War in Ukraine live updates: The U.S. will accept up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees

Published March 24, 2022 at 8:11 AM EDT
A long line of people with luggage on a train platform.
Angelos Tzortzinis
AFP via Getty Images
Ukrainian evacuees board a train to Warsaw at the rail station in Przemysl near the Polish-Ukrainian border on Wednesday.

While most displaced Ukrainians want to stay in Europe, the U.S. government expects to use its refugee admission program as well as the parole system and immigrant and non-immigrant visas to bring in Ukrainians. President Biden will also announce $1 billion in new funding for humanitarian aid.

Here's what we're following:

One month into Russia's invasion: Ukrainian forces have managed to push Russian troops away from certain areas around Kyiv, but Russia is still hammering the capital and other cities with rockets and missiles.

Anniversary demonstrations: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is calling for global protests today against the Russian invasion.

A Russian journalist is killed: A correspondent for the independent news site The Insider died in shelling in Kyiv.

On the ground

Snake Island sailors are freed as Ukraine and Russia conduct a prisoner exchange

Posted March 24, 2022 at 1:04 PM EDT
Sailors who were trying to rescue Ukrainian troops from Snake Island were instead captured along with the soldiers -- and now they've been freed in a prisoner exchange, Ukraine announced on Friday.
State Border Guard Service of Ukraine
Sailors who were trying to rescue Ukrainian troops from Snake Island were instead captured along with the soldiers — and now they've been freed in a prisoner exchange, Ukraine announced on Friday.

Russia and Ukraine exchanged 10 prisoners of war each on Thursday in what Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk called the first full-fledged swap of the war. The exchange also freed 19 Ukrainian civilian sailors who were captured as their ship tried to take Ukrainian troops off of Snake Island in late February.

Ukraine released 11 Russian civilian sailors as part of the deal, Vereshchuk said as she announced the transfer. The civilians had been rescued from a ship that sank near Odesa, she said.

Russia’s takeover of Snake Island, also known as Zmiinyi Island, was much-discussed in the first days of the war after Ukrainian soldiers at the small military outpost in the Black Sea defied threats from a looming Russian vessel by flatly telling it, "Russian warship. Go f*** yourself."

The soldiers were initially feared to have been killed, but Russian state media later reported that they had been taken prisoner. It wasn’t immediately clear whether any Ukrainian soldiers from the outpost were among the captives who were exchanged — but Ukraine's border guard agency said earlier Thursday that Vereshchuk was working to free the soldiers who had been on Snake Island.

The Ukrainian civilian sailors freed by Russia had been aboard the Sapphire, a ship that sailed to the island on a search and rescue mission but was itself captured. As part of the exchange, Russian forces will release their ship, sending it to a dock in Turkey, Vereshchuk said.

Ukraine and Russia have engaged in at least two smaller prisoner exchanges in the month-old war, including the swap of nine Russian servicemen for Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov. And on March 1, Ukraine’s military said it exchanged a captured Russian military police officer for five Ukrainian soldiers in Sumy, an oblast in northeastern Ukraine.

Human impact

One month of war has displaced more than half of Ukrainian children

Posted March 24, 2022 at 11:39 AM EDT
A young girl stands in front of a bus holding a stuffed animal and looking up at two polie officers, while adults board next to her.
Jeff J Mitchell
Getty Images
People pass through Przemysl station in Poland on their journey out of war-torn Ukraine on Thursday.

Russia's war in Ukraine has displaced some 4.3 million children in the past month — more than half of the country's estimated 7.5 million child population, according to UNICEF.

The organization said Thursday that this figure includes some 2.5 million children who are now internally displaced inside Ukraine, and more than 1.8 million who have crossed into neighboring countries as refugees.

The ongoing conflict has created one of the fastest large-scale displacements of children since World War II, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a statement.

“This is a grim milestone that could have lasting consequences for generations to come," Russell added. "Children’s safety, wellbeing and access to essential services are all under threat from non-stop horrific violence.”

Ten million Ukrainians have left their homes since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, with more than 3.6 million refugees fleeing to neighboring countries. Overall, the war has displaced 1 in 4 Ukrainians.

Russian strikes have also damaged civilian infrastructure and limited access to health care, education and other basic services across the country.

