Pope's call for Ukraine's surrender receives criticism from Scholz, Stoltenberg

The Pope's call for Ukraine to consider negotiations with Russia has sparked varied responses from political figures and officials. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and NATO General Jens Stoltenberg have both criticized the Pope's remarks, emphasizing the need for Ukraine to defend itself against aggression. German Defense Minister Annalena Baerbock expressed her lack of understanding regarding the Pope's comments and emphasized the importance of supporting Ukraine in its defense.

During a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, NATO General Stoltenberg stated that surrender is not peace and emphasized the importance of strengthening Ukraine to compel Russian President Vladimir Putin to negotiate a solution that recognizes Ukraine as a sovereign, independent nation.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis indirectly referenced the Pope's remarks in a social media post about the Oscar-winning documentary "20 Days in Mariupol," highlighting the harsh reality of Russian 'peace.'

Ukraine's ambassador to the Vatican, Andrii Yurash, clarified that the Pope's comments reflected his personal views and did not represent the official position of the Vatican. Yurash also mentioned that the Pope has been invited to Ukraine multiple times and highlighted a previous meeting between Pope Francis and President Zelensky in May 2023.

The director of the Vatican Press Office, Matteo Bruni, issued a statement clarifying the Pope's stance. Bruni emphasized that the Pope did not call for Ukraine's surrender but advocated for a ceasefire and diplomatic negotiations, aiming for a just and lasting peace.

Russian attacks against Ukraine killed three, injured thirteen people

The situation in Ukraine remains dire as Russian attacks persist, resulting in casualties and damages across various regions. Over the past day, three people were killed and 13 others were injured in Russian attacks. The General Staff reported that Russia launched 25 Shahed drones at Ukraine, with Ukrainian air defenses successfully intercepting 15 of them.

Russian forces targeted a total of 10 Ukrainian oblasts, including Chernihiv, Sumy, Mykolaiv, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson, and Donetsk. Casualties were reported in Kherson and Donetsk oblasts.

In Donetsk Oblast, a Russian drone attack on a residential area in Dobropillia resulted in two deaths and 12 injuries. Another attack in Chasiv Yar resulted in one fatality. In Kherson Oblast, Russian troops launched 12 strikes, damaging houses, a multi-apartment building, and a car, with one person reported injured.

Kharkiv Oblast experienced multiple attacks, including strikes on the town of Vovchansk. Russian troops attacked Vovchansk three times, damaging private houses and outbuildings. Additionally, a drone attack in Kharkiv damaged two multi-apartment buildings, a hotel, an infrastructure facility, and two cars.

In Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Nikopol was struck by Russian drones, and the Chervonohryhoriv community was shelled, resulting in damage to houses, outbuildings, a greenhouse, a gas pipeline, and power lines.

Overnight, Ukrainian air defense forces successfully shot down 10 drones launched by Russia over Odesa Oblast. Despite the successful interception, the attack caused damage to an infrastructure facility and administrative buildings.

The situation on the ground remains critical, with ongoing conflict and humanitarian concerns. International efforts to address the crisis and bring about a resolution continue amid the escalating violence.

Infrastructure, houses in Odesa damaged due to a massive drone attack in Odessa

The city of Odesa in Ukraine faced a significant drone attack overnight on March 11, with Russian forces launching a massive assault. The Southern Operational Command reported damage to infrastructure and homes as waves of Shahed drones approached the city from the Black Sea. Ukrainian air defense units were active for an hour and a half, successfully shooting down 10 attack drones. Fortunately, preliminary reports suggest no casualties from the attack.

The assault caused a fire in an infrastructure facility in Odesa, which emergency workers managed to extinguish. Administrative buildings in the city were damaged, and the windows of multiple homes were shattered. Debris from the fallen drones also caused damage to outbuildings in the area.

The attack on Odesa follows previous incidents, with Ukraine's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Sergiy Kyslytsya, noting on March 8 that Russia is attempting to disrupt Ukraine's maritime corridor by consistently striking Odesa. A missile attack on the city on March 6 resulted in the tragic death of five people, coinciding with a joint visit by President Volodymyr Zelensky and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to the city.

'20 Days in Mariupol' wins Oscar for Best Documentary

The film "20 Days in Mariupol," directed by Ukrainian journalist Mstyslav Chernov, achieved a historic milestone by winning the Oscar for Best Documentary at the 96th Academy Awards on March 10. The documentary captures the Russian siege of Mariupol in Donetsk Oblast during the initial weeks of the full-scale invasion, providing a unique perspective from Chernov and his crew. This achievement marks the first time a Ukrainian film directed by a Ukrainian has won an Oscar.

Chernov expressed both honor and regret during his acceptance speech, acknowledging the gravity of the situation he documented. He stated, "I wish I had never made this film," expressing a desire for a world where Russia did not attack Ukraine and occupy its cities, preventing the loss of numerous lives.

As a Ukrainian photographer, photojournalist, and filmmaker who worked for the Associated Press, Chernov and his colleague Vasylysa Stepanenko arrived in Mariupol just an hour before the full-scale Russian invasion on February 24. The documentary, consisting of 30 hours of footage, portrays the siege in Mariupol before the crew left the city.

"20 Days in Mariupol" has received widespread recognition since its release in January 2023, winning audience prizes at prestigious film festivals such as Sundance Film Festival, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, Hot Docs Canadian Documentary Festival, and DocuDaysUA. The film's portrayal of Russia's months-long siege on Mariupol, which occurred between February and May, highlights the devastating impact on the port city, leaving it in ruins and causing the loss of thousands of lives.

Chernov emphasized the importance of cinema in shaping memories and, consequently, history. He concluded his speech with gratitude to Ukraine, saying, "Cinema forms memories, and memories form history. Thanks to Ukraine. Slava Ukraini" (Glory to Ukraine).