Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will continue until it “achieves the goals set by Vladimir Putin”, its defense ministry said.

He added that 3,825 Russian soldiers had been injured in the conflict.

In an update on the peace talks, a Russian negotiator said the two sides were getting closer on minor issues but not making much progress on major ones, the Interfax news agency reported.

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Burning houses in a residential area in northeast Chernihiv Photo: Satellite Image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

On the ground, the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv has been cut off by Russian forces, its regional governor said.

“The city was conditionally, operationally surrounded by the enemy,” Governor Viacheslav Chaus told state television.

Chernihiv is bombarded by artillery and warplanes, he added.

Ukraine wants to set up a humanitarian corridor for Chernihiv on Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said, adding that establishing such evacuation routes was difficult.

Ukraine news live: Putin “has failed and is heading for plan B”

In the eastern city of Kharkiv, four people were killed when Russian shelling hit a clinic providing humanitarian aid, regional police said.

In its latest intelligence update, however, the UK Ministry of Defense said Ukrainian forces were reoccupying towns and defensive positions “up to 35 kilometers east of Kyiv”.

He attributed this to Ukrainian counterattacks and Russian forces “retreating to overextended lines of supply”.

In the south, “Russian forces are still trying to bypass Mykolaiv as they seek to move west towards Odessa,” the MOD added.

But their progress is “slowed down by logistical problems and Ukrainian resistance”.

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The Mariupol theater after the bombardment

“Last refuge for hundreds of innocent people”

In Mariupol, around 300 people died in the bombing of a theater in the port city last week, its city council said.

The number is believed to have come from those inside the building at the time, outside of which was a large sign reading “children” in Russian.

It has become the “last refuge for hundreds of innocent people”, a council spokesman said. More than 1,300 people have taken refuge inside, according to the Ukrainian parliament’s human rights commissioner.

There is growing evidence of mass graves in Mariupol – including one that appears to contain 200 bodies – the head of the UN human rights team in Ukraine has said.

Some of the evidence comes from satellite images, Matilda Bogner told reporters via video link from Ukraine.

The number of civilians killed in the country has exceeded 1,035, she added, as the UN team investigates what appears to be indiscriminate attacks from both sides.

In Boryspil, southeast of Kyiv, and near an international airport, around 20,000 people responded to calls to leave, Mayor Volodymyr Borysenko said.

About 3.7 million people have fled Ukraine since the conflict began, the UN refugee agency said.

President Joe Biden meets with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels
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President Joe Biden meets with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels

“Strategic failure for Putin”

The United States, meanwhile, must supply more liquid natural gas to the European Union to help it reduce its dependence on Russian sources.

President Joe Biden has said Vladimir Putin uses the energy to “coerce and manipulate his neighbours” and takes the profits from its sale to “drive his war machine”.

Reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian energy was not only the “right thing to do from a moral point of view”, but “it will put us on a more solid strategic footing”, he said. Mr. Biden said.

He met European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels, which hosted a summit of NATO and G7 leaders in Brussels on Thursday.

The goal is to “get rid” of Russia’s dependence on fossil fuels, Ms von der Leyen said, adding that the war would be a “strategic failure for Putin”.

Mr Biden is visiting Poland – home to more than two million Ukrainian refugees – this afternoon after warning that NATO would respond “in kind” if Russia were to use chemical weapons.

The refugee crisis will be one of the key issues during his meeting with the Polish President. He will also visit US troops stationed in Rzeszow, near the border with Ukraine.

Read more: An unlikely beacon as families flee Ukraine’s most devastated city

Map of Ukraine March 24, 2022

Fears are growing that Vladimir Putin could use chemical weapons to try to accelerate Russian military gains, which experts say have been much slower than expected.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned at the NATO meeting of “very, very serious” consequences if Russia used chemical or biological weapons.

NATO has repeatedly insisted that it will not send any of the alliance’s troops to Ukraine.

Mr Johnson discussed the situation in Ukraine with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday morning, the prime minister’s spokesman said, during a call lasting about 50 minutes.

Read more: An unlikely beacon as families flee Ukraine’s most devastated city

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Analysis: Why doesn’t Russia win?

Zelenskyy: Western aid came ‘a bit late’

President Volodymyr Zelensky marked a month of war in his final video message late last night.

“The 30th day. It’s been a month! If Russia had known they would face this, I’m sure they would have definitely been afraid to come here,” he said.

Although both sides have said peace talks are progressing, fighting continues and Mr Zelenskyy said a one-on-one with Mr Putin was needed to end the bloodshed.

Earlier, the president thanked the West for its “strong action” on sanctions, but told leaders at the Brussels summit “it was a bit late”.

“Because if it had been preemptive, Russia wouldn’t have started a war,” he told them via video link.

Mr Zelenskyy did not mention his demand for a no-fly zone, but instead asked for ‘1% of all your planes, 1% of all your tanks’ – a request which Boris Johnson later described as ‘very difficult “logistically.

The President of Ukraine asked
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The Ukrainian president demanded “1% of all your planes, 1% of all your tanks”. Photo: AP

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Western countries are said, however, to be considering supplying anti-ship weapons amid fears that Russia will launch amphibious assaults on the country’s Black Sea coast.

The region has seen some of the fiercest attacks, with Russia attempting to establish a land corridor to Crimea and rebel-held areas to the east.