Ukrainian firefighters extinguish a blaze at a warehouse after Russian bombing of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 17, 2022 (Vadim Ghirda/AP)

EA on Monocle 24: The Ukraine War and A Divided US Republican Party

EA on Monocle 24: Winning the Information Battle in the Ukraine War

Thursday’s Coverage: Russia Destroys Mariupol Theater Where Up to 1,300 Were Sheltering


In a video address, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said hundreds of people are still under the debris of the Mariupol theater destroyed by Russian bombing on Wednesday.

He said that while more than 35,000 people have been able to leave the besieged city in southern Ukraine, Russian forces are “doing everything to prevent” any aid reaching about 350,000 who are still trapped.

Zelenskiy vowed that the Russians will pay for the “thousands of hearts stopped by this war”.

The President also said that Ukraine “will become a full member of the EU”, and that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had “promised to do everything to speed up Ukraine’s accession”.


Addressing an audience of European Catholic representatives in Bratislava, Slovakia, Pope Francis has criticized the “perverse abuse of power” in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He called for aid to Ukrainians:

The heartbreaking scream for help from our Ukrainian brothers pushes us as a community of believers not just to serious reflection, but to cry with them and work for them; to share the anguish of a people wounded in its identity, history and tradition.


Defying protests inside Russia and the stalled military offensive in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has told a staged pro-war rally in Moscow, “The country hasn’t seen unity like this in a long time.”

The Russian leader recycled his disinformation justifying the invasion, “This really was genocide. Stopping that was the goal of the special operation.”

The event officially marked the 8th anniversary of Russia’s occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea. Moscow police said more than 200,000 people were in and around the Luzhniki Stadium, waving flags and the symbol “Z”, the marking of the Russian military inside Ukraine.

But with claims that many of the attendees were State employees commanded to show up, observers noted crowds leaving the stadium as soon as they had attendance tickets stamped.

The BBC’s Will Vernon interviewed attendees:

Many said they worked in the public sector (e.g. schoolteachers), and that they had been pressured into attending by their employers. One group of teachers, from a town near Moscow, were being told what to say to us by a woman who appeared to be from the local administration.

One man, who works in the Moscow metro, told us that he and other employees had been forced to attend the rally. “I’ll be here for a while and then I’ll leave… I think most people here don’t support the war. I don’t,” he said.


European intelligence officials say the first contingent of 150 pro-Assad fighters have arrived in Ukraine to bolster Russian forces.

Claims are circulating that thousands of men have been recruited by Assad regime officials in Syria.

In the Syrian city of Homs, a sergeant said:

I had to wait for three hours.

The Russians helped us a lot and now we will help them….[I am earning] 25 times what I’m earning now.

A man, with four months’ experience in a pro-Assad militia in southern Syria last year, said he had been offered $600 plus death benefits to travel to Ukraine: “That is more than I could ever earn in Syria. That is putting a value on my life, I know, but that’s what life is worth these days. If I die there, at least my family can live.”

See also EA on Radio FM4: Is Russia Recruiting Assad’s Fighters for Ukraine?


The office of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says he pressed Vladimir Putin to end the invasion of Ukraine.

In a one-hour phone call, this morning, Scholz “put pressure on [Putin] to introduce a ceasefire as soon as possible, to improve the humanitarian situation and to make progress in the search for a diplomatic solution for the conflict,” a spokesman said.

The Kremlin said the conversation was “harsh but businesslike”. Putin proclaimed that the Ukrainian military had committed “war crimes” in the eastern cities of Donetsk and Makiivka with “numerous deaths”.

Putin also insisted that that the Russian Army “is doing everything to avoid civilian victims”.

He added that the Ukraine Government was trying to “slow down” talks with Russia with “unrealistic suggestions”.


Reports are circulating of the killing of dozens of Ukrainian soldiers by a Russian missile strike on a military base in Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine this morning.


In Lviv, remembrance of the 109 children killed during the Russian invasion:


Former Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich has been forced to quit as chair of a prestigious foundation after telling US media that his thoughts are with Ukrainian civilians.

