Ukraine News: Sherman Says Civilians in Mariupol Dying of Starvation

Live Updates

Today is Day 34 of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

  • Delegations from Ukraine and Russia met in Istanbul for peace talks Tuesday. Kyiv's priority is to negotiate a ceasefire. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba advised anyone in the negotiations "not to eat or drink anything."
  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told PBS Russia is not considering the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
  • Shelling ripped a hole through the regional government building of Mykolayiv early Tuesday, the region's governor said at least 12 people died.
  • U.S. and U.K. intelligence confirm Russia has stopped its advance on Kyiv. The Pentagon warns that Russian troops are likely repositioning, not withdrawing, as Russia claims.
  • The Red Cross warns that "time is running out for civilians in Mariupol" who are in desperate need of humanitarian aid. Russian forces continue blocking the city, Zelensky says nearly every building in Mariupol is destroyed.
Turkey talks
In this photo provided by Turkish Presidency, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, gives a speech to welcome the Russian, left, and Ukrainian delegations ahead of their talks, in Istanbul, Turkey on March 29. Turkish Presidency via AP

Live Updates For This Blog Have Ended.

Sherman Says Civilians in Mariupol Dying of Starvation

Food insecurity continues to be a growing concern in Ukraine and worldwide as Russia's invasion continues. Mariupol city officials say civilians remaining in the city are beginning to die of starvation, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said Tuesday.

"One mother told reporters she could feed her three daughters only a spoonful of honey a day as they hid from Russian bombs," Sherman said during Tuesday's United Nations Security Council meeting. "People have resorted to melting snow for drinking water."

"Now city officials say people are beginning to die, to die, of starvation," she said. "Think about that. Five weeks ago, Mariupol was at peace. It was in fact a bustling port city, a grain exporter that helped feed the world. Today its residents are dying."

Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said up to 100,000 people remain in Mariupol as Russian forces continue blocking the city. Those remaining have been left without food, water, heat and electricity. The concern extends beyond the besieged city as efforts continue to deliver humanitarian aid inside Ukraine.

"Now the World Food Programme warns that 45% of the people in Ukraine – living in one of the world's greatest breadbaskets – are concerned about having enough to eat," Sherman said.

Food security has become a growing global concern as Ukraine and Russia are both major agricultural producers. The Black Sea, a major global trade route for grain, continues to be compromised by Russian forces. Sherman says the Russian Navy is essentially blocking access to Ukraine's ports, "cutting off grain exports."

"30% of the world's wheat exports typically come from the Black Sea region," Sherman said. "As does 20% of the world's corn and 75% of sunflower oil. But Russia has bombed at least three civilian ships carrying goods from Black Sea ports to the rest of the world."

"They're reportedly preventing approximately 94 ships carrying food for the world market from reaching the Mediterranean," she continued. "It's no wonder many shippers are now hesitant to send vessels into the Black Sea, even to Russian ports, given the danger posed by Russian forces."

Food prices, already high amid the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to climb. Already-high prices for staple commodities including wheat have risen between 20-50% so far this year in the Middle East and Africa, Sherman said.

She called on the international community to meet the moment and bolster global food security amid Putin's war.

12 Dead in Mykolaiv Government Building Attack

Twelve people have died after a Russian rocket hit the regional government headquarters of Mykolaiv Tuesday, Governor Vitaliy Kim said.

Kim said 34 others were wounded from the attack, on Telegram. The State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SES) continued search and rescue operations well into Tuesday night.

The strike hit the nine-story building just before 9 a.m. local time Tuesday, SES said. The center of the building was destroyed, leaving a gaping hole.

"SES units rescued and released 18 people from the rubble, who were handed over to ambulance crews," the agency said on Telegram.

