Ukraine War: Russian rockets reported near Odessa as Ukraine retakes towns near kyiv
Kyiv, Ukraine – Little progress appears to have been made in ending the war in Ukraineafter a day of diplomatic efforts marred by bad-tempered exchanges between Russia and the West.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of looking for new excuses to impose sanctions on his country, adding that the unprecedented sanctions against Russia were all prepared in advance and would have been implemented “anyway “.
Noting that Russia would never sacrifice its “national interests and traditional values”, Putin said that even if Russia does not become a “closed country”, there will be no more cooperation with Western companies in the near future. .
Meanwhile, Tuesday’s claims about troop withdrawals are being viewed with growing skepticism. A senior Pentagon official said on Thursday that Ukraine’s capital remained at high risk from airstrikes, describing Russia’s talk of de-escalation as “nice rhetoric” but the reality was that kyiv was “still under great threat”. .
Ukraine war: Evacuation corridors for foreigners to be set up as attacks on Odessa continue
The Ukrainian General Staff said on Friday morning that the Russian units had not been able to gain ground anywhere. The eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv continued to be shelled, but an attempt to break through near the town of Izyum failed. A Russian advance into the southern Ukrainian region of Mykolaiv also failed.
In Kyiv, the city’s military commander, General Mykola Zhyrnov, said the situation had improved somewhat, but fighting continued on the outskirts.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a daily video address, spoke of Ukrainian cities “gradually being liberated from occupying forces”.
But he warned that now was not the time to relax. “We all want victory,” Zelensky said in a video message. “But there will be more fights. There is still a very difficult road ahead of us to get everything we are looking for.”
Here is the latest news and the most important developments from Day 37 of Russia’s war against Ukraine.
UPDATE, April 1, 4:00 p.m. EDT: Russian rockets reportedly land near Odessa as EU leaders meet China
Russian troops fired rockets at a town not far from the strategic port of Odessa, according to Ukrainian sources. The Russians fired three Iskander missiles from Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, the head of the regional administration, Maksym Marchenko, wrote on Telegram on Friday evening. He said there had been casualties but did not provide further details.
The Ukrainian towns of Borodianka and Bucha were reportedly liberated from Russian occupation. “March 31 will go down in the history of our city,” said the mayor of Bucha, Anatolii Fedoruk, where Russian troops have controlled the area since February 27.
Another exchange of prisoners took place, according to Ukrainian sources. The Russian side released 71 Ukrainian servicemen and 15 servicewomen from POW status and received the same number of its own citizens in return, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk wrote on Facebook on Friday. The information could not be independently verified.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry commented on the Belgorod attack on Russian soil and said Ukraine was not responsible for disasters or “miscalculations” in Russia, according to the Kyiv Independent.
According to Ukrainian officials, Russian soldiers were certainly exposed to radiation during their operation in the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Ukraine’s nuclear energy agency Energoatom said Russian troops dug trenches in the exclusion zone around the reactor and thus contaminated themselves with radioactive material. Energoatom chief Petro Kotin said the soldiers had been sent to the radioactively contaminated area, unknowingly.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk wrote on her Facebook page that they had received such a high dose of radiation that “its consequences will have to be explained to them by doctors in protective gear”.
An online summit between the European Union and Chinese leaders on the Ukraine conflict failed to yield a breakthrough on Friday. The EU used the talks to warn China of the economic and reputational risks of backing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while Beijing blamed Europe for the dispute and warned Brussels not to stir up tensions. regional.
China has been told that any support for Russia’s war “would lead to major reputational damage” in Europe, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a press conference after the summit.
UPDATE, April 1, 10:30 a.m. EDT: Russian Gas Still Flowing Despite Ruble Threat
Despite fears that Russian gas shipments to Europe could be halted amid a fight against European sanctions and demands for ruble payments, Russian gas company Gazprom said pipelines were continuing to send gas to the west.
More than 300 million cubic feet of gas will be pumped to Europe on Friday, Gazprom spokesman Sergey Kupriyanov said in comments reported by the Interfax news agency. This is almost the maximum daily amount allowed by current contracts.
This means that gas is still flowing through Ukrainian territory despite Russia’s continued invasion of the country. It also means that shipments continue in the face of threats from the Kremlin to turn off the taps unless payments for gas start coming in rubles.
Western sanctions caused by the invasion hurt the economy and caused the Russian currency to lose value. Forcing ruble payments would help support it.
But the West balked at this request. A new proposal allowing payments in dollars or euros to a Russian-controlled bank went into effect on Friday, but it’s unclear whether Western buyers have opened such accounts.
UPDATE, April 1, 10:00 a.m. EDT: ‘Time is running out’ for civilians in Mariupol
The International Committee of the Red Cross warned on Friday that major obstacles remained to the evacuation of thousands of civilians from the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.
“All the details are not yet in place for this to happen in a safe way. It is not yet clear that this will happen today,” Red Cross spokesman Ewan Watson said. during a press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland.
A Red Cross team with three vehicles will travel to Mariupol on Friday. The plan is for the Red Cross to escort a convoy of dozens of buses and private vehicles ferrying residents out of the war-ravaged town.
Watson said the operation was blocked by two main issues: first, Ukrainian and Russian officials had agreed on a humanitarian corridor, but it was still unclear whether the message had been received by their ground troops, and second, the destination where people would be taken had not been fully worked out.
“Time is running out for the people of Mariupol. They desperately need help,” Watson said.
“We are running out of adjectives to describe the horrors the people of Mariupol have suffered.”
UPDATE, April 1, 5:30 a.m. EDT: Ukraine accused of attack on Russian territory
Russian officials on Friday accused two Ukrainian helicopters of launching a missile attack that left a burning fuel depot in the western Russian city of Belgorod.
Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the Belgorod region, made the accusation on the Telegram messaging service and shared a video of the fire. He said there were no fatalities and the situation in the town near the Ukrainian border was stable.
Gladkov said the attack would not disrupt the region’s power supply. Oil company Rosneft told the Interfax news agency that the facility had been evacuated amid reports of approaching helicopters.
If confirmed, this attack would mark a major move by Ukraine’s armed forces, which have slowly but surely adopted a more proactive stance over the past week.
UPDATE, April 1, 5:00 a.m. EDT: Mariupol residents ready to flee
Red Cross and UN workers will again attempt to help residents of the besieged Ukrainian town of Mariupol flee during a ceasefire declared by invading Russian forces.
But city officials reported that escape routes were still blocked early Friday, despite Russian Major General Mikhail Mizintsev’s assurances that people could leave. Russia’s Defense Ministry said Friday’s ceasefire came after an appeal from French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Reports said evacuations were continuing out of the nearby Russian-occupied town of Berdyansk, mostly of Mariupol residents who had traveled there.
Buses were available for evacuation to the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhia. People with functioning private vehicles were invited to join the convoy.
UPDATE, April 1, 4:30 a.m. EDT: Ukraine claims to have regained territory
Ukrainian forces said they had taken over 11 settlements in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine in recent days.
During the advance in the north of the region, they also came across abandoned Russian military equipment, including T-64 tanks, the Defense Ministry said.
Ukrainian authorities were able to deliver food and medicine to residents, according to a ministry statement.
The Russian army previously claimed to have completely taken control of the Kherson region.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that Moscow wants to establish a pro-Russian “people’s republic” in the region, modeled on Ukraine’s breakaway eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.
Cover photo: IMAGO / SNA