Ukraine Daily - Thursday, 17 March 2022

Ukrainian air defences destroy 10 Russian aircraft -- Russia shells public pool in Mariupol, children and pregnant women trapped -- Biden calls Putin “war criminal” -- Satellite imagery reveals word “children” painted outside Mariupol theater before bombing -- and more

Ukraine Daily

Thursday, March 17

Want to get the news faster? Follow our website:

Russia’s war against Ukraine

The war in Ukraine entered its fourth week on March 17 with no clear signs of a peaceful resolution. On Thursday morning in the besieged port city of Mariupol, the fate of hundreds of people inside a local theatre was unclear after Russia had bombed it on March 16. Satellite imagery reveals word “children” painted outside Mariupol theater before bombing. According to satellite imagery taken on March 14 by the private U.S. company Maxar Technologies, “children” had been written in Russian outside the theatre where hundreds of civilians had taken shelter.

Human Rights Watch: At least 500 civilians were taking shelter in bombed Mariupol theater. Belkis Wille, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said on March 16 that “this raises serious concerns about what the intended target was in a city where civilians have already been under siege for days.” The number of casualties is yet unknown.

Melitopol Mayor was exchanged for 9 Russian conscripts. The soldiers were 18-19 years old, according to Dasha Zarivna, a spokesperson for the presidential chief of staff. Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov was abducted and held captive by the Russian forces for five days.

Switchblade drones included in $800 million US weapons package. Michael McCaul, Republican U.S. House member, and head of Foreign Affairs Committee, told Politico the aid package will come with 100 switchblade drones. These drones use a loitering munition to strike targets by crashing into them. Each unit costs $6,000.

Slovakia may provide Ukraine with S-300 anti-aircraft systems. According to CNN, Slovakia has preliminarily agreed to provide Ukraine with the Soviet S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems if they are replaced with other systems immediately. American-made Patriot systems are likely to replace them but the transfer isn’t yet assured, and integrating new systems into a country’s military architecture takes time, CNN reports.

UK confirms provision of anti-air missile systems to Ukraine. British Defense Minister Ben Wallace informed the BBC that British Starstreak short-range man-portable air-defense systems are being supplied to Ukraine. The decision to provide them was made last week but it’s not clear whether they have yet been delivered.

Russia shells public pool in Mariupol, children and pregnant women strapped under rubble. The attack hit the “Neptune” swimming pool, where civilians were sheltering, according to Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko. The number of victims is unknown.

Parts of Russian missile hit residential building in Kyiv. According to Kyiv’s emergency services, the building in Kyiv’s southeastern Darnytskiy district was damaged early on March 17 after shrapnel hit the 16th floor and set it on fire. One person was killed and three injured as of 6:50 a.m. local time.

Russian forces capture Ukrainian paramedic. Volunteer paramedic Yulia Payevska, known as Tyra, has been captured by Russian forces along with her driver in Mariupol on March 16, according to another volunteer Nataly Voronkova. Payevska “has been saving the lives of civilians for eight years,” Voronkova wrote.

Nearly 6,500 people flee Mariupol on March 16. According to Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, 6,426 people arrived in Zaporizhzhia from Mariupol, including 2,039 children. However, the Russian forces again haven’t allowed a humanitarian aid convoy to enter besieged Mariupol.

Ukrainian air defenses destroy 10 Russian aircraft. On March 16, Ukraine’s Air Defenses destroyed 10 Russian aircraft, including three Su-30SM fighters, one SU-34 fighter-bomber, two helicopters, one unknown aircraft, and one UAV. The Ukrainian Ground Forces additionally shot down one fighter, one bomber, and a helicopter.

Reports of Russian forces in Sumy Oblast evicting civilians from homes, stealing food. Sumy governor Dmytro Zhyvytsky detailed the looting via Telegram on March 16. The area has sustained heavy fighting since the start of Russia’s all-out invasion on Feb. 24.

Medvedchuk’s yacht seized in Croatia. Co-leader of the pro-Kremlin Opposition Platform – For Life party Viktor Medvedchuk’s yacht, Royal Romance, was seized at the Port of Rijeka on March 16 due to sanctions imposed by the EU following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, a yacht owned by Russian oligarch Vladimir Strzhalkovsky is stuck in Norway because suppliers are refusing to refuel it.