Firefighters at regional building
Firefighters enter the regional government headquarters of Mykolaiv, Ukraine, following a Russian attack, on March 29. Petros Giannakouris/AP Photo
Government building attack
The regional government headquarters of Mykolaiv, Ukraine, following a Russian attack on March 29. Petros Giannakouris/AP Photo

Video footage captured the moments before the office was struck. Kim posted the photo below on his Telegram, circling the missile. He said his office was hit in the attack, but most people inside the building at the time were "miraculously saved."

Missile launch
Vitaliy Kim Telegram

The attack is among the latest by Russian forces in southern Ukraine. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Russian forces did make progress in the south in the early days of the invasion, but now have "stalled out."

"What we saw was an attempt to take the town of Mykolaiv, which they have not been able to do," Kirby said during Tuesday's briefing.

More U.S. Troops May Be Needed in Europe, General Says

The U.S. may send more permanent or rotational forces to Europe, the U.S. European Command leader told the Senate Tuesday.

"We are witnessing a generational moment – a historic demonstration of unity and will – and an unprecedented effort by Allies to strengthen defense, while simultaneously helping those in need," General Tod Wolters said in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The U.S. military presence in Europe has increased from 60,000 personnel to 102,000 since Russia launched its invasion into Ukraine, Wolters said.

"I think what we need to do from a U.S. force perspective is look at what takes place in Europe following the completion of Ukraine-Russia scenario and examine the European contributions, and based off the breadth and depth of the European contributions, be prepared to adjust the U.S. contributions," he said.

"My suspicion is we're going to still need more," he added.

Wolters, who serves at NATO's supreme allies commander, said this decision will be based on the actions of European countries. NATO announced a last week that additional battlegroups will be set up in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria to bolster the alliance's eastern flank.

The General was also asked about a possible intelligence gap that led the U.S. to overestimate Russia's ability to advance on Ukraine.

Wolters said there "could be" a gap and said the U.S. will conduct a review to improve on any weak areas of intelligence gathering.

"As we've always done in the past, when this crisis is over with, we will accomplish a comprehensive after-action review in all domains and in all departments and find out where our weak areas were and make sure we can find ways to improve, and this could be one of those areas," he said.

Wolters also said he is "optimistic" about Ukraine's ability to stall Russian forces, adding that 70 to 75 percent of Russia's forces are "devoted" to the invasion into Ukraine.

General Wolters
General Tod Wolters, U.S. European Command and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee March 29, 2022 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony on the posture of United States European Command and United States Transportation Command during the hearing. Win McNamee/Getty Images

White House Warns Russia May Attack Other Areas of Ukraine

The White House reaffirmed the intelligence from the Pentagon about the movement of Russian forces in Ukraine.

"No one should be fooled by Russia's announcements," Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said during a press briefing Tuesday. "We should be clear-eyed about the reality of what's happening on the ground."

The White House believes any movement of Russia forces around Kyiv is a "redeployment, not a withdrawal."

Bedingfield also warned that Russia forces could be planning more attacks in other areas of Ukraine, adding that the White House has no reason to believe Russia has adjusted its strategy.

She reiterated that the U.S. is prepared to escalate sanctions against Russia and continue supporting Ukraine, including welcoming 100,000 refugees.

When asked about President Biden's comments that Russian President Vladimir Putin "cannot remain in power," Bedingfield said Biden does not regret his words.

"The words of the President were incredibly powerful," she said, adding that Biden "spoke personally about the moral outrage he felt," and outrage she said is shared by people around the world.

"It does not mean he's articulating a change in policy," she added.

She also said that Biden did not discuss these comments on Putin during his call with European allies this morning.

"They were incredibly aligned, however, and spoke to some of the key issues that we are focused on here including supply to supplying weapons to Ukraine, including increasing costs on Russia, continuing to increase sanctions, supporting stable energy markets, and of course, the state of diplomatic negotiations," she said.

Kirby Says Troops Likely Repositioning From Kyiv, Not Withdrawing

The Pentagon says a "small number" of Russian forces have moved away from Kyiv in the last day or so, but believe it's a repositioning, not a "real" withdrawal.

