Day 35 Russia-Ukraine crisis: As it happened

Russia announced Tuesday it will significantly scale back military operations near Kyiv

By Team KT

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AP file
AP file

Published: Wed 30 Mar 2022, 6:34 AM

Last updated: Thu 31 Mar 2022, 10:01 PM

Russia announced Tuesday it will significantly scale back military operations near Ukraine’s capital and a northern city, as the outlines of a possible deal to end the grinding war came into view at the latest round of talks.

While Moscow portrayed it as a goodwill gesture, its ground troops have become bogged down and taken heavy losses in their bid to seize Kyiv and other cities.

Western officials say Moscow is reinforcing troops in the Donbas in an attempt to encircle Ukraine’s best-trained and best-equipped forces, which are concentrated in the east. And in the country’s south, civilians trapped in the ruins of Mariupol and other bombarded and shattered cities continue to suffer.

Even as negotiators gathered, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces blasted a gaping hole in a nine-story government administration building in a strike on the southern port city of Mykolaiv, killing at least 12 people, emergency authorities said. The search for more bodies in the rubble continued.

Ukraine’s military said it has noted withdrawals of some Russian forces around Kyiv and Chernihiv.

Here's the latest of all top developments on March 30:

12: Moscow announces Mariupol ceasefire to evacuate civilians

The Russian defence ministry announced a ceasefire starting Thursday morning in Ukraine's besieged port city of Mariupol to allow civilians to be evacuated.

"For this humanitarian operation to succeed, we propose to carry it out with the direct participation of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross," the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

11.15pm: White House adds $500 million in Ukraine aid

The White House has pledged an additional $500 million in direct aid for Ukraine as the Russian invasion grinds on.

U.S. President Joe Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a 55 minute call Wednesday that the additional aid was on its way. The leaders also reviewed security aid already delivered to Ukraine and the effects that weaponry has had on the war, according to the White House.

Zelesnkyy has pressed the Biden administration and other Western allies to provide Ukraine with military jets. The U.S. and other NATO countries have thus far been unwilling to accommodate that request out of concern it could lead to Russia broadening the war beyond Ukraine’s borders.

11.00pm: Russia bombards areas where it pledged to scale back

Russian forces bombarded areas around Kyiv and another city just hours after pledging to scale back military operations in those places to help negotiations along, Ukrainian authorities said Wednesday.

The shelling — and intensified Russian attacks on other parts of the country — tempered optimism about any progress in the talks aimed at ending the punishing war.

The Russian military’s announcement Tuesday that it would de-escalate near the capital and Chernihiv to “increase mutual trust” was met with deep suspicion from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the West.

8.30pm: Ukraine announces first indictment for 'collaboration' with Russia

Ukraine on Wednesday announced the first indictment of a citizen for collaborating with Russian forces, under a new law that could lead to sentences of up to 12 years in prison.

The General Prosecutor's Office said a resident of the eastern town of Kramatorsk had posted a video on TikTok "in which he denied Russian aggression against Ukraine and publicly called on citizens to support illegal decisions and actions of the aggressor state."

"This is the first indictment sent to court for collaboration," prosecutors said in a post on Telegram.

6.20pm: Number of Ukraine refugees passes worst-case UN estimate

The number of people who have fled Ukraine since Russian troops invaded has surpassed 4 million, the United Nations reported Wednesday as shelling continued in places where Moscow had vowed to ease its military operations.

“I do not know if we can still believe the Russians,” refugee Nikolay Nazarov, 23, said as he crossed Ukraine’s border into Poland with his wheelchair-bound father.

Despite Russia’s announcement during talks on Tuesday that its forces would ease their assault near Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and elsewhere, Nazarov said he expects “more escalation” in the country’s east, including the city he and his father fled.

More details here

6.08pm: Ukraine says Russia is preparing renewed offensive operations

Russian forces in Ukraine are regrouping and preparing for renewed offensive operations, Ukrainian Defence Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said on Wednesday.

“(Russia’s) main efforts are concentrated on surrounding Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine,” Motuzyanyk said, adding that Russia was still trying to take the southern port city of Mariupol and the towns of Popasna and Rubizhne.

“It (Russia) is preparing to resume offensive operations,” he said, adding that Ukraine’s armed forces command had observed some movements of Russian forces away from the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions but did not consider this to be a mass withdrawal.

5.15pm: Zelensky urges Norway to supply more energy to Ukraine, EU

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday urged Norway, the second-biggest supplier of gas to Europe behind Russia, to deliver more energy to his country and the European Union.

Addressing the Norwegian parliament via video link, he also called for a ban on Russian vessels in Europe’s ports.

“You can make a decisive contribution to the energy security of Europe by providing the necessary resources, both for the countries of the European Union and for Ukraine,” he said in a speech that ended with a long standing ovation from lawmakers.

1.45pm: Russian Foreign Minister to visit India on Thursday

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit India, which has so far refused to condemn Moscow’s attack of Ukraine, for a two-day visit beginning Thursday, New Delhi said.

India has abstained from UN resolutions censuring Russia and continues to buy Russian oil and other goods, despite pressure from Washington, with US President Joe Biden last week describing India as “somewhat shaky” on Russia.

