By: News Desk
Last Updated: March 28, 2022, 23:37 IST
The Kremlin on Monday said talks between negotiators from Moscow and Kyiv have so far made no major breakthroughs on the conflict in Ukraine as the delegations prepare for a new round of talks in Istanbul. The Kremlin also expressed concern after US President Joe Biden called the Russian leader Vladimir Putin a “butcher” over his military operation in Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said conflict talks between Russia and Ukraine could take place in Istanbul on Tuesday, but there were no plans for a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after the talks. Peskov Read More
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Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators suffered symptoms of suspected poisoning earlier this month after a meeting in Kyiv, the Wall Street Journal and the investigative outlet Bellingcat reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter. Abramovich, who accepted a Ukrainian request to help negotiate an end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and at least two senior members of the Ukrainian team, were affected, the WSJ report said. Abramovich and the negotiators showed symptoms that included red eyes, constant and painful tearing, and peeling skin on their faces and hands. Bellingcat said experts who examined the incident concluded “poisoning with an undefined chemical weapon” was the most likely cause. Citing the experts, Bellingcat said the dosage and type of toxin used was not enough to be life-threatening, “and most likely was intended to scare the victims as opposed to cause permanent damage. The victims said they were not aware of who might have had an interest in an attack”. The Kremlin has said Abramovich played an early role in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. The West has imposed heavy sanctions on Russian billionaires such as Abramovich, Russian companies and Russian officials, in an attempt to force Putin to withdraw from Ukraine. REUTERS
There have been more than 100 deaths in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv since Russia’s invasion, the city’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Monday. In an address to city councillors of Florence, which is twinned with Kyiv, Klitschko said more than 20 corpses could not be identified and four of the victims were children, while another 16 injured children are in hospital. REUTERS
Russia’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper, whose editor Dmitry Muratov was a co-winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, said on Monday it was suspending its online and print activities until the end of Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine. The investigative paper, which has already removed material from its website on Russia’s military action in Ukraine to comply with a new media law, said it had received another warning from state communications regulator Roskomnadzor on Monday about its reporting, prompting it to pause operations. “We are suspending the publication of the newspaper on our website, social media networks and in print until the end of the ‘special operation on Ukraine’s territory’,” the paper wrote on its website. In a separate message to readers, Muratov and his reporters said the decision to halt their activities had been difficult but necessary. “There is no other choice,” the note said. “For us, and I know, for you, it’s an awful and difficult decision.” REUTERS
Russia is preparing retaliatory visa measures that would restrict entry for citizens from “unfriendly countries”, foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday. REUTERS
The mayor of Irpin, near Kyiv, said on Monday Ukrainian forces had seized back full control of the town that has been one of the main hotspots of fighting with Russian troops near the capital. “We have good news today – Irpin has been liberated,” Mayor Oleksandr Markushyn said in a video post on Telegram. “We understand that there will be more attacks on our town and we will defend it courageously.” REUTERS
Danish brewery group Carlsberg said Monday it is pulling out of Russia, hours after its competitor, Dutch brewing giant Heineken, did the same, citing Moscow’s ongoing war against Ukraine. In a statement, the Copenhagen-based group said it had taken the difficult and immediate decision to seek a “full disposal of our business in Russia, which we believe is the right thing to do in the current environment”. Carlsberg fully owns Baltika Breweries, one of the largest brewing concerns in Russia and the biggest exporter of Russian beer. The Danish brewer generates around 10% of its sales in Russia, where it has about 8,400 staff who will be laid off.
The Kremlin said on Monday that Russian investigators would look into a video circulated on social media that purported to show Ukrainian forces mistreating captured Russian soldiers. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the video, which he said contained “monstrous images”, needed to be legally assessed and for those who took part in what he described as torture to be held responsible. The Ukrainian government did not immediately respond directly to Peskov’s comments although senior officials had earlier portrayed the video as a fake. “Currently, no one can confirm or deny the veracity of this video. It’s not known where it’s happening, or who the participants are,” military spokesperson Oleksander Motuzyanyk said. REUTERS
One of the architects of the Moscow-backed separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine eight years ago said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a mistake, in comments that show the Kremlin cannot count on support from all pro-Russian opponents of Kyiv. Alexei Alexandrov was one of the leaders of a movement in 2014 to reject Kyiv’s rule and create an autonomous pro-Moscow territory in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, triggering a war against Ukrainian government forces. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Russia attacked Ukraine last month in part to protect the separatist territory from Kyiv, though western states say this is a pretext for an unprovoked land grab. In an interview with Reuters last Friday, Alexandrov said: “All this could have been resolved earlier, mainly through diplomatic means and perhaps an insignificant use of force. But that was not done, and that is a mistake on all sides.”
Ukraine sees no signs on the ground that Russia has given up a plan to surround the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Ukrainian defence ministry spokesperson Oleksander Motuzyanyk said on Monday. “According to our information, the Russian Federation has not abandoned its attempts, if not to capture, then to surround Kyiv. For now we don’t see the movement of enemy forces away from Kyiv,” he told a televised briefing.
