Ukraine attack on Russian territory reported as talks resume

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Talks to end fighting in Ukraine resumed on Friday as another attempt to rescue civilians from the besieged port city of Mariupol failed and Russia accused the Ukrainians of launching a cross-border helicopter attack on an oil depot to have.

The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region said the suspected airstrike by two gunships caused several fires and injured two people. A Kremlin spokesman said the incident on Russian territory could undermine negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian officials.

“Certainly this cannot be seen as creating comfortable conditions for the continuation of talks,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov replied when asked whether the strike could be seen as an escalation of the war in Ukraine.

The claim that Ukrainian helicopters had attacked the oil depot or that several nearby companies in Belgorod had also been hit was not immediately verifiable. Russia has previously reported shelling from Ukraine, including an incident last week that killed a military chaplain, but no intrusion into its airspace.

Asked whether Ukraine fired on the depot, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in Warsaw that he “can neither confirm nor deny the allegation that Ukraine was involved, just because I don’t have all the military information.” .

The latest negotiations, taking place via video link, follow a meeting in Turkey on Tuesday at which Ukraine reiterated its willingness to abandon a bid to join NATO and made proposals to have its neutral military status guaranteed by a number of foreign countries permit.

The head of the Russian delegation, Vladimir Medinsky, wrote on social media that Moscow’s positions on maintaining control of the Crimean Peninsula and expanding Russian-backed separatist-held territory in eastern Ukraine were “unchanged”.

Ukrainian soldiers ride on an armored truck that drives through a Russian position overrun by Ukrainian forces outside Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday March 31, 2022. On Thursday, March 31, 2022, heavy fighting raged in the outskirts of Kyiv and other zones as the Kremlin used evidence of de-escalation as cover while it regrouped and resupplied its forces and repositioned them for an intensified offensive in eastern Ukraine uses. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

The International Committee for the Red Cross said complex logistics were still being worked out for the operation to bring emergency aid to Mariupol and civilians out of the city, which has suffered weeks of heavy fighting with dwindling water, food and medical supplies.

“We are running out of adjectives to describe the horrors suffered by the residents of Mariupol,” ICRC spokesman Ewan Watson said on Friday during a UN briefing in Geneva. “The situation is dire and worsening and it is now a humanitarian imperative that people are allowed to leave and relief supplies allowed in.”

He said the group had sent three vehicles toward Mariupol and a front line between Ukrainian and Russian forces, but two trucks carrying supplies for the city would not accompany them. Dozens of buses organized by Ukrainian authorities to take people out have also failed to approach the dividing line, Watson said.

The city authorities said a little later that the Russians blocked access to Mariupol and it was too dangerous for people to leave it alone.

“We see no real desire on the part of the Russians and their satellites to allow Mariupol residents to evacuate to the Ukrainian-controlled area,” wrote Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the Mariupol mayor, via the messaging app Telegram .

He said the Russian armed forces “categorically do not allow humanitarian cargo, even in small quantities, into the city.”

On Thursday, Russian forces blocked a 45-bus convoy trying to evacuate people from Mariupol after the Russian military agreed to a limited ceasefire in the region, and only 631 people were able to leave in private cars, the Ukrainian government said.

Russian forces also seized 14 tons of food and medical supplies as they tried to get to Mariupol, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

The city was the scene of some of the worst suffering of the war. Tens of thousands of residents have managed to flee through humanitarian corridors in recent weeks, reducing the population from 430,000 before the war to an estimated 100,000 last week. But continued Russian attacks have repeatedly thwarted aid and evacuation missions.

In recent days, the Kremlin, in an apparent shift in its war goals, said its “primary goal” is now to gain complete control of Donbass, where Mariupol is located. Donbass is the predominantly Russian-speaking industrial region of eastern Ukraine where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014 and have declared two areas independent republics.

Western officials said there was mounting evidence that Russia was using its talk of de-escalation in Ukraine as a cover to regroup, resupply and redeploy its forces for an increased offensive in the east.

Russian forces have subjected both Chernihiv, a besieged city in northern Ukraine, and the capital Kyiv to continued air and ground missile attacks, although Moscow said on Tuesday it plans to scale back military activity in those areas.

Elsewhere, Ukrainian forces have retaken the villages of Sloboda and Lukashivka south of Chernihiv and along one of the main supply routes between the city and Kyiv, according to the UK MoD.

Ukraine has also continued to conduct successful but limited counterattacks east and north-east of Kyiv, the ministry said.

Hours later, Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov wrote on Telegram early Friday that the fire at the oil depot “occurred as a result of an airstrike by two helicopters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine that entered the territory of Russia at low altitude.”

The depot of the Russian energy giant Rosneft is around 35 kilometers north of the Ukrainian-Russian border.

Ukrainian soldiers carry a coffin with their comrade Georgy Plisak, who was killed by Russian forces on Thursday, March 31, 2022, during the funeral ceremony at a cemetery near Lutsk, Ukraine. Russian troops handed back control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant to Ukrainians and walked the heavily contaminated site early Friday, more than a month after the takeover, Ukrainian authorities said, as fighting raged on the outskirts of Kyiv and on other fronts. (AP Photo/Evgeny Maloletka)

Separately, Ukraine’s state-owned energy supplier Energoatom said Russian troops withdrew from the heavily contaminated Chernobyl nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine early Friday after receiving “significant doses of radiation” while digging trenches in the exclusion zone around the closed facility.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said it could not independently confirm the exposure claim. Energoatom did not provide information on the condition of the soldiers or how many were affected. There was initially no comment from the Kremlin.

The agency, which is the UN’s nuclear regulator, said it was informed by Ukraine that Russian forces at Chernobyl had written to Ukrainians transferring control of the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi wrote on Twitter that he would visit the decommissioned facility as soon as possible and that his agency’s “assistance and assistance” mission to Chernobyl “will be the first in a series of such nuclear safety missions to Ukraine.”

Grossi was in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad on Friday to speak with senior officials on Ukraine’s nuclear issues. Nine of Ukraine’s 15 operational reactors are currently operational, including two at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhya plant, the agency said.

Russian forces seized the Chernobyl site shortly after invading Ukraine on February 24, stoking fears they would cause damage or disruption that could spread radiation. Staff there oversee the safe storage of spent fuel rods and the cast-in ruins of the reactor that exploded in 1986.

Five weeks and a day into a conflict that has left thousands dead and forced more than 4 million refugees from Ukraine, there seemed little confidence that the two sides would soon find an agreement on their respective demands.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the conditions are not “ripe” for a ceasefire and he is not ready to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy until negotiators do more work, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said after a phone call on Thursday with the Russian leader.

In his nightly video address late Thursday, Zelenskyy questioned Moscow’s willingness to end the conflict. He warned that Russian retreats in the north and center of the country were just a military tactic to build up strength for new attacks in the south-east.

“We know their intentions,” said Zelenskyj. “We know they are moving away from the areas where we have met them to focus on other, very important areas where we may find it difficult.”

https://www.cbs17.com/russia-ukraine-conflict/ukraine-strike-on-russian-territory-reported-as-talks-resume/ Ukraine attack on Russian territory reported as talks resume


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