"Nobody should be fooling ourselves by the Kremlin's now-recent claim that it will suddenly just reduce military attacks near Kyiv or any reports that it's going to withdraw all its forces," Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby cautioned during a briefing Tuesday.

Kirby said it appears troops are repositioning northward, but said it's too early to determine their ultimate destination or intent. He added it's likely they will be used elsewhere in Ukraine as Russia is "re-prioritizing the Donbas region" of Eastern Ukraine.

"We all should be prepared to watch for a major offensive against other areas of Ukraine," he said.

He did not provide specific numbers, but said the forces that are moving away from the capital are not a majority of the tactical groups designated to attack Kyiv.

Kirby stopped short of calling Russia's military efforts a "failure," but said forces have failed to take and hold any major population centers, including their key objective of Kyiv. He added that Ukraine has retaken some ground to the west and east of Kyiv.

"They [Russia] failed to take Kyiv," he said. They wanted Kyiv. They didn't get it."

The Pentagon reiterated that Russia's overall intent in its invasion was to overthrow the Ukrainian government, occupy or annex large portions of Ukraine, replace Ukrainian regional and national authorities and create so-called "People's Republics."

NATO Invites Ukraine to April Summit

Ukraine has been invited to the next NATO summit in April.

NATO Foreign Ministers will meet on April 6 and 7 in Brussels.

Several other foreign ministers of non-NATO countries have been invited to participate in the summit, including leaders from Australia, Finland, Georgia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and Sweden.

WATCH: Pentagon Press Briefing

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby will brief the media at the Pentagon soon.

The press conference is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. EST. Watch live on the Department of Defense website.

Biden Monitoring Russian Action Amid Claims of Drawback

When asked about Russia's claims that it is scaling back its assault in Ukraine, President Biden said Russia's actions will speak louder than its words.

"We'll see. I don't read anything into it until I see what their actions are," Biden told reporters during a joint news conference with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. "We'll see if they follow through what they're suggesting" as negotiations between Ukraine and Russia continue.

Biden added that there is a consensus among the U.S. and its European allies that they will "just see what they [Russia] have to offer.

"We'll find out what they do," he said. "In the meantime, we're gonna continue to keep strong the sanctions. We're gonna continue to provide the Ukrainian military with their capacity to defend themselves and we're gonna continue to keep a close eye on what's going on."

Biden Talks With European Allies, Singapore About Support for Ukraine

President Biden held a call with European allies Tuesday morning to discuss further assistance to Ukraine amid Russia's invasion.

Biden, along with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, "affirmed their determination to continue raising costs on Russia for its brutal attacks in Ukraine," according to a statement from the White House.

The leaders also reviewed continued security assistance and humanitarian aid to those both inside and outside of Ukraine.

The importance of ensuring stable energy markets amid sanctions against Russia was also discussed, the White House said.

Biden also met with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the White House Tuesday.

"The United States and Singapore emphasize our unwavering commitment to the principles of sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity, and condemn Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, which clearly violates international law, including the United Nations Charter," Biden and Lee said in a joint statement.

The leaders discussed support for Ukraine and condemned Russia's "unprovoked attack" that threatens the rules-based international order that ensures peace and prosperity around the world.

The two nations recognized the need to "preserve a world in which borders cannot be changed by force and state-to-state relations are guided by international law."

"The war in Ukraine has a negative impact on the Indo-Pacific region, which already faces many complex challenges," the statement said. "Taken together, the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century demand deeper cooperation between us."

The leaders also talked about sanctions against Russia and their concern for the worsening humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, calling for safe and unfettered passage of civilians, unhindered access to humanitarian assistance for those in need in Ukraine the protection civilians and respect human rights.

Refugee Numbers Surpass 3.9 Million

The need to deliver humanitarian aid to more than 3.9 million refugees who have fled Ukraine into neighboring countries grows by the day.