Germany on Monday urged a more even distribution of Ukrainian refugees within the EU after millions of people fled to the 27-nation bloc since Russia launched its invasion of the country on February 24. “We need to more actively distribute refugees within the EU and show solidarity by taking in refugees,” German interior minister Nancy Faeser said as she arrived for a meeting with her EU counterparts in Brussels. Faeser added Berlin was not at aiming at fixed quotas but rather an index linked to the number of refugees already being hosted compared to the population size of each country. REUTERS
Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne has quoted the mayor of Mariupol as saying around 1,60,000 people remain in the besieged port city, and that a humanitarian catastrophe would ensue if more evacuations are not possible. Vadym Boychenko today said Russian forces were preventing civilians from evacuating from the city and had been turning back some who tried to make it out. The city, which had a pre-war population of more than 4,00,000, has seen some of the worst conditions since Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24. Russian forces have pounded the city, and scores of civilians have been unable to escape, with no access to essentials and cut off from communication with the shelling of cell, radio and TV towers. AP
Ukraine’s priorities at the conflict talks with Russia in Turkey this week will be sovereignty and territorial integrity, said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a nightly address yesterday. “We are looking for peace, really, without delay,” he said, adding, “there is an opportunity and a need for a face-to-face meeting in Turkey. This is not bad. Let’s see the outcome.” He further said this week, he will continue to appeal to parliaments of other countries to remind them of the dire situation in besieged cities like Mariupol. Zelenskyy also told independent Russian journalists Sunday that his government would consider declaring neutrality and offering security guarantees to Russia, repeating earlier statements. That would include keeping Ukraine nuclear-free, he added. AP
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said neither NATO nor US President Joe Biden aimed to bring about regime change in Russia. Biden said of Russian President Vladimir Putin during a speech on Saturday that this man cannot remain in power. The White House and other US officials rushed to clarify that Biden was not actually calling for Putin to be toppled. Asked during an appearance yesterday on ARD television whether Putin’s removal is in fact the real aim, Scholz replied: “This is not the aim of NATO, and also not that of the American president,” adding, “we both agree completely that regime change is not an object and aim of policy that we pursue together.” AP
The European Commission called on EU governments today to end national programmes to sell citizenship to investors, also known as golden passports schemes, and urged them to suspend the sale of visas to Russians and Belarusians. The move follows a new push from the European Parliament to shrink and regulate the multi-billion-euro citizenship and visa industry which lawmakers consider a security risk. It comes amid concerns that people hit by EU sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may be holders of EU golden visas or passports.
The group of seven major economies have agreed to reject Moscow’s demand to pay for energy imports from Russia in rubles, Germany’s energy minister said today. Robert Habeck told the media that all G7 ministers agreed completely that this (would be) a one-sided and clear breach of the existing contracts. Habeck said payment in ruble was not acceptable and we will urge the companies affected not to follow (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s demand. The G7 nations are France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. AP
According to the news outlet The Kyiv Independent, the curfew in Kyiv has been reduced by two hours. Starting from today, the new curfew will last from 9 pm to 6 am.
⚡️ Curfew in Kyiv reduced by two hours.
Starting from March 28, the new curfew will last from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) March 28, 2022
Ukraine’s economy minister Yulia Svyrydenko said the war-torn country had already lost $564.9 billion due to of Russia’s full-scale invasion, including $119 billion in destroyed infrastructure.
The Russian defence ministry today said it downed four Su-24 aircraft belonging to Ukraine in Chernihiv region. Spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said the jets belonged to the Ukrainian air force. He added that two aircraft were downed in the Ripky area and two more in the Horodnia area.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, too, said a meeting between Putin and Zelenskyy could be counterproductive. But, he also proposed that Serbia could be used as a location for talks between the two countries.
Ukraine is prepared to discuss adopting a neutral status as part of a peace deal with Russia but such a pact would have to be guaranteed by third parties and put to a referendum, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in remarks aired on Sunday. Zelenskiy was speaking to Russian journalists in a 90-minute video call, an interview that Moscow authorities had pre-emptively warned Russian media to refrain from reporting. Zelenskiy spoke in Russian throughout, as he has done in previous speeches when targeting a Russian audience.
The UN estimates that at least 1,100 civilians have died and more than 10 million have been displaced in a devastating war that has gone on far longer than Moscow leaders expected.
The new talks — starting in Turkey on either Monday or Tuesday, according to conflicting reports — come after the Russian army said it would begin focusing on eastern Ukraine in a move some analysts saw as a scaling back of Moscow’s ambitions.
But US President Joe Biden questioned that interpretation — and may have roiled the coming talks by saying in Warsaw that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”. A key demand from Putin, even before his troops rolled into Ukraine on February 24, was that it renounce its stated intention of eventually joining NATO.
The Kremlin earlier this month said Sweden and Austria offered models of neutrality that Ukraine could adopt.
Kyiv rejected the proposal, and in his interview with Russian journalists,
Zelensky accused Putin of dragging out negotiations and prolonging the conflict.
NATO’s 1949 treaty gives any European nation the right to apply for membership, and US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman said in January that “we will not slam the door shut on NATO’s open-door policy”.
But NATO members have said Ukraine membership is a distant option at best. Were Kyiv to join the 30-member Western alliance, NATO would be committed to help defend it against any future attack.
The new round of talks come as Russia has de facto control over the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics in the country’s eastern Donbas region. The head of Ukraine’s Lugansk separatist region said it may hold a referendum on becoming part of Russia — a move immediately slammed by Kyiv.
Top American diplomats clarified on Sunday that the United States does not have a policy of regime change in Russia, as supporters and critics of President Joe Biden played down his declaration that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.”
Biden’s comments in Poland on Saturday also included a statement calling Putin a “butcher” and appeared to be a sharp escalation of the U.S. approach to Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
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