Latest on Ukraine: March 18, 2022

Live Updates: Germany Mulls Imposing Russian Oil Embargo

By The Associated Press, undefined

[EDITOR'S NOTE: There is a photo gallery located at the end of this post that contains images that readers might find disturbing, including images that show injuries and death.  The reader is advised and cautioned to use discretion as the content may not be suitable for all.]

SOFIA, Bulgaria — Bulgaria says it has declared 10 Russian diplomats “persona non grata” and demanded their expulsion.

In a statement on Friday, Bulgaria’s foreign ministry said that Bulgaria's prime minister Kiril Petkov had been consulted on the expulsions.

An official note was handed to Russia’s ambassador in the capital Sofia requiring that the diplomats leave Bulgaria within 72 hours over their alleged involvement in “activities incompatible with their diplomatic status,” the statement said.

European Union and NATO member Bulgaria, which was one of Moscow’s closest allies in the Soviet bloc, has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It has expelled 10 other Russian diplomats suspected of espionage since October 2019.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:

— Rescuers search for survivors at Mariupol theater hit by Russian airstrike; casualties unclear

— World leaders called anew for an investigation of Russia’s repeat attacks on civilian targets

— Russian media reported that the detention of WNBA star Brittney Griner was extended until May 19

— An American man was among many killed in a Russian attack on the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv

— Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS TODAY:

WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says that Poland will formally submit a proposal for a peacekeeping and humanitarian mission on Ukraine’s territory at next week’s extraordinary NATO summit.

Morawiecki stressed Friday that Poland had already made the proposal during a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels on Wednesday. Denmark has expressed readiness to join such a mission.

The idea for a NATO or wider international peacekeeping mission under military protection was launched by Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski during a visit to Kyiv on Tuesday by the leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia.

Kaczynski, who is Poland’s ruling party leader and the country’s key politician, stressed in Kyiv that the mission would be in line with international law and would not constitute any form of hostile action.

NATO leaders have been opposed to the alliance’s presence in Ukraine over concerns it could escalate the conflict.

Danish Defense Minister Morten Bødskov said Wednesday that “if it comes to that, Denmark is ready to contribute. We have decades of experience in this field of work, and I definitely think that Denmark can contribute to this and make a difference.”

President Joe Biden is to attend the NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday that will focus on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and European security.

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VILNIUS, Lithuania — Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said Friday that NATO’s entire defense of its eastern flank “must be rewritten strategically,” and that few had thought Russia "had aggressive intentions at the level we see now.”

Landsbergis said that NATO leader Jens Stoltenberg had already announced a review of the military alliance's security strategy in the east in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Lithuania, a Baltic nation which is a member of NATO, shares land borders with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, and with Belarus, a Moscow ally.

Landsbergis said that Russia "has proven that it is a country willing to cross all borders.” He added that before the invasion, “many of us were sure that deterrence was enough.”

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BERLIN — German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has indicated that her country should consider imposing an oil embargo on Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine.

In a security policy speech Friday, she said it was important to take a stance and not remain silent due to economic or energy dependency.

"Even if it's difficult, including on questions now with regard to oil or other embargoes," said Baerbock.

Germany receives about a third of its oil from Russia and half of its coal and natural gas.

Baerbock also warned against China's growing influence over energy infrastructure in Africa and Asia, saying Germany will soon propose a new strategy on dealing with Beijing.
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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
— Rescuers search for survivors at Mariupol theater hit by Russian airstrike; casualties unclear
— World leaders called anew for an investigation of Russia's repeat attacks on civilian targets
— Russian media reported that the detention of WNBA star Brittney Griner was extended until May 19
— An American man was among many killed in a Russian attack on the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv
— Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage
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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS TODAY:

BERLIN — A spokesman for Olaf Scholz says the German chancellor spoke Friday by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin and urged him to agree to an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine.

During the hour-long call, Scholz also called for an improvement to the humanitarian situation and progress in efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre wants an extra allocation of 3.5 billion kroner ($400 million) for 2022 to strengthen NATO member Norway's Armed Forces and civil preparedness.

Gahr Støre told Norway's parliament that the money will be used to "strengthen our ability to prevent, deter and deal with digital attacks."

"These are necessary measures because we are facing a more unpredictable and aggressive Russian regime," Gahr Støre said, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin "has raised the alert of his nuclear weapons forces. It contributes to more uncertainty in an already tense situation."

He said Norway "is NATO's eyes in the north."

In a speech to the Scandinavian country's parliament about Ukraine, Gahr Støre said Norway was gearing up "to handle an extraordinary situation with up to 100,000 refugees."

"We do not know how long the war will last, or how many will come here. But in any case, it will put us to a historical test," he said.
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LVIV, Ukraine — Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said Friday on Telegram that several missiles hit a facility used to repair military aircraft and damaged a bus repair facility, though no casualties were immediately reported.

