NATO to OK 'major increases' of troops; Ukraine appears to be retaking ground near Kyiv
This has been CNBC's live blog covering updates on the war in Ukraine. Follow the latest updates
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for more pressure on Russia as the war appears to be entering a stalemate.
Meanwhile, the British government said Ukrainian forces are carrying out successful counterattacks against Russian units on the outskirts of Kyiv and may be regaining lost ground.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance's leaders are expected on Thursday to commit "major increases" in troops along its eastern flank when they meet in Brussels for its extraordinary summit to discuss Russia's war on Ukraine on Thursday.
In his latest video address, Zelenskyy said that about 100,000 people are still stuck in the port city of Mariupol under a "complete blockade" and suffering under "inhumane conditions."
Russian air strikes have turned the besieged port city into the "ashes of a dead land," the city council said, as the U.S. and Europe prepared to slap more sanctions on Moscow.
Ukrainian forces make counterattacks near Kyiv, may have regained ground
Ukrainian defenders in the vicinity of Kyiv are mounting successful counterattacks near the capital and appear to be retaking lost ground, the British Defence Ministry said Wednesday night, though reports from the area partially contradicted those claims.
The ministry said in an intelligence update that Ukraine is bringing "increasing pressure" northeast of Kyiv, where a long-stalled advance by Russian troops has left them facing "considerable supply and morale issues."
Ukrainian forces have probably retaken the towns of Makariv and Moschun, said the ministry.
Moschun is close to Kyiv and due north, while Makariv is about 20 miles (32 km) due west of the capital.
The Ukrainian government first claimed to have retaken Makariv on Tuesday. Journalists from the Washington Post who were in the vicinity reported on Wednesday evening that Ukrainian soldiers were in the town, but it was still being struck by Russian artillery.
The U.K. ministry added that there is "a realistic possibility that Ukrainian forces are now able to encircle Russian units in Bucha and Irpin." Both of those towns border Kyiv's western city limits.
CNBC was unable to independently corroborate the ministry's claims. The situation on the ground in Ukraine is fluid and often impossible to verify.
"It is likely that successful counter attacks by Ukraine will disrupt the ability of Russian forces to reorganise and resume their own offensive towards Kyiv," the Defence Ministry said.
— Ted Kemp
Zelenskyy marks one month of war against Russia
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine's resistance against the Russian invasion has lasted six times longer than the Kremlin had planned and that Russia "deceived themselves."
"The original plan of the Russian troops crumbled in the first days of the invasion. They thought that Ukrainians will get scared, that we Ukrainians would not fight back. They were mistaken," he said, in a video address marking one month since Russia began its invasion.
Still, Zelenskyy repeated his call for additional aid, noting the Russian military can kill thousands "simply because there is a lot of them."
"The Ukrainian sky is still not protected from the Russian rockets and airstrikes. We still have not received the planes and modern air defense weapons. We still have not received the tanks," he said, according to an English transcript by NBC News.
Ukraine is also expecting serious steps from NATO, the EU and G-7.
"Our position will be, at these three summits, our strong position. At these three summits we will see who is a friend, who is a partner, and who sold out and betrayed," Zelenskyy said.
— Goh Chiew Tong
Refugees from Mariupol housed in Russia
Refugees from Mariupol stay at a temporary accommodation center in Taganrog, Russia.
Russia to expel more U.S. diplomats, State says
The Kremlin has informed U.S. officials that more American diplomats will be ordered to leave Russia, a State Department spokesman said.
"The U.S. Embassy received a list of diplomats declared 'persona non grata' from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on March 23," a spokesperson wrote in an evening statement.
"This is Russia's latest unhelpful and unproductive step in our bilateral relationship. We call on the Russian government to end its unjustified expulsions of U.S. diplomats and staff. Now more than ever, it is critical that our countries have the necessary diplomatic personnel in place to facilitate communication between our governments," the spokesperson wrote.
Earlier in the week, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs told U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan in Moscow that relations between Washington and Moscow were on the "verge of rupture.
Biden has previously called Russian leader Vladimir Putin a war criminal for his attacks on Ukraine. It was the first time Biden had publicly branded the Russian leader with that phrase.
