By The Epoch Times Staff
Russia Claims Ukraine Stages More ‘Killings’ of Civilians’
Ukrainian security services have staged more alleged killings of civilians in several towns and villages to make headlines in the Western media and accuse Moscow of war crimes, Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed on Tuesday.
Moscow insists that same tactics have been used by Kiev to blame Russian forces for atrocities in the town of Bucha last week.
“The troops of the 72nd Ukrainian Main Center for Psychological Operations conducted another staged filming of civilians allegedly killed by violent actions of the Russian armed forces in order for it to be distributed through the Western media,” the ministry’s spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said during a briefing.
Zelenskyy Says Ukraine-Russia Talks Only Option to End War
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Tuesday Ukraine had no option but to negotiate with Russia to end fighting but that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin might not personally hold talks.
Zelenskyy was speaking after accusing Russian troops of carrying out extra-judicial killings in the town of Bucha west of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the reports of civilian killings in Bucha were “fakes” aimed at discrediting Russia. Moscow said it would present “empirical evidence” to a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday proving its forces were not involved.
“All of us, including myself, will perceive even the possibility of negotiations as a challenge,” Zelenskyy said in an interview with Ukrainian journalists broadcast on national television.
“The challenge is internal, first of all, one’s own, human challenge. Then, when you pull yourself together, and you have to do it, I think that we have no other choice.”
He said the events in Bucha were unforgivable but Ukraine and Russia should take the difficult option of pursuing talks, and signalled that Moscow should recognise what its troops were alleged to have done.
The Russian news agency Interfax cited a deputy Russian foreign minister as saying talks were continuing via video link.
Asked whether he and Putin would hold direct talks, Zelenskyy said it was possible this would not happen but gave no details.
Ukraine Reports Russian Military Regrouping
Ukraine’s General Staff reports Tuesday morning that Russia is regrouping its troops and preparing for an offensive in Donbas.
“The goal is to establish full control over the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” the update posted on the General Staff’s Facebook page says.
In the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the Russian military are focusing their efforts on taking control of Popasna and Rubizhne cities, as well as establishing full control over Mariupol, the General Staff said. Other towns and settlements in the two regions are subject to continued shelling.
The Russian troops also continue to block Kharkiv, according to the General Staff.
Ukraine: Civilian Ship Sinking in Mariupol
Ukraine claims a civilian ship is sinking in the port of the besieged city of Mariupol after Russian forces fired on it.
The Ukrainian Interior Ministry claimed in a statement Tuesday that the ship was struck during “shelling from the sea” by Russia, causing a fire in the engine room. The crew was rescued, including one injured crew member, it added.
The ministry said the ship was flying the flag of the Dominican Republic and posted a picture of a cargo vessel. It didn’t specify how many people were on board or the nationalities of the crew members.
Ukraine President Says Military Situation in Mariupol Very Difficult
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday said Ukraine’s efforts to push back Russian troops from Mariupol were facing difficulties.
In a televised interview with local media, Zelenskyy said the military situation in the southern port city was “very difficult.”
He also said Turkey had proposed a plan to help evacuate wounded people and dead bodies from the city, but claimed that the initiative depended on the will of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ukraine Opens Corridors Out of Mariupol
Seven humanitarian corridors will be open on Tuesday, including from the besieged port city of Mariupol and the Russian-controlled Berdyansk, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on the messaging app Telegram.
According to Vereshchuk’s post, residents of Mariupol and Berdyansk will be able to leave to Zaporizhzhia on their own transport. Corridors will also be open from the city of Tokmak in the Zaporizhzhia region and cities of Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Popasna and Hirske in the Luhansk region.
It was not immediately clear from Vereshchuk’s statement whether Russia has agreed to halt the fighting along the announced corridors. Some of the Ukrainian efforts to evacuate civilians via humanitarian corridors had previously failed as fighting along them continued even despite agreements with Russia.
UN Estimates 11 Million Have Fled Homes in Ukraine
The U.N. migration agency now estimates that more than 11 million people have fled their homes in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion.
The International Organization for Migration, in its first such full assessment in three weeks, reported Tuesday that more than 7.1 million had been displaced within Ukraine as of April 1. That comes on top of the figure of more than 4 million who have fled abroad, reported by the U.N. refugee agency.
IOM said more than 2.9 million others are actively considering “leaving their place of habitual residence due to war.”
Ukraine had a pre-war population of 44 million.
Ukraine’s President to Address UN Security Council on War
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address the U.N. Security Council for the first time Tuesday at a meeting that is certain to focus on what claimed to be killings of civilians by Russian troops.
The United Kingdom, which holds the council presidency this month, announced late Monday that Zelenskyy would speak at the open meeting called for Tuesday to discuss the situation in Ukraine.
Zelenskyy is to address the U.N.’s most powerful body virtually after it receives briefings from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, his political chief Rosemary DiCarlo, and U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths, who is trying to arrange an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and met with senior Russian officials in Moscow on Monday and will shortly be heading to Ukraine.
Berlin Reveals Its Stance on Russian Gas
German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock has ruled out an import ban on Russian gas since Berlin does not believe that an energy embargo will make Russia drop its military action in Ukraine.
“If imposing a full embargo tomorrow could stop this war then we would do it immediately. Such a ban would only drive the price of this war even higher. But it wouldn’t be able to stop the killing tomorrow,” said Baerbock in an interview with a German broadcaster Tagesschau on Monday evening.