On Thursday, the World Health Organization said it had verified 64 attacks on Ukraine's health care system in just 25 days, averaging two or three per day. UNICEF says that officials have already seen a drop in vaccinations for routine and childhood immunizations like measles and polio.

"This could quickly lead to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases especially in overcrowded areas where people are sheltering from the violence," it adds.

Ukraine's Ministry of Education and Science has reported damage to more than 500 education facilities (some of which have been used as civilian shelters).

UNICEF says that some 4.6 million people have limited access to safe water — with an estimated 1.4 million lacking access entirely — and that more than 450,000 children between the ages of 6 months and 23 months now need complementary food support.

"UNICEF continues to appeal for an immediate cease-fire and for the protection of children from harm," Russell said. "Essential infrastructure on which children depend, including hospitals, schools and buildings sheltering civilians, must never come under attack.”

In the meantime, the organization is taking steps to help families and children in the region.

UNICEF says it's delivered medical supplies to hospitals across Ukraine, improving access to health care for 400,000 mothers, newborns and children. It's also increasing the number of mobile child protection teams working inside conflict zones from 22 to 50. And it plans to "start emergency cash transfers to the most vulnerable families and establish child friendly spaces in key locations across the country."

The U.N. Human Rights Office confirms that 78 children have been killed and 105 injured in Ukraine, but says those figures are likely a significant undercount.

On the ground

Ukrainian pharma executive vows to continue production ‘until we win or we die’

Posted March 24, 2022 at 11:22 AM EDT
Two people in blue scrubs stand in the entrance of a white medical tent, seen from inside.
Yuriy Dyachyshyn
AFP via Getty Images
A U.S. disaster relief organization set up a field hospital at an underground parking lot of King Cross Leopolis shopping mall near the western Ukrainian city of Lviv last week.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has driven hospitals — and medical personnel — to the point of despair. Supplies are running low, while getting care to the sick and wounded is a logistical nightmare.

Dmytro Shymkiv is the executive chairman of Ukraine’s biggest pharmaceutical company, Darnitsa. At the company’s main factory in Kyiv, about 300 of his employees are working in darkness — covering the windows with blankets for protection — despite the ongoing shelling to produce the much-needed supplies, and coordinate their distribution across the country.

“We are currently operating 24/7... and maintain the quality of the production to the highest standards of the pharmaceutical company, so it’s very challenging and the shelling continues,” he told NPR.

Speaking with Morning Edition’s A Martínez, Shymkiv said the most pressing need is for intensive care drugs like bandages, infusions, injections, anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers.

His company has also been distributing medicine that can treat lung damage as fears mount of a possible Russian chemical attack. It's a complicated process: Many of these drugs have to be stored and transported in specific, temperature-controlled conditions, and there is only a limited supply of appropriately outfitted trucks.

“It’s a very challenging environment to ensure delivery,” said Shymkiv, who explained that the supplies are being delivered by a pool of trucks and “fearless” drivers, most of whom are volunteers or military.

“The heroism of some of the folks is just unbelievable. It’s beyond [the] imagination," he added. "They are going without the guns. They’ve been shelled in multiple circumstances and they’ve been able to actually deliver the drugs to the very needed hospitals because there are women, kids, elderly people, injured people.”

With the sound of shelling and gunfights now a constant, Shymkiv spoke of the “incomparable” stress for his employees, their families and ordinary citizens across the capital city and the country as a whole.

When air sirens go off, Shymkiv hunkers down — with some 150 employees and their families, including 40 kids as young as 2 — in a bomb shelter beneath Darnitsa’s main factory.

He vows to keep working, even under the challenging circumstances, for “as long as it’s needed for my country."

“We are going to stand until we win or we die,” Shymkiv said.

Listen to the full conversation here.


Mariupol residents are being forcibly deported to Russia, Ukraine says

Posted March 24, 2022 at 11:09 AM EDT

Thousands of people who managed to endure Russia’s bloody siege of Mariupol are being deported to “filtration camps” in Russia, where screeners confiscate their passports and official papers, the Mariupol City Council and other Ukrainian agencies said on Thursday.

Under the Geneva Conventions, it is a war crime for an occupying power to deport people to other territories during an international conflict. But Ukrainian officials say the Russian military is doing exactly that, alleging that Russia is using Ukrainians as hostages.

