Ukraine News: Biden to Deliver 'Major' Speech, Meet Refugees

Live Updates
  • President Joe Biden is in Poland discussing humanitarian efforts to help Ukraine and meet with U.S. troops deployed to bolster NATO's Eastern flank. Biden will also meet with Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw on Saturday.
  • The U.S. and Europe have announced a huge gas deal to reduce various nations' dependence on Russia for energy.
  • Ukraine has re-occupied towns and defensive positions east of Kyiv as forces counterattack and repel Russian troops, according to British intelligence.
  • Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says no "consensus" has been reached on four of six main topics of disagreement in peace talks, as Turkey's President claimed Thursday.
Ukraine flag near Kyiv
A Ukrainian flag is seen on top of a checkpoint as black smoke rises from a fuel storage of the Ukrainian army following a Russian attack, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine on March 25. Rodrigo Abd/AP Photo

Biden to Deliver 'Major' Speech, Meet Refugees

President Joe Biden has landed in Warsaw, Poland, where he will spend the final day of his European trip.

He is scheduled to meet with Ukrainian refugees, hold another meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda and deliver a "major" speech on Saturday.

"He will also have the opportunity to meet with Ukrainian refugees and with American humanitarians who are there trying to help feed and respond to the material needs of the refugee population in Warsaw," National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Friday.

Biden will then deliver an address before returning to the United States.

"A major address tomorrow that will speak to the stakes of this moment, the urgency of the challenge that lies ahead, what the conflict in Ukraine means for the world, and why it is so important that the free world sustain unity and resolve in the face of Russian aggression," Sullivan said.

"He'll also talk about the context and history of this conflict and where he sees it going from here."

Biden arrives in Warsaw
US President Joe Biden arrives at Warsaw Chopin International Airport on March 25 in Warsaw, Poland. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland Join to Investigate War Crimes

Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland have established a joint team to investigate war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, Lithuanian Prosecutor General Nida Grunskene and Polish Prosecutor General and Minister of Justice Zbigniew Zobro signed an agreement, Venediktova's office said Friday.

"Fellow prosecutors from Lithuania and Poland were the first to lend a hand of professional assistance after the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine and launched their own national investigations," Venediktova said. "We are now joining forces in the Lublin Justice Triangle to counter evil on the legal front."

The team will collect and store evidence of potential Russian war crimes. It will also identify any assets of war criminals to "freeze and confiscate them."

"Our joint investigation team is open to other participating countries," Venediktova said.

"Currently, in addition to Ukraine, nine other countries are conducting their own investigations into the war waged by Russia: Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Estonia, Germany, Sweden, Latvia, Norway and France. We are also waiting for the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in our cage."

Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine
Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine
Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine
Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine

Putin Defends JK Rowling Against 'Cancel Culture'

Russian President Vladimir Putin defended Harry Potter author JK Rowling during a televised address speaking out against "cancel culture" in the West.

"They canceled Joanne Rowling recently—the children's author, her books are published all over the world—just because she didn't satisfy the demands of gender rights," Putin said.

"They are now trying to cancel our country," he continued. "I'm talking about the progressive discrimination of everything to do with Russia."

He cited examples of Western states discriminating against Russia by canceling work by Russian artists like Pyotr Tchaikovsky and removing books by Russian writers, comparing it to the actions of the Nazis in the 1930s.

"We remember the footage when they were burning books," he said.

Putin added that it is "impossible to imagine such a thing" in Russia, as "we are insured against this thanks to our culture."

"And it's inseparable for us from our motherland, from Russia, where there is no place for ethnic intolerance, where for centuries representatives from dozens of ethnic groups have been living together," he said.

Rowling responded to Putin's comments by pointing out the Kremlin's hypocrisy in blasting "cancel culture" when Russia has a history of jailing political critics, journalists and protesters.

"Critiques of Western cancel culture are possibly not best made by those currently slaughtering civilians for the crime of resistance, or who jail and poison their critics," she said in a tweet, sharing an article about Alexei Navalny, the jailed Russian opposition leader who claims Putin had him poisoned.

Ukrainian Force Retake Kherson, Pentagon Reports

The Ukrainian port city of Kherson is no longer under full Russian control, the Pentagon reports.

"It doesn't appear to be as solidly in Russian control as it was before," a senior defense official told reporters Friday. "Ukrainians are trying to take Kherson back and we would argue that Kherson is actually contested territory again."

