We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.


AS IT HAPPENED: 'Super Powerful bombs' rock Mariupol; US says Russians kidnapped 2,400 children

The Pentagon said Ukraine forces reversed the battlefield momentum in some areas to reclaim ground in recent days.

LAST UPDATE | 22 Mar 2022

THESE ARE THE main developments that unfolded on the 26th day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

  • Two “super powerful bombs” rocked Mariupol as Ukrainian authorities announced a new bid to rescue civilians from the besieged city.
  • Some Russian forces reportedly entered the city and more than 200,000 people remain trapped there. 
  • Ukrainian officials said 300,000 people that are trapped in Kherson are running out of food.
  • Russian naval forces started shelling the outskirts of the port city of Odesa.
  • UN chief Antonio Guterres said it is time for Russia to end its “absurd war”.
  • The US embassy in Kyiv said Russian forces ‘kidnapped’ 2,389 children from Donetsk and Luhansk.
  • The Pentagon said Ukraine forces reversed the battlefield momentum in some areas to reclaim ground in recent days.
  • At least 117 children have been killed in the war, Ukraine’s federal prosecutor said. Some 548 schools have been damaged, including 72 completely destroyed.
  • Ukraine’s army command said Russian troops now have ammunition, food and fuel to last just three days. It also claimed 300 Russian soldiers have defected in the north-eastern Sumy region.
  • Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy renewed his call for direct discussions with Putin. He has also addressed the Italian parliament remotely. 
  • US President Joe Biden warned that Vladimir Putin is considering using chemical and biological weapons in Ukraine.
  • Here at home, the Cabinet discussed Ireland’s response to the refugee crisis.

We’re currently awaiting a post-Cabinet briefing at Dublin Castle. 

Ministers have been meeting this morning to discuss Ireland’s response to the growing refugee crisis. Integration minister Roderic O’Gorman and Social Protection minister Heather Humphreys are due to address the media.

We’ll bring you their comments here.

On the frontlines of the war, Ukrainian authorities have said the evacuation of residents from Mariupol will be the priority for today. Three routes have been drawn up linking the port city to Zaporizhzhia, to the north.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has described as a “massive war crime” the siege of Mariupol, which has so far killed more than 2,000 people.

Russia had given the city until 5am yesterday to surrender, but Kyiv rejected the ultimatum and said the city’s resistance was bolstering the defence of all of Ukraine.

Mariupol is a pivotal target in Putin’s war – providing a land bridge between Russian forces in Crimea to the southwest and Russian-controlled territory to the north and east.

politics-ukraine Press Association Images Press Association Images

Our reporter Tadgh McNally is at that post-Cabinet briefing at Dublin Castle (you can follow his tweets here). 

Roderic O’Gorman, the integration minister, has said his Department is engaging with religious orders and local authorities regarding medium-term accommodation for Ukrainian refugees.

O’Gorman added that that Tusla are currently providing accommodation for 22 unaccompanied minors from Ukraine.

7,326 Ukrainian refugees have so far received PPS numbers, Heather Humphreys, the social protection minister, said. 

Ukraine has begun to shift the battlefield momentum in some areas to reclaim ground from invading forces, a Pentagon spokesman has said. 

“They are going after Russians and pushing them out of places where the Russians have been in the past,” John Kirby told CNN.

There has been progrress in particular in Mykolaiv, in the south, he said. 

Kirby said he could not confirm reports from Ukrainian officials that they had retaken at least one town and expect to take more in coming days.

But it would be “consistent with the kind of fighting and the kinds of capabilities we have seen the Ukrainians use,” he said.

As for the Russians, he echoed Western analysts who have said the invading forces have become bogged down.

“They are running out of fuel. They’re running out of food. They are not integrating their operations in a joint manner the way you would think a modern military would,” Kirby said.

He cited communication problems between air and ground forces, and how in some cases the Russians have had to resort to using cellphones.

The Russians are “frustrated” and “stalled,” he said, citing the fact the Russians have failed to take control of population centres beyond two areas around Kherson and Melitopol in the south.

“They are slowed. And some of that … is due to their own ineptitude.”

Russian politicians have approved legislation imposing jail terms of up to 15 years for publishing false information about Russia’s actions abroad.

The new bill expands on a law passed earlier in March that allows for up to 15 years in jail for publishing false information about the Russian army.

The bill, adopted after a third reading by the lower house State Duma, sets out jail terms and fines for people who publish “knowingly false information” about actions abroad by Russian government agencies.

