Ukraine war live: Russia-Ukraine talks resume, as Mariupol evacuation falters

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Ukrainian servicemen ride on an armored transporter driving through a Russian position overran by Ukrainian forces outside Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 31, 2022

Credit: AP

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.

Follow our blog below for the latest details, or watch Euronews live in the video player, above.


Friday’s key points to know: 

    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.


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.


Chernobyl back under control of Ukrainian authorities

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant was transferred back to Ukrainian authorities, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement.

“Ukraine today informed the IAEA that the Russian forces that have been in control of Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) since 24 February had, in writing, transferred control of the NPP to Ukrainian personnel and moved two convoys of troops towards Belarus,” the UN nuclear watchdog said in a statement.

“A third convoy had also left the city of Slavutych, where many of the Chornobyl NPP staff live, and moved towards Belarus,” the agency said.

The IAEA added that they were prepared to send a support mission to the nuclear plant in the next few days.

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.

Read the full story.


Red Cross: “Not clear” if Mariupol evacuation efforts can continue today

The International Committee of the Red Cross say it’s uncertain whether a planned evacuation of civilians from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol can go ahead today as planned. 

“There are a lot of moving parts and not all the details are worked out to make sure it happens safely” says Ewan Watson, a Red Cross spokesperson in Geneva.

“It’s not clear yet if it’s going to happen today” he says. 

There are an estimated 100,000 civilians still trapped in the southern port city, which has come under constant Russian bombardment over the last month. Authorities estimate at least 5,000 have been killed in the barrage. 

The Ukrainian government was also trying to evacuate people in a fleet of buses but says most of them got refused entry to the city by Russian troops and supplies of medicine and food were confiscated. 


Japan’s foreign minister heads to Poland to assess refugee needs

Japanese Foreign Minister is heading to Poland on Friday, on a fact-finding mission to assess the needs of refugees from Ukraine who might want to go to Japan.

Yoshimasa Hayashi is on a five-day visit to Europe where he’ll meet with Poland’s PM and international organisations and might even bring back some Ukrainians on his government plane when he returns home. 

“In order to support the Ukrainian people facing the difficulty and to show our solidarity with Ukraine, Japan is pursuing our effort to accept those who fled to a third country,” Hayashi said.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Japan Sergiy Korsunsky told reporters Friday that some 300 relatives of Ukrainian residents in Japan have been granted entry, and more arrivals are expected from next week.

Last month the Japanese government launched a taskforce to prepare for accepting Ukrainian war-displaced as part of humanitarian support — a rare move for a country known for its strict and reluctant refugee policy.

Several municipalities, including Tokyo, Kanagawa, Ibaraki and Osaka, have offered to be their host towns and provide support for medical needs, education, jobs and housing.

(Euronews / AP)


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