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As the Russia-Ukraine war enters its 24th day, we take a look at the main developments.

These are the key events so far on Friday, March 19.

  • Russia’s defence ministry says the army and its separatist allies have made a breakthrough in Mariupol, which has been under Russian shelling for days, and were now inside the city.
  • Ukraine’s defence ministry says it has “temporarily” lost access to the Azov Sea, which connects to the Black Sea and would be a major loss for Ukraine.
  • Britain says Russian attempts to surround Kyiv and Mykolaiv have been pushed back while heavy Russian shelling of the encircled cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol continues.
  • In the eastern city of Kharkiv, Russian strikes demolish the six-storey building of a higher education institution, killing one person and leaving another trapped in the wreckage, officials say.
  • Russian forces destroy an aircraft repair plant near Lviv airport but no one is hurt, Mayor Andriy Sadovyi has says on the messaging app Telegram.

Diplomacy

  • US President Joe Biden has warned China of “consequences”, which the White House says could include sanctions, if Beijing gave material support to Russia’s invasion. Both sides have called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in its fourth week.
  • Ukraine expects progress on its European Union membership bid within months, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said, after a call with Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the European Commission, the EU’s executive institution.

Fleeing

  • Border crossings from Ukraine have slowed but could rise again if conditions in the west of the country worsen, the United Nations refugee agency says, adding that 3.27 million have fled, with two million displaced inside the country.
  • The governor of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region says frequent and widespread shelling by Russian forces is preventing the safe evacuation of civilians from towns and villages on the front line.

Death toll

  • The UN rights office reports 816 confirmed civilian deaths as Kyiv officials say 222 people have been killed in the capital, including 60 civilians and four children.
  • Ukraine’s prosecutor’s office says 112 children have been killed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began last month.
  • President Zelenskyy has said that 130 people had been saved after the bombing of a theatre in the port city of Mariupol under Russian siege.

Talks

  • Zelenskyy has called for comprehensive peace talks with Moscow, saying Russia would otherwise need generations to recover from losses suffered during the war.
  • Russia’s lead negotiator in talks with Ukraine says they are making progress on the topic of demilitarising the country, but not on Moscow’s demand to “de-Nazify” its neighbour.

Economy

  • Ukraine’s food supply chains are breaking down and the conflict is leading to “collateral hunger” around the world, the UN food aid agency warns.
  • Moscow averts a debt default with interest payments on two-dollar bonds but faces a busy payment schedule in coming weeks.
  • US oilfield services companies Halliburton and Schlumberger say they have suspended or halted Russian operations.
  • The International Energy Agency urges governments to urgently implement measures to cut global oil consumption within months following supply fears stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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