for those who remain in the country.

Many international organizations are turning their focus and support towards the exodus of refugees. But what can the humanitarian aid groups that are based in Ukraine do to help at this time?

Morning Edition's A Martínez posed that question to Sasha Galkin. He's the director of Right to Protection, a Ukrainian refugee assistance organization that was forced to abandon its offices in Kyiv in recent days and has many staff members who are now refugees themselves.

"We've been working, I don't know, 16 hours, 18 hours now a day to restructure what we are doing," he says. "And actually, plus, of course, we are stressed out and having some people still stuck somewhere in the places that are quite unsafe."

Listen to their full conversation here.

Galkin says the organization has worked to help refugees from abroad since 2003 and displaced populations inside of the country since 2014, and calls its current position "an irony of fate."

He said the majority of staff members — about 100 people — have been able to relocate to safer areas. It took some people a week to relocate from eastern regions like Luhansk, while others are still trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol.

Staff members like Galkin are also worried about the well-being of their loved ones.

He described his own experience as having to "split into two parts," and says he's OK to assist other people only now that he knows his own parents are safe. He had to go to their apartment in Kyiv to convince them to leave, and they are now en route to the Netherlands.

Helping ordinary Ukrainians flee to safety is an especially complicated task, both because of the organization's scattered state and because of the considerable infrastructure damage throughout the country.

As Galkin describes it, the organization collects information on how people can reach safer locations and disseminates it through their social media and hotline. People have questions about things like how to actually leave an area, and what to expect if they cross the border to a country like Poland.

Staffers collect answers from both sides — Poland and Ukraine, in this example — to provide people with "full-fledged information," Galkin says. But they may not be able to do much more than that.

"And of course, [there are] those who want to escape," he adds. "Sometimes we can do nothing. This is devastating, because we cannot help all people."

What do Ukrainians need most at this moment?

Galkin points to three basics: peace, rest and humanitarian corridors to allow people to escape from the most dangerous areas, like Mariupol.

While freedom of movement is essential to getting vulnerable civilians out, he says, there should also be consideration for the people in western Ukraine and elsewhere who are receiving them.

"People are so generous, but also ... their coping mechanism[s] also are able to be exhausted," he says.

Inside Russia

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny could face another 13 years in prison

Posted March 15, 2022 at 9:55 AM EDT
A photograph taken from a TV screen shows Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny during a court hearing at the penal colony N2 on the first day of his new trial in the town of Pokrov on February 15, 2022.
Alexander Nemenov
AFP via Getty Images
A photograph taken from a TV screen shows Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny during a court hearing at the penal colony N2 on the first day of his new trial on Feb. 15, 2022.

Prosecutors in Russia are asking a judge to extend the prison sentence of Kremlin opposition figure Alexei Navalny by another 13 years, the Moscow Times reported.

Navalny, who is serving a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence, is currently on trial for fraud and contempt of court, the outlet reported.

The prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin recently spoke out against the country’s invasion of Ukraine, accusing the ruling party of using the war to distract Russian citizens from their problems at home.

“Thanks to Putin, hundreds of Ukrainians and Russian citizens may die now, and in the future, this number may reach tens of thousands,” Navalny said in a tweet. “Yes, he will not allow Ukraine to develop, he will drag it into the swamp, but Russia will pay the same price.”

Russian agents poisoned Navalny with a Soviet-era nerve agent in 2020, U.N. experts say, and he was arrested when he returned to the country in 2021 after receiving treatment in Germany.

Inside Russia

Here's how propaganda is clouding Russians' understanding of the war in Ukraine

Posted March 15, 2022 at 9:37 AM EDT
A person on a crumbling balcony airs out a cloth. The building is full of shelling holes.
Fadel Senna
AFP via Getty Images
A resident cleans her balcony in a residential building damaged by shelling in Kyiv.

Russia has cracked down on free speech and placed strict propaganda controls on what citizens see and hear about the brutal war in Ukraine.

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a rule that criminalizes reporting that contradicts the Russian government's version of events. The law has forced many independent media outlets to leave the country, shut down — or face potential lengthy prison terms.