Refugee numbers provided by UNHCR are just shy of the 4 million mark the U.N. refugee agency previously warned of.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says thousands of refugees continue arriving in Medyka, Poland on a daily basis. More than 2.3 million Ukrainians have entered that country alone; however, data suggests that fewer refugees have crossed over the past few days.

"People who were determined to leave when war breaks out fled in the first days," Polish border guard spokesperson Anna Michalska told the Associated Press.

Medkya crossing
A small girl looks at her stuffed bear toy as she walks with others fleeing the war from neighbouring Ukraine at the border crossing in Medyka, southeastern Poland, on March 29. Sergei Grits
Medkya crossing
Two young girls look out from in back of a barrier as they wait in a queue after fleeing the war from neighbouring Ukraine, at the border crossing in Medyka, southeastern Poland on March 29. Sergei Grits/AP Photo

Where refugees are going, by country:

  • Poland: 2.3 million
  • Romania: 602,461
  • Moldova: 385,222
  • Hungary: 359,197
  • Slovakia: 278,238
  • Russia: 271,254
  • Belarus: 9,875

*Estimates above provided by UNHCR as of 3/28

Efforts are also ongoing to provide aid to another 6.5 million people who have been displaced within Ukraine, according to U.N. figures.

Aid from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was delivered to Ukrainians living in temporary accommodation centers in Lviv. Hundreds of blankets, kitchen sets and water containers were transported Tuesday. The city in western Ukraine was regarded as a safe haven for those internally displaced until a Russian attack over the weekend.

Zelensky Calls for Stronger Sanctions, Forms Oversight Group

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's Office is establishing a group of experts to oversee international sanctions imposed on Russia, as Zelensky calls for stronger actions.

Experts will monitor and analyze compliance of sanctions and ensure no loopholes. Zelensky's office is forming the group this week.

"It is important for us that the sanctions packages are effective and substantial enough, given what is already being done against Ukraine by the Russian Federation," Zelensky said. "If the sanctions packages are weak or do not work enough, if they can be circumvented, it creates a dangerous illusion for the Russian leadership that they can continue to afford what they are doing now."

Zelensky also called on stronger sanctions against Russia during his address Tuesday to Danish Parliament.

"That is why we appeal to you and to the entire democratic community of the world: sanctions against Russia must be strengthened!" he said.

"Constantly. We need to give up Russian oil, we need to block trade with the Russian Federation, we need to close ports for Russian ships. And this must be the solidarity policy of the European Union, of all the member states. Everyone."

Belgium Expels 21 Russian Diplomats for 'Espionage Activities'

Several European countries have expelled Russian diplomats Tuesday.

Belgium has expelled 21 Russian diplomats for "involvement in espionage and influence activities."

Sophie Willes, the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, said in a tweet that these diplomats "pose a threat to national security."

Ireland is expelling four Russian diplomats because "their activities have not been in accordance with international standards of diplomatic behaviour," the Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said in a statement.

The Russian Embassy in Ireland called this an "arbitrary, groundless decision" that will further deteriorate Russian-Irish relations that were "already damaged by the Irish participation in illegitimate EU sanctions against Russia."

The Dutch government said it is expelling 17 Russian intelligence officers as a matter of national security.

"These intelligence officers are a threat to the security of [the Netherlands]," Wopke Hoekstra, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, said in a tweet.

Czech Republic also said it is expelling one members of the diplomatic staff at the Russian Embassy in Prague.

"Together with our allies, we are reducing the Russian intelligence presence in the EU," the Czech foreign ministry said in a statement.

Red Cross Warns 'Time Is Running Out' in Mariupol

The Red Cross warns that tens of thousands of people remaining in the besieged city of Mariupol desperately need humanitarian assistance as volunteers call for security guarantees to deliver aid and get civilians out.

"Time is running out for civilians in Mariupol and in other frontline areas who have now gone for weeks with no humanitarian assistance," the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Tuesday.

"The militaries on the ground need to give civilians and humanitarian organizations security guarantees and practical agreements to allow aid in and for those who wish to evacuate safely."

