Ukraine war: Western leaders cautious over Russia pledge to reduce attacks around Kyiv

The regional government headquarters of Mykolaiv, Ukraine, following a Russian attack, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. President Zelenskyy said seven people were killed.
The regional government headquarters of Mykolaiv, Ukraine, following a Russian attack, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. President Zelenskyy said seven people were killed. Copyright AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris
By Euronews with AP, AFP
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At peace talks in Instanbul, Russia said it will "fundamentally" reduce combat operations around Kyiv and Chernihiv. Ukraine has said it will accept neutral status in return for security guarantees.


With Russia's war in Ukraine into its second month, there has been movement at peace talks in Turkey.

As Moscow's military offensive stalls in the face of strong Ukrainian resistance, Putin's forces have been continuing to pound targets from afar.

Planned humanitarian corridors to evacuate besieged and terrorised civilians have faltered. Millions of people have fled their homes, while thousands of civilians and military personnel have been killed in the fighting, which has left widespread devastation.

This article dates from Tuesday. For Wednesday's latest updates click here.

See a summary of Tuesday's developments in our blog below, and watch the report in the video player above.


Tuesday key points to know:

  • Russia will scale back its military operations in Kyiv and Chernihiv, say Russian negotiators, amid a switch to focus on Donbas in eastern Ukraine.
  • Ukraine wants an international agreement that would see several countries guarantee its security.
  • Turkey hailed the developments in Istanbul as "meaningful progress" as Ukraine and Russia held a new round of peace talks.
  • Washington struck a note of caution, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warning "there is what Russia says, and there is what Russia does". The leaders of the US, UK, Germany and Italy warned against any "slackening of Western resolve".
  • At least seven people were killed and 22 others wounded in a Russian strike on the southern city of Mykolaiv, which hit the regional government headquarters. 
  • Four EU countries expelled a total of dozens of Russian envoys amid security fears.
  • Russia planning to deploy 1,000 Wagner mercenaries to eastern Ukraine, says the UK's MoD.
  • Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich -- who along with two Ukrainian peace negotiators was allegedly the victims of a suspected poisoning at previous negotiations earlier in March -- was seen at Tuesday's talks.
  • Ukraine reopened "humanitarian corridors" on Tuesday, having suspended them the previous day for fear that Russia may attack evacuated civilians.

Russia and Belarus 'not welcome' at Nazi concentration camp memorial

Russian and Belarusian representatives have not been invited to an upcoming memorial ceremony at a former Nazi concentartion camp.

The memorial foundation at Buchenwald said that officials from Russia and Belarus were “not welcome” at next month’s event.

The foundation said that the commemoration had been tarnished by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the “violent death” of Boris Romantschenko – a former Buchenwald prisoner who was killed by a Russian airstrike on Kharkiv earlier this month.

The 96-year-old was also vice-president of the International Buchenwald-Dora Committee for Ukraine.

The memorial on April 10 will mark the 77th anniversary of the liberation of the former Nazi camp and will also pay tribute to Romantschenko.


Poland becomes first EU country to block coal imports from Russia

Poland’s government has decided to block imports of coal from Russia as part of an overarching strategy to reduce its energy dependence.
Government spokesperson Piotr Mueller said the EU country would be the first to impose financial penalties on any private companies that import Russian coal into Poland.
Polish customs officials will also be carrying out checks as part of the new policy, he added.
“We cannot continue to wait for the European Union's reaction in this regard,” Mueller said on Tuesday.
Warsaw has been in favour of strengthening sanctions against Moscow following the invasion of Ukraine, including a ban on fuel imports.


Ukraine-Russia talks: 'We'll see,' says Biden

President Joe Biden says he's waiting to see how Russia adjusts its troop presence in Ukraine before assessing the intent behind them.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Biden was asked whether the withdrawal was a sign that negotiations to rein in the month-long invasion might be showing progress, or an indication that Russia was merely trying to buy time to continue its assault on Ukraine.

"We'll see," he said. "I don't read anything into it until I see what their actions are."

As for the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, Biden said the consensus of Western allies is to "see what they have to offer."



Cautious reaction to Ukraine-Russia talks from Western leaders

The American, French, British, German and Italian leaders were cautious after the announcement of these advances in the Russian-Ukrainian talks.

Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron, Boris Johnson, Olaf Scholz and Mario Draghi warned in a telephone conversation against any "slackening of Western resolve until the horror inflicted on Ukraine is over", according to Downing Street.

They said they agreed to "continue to increase the cost paid by Russia", according to the White House.

European stock markets have returned to optimism by ending up sharply.


Ukraine's nuclear power plants in 'unprecedented danger' — IAEA

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Mariano Grossi says the conflict is "putting Ukraine's nuclear power plants and other facilities with radioactive material in unprecedented danger".

Full story here:

Ukraine's nuclear power plants in 'unprecedented danger'

euronews "We must take urgent action [...] to reduce the risk of a nuclear accident that could have a severe health and environmental impact both in Ukraine and beyond."


Visegrad defence ministers' meeting cancelled over Hungary's stance on Russia

Poland and the Czech Republic decided not to attend due to Budapest's stance on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Full story here:


Ukraine urges countries to ban 'Z' symbol

Ukraine's foreign affairs minister urged countries to ban the 'Z' symbol which has been adopted by some in Russia as a symbol of support for what the Kremlin describes as a “special military operation.”

"I call on all states to criminalise the use of the ‘Z’ symbol as a way to publicly support Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine," said foreign affairs minister Dmytro Kuleba.

"’Z’ means Russian war crimes, bombed out cities, thousands of murdered Ukrainians. Public support of this barbarism must be forbidden."

Lithuanian lawmakers are currently debating a ban on use of the symbol, with people who violate it facing a fine of up to €500. 

German authorities have also been considering whether to prosecute people who use the Z symbol to show support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Read more about the pro-war Z symbol here.


US may need to add forces in Europe, general advises

The United States will likely need to add more permanent or rotational forces in Europe in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the US European Command leader told Congress on Tuesday, without detailing when or how many.

General Tod Wolters, who also serves as NATO’s supreme allied commander, said decisions will be based on what European nations do, particularly in response to the need to build four additional NATO battlegroups which are being set up in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.

The groups are an effort to protect and reassure nations on Europe’s eastern flank.

“My suspicion is we’re going to still need more,” Wolters told the Senate Armed Services Committee.



Russian delegate says talks show progress

The head of the Russian delegation in talks with Ukraine says that Moscow sees the latest meeting as a step toward compromise.

Vladimir Medinskiy said on Russian RT television that Russia sees Ukrainian proposals made on Tuesday during the talks in Istanbul as a “step to meet us halfway, a clearly positive fact.”

He added that the two parties have a long way to go to reach an agreement.

He said Russia agreed to a prospective meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy once a prospective peace treaty is ready for signing.

The Ukrainian delegation earlier on Tuesday said it had laid out a possible framework for a future peace deal based on legally binding security guarantees that would provide for other countries to intervene if Ukraine is attacked.


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