If the false information “caused serious consequences”, it is punishable by up 15 years in jail, a release from the State Duma said. 

brussels-belgium-21st-mar-2022-greek-foreign-minister-nikos-dendias-makes-a-statement-as-he-arrives-for-a-foreign-affairs-council-fac-meeting-at-the-eu-headquarters-in-brussels-belgium-on-march Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Greece’s foreign minister has said he planned to head an aid mission to Ukraine’s besieged city of Mariupol if allowed by both Russia and Ukraine.

The city has been besieged by Russian troops for days, with water, electricity and gas shut off and humanitarian conditions plummeting.

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said he would head an aid mission in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross to the city and that official notes had been sent “to Ukraine to facilitate, and Russia not to obstruct, a mission of humanitarian aid to Mariupol.”

Navalny speaks following prison sentence

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is “afraid of the truth” his main domestic critic Alexei Navalny after the opposition leader was sentenced to nine years in prison.

“Putin is afraid of the truth, I have always said this. Fighting censorship, relaying the truth to the people of Russia always remained our priority,” Navalny said in a post on Instagram.

Zelenskyy’s message to Italian lawmakers

rome-italy-22nd-mar-2022-the-president-of-the-republic-of-ukraine-volodymyr-zelensky-in-video-during-his-speech-at-the-italian-parliament-rome-italy-march-22nd-2022photo-samantha-zucchi-insid Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressing the Italian parliament today. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged Italian lawmakers to stop their country being a playground for Russia’s elite, 

Italy’s MPs gave a standing ovation to Zelensky as he delivered the latest of a series of video speeches to Western parliaments.

“Don’t be the place that welcomes these people,” Zelensky told lawmakers in Italy, long a top holiday destination for Russia’s elite, known to own luxury villas in some of the country’s most picturesque destinations, from Tuscany to the island of Sardinia.

“We must freeze them all: freeze their properties, their accounts, their yachts, from Scheherazade to the smallest. We must freeze the assets of all those in Russia who have the power to make decisions,” he said.

The ownership of the multi-million-dollar mega yacht Scheherazade, docked on the Tuscan coast, is currently the source of speculation that it belongs to a Russian oligarch, or even perhaps President Vladimir Putin himself.

Speaking after Zelensky, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said Rome had so far seized over €800 million worth of assets belonging to EU-sanctioned Russian oligarchs, including a €530 million yacht.

UN chief says war is ‘unwinnable’ for Russia

UN chief Antonio Guterres said that it was time for Russia to end their “absurd war” in Ukraine, declaring the conflict “unwinnable.”

The Secretary General told reporters at the world body’s headquarters in New York that the war “is going nowhere, fast.”

“For more than two weeks, Mariupol has been encircled by the Russian army and relentlessly bombed, shelled and attacked. For what?” he said.

“Even if Mariupol falls, Ukraine cannot be conquered city by city, street by street, house by house.”

Guterres added that “the only outcome” to more fighting was “more suffering, more destruction, and more horror as far as the eye can see.”

‘World’s deadliest sniper’ confirms he’s not dead

A famed Canadian sniper known as ‘Wali’ has spoken to the media, dispelling claims that he had been killed by Russian forces.

The former Canadian Armed Forces marksman says he was the last to learn of his own death in Ukraine.

He told Canadian news outlets that he did not have a phone with him as he was in “black-out mode” on the front line.

“I’m alive as you can see,” Wali told CBC News. “Not a single scratch… I’m pretty much the last person to know about my death.”

US embassy accuses Russia of ‘kidnapping’ children

The US embassy in Kyiv has accused Russian forces of kidnapping nearly 2,400 children from Donetsk and Luhansk.

Citing Ukraine’s foreign ministry, the embassy said 2,389 Ukrainian children have been “illegally removed” from the two regions to Russia.

“This is not assistance. It is kidnapping,” it said.

Yesterday, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said Russian forces had forcibly deported 2,389 children from Donetsk and Luhansk.

Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, said: “Russian forces are not only targeting and killing our children, but also forcibly moving them to the RF [Russian Federation].

“Investigation is ongoing on the forcible transfer of 2,389 children from temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine to Russia.”

zhanna-agalakova-testimony-at-rsf Zhanna Agalakova speaks to media during a press conference at the Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) headquarters in Paris today. Aurore Marechal Aurore Marechal

A Russian journalist – who for years was senior foreign correspondent for state-run television – today lashed out at the propaganda broadcast by pro-Kremlin media after dramatically quitting over the invasion of Ukraine.

