Ukrainian servicemen ride on an armored transporter driving through a Russian position overran by Ukrainian forces outside Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 31, 2022
With Russia’s war in Ukraine into its second month, Putin’s forces have continued to pound towns and cities from afar as Moscow’s military offensive stalls in the face of strong Ukrainian resistance.
Millions have fled their homes, creating Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II. Thousands of civilians and military personnel have been killed, and the Russian bombardments have left widespread devastation.
The Russian invasion has caused political and shockwaves around the world, deepening the rupture between Moscow and the West.
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Friday’s key points to know:
The content of the article:
- 0.1 Friday’s key points to know:
- 0.2 Ukrainian forces retake areas in Kyiv and Chernihiv
- 0.3 Russian natural gas still flowing to Europe
- 0.4 German army reserve officer charged with spying for Russia
- 0.5 IAEA seeks to send support mission to Chernobyl
- 1 Russia and Ukraine resume talks
- 2 Police say criminals could be trying to enter EU in Ukraine refugee flow
- 3 Ukraine war pushes eurozone’s inflation to a record 7.5%
- Russia and Ukraine resume peace talks via video linkIt comes after Russia accused Ukraine of striking an oil depot inside its territory. The Red Cross will try to evacuate civilians trapped in besieged Mariupol today. Kyiv says 45 buses it sent to the city were stopped by Russian troops.President Putin says “unfriendly” foreign buyers must pay in roubles for Russian gas from Friday, or else contracts will be halted. Germany and France have reiterated that European countries will continue to pay in euros or dollars.The war in Ukraine has pushed the eurozone’s inflation to a record 7.5%, new figures show.Zelenskyy: Russians withdrawing from key northern & central areas but building up for a new offensive in the southeast.Australia announced on Friday it would send more armoured vehicles to Ukraine to help the war effort.NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has said intelligence shows Russian forces are not withdrawing but “repositioning” and regrouping.Russian troops left the heavily contaminated Chernobyl nuclear site early Friday after returning control to the Ukrainians.
Ukrainian forces retake areas in Kyiv and Chernihiv
Ukraine’s general staff says the country’s armed forces have retaken control over 29 settlements in the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions, where Russia has pulled back some of its troops.
The Russian military in the northeast continues to block and shell Chernihiv and Kharkiv, the general staff said Friday.
In the southeast of the country, the Russians are trying to seize the cities of Popasna, Rubizhne and Mariupol in order to expand the territory of the separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, according to the Ukrainian military.
Russian natural gas still flowing to Europe
Russian officials say their demand that natural gas be paid for in rubles doesn’t mean supplies will be immediately interrupted.
Gas used for heating and electricity was still flowing from Russia to Europe on Friday.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “payments on shipments in progress right now must be made not this very day, but somewhere in late April, or even early May.”
President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia would start accepting ruble payments Friday and gas supplies would be cut off if buyers don’t agree to the new conditions.
A decree he signed gave Russian authorities and Gazprombank 10 days to make arrangements. It also says countries could pay foreign currency to the bank, which would convert it to rubles in a second account.
The European Commission’s energy chief tweeted that the European Union was coordinating “to establish a common approach.” Western leaders have said they will keep paying in euros and dollars.
German army reserve officer charged with spying for Russia
A German army reserve officer has been charged with spying for Russia between 2014 and 2020, the federal prosecutor’s office announced on Friday.
The suspect forwarded documents and information on numerous occasions, the prosecutor’s office said, with some of the information being public but some from non-public sources in connection with the suspect’s activities as a reserve officer and in economic committees.
It included information on the reservists in the Bundeswehr and on Germany’s economic sector, including the consequences of sanctions imposed on Russia in 2014.
In return, he received invitations to events organised by Russian government agencies.
IAEA seeks to send support mission to Chernobyl
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will work to send a support mission to Chernobyl in the next few days after the nuclear power plant was transferred back to Ukrainian authorities, the agency said on Friday.
“The IAEA is in close consultations with Ukrainian authorities on sending the Agency’s first assistance and support mission to the Chornobyl NPP in the next few days,” the UN nuclear watchdog said in a statement.
The plant has been under Russian control since the beginning of the conflict and was the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster. The IAEA had previously expressed concerns about staff rotations at the plant after Russian forces took control of it.
The agency said they were looking into reports that Russian forces received high doses of radiation while there.
Russia and Ukraine resume talks
Moscow and Kyiv resumed discussions on Friday aimed at ending the war in Ukraine, according to Kremlin negotiator Vladimir Medinsky.
“We are continuing negotiations by videoconference. Our positions on Crimea and Donbas have not changed,” he said on his Telegram channel, referring to two Ukrainian regions, one that Russia annexed in 2014 and the other that is partially under the control of pro-Russian separatists.
Earlier the Kremlin said reports Ukrainian helicopter gunships attacked a fuel depot inside Russia, setting it ablaze, are not conducive to the peace talks.
Asked if the reported incident could be viewed as an escalation of the conflict, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “Certainly, this is not something that can be perceived as creating comfortable conditions for the continuation of the talks.”
The governor of the Russian border region of Belgorod accused Ukraine of flying helicopter gunships into Russian territory early on Friday morning and targeting the oil depot, in what if confirmed would be the first attack of its kind.
It was not immediately possible to verify the report.
Peskov said President Vladimir Putin had been informed about the reported fire. He told a daily conference call with reporters that Russian authorities were taking measures to ensure fuel supplies in the region were not disrupted.
Police say criminals could be trying to enter EU in Ukraine refugee flow
Europol, the European Union police agency, has sent teams to countries bordering Ukraine in an effort to protect refugees from criminals.
The Hague-based agency said Friday its teams are supporting local authorities by running secondary security checks and seeking to “identify criminals and terrorists trying to enter the EU in the refugee flow and exploit the situation.”
The Europol teams are operating in Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Moldova and are planning to deploy to Romania, too.
The agency says they also are gathering intelligence to feed into criminal threat assessments across Europe.
The United Nations says that more than 4 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded on 24 February.
Ukraine war pushes eurozone’s inflation to a record 7.5%
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has thrust the eurozone into a new economic reality where high inflation is no longer a temporary headache and seriously threatens to undo the gains of the post-pandemic recovery.
Inflation in March reached 7.5% on an annual basis, an all-time high for the eurozone.
The figure represents a stunning rise compared to one year ago when inflation was 1.3%, well below the 2% target of the European Central Bank.
The March data is the first reading from Eurostat that takes into account the consequences of the Ukraine war, which has now entered its second month with no resolution in sight.
Annual inflation – the rate at which prices for goods and services change over time – has been steadily rising since late summer, when a mismatch between supply and demand sent gas prices soaring.
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