- The United Nations has recorded the deaths of 726 civilians, including 52 children, in Ukraine.
- UN political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo says the death toll is “likely much higher”.
- Ukraine says 3,810 people were evacuated from cities on Thursday, including around 2,000 who left the besieged city of Mariupol.
- The UN Security Council is holding a meeting to discuss the situation in Ukraine.
- US President Joe Biden is expected to warn Chinese President Xi Jinping in a phone call on Friday against supporting Russia in the war.
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accuses Russia of committing “war crimes”.
- The World Health Organization has said it verified 43 attacks on Ukraine healthcare facilities.
Here are the latest updates:
Why Security Council will not vote on Russia’s ‘humanitarian’ draft resolution
Al Jazeera’s Kristen Saloomey, reporting from the UN, said Ukraine’s ambassador delivered “an impassioned response” at the Security Council to Russia’s denial that it is the aggressor in the conflict.
Russia had put forward a humanitarian resolution that was expected to come up for a vote on Friday, Saloomey explained, but Moscow said it would no longer bring that measure to a vote.
“It was clear the US was not going to back that without wording in that resolution acknowledging that the reason for the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding there is the Russians’ aggression,” she said.
Friday’s meeting will still take place, she said, but the focus will be on Russia’s allegation that US-backed biological laboratories in Ukraine – a claim the US, Ukraine and other allies have rejected.
Zelenskyy says he spoke to Macron, focused on ‘peaceful dialogue’
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has said he spoke with France’s Emmanuel Macron, and the two leaders emphasised the “continuation of peaceful dialogue”.
“We must strengthen the anti-war coalition,” Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter.
Continued dialogue with 🇫🇷 President @EmmanuelMacron. Discussed the support for Ukrainians in the fight against Russian aggression, especially in the defense sphere. Emphasis was put on the continuation of peaceful dialogue. We must strengthen the anti-war coalition. #StopRussia
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 17, 2022
Ukraine says 3,810 people evacuated from cities: Interfax agency
A total of 3,810 people have been evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Thursday, Interfax Ukraine cited a senior official as saying, a far smaller number than on Wednesday.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told a briefing that around 2,000 people managed to leave the besieged city of Mariupol. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said a total of more than 60,000 people had been evacuated on Wednesday.
Moscow rejects reports of Russian atrocities as ‘propaganda’
Russia’s ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya has rejected reports of Russian atrocities in Ukraine as “propaganda”.
Nebenzya described allegations that Russia is targeting hospitals and residential areas, including recent accusations that Russian forces bombed a theatre sheltering civilians in the besieged southern city of Mariupol, as “fakes”.
“The hyped-up campaign of lies and disinformation in Ukraine is reaching new and new heights,” Nebenzya told the Security Council.
US Congress moves to revoke Russia’s ‘most favoured nation’ trade status
The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved legislation to revoke Russia’s “most favoured nation” trading status, bringing the US closer to imposing higher tariffs and restrictions on Russian imports.
The House’s 428-8 vote sends the bill, requested by President Joe Biden, to the Senate for likely approval as soon as next week.
The bill also would allow Biden to impose more penalties on Russian officials under the US’s Global Magnitsky sanctions law.
‘War is causing suffering well beyond Ukraine’s borders,’ says UK envoy
British ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward has called on Russia to end the war, saying that the conflict is causing suffering around the world, not only in Ukraine.
“President Putin’s war is causing suffering well beyond Ukraine’s borders,” Woodward told the UN Security Council.
“Thousands of students – many from nations around this table – have been caught up in the violence. The war is spiking food and energy prices, bringing further pain to countries in the developing world already suffering from the impact of COVID and famine and conflict and climate. Millions of refugees have been taken in by countries across Europe.”
More than 700 civilians killed so far in Ukraine, UN says
More than 700 civilians – including 52 children – have been killed in Ukraine since Russia invaded but the “actual number is likely much higher”, UN political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the Security Council.
“Hundreds of residential buildings have been damaged or destroyed, as have hospitals and schools,” DiCarlo said.
She added that the UN human rights agency has recorded 726 deaths, as well as 1,174 people injured, including 63 children, between February 24 and March 15. DiCarlo did not specify who was to blame. “This demands a thorough investigation and accountability,” she said.
US envoy to UN calls on Putin to ‘end this madness’
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US envoy to the United Nations, has said the only way to end the war is for Putin to stop the invasion and withdraw Russian troops from Ukraine.
“There’s only one way, one way to end this madness,” Thomas-Greenfield told the UN Security Council.
“President Putin, stop the killing; withdraw your forces; leave Ukraine once and for all.”
12 dead in dozens of attacks on Ukrainian health care: WHO
The World Health Organization has verified 43 attacks on health care in Ukraine, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the UN Security Council.
The attacks have resulted in the deaths of 12 people and injured dozens more.
“In any conflict, attacks on health care are a violation of international humanitarian law,” Tedros told the 15-member council, without specifying who was to blame for the attacks.
Canada unveils new pathway to temporary residency for Ukrainians
Canada has unveiled details of a new immigration scheme that will allow Ukrainians to stay in the country for up to three years as temporary residents.
The government said overseas applicants must apply for a Canadian visitor visa online and provide fingerprints and a photo, and it also encouraged applicants also to apply for a three-year work permit at the same time.
Ukrainian workers, students and visitors and their relatives already in Canada can also apply to extend their stay for up to three years, Ottawa said.
Blinken accuses Russia of committing ‘war crimes’
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accused Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine, echoing Biden, who on Wednesday called Putin a “war criminal”.
“Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime. After all the destruction of the past three weeks I find it difficult to conclude that the Russians are doing otherwise,” Blinken told reporters.
Still, Blinken said US State Department experts are in the process of documenting and evaluating potential war crimes to help international efforts towards accountability.
Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.
Read all the updates from Thursday, March 17 here.