Russia-Ukraine live news: Zelenskyy calls for global protests – Al Jazeera English

  • The United States has determined that Russian forces committed war crimes in Ukraine.
  • More than 4,500 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities on Wednesday through humanitarian corridors, a Ukrainian official has said.
  • Russia says it will expel US diplomats in a tit-for-tat move, state media TASS has reported.
  • US President Joe Biden has landed in Brussels ahead of NATO, G7 and EU summits.
  • He is expected to unveil further sanctions against Russia while on European trip.
  • The first shipment from an $800m US arms package to Ukraine will be sent this week, a senior US defence official has said.
INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War map Who controls what Day 28
(Al Jazeera)

Here are the latest updates:

WHO records 64 attacks on health care facilities in Ukraine

The World Health Organization (WHO) says it has verified 64 incidents of attacks on Ukrainian health care facilities and workers since the Russian invasion began.

That amounts two to three attacks on health care per day, and has caused 15 deaths and 37 injuries, the WHO said.

“Attacks on health care are a violation of international humanitarian law, but a disturbingly common tactic of war – they destroy critical infrastructure, but worse, they destroy hope,” said Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO representative in Ukraine.

“They deprive already vulnerable people of care that is often the difference between life and death. Health care is not – and should never be – a target.”

1 month since the Russian Federation invasion of #Ukraine began.

Almost 10 million people have been forcibly displaced.

The disruption to health services & supplies is posing an extreme risk to people with serous conditions.

Attacks on health must stop.

This war must stop.

— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) March 23, 2022

US making contingency plans in case Russia uses chemical or nuclear weapons: NYT

The New York Times says that the White House has assembled a group of national security officials to draw up plans for how the US and its allies should respond if Putin orders the use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

Known as the Tiger Team, the group is also looking at responses if the Russian president reaches into NATO territory to attack convoys bringing weapons and aid to Ukraine, the Times reported, citing several officials involved in the process.

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy urges global protests against invasion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for global protests against the invasion, saying that Russia is trying to defeat the freedom of “all the people in the world” and show that only crude force matters.

“I ask you to stand against the war starting from March 24 – exactly one month after the Russian invasion, from this day and after then,” Zelenskyy said in a video message in English.

“Show your standing; come from your offices, your homes, your schools and universities. Come in the name of peace. Come with Ukrainian symbols to support Ukraine, to sport freedom, to support life. Come to your squares, your streets. Make yourselves visible and heard.”

Protesters rally in Bern, Switzerland in solidarity with Ukraine
Demonstrators rally for peace in front of the seat of the Swiss federal parliament, Bundeshaus, in Bern [File: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters]

Renault suspends operations at Moscow plant

The French automobile manufacturer Renault has said it suspended operations at its plant in Moscow while it assesses options on its majority stake in Avtovaz, Russia’s top carmaker.

The move came amid mounting pressure over the French company’s continued presence in Russia. Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, had called for a global boycott of Renault.

“Renault Group reminds that it already implements the necessary measures to comply with international sanctions,” the company said in a statement.

“Regarding its stake in AVTOVAZ, Renault Group is assessing the available options, taking into account the current environment, while acting responsibly towards its 45,000 employees in Russia,” the company added.

🔴 Renault industrial activities in Russia are suspended as of today. To learn more:

— Renault Group (@renaultgroup) March 23, 2022

Russia ‘does not care’ about humanitarian crisis in Ukraine: US envoy

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, United States ambassador to the United Nations, has slammed Russia for introducing a humanitarian resolution on Ukraine, which was defeated at the Security Council.

“Russia does not care about the deteriorating humanitarian conditions or the millions of lives and dreams the war has shattered,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “If they cared, they would stop fighting. Russia is the aggressor, the attacker, the invader, the sole party in Ukraine engaged in a campaign of brutality against the people of Ukraine.”

Serious questions on war crimes in Ukraine: Expert

James Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Foundation’s Justice Initiative, has said there seems to be ample evidence that at least raises serious questions of war crimes being committed in Ukraine.

“We are seeing more and more reports of indiscriminate attacks — and attacks that are deliberately targeting civilians,” Goldston told Al Jazeera from New York City.

He said while the International Criminal Court (ICC) is looking into the situation, the challenge lies in linking “responsibility to those highest authorities”.

“It is possible for the court to address the responsibility of any actor including and up to the head of state. The question is whether they can make the case,” Goldston said.

Russian-drafted proposal on aid to Ukraine fails at UN Security Council

A Russian-drafted UN Security Council proposal calling for humanitarian aid access in Ukraine has been defeated with two “yes” votes and 13 abstentions.

Only Russia and China voted in favour of the draft resolution. The United States and its Allies had voiced opposition to the measure because it does not assign blame for the crisis.

Biden thanks Belgium for supporting Russia sanctions: White House

United States President Joe Biden has thanked Belgium for its role in supporting sanctions against Russia, a White House official has said.

“Prime Minister Alexander de Croo of Belgium welcomed President Biden upon his arrival in Brussels,” the official said in a statement.

“President Biden thanked the Prime Minister for Belgium’s robust support in the EU for sanctions against Russia and for ongoing coordination in providing security assistance to Ukraine.”

First shipment from $800m US arms package to Ukraine to be sent this week

The first shipment from a new $800m United States arms package for Ukraine will be shipped in the next day or so, and will not take long to reach Ukraine, a senior US defence official has said.

The official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, did not specify which systems would be included in the first shipments to Ukraine but said priority would be given to the kinds of defensive weapons already being used by Ukrainian troops.

“We are already aggregating stocks in the United States and we’re getting ready to ship them over there,” the official said.

Biden lands in Brussels ahead of key meetings with European allies

Joe Biden has landed in Brussels ahead of NATO, G7 and European Union summits on Thursday.

The US president is expected to announce fresh sanctions on Russia while on his European tour, while shoring up support for Ukraine among Washington’s allies.

Before he departed for Belgium, Biden told reporters as he boarded the Marine One helicopter at the White House that he sees “a real threat” of Russian chemical warfare against Ukraine.

More than 4,550 people evacuated from Ukrainian cities on Wednesday

A total of 4,554 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Wednesday, a senior official has said.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office, said in an online post that 2,912 people had left the besieged city of Mariupol in private vehicles.

A day earlier, Tymoshenko said 8,057 people had escaped from cities across the country.

US says it determined Russian forces committed ‘war crimes’ in Ukraine

The United States has determined that Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, stressing that Washington’s assessment is based on information drawn from “public and intelligence sources”.

In a statement on Wednesday, Blinken said there have been numerous credible reports of “indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians” in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began.

“Today, I can announce that, based on information currently available, the US government assesses that members of Russia’s forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine,” he said.

Read more here.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Read all the updates from Wednesday, March 23 here.