Zelenskyy: Hungary’s Orban Will Have to Choose Between Russia and ‘Other World’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Tuesday Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban would have to choose between Moscow and the “other world”, and he claimed that the Hungarian leader feared Russian influence.
Zelenskyy was speaking in a televised interview to Ukrainian media. Orban held on to his sweeping majority at elections on Sunday.
Finland Reveals Timeline of Possible NATO Accession
The Finnish government will provide the country’s parliament with a review of possible NATO accession by the middle of this month, the country’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said.
Moscow’s attack on Ukraine has prompted Finland, which has a common border with Russia, to intensify the discussions on potential benefits of joining the military alliance. Haavisto revealed that Finland’s leaders have already discussed the matter with “almost all” NATO members, and he “almost daily” talks about it with neighboring Sweden which is also considering joining the bloc.
European Union Commission Chief to Visit Kyiv This Week
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Union’s executive Commission, will travel to Kyiv this week to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Her spokesman, Eric Mamer, said Tuesday that her trip will come to ahead of a special pledging meeting in Warsaw over the weekend. It is the second such high-level trip by EU officials. European Parliament President Roberta Metsola went to Ukraine last week.
World Bank Says War Shocks to Drag on Asian Economies
A report by the World Bank says disruptions to supplies of commodities, financial strains and higher prices are among the shocks from the war in Ukraine that will slow economies in Asia in coming months.
The report released Tuesday forecasts slower growth and rising poverty in the Asia-Pacific region this year. Growth for the region is estimated at 5 percent, down from the original forecast of 5.4 percent.
The report says “multiple shocks” are adding to troubles for people and for businesses and that governments whose finances have been stretched by the pandemic have less capacity to help.
Red Cross Says Its Team Is Being Held Close to Mariupol in Ukraine
An international Red Cross team has shelved for Tuesday hopes of entering the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol after being held overnight by police in a town about 20 kilometers (12 miles) to the west.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, which has been trying to get a small team into Mariupol since Friday as part of efforts to escort beleaguered civilians out and aid in, said the team held by police in Manhush was released overnight. It did not identify the nationality of the police involved.
The ICRC said in a statement that the team’s focus now is on the evacuation operation, and the “incident yesterday shows how volatile and complex the operation to facilitate safe passage around Mariupol has been for our team.”
Jason Straziuso, an ICRC spokesman, said the team was “not planning on trying to enter Mariupol today. Our team’s humanitarian efforts today are focused on helping the evacuation efforts in nearby areas.”
Denmark Expels 15 Russian Intelligence Officers
Denmark’s Foreign Ministry says the country is expelling 15 Russian intelligence officers who worked at Russia’s Embassy in Copenhagen.
The ministry said the Russian ambassador was informed of the decision on Tuesday.
The officers have two weeks to leave Denmark. Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said “they pose a risk to our national security that we cannot ignore.”
The move came after France and Germany on Monday announced the expulsion of dozens of Russians with diplomatic status.
Biden Calls for Putin to Face War Crimes Trial as Violent Images From Ukraine’s Bucha Surface
President Joe Biden is once again labeling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” and vowing to ratchet up U.S. sanctions against Russia in response to new images of violence on the outskirts of Kyiv.
Images from the Ukrainian town of Bucha show bodies lying dead in the street with some thrown in hastily dug graves, following the Ukrainian government saying they have retaken the city.
Russian officials have denied killing civilians in Bucha, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of committing “genocide.”
Addressing reporters as he arrived at the White House Monday, Biden referred to Putin as “brutal” and called for a war crimes trial against the Russian leader.
“You may remember I got criticized for calling Putin a war criminal,” Biden said, referring to when he first gave Putin the label on March 16. “Well, the truth of the matter—we saw it happen in Bucha—this warrants him—he is a war criminal.”
“We have to continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to continue to fight and we have to get all the detail so this could be—actually have a war crimes trial. This guy is brutal and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous and everyone’s seen it.”
“But we have to gather the information,” Biden added.
When asked whether he thought the images from Bucha were evidence of a genocide Biden responded, “no, I think it’s a war crime.”
When asked if he would move to impose more sanctions, Biden said, “I’m seeking more sanctions, yes.” Asked for details, the president said, “I’ll let you know.”
Moscow Warns of ‘Symmetrical’ Response to Western Countries’ Expulsion of Russian Diplomats
Russia will respond proportionately to the expulsion of its diplomats from a number of Western countries, Russian ex-president and deputy head of security council Dmitry Medvedev said late on Monday.
“Everyone knows the answer: it will be symmetrical and destructive for bilateral relations,” Medvedev said in a posting on his Telegram channel.
“Who have they punished? First of all, themselves.”
On Monday, France said it would expel 35 Russian diplomats over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine and Germany declared a “significant number” of Russian diplomats as undesirable.
“If this continues, it will be fitting, as I wrote back on 26th February—to slam shut the door on Western embassies,” Medvedev said. “It will be cheaper for everyone. And then we will end up just looking at each other in no other way than through gunsights.”
France and Germany to Expel ‘Numerous’ Russian Diplomats
The French foreign ministry announced Monday that France has decided to expel “numerous” Russian diplomats, saying their “activities were contrary to our security interests.”
The announcement came hours after Germany said it was expelling 40 diplomats and Lithuania said it expelled the Russian ambassador and will recall its envoy in Moscow. No number was immediately given for how many are being expelled by France.
German news agency dpa quoted German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser as saying that the diplomats being expelled are those “whom we attribute to the Russian intelligence services.”
Nick Ciolino, The Associated Press, and Reuters contributed to this report.
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