Ukraine news - latest: Russia ‘seizes town near Chernobyl and kidnaps mayor’ as Putin hints at scaled-back war
26 March 2022
Russia hinted it’s scaling back its invasion ambitions to focus only on eastern Ukraine
Russian forces have taken control of Slavutych, a town built for the workers at the defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant.
The troops had occupied the hospital and kidnapped the mayor Yuri Fomichev, governor of Kyiv region Oleksandr Pavlyuk said in an online statement. Reuters news agency said it could not independently verify the reports.
The events reportedly took place as a protest was being held in the small city – about 100 miles north of Kyiv – that was constructed for the evacuated workers of the Chernobyl plant after the 1986 nuclear disaster.
A month after Vladimir Putin launched the invasion, the Russian defence ministry said it has completed its “first phase” of operations.
Putin’s troops have been met with strong Ukrainian resistance and have been frustrated by logistical problems.
About 16,000 Russian troops had been killed, Ukrainian president Volodymr Zelensky said, while Russia has claimed that 1,351 of its soldiers have died.
Nuclear agreement with Iran very close, says EU’s Borrell
World leaders were very close to striking an agreement with Iran on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, according to European Union diplomat Josep Borrell.
The nuclear talks had been close to an agreement until Russia made last minute demands of the United States.
European Union diplomat Josep Borrell
Russia had insisted that sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine should not affect its trade with Iran.
Mr Borrell had made his comments in his address to the Doha Forum international conference, where Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky made an unexpected speech via videolink.
Ukrainians ‘to be evacuated from 10 humanitarian corridors'
Ten humanitarian corridors will be opened today to evacuate civilians from frontline areas in Ukraine, deputy PM Iryna Vereshchuk said.
Speaking on national television, she said civilians trying to leave the besieged southern port of Mariupol would have to leave in private cars because Russian forces were not letting buses through their checkpoints.
Mariupol has suffered some of the worst violence amid the invasion
The mayor of Mariupol said he had spoken to France’s ambassador to Ukraine about options for evacuating civilians, after French president Emmanuel Macron said he would suggest a plan to Russia to help Ukrainians flee.
Mayor Vadym Boichenko said the situation in the city remained critical, with street fighting taking place in its centre.
Russian troops ‘kidnap mayor of Chernobyl satellite town’
Russian forces have taken control of the city of Slavutych, where workers at the defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant live.
The troops had occupied the hospital and kidnapped the mayor Yuri Fomichev, according to governor of Kyiv region Oleksandr Pavlyuk in an online statement.
Reuters could not independently verify the reports.
The events took place as a protest was being held in the small city, reports claim.
On Friday, Ukraine said its troops had repulsed a first attack by Russian troops closing in on Slavutych.
Slavutych – about 100 miles north of Kyiv – was purpose-built for the evacuated workers of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant after the 1986 disaster.
Russia ‘bragging’ it can ‘destroy entire planet’ - Zelensky
Russia is “bragging” that it can ruin the “entire planet” with nuclear weapons, Volodymyr Zelensky said.
The Ukrainian president said: “Russia is deliberating bragging they can destroy with nuclear weapons, not only a certain country but the entire planet.”
Earlier this week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not rule out use of nuclear weapons if Russia faced an “existential threat”.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov
Mr Zelensky made the chilling comments in a video-link address to the Doha Forum international conference in Qatar.
‘Muslim troops to fight Russia during Ramadan’ - Zelensky
A number of Muslim troops in Ukraine would be fighting Russian invaders during Ramadan, Volodymyr Zelensky noted.
A mosque in Mariupol, southern Ukraine, that Russia has targeted
The Ukrainian president acknowledged the upcoming month of fasting – set to begin this year at the start of April – in a video-link address to the Doha Forum international conference.
He said: “We have to ensure this sacred month of Ramadan is not overshadowed by the misery of people in Ukraine.”
‘Up energy output to neutralise Russia’s blackmail’ - Zelensky
Energy-producing companies should increase output so that Russia cannot use its oil and gas to “blackmail” other countries, Volodymyr Zelensky said.
A Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline receiving station in Germany
The Ukrainian president also warned that all countries are at risk of food shortages and supply disruptions because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is a leading global supplier of crops such as wheat.
He made the comments when addressing the Doha Forum international conference via video link. Qatar is a world leader in the export of natural gas.
Sanctions against Russia ‘foolish’ and pointless - Medvedev
The Kremlin has described sanctions against Russia as “foolish” and counterproductive.
Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian president and now deputy head of the security council, claimed that sanctions do not have any effect on Moscow amid its invasion of Ukraine.
The sanctions against oligarchs and businesses would only unify Russia, he told Russian news agency RIA.
Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s security council
Medvedev said: “Let us ask ourselves: can any of these major businessmen have even the tiniest quantum of influence of the position of the country’s leadership? I openly tell you: no, no way.”
He cited opinion polls in Russia that suggest three quarters of Russians supported the invasion of Ukraine.
He also hit out at Russian critics of the Kremlin, saying “taking a stand against the state in such a difficult situation ... is treason.”
Russia ‘holds military drills on Japan-claimed Kuril islands'
Russia has reportedly been conducting military drills on islands claimed by Japan.
The Japanese media reports of drills on Kuril islands come days after Moscow halted peace talks with Japan because of its new sanctions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Archive photo of a missile launcher on Matua, part of the Kuril Islands
Russia’s Eastern Military District said it was conducting military drills in the volcanic archipelago with more than 3,000 troops and hundreds of pieces of army equipment, according to Russian news agency Interfax.
The drills were taking place on territory the Soviet Union seized at the end of WWII that is claimed by Tokyo, reports said.
The chain of islands connect Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula and Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido.
Ukraine says Russia's war kills 136 children so far
The war in Ukraine has killed 136 children so far, Ukraine‘s office of the prosecutor general just said in a message on the Telegram app, adding that the number of wounded children stood at 199.
Earlier, authorities in Ukraine said about 300 people were killed by the Russian airstrike last week that blasted open a Mariupol theatre that was being used as a shelter, fueling allegations that Moscow is committing war crimes by killing civilians, whether deliberately or by indiscriminate fire.
Zelensky claims Russia is facing ‘powerful blows’ with 16,000 soldiers killed
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed the country has inflicted “powerful blows” on the Russians, killing 16,000 troops.
“Over the past week, our heroic Armed Forces have dealt powerful blows to the enemy. Significant losses,” Mr Zelensky said in his address on Friday, adding 16,000 Russian troops had been killed, but Russia says 1,351 have died.
“They say that the Minister of Defence of Russia has disappeared somewhere,” Mr Zelensky says, hinting at the alleged disappearance of Russia’s minister of defence Sergei Shoigu, who has only been publicly seen once since 11 March.
“The armed forces continue to repel enemy attacks, in the south of the country, in Donbas, in the Kharkiv direction and in the Kyiv region,” he said.
“I am grateful to our defenders who showed the occupiers that the sea will not be calm for them even when there is no storm. Because there will be fire,” Mr Zelensky said.
“By restraining Russia’s actions, our defenders are leading the Russian leadership to a simple and logical idea: talk is necessary. Meaningful. Urgent. Fair. For the sake of the result, not for the sake of the delay.”
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