On the 37th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, delegations of Moscow and Kyiv came to the table, virtually, to resume peace talks. It followed the first face-to-face meeting between the warring countries in nearly three weeks on Tuesday. Russia’s top negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said Moscow’s demand on Crimean Peninsula and Donbas – which comprises the separatist Donetsk and Luhansk regions, “remains unchanged”.
Meanwhile, in the first attack from the Ukrainian side, Russia accused the east-European country to have launched airstrikes on an oil depot in the western town of Belgorod. Images from the incident shared by foreign agencies on social media showed massive flames coming out of the fuel storage facility. Kremlin gave a staunch reply later, saying that it “of course” cannot be considered as creating “comfortable conditions” for the negotiations to continue.
Here are other top updates on the Russia-Ukraine war that happened throughout the day:
1. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, who is on a two-day visit to India, hailed New Delhi for its stance on the ongoing war with Ukraine. During the meeting with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar, Lavrov said Russia appreciates India taking the conflict “in the entirety of effect and not just one-sided way”. The Russian minister later met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the latter reiterated India’s call for an immediate cessation of violence in Ukraine. Modi also said that India is ready to contribute to a peace settlement between the two former Soviet neighbours in any way possible.
2. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that a team of theirs that was en route to the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol to facilitate the safe evacuation of civilians, who have been under Russian siege since March 1, had to come back to Zaporizhzhia – located in south-eastern Ukraine, after “arrangements and conditions made it impossible to proceed”, Reuters reported citing a statement.
3. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told European Union (EU) leaders during their summit that Beijing would push for peace in Ukraine in “its own way”, following Brussels pressing the Asian country for assurances that it would not provide Russia with arms or bypass Western sanctions against Russian aggression.
4. Russia’s Gazprom PJSC began sending out notifications to clients falling under “unfriendly” nations on Friday on how to pay for gas supplies in Rubles. This comes after Kremlin on Thursday said that European buyers would need to have two accounts, one in Euros and another in rubles and that the onus will be on Gazprombank to make the foreign exchange conversion. Austria and OMV AG and Italy’s Eni, according to Bloomberg, confirmed receiving the notification.
5. The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, said the number of Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion has surpassed 4.1 million. “This tragedy must stop,” it said, according to AFP. The agency added that 4,102,876 Ukrainians have fled their country since the invasion started on February 24, with the number increasing by 43,771 in 24 hours. Women and children account for 90 per cent of those who have fled, while Ukrainian men between 18 and 60 years are cannot leave as they are eligible for a military call-up.