– Amanda Macias
UK set to announce arms package of 6,000 missiles and an additional $528 million for Ukraine
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is slated to announce a major new arms package for Ukraine at the NATO and G7 leaders' meetings on Thursday.
The UK will provide Ukraine with 6,000 missiles, including anti-tank and high explosive weapons as well as $33 million or £25 million in financial backing.
"This more than doubles the defensive lethal aid provided to date to more than 10,000 missiles and comes on top of the £400 million ($528 million) the UK has committed in humanitarian and economic aid for the crisis," 10 Downing Street wrote in a statement announcing the measure.
The UK has sent more than 4,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine's armed forces, including Javelin missiles and Starstreak high-velocity anti-air missiles to help defend against aerial bombings.
Additionally, Johnson is committing $5.4 million or £4.1 million to the BBC World Service in order to help tackle Russian disinformation. Johnson is also expected to announce some financial support for the International Criminal Court's investigation into war crimes.
– Amanda Macias
Russian forces halt advance on Kyiv, establish defensive positions instead, Pentagon says
Russian forces are beginning to set up defensive positions about 10 to 12 miles away from Kyiv's city center, according to a senior U.S. Defense official.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details from the Pentagon's ongoing assessment of the war, said that Russians have been largely stalled outside of Kyiv for weeks now.
"We are starting to see now that they are basically digging in and they are establishing defensive positions," the official said of Russian forces.
"So it's not that they're not advancing, they're actually not trying to advance right now," the official said, adding that Russian troops do not appear to continue an advance on Kyiv anytime soon.
– Amanda Macias
Automaker Renault suspends manufacturing in Russia
Renault Group is suspending manufacturing operations at a large plant in Moscow, the French multinational automaker announced.
The carmaker said it's also "assessing the available options" regarding its controlling stake in Russian automaker AvtoVAZ, "taking into account the current environment, while acting responsibly towards its 45,000 employees in Russia."
Renault accounts for 39.5% of Russia's vehicle production, the largest of any automaker, and has been reluctant to suspend operations in the country. That's despite large companies in the automotive industry and elsewhere pulling out of the country following Russia's invasion of Ukraine nearly four weeks ago.
In tandem with suspending the operations, Renault revised its 2022 financial forecast, lowering its expected operating margin from more than 4% to about 3%.
— Michael Wayland
'Russia caused one of the fastest-growing humanitarian catastrophes in the world,' US says at UN
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield slammed Russia and urged UN members to hold Moscow to account for "instigating this war."
"In one month, Russia caused one of the fastest-growing humanitarian catastrophes in the world," Thomas-Greenfield said before the international forum.
More than 10 million people, about a quarter of Ukraine's pre-war population, have been displaced by the war, she said, citing UN statistics. She added that "Russia must be held accountable for the humanitarian crisis, it is creating.
"This war did not appear out of thin air, this humanitarian crisis was not a natural disaster. It was man-made," Biden's top diplomat at the UN said.
– Amanda Macias
Israel sets up field hospital in Lviv
Medical workers welcome patients at Israeli field hospital in Mostyska near the Polish border, in Lviv, western Ukraine.
— Getty Images
U.S. mulls on whether to press for Russia's removal from G20
The Biden administration is considering whether Russia should be removed from the G-20 over its invasion of Ukraine, three people familiar with the discussions tell NBC News.
The move to expel Russia from the exclusive group of the world's 19 largest economies and the European Union would require the backing of other G-20 members like China. Beijing has previously defended Russia's continued participation in the group calling Moscow an "important member."
Russian officials have previously said that Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to attend the G-20 summit in November hosted in Indonesia.
When asked about Russia's possible removal from the G-20 during a White House briefing on Tuesday, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that the U.S. would first "consult with our allies, consult with our partners in those institutions before making any further pronouncements."
Russia was kicked out of the G-8, now recognized as the G-7, back in 2014 after its illegal annexation of Crimea.
– Amanda Macias
Zelenskyy invited to address European Council this week
European Council president Charles Michel said he invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to address members of the forum this week.
"Courageous Ukrainians are fighting for freedom and the EU is strong in support of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Michel wrote in a tweet.
Zelenskyy is slated to virtually address the leaders of NATO member states during the alliance's meeting on Thursday morning.
– Amanda Macias
U.S. government formally accuses Russia of war crimes
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken formally announced that the United States government believes Russia has committed war crimes in Ukraine and should be prosecuted.