Ukrainian army counterattacks in multiple areas. According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Russian forces were repulsed today, suffering significant losses in manpower and equipment. In some areas, Ukrainian forces were able to regroup and counterattack. Ukrainian forces also destroyed three enemy fighter jets and one helicopter as part of the counterattack.

Three Panama-flagged ships hit by Russian missiles since start of full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Panama’s Maritime Authority said on March 16 that of the three Panamanian ships, one sunk and two remain afloat, but with damages. There have been no casualties.

The human cost of Russia’s war

Prosecutor General: Russia’s war kills 103 Ukrainian children. Over 100 children have also been injured since Russia launched its all-out invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said on Facebook.

American intelligence: Russia’s military has lost over 7,000 soldiers. Unnamed American officials who spoke to the New York Times warned, however, that their numbers of Russian casualties are inexact. Pentagon officials also said that a high number of soldiers killed can destroy the will to continue fighting. The Ukrainian military estimates Russia’s losses at more than 12,000 including surrendering and captured soldiers.

Five people, including 3 children, killed after attack on Chernihiv dormitory. Rescuers from Ukraine’s State Emergency Service removed the bodies of two adults and three children from the rubble of a destroyed dormitory complex, which was targeted by Russian shelling on March 13.

Russian forces kill combat doctor with honorary title ‘mother heroine.’ Olga Semidyanova, 48, was a mother of 12 children, six of which were adopted. The doctor from Zaporizhzhia had served in the military since 2014 until she was killed on the border between Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts on March 3, one of her daughters said on social media.

Russia kills over 500 civilians in Kharkiv. “It’s only those that are confirmed,” the city’s Emergency Service said on Facebook. Emergency workers continue to scour the rubble of residential neighborhoods for more bodies, the agency noted.

International response

Biden calls Putin “war criminal.” In an answer to a journalist’s question, U.S. President Joe Biden said that he believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a war criminal. The U.S. administration had previously stopped short of labeling the atrocities committed in Ukraine as “war crimes.”

US sets up international task force to persecute Russian oligarchs, officials. U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and Attorney General Merrick Garland met with representatives of Italy, Japan, the U.K., and the European Commission to officially launch the Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) multilateral task force. Member states will cooperate to freeze Russian assets and enact financial sanctions against Russia.

Japan conducts F-35 joint exercises with US Air Force for first time. Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force said it conducted its first joint exercise with the U.S. Air Force involving their respective F-35A advanced stealth fighter jets as security concerns increase over Russia and China.

Moldova calls on Russian military to withdraw from Transnistria. Moldovan President Maia Sandu called for the removal of munitions and “complete and unconditional withdrawal of Russian forces” from the unrecognized breakaway Transnistria region during a UN General Assembly meeting on March 16.

Canada closes its air space to Belarus. Canada’s Ministry of Transport wrote on Twitter on March 16 that “all aircraft directly or indirectly owned, registered, chartered, leased, operated or controlled by a citizen of Belarus are prohibited from entering, exiting or overflying Canadian airspace.”

Twitter to temporarily label accounts of Ukrainian, Belarusian state media. Twitter’s VP of Global Public Policy Sinéad McSweeney announced the decision to expand government account labels on Twitter on March 16. Twitter earlier labeled all state-affiliated Russian media.

UN Security Council calls emergency meeting over Ukraine. The U.S., U.K., France, Albania, Norway, and Ireland requested an emergency security council meeting for March 17 to address the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine caused by Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Canada bans Russia Today from Canadian airwaves. Canada’s telecoms regulator announced on March 16 it was removing RT and RT France from its list of non-Canadian programming services. Earlier, the EU, the U.K. halted the distribution of RT.

US grants temporary “humanitarian parole” to Ukrainians crossing border from Mexico. As reported by Reuters on March 16, American border officials are permitting Ukrainians fleeing the war to remain in the U.S. until 2023, albeit on a case-by-case basis.

Want to get the news faster? Follow our website:

Today’s Ukraine Daily was brought to you by Asami Terajima, Thaisa Semenova, Dylan Carter, Teah Pelechaty, Sergiy Slipchenko, Olena Goncharova, Oleksiy Sorokin, Olga Rudenko, Toma Istomina, Lili Bivings and Brad LaFoy.

If you’re enjoying this newsletter, consider becoming our patron on Patreon or donating via GoFundMe. Start supporting independent journalism today.