Western officials have said that the Kremlin, frustrated with its lack of gains on the ground, is now relying on strikes from afar to support its bloody invasion. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in remarks Monday, said Russia has bombarded some of his country’s cities beyond recognition and accused Russian military pilots of having “emptiness instead of heart.” He also said that any political compromises needed to end the Russian assault would require Ukrainian voter approval via referendum.
Biden warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin could seek to escalate the war by using biological and chemical weapons in Ukraine, though he did not provide evidence. The Pentagon also said it has detected “increased naval activity” in the northern Black Sea, where the port city of Odessa is bracing for a potential assault. Air raid sirens blared across Ukraine overnight Monday — another day marked with death and destruction after strikes in Mykolaiv and Odessa.
Here’s what to know
- Satellite images released Monday offer a bird’s-eye view of the destruction in Mariupol, showing large swaths of bombed-out neighborhoods, with gray and black smoke marking smoldering ruins. The port city has refused to surrender despite weeks of bombardment.
- Senior U.S. officials say Russia is suffering a dramatic decline in oil sales, which could severely reduce the single biggest revenue stream for the Kremlin as it struggles to finance the costly invasion.
- Ukrainians have grown more confident in their ability to repel Russian forces, according to a new poll that found 91 percent of Ukrainian respondents believe their country will emerge victorious from the war.
- The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine, providing unlimited digital access to our coverage. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel for updates and exclusive video.
UNDERSTANDING THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE CONFLICT
Dutch royals offer a castle to house Ukrainian refugees
The Dutch royal family said Monday that King Willem-Alexander has offered to house Ukrainian refugees at one of his castles. From mid April, six to eight families, or 20 to 30 people, will be accommodated at the Slot’t Oude Loo, the royal house said in a statement. The castle is located in Apeldoorn, about 50 miles east of Amsterdam.
The Belgian royal family reportedly made a similar offer this month. More than 10 million people have been displaced by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, according to the United Nations, with almost 3.5 million of them having fled abroad. The Netherlands is expecting to receive about 50,000 Ukrainian refugees, the European Council on Refugees and Exiles said.
A delegation of Lithuanian lawmakers, the first from Europe, met with Kyiv’s mayor
A delegation of lawmakers from Lithuania’s national Parliament, the Seimas, visited Kyiv on Monday and met with the city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, to demonstrate the Baltic nation’s support for Ukraine. The group, led by leaders of the Seimas including its deputy speaker Paulius Saudargas and chair of its national security and defense committee Laurynas Kasciunas, marks the first time that parliamentary representatives from a NATO country stepped foot in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion nearly a month ago.
Posting in his official Telegram channel, Klitschko thanked the Lithuanian lawmakers for standing in solidarity with his beleaguered country and urged politicians from other European Union nations to visit. In recent days, despite the lack of ground advances from Russian forces, Kremlin troops have kept up heavy shelling of the city.
Lithuanian lawmaker Kasciunas wrote on Twitter on Monday evening that Russia “will never take this brave city and country,” in a tweet that also featured a picture of him and three members of the Lithuanian delegation with Klitschko. Lithuania has been one of the most vocal members within NATO pushing for more aggressive steps to be taken in the face of Russia’s invasion. The Seimas unanimously adopted a resolution last week calling on the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, a move that the United States has already ruled out.
Earlier this month, the prime ministers of Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic — all NATO countries — crossed into Ukraine by train and met with Zelensky. The head of Ukrainian railways described that visit as “important” but “naive” because some of the leaders publicized their journey while still en route.
Biden heads to Europe in an effort to bolster the Western alliance
Biden will travel to Belgium and Poland this week, seeking to hold together a Western alliance that is beginning to show potential cracks and making a symbolic appearance in a country whose leaders fear it could be a future target of Russian aggression.
Biden will land in Brussels on Wednesday night, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine approaches the one-month mark with no sign of letting up. As the war grinds on and Ukrainian leaders plead for additional assistance, divisions are emerging between allies who want to supply offensive weapons such as fighter jets and others who are wary of escalating the confrontation with Moscow.
The president’s decision to visit Poland reflects that country’s position at the epicenter of an intensifying refugee crisis, as about 300,000 Ukrainian refugees have sought safety in Warsaw since the conflict began. Biden, who may visit a refugee camp while he is in Poland, is expected to promise significant U.S. help with the crisis.