In a statement, Blinken repeatedly raised the brutality in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine and he compared it to similar Russian campaigns against Grozny in the Second Chechen War and Aleppo during the Syrian civil war.
"Russia's forces have destroyed apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping centers, and ambulances, leaving thousands of innocent civilians killed or wounded," said Blinken.
"Many of the sites Russia's forces have hit have been clearly identifiable as in-use by civilians," Blinken said in a statement, citing bombings of the Mariupol maternity hospital and a theater there that was clearly marked with the word for children in Russian "in huge letters visible from the sky."
— Christina Wilkie
Up to 40,000 Russian soldiers killed, wounded, captured or MIA
The NATO alliance estimates that up to 40,000 Russian troops have been killed, injured, captured or gone missing during the first month of the Kremlin's war in Ukraine, an alliance official confirmed to NBC News.
Of those, between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian troops have died, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to share the alliance's latest intelligence assessment of the ongoing war.
Russian officials have previously declined to publicly disclose how many of its troops have died while fighting in Ukraine. On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that disclosing such figures is the "exclusive prerogative" of Russia's Ministry of Defense.
— Amanda Macias
NATO is considering stationing troops on its eastern flank permanently, U.S. ambassador says
NATO is considering permanently stationing troops along its eastern flank, the U.S. ambassador to the military alliance said.
"NATO is in the process now of stepping back and thinking more about a medium and longer-term force presence in NATO territory on that eastern flank," Julianne Smith told a virtual audience hosted by the Atlantic Council, adding that a stronger NATO presence in the region will send "a pretty clear message to Moscow."
"Permanent stationing could be one solution or persistent rotations as another option that could be on the table. So at this point, what we need to do is have our military commanders give us the best advice that they can come to us with specific proposals and then as an alliance, look at what the security environment requires," Smith said.
Earlier in the day, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would approve a "major increase" of its forces a month into the Kremlin's war.
– Amanda Macias
WHO warns of risk of catastrophic nuclear, chemical accidents in Ukraine
The World Health Organization called on Russia to end its invasion of Urkraine, warning that the Kremlin's violent seizure of nuclear and chemical facilities there could lead to an accident with disastrous consequences.
"We continue to call on all sides to minimize the risk of a nuclear or chemical accident, which could have catastrophic consequences for human health," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press briefing in Geneva.
Tedros said the WHO is working with the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor the safe operation of nuclear and chemical facilities in Ukraine. The Russian military fired on a training center near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant as they seized the facility earlier this month, causing a fire that has since been extinguished.
There was no release of radioactive material at Zaporizhzhia, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said earlier this month. The facility is the largest nuclear plant in Europe.
— Spencer Kimball
NATO allies slated to call on China to deny aid to Russia
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the 30-member alliance will call on China to reject any requests from Russia to support its war against Ukraine as it enters its second month.
"China has provided Russia with political support, including by spreading blatant lies and misinformation. And allies are concerned that China should provide material support for the Russian invasion," Stoltenberg said during a press conference ahead of the NATO leaders summit.
"I expect leaders will call on China to live up to its responsibilities as a member of the UN Security Council and refrain from supporting Russia's war effort and join the rest of the world in calling for an immediate peaceful end to this war," he added.
Last week, President Joe Biden spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping for nearly two hours and reiterated that Beijing should reject any Russian requests for military or economic aid.
– Amanda Macias
NATO leaders to agree to 'major increases' of troops
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is likely to bolster troops along the alliance's eastern flank, deploying four new battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia.
"I expect leaders will agree to strengthen NATO's posture in all domains, with major increases in the eastern part of the alliance on land, in the air and at sea," Stoltenberg said during a press conference ahead of the NATO leaders summit in Brussels.
Since the Kremlin's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, NATO has readied 140,000 troops in the region and mobilized a colossal war chest of advanced military equipment in preparation. Of the approximately 140,000 troops, the United States has provided the lion's share of 100,000.
The U.S. service members and NATO troops are currently deployed in neighboring NATO member countries and are not directly fighting with Russian forces inside Ukraine.
— Amanda Macias
Biden calls Russia's use of chemical weapons against Ukraine 'a real threat'
President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin's potential use of chemical weapons to attack Ukraine "a real threat."