Julia Ioffe, reporter and founding partner of the media company Puck, joined Morning Edition to discuss how Russia is sanitizing the war to warp its citizens' views. Listen here.

"[Russians] are being told that Russian soldiers are extremely decorous and careful about preserving Ukrainian civilian life, that they're being greeted as liberators, that everybody wants to live under Russian rule, and that there are no civilian casualties on the Ukrainian side," reports Ioffe.

State media doesn't use the words "war" or "invasion," and doesn't mention Russia's bombing of Kyiv.

The Kremlin has weaponized social media as well, hiring trolls to spread disinformation about the war and stir up fights online, says Ioffe.

Some Russians are turning to alternative sources for the truth and to break through propaganda. Some use VPNs — or virtual private networks — to mask their locations to access blocked sites like Twitter, Facebook, and media organizations that report independently from the Kremlin, says Ioffe. Demand for VPNs shot up by more than 2,000% on Sunday, the day before the Putin regime shut off access to Instagram.

"But you have to understand that to go and do this, you already have to be looking. It's people who already don't believe what the Kremlin information sources are telling them," says Ioffe. "They know that this is a war against Ukrainian civilians."

All of this means the truth about the war is hard to find, and mostly is discovered by people who already distrust the Kremlin and its state-sponsored media.

"People who are not looking for this information are generally people who don't care, or people who trust Kremlin sources of information. And if they trust those sources of information, then they believe, for the most part, what the Kremlin is telling them, and for the most part, they support this war," Ioffe says.

"But the war they're supporting is not the war that exists on the ground in Ukraine."

How to spot disinformation and propaganda coming out of the Ukraine-Russia conflict

International Dispatch
From Krakow

The leaders of Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic are visiting Kyiv today

Posted March 15, 2022 at 9:21 AM EDT
Two men wearing suits and glasses lean in to speak to each other while seated at a table.
Leon Neal
POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, left, speaks with Czech Republic's Prime Minister Petr Fiala during a meeting in London on March 8.

The prime ministers of three European Union nations — Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia — are traveling by train to Kyiv today to meet Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

They are the first foreign leaders to travel to the Ukrainian capital, which is now under attack by Russian forces. Two people in Kyiv were killed by shelling on Tuesday morning, according to Ukraine’s state emergency service.

Agnieszka Legucka, a professor of international security science at Vistula University in Warsaw, says this visit is aimed at countering Russian President Vladimir Putin’s message to Ukrainians.

“Putin is trying to send a message that they are alone,” she says. “So we need to send a message that they are definitely not alone, that there is a European Union, there is Poland, and other countries trying to help them, that we are there with them.”

In a Facebook post, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki decried Putin’s “criminal aggression toward Ukraine” and said, “it is our duty to be where history is forged.”

“It’s not about us, but about the future of our children who deserve to live in a world free from tyranny,” he said.

Morawiecki is joined by Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Slovenian premier Janez Jansa.

The three leaders are representing the EU, after consultations with European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.

Morawiecki said in a tweet that the EU must “guarantee Ukraine’s independence and ensure that it is ready to help in Ukraine’s reconstruction.”

Poland has already opened its doors to nearly two million Ukrainians and residents of Ukraine who have fled their country since Russia’s invasion began on February 24.


New U.K. sanctions target Russian vodka, luxury vehicles, fashion and artwork

Posted March 15, 2022 at 8:52 AM EDT
Two soldiers and a police officer stand outside of a Burberry store window on a city street.
AFP via Getty Images
Russian police and national guard servicemen patrol Red Square next to Burberry shop in Moscow on Thursday. The U.K. imposed a new export ban that will likely affect luxury vehicles, high-end fashion and works of art.

The United Kingdom announced a new slate of sanctions against Russia on Tuesday, aimed at isolating and exerting pressure on the country's economy amidst its war of aggression in Ukraine.

The measures include a ban on exports of high-end luxury goods to Russia — in line with other G-7 nations — and steep import tariffs on goods like vodka, artwork and antiques. The U.K. is also denying Russia and Belarus access to "most favoured nation" tariffs for hundreds of exports, which officials say deprives the countries of key benefits of World Trade Organization membership.

