War in Ukraine: Latest developments

By: AFP
Published: 09:53 PM, 31 Mar, 2022
War in Ukraine: Latest developments
Caption: Refugees from Ukraine stand in line for free train tickets in the hall of the main railway station in Przemysl, southeastern Poland, near the Polish-Ukrainian border.
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Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine

- Buses en route to Mariupol - 

Ukraine's government sends 45 buses to evacuate civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol, where Russia has declared a local ceasefire following a global outcry over the suffering of civilians trapped by a month of relentless shelling.

The first convoy arrives in the Russian-occupied port of Berdyansk, a hub in the operation to evacuate civilians to the Ukrainian-controlled town of Zaporizhzhia.

- Putin misled on Ukraine: US, UK -

British intelligence says advisors to Russia's President Vladimir Putin fear telling him the truth about his "failing" and "massively misjudged" invasion of Ukraine.

US officials say Putin feels "misled" by his military on the war's progress and the impact of sanctions, saying his mistrust in military leadership is causing "persistent tensions".

- Ukraine readies for eastern battle -

President Volodymyr Zelensky says Ukrainian forces are prepared for an escalation in fighting in the east and will "fight for every metre" of land after Russia's announcement that it will scale back its operations in Ukraine's north to focus on the breakaway Donbas region.

- French intelligence boss out -

France's military intelligence chief is shown the door for failing to accurately predict that Russia would launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, defence sources say. General Eric Vidaud had only been in the position since last summer.

- Putin ratings up -

Putin's ratings have received a boost since the start of military actions in Ukraine, Russia's independent Levada Center polling institute says, with more than 80 percent of Russians saying they support his actions.

The first poll the centre has conducted since the conflict began shows 83 percent of Russians back their leader, up from 71 percent in early February. 

- Pay for oil in rubles -

Russian President Vladimir Putin says "unfriendly" countries, including all EU members, must set up ruble accounts to pay for gas deliveries from April. 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz insists payments continue in euros or dollars.

France says Paris and Berlin are preparing for a cut in Russian gas deliveries.

- NATO's 'new sense of urgency' -

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has created a "new sense of urgency" among NATO member states to boost defence spending, says the alliance's chief Jen Stoltenberg.

NATO's latest annual report -- covering expenditures before the Ukraine conflict began -- -- showed just eight of NATO's 30 member nations were meeting a target of spending two percent of GDP on defence. But Stoltenberg said the war had brought "a new security reality."

- Foreign ministers meeting mooted -

Turkey says the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine could meet "within about a week or two" to step up negotiations on ending the five-week-old conflict.

Russia and Ukraine reported progress at talks in Istanbul on Tuesday, notably on Russia's demand that Ukraine become a neutral state, but later played down hopes of a breakthrough.

- Russia leaving Chernobyl -

Russian forces have begun to pull out of the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power site and move towards Belarus, a US defence official says, with Ukraine's nuclear agency confirming the development.

Troops seized control of the Chernobyl site -- where radioactive waste is still stored -- on February 24, the first day of the invasion.

- Peace outweighs diamonds, gas -

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has told the Belgian parliament that achieving lasting peace in Ukraine is more valuable than Russian gas or diamonds.

"Peace is more valuable than diamonds, than Russian ships in the ports, than oil and gas -- so help us," he said in allusion to the historic diamond market in Belgium's port city of Antwerp.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.