Face-to-face peace talks between Ukraine and Russia are likely to start in Turkey on Tuesday. As negotiators arrived in Istanbul for their first face-to-face peace talks in more than two weeks, both sides played down the chances of a major breakthrough and a senior US official said Vladimir Putin did not appear ready to compromise.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly address that he had had a “very active diplomatic day” after speaking with British prime minister Boris Johnson, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, German chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian prime minister Mario Draghi and the president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.
Zelenskiy also urged for sanctions packages to be “effective and substantial” and called for countries to keep supplying weapons to Ukraine. “Ukrainians should not die just because someone cannot find enough courage to hand over the necessary weapons to Ukraine,” he said. “Fear always makes you an accomplishment.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia feels it is “amongst war” with the west after an array of sanctions were imposed on Russian businesses and individuals. Referencing Russia’s ongoing tension with Nato, Peskov told broadcaster PBS: “Don’t push us into the corner. No.”
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and a Ukrainian peace negotiator suffered symptoms consistent with poisoning earlier this month, according to a source with direct knowledge of the incident. Abramovich was taking part in informal peace negotiations in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, early in March when he began to feel ill, the source told the Guardian. Ukrainian MP Rustem Umerov was also part of the negotiation.
UK military intelligence says that Russia is expected to send more than 1,000 mercenaries into eastern Ukraine as they continue to suffer heavy losses. Russia’s private military company, the Wagner group, has already deployed to eastern Ukraine and is expected to send more than 1,000 mercenaries, including senior officials in the organisation, according to the Ministry of Defence.
Kyiv sees no signs on the ground that Russia has given up a plan to surround the Ukrainian capital, Ukrainian defense ministry spokesperson Oleksander Motuzyanyk said. “For now we don’t see the movement of enemy forces away from Kyiv,” he said in a televised briefing.
Ukrainian forces have seized back full control of the town of Irpin, a few miles from Kyiv. The area’s mayor, Oleksandr Markushyn. said Irpin had been “liberated” and that Russian soldiers were “offering to surrender”. The United States cannot confirm who is in control of the city of Irpin, a senior US defense official said.
Russian soldiers who seized the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster drove unprotected through a highly toxic zone called the “Red Forest”, kicking up clouds of radioactive dust, Chernobyl workers told Reuters. The two sources said they had witnessed Russian tanks and other armored vehicles moving through the Red Forest, which is the most radioactively contaminated part of the zone around Chernobyl.
Almost 5,000 people, including about 210 children, have been killed in the devastated city of Mariupol since Russia invaded Ukraine last month, a spokesperson for the mayor said. Vadym Boichenko said Mariupol was on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe and must be completely evacuated, with about 160,000 civilians were trapped in the city without power.
Ukraine’s economy minister, Yulia Svyrydenko, said the war has so far cost the country $564.9bn (£429.3bn) in terms of damage to infrastructure, lost economic growth and other factors. Eight thousand kilometers (4,970 miles) of roads and 10m sq meters of housing have been damaged or destroyed as a result of fighting, she said in an online post.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy has accused Russian authorities of disrespect towards the families of their own dead soldiers. Criticizing Moscow for not agreeing on a scheme to have the remains of those killed in action returned to Russia, the Ukraine president claimed the Kremlin was affording less respect to those killed during its invasion of Ukraine than is usually given to dead pets.
Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia’s last remaining independent news outlets, has said it will suspend operations after it received a second warning from the state censor for allegedly violating the country’s “foreign agent” law. The warning came a day after its editor-in-chief, Dmitry Muratov, spoke with Zelenskiy in a group interview with Russian journalists that was quickly banned by the state media watchdog, Roskomnadzor.
Video footage purporting to show the torture of Russian prisoners of war is being investigated by the Ukrainian government. The film, which has not been verified, appears to show Ukrainian soldiers removing three hooded Russians from a van before shooting them in the legs.
US president Joe Biden said he will “make no apologies” after appearing to call for Putin’s removal last week. When asked by a reporter if he regretted saying that Putin should not remain in power, Biden said: “I wasn’t then, nor am I now, articulating a policy change. I was expressing moral outrage that I felt.”
Ukraine experienced a large cyberattack on Monday against telecom provider Ukrtelecom. The State Special Communications Service of Ukraine (SSSCIP Ukraine) reported that Russian forces had launched an attack against Ukrtelecom, Ukraine’s singular telephone company.