Aid for Mariupol
Volunteers prepare supplies for civilians stuck in Mariupol in Zaporizhzhya, on March 29. EMRE CAYLAK/AFP via Getty Images
Volunteers head to Mariupol
A convoy of volunteers carrying supplies for civilians stuck in Mariupol leaves Zaporizhzhya, on March 29. EMRE CAYLAK/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said up to 100,000 people remain in Mariupol, as of Tuesday. Civilian evacuations have been compromised or halted as Russian forces has blocked the city for more than three weeks.

"While there was snow, people melted it to get water," Zelensky said in an address to Danish Parliament Monday. "All this time we can't deliver humanitarian goods to the city, they are simply blocked. Water, food, medicine. Everything is blocked by the Russian military."

Russian forces have bombarded Mariupol, Zelensky said nearly every building in the city has been destroyed.

"More than 90 percent of all buildings in Mariupol were completely destroyed by shelling and bombs," he said. "But Russian aircraft strike without stopping. They purposefully blow up even shelters, although they know for sure that peaceful people are hiding there, women, children, old people."

Ukraine Reports Latest Russian Losses

Ukraine officials claim they have destroyed over 1700 Russian armed vehicles in the latest report of losses of the Russian armed forces.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims about 17,200 Russian have been killed, and 127 aircrafts, 597 tanks, seven boats and 1,178 other vehicles have been destroyed.

Putin, Zelensky Meeting on Peace Talks 'Agenda'

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said peace talks Tuesday in Istanbul saw "meaningful" progress, after weeks of no results.

Cavusoglu said Ukraine and Russia reached "a consensus and common understanding" on some issues, according to the Associated Press.

Tuesday marked the first face-to-face talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators in two weeks. Previous in-person talks in Belarus and later by video resulted in no progress.

What's next?

Cavusoglu said Tuesday's talks would be followed by a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, AP adds. The date and location for that meeting has not yet been released.

Also "on the agenda" -- a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Zelensky said Monday that a personal meeting between he and Putin would be needed, and any agreements made must be guaranteed on paper and voted upon in Ukraine.

Turkey talks
In this photo provided by Turkish Presidency, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, gives a speech to welcome the Russian, left, and Ukrainian delegations ahead of their talks, in Istanbul, Turkey on March 29. Turkish Presidency via AP

Western Intelligence Confirms Russia Stopped Kyiv Advance

The U.K. Ministry of Defense shared an updated map of Russian forces in Ukraine.

Counter attacks from Ukrainian forces to the northwest of Kyiv have had some success in pushing back Russian troops, according to British intelligence.

Russian forces have continued their offense on Mariupol. Despite the heavy shelling, the U.K. Ministry of Defense confirms the city center remains under Ukrainian control. Elsewhere, Russian forces have maintained blocking position while attempting to reorganize and reset their forces.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby confirmed Tuesday that Russian forces has stopped advancing on Kyiv and were pushed back east into defense position.

"They were trying to encircle it and couldn't do it," he told CNN's John Berman.

Joe Biden Holds Leaders' Talks After Progress In Istanbul

President Joe Biden is holding telephone discussions over the Ukraine crisis with leaders from France, Germany, Italy and the U.K. after talks in Istanbul between Kyiv and Moscow yielded some progress.

The phone conversation follows Biden's meeting with NATO and European leaders in Brussels and Poland last week.

On Tuesday, Turkish foreign minister said that the first face-to-face meeting between the Kyiv and Moscow officials in more than two weeks had seen the most significant progress since discussions between the two sides began.

Russia's deputy defence minister Alexander Fomin said Moscow would cut back its military activity outside Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv, while Ukrainian negotiators have reportedly said they would agree to a neutral status for Kyiv.

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden at the White House on March 28, 2022 in Washington, DC. He held phone talks with world leaders on March 29, 2022 after negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow aimed at ending the Ukraine war. Anna Moneymaker/Getty

Italy Seizes $667K Bulletproof Mercedes From Oligarch

Alisher Usmanov is the latest Russian oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin to have an expensive item seized due to sanctions imposed since the start of the Ukraine war.

Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported that authorities in Italy in Porto Cervo on the Costa Smeralda in Sardinia seized a 2018-registered black Mercedes Maybach S650 Guard. Worth €600,000 [$667,000]. It was built to withstand bullets but could not withstand the arm of the law.

Usmanov is said to own several properties on the island although it is not clear whether they have been seized too.

Earlier in the month, authorities in Italy seized a yacht owned by Alexei Mordashov, while another vessel, owned by Gennady Timchenko, a billionaire with close ties to Putin, was also impounded, in the Ligurian port of Imperia.

A number of Russia's business elite have had their assets seized or frozen as part of sanctions aimed at punishing those close to Putin.

Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov
Russian billionaire and businessman Alisher Usmanov on March 27, 2019 in Moscow, Russia. Italian media have reported that his car has been seized. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Ukraine Said It Would Agree to Neutrality in Return for Ceasefire

Ukrainian negotiators have said Kyiv would agree to one of Russia's demands to end hostilities by adopting a neutral status, meaning that it would not join any military alliances such as NATO.

Poland, Israel, Turkey and Canada could be among the potential security guarantors for Ukraine in lieu of any prospective membership of the alliance.

Ukrainian presidential advisor Mikhailo Podolyak tweeted that Kyiv would seek security guarantees via an "enhanced analogue of Article 5 of NATO" which states that an attack on one member is an attack on all.

The proposals also on the table following the negotiations in Istanbul include a 15-year consultation period on the status of annexed Crimea, which Kyiv said would come into force only in the event of a complete ceasefire.

Ukraine's negotiators said there was enough being proposed to warrant a meeting between Ukrainian and Russian presidents Volodymyr Zelensky and Vladimir Putin.

Kyiv defences
Volunteers assemble sand bags to cover and protect the Monument to Princess Olga, St. Andrew the Apostle and the educators Cyril and Methodius in Kyiv on March 29, 2022. Ukraine has said it is prepared to adopt neutral status in return for an end to hostilities. SERGEI SUPINSKY/Getty Images

More on Russia's Stated Fallback From Kyiv

Moscow's claim it is beginning to cut back military activity in the direction of Kyiv and Chernihiv comes amid apparent progress achieved in the latest round of negotiations with Ukraine on Tuesday.

Russia's deputy defence minister Alexander Fomin and Vladimir Medinsky, the head of the Russian delegation in Turkey for the peace talks, read out a statement which appears to indicate a possible winding down of Russia's military efforts in key territories.

He said the "two-step move" would help "increase mutual trust for future negotiations to sign a peace deal with Ukraine."

The "second step" Moscow signaled on the back of the negotiations is a possible meeting between Ukrainian and Russia presidents, Volodymyr Zelensky and Vladimir Putin. This could take place "simultaneously with initialing the peace agreement."

Russia has been suffering heavy losses amid Ukraine's counter attacks in Kyiv and other major towns north of the capitol.

Ukraine recently announced it had successfully reclaimed several strategic points in the North, including Trostianets and Irpin.

While the announcement could signal positive shifts towards de-escalation, reports of Russian shelling, including an explosion in Chernihiv earlier on Tuesday, continued to emerge through the course of the latest round of talks.

Chernihiv
A man rides his bicycle in front of residential buildings damaged in Chernihiv on March 4, 2022. Russia has said it would scale back its operation in the northern Ukrainian city DIMITAR DILKOFF/Getty Images

Russia To 'Radically' Scale Back Campaign In Kyiv, Chernihiv

Russia's deputy defence minister Alexander Fomin has said that Russia will "radically" cut back its military activity outside Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv, according to the Tass news agency.

The decision was announced following talks between delegations from Kyiv and Moscow in Istanbul on Tuesday.

Fomin said the decision was to "increase mutual trust" amid negotiations on Ukraine's neutrality and non nuclear status as well as security guarantees that Russia wants.