Dvorkovich, who was in the Kremlin from 2012 to 2018, was assailed by a lawmaker who demanded his dismissal because of his “national betrayal” as part of a “fifth column” undermining Russia.

Dvorkovich had been chairman since 2018 of the Skolkovo Foundation, an innovation and technology hub. He remains president of the International Chess Federation (FIDE).


City officials in Kyiv say 222 people, including 60 civilians and four children, have been killed in the capital during the Russian invasion.

Another 889 people have been wounded, including 241 civilians.

Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said on Friday:

We are going to take care of our country and ourselves. If you [the international community] can’t do it and close the sky, we are going to do it on our own.

We need defensive weapons, we need it now — in an hour is going to be too late.


US citizen James Whitney Hill, 68, was among the 53 people killed by Russian attacks on Chernihiv in northern Ukraine on Wednesday and Thursday.

Hill was slain while trying to obtain food for himself, his partner, and seriously ill patients at Chernihiv Regional Hospital.

Hill and his partner Iryna Teslenko had travelling for more than four hours to reach the hospital so she could receive treatment for progressive multiple sclerosis. En route, Teslenko came down with pneumonia, extending her stay at the hospital.

Hill posted on Facebook on Monday:

We could try a breakout tomorrow but Ira’s mom doesn’t want to. Each day people are killed trying to escape. But bombs falling here at night. Risk either way.

He followed up on Tuesday, “Intense bombing! still alive. Limited food. Room very cold. ira in intensive care.”


Shelling by Russian forces is preventing the safe evacuation of civilians from the invasion’s front line in eastern Ukraine, according to the governor of the Luhansk region.

Serhiy Gaidai said 59 civilians have been killed in the region since the start of the invasion: “There is not one community that hasn’t been under fire.”

He said local authorities hope for a temporary ceasefire on Saturday so trucks can distribute food, medicine, and other aid.


The Russian outlet Pravda has falsely claimed that three current and former members of the Tennessee National Guard were killed as “mercenaries” in Ukraine.

The Tennessee National Guard said in a statement that the men are alive and well.

The Guard wrote that the individuals were targeted for Russian disinformation because of a 2018 article about more than 200 US personnel assisting Ukraine’s military in the development of the Yaroviv Training Center.

The Training Center was attacked last Saturday by Russian missiles, killing at least 35 Ukrainian personnel and wounding 134.

The Biden Administration withdrew all American personnel from Ukraine before the Russian invasion on February 24.


A Ukrainian serviceman plays the violin to his fellow soldiers:


This morning’s Russian strikes on Kyiv have killed one person and wounded four.

The victims were in a five-story residential building in the north of the capital. Twelve people were rescued and 98 evacuated.

A rescuer in Kharkiv has been killed as emergency services tried to contain a blaze in one of the city’s largest shopping centers. Another rescuer suffered explosive injuries.


Russia has renewed airstrikes on western Ukraine near the Polish border.

Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovy said several missiles struck an aircraft repair plant on Friday morning, destroying a building.

Ukrainian officials later said six cruise missiles were fired from Russian warships in the Black Sea. Two hit the plant while four were downed before they could reach the area.

The plant was not in operation at the time and there were no casualties.

In an apparent effort to halt foreign military aid to Ukraine, Russia fires missiles on the west of the country last Saturday. At least 35 Ukrainian personnel were killed at a military training center in Yavoriv, and Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk were also targeted.

See also Ukraine War, Day 18: Russia Bombs Close to Polish Border

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Russia’s forces have killed more than 80 Ukrainian civilians since Wednesday, even before the casualties from the Mariupol theater bombing — where up to 1,000 people were sheltering — are established.

The toll from Russian attacks on Chernihiv in northern Ukraine on Wednesday has risen to 53, including 10 people shot and killed as they queued for bread.

At least 21 people were killed and 25 injured by an early-morning Russian airstrike destroying a school and community centre in Merefa. The town of 21,5000 is near Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv, where two people were killed and two residential buildings destroyed on Wednesday.