Zhanna Agalakova, a familiar face in Russian households from two decades work as a correspondent from postings including New York and Paris, had earlier this month announced she was leaving Pervy Kanal (Channel One) due to the invasion.

Speaking in public for the first time since she quit, Agalakova told reporters at a news conference in Paris organised by press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) that she could no longer be involved in the “lies” and “manipulation” of Russian state TV.

“I want the people of Russia to hear me and learn what propaganda is and stop being zombified,” she said.

With tears in her eyes, Agalakova said she had hesitated a lot before speaking out in public but then decided “there was no other choice”.

Agalakoa admitted that she had “made many compromises in my career” but she described the invasion of Ukraine as a “red line”.

Agalakova announced she was leaving her channel in an Instagram video posted last week, symbolically cutting a Pervy Kanal band around her wrist and saying she had already written her resignation letter on 3 March.

She described a media system that “just gives the point of view of the Kremlin”.

Agalakova pointed to how state television covers President Vladimir Putin with exhaustive coverage of his macho holiday activities but with no scrutiny of his private life which is an absolute taboo.

“Our news does not show the country, we do not see Russia,” she said.

“We only see the first man of the country, what he ate, who he shook hands with, we even saw him shirtless. But we don’t know if he’s married, if he has children,” she said.

She lambasted the state media for its repeated description of Russia’s opponents in Ukraine as “Nazis”, a term that touches a particular nerve in a country still scarred by the sacrifices of World War II.

“When, in Russia, we hear the word ‘Nazi’, we only have one reaction – destroy. It’s a manipulation, a huge lie.”

Justifying her long career as correspondent in New York and Paris, she said: “I thought that by reporting on life in Europe – and in particular in Paris – I could avoid being propagandistic.”

“I didn’t lie, every fact was real. But take real facts, mix them up and you’ll end up with a big lie,” she said. 

Ukraine says 300,000 people running out of food in Kherson. 

A spokesperson for Ukraine’s foreign ministry, Oleg Nikolenko, said approximately 300,000 people in the occupied city were running out of food and medical supplies.

“Russia’s barbaric tactics must be stopped before it is too late!” Nikolenko said.

Kherson was the first major Ukrainian city to fall to Russian invaders.

In the UK, Labour leader Keir Starmer has called on the Government to “ramp up” sanctions on Russia to “cripple” its ability to function as a country.

Starmer said Western powers needed to continue their support for Ukraine, including supplying more military equipment, while avoiding direct conflict with Russia.

“Everybody understands why every step has to be taken to prevent this escalating into a direct NATO on Russia conflict,” he told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One.

“That is why we need to provide more military support, that’s why sanctions have to be ramped up again further and faster and that’s why we need to have a stronger, more compassionate humanitarian response.

Russian forces reportedly inside Mariupol

A senior US defence official has told reporters that some Russian forces are now inside the besieged southern city of Mariupol – where 200,000 people are trapped.

Russian opens criminal case against journalist

Russia has opened a criminal case against a popular journalist for spreading “false” information about the Russian army in Ukraine.

“The Main Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of Russia initiated a criminal case against journalist Alexander Nevzorov,” Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement.

“Nevzorov published deliberately false information about the deliberate shelling by Russia’s armed forces of a maternity hospital in the city of Mariupol.”

Ukraine’s ambassador to Austria has shared video footage from Odesa, where people are busily building fortifications while Bon Jovi bangs out over speakers.

They even have a drummer.

Gibraltar has impounded a superyacht belonging to Russian oligarch Dmitry Pumpyansky.

The 72-metre yacht, the MV Axioma, “was the subject of an arrest action by a leading international bank”, Gibraltar’s government said in a statement.

Gibraltar authorised the vessel, which was flying a Maltese flag, to enter port despite a ban on the entry of certain Russian oligarchs under British sanctions, “in the interests of creditors with proper claims against the vessel”, it said.

Children’s hospital shelled

Ukraine emergency services say Russian forces have shelled a children’s hospital in Luhansk.

It said the roof of the hospital in Severodonetsk caught fire after the shelling and seven children and 15 adults were evacuated from the healthcare facility.

Russia to be hit with more sanctions

The White House has announced that further sanctions against Russia will be unveiled later this week.

US has not yet seen Chinese arms shipments to Russia

The United States has not seen evidence of any Chinese weapons shipments in recent days to its ally Russia, a top US official has said.

