Ukrainian officials said Friday that Russian missiles struck an aircraft repair facility near an airport in Lviv — a western city near Poland that has been a relatively safe haven for foreign diplomats and fleeing Ukrainians — sowing fears of new fronts opening as the war enters its fourth week and Russian bombardments escalate.

In the besieged southern city of Mariupol, Ukrainian officials said roughly 1,300 people remained trapped in the basement of a theater struck by Russia on Wednesday. Around 130 people survived and were able to leave what had been serving as a civilian shelter, according to Ludmyla Denisova, the Ukrainian parliament’s human rights commissioner. Invading Russian troops have cut off badly needed supplies and sowed terror with apparent attacks on a children’s hospital, a university and other civilian targets.

In the absence of major territorial advances, Russia is increasingly relying on sieges and unguided “dumb” bombs to wear down cities and civilians. The United Nations has confirmed 816 civilian deaths, including the deaths of 59 children, while warning that the real tolls are almost certainly far higher.

As concerns mounted that Beijing would offer military equipment and aid to Moscow, President Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, spoke for nearly two hours Friday. China made a statement afterward that did not mention any actions that it might take to promote peace in Ukraine.

Here’s what to know

  • In a sign of worsening relations between Russia and former Soviet and allied states, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Bulgaria said Friday that they would expel a total of 20 Russian diplomats from their nations.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, pledged to fight for all Ukrainian cities under attack and appealed to Russian citizens to challenge the Kremlin. “We want you to love your children more than you fear your authorities,” he said in a video address.
  • Russia called its second meeting in a week of the United Nations Security Council to accuse the United States of conducting a biological weapons program in Ukraine — a claim that The Washington Post’s Fact Checker ruled “disinformation.”
  • A U.S. citizen was killed amid Russian shelling in the besieged city of Chernihiv on Thursday. James Whitney Hill, 68, died while trying to obtain food for himself, his partner and other ill patients at a hospital, his sister told The Post….


Vladimir Putin appeared at a huge flag-waving rally at a Moscow stadium Friday and lavished praise on his troops fighting in Ukraine, three weeks into the invasion that has led to heavier-than-expected Russian losses on the battlefield and increasingly authoritarian rule at home.

“Shoulder to shoulder, they help and support each other,” the Russian president said of the Kremlin’s forces in a rare public appearance since the start of the war. “We have not had unity like this for a long time,” he added to cheers from the crowd.

The rally came as Russian troops continued to rain lethal fire on Ukrainian cities, including the capital, Kyiv, and pounded an aircraft repair installation on the outskirts of Lviv, close to the Polish border….


They patrol checkpoints and hold down front lines, evacuate civilians and provide crucial combat medical care.

Although the vast majority of Ukraine’s military is made up of men, some 32,000 women belonged to the country’s armed forces before Russia invaded Ukraine. More have joined the fight since then.

Men between the ages of 18 and 60 are banned from leaving the country, meaning that most of the 3 million refugees who have left have been women and children. But many other women have remained behind and, like so many Ukrainians, have been forced by circumstances to join the war effort. These are the stories of four who chose to stay….


If the fine details of any agreement aren’t sorted out with immense care, President Putin or his successors could always use them as an excuse to invade Ukraine again.

A peace deal could take a long time to sort out, even if a ceasefire stops the bloodshed in the meantime.

Ukraine has suffered appallingly over the past few weeks, and rebuilding the towns and cities which Russia has damaged and destroyed will take a long time. So will rehousing the millions of refugees who have fled their homes.

What about Vladimir Putin himself? There have been suggestions that he is ill, or possibly even mentally unbalanced. Did Mr Kalin detect anything strange about him in the phone call? Not at all, he said. Mr Putin had apparently been clear and concise in everything he said.

Yet even if he does manage to present an agreement with Ukraine as a glorious victory over neo-Nazism, his position at home must be weakened.

More and more people will realise that he overreached himself badly, and stories of the soldiers who have been killed or captured are already spreading fast….


image…Daria Vasylchenko, a soldier and medic in Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces, at a sandbagged position in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 5, 2022. (Heidi Levine for The Washington Post)