India and Russia have had a close relationship for decades. New Delhi, which describes Moscow as its “longstanding and time-tested friend”, sources most of its key military hardware from Russia.

1.55pm: UK issues 25,500 visas to Ukrainian refugees

The British government said on Wednesday it had issued 25,500 visas to Ukrainians under schemes set up to bring in refugees after Russia attacked Ukraine last month.

Data from the Home Office showed that 22,800 visas had been given under the Ukraine family scheme that allows applicants to join family members in the UK, while 2,700 were offered under the sponsorship scheme which permits refugees with a named sponsor to enter.

The data on Wednesday also showed that 28,300 had applied for the sponsorship scheme, while the overall applications stood at 59,500.

12.50pm: Ukraine says Russian forces fighting on many fronts

Ukrainian officials reported shelling around the capital Kyiv and the northern region of Chernihiv on Wednesday, despite a promise by Moscow to scale down military operations there.

Russian forces were also shelling nearly all cities along the front line separating Ukrainian government-controlled territory from areas held by Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Donetsk region, the regional governor said, and heavy fighting was reported in the southern port city of Mariupol.

12.40pm: More than 4 million people have fled Ukraine, says UNHCR

The number of Ukrainians fleeing abroad is now 4,019,287, the United Nations’ Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Wednesday.

More than 2.3 million have arrived in Poland, but many have traveled onward to other countries or back into Ukraine.

Aid workers say the numbers have eased in recent days as many people await developments in the war. An estimated 6.5 million people have also been displaced from their homes within the country.


More than 608,000 have entered Romania, over 387,000 have gone to Moldova, and about 364,000 have entered Hungary since the war began on February 24, based on counts provided by governments.

UNHCR teams and their partners have been working to deliver protection, emergency shelter, cash assistance, core relief items and other critical services for those who have fled.

11.16am: Ukraine demands Russia withdraw from Chernobyl area, says ammunition could explode

Ukraine’s armed forces say there is a danger of ammunition exploding at the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power station and that Russian forces occupying the plant must pull out of the area, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Wednesday.

She also said Ukraine had asked Russia at talks on Tuesday to allow 97 humanitarian corridors to be established to the worst-hit towns, cities, and villages in Ukraine.

“We demand that the UN Security Council immediately take measures to demilitarise the Chernobyl exclusion zone and introduce a special U.N. mission there to eliminate the risk of the repeat of a nuclear catastrophe,” she said.

11.00am: Fighting continues outside Kyiv but Ukrainian capital not shelled overnight

Shelling could be heard outside Kyiv overnight but the Ukrainian capital itself was not shelled by Russian forces, deputy mayor Mykola Povoroznyk said on Wednesday.

“The night passed relatively calmly, to the sounds of sirens and the sound of gunfire from battles around the city, but there was no shelling in the city itself” Povoroznyk told national television.

10.48am: Germany triggers warning over gas amid Russian ruble demand

Germany’s economy minister said Wednesday he was triggering the early warning level for gas supplies amid Russia’s continued demand to be paid in rubles.

Robert Habeck told reporters that this was the first of three warning levels and entails the establishment of a crisis team in his ministry that will heighten monitoring of the gas supply situation.

More details here

9.47am: Britain says Russian units forced to return to Belarus, Russia to resupply

British military intelligence said on Wednesday that Russian units suffering heavy losses in Ukraine had been forced to return home and to neighbouring Belarus in an effort to re-organise and resupply.

“Such activity is placing further pressure on Russia’s already strained logistics and demonstrates the difficulties Russia is having re-organising its units in forward areas within Ukraine,” Britain’s defence ministry said.

Russia is likely to continue to compensate for its reduced ground manoeuvre capability through mass artillery and missile strikes, the ministry added.

9.00am: Residential areas of Ukraine's Lysychansk shelled by heavy artillery, says Luhansk Region Governor

8.45am: Asian stocks rise as Ukraine peace talks appear to progress

Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sydney advanced, while Tokyo declined. Oil prices advanced less than $1 per barrel.

That followed Russia’s announcement it would scale back military operations near Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and another northern city. It came as negotiators meeting in Turkey began to lay out a possible deal to end the five-week-old war.

More details here

7.04am: Ukraine distrusts announced Russian withdrawal

Ukrainian military officials said they distrust Russia’s announced withdrawal from around Kyiv and Chernihiv.

Earlier Tuesday, Russia announced it will significantly scale back military operations near Ukraine’s capital and a northern city, as the outlines of a possible deal to end the grinding war came into view at the latest round of talks.

More details here

6.42am: Russia being demilitarised, says Ukraine ambassador

Ukraine’s UN Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that the “demilitarization of Russia is well under way.”

Since the beginning of the attack on Ukraine, Kyslytsya said Russian forces have lost more than 17,000 military personnel, over 1,700 armoured vehicles and almost 600 tanks.

He also said Russia also has lost 300 artillery systems, 127 planes and 129 helicopters, almost 100 rocket launchers systems, 54 air defence systems and seven ships.

More details here

6.31am: Ukrainian President Zelensky to address Australian parliament

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address Australia’s parliament on Thursday evening by video, the parliament was told.

Employment Minister Stuart Robert told parliament on Thursday morning that Zelenskiy would make an address by video facility at 5.30pm (0730 GMT), parliament records showed.

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