Ukraine war: NATO 'to agree major increase' in eastern Europe forces, says Stoltenberg

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By Euronews
British troops and military equipment upon their arrival at Estonia's NATO Battle Group base in Tapa, Estonia, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022.
British troops and military equipment upon their arrival at Estonia's NATO Battle Group base in Tapa, Estonia, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Sergei Stepanov

The war in Ukraine rages on after the invasion was launched by Moscow on 24 February.

Fighting has forced more than ten million Ukrainians to flee their homes and more than 3.5 million to flee the country, with thousands of people killed or wounded and widespread damage in the wake of shelling and aerial bombardments.

See our summary of Wednesday's updates below and watch in the video player above.

03.23.2022
07:07

Latest updates:

  • NATO will deploy four new battlegroups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia to boost the alliance's eastern flank and deter Russia, Jens Stoltenberg says. Leaders will be asked to approve the move at an emergency summit.

  • US President Joe Biden has arrived in Brussels for three key key meetings on Thursday -- NATO, the G7 and the European Union -- in a bid to show Western unity and support for Ukraine. 

  • The Biden administration says it has formally determined that Russian troops have committed war crimes in Ukraine. The US president said earlier there was a "real threat" of Russia using chemical weapons.

  • A senior NATO military officer says the alliance estimates that Russia has suffered between 7,000 and 15,000 fatalities in Ukraine through the first month of the war.

  • The UN Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine told Euronews it was time to "open the gates of hell" in Mariupol. More than 100,000 people are believed to be trapped in the besiged city and humanitarian corridors have largely failed.

  • In a speech to the French parliament, Ukraine's President Zelenskyy called on French companies still operating in Russia to leave the stop backing Moscow's "war machine". Renault later said it was suspending industrial activity in the country immediately.

  • In a move to shore up Russia's ailing currency, Vladimir Putin has said Russia will begin collecting European payments for gas contracts in roubles and refuse payments in currencies of "unfriendly countries". 

  • China has said it is against excluding Russia from the next G20 summit. "No member has the right to expel another country," a diplomatic spokesman said.

03.23.2022
22:42

Russian official invokes nuclear arsenal as deterrence

A senior Russian official says the country’s nuclear arsenal should help deter the West from intervening in the war in Ukraine.

Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the state corporation Roscosmos, noted in televised remarks Wednesday that the Russian nuclear stockpiles include tactical nuclear weapons along with the nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Rogozin pointed at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s warning to other countries not to meddle with the Russian action in Ukraine. “The Russian Federation is capable of physically destroying any aggressor or any aggressor group within minutes at any distance,” Rogozin said.

Rogozin’s statement comes amid Western fears that Russia could use battlefield nuclear weapons against Ukraine amid the stalled Russian offensive.

U.S. officials have long warned that Russia’s military doctrine envisages an “escalate to deescalate” option of using battlefield nuclear weapons to force the enemy to back down in a situation when Russian forces face an imminent defeat in a conventional conflict. Moscow has denied having such designs.

(AP)

03.23.2022
21:59

Renault suspends industrial activities in Russia

The French car manufacturer has announced it is suspending activities at its factory in Moscow immediately, and will evaluate options concerning its participation in its Russian subsidiary AvtoVAZ.

Earlier, Ukraine's President Zelenskyy said French firms still operational in Russia were supporting the "war machine", while Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba followed up with a call for a global boycott of Renault.

03.23.2022
21:41

Biden arrives in Brussels for key summits

The US president landed in Brussels shortly after 2100 CET in a bid to demonstrate Western unity to Vladimir Putin and discuss further action in the face of Russia's aggression in Ukraine.

He will attend three key key meetings on Thursday -- held by NATO, the G7 and the EU -- before visiting Poland on Friday and Saturday.

The extraordinary coincidence of the three high-level encounters responds to the deteriorating situation inside Ukraine.

Biden's visit is meant to strengthen the US response on "three critical fronts," according to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan: to equip Ukraine militarily, impose more costs on Russia and reinforce the Western alliance.

"We are prepared and committed to this for as long as it takes," Sullivan said during a press briefing.

Biden himself has warned that Putin might be considering resorting to biological and chemical weapons to speed up the military campaign, a scenario that would open a dangerous and unpredictable chapter in the month-long war.

(with Euronews Brussels Bureau)

03.23.2022
19:53

Ukraine FM calls for global boycott of Renault over Russian presence

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's Foreign Minister, has tweeted to call for a global boycott of Renault which he says "refuses to pull out of Russia".

