No one in Russia is considering the idea of using nuclear weapons, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told PBS.
So far, Russia and Ukraine have held three rounds of face-to-face negotiations on Feb. 28, March 2, and March 7. A new round of negotiations is expected to start today on Turkish soil. Below are the main developments of this conflict as they happen.
No one in Russia is thinking about using nuclear weapons, Kremlin spokesman says
No one in Russia is considering the idea of using nuclear weapons, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told PBS.
The interviewer asked whether Russian President Vladimir Putin had suggested in his earlier statement that he would use nuclear weapons if a third party got involved in the conflict in Ukraine and Peskov said ‘no.’ "I don’t think so. But he was quite bold in saying ‘do not interfere, if you do, we have all the possibilities to prevent that and to punish all those who are going to interfere," he specified.
When asked if he could rule out the use of nuclear weapons in the conflict on behalf of Russia, the Kremlin spokesman said: "No one is thinking about using… even about the idea of using nuclear weapons.".
US President Joe Biden’s recent remark about Russian leader Vladimir Putin is quite alarming, Peskov told.
"It's quite alarming. First of all, it's a personal insult and one can hardly imagine a place for a personal insult in the rhetoric of a political leader and especially of the political leader of the greatest country in the world, the United States. So we are very sorry about that," he pointed out. "His statement about whether Putin should not or should be in power in Russia is of course unacceptable. It's not for the United States' president to decide who is going to be and who is the president of Russia, it is the people of Russia who decide it during elections," Peskov added.
Western countries have actually declared total economic war against Russia, Peskov told.
"We have to adapt ourselves to new conditions. And unfortunately, those conditions are quite unfriendly," he said, commenting on Western sanctions.
"We entered the phase of a total war," Peskov pointed out. "Western European countries, the United States, Canada, Australia, they are actually leading war against us in trade, in economy, in seizing our properties, in seizing our funds, in blocking our financial relations. And we have to adapt ourselves to the new reality," the Kremlin spokesman stressed.
Macron plans to hold another conversation with Putin on March 29 - French official
French President Emmanuel Macron plans to hold another telephone conversation with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on March 29, French Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Anne Claire Legendre told BFM TV.
"President Macron plans to once again speak with Vladimir Putin on Tuesday," she said.
Legendre pointed out that the French leader "has held a series of long conversations with the Russian president." "France intends to keep the channel for dialogue open," she added. The French Foreign Ministry spokesperson also said that Macron expected to discuss with Putin the details of a planned humanitarian operation aimed at evacuating civilians from Mariupol with the assistance of Greece and Turkey.
When asked to comment on Russian top diplomat Sergey Lavrov’s remark about Moscow’s plans to take retaliatory visa measures against unfriendly countries, Legendre noted that "all EU nations are on the list of unfriendly countries." "We don’t know at this point what approach Russia will actually take," she said, adding: "It may turn out to be one of the retaliatory measures that Russia announced earlier."
UN calls for compliance with Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War in Ukraine
The United Nations believes that it is important to comply with the Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War in Ukraine, Spokesman for the UN Secretary General Stephane Dujarric said, when asked to comment on reports of the torture of captive Russian troops by Ukrainian nationalists.
"We have not seen the videos that reportedly show mistreatment but, as a matter of principle, it is important that all detained military personnel be treated according to the Geneva Conventions," he noted.
Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier that those involved in the torture of Russian prisoners of war in Ukraine must be held accountable for their actions.
Russia will not send free gas to Western Europe, says Kremlin spokesman
Russia is not going to send natural gas to Western European countries for free, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview Monday.
"We are definitely not going to turn that into a charity to send free gas to Western Europe," Peskov replied, in an interview with U.S. public television network PBS, when asked whether Russia would cut off gas to countries that refuse to pay.
UN Secretary-General calls for de-escalation of rhetoric after Biden's remarks on Putin
UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday called for de-escalating rhetoric following U.S. President Joe Biden's remarks about Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Concluding his European tour in Poland on Saturday, Biden said in his speech on Ukraine that Putin "cannot remain in power" and called him a "butcher."
Later, a White House official said Biden's words about Putin did not endorse regime change in Russia.
"I think we need de-escalation. We need a military and rhetorical de-escalation," Guterres told reporters when asked about Biden's remarks.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called Biden's comments "alarming."
Tensions between the U.S. and Russia escalated since February 24 when Moscow launched a military operation in Ukraine, after which Washington imposed various sanctions on the Eurasian nation in rejection of that action.
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Bloomberg suspends its operation in Russia and Belarus
Bloomberg said on Monday it suspends its operation in Russia and Belarus over the situation in Ukraine.
According to media reports, access to the agency’s news terminals will be blocked for Russian clients.
Biden doesn’t rule out meeting with Putin, says it depends on agenda
US President Joe Biden on Monday didn’t rule out holding an in-person meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin but said it would depend on the agenda.
"It depends on what he wants to talk about," Biden said at the White House, when asked if he was ready to meet with Putin.
Biden also said he didn’t care about what Putin thought about his remarks that Putin "cannot remain in power."
He said his comments, made during a speech in Warsaw on March 26, expressed his moral outrage but didn’t mean the US is pursuing a policy of removing Putin from power.
