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U.Ss President Joe Biden has ordered to allocate an additional $100m in military aid to Ukraine, the White House has reported.
Moscow and Kyiv have conducted several rounds of peace talks with the aim of searching for a political settlement to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. The outcomes of these talks are expected to lay an important foundation for de-escalation of tensions, but key divergences have yet to be resolved. Below are the main developments of this conflict as they happen.
New $100 million U.S. military assistance to Ukraine to include Javelin systems
US President Joe Biden tasked his administration with allocating additional military aid to Kiev worth up to $100 million, including anti-tank weapons, the White House press service and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
"I hereby delegate to the Secretary of State <…> to direct the drawdown of up to an aggregate value of $100 million in defense articles and services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training, to provide assistance to Ukraine," the White House quoted Biden’s memorandum to the US secretary of state.
Blinken said in a statement he had authorized the aid "to meet Ukraine’s urgent need for additional anti-armor systems."
Russia can theoretically be excluded from UN HRC, but not from Security Council - envoy
Excluding Russia from the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) is theoretically possible, but the country cannot be deprived of its permanent seat in the UN Security Council, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya told Channel One on Tuesday.
"Talks that someone may exclude us from the UN Security Council are not backed by anything. However, nothing can be ruled out at this point, because we are living in a world where all rules have become totally irrelevant," he said.
‘The US envoy [to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield,] said today that the United States would seek to exclude Russia from the Human Rights Council. Well, this can be done in theory, but under no circumstances can they exclude us from the Security Council," the Russian diplomat added.
Russia seeks peace in Donbass, not Ukrainian lands - diplomat
Russia’s goal in Ukraine is to achieve peace in the war-torn Donbass region, not seize Ukrainian lands, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya told the UN Security Council on Tuesday.
"I just want you to give it a thought and really hope that you will find a solution to this situation, because it depends only on you," the Russian envoy said, addressing Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, who earlier delivered a speech before the UN Security Council. "We didn’t come to you for Ukrainian land. We came to bring a long-awaited peace to a bleeding Donbas. Not a truce, but a genuine lasting peace."
"To do so, it is necessary to root out the cruelty that I mentioned and remove that Nazi malignant tumor that is devouring Ukraine and would have eventually begun to devour Russia," the Russian diplomat added.
Romania expels 10 Russian embassy employees - MFA
Romania is expelling 10 employees of the Russian embassy in Bucharest, the Romanian Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on its website on Tuesday.
"The Romanian government decided to declare 10 people working in the Russian Embassy in Bucharest as personae non gratae on Romanian territory, believing that their activities run contrary to the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961," the statement said.
Russian Ambassador to Romania Valery Kuzmin told TASS the embassy employees were given five days to leave the country. He called the decision an "unfriendly step" and assured Russia will retaliate.
Russia ready to work honestly at negotiating table with Ukraine - Lavrov
Russia is ready to work at the negotiating table with Ukraine honestly and consistently, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.
"We insist that the international community must know the truth. And the international community should know that the Russia side is ready to work honestly and consistently at the negotiating table," he said.
"If the Ukrainian delegation continues to say that some extra steps from Russia are needed, if it continues to categorically refuse, as it is doing now, to even discuss denazification and demilitarization, the restoration of the rights of the Russian language, if they continue to say that they have no problems with the Russian language, with the rights of the Russian-speaking population, and with Nazification of all spheres of the country’s life, I don’t think it will promote further progress of the negotiating process," he stressed.
Russia announces final offensive on Mariupol. On Tuesday afternoon, the Russian Army announced the launch of its final offensive to take Mariupol. This announcement came after the deadline for the Ukrainian forces to lay down their arms and leave this port city located on the Sea of Azov.
"Taking into consideration Kyiv's lack of interest in preserving the lives of its military, Mariupol will be liberated from nationalist units," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Igor Konashenkov said, adding that the Russian Army frustrated a new attempt to evacuate the command of the nationalist Azov battalion by shooting down two Mi-8 helicopters that were trying to reach the city from the sea.
Konashenkov reported that the Lugansk forces continued their advance against the positions of the Ukrainian 24th Motorized Brigade. They also managed to break through the defense lines of the Ukrainian 57th Motorized Infantry Brigade, which lost up to 50 troops and 9 armored vehicles.
For several weeks, Mariupol, a city where some 100,000 people still remain, has been under siege by Russian troops and separatist militias. At the end of March, Russia withdrew from the Kyiv region and regrouped its forces to focus all its efforts on the liberation of Donbas.
Ukraine and its allies try to sabotage the negotiations by claiming a massacre in Bucha. On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that the West is trying to sabotage negotiations, attributing responsibility for the murders in Bucha to his country.
"Moscow has twice requested an urgent session of the United Nations Security Council on the Bucha situation, but the United Kingdom (which is at present presiding over the UNSC) refused both times to hold the meeting," outlet Spunik recalled.
Latvia closed two Russian consular posts and declared their staff personae non grata. Latvia's Foreign Ministry said that Russia's Consulates in Daugavpils and Liepaja were being closed "in solidarity with Ukraine." Mikhail Vanin, the Russian Federation's ambassador to Latvia, was notified of the decision.
Italy and Romania expel 40 Russian diplomats. Italy's foreign ministry announced the expulsion of 30 Russian diplomats for what it called "reasons related to national security." Also on Tuesday, Romania decided to expel ten Russian diplomats.