Earlier, President Zelenskyy cited companies such as Renault, Auchan and Leroy Merlin as he told the French parliament that the country's firms should stop supporting "Russia's war machine".

03.23.2022
19:47

Evidence shows Russian troops have committed war crimes in Ukraine — Blinken

The Biden administration on Wednesday made a formal determination that Russian troops have committed war crimes in Ukraine and said it would work with others to prosecute offenders.

The statement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken came as he travelled to Brussels with the US president for an emergency summit of NATO leaders.

The assessment was based on a “careful review” of public and intelligence sources since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine last month, he said.

America's top diplomat said the United States would share that information with allies, partners and international institutions tasked with investigating allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“We’ve seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities. Russia’s forces have destroyed apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping centers, and ambulances, leaving thousands of innocent civilians killed or wounded,” Blinken said.

He cited attacks on the civilian population in the besieged city of Mariupol and elsewhere.

(with AP)

03.23.2022
17:41

Veteran Putin aide quits Kremlin in hint of internal division

The Kremlin says President Vladimir Putin’s envoy for liaison with international organisations has resigned.

Reuters quotes two sources as saying that Anatoly Chubais quit over the war in Ukraine has left Russia with no intention to return. He hung up the phone when contacted by the news agency. 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov wouldn’t say if Chubais had left the country, saying it was his private business.

Chubais, the architect of Russia’s post-Soviet privatisation campaign, has served at a variety of top official jobs during the past three decades.

His latest job envisaged contacts with international organisations to pursue the goals of sustainable development — a broad portfolio that allowed him to maintain contacts with top foreign officials and organisations.

After Russia began its last month, Chubais posted a photo of Boris Nemtsov, a leading Russian opposition figure who was shot dead near the Kremlin in 2015. Even without a caption, it was seen as a powerful statement from a Moscow insider.

Chubais’ resignation appears to reflect growing divisions among top Russian officials over the military operation in Ukraine.

(AP and Reuters)

03.23.2022
17:25

As many as 15,000 Russians killed in fighting — NATO

A senior NATO military officer says the alliance estimates that Russia has suffered between 30,000 and 40,000 battlefield casualties in Ukraine through the first month of the war, including between 7,000 and 15,000 killed. It is NATO’s first public estimate of Russian casualties since the war started Feb. 24.

The military officer, speaking on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by NATO, said the estimate of the number killed is based on a combination of information from the Ukrainian government, indications from Russia, and open-source information.

The U.S. government has largely declined to provide public estimates of Russian or Ukrainian casualties, saying available information is of questionable reliability.

The NATO military officer, in a briefing from the alliance’s military headquarters in Belgium on Wednesday, said the estimate of 30,000 to 40,000 Russian casualties is derived from what he called a standard calculation that in war an army suffers three wounded soldiers for every soldier killed. The casualties include killed in action and wounded in action, as well as those taken prisoner or missing in action, the officer said. (AP)

03.23.2022
17:19

'Open the gates of hell' for Mariupol civilians, UN coordinator tells Euronews

"The gates of hell have to open so people can come out," said Amin Awad, the United Nations Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine, noting that Russia has not yet responded to the UN appeals for humanitarian corridors.

Mariupol continues to be encircled by the Russian army. More than 100,000 residents are believed to be trapped in the port city, a strategic target for Moscow, with little or no food, water, electricity or heating.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE:

Open the gates of hell for civilians in Mariupol, says UN's Amin Awad

euronews "It's very hellish over there, and I think the gates of hell have to open so people can come out." #EuropeNews

03.23.2022
15:38

French companies must stop backing 'Russia's war machine' — Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday urged French companies established in Russia to stop supporting the Russian "war machine" and to leave the country, citing Renault, Auchan and Leroy Merlin.

"French companies must leave the Russian market. Renault, Auchan, Leroy Merlin and others, they must stop being sponsors of Russia's war machine", he declared in a speech broadcast by videoconference before French deputies and senators.

Zelenskyy compared the Russian destruction in his country to the Battle of Verdun in World War One.

"Mariupol and other cities remind us of Verdun," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said by video link.

'The Russian army do not distinguish between the objects they target, they destroy everything: residential districts, hospitals, schools, universities, everything," he said. "They've brought terror to Ukrainian territory." 

READ MORE HERE:

Watch: Stop backing Russia's war machine, Zelenskyy tells French firms

"French companies must leave the Russian market. Renault, Auchan, Leroy Merlin and others, they must stop being sponsors of Russia's war machine," the Ukrainian president told French lawmakers.

Additional sources • AP, AFP