LIVE UPDATES: 4 US Service Members Die in Plane Crash During NATO Drills
From The Epoch Times By March 19, 2022 Also Bryan Jung, The Associated Press, and Reuters contributed to this report.
Russia Claims It Used Hypersonic Weapons in Western Ukraine
The Russian military says it used its latest hypersonic missile, Kinzhal, for the first time in combat during its offensive in Ukraine.
Spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said the hypersonic missiles destroyed an underground warehouse storing missiles and aviation ammunition of Ukrainian troops in the western Ivano-Frankivsk region.
Konashenkov also said that the Russian forces used the anti-ship missile system Bastion to strike Ukrainian military facilities near the Black Sea port of Odesa. Russia first used the weapon during its military campaign in Syria in 2016.
4 US Service Members Die in Plane Crash During NATO Drills
The prime minister of Norway says four U.S. service members have died in a plane crash during NATO drills.
Jonas Gahr Støre tweeted that the service members were participating in the NATO exercise “Cold Response,” which is taking place in northern Norway.
The annual drills in Norway are unrelated to the war in Ukraine. This year they included around 30,000 troops, 220 aircraft and 50 vessels from 27 countries. Non-NATO members Finland and Sweden are also participating.
According to the Norwegian police, the American V-22B Osprey aircraft that crashed belonged to the U.S. Marine Corps.
The aircraft had a crew of four and was out on a training mission in Nordland County on Friday. It was on its way north to Bodø, where it was scheduled to land just before 6 p.m. Friday.
The plane crashed in Gråtådalen in Beiarn, south of Bodø. Police said a search and rescue mission was launched immediately. At 1:30 a.m. Saturday, the police arrived at the scene and confirmed that the crew of four had died.
10 Humanitarian Corridors for Evacuation in Ukraine Have Been Agreed on With Russians: Ukrainian Official
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced Saturday that 10 humanitarian corridors have been agreed on with the Russians.
They include a corridor from the besieged port city of Mariupol, several in the Kyiv region and several in the Luhansk region.
She also announced plans to deliver humanitarian aid to the city of Kherson, which is currently under control of the Russian forces.
In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian forces are blockading the largest cities with the goal of creating such miserable conditions that Ukrainians will cooperate. He said the Russians are preventing supplies from reaching surrounded cities in central and southeastern Ukraine.
Satellite images on Friday from Maxar Technologies showed a long line of cars leaving Mariupol as people tried to evacuate. Zelenskyy said more than 9,000 people were able to leave the city in the past day.
Zelensky Said It Is Time for Meaningful Talks With Moscow
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday called for comprehensive peace talks with Moscow, saying Russia would otherwise need generations to recover from losses suffered during the war.
Zelensky said Ukraine had always offered solutions for peace and wanted meaningful and honest negotiations on peace and security, without delay.
“I want everyone to hear me now, especially in Moscow. The time has come for a meeting, it is time to talk,” he said in a video address released in the early hours of Saturday.
“The time has come to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine. Otherwise, Russia’s losses will be such that it will take you several generations to recover.”
The two sides have been involved in talks for weeks with no sign of a breakthrough.
Zelensky said Russian forces were deliberately blocking the supply of humanitarian supplies to cities under attack.
Zelensky said there was no information about how many people had died after a theater in the city of Mariupol, where hundreds of people had been sheltering, was struck on Wednesday. More than 130 people had been rescued so far, he said.
Ukraine Military Orders 38-hour Curfew in Southern Zaporizhzhia City, Says Official
Zaporizhzhia regional governor Oleksandr Starukh has announced a 38-hour curfew in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia, to last from 4 p.m. local time on Saturday until 6 a.m. on Monday.
Starukh said on Telegram on Saturday: “For your safety, do not go out into the streets and other public places during this time.”
Two missile strikes on the suburbs of Zaporizhzhia killed nine people on Friday, wounded 17 more and left five others with injuries, a spokesman of the Zaporizhzhia regional administration Ivan Arefiev reported Saturday.
Local authorities continue to evacuate people from settlements taken over by the Russians and deliver humanitarian aid to them, he said.
Russian Cosmonauts Arrived at International Space Station
Three Russian cosmonauts have arrived at the International Space Station wearing flight suits in yellow and blue colors that match the Ukrainian flag.
The men were the first new arrivals on the space station since the start of the Russian war in Ukraine last month.
Video of one of the cosmonauts taken as the capsule prepared to dock with the space station showed him wearing a blue flight suit. It was unclear what, if any, message the yellow uniforms they changed into were intended to send.
Oleg Artemyev was asked about the yellow flight suits when the newly arrived cosmonauts were able to talk to family back on Earth.
He said every crew chooses its own flight suits, so that they are not all the same.
“It became our turn to pick a color. But in fact, we had accumulated a lot of yellow material so we needed to use it. So that’s why we had to wear yellow,” he said.
Artemyev, Denis Matveyev and Sergey Korsakov blasted off successfully from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan in their Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft at 8:55 p.m. Friday (11:55 a.m. EDT). They smoothly docked at the station just over three hours later, joining two Russians, four Americans and a German on the orbiting outpost.