"The Romanian authorities have decided to declare as personae non grata on the territory of Romania ten people working in the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Bucharest, given that their activities and actions are contrary to the provisions of the Vienna Convention," the country's foreign ministry said.
Ukraine is the third largest importer of German arms. In the first three months of 2022, German authorities granted arms export licenses worth 2.8 billion euros. In the similar period of 2021, however, that figure only reached 981 million euros.
"The increase can be largely explained by a high-volume acquisition project from the Netherlands, which will last several years and which alone represents 62 percent of the total approval value in the first quarter," the Economy ministry said.
Ukrainian SBU (police) arresting civilians in Dnipropetrovsk... now we know where the bodies from Bucha came from... pic.twitter.com/RHb0s8tIcp
The main destinations of German weapons during the first quarter of 2022 were the Netherlands (1.7 billion euros), the U.K. (215 million euros), and Ukraine (186 million euros). "Germany strongly supports Ukraine in its right to self-defense, as evidenced by the current values of weapons permits," State Secretary Sven Giegold said.
Russia denounces staged video of dead Ukrainian civilians. On Tuesday, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov denounced that the Ukrainian military made and released a new staged video in which civilians are allegedly killed by the Russian forces.
The video intended to incriminate the Russians was actually made by the Ukrainian military of the 72 Information and Psychological Operations Center in the Moschun region. This recording was later released by Western media. "Similar activities are now being organized by Ukrainian special services in cities like Sumy and Konotop," he added.
The French Justice opens investigations over possible war crimes in Ukraine. On Tuesday, the French National Antiterrorist Prosecutor's Office (PNAT) opened four investigations over possible war crimes committed in Ukraine against French victims, without currently identifying the alleged perpetrators, although some elements point to Russian forces.
The PNAT indicated that three of these investigations "against X" have been formally launched for events that occurred in the cities of Mariupol (between February 25 and March 16), Gostomel (between March 1 and 12), and Chernihiv (since February 24).
1/4:Ukraine/Ucrania:Fox News:Interview Zelensky:�� 2 April:"They (Azov Neonazis) are fully incorporated into the military...some broke the law and were taken to Court...and since the war they were released from prison" - Zelensky. The clip was later deleted but here it is. E����F: pic.twitter.com/lJh9YCtjgn
The qualification of war crimes is justified because they are voluntary acts against the physical integrity of people; deliberate attacks against civilians who were not involved in acts of war; of the deprivation of essential goods for the survival of civilians; and/or for deliberate attacks on civilian objects, their theft or their destruction.
The investigations have been entrusted to the police of the Central Office for the Fight against Crimes against Humanity and Hate Crimes (OCLCH). On March 16, the PNAT had already launched another investigation for war crimes following the death two days earlier of French-Irish television cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski, who was part of a team from Fox News that was shot north from Kyiv.
French justice can declare jurisdiction over war crimes committed abroad when there are victims of French nationality or residents in France, but also when the alleged perpetrators are French.
Denmark Expels 15 Russian Diplomats. On Tuesday, Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod announced the expulsion of 15 Russian diplomatic staff members, accusing them as "intelligence officers" for espionage.
Russian Ambassador to Denmark Vladimir Barbin had been earlier informed of the expulsion of the "intelligence officers working at the Russian embassy in Copenhagen." The expelled officers have 14 days to depart Denmark.
The Russian embassy in Denmark denies the accusations, claiming that the Danish move aims to further deteriorate relations between the two countries. "It will not remain unanswered," wrote the Russian embassy in an email to the Danish news agency Ritzau.
In response, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Moscow will take retaliatory measures against Denmark over the expulsion of Russian diplomats.
In 2014, Amnesty International called for an investigation into possible war crimes by battalions in Donbass. The Ukrainian Azov neo-nazi battalion has long been accused of atrocities, the latest one being the brutal torture and murder of a young woman from Mariupol. pic.twitter.com/sKfPvFfiZD
Russia hopes Kiev won't listen to "advisers" from afar. Moscow hopes Kiev will follow its national interests at Russia-Ukraine peace talks, but not listen to "advisers" from afar, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
"It is not the talks that influence the course of the operation, but external 'players' who are trying to hinder these negotiations and keep the clashes 'on the ground' going on for as long as possible," he told a press conference following talks with Arab League (AL) representatives on Ukraine.
"We know who gives such 'advice' to our Ukrainian neighbors. This is done with useless goals that have nothing to do with the interests of the Ukrainian people, the security of Ukraine, the security in the region of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and in our European region," he added.
"I hope that those who lead the delegation of Kiev at the said talks will start to be guided by their own national interests, the interests of their people but not listen to 'advisers' from afar, who sometimes only want to see how the crisis situation will continue to build up," Lavrov said.
He added that Russia will debunk fakes related to the special operation in Ukraine. The minister also expressed the readiness to cooperate and continue to inform colleagues in the AL about the development of the situation, according to the statement.
The Arab Ministerial delegation, headed by Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, secretary-general of the AL, visited Russia to seek a diplomatic solution for the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The group, including representatives from Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, Iraq, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates, will travel to Warsaw on Tuesday for another meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
The Russian defence ministry denied Ukrainian accusations about the alleged killing of civilians in the Kiev region town of Bucha, calling the videos and photographs released by the Ukrainian government a fabrication to respond to Western media. #Ukraine️#russiapic.twitter.com/VBqsh1AD7v