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Ukraine Crisis

Reports of bodies in rubble as Kyiv shops and homes hit by heavy shelling

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Reports of loud blasts and a potential missile attack in the Ukrainian city of Kyiv

There are local reports of heavy bombing and Russian missile fire in the capital of Ukraine.

Mayor Vitali Klitschko says one person has been killed in Podilskyi district.

The major of Kyiv says houses and shops are being shelled.

This all began late on Sunday local time, residential areas and a major shopping district hit by Russian forces.

Residential houses and a shopping district were shelled in Kyiv late on Sunday, mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

“Several explosions in the capital’s Podil district,” Klitschko said on his Telegram channel.

“According to the information we have at the moment, several homes and one of the shopping centres [were hit]. Rescue teams, medics and the police are already on site.”

On social media we are seeing videos from CCTV of homes and shops from shelling on of the shopping centers.

Ukraine rejects surrender

Now as Several explosions are heard in Kyiv, there were earlier reports that Russia is demanding that Ukraine surrenders Mariupol.

According to Russian media, Russia’s defense ministry said that Ukraine must surrender the city by 5 a.m. on March 21. Russia claims it will then open humanitarian corridors for civilians and disarmed soldiers.

However, Ukraine has rejected Russia’s demands to surrender Mariupol as Moscow’s attacks on the port city continue.

Ukraine’s Deputy PM says surrendering is not an option, with Russia stating it will only establish a humanitarian corridor IF the city gives in to Russian advancements.

We know just over 7000 people have evacuated from hot spots on Sunday

According to Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, only four out of seven agreed-upon humanitarian corridors were able to carry out evacuations.

Ukraine Crisis

U.S. President Biden plans huge military build-up in Europe to counter Putin

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U.S. President Joe Biden announces increase in America’s military presence across Europe over threat from Vladimir Putin

It comes as tensions between Russia and the West remain tense over President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

There will now be a permanent U.S. army headquarters in Poland, with new warships on their way to Spain, fighter jets to the UK and even ground troops to Romania.

President Biden announces plans to bolster U.S. presence in Europe

Biden says the strategic alliance will be “strengthened in all directions across every domain – land, air and sea”.

NATO’s longstanding commitment to ‘defend every inch of its territory’ has been reaffirmed and Biden warns “an attack against one is an attack against all.”

The pledge from Biden includes more naval destroyers stationed in Spain, two F-35 fighter jet squadrons positioned in the United Kingdom and a permanent headquarters in Poland for the U.S. 5th Army Corps.

This increased force posture comes as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drags on and countries in Europe grow increasingly nervous about the war on their continent.

“The United States and our allies, we’re going to step up,” Biden said the start of the NATO summit in Madrid.

“We’re proving that NATO is more needed now than it ever has been and it’s as important as it ever has been.”

The current location of 13 U.S. bases in Europe

U.S. presence grows

Since February, when Russia invaded Ukraine, the U.S. Department of Defense has increased the number of U.S. troops in Europe to more than 100,000 service members, up from 80,000.

Here’s what the U.S plans to do in each European country:

  • Poland: permanent station for the 5th Army Corps Headquarters Forward Command Post, an Army garrison headquarters, and a field support battalion, to allow the U.S. to more easily deploy combat troops along NATO’s eastern flank
  • Romania: position a rotational brigade combat team
  • The Baltic region: increase rotational deployments of armored, aviation, air defense, and special operations forces
  • Spain: increase the number of destroyers stationed at Rota from four to six
  • United Kingdom: station two squadrons of F-35 fighter jets.
  • Germany: forward-station an air defense artillery brigade headquarters, a short-range air defense battalion, a combat sustainment support battalion headquarters, and an engineer brigade headquarters
  • Italy: forward-station a short-range air defense battery

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Ukraine Crisis

Sean Penn visits President Zelensky in Kyiv

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Sean Penn is the latest celebrity to travel to Ukraine and meet with President Zelensky

Actor Sean Penn is reportedly creating a documentary on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He is seeking to visit the war-torn areas where Russian troops have allegedly committed war crimes.

The leader thanked Penn for his support during the meeting. It comes a week after Zelensky met with Hollywood star Ben Stiller, who was visiting for humanitarian reasons.

“The whole world will soon be able to see the whole truth about the war thanks to his film. Sean, thank you for the support of our state and our people.”

UKRAINE’S PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY

Meanwhile, fresh vision has emerged of a Russian missile strike on a crowded shopping mall in the country’s east.

It’s understood 18 people are dead, and dozens are still missing. Moscow says it struck a nearby arms depot and is claiming the mall was empty at the time.

The blast sent shockwaves around surrounding areas, where people can be seen running away from the areas of impact.

Meanwhile, President Zelensky is calling Russia a terrorist state. He urged his U.N. counterparts to stand up and pay their respects, as he dialled in for urgent talks.

“Who of you does not agree that this is terrorism?”

UKRAINE’S PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY

Zelensky named victims of the war, including a three-month-old. He also drew on the U.N. Charter for maintaining international peace and security.

Meanwhile, Russia’s representatives expressed concern about President Zelensky’s speech. Dmitry Polyanskiy says he did not receive any consultation beforehand.

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Ukraine Crisis

Finland and Sweden one step closer to NATO membership as Turkey agrees

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Finland and Sweden are one step closer to NATO membership after Turkey officially agrees to support their nominations

Turkey has officially agreed to support Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership applications, paving the way for the two Nordic nations to join the strategic alliance. 

Lifting its veto, Turkey has now ended a weeks-long debate which has tested Western unity over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Finland’s President says the breakthrough comes after the three nations signed a joint memorandum to extend support against threats to each other’s security. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the memorandum addresses Turkey’s concerns.

FILE PHOTO: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference on the eve of a NATO summit, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Brussels, Belgium March 23, 2022. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

“I am pleased to announce that we now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO,” he told reporters at the NATO summit in Madrid.

“Turkey, Finland and Sweden have signed a memorandum that addresses Turkey’s concerns, including around arms exports and the fight against terrorism,”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

This all happened just hours before a NATO summit began in Madrid, with leaders hoping to display unity in the face of Russian aggression. 

Finland and Sweden’s application to join the nuclear-armed alliance is the biggest shift in European security in decades. 

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the leaders of the G7 nations on Monday, pressing them for more heavy weaponry and help to end the war before winter sets in.

It comes as Russia defaults on debt for the first time in a century.

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