Kherson was the first major city that Russian forces captured as part of its invasion into Ukraine.

The Pentagon said a successful Ukrainian effort in Kherson would be "significant," as it would risk Russia's position around Mykolaiv and make it more difficult for Russian forces to capture the southern port of Odessa.

However, there are still conflicting reports from Ukraine and Russian officials, who both report that Kherson is still under Russian control.

Ukrainian forces are also making "incremental" progress pushing back Russian forces outside the northern city of Chernihiv, the official said.

Russian forces also appear to remain stalled around the capital on Kyiv. The senior defense official said Russian soldiers have adopted "defensive positions" on the ground near the capital.

"They don't show any sign of being able to move on Kyiv from the ground," the official said.

Chernobyl Staff Unable to Rotate Due to Nearby Shelling

Staffing is once again a concern at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine's regulatory authority told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Technical staff have not been able to rotate since March 21 amid ongoing Russian shelling in nearby Slavutych, where many staff members live. The agency added that it's not clear when a staff change may occur.

This group of technical staff replaced the former group who were unable to rotate for nearly one month, since Russian forces took control of the site on February 24.

In addition, radiation calibration sources and environmental samples stolen from a laboratory in town have still not been located as of Friday.

"Based on the information provided, the IAEA assesses that the incident does not pose a significant radiological risk," the agency wrote.

Earlier this week, firefighters were working to extinguish several wildfires near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Ukrainian regulators did not provide an update on the fires Friday, but IAEA said they are burning near various radioactive waste management facilities.

"Slight increases in caesium air concentrations detected in Kyiv and at two nuclear power plants, but they did not pose significant radiological concerns," IAEA said Wednesday.

U.S., EU Partnership Replace One Third of Russian Gas Supply to Europe

President Biden announced that the U.S. will provide an additional 15 billion cubic meters of liquified natural gas (LNG) to Europe this year.

To accomplish this, Biden said the European Commission will work with the member states to "store gas across the continent, to build more infrastructure to receive LNG, and to take steps to increase the efficiency of gas."

European Union President Ursula von der Leyen said this is a major step in replacing the LNG supply Europe currently receives from Russia.

The U.S. and the EU will work together to ensure stable supply and demand of 50 billion cubic meter of LNG by 2030.

This amount will replace one third of the Russian gas currently going to Europe, von der Leyen said.

She added that Europe wants to reduce its dependency on Russian fossil fuels by investing in renewable energy and finding additional LNG deliveries.

"So, we are right on track now to diversify away from Russian gas and towards our friends' and partners' reliable and trustworthy suppliers," she said.

Biden Thanks Duda for Welcoming 2.2 Million Refugees

President Joe Biden pledged to continue supporting humanitarian efforts in Poland as more than 2.2 million Ukrainian refugees have now entered the country.

Biden thanked Polish President Andrzej Duda for his efforts in the refugee crisis during a press conference Friday.

"You're the ones who are risking, in some cases, your lives and risking all you know to try to help," Biden said to Duda. "And the American people are proud to support your efforts."

Biden reiterated that the U.S. is prepared to provide an additional $1 billion in humanitarian aid. Biden's visit to Poland comes as Russia's invasion of Ukraine enters a second month. As of Friday, the United Nations estimates nearly a quarter of Ukraine's population has been displaced, with more than 3.7 million Ukrainians fleeing to neighboring countries.

"I mean, it's not stopping," Biden said. "It's like something out of a science fiction movie. You turn on the television and see what these towns look like, and the cities."

Duda said Biden's visit to Poland sent a sign of "unity."

"Today, Mr. President, you met with U.S. soldiers who are deployed here and who watch over our security," Duda said. "They also help in this very difficult work, which is receiving millions of refugees who are crossing the border to our country right now. But first and foremost, they are guarding the security of the Polish border and guarding the security also of the entire Euro-Atlantic community of the whole of NATO."

Poland quickly worked to accommodate the more than 2.2 million Ukrainians that have entered its country within the short span of one month.

"We do not call them "refugees," he said. "They are our guests, our brothers, our neighbors from Ukraine who today are in a very difficult situation where 12 million people have fled their houses by the war, by the Russian attacks."

Biden and Duda
President Joe Biden and Polish President Andrzej Duda participate in a roundtable on the humanitarian response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine on March 25. Evan Vucci/AP Photo

Germany Outlines Plan to Move Off of Russian Energy

Germany announced its plan to move off of Russian energy.