"The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with our international partners in our determination to punish [Russian President Vladimir] Putin for his barbaric actions in Ukraine, and we will continue our work to starve his regime of the funds that enable him to carry them out," International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said in a statement.

The government says the export ban will likely affect luxury vehicles, high-end fashion and works of art, and will "make sure oligarchs and other members of the elite ... are deprived of access to luxury goods." It says it will take effect shortly, with more details to be announced "in due course."

It also published a list of goods that will now face an additional 35% tariff, on top of existing rates. Those include iron, steel, copper, aluminum, beverages, spirits and vinegar, glass and glassware, cereals, machinery, works of art, antiques, fur skins and artificial fur, ships and whitefish.

"These products have been selected to inflict maximum damage on the Russian economy while minimising the impact on the UK," officials explained.

Denying Russia's access to most favoured nation tariff treatment for key imports, on top of the additional tariffs, will serve to restrict Russian exports to the U.K., they added.

"The World Trade Organization is founded on respect for the rule of law, which Putin has shown he holds in contempt," Trevelyan said. "By depriving his government of key benefits of WTO membership, we are denying him further resource for his invasion."

Many luxury brands — including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, Hermès and Burberry — and major retailers are among the companies that have suspended operations in Russia in recent weeks.

Tuesday's move come less than a week after the U.K. announced sanctions— including an asset freeze and travel ban — on what it described as seven of Russia's richest and most connected oligarchs. They include Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club, and Oleg Deripaska, who is believed to own the London mansion that was occupied by squatters on Monday.

The G-7 and European Union are similarly moving to revoke Russia's most favored nation status, with the U.S.and Canada among the first countries to take that step.

Inside Russia

A Russian editor protested the war on live TV and was immediately arrested

Posted March 15, 2022 at 8:16 AM EDT
A woman stands behind an anchorwoman at a desk.
AFP via Getty Images
A dissenting Channel One employee interrupted Russia's most-watched evening news broadcast, holding a poster reading as "No War" and condemning Moscow's military action in Ukraine.

A Russian woman who burst onto the set of a live TV news broadcast to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was arrested and made the subject of “a pre-investigation check,” according to state-run Tass media.

The woman, Marina Ovsyannikova, is an editor at Channel One; she protested the war by walking behind a news anchor while holding a sign reading “No War” and telling viewers they were being lied to. It also said, “Russians for peace.”

Ovsyannikova's whereabouts were in question after her arrest, but she later appeared in a district court, sitting next to her lawyer, according to human rights attorney Sergei Badamshin's Telegram channel. The Novaya Gazeta newspaper says she is facing an administrative charge of organizing an uncoordinated event.

Badamshin also noted that Russian law bars the arrest of mothers whose children are younger than 14. Ovsyannikova has two children — one is 11 and the other is 17, he said. In court, Ovsyannikova was still wearing the blue, yellow, red and white necklace which she previously said represented her hope that the countries could coexist peacefully.

The website OVD-info, which monitors rights abuses in Russia, shared a video Ovsyannikova recorded before taking action. In it, she said she was ashamed for her role in helping spread Kremlin propaganda.

“I’m embarrassed for letting them tell lies from the TV screen. I'm ashamed that I allowed them to zombify Russian people,” Ovsyannikova said, according to a translation by OVD-info.

Ukrainians were never Russia’s enemies, she said, stating that her father is Ukrainian and her mother is Russian. She urged more people to protest the invasion.

“What’s happening in Ukraine right now is a true crime. And Russia is the aggressor,” she said. “And the responsibility for this crime lies only on the conscience of one person, and that person is Vladimir Putin.”

Ovsyannikova’s protest was quickly hailed as an act of courage, as it immediately led to her arrest.

Russia’s federal Investigative Committee was handling her case, according to Tass, which said any charges could stem from Russia's newly adopted laws making it a crime to spread what the Russian government deems "fake news" about its military.