Around 15,000 Mariupol residents are currently subject to illegal deportation, the city council said, adding that about 6,000 people have already been forcibly taken to Russian territory. The targeting of civilians and mass deportations are a repeat of Ukraine’s treatment by Nazi Germany during World War II, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said.

Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency outlined what happens when civilians are taken to a Russian filtration camp, saying that FSB agents first vet people for possible experience in military or law enforcement. Ukrainians are then “offered” official employment in economically depressed areas of Russia, the agency said. If Ukrainians agree to that arrangement, they’re given documents that bar them from leaving Russia for at least two years, the agency added.

International law permits an occupying power to send displaced people to foreign soil only if no other options exist — but Ukraine says Russia is working to eliminate or undermine those other options in Mariupol, including violating pledges of safe passage for evacuation corridors. The city council also says Russians are using a loudspeaker in a car to broadcast disinformation by claiming — falsely — that the city of Zaporizhzhya, a key evacuation point, is no longer accepting refugees.

“Russian troops continue to hold a humanitarian convoy of buses that arrived a few days ago from Mariupol from Zaporizhia,” Ukraine’s foreign affairs ministry said.

Mariupol has now been under sustained Russian attack for 22 days, the city council said, saying the ordeal has transformed the seaside city from a showcase for renewal into a place of horror and pain.

Support for Ukraine

The maker of Fortnite is giving all proceeds to Ukraine relief for 2 weeks

Posted March 24, 2022 at 10:57 AM EDT

Epic Games says it will temporarily donate all of the proceeds from its popular video game Fortnite to humanitarian relief for people affected by the war in Ukraine.

The company is committing all proceeds from March 20 through April 3 to organizations including Direct Relief, UNICEF, the United Nations World Food Programme and the U.N. Refugee Agency, with more slated to join the list in the weeks ahead.

It said on Tuesday that it had raised $50 million in just two days, and is sending funds to the organizations as quickly as possible.

"We’re not waiting for the actual funds to come in from our platform and payment partners, which can take a while depending on how the transaction was processed," the team wrote. "As transactions are reported, we’ll log them and send the funds to the humanitarian relief organizations within days."

Xbox — which is owned by Microsoft — is also donating its net proceeds from all sales of Fortnite content on the Microsoft Store during this same two-week period, Epic Games said.

The company defines its Fortnite proceeds as the gross purchase price of all Fortnite in-game purchases or retail purchase redemptions transacted during these two weeks from sales around the world, excluding things like taxes, third-party platform fees, refunds and returns.

Those purchases include V-Buck packs, Fortnite Crew, gifted Battle Passes and cosmetic packs like the Voidlander Pack sold for real money, it added.

"Retail store purchases of in-game cosmetics and V-Bucks cards will also be included if they are redeemed in-game during this window," it said. "Using V-Bucks in Fortnite will not be included as those are not real-money purchases."

Epic Games released the new season of Fortnite over the weekend, and The Vergenotes that "the launch of a new Fortnite season is likely one of the most lucrative periods for the game, with players buying into the new battle pass in order to get exclusive characters and other in-game content."


Russian stocks gain as Moscow Exchange opens for limited trading

Posted March 24, 2022 at 10:44 AM EDT
The Moscow Stock Exchange resumed trading of some shares on Thursday.
Natalia Kolesnikova
AFP via Getty Images
The Moscow Stock Exchange resumed trading of some shares on Thursday.

The Russian stock market opened for the first time since the index plunged at the start of the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

With short-selling prohibited and trading limited to four hours total, Russia’s largest companies — the majority of them sanctioned by the West — appeared to do well in early trading.

Gas and oil companies such as Novatek and Rosneft led the surge — an apparent response to President Vladimir Putin's announcement on Wednesday that Russia will now expect payments for its gas exports will now be carried out exclusively in rubles.

Meanwhile, other sectors — aviation, communications, and banking — were less robust but seemed to benefit from signals from the Finance Ministry that it would use government funds to buy up stocks. The ruble continued to gain on the news, trading at 96 to the dollar, having rebounded from 120 at the beginning of the invasion. Prior to Feb. 24, it traded at 75 to the dollar.


A Ukrainian cellist plays in the rubble of Kharkiv, vowing to rebuild after the war

Posted March 24, 2022 at 10:21 AM EDT

Ukraine's foreign ministry tweeted out a video on Wednesday of a man seated in a single chair in a desolate city square, playing a somber cello piece against the backdrop of bombed-out windows and rubble-strewn streets.