A two-year-old child was killed and four people wounded by shelling of the village of Novi Petrivtsi, north of Kyiv. Another person was slain in the capital, after five were killed on Wednesday by Russian attacks on multi-story apartment blocks.

In the besieged coastal city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine, rescuers dug through the rubble of the Drama Theater, destroyed by shelling on Wednesday. About 130 survivors have been freed, amid hope that that the thick walls of the basements may have limited casualties.

The Ukrainian Parliament’s human rights ombudswoman, Lyudmyla Denisova, said, “The building withstood the impact of a high-powered air bomb and protected the lives of people hiding in the bomb shelter.”

Other officials were more cautious. Petro Andrushchenko, an official with the mayor’s office, said, “The bomb shelter held. Now the rubble is being cleared. There are survivors. We don’t know about the number of victims yet.”

After Russian forces repeatedly broke ceasefires and shelled evacuees, more than 30,000 people have managed to leave Mariupol. However, about 350,000 remain with no heat, water, or electricity and food in short supply.

Russian Attacks on Civilians Cover for Struggling Offensive

The World Health Organization further established Russia’s attacks on civilian sites, saying it has verified 43 strikes on health care facilities, with 12 people killed and 34 injured. The assaults include the bombing of a Mariupol children’s hospital and maternity ward last week, leading to the deaths of five people, including a child, a woman who was pregnant, and her newly-delivered baby.

The escalation of Russian shelling and airstrikes are linked to problems with Russia’s ground offensive outside the southern coastal corridor including Mariupol. Large convoys are still failing to advance, including near Kyiv. UK defense analysts said on Thursday that the Russians are having to divert “large numbers” of troops to defend supply lines amid logistical problems.

A “senior US defence official” said there are anecdotal signs of flagging Russian troop morale in some units. However, American analysts cautioned that the Russian military is moving some forces “from the rear to join their advancing elements”, including long-artillery artillery in an indication that they still aspire “to conduct a siege of Kyiv”.

The Ukrainian military raises its claims of Russian losses to 14,000 troops, 444 tanks, 1435 armored vehicles, 86 planes, 108 helicopters, 11 drones, and 3 ships.

The military said another 14 Russian air targets were destroyed on Thursday: seven aircraft, one helicopter, three drones, and three missiles.

“In certain temporarily occupied territories, Russian occupiers are trying to create a demonstrative positive image of themselves by distributing food items to civilian population,” the Ukrainian defence ministry added.

Officials also maintained that low morale within Russian troops led to an “increase in the number of cases of desertification and refusal of military personnel” to participate in the war against Ukraine.

The force earlier claimed Russia was taking up measures to “make up for the loss of personnel at the expense of foreigners” while preparing for a possible attack on Kyiv.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an address to the nation, “The occupants thought they were going to Ukraine which they had seen before, in 2014-2015″ — when Russia seized Crimea and set up proxies in parts of eastern Ukraine — “which they corrupted and were not afraid of, but we are different now”.

In his latest video speech to a foreign government, Zelenksiy appealed for help from the German Bundestag with references to the Berlin Blockade and fall of the Berlin Wall.

Give Germany the leadership role that it has earned so that your descendants are proud of you. Support freedom, support Ukraine, stop this war, help us to stop this war.

Biden: Putin A “Murderous Dictator”

Having called Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” for the first time on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden labelled the Russian leader “a murderous dictator” and “a pure thug” during a Thursday address.

Even as Ukrainian and Russian officials said their negotiations are “more realistic”, Putin showed no wish on Wednesday to halt the killing. Instead, he railed that the invasion must continue since “the pro-Nazi regime in Kyiv” could have “got its hands on weapons of mass destruction”.

He added defiance of international sanctions, insisting that they are “creating opportunities” for businesses who now have “nothing to fear”.

Biden will speak with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Friday, after a Chinese Foreign Ministry official met with the Russian Ambassador on Thursday.

American officials primed the media that Biden will Xi that Beijing faces “costs” if it provides significant economic and military assistance to Russia.

US National Security Council Jake Sullivan issued a similar message in a meeting with his Chinese counterpart in Rome on Monday.