Putting cards on the table
At peace talks in Turkey, Ukrainian negotiators said Kyiv was ready to accept neutrality if, under an international accord, Western states provided binding security guarantees.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich said that among the countries that accepted to guarantee Ukraine’s security are the U.S. the UK, Poland, Germany, all being permanent members of the United Nations Secretly Council, and “many other countries”.
Ukraine has offered to accept becoming neutral if it receives adequate security guarantees from western nations, abandoning aspirations to join NATO. But those moves would require amending the constitution or a referendum, neither of which can be done in wartime.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian side rejected the Ukrainian side’s proposal to negotiate the status of Crimea during 15 years as Crimea forms part of the Russian Federation and they cannot discuss with anyone the fate of the Russian territories.
What would China gain from Russia’s war in Ukraine?
The Kremlin tries to undermine the results of the Istanbul talks and the Ukrainian side’s initiatives. “We cannot say something promising was said. There was some openness. Enormous work is yet to be done,” said Dmitry Peskov.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met Wednesday in Tunxi, China, marking Lavrov’s second trip abroad since Russia invaded Ukraine February 24. China and Russia are moving toward creating a new “just, democratic world order,” Lavrov said in a video released later.
They go returning
Ukraine’s general staff of the armed forces said the Russian troops continue to withdraw from Kyiv and Chernihiv but the movement is merely “a rotation of individual units” and aims to “mislead the military leadership” of Ukraine.
Adviser to the Interior Minister Vadim Denisenko said the intelligence reports show that certain parts of the Russian troops have begun to withdraw. But fighting continues on the near approaches to Kyiv. However, according to him, the Russian army will now focus its efforts in other areas – primarily in the Donbass.
Tangible de-escalation from Russia for Biden-Putin meeting
The White House considers Putin is being misinformed by his advisors about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions because his senior advisors are too afraid to tell him the truth.
A meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden is possible only after a significant de-escalation in Ukraine, White House Director of Communications Kate Bedingfield told reporters on Tuesday.
“He said yesterday that he would be willing to meet with President Putin again or talk to him,” she said. “I’m not going to set preconditions for a conversation between President Biden and President Putin, except to say that we have been very clear and President Biden has been very clear that there needs to be tangible de-escalation from Russia and a clear, genuine commitment to diplomacy.”
Russia’s ally is its fleet
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said the Russian Navy is blocking access to Ukraine’s ports, essentially cutting off exports of grain. They are reportedly preventing approximately 94 ships carrying food for the world market from reaching the Mediterranean. Across the Middle East and Africa, already-high prices for staple commodities, including wheat, have risen between 20 and 50 percent so far this year.
The U.S. Department of State reminded that 30 percent of the world’s wheat exports typically come from the Black Sea region, as does 20 percent of the world’s corn and 75 percent of sunflower oil.
Russia’s Ambassador in Washington Anatoly Antonov said these statements form part of the information warfare against Russia.
Weekly inflation in Russia slowed to 1.16% in the week to March 25 from 1.93% a week earlier, taking the year-to-date increase in consumer prices to 8.91%, data from statistics service Rosstat showed on Wednesday. Annual inflation in Russia accelerated to 15.66% as of March 25, its highest since September 2015 and up from 14.53% a week earlier.
What will children of their children say about “brothers”?
UNICEF estimates that more than 2.5 million children have been internally displaced within Ukraine. Two million children have been forced to flee Ukraine. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has documented more than 100 children have been killed during the conflict, and a further 134 children have been injured.
War goes on, alert maintained
Germany and Austria have triggered emergency plans over possible gas supply disruption amid a payments stand-off with Russia.
Slovakia has ordered Russia’s Embassy in Bratislava to cut its staff by 35, according to Reuters.
Russian forces fighting in Ukraine have used banned anti-personnel mines in the eastern Kharkiv region of the country, according to Human Rights Watch. The international organization said that the anti-personnel mines were located by Ukrainian explosive ordnance disposal technicians on March 28. It is known that Ukraine does not have such weapons.
Ukraine said some former Russian soldiers have switched sides and have now joined Kyiv’s forces fighting against Vladimir Putin’s invasion. The Ukrainian defense ministry said that commanders of the “Freedom of Russia” legion were visiting detained former Russian military personnel in order to select those who wish to serve. The “first volunteers” comprising ex-Russian troops, “have already begun individual additional training.”