The man is Ukrainian musician Denys Karachevtsev, and the site of the performance is the center of Kharkiv — Ukraine's second-largest city, and a recent target of heavy Russian bombardments.

Karachevtsev shared the video on his own Instagram account, in which he describes himself as both a cellist and a citizen of Kharkiv. His caption, written in multiple languages, encourages people to come together to help rebuild his hometown.

"I love my heroic city which is now struggling to survive the war. I deeply believe that we can help," he wrote. "I believe we can restore and rebuild our city and our country when the war is over."

Karachevtsev said he is launching a project to raise money for humanitarian aid and architecture restoration. He ended the post with a call to action: "Let's unite to revive our city together!"

Karachevtsev is playing Bach's "Cello Suite No. 5" in the video, telling theWashington Postthrough an interpreter that he chose the composer because his music "raises people's spirits."

"It makes people like me more eager to stand their ground and to not give up," he said.

The 30-year-old was born in Kharkiv, graduated from the Ukrainian National Tchaikovsky Academy of Music in Kyiv and has toured the world with various orchestras. He chose to stay and support his hometown after Russia invaded last month, and now spends his days helping people evacuate, facilitating access to humanitarian aid and practicing the cello.

This wasn't Karachevtsev's only public performance to gain global attention in recent days: On Monday, The New Voice of Ukraine shared a video of him playing the cello on the street between air raid sirens.

health care

Russia has attacked Ukraine’s health care system 64 times, WHO says

Posted March 24, 2022 at 9:51 AM EDT
Nurse Vladislava Filonenko tends to Belegay, 5 year-old boy from Polohy, in a room protected by sandbags at the Zaporizhzhia Regional Clinical Children's Hospital on March 22. Thousands of refugees from Mariupol have fled to the southern Ukraine city, which has been under a siege for weeks.
Emre Caylak
AFP via Getty Images
Nurse Vladislava Filonenko tends to Belegay, 5-year-old boy from Polohy, in a room protected by sandbags at the Zaporizhzhia Regional Clinical Children's Hospital on Tuesday. Thousands of refugees from Mariupol have fled to the southern Ukraine city, which has been under a siege for weeks.

The World Health Organization says it has verified 64 attacks on Ukraine’s health care system in just 25 days — a troubling aspect of a war that has displaced 1 in 4 Ukrainians. The WHO is condemning the violence wrought on civilian targets.

“Attacks on health care are a violation of international humanitarian law, but a disturbingly common tactic of war – they destroy critical infrastructure, but worse, they destroy hope,” said Dr. Jarno Habicht, the WHO representative in Ukraine. “They deprive already vulnerable people of care that is often the difference between life and death. Health care is not – and should never be – a target.”

The WHO figures amount to 2-3 attacks on health care per day of the war, which is now entering its second month. The tally of verified attacks spans from the war’s start on Feb. 24 to March 21.

One of the most egregious attacks wrecked a maternity hospital in Mariupol, killing several people, including a pregnant woman and her baby.

In response to the crisis, the WHO says it has sent more than 100 metric tonnes of medical equipment to health facilities across the border into Ukraine, with more supplies poised for delivery. It has also sent more than 20 emergency medical teams to Ukraine, Poland and Moldova.

Just In

The U.S. will take in up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war

Posted March 24, 2022 at 9:16 AM EDT
Women and children walk through an open fence after disembarking from a blue bus.
Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP via Getty Images
Ukrainian evacuees arrive at the train station in Przemysl, near the Polish-Ukrainian border, on Monday.

The United States will welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians and other displaced people fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, a senior administration official told reporters traveling with President Biden on Thursday.

While most displaced Ukrainians want to stay in Europe, the U.S. government expects to use its refugee admission program as well as the parole system and immigrant and non-immigrant visas to bring in Ukrainians, the official said, noting Ukrainian-Americans are eager to welcome family members into the country. Vulnerable people including LGBTQI people, people with medical needs and journalists and dissidents will also be prioritized, the official said.

A second official told reporters that Biden plans to announce $1 billion in new funding for humanitarian aid for Ukrainians and refugees in neighboring countries.

