Day 32 Russia-Ukraine crisis: As it happened

Ukrainian neutrality is a key issue for Moscow at conflict negotiations

By Team KT

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Published: Sun 27 Mar 2022, 6:50 AM

Last updated: Sun 27 Mar 2022, 11:56 PM

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators are to sit down for a fresh round of talks next week.

Kyiv said the negotiations would start on Monday in Turkey, while Russia’s lead negotiator said they would begin on Tuesday without confirming the location.

Russia and Ukraine failed to make a breakthrough in their first top-level talks, on March 10.

Ukraine says Russia may aim to divide the country into versions of North and South Korea because of President Vladimir Putin’s failure to “capture Kyiv and remove Ukraine’s government”.

“There are reasons to believe that he may try to impose a separation line between the occupied and unoccupied regions of our country. In fact, it will be an attempt to set up South and North Koreas in Ukraine,” Kyrylo Budanov, Chief of the Defence Intelligence, says in a statement.

French President Emmanuel Macron warns against verbal “escalation” with Moscow after US President Joe Biden called his Russian counterpart a “butcher”.

Macron says that he sees his task as “achieving first a ceasefire and then the total withdrawal of (Russian) troops by diplomatic means”.

Here's the latest of all top developments on March 27:

11.44pm: Ukraine deputy PM says 1,100 people evacuated on Sunday

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said 1,100 people were evacuated from frontline areas on Sunday.

10.26pm: Zelensky says Ukraine studying issue of neutrality

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenksy said on Sunday that a Russian demand of Ukrainian neutrality — a key issue for Moscow at conflict negotiations — was being closely looked at by Kyiv’s negotiators.

“This point of the negotiations is understandable to me and it is being discussed, it is being carefully studied,” Zelensky said during an interview with several independent Russian news organisations.

10.15pm: In call with Putin, Turkey’s Erdogan stresses need for ceasefire

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a telephone call on Sunday that a ceasefire and better humanitarian conditions were needed following Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine, his office said in a statement.

“Erdogan noted the importance of a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine, the implementation of peace and the improvement of humanitarian conditions in the region,” his office said in a readout of the call.

9.42pm: Ukraine warns of escalation in fighting around Mariupol

Ukraine on Sunday warned of a possible escalation in fighting around the besieged southern port city of Mariupol after Moscow said it was focusing its military resources on capturing the eastern Donbas region.

“This means a potential or sharp deterioration around Mariupol,” an adviser to the head of the President’s office, Oleksiy Arestovich, said in a video statement.

More details here

8.15pm: France says world powers must ‘keep talking’ with Putin

“We must keep talking with the Russians, we must continue to speak with President Putin precisely because he has not had the results he thought he would.”

7.30pm: New Ukraine conflict talks to start Monday in Turkey

Ukraine said that a second round of conflict talks between negotiators from Kyiv and Moscow would take place in Turkey from Monday, just over one month into Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.

“Today, during another round of video negotiations, it was decided to hold the next in-person round of the two delegations in Turkey on March 28-30,” David Arakhamia, a Ukraine negotiator and politician wrote on Facebook.

More details here

6.30pm: France warns of ‘collective guilt’ if people in Ukraine’s Mariupol not helped

The French foreign minister said on Sunday there would be “collective guilt” if nothing was done to help civilians in Mariupol, the Ukrainian city besieged by Russian forces.

Jean-Yves Le Drian was speaking at the Doha Forum international conference.

5.53pm: 3.8 million people flee Ukraine, UN says


More than 3.8 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s attack a month ago, UN figures showed Sunday, but the flow of refugees has slowed down markedly.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said 3,821,049 Ukrainians had fled the country — an increase of 48,450 from Saturday’s figures.

Around 90 percent of them are women and children, it added.

Of those who have left, 2.2 million have fled for neighbouring Poland, while more than half a million have made it to Romania. Nearly 300,000 have gone to Russia.

Before the crisis began a month ago, EU member Poland was home to around 1.5 million Ukrainians.

6.02pm: Russia blocks German newspaper’s website

Russian authorities have blocked the website of German newspaper Bild.

Communications and media regulator Roskomnadzor said Sunday it blocked Bild’s website at prosecutors’ request.

Instagram and Facebook were already blocked in Russia after Roskomnadzor said they were being used to call for violence against Russian soldiers. Russian authorities also have shut access to foreign media websites, including BBC, European news network Euronews, the US government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and Latvia-based website Meduza.

5.35pm: Russia trying to encircle Ukrainian forces in east, Ukrainian adviser says

Ukraine is mounting small counter-offensive actions as Russia’s military tries to encircle its forces in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said on Sunday.