On the ground

The view from Kyiv, where the residents who remain are bracing for Russian attacks

Posted March 15, 2022 at 8:04 AM EDT
A fireman stands on a lift outside of a burning apartment building covered in black smoke.
Chris McGrath/Getty Images
Getty Images Europe
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a residential apartment building after it was hit by a Russian attack in the early hours of the morning in the Sviatoshynskyi District on Tuesday in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Here's what we're watching on Day 20 of Russia's invasion (catch up on Monday's developments here):

  • Ceasefire negotiations between Ukrainian and Russian officials continue today.
  • Russian forces have so far been unable to capture the capital of Kyiv or any of Ukraine's largest cities.
  • Russia has reached out to China for military assistance, and the U.S. has warned China there will be consequences if it complies.
  • The heads of state of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia are traveling to Kyiv today to show support for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
  • Kyiv's mayor has put a curfew in place from Tuesday evening through Thursday morning.

Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said in a video statement that the situation is dangerous, but vowed not to yield to Russian forces, NPR's Ryan Lucas reports from the western city of Lviv. Klitschko also called on male residents who have taken their families out of the city to return and help defend it.
His announcement followed a night of heavy Russian shelling that damaged several residential buildings.

Morning Edition Leila Fadel is back in Kyiv, after spending the last two weeks in Lviv. She offers us this view from the capital — listen here or keep reading.

Russian strikes are a daily reality

Soldiers stand outside of a destroyed apartment building.
Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images
Ukraine soldiers inspect the rubble of a destroyed apartment building in Kyiv on Tuesday.

"In Lviv the signs of Russia's invasion show up in the form of funerals for soldiers killed defending Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of displaced people arriving to find safety, air raid sirens that typically warn of Russian strikes at least an hour away — and often much farther away, there's been no direct hits on that city," Fadel says. "But here in Kyiv the sounds of artillery, Russian strikes, that's commonplace."

Just this morning, Fadel says she woke up to the sound of an explosion. Local officials say three Russian strikes hit residential buildings.

Many residents are sleeping deep underground in subway stations now serving as bomb shelters, while others are too afraid of Russian shelling to leave their apartments.

Kyiv is prepared for the potential arrival of Russian troops

Russian forces are about 10 miles away from downtown Kyiv, Fadel notes.

On her 10-minute drive yesterday, she passed dozens of tank traps in the streets and checkpoints fortified with sandbag-filled dumpsters and concrete slabs. If Russian forces do show up, she says, it won't be easy for tanks to roll into the city.

Russian troops are still on the outskirts of Kyiv and haven't yet breached the city center. But they've brought violence to nearby suburbs, especially in the northwest in places like Irpin.

A soldier stands on a street near a damanged church with gold domes.
Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images
An Ukrainian serviceman stands guard on a street in front of a damaged church in the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on Sunday.

Many residents have fled to safety

"Right now, the center of the city, where I am, it's eerily quiet," Fadel says. "This once-bustling city of about 2.8 million feels so empty."

She says the people that have stayed behind are largely there because they want to save their city from Russian forces. Almost everyone is a fighter or a volunteer for the cause.

Fadel has spoken with residents about how they're coping these days. They stay inside at night and close the curtains, hoping that Russians don't show up at their door or that they don't get caught in the crossfire.

A woman stands behind a window with a sheer curtain, holding a dustpan with broken glass in it.
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A woman cleans glass from her broken window after a Russian rocket was shot down by Ukrainian air defences on Monday in Kyiv, Ukraine.

One elderly man, who is trying to get evacuated from a Kyiv suburb, is scared to go outside after his neighbor walked down the street to get water and was shot in the head. Fadel saw an older couple kiss their adult daughter goodbye before she headed to Prague to stay with a friend.

They didn't want to be a burden to her, and the father — who is 60 — can't leave because of martial law. When Fadel spoke with them after, she learned they've stopped going to the bomb shelter near their building, out of fear they will be buried alive if the building above them collapses.

"Because this shelter is very old and not suitable for safety of people," said Sergi Kuzmenka, the father. "If something happens with houses it will be grave for anyone who comes there."