The plant had suspended work ahead of the attack, the mayor said.

The missiles that hit Lviv were launched from the Black Sea, but two of the six that were launched were shot down, Ukrainian air force's western command said on Facebook.
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NEW DELHI — An Indian official says the state-run Indian Oil Corp. bought 3 million barrels of crude oil from Russia earlier this week to secure its energy needs, resisting Western pressure to avoid such purchases.

The official said India will be looking to purchase more oil from Russia despite calls not to from the U.S. and other countries due to the invasion of Ukraine. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with a reporter, said India has no such sanctions.

Imports make up nearly 85% of India's oil needs. Its demand is projected to jump 8.2% this year to 5.15 million barrels per day as the economy recovers from the devastation caused by the pandemic.
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Associated Press writer Ashok Sharma in New Delhi contributed to this report.
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LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was thankful to U.S. President Joe Biden for the additional military aid but said he would not say specifically what the new package included because he didn't want to tip off Russia.

"This is our defense," he said in his nighttime video address to the nation. "When the enemy doesn't know what to expect from us. As they didn't know what awaited them after Feb. 24," the day Russia invaded. "They didn't know what we had for defense or how we prepared to meet the blow."

Zelenskyy said Russia expected to find Ukraine much as it did in 2014, when it seized Crimea without a fight and backed separatists as they took control of the eastern Donbas region. But Ukraine is now a different country, with much stronger defenses, he said.

He said it also was not the time to reveal Ukraine's tactics in the ongoing negotiations with Russia. "Working more in silence than on television, radio or on Facebook," Zelenskyy said. "I consider it the right way."
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UNITED NATIONS — Russia's U.N. ambassador says he is not asking for a vote Friday on its resolution on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, which has been sharply criticized by Western countries for making no mention of Russia's responsibility for the war against its smaller neighbor.

Vassily Nebenzia told the U.N. Security Council Thursday that Russia decided at this stage not to seek a vote because of pressure from the United States and Albania on U.N. members to oppose it, but he stressed that Moscow is not withdrawing the resolution.

Nebenzia said Russia plans to go ahead with a council meeting Friday to discuss again its allegations of U.S. "biological laboratories" in Ukraine, claiming new documents. His initial charge was made without any evidence and repeatedly denied by U.S. and Ukrainian officials.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield responded to Nebenzia's announcement by saying "their farcical humanitarian resolution … was doomed to fail."

"We know if Russia really cared about humanitarian crises, the one that it created, it could simply stop its attacks on the people of Ukraine," she said. "But instead, they want to call for another Security Council meeting to use this council as a venue for its disinformation and for promoting its propaganda."

At last Friday's council meeting on Russia's initial allegations of U.S. "biological activities," Thomas-Greenfield accused Russia of using the Security Council for "lying and spreading disinformation" as part of a potential false-flag operation by Moscow for the use of chemical or biological agents in Ukraine.
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UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. health chief decried the devastating consequences of war on the Ukrainian people who are facing severe disruption to services and medication and stressed that "the life-saving medicine we need right now is peace."
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the

U.N. Security Council Thursday that WHO has verified 43 attacks on hospitals and health facilities with 12 people killed and 34 injured.

In a virtual briefing, Tedros said "the disruption to services and supplies is posing an extreme risk to people with cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, HIV and TB, which are among the leading causes of mortality in Ukraine."

The WHO chief said displacement and overcrowding caused by people fleeing fighting are likely to increase the risks of diseases such as COVID-19, measles, pneumonia and polio.

In addition, more than 35,000 mental health patients in Ukrainian psychiatric hospitals and long-term care facilities face severe shortages of medicine, food, health and blankets, he said.

So far, WHO has sent about 100 metric tons (110 tons) of medical supplies — enough for 4,500 trauma patients and 450,000 primary health care patients for a month — to Ukraine along with other equipment. Tedros said the agency is preparing a further 108 metric tons (119 tons) for delivery.

Tedros urged donors to support the immense and escalating humanitarian needs in Ukraine and fully fund the U.N.'s $1.1 billion humanitarian appeal.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The photo gallery below contains images that readers might find disturbing, including images that show injuries and death.  The reader is advised and cautioned to use discretion as the content may not be suitable for all.]

Ukraine and the World's Response to Russia's Attack - February 24, 2022 to Present

The following images help document Russia's invasion of Urkaine, and the world's response. The reader is STRONGLY CAUTIONED that this gallery CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES, some of which include IMAGES OF DEATH. As of March 5, 2022 the gallery includes images that are not suitable for all readers. The reader is cautioned not to view this gallery without discretion.

Some Major US Companies Pulling Out Of Russia Over Ukraine

Here are some of major U.S. corporations who are halting business operations in Russia to protest the ongoing war with Ukraine.