Russia-Ukraine war: Key things to know about the conflict

AP , Friday 25 Mar 2022

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on Ukrainians to keep up their resistance to Russia's invading forces, saying "every minute determines our fate, our future, whether we will live.''

Ukrainian army
A tank of the Ukrainian Army drives towards the front line in Yasnogorodk, a rural town where the Ukrainian army stopped the advance of the Russian army, outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, March 25, 2022. AP

During a nightly video address, Zelenskyy said late Thursday that, "With every day of our defense, we are getting closer to the peace that we need so much. We are getting closer to victory.''

As Russian troops continue their bombardment, Ukrainians have kept up stiff resistance. Ukraine has accused Moscow of forcibly taking hundreds of thousands of civilians to Russia so they could be used as ``hostages'' to pressure a surrender. But Russia said they've been going of their own free will.

Here are some key things to know about the Russia-Ukraine conflict:


Kyiv and Moscow gave conflicting accounts about whether people were being moved to Russia willingly or whether they were being coerced or manipulated.

Ukraine officials say Russian troops are confiscating passports from Ukrainian citizens then moving them to ``filtration camps'' in Ukraine's separatist-controlled east before sending them to various distant, economically depressed areas in Russia. Lyudmyla Denisova, Ukraine's ombudsperson, said 402,000 people, including 84,000 children, were moved against their will.

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said 6,000 of those forced to Russia were from the devastated port city of Mariupol, and 15,000 more people in a section of Mariupol under Russian control have had their identifying documents confiscated.

The ministry said the Russians intend to ``use them as hostages and put more political pressure on Ukraine.''

But Russian Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said the roughly 400,000 people evacuated to Russia since the start of the war were from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Moscow separatists have been fighting for control for nearly eight years.


The city government of Mariupol reported Friday that last week's airstrike on theater used as bomb shelter killed 300 people, citing witnesses. The post on its Telegram channel cited eyewitnesses for the death toll, of "about 300.'' It was not immediately clear whether emergency workers had finished excavating the site or how the eyewitnesses arrived at the horrific death toll.

Before it was struck, an enormous inscription reading "CHILDREN'' was posted outside the theatre in Russian, intended to be visible from the skies above. Soon after the airstrike, Ludmyla Denisova, the Ukrainian Parliament's human rights commissioner, said more than 1,300 people had been sheltering in the building.

Ukraine's navy said Thursday that it sank a large landing ship near the port city of Berdyansk that had been used to supply Russian forces with armored vehicles.

Photos and video after the naval attack showed fire and thick plumes of smoke. Russian TV reported earlier this week that the ship, the Orsk, was the first Russian warship to enter Berdyansk. The port was going to be used to deliver military equipment for the Russians, the report said.

Ukraine also claimed two more ships were damaged and a 3,000-ton fuel tank was destroyed when the Orsk was sunk, causing a fire that spread to nearby ammunition supplies.

A local government official in the northern city of Chernihiv said a ``catastrophe'' is unfolding as Russian troops deliberately target sites where food is being stored. An airstrike there this week destroyed a crucial bridge.

City council secretary Olexander Lomako estimated that more than 130,000 people remain in the city, which had a pre-war population of 285,000, but that Ukraine remains in full control. He said the ``Ukrainian flag waves here`` and that the city's ancestors never thought of surrendering to enemies.

Chernihiv has been further cut off after a vital pedestrian bridge over the Desna river was damaged by shelling, the local governor said Friday. The tall and narrow concrete bridge had become a vital link to the outside world after the main road bridge over the Desna was destroyed earlier this week by a Russian airstrike. That severely hampered efforts to get supplies in and civilians out on a highway leading south to the capital, Kyiv.

About half the population of the eastern city of Kharkiv has left, and food and other essentials are dwindling for those who stay behind. A line formed Thursday at an apartment block as neighbors waited for aid from the Red Cross. Kharkiv has been under siege by Russian forces since the start of the invasion, with relentless shelling that has forced people to sleep in metro stations and basements.

Late Thursday, Russian forces fired two missiles at a Ukrainian military unit on the outskirts of Dnipro, the fourth-largest city in the country, emergency services said. The strikes destroyed buildings and set off two fires, it said, adding that the number of killed and wounded was still being established.


Western nations continued to crank up the cost of war for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Germany's economy minister said Friday that his country has forged contracts with new suppliers that will allow it to significantly reduce its reliance on Russian coal, gas and oil in the coming weeks.

He said Germany also expects to be able to become almost entirely independent of Russian gas by mid-2024. To do this the government has secured the use of three ``floating'' terminals capable of regasifying LNG brought in by ship and is working hard to build permanent LNG terminals for long-term imports.

As the Russian stock market opened to limited trading on Thursday, the Group of Seven leaders announced they are restricting the Russian Central Bank's use of gold.

The U.S. also announced a new round of sanctions targeting 48 state-owned defense companies, 328 members of the Duma, Russia's lower parliament, and dozens of Russian elites. The White House said the efforts were designed to blunt Russia's ability to use its international reserves to fund the war.

Britain on Thursday sanctioned 65 more companies and individuals over the invasion. The targets include Russia's largest private bank and a woman who the British government says is the stepdaughter of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

But Hungary, known for being Putin's strongest ally within the EU, on Friday rejected an emotional appeal from Zelenskyy to supply Ukraine with weapons and support sanctions on Russia's energy sector, calling the requests ``against Hungary's interests.''


The outskirts of Kharkiv were shrouded by foggy smoke Friday, with shelling constant since early in the morning. In a city hospital, doctors on Thursday treated a dozen civilians and on Friday several injured soldiers arrived, with bullet and shrapnel wounds. Even as doctors stabilized the direst case, the sound of shelling could be heard in the surgery ward.

Satellite photos from Planet Labs PBC analyzed by The Associated Press show thick black smoke rising Thursday over the port in Berdyansk, with a large ship on fire. The timing of the photos correspond with what the Ukrainian navy described as a successful attack on a Russian landing craft. The image also corresponds to online videos purportedly showing the attack at the port in the city held by Russia on the Sea of Azov.

Shelling was heard in northern Kharkiv on Thursday afternoon, and AP journalists saw an ambulance collecting four bodies near the remnants of rockets. Smoke billowed from neighborhoods and at least one house was destroyed.

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