Germany will prosecute those who symbolically support Russia. Germany warned that its authorities could criminally prosecute citizens who make a public display of the letter "Z", which stands for "victory" when painted on Russian military equipment and transport.
"Of course, the letter Z as such is not forbidden, but its use may in individual cases constitute an endorsement of the Russian war of aggression... Whoever publicly approves of this war of aggression can also make himself liable to prosecution," said a German Interior Minister official, according to Reuters.
Russia shoots down Ukrainian helicopter near Mariupol. On Monday, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov stated that his country's forces shot down a Ukrainian Mi-8 helicopter as it was flying over the Sea of Azov.
"It was heading towards Mariupol for emergency evacuation of the Azov battalion's leaders, who had abandoned their troops", he said, adding that the Russian military also downed one unspecified drone and two Ukrainian Su-24 and one Su-25 jets.
"Forces of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) have, with help from Russian troops, managed to surround Mariupol, seizing its suburbs, including the airport, and started to clear the city of the remaining Azov nationalist battalion fighters," Sputnik reported.
North Macedonia declares 5 Russian diplomats personae non grata. North Macedonia's Foreign Affairs Ministry declared five Russian diplomats as personae non grata. The Ministry summoned Russian Ambassador to North Macedonia Sergey Bazdnikin and informed him of the decision. The Russian diplomats have to leave North Macedonia in the next five days.
Western media spent years warning the Azov Battalion and related militias were not just neo-Nazis but were the most powerful neo-Nazi force in Europe given their integration into the military and state.— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 25, 2022
That's now not only taboo to say but these same outlets have renounced this. https://t.co/E7dJMLtgSg
Russia doubts that negotiations in Turkey will start today. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov expressed doubts that the new round of Russian-Ukrainian talks in Istanbul would start today, saying "theoretically" it could start on Tuesday.
"At the moment we cannot and will not talk about progress," said Peskov, who stressed that "the very fact that there is a decision to continue the negotiations in person is, without a doubt, important."
He also indicated that there was no progress on a possible meeting between President Vladimir Putin and President Volodymyr Zelensky.
On March 25, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan affirmed that in the negotiations between Kyev and Moscow there are concrete agreements on several points, among which are Ukraine's resignation from joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the recognition of Russian as a co-official language, and concessions regarding demilitarization and "collective security".
Scholz advocates reinforcing European defense to deter Russia. Foreign Affairs Minister Olaf Scholz emphasized the need to strengthen the German army and the defense capabilities of the European Union (EU) to dissuade Russia from an eventual attack.
"We have to guarantee that we are strong enough so that there is no attack on the EU or on NATO," he said during a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in Berlin.
Regarding the request that contracts for energy supply be paid in rubles, Scholz said that those contracts specify that payment be made in euros. "Companies will pay them accordingly," he said.
For her part, Andersson alluded to the possibility of Sweden requesting entry into NATO and explained that a debate process is underway to decide "the best path for Sweden."
"It is up to Germany, Sweden, or Ukraine to decide how they want to organize their security policy in the future. It is not up to Moscow," she stressed, adding that "we are not neutral. What we are not is part of a military alliance."
The #SomaliaBattalion of the #Donetsk People's Republic has raised its #Flag over the #Kalmius district local authority building in #Mariupol, as seen in footage filmed on Sunday, March 27. #Russia #Ukraine #Donbass #Breakinghttps://t.co/7aQDots6mo pic.twitter.com/lDCVetF52y— �� Sarwar �� (@ferozwala) March 28, 2022
Ukraine urges the United Nations to demilitarize area near Chernobyl plant. Ukraine has asked the UN to take actions on demilitarizing the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP).
Currently, there is a risk of damaging the confinement structures built over the Chernobyl destroyed nuclear power unit No. 4 due to the hostilities and a large amount of ammunition in the area.
On Sunday, Ukrainian Ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova said that forest fires, which broke out around the Chernobyl NPP due to hostilities, cover more than 10,000 hectares. Ukrainian firefighters are unable to reach the area, which is controlled by Russian forces.
Russia will not supply gas to Europe if it does not pay in rubles. On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that Russia "will not supply free gas" and will only deliver energy to countries that agree to pay for shipments in rubles.
Last week, President Vladimir Putin announced that his administration will refuse payment for Russian gas in currencies, including the dollar and euro. The news caused concern in the West, where several countries announced that they were not willing to buy the fuel if the payment had to be made in Russian rubles.
On March 31, the Russian Central Bank and the Gazprom company are expected to inform Putin about the measures to be taken to make the payment for fuel in rubles effective.
Kremlin rejects Biden's words about Putin remaining in power. On Monday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov called "alarming" the words of U.S. President Joe Biden, who said on Saturday that President Vladimir Putin cannot remain in power.
On Sunday, senior U.S. officials qualified Biden's words by assuring that Washington is not seeking a regime change in Russia. During a visit to Israel, U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken said his country "does not have a strategy" to remove Putin from power, adding that Biden was referring to the fact that Putin should not be "empowered" to wage an offensive in Ukraine.
In the #Donetsk and #Lugansk territories, inhabitants receive humanitarian assistance, while ultra-nationalist groups continue damaging local infrastructure. Our field correspondent Alejandro Kirk reports - #Russia #Ukraine pic.twitter.com/DCnFUKxZLM— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) March 25, 2022