Twitter Blocks Account of Russia’s First Deputy UN Ambassador
Russia’s first deputy U.N. ambassador says Twitter has blocked his account, accusing him of “abuse and harassment,” due to a tweet about the maternity hospital in the besieged southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
“This is very deplorable,” Dmitry Polyansky told reporters after a U.N. Security Council meeting Friday, “and this clearly illustrates how much alternative view and free press, and free information is valued by Twitter and in this country.”
Polyansky, who had more than 22,000 followers and was a prolific Twitter user, said he received a message earlier Friday from Twitter’s cloud service saying he was violating Twitter’s rules and was “engaged in abuse and harassment.”
Germany’s Federal Police Registers More Than 200,000 Ukrainian Refugees
Germany’s federal police has registered more than 200,000 Ukrainian refugees in the country since the outbreak of the war more than three weeks ago.
The country’s interior ministry said 207,747 Ukrainian refugees had arrived as of Saturday. However, the real number of Ukrainian refugees in Germany is expected to be much higher.
Ukrainians don’t need a visa to come to Germany, and federal police only register refugees entering Germany by train or bus. There are not thorough border controls inside the European Union’s internal borders, so Ukrainians coming to Germany from Poland by car are normally not registered. Those who stay with family and friends in Germany are also not counted unless they apply for financial aid from German authorities.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Rules Out Providing Military Aid to Ukraine
Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov has ruled out providing military aid to Ukraine but says his country, a NATO ally, will continue to provide humanitarian assistance.
“Being so close to the conflict, right now I have to say that currently we will not be able to send military assistance to Ukraine. This will not be possible,” Petkov said Saturday at a news conference in the Bulgarian capital with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Bulgaria, which does not border Ukraine but has received thousands of refugees, has agreed to host a new contingent of NATO troops as part of the alliance’s push to reinforce its eastern flank. That contingent includes about 150 U.S. Army infantry soldiers.
Ukraine ‘Temporarily’ Loses Access to Sea of Azov: Defense Ministry
Ukraine’s defense ministry said late on Friday it lost access to the Sea of Azov “temporarily” as invading Russian forces were tightening their grip around the Sea’s major port of Mariupol.
“The occupiers have partially succeeded in the Donetsk operational district, temporarily depriving Ukraine of access to the Sea of Azov,” Ukraine’s defense ministry said in a statement.
The ministry did not specify in its statement whether Ukraine’s forces have regained access to the Sea.
Russia said on Friday its forces were “tightening the noose” around Mariupol, where an estimated 80 percent of the city’s homes had been damaged. Some 1,000 people may still be trapped in makeshift bomb shelters beneath a destroyed theater.
Mariupol, with its strategic location on the coast of the Sea of Azov, has been a target since the start of the war on Feb. 24 when Russian President Vladimir Putin launched what he called a “special military operation.”
Russia Tells Google to Stop Spreading Threats Against Russians on YouTube
Russia on Friday demanded that Google stop spreading what it called threats against Russian citizens on its YouTube video-sharing platform, a move that could presage an outright block of the service on Russian territory.
The regulator, Roskomnadzor, said adverts on the platform were calling for the communications systems of Russia and Belarus’s railway networks to be suspended and that their dissemination was evidence of the U.S. company’s anti-Russian position. It did not say which accounts were publishing the adverts.
“The actions of YouTube’s administration are of a terrorist nature and threaten the life and health of Russian citizens,” the regulator said.
“Roskomnadzor categorically opposes such advertising campaigns and demands that Google stop broadcasting anti-Russia videos as soon as possible.”
Russia to Work on Solo Mars Mission After Europe Freezes Joint Project: Interfax
Russia will start work on its own Mars mission given that the European Space Agency (ESA) has suspended a joint project in the wake of the Ukraine invasion, Interfax news agency quoted a top official as saying on Friday.
The ESA announced on Thursday that it would be impossible to continue cooperating with Russia on the ExoMars mission. A Russian rocket had been due to transport a European-made rover to Mars later this year.
“In the very near future we will start working on the implementation of a mission to Mars,” said Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roskosmos, Russia’s space agency.
Interfax quoted him as saying he did not think a rover would necessarily be needed since Russia’s existing landing module, which is designed to transport the rover, would be able to carry out the required scientific work.
Rogozin said there were “big doubts” about what the ESA could do without Russia, which already had a rocket, a launch site, and the landing module. The ESA would need at least six years to develop its own module, he said.
In response to sanctions, Roskosmos has already suspended cooperation with Europe on space launches and announced it would stop supplying rocket engines to the United States.
India Continues to Purchase Russian Oil and Gas
Indian Oil Corp., India’s state-owned oil company, purchased 3 million barrels of crude oil from Russia earlier this week, defying Western pressure to avoid buying oil from Moscow.
It appears that India will continue its purchases despite sanctions against Russia by the United States and other Western countries.
According to Indian media reports, Russia is offering a discount on oil purchases of 20 percent below global benchmark prices.
India is the world’s third-largest energy-consuming nation, and it has acquired multiple cargoes of Russian oil from traders that would have otherwise have gone to Europe before western sanctions on Moscow.
New Delhi has not imposed sanctions against buying oil and gas from Russia nor has any plans to do so.
It has so far abstained on votes at the U.N. condemning Russian aggression in Ukraine.