"In recent weeks, we have made intensive efforts together with all relevant players to import fewer fossil fuels from Russia and to put supply on a broader footing," German Economic Minister Robert Habeck told reporters Friday. "The first important milestones have been reached in order to free ourselves from the grip of Russian imports."

Germany aims to decrease Russian oil imports from 35 to 25 percent in the coming weeks, Habeck said.

He added that imports of Russian coal will be halved from about 50 percent to 25 percent.

Habeck said Germany expects to be independent from Russian coal by the fall, almost independent from Russian oil by the end of 2022 and almost entirely off of Russian gas by mid-2024.

He added that this shift will require changes to German infrastructure. Habeck said the German government has secured the use of three "floating" terminal capable of regasifying LNG brought in by ship and is working to build permanent LNG terminals for long-term imports.

European Dependence on Russian Gas
Graph depicting which European countries are dependent on Russian gas. Statista

Despite Western Sanctions, Russia Says it is Not Isolated

The Russian Foreign Minister said the West has declared "total war" on Russia.

During a meeting Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said "a real hybrid war, total war was declared on us."

He said the term "total war" was used by Nazi Germany and is now used by "many European politicians when they say what they want to do to the Russian Federation."

Lavrov said the goal of the West is to "destroy, break, annihilate, strange the Russian economy, and Russia on the whole."

Despite the several series of sanctions Western nations have issued against Russia, Lavrov said the Russian Federation is not isolated.

"We are not going to isolate ourselves," he said. "We have many friends, allies, partners in the world, a huge number of associations in which Russia is working with countries of all continents, and we will continue to do so."

He added that despite the "anti-Russia propaganda," the majority of those states will not join the Western sanctions against Russia.

No 'Consensus' on Russia's Four Demands, Ukraine Says

Ukraine calls peace talks with Russia "very difficult" as it pushes back against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's comments that negotiators are nearing a "consensus" on four of the six main points of disagreement.

"There is no consensus with Russia on the four points mentioned by the President of Turkey," Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Friday. "In particular, the Ukrainian language is and will be the only one state language in Ukraine."

Erdoğan claimed a near-consensus on issues of NATO, disarmament, collective security and using Russian as official language following the "extraordinary" NATO summit in Brussels Thursday.

"We will continue our talks with both Mr. Putin and Mr. Zelensky from now on as well," Erdoğan said in a press conference. "All our efforts aim to create an atmosphere of peace by bringing together the two leaders. As is known, there is almost a consensus regarding such issues as NATO, disarmament, collective security and using Russian as official language in the technical infrastructure works during the ongoing process in Belarus. However, there is the issue of Crimea and Donbass, which is impossible for Ukraine to consent to. I think Mr. Zelensky has displayed wise leadership with an understanding to take the issue to referendum by saying 'That is a decision that must be made by the entire Ukrainian people'."

Kuleba thanked Turkey for its political and humanitarian assistance as well as diplomatic efforts, but said Ukraine is not letting up on its demands.

"The negotiation process is very difficult," Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said. "The Ukrainian delegation has taken a strong position and does not relinquish its demands. We insist, first of all, on a ceasefire, security guarantees and territorial integrity of Ukraine."

"In general, the classification of key topics of negotiations into four or other points is incorrect. Many different issues are discussed at the same time in the subgroups of delegations."

US Citizens Kidnapped, LGBTI Killed in Russia, State Department Says

The U.S. State Department warns against travel to Russia's North Caucasus region, saying local gangs are kidnapping American citizens and citing reports of local authorities allegedly torturing and killing LGBTI persons in Chechnya.

"Local gangs have kidnapped U.S. citizens and other foreigners for ransom," the State Department writes in a travel advisory. "There have been credible reports of arrest, torture, and extrajudicial killing of LGBTI persons in Chechnya allegedly conducted by Chechen regional authorities."

The advisory says terrorist attacks and risk of civil unrest continue in the region, including: Mount Elbrus, Chechnya, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Dagestan, Stavropol, Karachayevo-Cherkessiya and Kabardino-Balkariya.

"Do not attempt to climb Mount Elbrus, as travelers must pass close to volatile and insecure areas of the North Caucasus region," the advisory says. "The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens traveling in the North Caucasus region, including Mount Elbrus, as U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling to the region."

The advisory also warns against travel to Crimea amid Russia's "extensive" military presence and probable further military action in the area.