Biden's comments came as he left the White House ahead of travel to Brussels, Belgium where he will meet with leaders of the NATO member alliance.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters at the alliance headquarters that using chemical weapons would change the nature of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
"It will be a blatant violation of international law and with far-reaching consequences," Stoltenberg said, adding that the use of such weapons could impact nearby NATO member countries.
Stoltenberg also said that the NATO alliance will be soon providing Ukraine with equipment to protect against chemical, biological, radiological as well as nuclear weapons. He declined to elaborate on what kind of specific support the alliance would provide out of operational security.
Russia has previously used chemical weapons on the battlefield, including in Syria.
– Amanda Macias
Ukraine's Zelenskyy urges Japan lawmakers to impose further sanctions on Russia
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on Japan to impose further economic sanctions on Russia over its invasion, appealing to lawmakers in a direct address to ratchet up the pressure on Moscow.
Addressing Japan's Parliament via video link, Zelenskyy thanked the country for leading the way among Asian nations in condemning Russia's unprovoked assault and imposing punitive measures.
He called for a concerted effort by Japan's Asia partner states to stabilize the situation in a bid to restore peace.
Zelenskyy has previously addressed the parliaments of Canada, Britain, the EU, Germany, Israel, Italy and the U.S.
— Sam Meredith
'Extremely dangerous': Russia warns against sending international peacekeepers to Ukraine
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has warned against a proposal from Poland to send international peacekeepers to Ukraine, warning it could lead to a direct conflict between Russian and NATO forces.
"It would be a very reckless and extremely dangerous decision," Peskov told reporters on a conference call, Reuters reported.
Poland said last week it would formally submit a proposal for a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine at the next NATO summit. U.S. President Joe Biden is scheduled to depart for Europe to take part in an emergency NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium on Thursday.
— Sam Meredith
Red Cross head to raise 'pressing humanitarian issues' in meeting with Russian authorities
The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will discuss the "pressing humanitarian issues" arising from the devastating conflict in Ukraine in a bid to alleviate the suffering, the agency said in a statement.
"The devastation caused by the conflict in recent weeks, as well as eight years of conflict in Donbas, has been vast," ICRC President Peter Maurer said. "There are practical steps guided by international humanitarian law that the parties must take to limit the suffering. I was in Kyiv last week and I'm in Moscow this week to continue the discussion with the authorities on these steps."
The ICRC said Maurer would meet with representatives of Russia's Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense as well as the chairman of the Russian Red Cross.
In addition to Ukraine, humanitarian issues in Syria and in relation to the consequences of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will be on the agenda.
— Sam Meredith
China reportedly backs Russia's G-20 membership amid threat of expulsion
China has reportedly backed Russia amid speculation that the U.S. and international allies could seek to expel the Kremlin from the G-20 group of the world's largest economies over its invasion of Ukraine.
"The G-20 is the main forum for international economic cooperation. Russia is an important member, and no member has the right to expel another country," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, according to Agence France-Presse.
The Kremlin has accused the U.S. and others of putting pressure on countries regarding Moscow's position within the group of major economies. It is seen as likely that any potential bid to exclude Russia from the G-20 would be vetoed by others in the group.
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a press briefing on Tuesday: "On the question of the G20, I will just say this: We believe that it cannot be business as usual for Russia in international institutions and in the international community."
— Sam Meredith
German leader says Putin is destroying Russia's future
Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz said President Vladimir Putin is "destroying" Russia's future by continuing its destructive invasion of Ukraine.
Scholz called for an immediate cease-fire and said Ukraine could rely on Germany's help.
Germany has been criticized for a lackluster response to the war in Ukraine, and had reportedly tried to block the sending of weapons to Ukraine ahead of the invasion which began on Feb. 24.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy berated German lawmakers last week when he addressed the German Parliament, the Bundestag, saying Germany had prioritized economic relations with Russia.
"We saw how many ties your companies still have with Russia. With a state that just uses you and some other countries to finance the war," Zelenskyy said.
"You probably do not all notice yet ... You are behind the wall again. Not the Berlin Wall. But in the middle of Europe. Between freedom and slavery," he said.
— Holly Ellyatt
Russian forces reorganizing in northern Ukraine, UK intelligence suggests
The U.K.'s Ministry of Defense has released its latest intelligence assessment of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and believes its forces could be regrouping in the north.
"The battlefield across northern Ukraine remains largely static with Russian forces likely conducting a period of reorganisation before resuming large-scale offensive operations," the ministry said in a tweet.
Russian forces are attempting to envelop Ukrainian troops in the east of the country as they advance from the direction of Kharkiv in the north and Mariupol in the south, the ministry added.
Russian forces are still attempting to circumvent Mykolaiv, a city near the Black Sea in southern Ukraine, as they look to drive west toward Odesa, the ministry's assessment stated.
— Holly Ellyatt
Nine humanitarian corridors open, Ukraine's deputy prime minister says
Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that nine humanitarian corridors are open for evacuations on Wednesday, including one from the besieged port city of Mariupol.
The governor of Luhansk, Serhiy Gaiday, also said on Telegram that residents from parts of the region will be able to leave during a "silence regime" where Russian shelling will subside, according to an NBC translation.
Besides evacuations, Gaiday said food will also be delivered to remote settlements of Luhansk.
Such humanitarian corridors have been set up before, but were not always successful. Ukraine's parliament previously said it had to suspend the evacuation of civilians because Russia did not keep to the ceasefire agreement.
— Abigail Ng
Pentagon says Russia's rhetoric around nuclear weapons is 'dangerous'
The U.S. has reacted to comments from the Kremlin's spokesman Dmity Peskov, who told CNN in an interview Tuesday that Russia could consider using nuclear weapons if Russia faced an "existential threat."
When asked about the comments, the Pentagon's spokesman John Kirby said the rhetoric was "dangerous" and that "it's not the way a responsible nuclear power should act."
Kirby's comments come after Peskov refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons, and when asked by CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday under what conditions Putin would use Russia's nuclear capability, Peskov replied, "if it is an existential threat for our country, then it can be."
U.S. President Joe Biden and his European counterparts are expected to announce new sanctions against Russia, as well as a tightening of existing sanctions, during his trip to Brussels this week.
Biden will also discuss longer-term adjustments to NATO force posture and contingencies in the case of nuclear weapons use, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Tuesday.
— Holly Ellyatt
Russia's G-20 membership is in question, report suggests
Russia's G-20 membership is under scrutiny, with the U.S. and its Western allies reportedly assessing whether the country should remain in the Group of Twenty grouping of major economies following its invasion of Ukraine, sources involved in the discussions told Reuters on Tuesday.
The likelihood that any bid to exclude Russia outright would be vetoed by others in the club — which includes China, India, Saudi Arabia and others — raised the prospect of some countries skipping G-20 meetings this year, the sources said.
The G-20, and its smaller G-7 counterpart, see leaders of the world's largest economies come together to try to coordinate responses to international events, such as economic crises or climate change.
Reuters reported one unnamed, senior G-7 official as questioning whether it's appropriate that Russia remains a member of G-20. Russia was suspended from what was previously the G-8 after it annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
— Holly Ellyatt
Satellite images show destruction in Mariupol caused by airstrikes
Residential buildings and factories in the southeastern city of Mariupol have been destroyed, according to satellite images taken on Tuesday by U.S. firm Maxar Technologies.
Maxar, which works with U.S. government agencies to provide commercial satellite imagery, released photos that showed damage to apartment buildings and a factory.
The latest batch of images, all dated March 22, also showed smoke billowing from buildings in Mariupol.
— Abigail Ng
Around 100,000 still in Mariupol under 'inhumane conditions,' Zelenskyy says
Around 100,000 people remain in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol under "inhumane conditions," Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
"No food, no water, no medicine. Under constant shelling, under constant bombing," he said in a video address, according to an English transcript by NBC News.
Ukraine has been trying to evacuate people from the city and bring in humanitarian aid for more than a week, Zelenskyy said. "Almost all our attempts, unfortunately, are disrupted by the Russian occupiers. By shelling or deliberate terror."
The president also said that Ukrainian representatives are continuing "very difficult" negotiations virtually. "Step by step we are moving forward," he said.
He said he was grateful for the support of international mediators and leaders. "Today was one of those days that allows us to say with confidence that the whole world is with us," he said.
— Abigail Ng