Moscow airport furloughs 20% staff as flight numbers drop and sanctions bite
Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, Russia’s largest, has furloughed 20 percent of its staff, it said, as passenger numbers fall amid economic sanctions and the closure of most international airspace to Russian aircraft.
In an update posted Monday on Telegram, the airport said that from March 16 some staff members have been furloughed for reasons “beyond the control of the employer and employees.” During this period, those employees would be paid two-thirds of their salary, it added.
“Sheremetyevo International Airport, in the face of large-scale declines in international air transportation, has optimized staff work schedules,” the airport authority said. “We inform you that the share of personnel who are transferred to furlough is 20 percent.”
Earlier this month, the airport closed a passenger terminal “in the face of forced restrictions in the field of international air transportation,” the airport said.
In February, the European Union closed the entire 27-nation bloc’s airspace to Russian-owned, -registered or -controlled aircraft, “including the private jets of oligarchs.” The closure of E.U. skies was one of numerous strict measures taken in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This prompted retaliation from Moscow, as it closed Russian airspace to most European airlines.
The United States swiftly followed suit, with the Biden administration prohibiting Russian airlines from entering American airspace, in a bid to weaken Russia’s aviation system and further isolate the country.
Annabelle Chapman contributed to this report.
Four Ukrainian journalists abducted and then released, union says
Four Ukrainian journalists in Melitopol, the southern Ukrainian city under Russian occupation, were abducted by unknown gunmen on Monday, a journalists’ union said. They were released after “preventive talks” and told to cooperate with Russia, according to the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine.
Mykhailo Kumko, Yevhenia Boryan, Yulia Olkhovska and Lyubov Chaika had their cellphones confiscated, according to the union. The Washington Post could not independently verify the reports, but Ukrainian officials said Russian forces occupying Melitopol previously abducted the city’s mayor, who was later released in exchange for Russian prisoners.
Russia halts WWII peace treaty talks with Japan in response to sanctions over Ukraine invasion
TOKYO — Russia said Monday it would halt negotiations with Japan regarding a post-World War II peace treaty amid Tokyo’s escalating sanctions pressuring Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, the latest sign of deteriorating bilateral relations.
In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the country has no intention of continuing peace talks, which had been stalled since 2020. It blamed Japan’s “anti-Russian policy” and said it would terminate visa-free trips by Japanese citizens to a chain of islands between Japan and Russia and would withdraw from joint economic projects on the islands.
Japan has imposed wide-reaching economic sanctions on Russia since last month, in a dramatic turn away from its years of rapprochement with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Japan and Russia never signed a formal peace treaty ending World War II hostilities because of a long-running territorial dispute over the islands off Hokkaido, in northern Japan. The two countries signed a joint declaration in 1956 ending the state of war but have not signed an actual peace treaty.
Analysis: What to know about Biden’s trip to Europe
President Biden heads to Europe this week on what could be one of his most consequential overseas trips, showcasing unity with NATO and European Union partners and setting the stage for the next phase of the West’s response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
On Thursday, Biden will attend an emergency meeting of NATO, then a previously scheduled European Council meeting, followed by a gathering of the Group of Seven rich countries — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
On Friday, he’ll travel to Warsaw, to discuss efforts to help countries that have taken in the lion’s share of nearly 3.5 million Ukrainian refugees.
Britain’s pick-a-refugee program had one Brit flying to Poland with Cadbury bars
LONDON — Max Fox arrived in the Polish border town of Przemysl with suitcases full of gifts for refugees and their pets — Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars, toy London buses, dog chews — and high hopes of finding a Ukrainian who would like to come back to Britain to live with him.
Fox, a 32-year-old British singer who belted out Disney songs as he handed out chocolate bars, putting smiles on faces, is among the 150,000 Britons who have signed up as potential hosts through a Homes for Ukraine program.
But Britain’s largely do-it-yourself asylum plan requires hosts to name a Ukrainian when submitting paperwork. And because many Brits don’t know a Ukrainian personally, they are scouring social media, contacting charities, churches, community groups, friends of friends. Or in cases like Fox’s, they are getting on planes.
Russia sending ‘low-quality’ replacement troops to front lines, U.S. think tank says
Russia is sending “low-quality” reserves to the front lines in Ukraine to replace its losses, according to a military assessment released Monday by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). Analysts at the Washington think tank said Moscow was deploying “low-readiness” troops originally stationed in Russia’s Eastern Military District.
The ISW said that Russian forces stopped offensive operations near Kyiv on Monday, instead opting to reinforce their defensive positions. Western officials said recently that the Kremlin’s troops have been largely stalled outside major population centers in the face of fierce Ukrainian attacks on their supply lines.
