Ukraine-Russia war latest: Russia ‘bombs theatre where hundreds sheltering’ as captured Melitopol mayor released

Related video: Biden calls Putin to ‘criminal war’

Ukrainian officials in Mariupol say a theater where more than 1,000 of its residents were sheltering has been bombed by Russia.

Sergei Orlov, the encircled port city’s deputy mayor, told the BBC people had been taking cover at the location since the conflict began. He added the number of casualties was not yet known, but estimated that between 1,000 and 1,2000 people were there.

Russia’s defense ministry has consistently denied its troops are targeting civilians – including contesting responsibility for the theater air strike – but Ukrainians have rubbished this, particularly after the bombing of a maternity hospital, also in Mariupol, last week.

Elsewhere, Russian troops reportedly released Ivan Fedorov, mayor of the Ukrainian city of Melitopol, on Wednesday night. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, an adviser to president Volodymyr Zelensky, said on Telegram: “A special operation to release [Mr] Fedorov has just been successfully completed.”

He was allegedly kidnapped by soldiers at the end of last week, marched from his office in the center of Melitopol with a bag over his head.

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Watch: Biden calls Putin a ‘criminal war’

Biden calls Putin a ‘criminal war’

Sam Hancock16 March 2022 21:29

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Biden gets rare support from Republicans following Zelensky address

The Republican establishment in Washington is warming to the way US President Joe Biden has responded to Russia’s invasion, writes The Independent‘s John Bowden.

But some on the far right question whether to support Ukraine at all.

It comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the US Congress in a historic virtual speech earlier today.

You can read the full story below.

Laurie Churchman16 March 2022 21:13

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Zelensky: Dodgy deepfake removed from Facebook

Facebook has removed a dodgy deepfake video showing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky giving in to Russian demands.

The poorly edited footage has been widely ridiculed – but experts warned there could be more sophisticated from receptions to come.

It showed an ashen-faced fake-Zelensky speaking from the presidential lectern and urging his countrymen to down their weapons in the face of Russian invaders.

It is not clear if anyone was convinced. Internet users immediately flagged the discrepancies between the skin tone on Zelenskiy’s neck and face, the odd accent in the video, and the pixelation around his head.

A Facebook official later said the company had removed the footage from its platform.

Laurie Churchman16 March 2022 20:49

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Full story: Ukraine says Russia bombed theater where civilians were sheltering

Russian forces bombed a theater where hundreds of civilians were sheltering in the besieged city of Mariupol, according to local officials.

Some reports claimed up to 1,200 people were taking cover in the building, but the number of casualties has not yet been confirmed.

Mariupol has been under siege for almost a fortnight. Residents have described conditions in the southern port city as a “living hell”.

Laurie Churchman16 March 2022 20:29

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Russia condemns Biden’s ‘unacceptable’ accusation Putin’s a ‘criminal war’

A Kremlin spokesman has said that comments Joe Biden made calling the Russian president a war criminal were “unacceptable”, Reuters reports, citing Russia state-owned Tass news agency.

Dmitry Peskov’s comments came moments after the US president told a reporter at the White House that he believed Putin was a criminal war for attacks he has committed during the invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Peskov said the accusations were “unacceptable and unforgivable rhetoric”.

Here’s the moment Mr Biden walked away from the question, before coming back to answer it.

Sam Hancock16 March 2022 20:06

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Pictures of bombed Mariupol theater attack shared by official

An update on the Mariupol theater attack, which was bombed and was said to be the bomb shelter for hundreds of civilians.

In an emotional post, he wrote: “It is now impossible to determine the number of victims of these shelling [attacks]let alone the scale of the destruction.”

He added: “Every tear, every drop of Ukrainian blood will still respond to Russians on the court! We will never forget and will never forgive!”

Sam Hancock16 March 2022 19:46

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BREAKING: Biden calls Putin a ‘criminal war’ for Ukraine invasion

Joe Biden has told reporters in the East Room of the White House that he believes Russian president Vladimir Putin is a criminal war over his invasion of Ukraine.

The US president’s comments came on the same day Ukraine’s president addresses US Congress in an historic call.

follow Eric Garcia‘s report:

Sam Hancock16 March 2022 19:31

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Watch: Minister fails to answer questions about Ukrainian sponsorship scheme

Minister fails to answer questions about Ukrainian sponsorship scheme

Sam Hancock16 March 2022 19:26

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Russia ‘may have already started Third World War,’ says Zelensky

Following his historic address to the US Congress this morning, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview that Russia may have already started the Third World War.

While the outcome of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is yet to be decided, it’s entirely possible it has already begun a path to what could be a full-scale global war, Mr Zelensky told NBC Nightly News when asked whether he understood concerns from the West around enforcing a no-fly zone in case this further provoked tensions.

“Nobody knows whether it may have already started. And what is the possibility of this war if Ukraine will fall? It’s very hard to say,” the Ukrainian leader said, adding:

“And we’ve seen this 80 years ago, when the Second World War had … nobody would be able to predict when the full scale war would start.”

He also insisted that the outcome of Russia’s war on his country left the “whole of civilization at stake.”

Zelensky delivers a virtual address to Congress at the Capitol in Washington, DC, this morning

(Getty)

Sam Hancock16 March 2022 19:10

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Putin accuses western powers of seeking to destroy Russia

Vladimir Putin has accused the west of trying to “violate” and “dismember” Russia and sent a warning to those within his country labeled as traitors.

Addressing government ministers nearly three weeks into the war in Ukraine, the Russian president said what Moscow calls its “special military operation” was going to plan and that his country was ready to discuss neutral status for Ukraine, writes our deputy international editor Kieran Guilbert.

Mr Putin then lashed out once more at western powers, saying that they wanted to turn Russia into a “weak dependent country; violate its territorial integrity; to dismember Russia in a way that suits them”. He also lambasted citizens he referred to as “scum and traitors” and said the west wanted to use them as a “fifth column” to destroy Russia.

Sam Hancock16 March 2022 18:57

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