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LIVE: States Expelling Russian Diplomats To Face Retaliation

  • Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova attends Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's annual press conference in Moscow, capital of Russia, Jan. 16, 2019.

    Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova attends Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's annual press conference in Moscow, capital of Russia, Jan. 16, 2019. | Photo: Xinhua/Bai Xueqi

Published 1 April 2022
Opinion

The statement came as a response to US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price.

On Friday, talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegates are expected to continue. This possibility, however, is clouded by an incident that occurred in the Russian city of Belgorod, where Ukrainian helicopters reportedly attacked fuel facilities. Following are the latest developments in the Ukrainian conflict.

Embassies of states expelling Russian diplomats to face retaliation - diplomat

The embassies of countries expelling Russian diplomats will face "inevitable retaliatory measures" by Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s official spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said.

"They will have to answer for their actions on their own. Bilateral relations with Russia will fall prey, while the Moscow embassies of those countries will face our inevitable retaliatory measures," she said.

The statement came as a response to US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price, who, in Zakharova’s words, has been "openly spiteful regarding the expulsion of Russian diplomats from a number of European states.".

Ukraine, EU achieved ‘some specificity’ regarding EU membership - Zelensky

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said he achieved "some specificity" regarding Ukraine’s accession to the European Union during a meeting with President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola in Kiev.

"We talked about ways to speed up Ukraine’s accession to the EU. There is some specificity," Zelensky said in a video address on Saturday.

Moldova to remain neutral, will not join anti-Russian sanctions - president

The government of Moldova will retain its neutral stance and will not join Western sanctions targeting Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, President Maia Sandu said in an interview with the Moldovan Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL, deemed a foreign agent in Russia).

"There are certain things that we must provide for our citizens. If we leave the country without fuel and destabilize the situation here, it won’t be helpful to anyone," she said, adding that "neither Moldova, nor Ukraine, nor our Western partners" will benefit from a situation of this kind.

In her words, the conflict in the neighboring country affected the economic situation in Moldova.

"We don’t have access to the markets of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. Exports and imports to those countries have been effectively blocked as a result of the conflict," she said, commenting on the possibility of export-and import-related restrictions.

Sandu also mentioned Moldova’s strong dependence on fuel deliveries from Russia.

"Can we afford leaving our country without natural gas or electricity today? No, we can’t, for the sake of our citizens and for the sake of 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, including 50,000 children," the Moldovan leader said.

Putin directed Defense Ministry to increase military potential on Western border - Kremlin

Russia will reinforce its military potential along the Western border to ensure sufficient security, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Belarus-1 television.

He said Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported to Russian President Vladimir Putin that military potential on the other side of the border was on the rise.

"Putin gave orders for Shoigu and our Defense Ministry is now working on this: a plan to react by increasing and reinforcing our military potential along the Western border," Peskov said. "That will be done in such a way that will keep us safe and so that it doesn’t occur to anyone to attack us."

In March, Putin tasked Shoigu with submitting to the Commander-in-Chief proposals on enhancing the Western wing of the Russian Federation’s state borders. At that point, the Russian leader said that those proposals will be discussed "in the near future," and relevant decisions will be made. In response, the defense minister said a plan of strengthening Russia’s western frontier was almost ready.

Earlier, the Russian president pointed out on many occasions that NATO military forces have approached Russian borders to be "at our doorstep."

People living next to Belgorod oil depot allowed to return to their homes

People living near the Belgorod fuel depot, which was hit by the Ukrainian Armed Forces in an airstrike, can return to their homes, Mayor Anton Ivanov wrote in his Telegram channel on Friday.

"The fire at the oil depot has been localized. There is no threat to life and health of people. All the residents can come back to their homes. The group from the Belgorod Arena has already been brought back," he wrote.

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Ukraine and Russia conduct prisoner swap. On Friday, Ukrainian and Russian forces exchanged prisoners under an agreement reached by their negotiating groups earlier this week. The prisoner swap took place in Ukraine's southern Zaporizhzhia region.

"The exchange has just taken place. 86 Ukrainian servicemen, including 15 women, are now safe," said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Ukrainian president's office.

IAEA chief to head mission to Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear power plant. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director Rafael Grossi said Friday that he would head an assistance and support mission to Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear power plant "as soon as possible" to help ensure the facility's safety.

The mission "will be the first in a series of such nuclear safety and security missions to Ukraine," said Grossi, who just returned from his recent visits to Ukraine and Russia, during which he held discussions with officials on both sides about ensuring the security of Ukraine's nuclear facilities.

On Thursday, the IAEA said it had been informed by Ukraine that Russian forces which had been in control of the Chernobyl plant were leaving the facility and had transferred control of the plant to Ukrainian personnel. At Friday's press conference, Grossi said he had not discussed with Russian officials why Russian forces left Chernobyl, adding that the IAEA was still unable to confirm reports that Russian forces were contaminated with radiation. 

"There was a relatively higher level of localized radiation because of the movement of heavy vehicles at the time of the occupation of the plant, and apparently this might have been the case again on the way out," he said.

Ukraine and Russia will resume their peace talks on Friday in an online format. During the talks, the Ukrainian and Russian delegations will intensify efforts to work out an agreement needed for a meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"We hope that the presidents of the countries will meet next," a member of the Ukrainian delegation, David Arakhamia said, noting that the Ukrainian side insists that the meeting take place anywhere but Russia or Belarus.

On Thursday, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that "as for the resumption (of the peace talks) tomorrow... if it happens, we will inform you." There is no clear timeframe of a possible meeting between Putin and Zelensky, he said.

The Swiss Army prepares "multipurpose rooms" to receive refugees. The Migration Secretary announced that the Thun and Chamblon military rooms are available to Ukrainian refugees since April 1. The Neuchlen and Liestal rooms will be operational in a week.

So far, 20,569 Ukrainians have applied for asylum in Switzerland. At least 13,447 of them have already been accepted and received a one-year work permit. Switzerland estimates that it will receive a total of about 60,000 refugees in the coming months.

Fire at oil depot in Russia's Belgorod following two Ukrainian helicopters' attack. Fire broke out at an oil depot in the Russian city of Belgorod after two Ukrainian military helicopters attacked the fuel storage facility, Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the Belgorod Region, said.

"Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the alleged strike in Belgorod, some 22 miles from the border with Ukraine, did not create comfortable conditions to continue peace talks," Al Jazeera reported, adding that Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that he could not "neither confirm nor reject" the involvement of the Ukrainian armed forces in that fire because he did not possess military information.”

Germany delivers 58 battle tanks to Ukraine. Germany authorized the Czech Republic to deliver to the Ukrainian Army battle tanks that originally belonged to the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). The combat vehicles still have to undergo reconditioning, so their delivery to Ukraine could take still a few weeks.

These are 58 PbV-501 model infantry fighting vehicles (ICVs), equipped with cannons and machine guns. After German unification, these vehicles ended up in hands of the German Federal Army, which in the late 1990s sold them to the Swedish Army, which in turn later transferred them to a Czech company.

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