(NEW YORK) — Russian forces are continuing their attempted push through Ukraine from multiple directions, while Ukrainians, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, are putting up “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.
The attack began Feb. 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation.” Heavy shelling and missile attacks, many on civilian buildings, continue in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, as well as other major cities like Kharkiv and Mariupol.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Mar 31, 6:21 am
At least 1,189 civilians killed, 1,901 injured in Ukraine: OHCHR
At least 1,189 civilians have been killed and 1,901 others have been injured in Ukraine since Russian forces invaded on Feb. 24, according to the latest figures from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
At least 108 children were among the dead and 142 among the injured, according to the OHCHR, which noted that the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine had reported at least 145 children were killed and 222 injured as of Wednesday.
“We know the actual figures are likely far higher,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a statement Wednesday. “In many places of intensive hostilities, such as Mariupol and Volnovakha, it is very challenging to obtain a comprehensive picture.”
According to a press release from the OHCHR, most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, as well as missile and airstrikes.
The agency has also received “credible allegations that Russian armed forces have used cluster munitions in populated areas at least 24 times,” according to Bachelet, who noted that her office is “also investigating allegations that Ukrainian armed forces have used such weapons.”
“The persistent use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas is of immense concern,” she said. “Homes and administrative buildings, hospitals and schools, water stations and electricity systems have not been spared.”
According to Bachelet, at least one Ukrainian facility for bedridden patients and others with disabilities, mostly elderly people, came under fire while its residents were inside, with dozens of alleged casualties.
“My colleagues in Ukraine are working to establish the fate and whereabouts of survivors,” she added.
The OHCHR noted in its press release that “the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration.” Those areas include Mariupol and Volnovakha in the Donetsk Oblast, Izium in the Kharkiv Oblast, Popasna in the Luhansk Oblast, and Trostianets in the Sumy Oblast, where there are allegations of numerous civilian casualties. Casualty numbers from those locations are being further corroborated and thus are not included in the latest statistics, according to the agency.
Mar 31, 4:32 am
Putin ‘massively misjudged’ invasion of Ukraine, UK spy chief says
Russian President Vladimir Putin has apparently “massively misjudged” his invasion of Ukraine, a U.K. intelligence chief said Thursday.
“It’s clear he misjudged the resistance of the Ukrainian people. He underestimated the strength of the coalition his actions would galvanize. He underplayed the economic consequences of the sanctions regime, and he overestimated the abilities of his military to secure a rapid victory,” Jeremy Fleming, head of the U.K. Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), said during a speech in Australia’s capital, Canberra.
“We’ve seen Russian soldiers, short of weapons and morale, refusing to carry out orders, sabotaging their own equipment and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft,” he added.
While Fleming agreed with a recent assessment by U.S. intelligence that Putin’s advisers were believed to be too afraid to tell the truth, he said the “extent of these misjudgments must be crystal clear to the regime.” He warned that Russia is searching for cyber targets and bringing in mercenaries to reinforce its stalled military campaign in Ukraine.
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