"There are continuing abuses against foreigners and the local population by the occupation authorities in Crimea, particularly against those who are seen as challenging their authority on the peninsula," the State Department said.

In addition, the State Department is urging American citizens in Russia to immediately leave the country and warning against travel to Russia at this time.

"U.S. citizens should depart immediately via commercial options still available," the State Department said Friday. "If you plan to stay in Russia, understand the U.S. Embassy has severe limitations on its ability to assist U.S. citizens, and conditions, including transportation options, may change suddenly."

"The potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials, COVID-19 and related entry restrictions, terrorism, limited flights into and out of Russia and the arbitrary enforcement of local law."

For those who choose to remain in Russia, the State Department urges U.S. citizens to ensure access to money. It warns some credit and debit cards may be declined amid sanctions on Russian banks and cites reports of some cash shortage in the country.

A growing number of airlines are cancelling flights into and out of Russia and several countries still have airspace closed to Russian airlines.

"If you are in Russia and your U.S. passport expired on or after January 1, 2020, you may be able to use your expired passport to return directly to the United States until June 30, 2022."

Further safety and travel options are listed here.

Biden Says U.S. is the 'Organizing Principle for the Rest of the World'

President Biden spoke to the U.S. troops of the 82nd Airborne Division in Poland.

Biden thanked the group for their service, saying they did not have to be here, but they stepped up to serve their country.

"Me and the rest of the country owes you, and we owe you big," he said.

The president said the rest of the world looks the United States as an example.

"We don't only lead by the example of our power, but by the power of our example," he said.

The current conflict in Europe is about more than alleviating pain and suffering in Ukraine, Biden said, it is about winning the fight between democracy and autocracy.

He said what the U.S. and this next generation of armed forces do now is "consequential" because the world is "at an inflection point."

"The question is, who is going to prevail?" Biden said. "Are democracies going to prevail and the values we share? Or are autocracies going to prevail? That's really what's at stake."

Biden praised the strength and resolve of the Ukrainian people, noting they take a lot of inspiration from the U.S.

"We are organizing principle for the rest of the world," Biden told the soldiers.

He ended by again thanking the troops for their service, saying these troops are the "finest fighting force in the history of the world" and imploring them to not only "keep the faith" but "spread it."

Biden Addresses Troops
US President Joe Biden delivers a speech during a visit to service members from the 82nd Airborne Division, who are contributing alongside Polish Allies to deterrence on the Alliances Eastern Flank, in the city of Rzeszow in southeastern Poland, around 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the border with Ukraine, on March 25, 2022. - Biden is due to meet US soldiers stationed in the area and non-governmental organisations helping Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russia's invasion. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Nearly a Quarter of Ukraine Has Been Displaced

Nearly a quarter of Ukraine's population has been displaced within the first month of Russia's invasion, the United Nations estimates.

"In one month, over 10 million people have been forced to run for their lives, leaving their homes and belongings," U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said Friday. "Over 6.5 million are displaced inside Ukraine and 3.7 million people have been forced to flee the country. These numbers are rising daily."

The U.N. refugee agency continues efforts to reach the hardest-hit areas, like Mariupol and Kharkiv with lifesaving assistance.

"Some 13 million people are estimated to be stranded in affected areas or unable to leave due to heightened security risks, destruction of bridges and roads, as well as lack of resources or information on where to find safety and accommodation," UNHCR added.

Human trafficking is among a growing list of concerns for the millions of refugees who have fled Ukraine. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) dispersed information on human trafficking prevention in Moldova. IOM crews handed out 25,000 leaflets on prevention to refugees and authorities at the Ukraine-Moldova border Friday.

More than 3.7 people have fled Ukraine into neighboring countries in one month, the U.N. estimates. The vast majority of refugees have entered Poland, but the small country of Moldova has accepted the highest number of refugees per capita so far.

Where refugees are going, by country:

  • Poland: 2.2 million
  • Romania: 572,754
  • Moldova: 376,748
  • Hungary: 336,701
  • Russia: 271,254
  • Slovakia: 263,959
  • Belarus: 6,341

*Estimates above provided by UNHCR as of 3/24

Refugees in Romania
Refugees fleeing the war from neighboring Ukraine walk after crossing the border by ferry at the Isaccea-Orlivka border crossing, in Romania on March 25. Andreea Alexandru/AP Photo
Refugees arrive in Romania
A child refugee fleeing the war from neighbouring Ukraine with her family looks out the window of a bus after crossing the border by ferry at the Isaccea-Orlivka border crossing, in Romania on March 25. Andreea Alexandru/AP Photo

Biden Eats Pizza With U.S. Troops in Poland

President Biden ate pizza with U.S. troops of the 82nd Airborne Division in Poland Friday.

