The Ukrainian crisis roundup

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March 20 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia’s siege of the port city of Mariupol was “a terror that will be remembered for centuries to come”. 

FIGHTING

* Russia struck Ukraine with cruise missiles from ships in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, and launched hypersonic missiles from Crimean airspace, the Russian defence ministry said.

* Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, claims six Russian generals have been killed in Ukraine. Ukraine also claimed to have killed the deputy commander of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, Andrey Paliy.

* An attack on marine barracks in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv on Friday killed more than 40 marines, according to the New York Times. If confirmed, it would be one of the deadliest known attacks on Ukrainian forces during the war.

* The city council in Mariupol said Russian forces bombed an art school where about 400 residents had taken shelter. There was no immediate word of casualties, and Reuters could not independently verify the claim. Russia denies targeting civilians.

The Odessa National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet and one of the city’s symbols behind a heavy barricade with a placard reading ‘Odessa is Ukraine!’, at the South Ukrainian city of Odessa, Ukraine. EPA-EFE/STEPAN FRANKO

CIVILIANS

* Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said seven humanitarian corridors would open on Sunday to enable civilians to leave frontline areas.

* Zelenskiy has signed a decree that combines all national TV channels into one platform, citing the importance of a “unified information policy” under martial law, his office said.

* The U.N. human rights office said at least 847 civilians had been killed and 1,399 wounded in Ukraine as of Friday. The Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office said 112 children have been killed. 

DIPLOMACY

* Turkey’s foreign minister said Russia and Ukraine were nearing agreement on “critical” issues and he was hopeful for a ceasefire if the two sides did not backtrack from progress achieved so far.

ECONOMY, MARKETS

* Russia’s central bank has allowed a limited number of additional financial market operations over the next two weeks, as it tentatively eases restrictions linked to the Ukraine conflict.

* Ukraine may not produce enough crops to export if this year’s sowing campaigns are disrupted by the invasion, presidential adviser Oleh Ustenko said on Saturday. 

ARTISTIC SUPPORT

* Russian and Ukrainian ballet dancers rubbed shoulders at a charity event in London on Saturday uniting some of the world’s leading dance performers for humanitarian relief in Ukraine. 

COMING UP

* Zelenskiy addresses the Israeli parliament via video link at 1600 GMT. The speech will be shown in the parliament building in Jerusalem but as the legislature is in recess, lawmakers will be able to tune in from any location. The speech will also be projected on a giant screen in Tel Aviv’s Habima Theater Square.

QUOTES

* “Kyiv calling to the whole world …Come out of neutrality, you boys and girls,” some of the lyrics from Ukrainian punk band Beton’s reworking of the Clash’s famous “London Calling”. 

* “The violent aggression against Ukraine is unfortunately not slowing down,” Pope Francis said. “It is a senseless massacre where every day slaughters and atrocities are being repeated.”

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