“What I can tell you is we have not seen… the provision of military equipment by China to Russia. But of course, this is something we are monitoring closely,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said.

Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba has held a call with his British counterpart Liz Truss ahead of the upcoming G7 summit in Brussels on Thursday 24 March.

Kuleba said they agreed that there should be “no hesitation” in imposing new sanctions on Russia.

Putin ‘unlikely’ to use chemical weapons against Ukraine

A former British ambassador to Russia has said he doubts the danger of Russian President Vladimir Putin using chemical weapons against Ukraine is “as high as people have said”. 

Tony Brenton told BBC’s Radio 4 programme that it is “unlikely” chemical weapons will be used, but that there is “no doubt” that Russia is “very unconstrained” in its attacks. 

“What I’m hearing is that it’s unlikely because if you’ve got troops on the ground, then using gas could as easily turn against your troops as for them,” he said.

“So I doubt that the danger of him using chemical weapons is as high as people have said, including, I’m afraid, the President of the United States.

“But there is absolutely no doubt that they are very unconstrained in their use of artillery, in their use of missiles, in their use of aircraft, to flatly destroy whatever is in their way – particularly since they’ve been dramatically slowed down by the very brave Ukrainian resistance over the last four weeks.”

Russia would only use nuclear weapons if faced with ‘existential threat’

kremlin-spokesman-dmitry-peskov-attends-an-annual-end-of-year-news-conference-of-russian-president-vladimir-putin-in-moscow-russia-december-23-2021-reutersevgenia-novozhenina File photo of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

A Kremlin spokesperson has said that Russia would only use nuclear weapons in the context of the Ukraine conflict if it were facing an “existential threat”.

Speaking to CNN International today, Dmitry Peskov said: “We have a concept of domestic security, and it’s public. You can read all the reasons for nuclear arms to be used.”

“So if it is an existential threat for our country, then it can be used in accordance with our concept,” he said.

Peskov’s comment came as interviewer Christiane Amanpour pushed him on whether he was “convinced or confident” that Putin would not use the nuclear option in the Ukrainian context.

One person has been killed and nine others injured after Russian troops shelled several buildings in the eastern city of Lozova. 

Mayor Sergey Zelensky said 20 homes and businesses were damaged as a result of the shelling in the city.

Nato invites Zelenskyy to address summit via videolink

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been invited to address a special Nato summit on Thursday discussing the Russian invasion of his country, an official said.

“President Zelenskyy is invited to address the Nato summit via video link,” a Nato official said.

“This will be an opportunity for allied leaders to hear directly from President Zelenskyy about the dire situation facing the people of Ukraine because of Russia’s aggression.”

Putin and Macron speak on phone regarding Ukraine – reports

Russian state-owned news agency Ria Novosti is reporting that Vladimir Putin has spoken to the French President Emmanuel Macron by phone.

The news agency said the conversation was initiated by France, with the two leaders discussing the situation in Ukraine.

The French government has yet to confirm the reports, but Putin and Macron have held several phone calls since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nearly a month ago.

UK officials fear Russia will publish more hoax videos during the Nato summit on Ukraine to “maximise effect” and try to sow division, as clips of a “prank” call with UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace emerged.

Russia has been squarely blamed for the imposters’ calls with three Cabinet ministers, while officials appeared to struggle to get the footage removed from YouTube.

Wallace is not the only UK Cabinet minister to have been targeted, with Home Secretary Priti Patel also engaging in a call with an imposter pretending to be Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal.

The Government is braced for further clips to be published amid fears they could emerge during Thursday’s emergency Nato summit in Brussels, which UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden are due to attend.

A western official said: “The primary objective is to embarrass and sow division. That has been the way these have been used in the past, so we would expect the information to be leaked out over time.”

The EU has slammed a Russian court ruling extending Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s imprisonment by nine more years, labelling it “politically motivated”.

“The European Union strongly condemns the ruling… to extend the imprisonment of the Russian opposition politician,” the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.

“We reiterate our call on the Russian authorities for his immediate and unconditional release.”

Zelenskyy to address NATO summit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been invited to address a special NATO summit Thursday discussing the Russian invasion of his country.

“President Zelensky is invited to address the NATO summit via video link,” the NATO official said today.

“This will be an opportunity for allied leaders to hear directly from President Zelensky about the dire situation facing the people of Ukraine because of Russia’s aggression,” the official added.

Zelensky’s spokesman Serhiy Nykyforov confirmed that the Ukraine leader would be taking part in the summit and addressing it.

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel