Russia-Ukraine crisis updates | March 29, 2022

Ukrainian soldiers watch debris from a Russian tank after recent fights in the town of Trostsyanets, some 400km (250 miles) east of capital Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 28, 2022.

Ukrainian soldiers watch debris from a Russian tank after recent fights in the town of Trostsyanets, some 400km (250 miles) east of capital Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 28, 2022. | Photo Credit: AP

A senior Ukrainian official says at least 5,000 people have been buried in the besieged southern city of Mariupol since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.

U.S. President Joe Biden unveiled a budget proposal with a f $6.9 billion infusion of funding for Ukraine and NATO, with another $1 billion allocated to Washington’s efforts to counter Moscow’s influence.

Ukrainian and Russian negotiators will meet on Tuesday for their first face-to-face talks in weeks. The discussions come after President Volodymyr Zelensky says Kyiv’s negotiators are studying a Russian demand for Ukrainian neutrality.

The conflict began escalating on February 21, 2022, after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and deployed troops in a peacekeeping role.

Here are the latest updates:

Putin-Zelensky meet

Russia agrees to prospective meeting between Putin and Zelenskyy

Russia agreed to a prospective meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

The head of the Russian delegation in talks with Ukraine says that Moscow sees the latest meeting as a step toward compromise.

Vladimir Medinskiy said on Russian RT television that Russia sees Ukrainian proposals made Tuesday during the talks in Istanbul as a “step to meet us halfway, a clearly positive fact.”

He added that the two parties have a long way to go to reach an agreement.

Medinsky said that Russia made “two big steps toward peace” during the talks, first by agreeing to reduce military activities around the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv. He said Russia agreed to a prospective meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy once a prospective peace treaty is ready for signing.

The Ukrainian delegation earlier Tuesday said it had laid out a possible framework for a future peace deal based on legally binding security guarantees that would provide for other countries to intervene if Ukraine is attacked.

Russia 'to reduce activity around Kyiv and Chernihiv'

Russia's deputy defence minister Alexander Fomin says Russia will "radically reduce" military activity outside Kyiv and Chernihiv, according to the news agency Tass. - Reuters

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Moscow

Moscow insists on payment in rouble for gas deliveries

Russia reiterated Tuesday that it will only be accepting payment for gas deliveries to the EU in rubles after G7 ministers called this arrangement "unacceptable".

"Nobody will supply gas for free. This is just impossible. And it can only be paid for in rubles," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"Companies must understand the completely changed environment that has arisen in the conditions of the economic war waged against Russia," he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that Moscow will now only accept rubles as payment for natural gas deliveries to "unfriendly" countries, which include the European Union. - AFP

Copenhagen

Zelenskyy: 7 dead in southern Ukraine strike

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says seven people were killed in a missile strike on the regional government headquarters in the southern city of Mykolayiv.

Mr. Zelenskyy, who spoke to the Danish parliament through a translator, said Tuesday’s strike also left 22 people injured. The Telegram channel of regional governor Vitaliy Kim showed a gaping hole in the center of the nine-story building.

Mr. Kim accused Russian forces of waiting until people had arrived for work in the building before striking it and said he had a lucky escape because he had overslept.

Mr. Zelenskyy has made online speeches to lawmakers in several countries, including the United States, Britain, Sweden, Germany, Canada, Israel, Japan and the European Union. He is set to address Norway’s parliament on Wednesday. He told the Danish parliament that “the brutality is more violent than what we have seen during World War II.” - AP

Istanbul

Ukraine, Russia begin talks as evacuations resume

Ukrainian and Russian negotiators held face-to-face talks in Istanbul on Tuesday as Ukraine resumed evacuations from territory occupied by Russian forces and clung on in the besieged city of Mariupol.

The talks were taking place with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in attendance and under the shadow of shock allegations that delegates were poisoned at a previous round of negotiations.

Mr. Erdogan called on the delegations to “put an end to this tragedy,” saying both Russia and Ukraine both have “legitimate concerns” ahead of the meeting at the Dolmabahce Palace.- AFP

Ukraine

Ukraine says it’s running 3 evacuation routes

The Ukrainian government says it is operating three humanitarian corridors Tuesday to move civilians out of the besieged port of Mariupol and two Russian-occupied cities in the south.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says that besides Mariupol, evacuations will run from Enerhodar and Melitopol. Those cities have both been under Russian control for weeks and have seen protests and alleged kidnappings of pro-Ukraine local politicians.

The routes all converge in the Ukraine-controlled southern city of Zaporizhzhia.- AP

Turkey

Russia, Ukraine both have ‘legitimate concerns’: Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Russian and Ukrainian delegations due to resume face-to-face talks on Tuesday that “both parties have legitimate concerns.”

The talks were due to kick off shortly at the Dolmabahce palace in Istanbul to try and end a war has killed an estimated 20,000 people and forced more than 10 million from their homes.- AFP

Japan

Russia-Ukraine conflict to have huge impact on global steel demand -Japan steel group

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which are exporters of steel products, will have a huge impact on global steel demand and trade if it lasts for a long time, the head of a Japanese steel industry group said on Tuesday.

The recent plunge in yen against the U.S. dollar poses a serious challenge to Japanese manufacturers as some industries have not overcome deflation pressure to pass on rising costs, Japan Iron and Steel Federation Chairman Eiji Hashimoto also told a news conference.- Reuters

United Kingdom

UK military intelligence says Russia still poses significant threat to Kyiv

Russia poses significant threat to Kyiv through their strike capability even though Ukrainian forces continue localised counter attacks to the north west of the city, British military intelligence said on Tuesday.

Russian forces have maintained their offensive on Mariupol with continuous heavy shelling of the city, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement. “However the centre of the city remains under Ukrainian control.”- Reuters

Russia

Billionaire Roman Abramovich, Ukrainian peace negotiators hit by suspected poisoning in Kyiv: reports

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.

Ukrainian officials poured cold water on the report. Asked about the suspected poisoning, Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said “there is a lot of speculation, various conspiracy theories”.

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United Nations

UN chief Antonio Guterres wants Ukraine humanitarian cease-fire

The United Nations chief has launched an initiative to immediately explore possible arrangements for “a humanitarian cease-fire in Ukraine” in order to allow the delivery of desperately needed aid and pave the way for serious political negotiations to end the month-long war.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday he asked Undersecretary-General Martin Griffiths, the head of the U.N.’s worldwide humanitarian operations, to explore the possibility of a cease-fire with Russia and Ukraine. He said Griffiths has already made some contacts.

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Kyiv, Ukraine

Ukrainians claim to have retaken a Kyiv suburb

Ukrainian forces claimed to have retaken a Kyiv suburb and an eastern town from the Russians in what is becoming a back-and-forth stalemate on the ground, while negotiators began assembling for another round of talks Tuesday aimed at stopping the fighting.

Ahead of the talks, to be held in Istanbul, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country is prepared to declare its neutrality, as Moscow has demanded, and is open to compromise on the fate of the Donbas, the contested region in the country’s east.

The mayor of Irpin, a northwestern Kyiv suburb that has been the scene of some of the heaviest fighting near the capital, said Monday that the city has been “liberated” from Russian troops.- AP

Japan

Japan to ban luxury goods exports to Russia from April 5

 Japan will ban the export of luxury goods to Russia in its latest response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, effective April 5, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in a Tuesday statement.

Prohibited items include luxury cars, motorcycles, liquors, cosmetics, fashion items and art pieces, the ministry said.- Reuters

Amnesty International

Amnesty leader accuses Russia of war crimes

Amnesty International is accusing Russia of committing war crimes in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

The human rights organization will soon release an in-depth report on the devastation caused by Russia’s assault on the city on the Sea of Azov, Amnesty’s Secretary-General Agnes Callamard said in a press conference in Johannesburg.

“The siege of Mariupol, the denial of humanitarian evacuation and humanitarian escape for the population, and the targeting of civilians, according to Amnesty International’s investigation, amounts to war crimes,” said Callamard. “That is the reality of Ukraine right now.”- AP

Mariupol

Ukraine says 5,000 dead in ‘catastrophic’ Mariupol siege

Ukraine said Monday that at least 5,000 people have died in the “catastrophic” humanitarian crisis gripping pulverized Mariupol, as fighting raged around Kyiv including in a strategic suburb where defenders claim to have driven out Russian invaders.

In the besieged southern port of Mariupol at least 5,000 people have already been buried, according to a senior Ukrainian official who said as many as 10,000 may have died — appearing to confirm the darkest scenarios of devastation in the city.

“The burials stopped 10 days ago because of continued shelling,” Tetyana Lomakina, a presidential adviser now in charge of humanitarian corridors, told AFP by phone Monday.- AFP

U.S.A.

Biden says remark on Putin's power was about 'moral outrage', no change in U.S. policy

U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday said that his weekend comment in Europe that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power” was a moral outrage for his invasion of Ukraine, and that does not reflect any change in American policy with respect to regime change.

As such, Mr. Biden refused to apologise for his comments, on which his administration has been having a tough time in explaining over the past few days.

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Ukraine

Ukraine's Zelensky says tougher Russian sanctions needed quickly

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday urged Western nations to toughen sanctions quickly against Russia, including an oil embargo, to stop Moscow having a free hand to escalate its measures against his country.

In his nightly video address to Ukrainians, a clearly irritated Mr. Zelensky said the West had miscalculated last year in delaying sanctions and the invasion had followed.

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Ukraine

Ukraine communications service suffers outage

The Ukraine's national telecommunications provider Ukrtelecom has been knocked almost completely offline, suffering what network monitors called its most severe outage since Russia's Feb. 24 invasion.

Government officials in Kyiv say they are investigating whether a cyberattack is to blame.

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