After arriving stepping off Air Force One in Rzeszów, Poland, Biden met with the troops sent to bolster NATO's eastern flanks and thanked them for their service.

Biden With 82nd Airborne Division
Biden Meets With Troops
Biden and Troops in Poland
Biden Talks With Troops in Poland

"Thank you very, very much for all you're doing," he said. "You're the finest fighting force in the history of the world. That's no hyperbole."

The president then sat among the troops to eat pizza.

"If you're going to eat, I'm going to sit down and have something to eat," Biden said, as one solider passed him a box of pizza.

Biden Eats Pizza With Troops
Biden With Troops
Biden Eats Pizza
Biden Selfie With Troops

U.K. Intel Shows Ukraine Retaking Towns East of Kyiv

Ukraine is re-occupying towns and defensive positions east of Kyiv, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said Friday.

"Ukrainian counter-attacks, and Russian Forces falling back on overextended supply lines, has allowed Ukraine to re-occupy towns and defensive positions up to 35 kilometers east of Kyiv," the ministry said.

"Ukrainian Forces are likely to continue to attempt to push Russian Forces back along the north-western axis from Kyiv towards Hostomel Airfield," according to the latest U.K. intelligence.

A map released Friday by the ministry shows various Russian-controlled areas, mainly bordering regions in the north, east and south. Several locations marking "strikes" since the invasion began are also depicted across Ukraine. British intelligence also suggests Russia's two possible axis of advance towards Kyiv, including one from the Sumy area.

"In the south of Ukraine, Russian forces are still attempting to circumvent Mykolaiv as they look to drive west towards Odesa with their progress being slowed by logistic issues and Ukrainian resistance," the ministry added.

UK Ministry of Defence map
UK Ministry of Defence

Zelensky Asks European Council 'Not to Hesitate'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a video address before the European Council Friday.

He began by recounting the Russian invasion over the last month, in including deadly bombings, the capture of nuclear power plants at Chornobyl and Zaporizhzhia and the missile firing at Holocaust Memorial at Babyn Yar.

He said Russian forces have destroyed hospitals, shelters, universities and more than 230 schools and 155 kindergartens, killing journalists and 128 children. He said Russian rocket artillery have burned down residential neighborhoods.

"Whole cities, villages. Just to ashes. Nothing remains," he said.

Despite the continued bombing, abductions and killing, Zelensky said Ukrainian forces continue to call for peace.

"Ukraine has united for peace and for the sake of peace it unites the world," he said, adding that Ukraine forces are continuing to deliver humanitarian aid and maintain "the functioning of all institutions of a normal state."

He said Ukraine is still defending "its own country" and mourning those who have been lost.

"Every morning, the whole state, the whole of Ukraine - children, grandparents - everyone honors the memory of all those who died for our state with a moment of silence," he said.

Ukrainian forces are also working to "record Russian war crimes," as Zelensky compared the "massacre" organized by Russian to the Nazis.

Zelensky thanked Europe for being "united around" Ukraine. While he appreciates the sanctions, Zelensky said "it was a little late."

He pleaded with EC members to "not be late" in accepting Ukraine into the European Union.

Zelensky then addresses several European nations directly, including France, Italy, Greece and Sweden and the Baltic nations.

He specifically called out Germany, Spain, Portugal and Hungary for either being "late" with their support or for not yet showing full support.

"Germany, a little later. Portugal, well, almost.... Spain, we'll find common ground. he said.

" have to decide for yourself who you are with," he added. "You have had tragic moments in your life. I visited your waterfront. I saw this memorial. Shoes on the Danube Bank. About mass killings."

Zelensky asked Hungarian leaders, and the rest of the Council, to look at what is happening in the heavily-shelled city of Mariupol, saying the citizens in the waterfront town are "in the same shoes" as people in previously war-torn cities in other parts of Europe.

"You will see how mass killings can happen again in today's world," he said. "And that's what Russia is doing today. The same shoes."

"In Mariupol, there are the same people. Adults and children. Grandparents. And there are thousands of them. And these thousands are gone," Zelensky said, imploring the Council to not hesitate to impose sanctions and stop trade with Russia.

