Ukraine morning briefing: Five developments as Russia says more than 1,000 Ukrainians surrender in Mariupol

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A member of Ukraine's territorial defence force outside a bombed-out house north east of Kyiv - GETTY IMAGES
A member of Ukraine's territorial defence force outside a bombed-out house north east of Kyiv - GETTY IMAGES

Good morning. More than 1,000 Ukrainian marines have surrendered to Russian forces in the besieged port city of Mariupol, the Russian defence ministry has said according to the TASS news agency.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has rejected Vladimir Putin's claim that the Russian invasion is going to plan, asking how a strategy could have been approved that "provides for the deaths of tens of thousands of their own soldiers".

Meanwhile, Joe Biden said there is growing evidence that Russia's invasion of Ukraine amounts to genocide, warning that Putin is trying to "wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian".

Here's what happened overnight – and you can follow the latest updates in our live blog.

1. Zelensky mocks Putin's claim war is going well

Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday morning mocked Moscow's insistence that the war was going well, asking how Vladimir Putin could have approved a plan that involved so many Russians dying.

Putin said on Tuesday that Russia would achieve all of its "noble" aims and "rhythmically and calmly" continue with its invasion.

Moscow said on March 25, its most recent update, that 1,351 soldiers had been killed since the start of the campaign. Ukraine says the real number is closer to 20,000.

Putin insisted Russia would achieve all of its "noble" aims - REUTERS
Putin insisted Russia would achieve all of its "noble" aims - REUTERS

"In Russia it was once again said that their so-called 'special operation' is supposedly going according to plan. But, to be honest, no one in the world understands how such a plan could even come about," Mr Zelensky said.

"How could a plan that provides for the death of tens of thousands of their own soldiers in a little more than a month of war come about? Who could approve such a plan?"

2. Biden describes Putin's war as 'genocide'

Joe Biden said for the first time on Tuesday that there is growing evidence that Russia's invasion of Ukraine amounts to genocide, but said it will be up to lawyers to make the final determination.

During a speech in Iowa about gasoline prices, Mr Biden said: "Your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank, none of it should hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide a half a world away."

He later stood by his statement, claiming that Putin is trying to "wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian".

"Yes, I called it genocide because it has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of being able to be Ukrainian and the evidence is mounting," he told reporters.

He added: "We'll let the lawyers decide internationally whether or not it qualifies, but it sure seems that way to me."

3. Russia says more than 1,000 Ukrainians surrender in Mariupol

A total of 1,026 Ukrainian marines have surrendered in the besieged port city of Mariupol, the Russian defence ministry has said according to the TASS news agency.

This comes after reports that Ukrainian soldiers in the city had run out of food and ammunition after weeks of heavy fighting, leaving them with no option but to surrender.

Ukraine - REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
Ukraine - REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

The figures were echoed by Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen leader, who also urged remaining forces holed up in the Azovstal steel mill to surrender.

There was no comment from Ukrainian officials on the statement made on Kadyrov's Telegram channel. Ukraine's General Staff, in its morning report on Wednesday, said that Russian forces were proceeding with attacks on Azovstal and the port.

4. More than 720 killed in Bucha, says Ukraine

More than 720 people have been killed in Bucha and other Kyiv suburbs that were occupied by Russian troops and more than 200 are considered missing, Ukraine's Interior Ministry said on Wednesday morning.

In Bucha alone, mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk said 403 bodies had been found and the toll could rise as minesweepers comb the area.

A forensics worker rests after loading bodies onto a truck in Bucha - AP
A forensics worker rests after loading bodies onto a truck in Bucha - AP

Ukraine's prosecutor-general's office said on Tuesday it was also looking into events in the Brovary district, which lies to the north-east.

Authorities said the bodies of six civilians were found with gunshot wounds in a basement in the village of Shevchenkove and Russian forces are believed to be responsible.

5. Humanitarian corridors not possible today

Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine's deputy prime minister, said it was not possible to open any humanitarian corridors on Wednesday, and she accused occupying Russian forces of violating a ceasefire and blocking buses evacuating civilians.

Vereshchuk added in a statement on the Telegram messaging app that authorities would work to reopen the humanitarian corridors as soon as possible.

It comes as Vadym Boichenko, the mayor of Mariupol, said that more than 100,000 people remain in the city awaiting evacuation.

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