4.55pm: Polish TV holding global charity telethon for Ukraine

British artists Fatboy Slim and Craig David are among the music stars taking part in an English-language charity telethon for Ukraine being organised on Sunday by Polish state channel TVP, the network said.

The “Save Ukraine #StopWar” programme, which will also include Ukrainian footballing legend Andriy Shevchenko, is being broadcast to more than 20 countries, TVP World said in a statement.

The two-hour show will start at 1530 GMT.

The organisers said it was “a project aimed at reaching out to millions of people around the world to help Ukrainians live through the war and win it”.

3.46pm: Macron fears ‘escalation’ after Biden calls Putin a ‘butcher’

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday warned against verbal “escalation” with Moscow, after US President Joe Biden called Russian leader Vladimir Putin a “butcher” over his attack on Ukraine.

Macron told broadcaster France 3 that he saw his task as “achieving first a ceasefire and then the total withdrawal of (Russian) troops by diplomatic means.”

“If we want to do that, we can’t escalate either in words or actions.”

Paris has kept diplomatic channels to Moscow open throughout Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s borders and attack of its neighbour.

The stance has been criticised by some other leaders and commentators but defended by Macron as vital to limiting damage from the war.

3.04pm: Pope steps up pleas for talks to end fighting

Pope Francis has stepped up his pleas for negotiations to end the fighting in Ukraine.

Francis told the public in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday that “this cruel and senseless war” continues after more than a month, representing “a defeat for all.”

He lamented that parents are burying their children, and “the powerful decide and the poor die.” Once again, he didn’t cite Russia by name as the aggressor.

Referring to reports that about one-half of all the children in Ukraine have been displaced by the conflict, Francis said that “war doesn’t just devastate the present but also the future of society.”

2.25pm: Zelensky says West needs more courage in helping Ukraine fight

"If only those who have been thinking for 31 days on how to hand over dozens of jets and tanks had 1% of their courage."

1.50pm: Russia trying to split Ukraine in two, Ukraine intelligence chief says

Russia is trying to split Ukraine in two to create a Moscow-controlled region after failing to take over the whole country, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence said on Sunday.

“In fact, it is an attempt to create North and South Korea in Ukraine,” Kyrylo Budanov said in a statement, adding that Ukraine would soon launch guerrilla warfare in Russian-occupied territory.

1.30pm: Head of Ukraine rebel region says may hold vote on joining Russia

The head of Ukraine’s Luhansk separatist region said Sunday it may hold a referendum on becoming part of Russia, after Moscow sent troops into its pro-Western neighbour.

“I think that in the near future a referendum will be held on the territory of the republic, during which the people will... express their opinion on joining the Russian Federation,” Russian news agencies quoted Leonid Pasechnik as saying.

“For some reason, I am sure this will be the case,” he said.

Russia launched its military action in Ukraine in late February, saying it was acting in defence of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics in the country’s east.

President Vladimir Putin had days earlier recognised the two regions as independent.

12.35pm: US has no strategy of regime change in Russia, Blinken says

"As you know, and as you have heard us say repeatedly, we do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia - or anywhere else, for that matter."

More details here

11.15am: Russia struck Ukraine’s Lviv with cruise missiles

Russia struck military targets in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv with high-precision cruise missiles, the Russian defence ministry said on Sunday.


10.45am: Ukraine says two evacuation corridors agreed for Sunday

Ukraine and Russia have agreed two ‘humanitarian corridors’ to evacuate civilians from frontline areas on Sunday, including allowing people to leave by private car from the southern city of Mariupol, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

10.15am: 'Russia has started destroying Ukrainian fuel, food storage depots'

Russia has started destroying Ukrainian fuel and food storage depots, meaning the government will have to disperse the stocks of both in the near future, Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko said on Sunday.

Speaking on local television, Denysenko also said Russia was bringing forces to the Ukrainian border on rotation, and could make new attempts to advance in its attack on Ukraine.

Reuters file
Reuters file

6.30am: Multiple rockets hit Lviv city in western Ukraine

Four rockets hit the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Saturday, local officials said, in the most significant attack on the city since the start of the war with Russia.

Lviv, just 60 kilometres from the Polish border, has so far escaped the heavy bombardment and fighting that has devastated some Ukrainian cities closer to Russia since Moscow launched its military operation in February 24.

6.15am: Ukraine says 5,208 people were evacuated from cities on Saturday

A total of 5,208 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Saturday, a senior official said, fewer than the 7,331 who managed to escape the previous day.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office, said in an online post that 4,331 people had left the besieged city of Mariupol.

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