"The decision has been taken to radically, at times, reduce military activity in the Kyiv and Chernihiv directions," he said.

Russia's campaign seems to have stalled north of the Ukrainian capital from where Kyiv's forces have managed to put back Moscow's forces, according to Britain's defence ministry.

However, Russia's strike capability meant that Kyiv was still under threat. Meanwhile, Chernihiv remained under Russian fire on Tuesday, according to Ukrainian officials, the BBC reported.

school building in Chernihiv
This photograph taken on March 4, 2022 shows a school building in Chernihiv. Russia has said it would scale back its campaign in the city as well as north of Kyiv. DIMITAR DILKOFF/Getty Images

Mariupol Evacuations Are Priority, Red Cross Says

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said delegations from Kyiv and Moscow meeting in Istanbul must agree on how to safely allow the evacuation civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol and other frontline places.

Robert Mardini, the aid agency's director-general, also said there was a "disinformation campaign" against the ICRC on social media.

He told Reuters that "the very intensity of the fighting is putting civilians in harm's way," and that in places like Mariupol, which has been under bombardment from Russian forces, "civilians are not able to leave in safe conditions."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the Danish parliament by video link on Tuesday that the Russian siege of the port city was a "crime against humanity".

Mariupol evacuees
People lookout the window of a bus after a large convoy of cars and buses arrived at an evacuation point, carrying hundreds of people evacuated from Mariupol and Melitopol on March 25, 2022 in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. The International Red Cross has warned that time is running for people to be evacuated from Mariupol which is under siege from Russian forces. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Dozens of Patents Filed for Western Brands That Left Russia

More than 50 applications have been filed to Russia's intellectual property office Rospatent, to claim some of the biggest international brands, after authorities effectively gave an all-clear for "patent theft" following the withdrawal of western companies.

According to a report by RBC, a Russian economics and finance-focused publication, Russian entrepreneurs are seeking to take control over such brands as Mastercard, American Express, Audi, Levi's and Christian Dior.

Other patent applications feature brands eerily similar to existing companies, including "IDEA" and "Nezpresso."

The publication shared copies of a number of such applications Rospatent is considering.

Newsweek previously reported on one such case involving a McDonald's restaurant that appeared to be rebranded as "Uncle Vanya", with the logo turned sideways.

Dozens of European, Asian and American companies pulled out of Russia in the weeks following its invasion of Ukraine, with many leaving behind factories, production facilities and other assets in the country.

Moscow signaled that it was prepared to hand control of those assets to local businesses if the brands did not return.

Responding to the alleged plans of asset seizure by Russia, the Biden administration affirmed that any attempt to seize assets from American companies would result in "more economic pain" for Russia.

McDonald's
A woman walks past to closed McDonald's restaurant at a shopping mall, March 15, 2022, in Moscow, Russia. McDonald's closed all its restaurants after the start of the Ukraine war. Konstantin Zavrazhin/Getty Images

Three Killed in Mykolaiv Missile Strike

At least three people were killed and 22 were injured after a Russian rocket hit an administrative building in the southern port city of Mykolaiv, according to local authorities.

The local governor Vitaliy Kim shared an image which showed a large hole in the side of the building, saying according to Reuters, "they destroyed half of the building, got into my office.

The agency reported that emergency workers are still at the scene from where 18 people were pulled out of the rubble.

Mykolaiv is one of Ukraine's southern ports that Russian forces have been attacking as it seeks to establish a land corridor from Russia to Crimea, which Moscow seized in 2014.

The attack comes as delegations from Kyiv and Moscow were meeting in Istanbl on Tuesday aimed at ending the war.

Mykolaiv strike
A government building after being hit by Russian rockets in Mykolaiv pictured on March 29. 2022. Regional governor Vitaly Kim said that most people inside the building had not been injured but several civilians and soldiers were unaccounted for. BULENT KILIC/Getty Images