The Biden administration, G-7 and the EU are also moving to block Russian sales of gold aimed at propping up the ruble, a third official said. Russia’s central bank had about 20% of its reserves in gold ahead of its invasion of Ukraine, the official said, noting “market chatter” about efforts to evade sanctions on the central bank by selling some of the reserves.

Other announcements being made while Biden is in Brussels today include:

  • The U.S. will slap full blocking sanctions on more than 300 members of the Russian Duma and more than 40 Russian defense companies, as well as on Herman Gref, the head of Sberbank and a Putin adviser, and oligarch Gennady Timchenko. Some of these sanctions are aligning the U.S. with moves already taken by its allies.
  • The U.S., G-7 and EU will start a new sanctions evasion initiative to prevent China or other countries from helping Russian banks do business abroad.
  • The G-7 will announce that international organization and multilateral fora should no longer conduct activities with Russia in a “business-as-usual manner." Notably, Russia is a member of the G-20.
  • The U.S. will provide $11 billion for global food security because Ukraine’s wheat production will be hindered in the coming season, which poses a particular threat to the Middle East and Northern Africa.
  • The U.S. will provide $320 million to a European democracy resiliency program, including efforts to document and preserve evidence of potential war crimes in the Ukraine conflict and help countries such as Moldova.

A Russian journalist on assignment in Kyiv was killed by Russian shelling

Posted March 24, 2022 at 9:09 AM EDT

Russian journalist Oksana Baulina was killed by a rocket strike while on assignment in Kyiv, according to her employer, the independent news website The Insider.

The site said she "died under fire" while "filming the destruction after Russian troops shelled the Podil district of the capital." Another civilian was killed in the attack, it added, and two people who were with Baulina were hospitalized with injuries.

Baulina previously worked as a producer for the Anti-Corruption Foundation, the Russian non-profit established more than a decade ago by vocal Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. After the Russian government designated it an extremist organization in June 2021, Baulina had to leave the country in order to continue reporting on government corruption for The Insider, which is headquartered in Latvia.

"Oksana went to Ukraine as a correspondent, she managed to send several reports from Lviv and Kyiv," the publication added. "The Insider expresses its deepest condolences to Oksana's family and friends."

Baulina's coworkers and supporters are remembering her life on social media and demanding accountability for her death.

Investigative journalist Alexey Kovalyov, who said he had known Baulina for almost two decades and worked with her at several independent outlets, described her in a tweet as having a "phenomenal sense of moral clarity." Journalist Christo Grozev called her"amazingly brave."

Vladimir Milov, who worked with Baulina at the Anti-Corruption Foundation, vowed in a tweet to avenge her.

“I will never forget her and to all those who are responsible for her death I promise that they won’t get away with (only) a trial and a verdict,” Milov wrote, according to a translation from Al Jazeera.

The Insider said it will continue to cover the war in Ukraine, "including such Russian war crimes as indiscriminate shelling of residential areas which result in the deaths of civilians and journalists."

Sergiy Tomalenko, the head of the Ukrainian journalist's union, wrote on Facebook that Baulina was not the only journalist whose death by Russian forces was reported on Wednesday.

Viktor Dêdov, the operator of a local television channel in the besieged southeastern city of Mariupol, was reportedly killed there on March 11, according to Facebook's English translation of the post.

Several other journalists have been killed while covering the war in Ukraine since it first broke out a month ago.

They include U.S. video journalist Brent Renaud, Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski and Ukrainian freelancer Oleksandra Kuvshynova. Citing Ukrainian reports, the BBC says that Ukrainian journalist Shakirov Dilerbek Shukurovych was killed in late February, camera operator Yevhenii Sakun was killed during Russian shelling of Kyiv's television tower in March and investigative journalist Viktor Dudar died during a battle with Russian troops near the southern city of Mykolaiv.

Below are some of the tributes to Baulina:

Climate change

The war in Ukraine amplifies calls for a green transition away from Russian fossil fuels

Posted March 24, 2022 at 8:49 AM EDT
Dark shapes of people can be seen in front of a demonstration lit with dim lights and a sign reading "STOP PUTIN'S OIL".
Valeria Mongelli
AFP via Getty Images
Demonstrators hold a vigil for Ukraine near the European Union headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has heightened awareness — in addition to concerns of climate change — of the urgency of transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy.

That new urgency infused a meeting in Paris this week of energy ministers, diplomats and business leaders guiding the world’s energy transition in the coming years.

“Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has changed the world, including the energy world,” said International Energy Agency (IEA) Director Fatih Birol, opening the two-day summit Wednesday.

Birol said the routine ministerial meeting meant to focus on progress made at the COP 26 in Glasgow last fall had been transformed by Russia’s aggression. He said the Kremlin had reminded the world that the way to a secure and sustainable energy future might not be a smooth one ...“But it has reminded us of why we need to make this journey,” said Birol.

The IEA director urged Europe especially to act quickly to deal with considerable uncertainty for its fuel supplies next winter. The EU (which gets around 40% of its natural gas and oil from Russia) has promised to decrease its dependence by 2/3 by the end of the year.

To that effect, the IEA has just released a 10-point plan to help the continent reduce its reliance on Russian gas and oil.

The IEA plan, which includes simple steps like reducing speed limits on highways by 10 kilometers an hour, making public transport cheaper, having car-free Sundays in large cities and working from home up to three days a week, would have an immediate impact, saving some 2.7 million barrels of oil a day.

The IEA meeting was chaired by U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, who evoked the resolve of “Ukrainians grandmothers and grandfathers who are fighting broomsticks and knives” to keep their country free.

“We’ve got to show that we have their backs,” said Granholm. “That we will defend democracy and that we will not take for granted the peace that was won on this continent only a few generations ago.”

To do that, Granholm said Europe and the U.S. must get off Russian gas and oil and speed up the transition to green energy. She said energy transition is about climate change and peace.

“The climate is not going to wait on our efforts to confront autocrats,” she said. “Both crises need addressing now. We must both increase reliable supply right now and accelerate our efforts for clean energy.”

Granholm said the U.S. will do all it can to help Europe in this regard and had delivered a clear message to its domestic oil and gas companies to ramp up production. U.S. production levels are projected to reach record-high levels this year.

“We are exporting every molecule of natural gas that can be liquefied,” she said.

Ukraine’s deputy minister of energy for European integration, Yaroslav Demchenko, traveled to Paris from the besieged Ukrainian capital of Kyiv for the meeting. He had a warning for his audience.

“Russia wants you to think that Russian energy is irreplaceable,” he said. “But this is not the case. Europe can ensure that it takes actions to make Russian energy unimportant.”

Demchenko urged the world not to diverge from its green course to be carbon-free by 2050.

Becoming carbon neutral by 2050 won't be easy. To achieve that goal, officials in Paris say annual investment in clean technologies needs to double by 2030, wind and solar capacity needs to quadruple and electric car sales (currently growing at a rate of 10%) need to scale up to 60% by 2030.

But Granholm said the acceleration of clean energy solutions has got to be the No 1 goal to get us off of fossil fuels that don’t have our interests at heart.

“Putin is weaponizing fuel,” she said. “We don’t want to be paying for his wars.


Zelenskyy calls for global demonstrations to mark one month of war

Posted March 24, 2022 at 8:22 AM EDT
A woman holds her baby in a Ukrainian flag on a street in Hong Kong Thursday, part of widespread protests marking the one-month mark of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Isaac Lawrence
AFP via Getty Images
A woman holds her baby in a Ukrainian flag on a street in Hong Kong on Thursday, part of widespread protests marking the one-month mark of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Anyone who supports Ukraine in its war with Russia should join global protests against the Russian invasion on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said as he marked one month of a war that has upended millions of lives and brought thousands of deaths.

“The world must stop the war,” Zelenskyy said, stating that Russia’s attack on Ukraine is part of a wider assault on international freedoms.

“It tries to show that only crude and cruel force matters,” the Ukrainian leader said. “It tries to show that people do not matter, as well as everything else that makes us people.”

Zelenskyy thanked those who have shown support for Ukraine, including the EU, the U.S. and other countries. But he also urged politicians to take new steps to punish Russia and help Ukraine at three important summit meetings taking place today, among members of NATO, the G7 and the EU.

At one point in his speech, Zelenskyy spoke directly to Russian citizens, saying he is sure many of them disagree with the Kremlin’s policies and its propaganda. Russia’s disinformation and its war are harming its own citizens, he said.

“Isn't that stupid? Your state collects taxes from you to make you poorer,” Zelenskyy said. “To isolate you from the world. To make it easier for them to control you. And easier to send you to the war to die.”