U.N. agencies setting up border refugee centers to help separated families
United Nations agencies are setting up support centers for children and women fleeing the war in Ukraine that are designed to protect them and serve as information hubs for traveling families, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary general said.
The “Blue Dot” centers will be created by the U.N. Children Fund and the U.N. refugee agency with help from local governments and civil society organizations, Stéphane Dujarric told reporters on Monday. Workers at the centers, at border entry points and other strategic locations in neighboring countries, will identify unaccompanied or separated children and help them reconnect with their families, he said.
A UNICEF news release said the hubs will also offer psychosocial support and referrals to social workers and health services.
According to UNICEF, 26 Blue Dots — which can each serve up to 5,000 people a day — will be opened in Moldova, Romania, Belarus, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
The move comes as part of broader efforts by the United Nations to provide humanitarian relief to Ukraine. Since Russia’s invasion began last month, the World Food Program has reached more than 330,000 people in Kharkiv and Kyiv — two Ukrainian cities under heavy Russian attack, Dujarric added. Last week, the United Nations delivered its first shipment of emergency aid for residents in Sumy.
More than 10 million people in Ukraine have been displaced by the war, Dujarric said.
Life underground: Ukrainian families make new homes in the Kharkiv subway
KHARKIV, Ukraine — A bunch of tulips sits in the window of the subway car that Vladlena Igorivna, her mother and two young sons have slept in for more than three weeks. It’s a small reminder of the outside world in an otherwise nearly entirely subterranean life.
Trips up the escalators for fresh air are rare, and brief. Their eyes, so used to their new dim surroundings, hurt in the sunlight. Her sons Nazar, 6, and Makar, 3, are scared of being outside.
“The kids hear the bombs go off and they want to come down again,” Igorivna, 31, explained. “Every day I want to go out for a walk, but I can’t. I just want to go home.”
For nearly a month, thousands of Kharkiv residents have lived deep underground in the city’s metro system to shelter from a daily rain of artillery, rockets and cluster bombs. Moscow’s assault on its neighbor has uprooted 10 million people — a quarter of Ukraine’s population — in a matter of weeks.
Satellite images show bird’s-eye view of destruction in Mariupol, Kyiv and Chernihiv
Satellite images released Monday show a bird’s-eye view of the destruction in Mariupol, offering one of the few available up-to-date looks at the besieged city from which journalists fled days ago.
The photographs, captured by the American firm Maxar Technologies, show swaths of bombed-out neighborhoods, with gray and black smoke marking smoldering ruins. In one, taken Saturday, the camera zooms in on a cluster of high-rise apartment buildings, many of which appear to have been shelled. Smoke unfurls from several of their facades.
In an image from Monday, showing a wider angle, the city’s wrecked drama theater can be seen, a once-stately building reduced to rubble — like many of the surrounding structures. The fate of the blockaded city, which Russia is bent on seizing, is uncertain. Thousands of civilians have fled in recent days, but thousands more remain, and Ukraine has refused Moscow’s demands that Mariupol leaders surrender and flee.
Maxar, which has released a steady stream of satellite photos since the Russian invasion began, also published images of the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions, showing more damage. In Irpin, near the capital, dark smoke billows from buildings and Russian field artillery points at the city.
In Chernihiv, in the country’s north near its border with Belarus, oil storage tanks burn and larger craters dot residential neighborhoods, along with leveled homes.
Zelensky says any compromises with Russia must be approved by the Ukrainian people
President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday that any compromises reached to bring an end to the Russian invasion would need to be approved by the Ukrainian people in a referendum.
In an interview with Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne, Zelensky said any constitutional changes or legislation required to guarantee Ukrainian security would not be for the president alone to decide.
“This rather long process will be decided by both the Rada and the people of Ukraine,” he said, referring to the country’s parliament.
“The people will have to speak up and respond to this or that form of compromise,” he added.
Zelensky reiterated during the interview that he is ready for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and repeated his warning that if the talks fail, there is a risk the conflict will spiral into World War III.
The president also suggested there was room for compromise on security guarantees for Ukraine that stopped short of full NATO membership. “We are not being accepted into NATO because they are afraid of Russia. That’s all. We need to calm down and say, ‘Okay, what other security guarantees are possible?’” he said.
In a separate video posted on his official Telegram page late Monday, Zelensky said he had spoken with French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Monday ahead of high-level summits in Europe this week to discuss the war.