"There is no time to hesitate. It's time to decide already," he added. "We believe in you. We need your support. We believe in your people."

Biden Arrives in Poland to Receive Briefing on Humanitarian Efforts

President Biden will soon receive a briefing on the humanitarian efforts for Ukraine.

Biden has arrived in Rzeszów, Poland. He will meet with the USAID administrator and other humanitarian experts and leaders who will give him an update on humanitarian efforts both into and around Ukraine, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters earlier.

He will also visit the American troops from the 82 Airborne Division deployed to Poland to reassure our NATO ally and deter further aggression on the eastern flank, Sullivan said.

Biden will meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda and Ukrainian refugees tomorrow.

Ukrainian Who Fled War Wins Jerusalem Marathon

A woman who fled Ukraine with her 11-year-old daughter, leaving her husband behind to fight against Russian forces, has won the Jerusalem Marathon.

Valentyna Veretska, 32, finished the 26.2-mile race with a time of 2:45:54 to take the women's title and as she crossed the finish line, she was draped in the Ukrainian and Israeli flags.

She had contacted the marathon's organizers to help her get a permit to come to Israel and said she hoped her participation would highlight her country's plight.

"I hope the war in Ukraine ends quickly," she said according to The Times of Israel, "What is happening in my country should not be happening."

U.S. And EU Announce Deal to Cut Reliance on Russian Energy

The U.S. and the EU will work towards becoming less dependent on Russian fossil fuels.

On Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a plan to increase by 15 billion cubic meters this year the supply of American liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe.

In a move aimed at hitting the Russian economy, a joint task force will also develop renewable energy projects.

Around two-fifths of Europe's imported natural gas comes from Russia and the flow of energy has not stopped since the start of the war in Ukraine.

Earlier in March, Biden announced the ban of Russian oil imports to the U.S.

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden, flanked by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in Brussels, on March 25, 2022. The leaders have announced a joint task force aimed at weaning Europe off Russian fossil fuels. Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Ukraine Says 300 People Were Killed in Mariupol Missile Attack

A Ukrainian official has said that around 300 people were killed in a Russian missile attack on Mariupol's drama theatre.

Petr Andryuschenko, an advisor to the deputy mayor of the city in the south of the country, told the BBC World Service that 600 people had been sheltering in the building before the attack on March 16.

Andryuschenko said that the death toll was drawn from details known about who was in the theatre before the missile strike and by speaking to survivors, according to the BBC.

Mariupol is a strategic city in the south of Ukraine which has been besieged by Russian forces.

The attack on the theater was among the most brazen of Russia's attacks on civilians in the war as the word "Children" was painted on the ground outside.

Ukrainians supporting Mariupol
Ukrainians take part in an action in support of the residents and defenders of Mariupol on March 19, 2022 in Lviv, Ukraine. A Russian attack on the city's theatre killed at least 300 people, according to local officials. Alexey Furman/Getty Images

Joe Biden Travels to Town Only 50 Miles from Ukraine

President Joe Biden has headed to the Polish town of Rzeszow, which is only 50 miles from the border with Ukraine.

Biden's visit on Friday is designed to show Washington's willingness to defend NATO allies and follows his presence at an alliance summit in Brussels on Thursday.

Biden is scheduled to meet with President Andrzej Duda and will be briefed on the humanitarian efforts to help Ukrainians and to meet with U.S. troops.

Poland is at the frontline of a growing refugee emergency with more than 2.2 million people fleeing there from Ukraine since the start of the war.

Biden's visit It comes as Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said that EU leaders had imposed sanctions "a little late", while cautious European and NATO leaders shied away from Kyiv's request for more advanced weapons systems.

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden departs from Brussels to Poland, Friday 25 March 2022 after attending an extraordinary NATO summit. He will jet into the eastern Polish town of Rzeszow less than 50 miles from the border with Ukraine. NICOLAS MAETERLINCK/Getty Images

Russian Struggles as Joe Biden Ramps Up Pressure

Good morning. Russian invasion forces continue to struggle to advance as Ukraine's forces have retaken towns on the outskirts of Kyiv, according to U.K. intelligence.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden concludes his visit to Europe by traveling to the Polish border to meet with Ukrainian refugees who have fled the conflict. This comes after the U.S. and Europe agreed a gas deal which will reduce European nations' dependence on Russian energy in what is a further economic blow to Vladimir Putin.

Joe Biden in Brussels
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

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