Zelenskyy pledged to rebuild Ukraine’s cities that have been devastated by weeks of Russian shelling and airstrikes — a practice that only seems likely to continue, as Russia’s military contends with fierce resistance.

“This is a war for independence. And we must win,” the president said.


Where things stand a month into the war, according to the Pentagon

Posted March 24, 2022 at 8:10 AM EDT
A sandbag-covered checkpoint on a road, with smoke rising above the trees in the distance.
Fadel Senna
AFP via Getty Images
Ukrainian servicemen stand at a check point in Kyiv on Tuesday.

When the invasion first started, it seemed like Russia — which has one of the world's most sophisticated armies — would quickly overrun Ukraine. But one month into the war, Russian forces have taken some territory, and destroyed many buildings and lives, but has failed to take Ukraine's largest cities.

In fact, the fierce Ukrainian resistance has even retaken certain areas, as NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman tells Morning Edition. This is all happening as Russia suffers economically under Western sanctions, which are set to increase this week as President Biden meets with NATO leaders in Europe.

Listen to Bowman's reporting or read on for details.

Russian troops appear to be establishing defensive positions near Kyiv

For days, we've been hearing that Russian troops have been stalled outside of Ukraine's capital. Now a senior U.S. defense official says they're actually digging in along the city's eastern suburbs, getting into what looks like a defensive posture.

We're also hearing that in the northwest of the capital, Ukrainian forces have managed to push Russian troops away from Kyiv — they used to be roughly 30 km from the city, and now they're back about 55 km.

But it's too soon to count Russia out

Russian forces still have considerable combat power and air power — especially when it comes to rockets and missiles, which they're using to hammer cities like Mariupol and Kyiv.

Pentagon officials also say Russians are planning to call in replacement troops as well as private armed groups, and not only from the mainland. They're also trying to bring out more supplies, which Bowman says their troops desperately need.

"Russia shows no signs of stopping," Bowman says. "They want to break the will of Ukraine. They've been going after more and more civilian sites now, kind of creating a scorched-earth policy. And that's why you're starting to hear President Biden and others use the term 'war crimes.'"

Speaking of Biden, he's meeting with leaders in Europe

Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are in Brussels to meet with NATO allies about responding to the war. Read more here.

In terms of additional U.S. support for Ukraine's military, Bowman says the next tranche of equipment — worth $800 million — includes things like air defense systems and shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons, and will start heading into the country to help Ukrainians "continue to bleed Russian troops."

There are already thousands of U.S. troops in Eastern Europe, and NATO is now talking about creating an even larger force there, especially in places like Poland and Romania. But Bowman says whether the U.S. will send additional troops there is still up for discussion.


The U.S. and its allies are exploring how to give anti-ship missiles to Ukraine

Posted March 24, 2022 at 8:09 AM EDT
Several rows of women and men in suits stand on steps, posing for a photo.
John Thys/AFP via Getty Images
In front, from right, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, President Biden, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo pose with the leaders of the U.S.-led military alliance for a family photo at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on Thursday.

President Biden has begun consultations with allies on supplying anti-ship missiles to Ukraine, a senior administration official told reporters covering the NATO emergency meeting in Brussels on Thursday. The move would come with “technical challenges” but the United States and allies are trying to work those out, the official said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to NATO leaders via video from Ukraine at the beginning of their meeting, the official said. He repeated requests for continued and increased security assistance from the West — but did not ask for a no-fly zone or NATO membership during his remarks, the official said, declining to provide further details on specific requests.

Several NATO members made pledges of support to increase their security assistance for Ukraine in the early part of the meeting, the official added. NATO leaders are galvanized and united in their support for Ukraine and resolve to hold Russia to account with economic sanctions, the official added.

"There was a very strong sense that we are facing a significant historical moment," the official said. "The mood overall has been sober, it's been resolute and it's been incredibly united."

Leaders also spoke about the need for China to call for a peaceful end to the conflict, and to not provide economic support or military equipment to Russia.

There was some discussion about the need for NATO to be ready to deal with the potential use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

The U.S. is already taking steps to enhance its readiness and ability to respond to any such incidents, and to work with NATO and a task force it has to deal with these kinds of attacks. Other allies are also making efforts to help Ukraine be able to identify and respond to this type of threat, the official said.