Ukrainian soldiers watch debris from a Russian tank after recent fights in the town of Trostsyanets, Monday, March 28, 2022 —
The unprovoked war Russia has waged in Ukraine is into its second month. As Moscow’s offensive stalls in the face of strong Ukrainian resistance, Putin’s forces continue to pound targets from afar.
Planned humanitarian corridors to evacuate besieged and terrorised civilians have faltered. Millions of people have fled their homes, while thousands of civilians and military personnel have been killed in the fighting, which has left widespread devastation.
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Tuesday key points to know:
The content of the article:
- Negotiators from Ukraine and Russia are due to begin a new round of peace talks today in Istanbul.Ukraine claims to have «liberated» the town of Irpin, near Kyiv, from Russian forces — one of several areas in which the Ukrainian army has made reported gains.The US believes the Ukrainians have also retaken the town of Trostyanets, south of Sumy, in the east.Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich and two Ukrainian peace negotiators were the victims of a suspected poisoning earlier in March.Kyiv suspended all «humanitarian corridors» on Monday for fear that Russia may attack civilians using them.Mariupol officials have estimated that 5,000 people have died in the besieged city since the Russian invasion. The mayor has warned of a «humanitarian catastrophe’ if evacuations continue to be blocked.
Joe Biden ‘makes no apologies’ over Vladimir Putin comments
US President Joe Biden said he would make “no apologies” and wasn’t “walking anything back” after his weekend comment that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.»
He made the comments late Monday evening in an attempt to turn the page on a controversy that clouded his recent trip to Europe — with many people interpreting his comments as a call for regime change in Moscow, something the White House has rushed to explain is not the case.
“I was expressing the moral outrage that I felt toward this man,” Biden said. «I wasn’t articulating a policy change.»
The president’s jarring remark about Putin, which were apparently made unscripted, came at the end of a Saturday speech in Warsaw. The speech was intended to rally democracies for a long global struggle against autocracy but drew criticism in the United States and rattled some allies in Western Europe.
On Monday evening, Biden rejected the idea that his comment could escalate tensions over the war in Ukraine or that it would fuel Russian propaganda about Western aggression.
“Nobody believes … I was talking about taking down Putin,» Biden said, adding that “the last thing I want to do is engage in a land war or a nuclear war with Russia.”
Biden said he was expressing an “aspiration» rather than a goal of American foreign policy.
New peace talks begin, but expectations muted
New talks between Russia and Ukraine are due to begin on Tuesday in Istanbul, to try and bring an end to the war which is now in its second month.
The talks come as Russia says it wants to refocus its invasion efforts to consolidate ground held in the east of the country, in the predominantly Russian-speaking Donbas region. However Ukrainian forces have started to regain ground in several key towns.
The Russian negotiators arrived on Monday in Istanbul, where a previous round of talks took place on 10 March at foreign minister level but failed to produce any progress. The talks then continued by video conference.
One of the important points of the negotiations is «security guarantees and neutrality, the nuclear-free status of our state», Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Russian media on Sunday.
This point «is being studied in depth» but it will require a referendum and security guarantees, he warned, accusing his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and his entourage of «dragging things out».
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, however, tempered expectations on Monday, pointing to the lack of «significant progress» in the negotiations so far.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba later said on his ministry’s website that Zelensky had «given very clear instructions to our delegation. We do not bargain for people, territory or sovereignty».