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Kyiv, Moscow say talks could yield results in days

March 13, 2022

Russia and Ukraine have both signaled progress in cease-fire talks despite the ongoing violence. Moscow said it had targeted "foreign mercenaries" in a rocket attack which hit western Ukraine.

Men hold up placards reading 'Stop Putin, stop war' and 'We stand with Ukraine'
The conflict in Ukraine has prompted peace protests in many European countries, including in Bosnia and HerzegovinaImage: Klix.ba
  • Russia, Ukraine negotiators hint at progress in the coming days
  • IMF warns Russia could default on its debts
  • Mariupol evacuation fails, moved for Monday
  • Military base near Lviv targeted by Russian attack
  • Powerline leading to Chernobyl repaired

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Reports: Russia requests Chinese military support

US officials was quoted by media outlets, including the Financial Times, the Washington Post and the New York Times, as saying that Moscow had asked Beijing for military equipment since it invaded Ukraine on February 24.

The spokesperson for China's embassy in Washington, Liu Pengyu, responded to the reports by saying, "I've never heard of that."

Pengyu told reporters that the situation in Ukraine was "disconcerting" and that China's priority was to prevent it from "escalating or even getting out of control."

The reports came hours after the White House warned Beijing would face severe "consequences" if it helps Moscow evade sanctions. 

US and Chinese diplomats are due to meet on Monday in Rome.  

War on Ukraine has called out China: DW's Clifford Coonan

Instagram now blocked in Russia

Social network app Instagram is now blocked in Russia following similar bans on Facebook and Twitter.

This was confirmed by the NetBlocks cybersecurity watchdog and Russian Instagram users early on Monday.

Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor announced the step on Friday, saying it would come into effect on Sunday at midnight. The regulator justified the measure saying that calls for violence against Russian citizens were being made from the network.

The step follows a decision by Meta, the company that owns Instagram, to allow for calls for violence against Russian troops.

In a Sunday statement published by Russian news agency TASS, Roskomnadzor pointed out that Russia has its own social network platforms such as Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki, and encouraged users to find "new ways of communicating" after losing access to Instagram.

US President Biden spoke with France's Macron on Ukraine

US President Joe Biden spoke with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to discuss Russia's war against Ukraine, the White House said on Sunday.

According to the White House, the two leaders "reviewed recent diplomatic engagements and underscored their commitment to hold Russia accountable for its actions."

The White House statement said that Macron and Biden would also "support the government and people of Ukraine."

Zelenskyy urges no-fly zone, says 'Russian rockets will fall' on NATO territory

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reiterated his demand that NATO impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine and warned that Russia could strike NATO territory.

"If you don't close our sky, it is only a matter of time before Russian rockets fall on your territory, on NATO territory," Zelenskyy said in a video address.

Zelenskyy spoke after Russian forces launched air strikes on a military training center in Yavoriv, near Ukraine's border with NATO member Poland.

US condemns Russian missile attack near Polish border

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the US condemned a Russian missile attack near Ukraine's border with Poland.

The missile hit the military training facility in Yavoriv, some 25 kilometers from the Polish border.

"The brutality must stop," Blinken said.

Chechen leader Kadyrov says he traveled to Ukraine

Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of Russia's Chechnya region, said on Sunday that he had traveled to Ukraine to meet with Chechen troops.

Chechen television channel Grozny posted a video on its Telegram channel that showed Kadyrov discussing military operations with Chechen troops, which they said took place 7 km from Kyiv.

Chechen fighters have been in Ukraine since 2014, when they entered in support of the pro-Russian secessionist regions in eastern Ukraine. They have also been involved in Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine since February 24.

UK: Ukraine isolated from international maritime trade

The British Defence Ministry said Russian naval forces had established a "distant blockade of Ukraine's Black Sea Coast" in a Sunday intelligence update. It added that this effectively isolates Ukraine from international maritime trade.

The ministry said that Russian naval forces are continuing to conduct missile strikes throughout Ukraine.

Russia has already conducted one amphibious landing in the Sea of Azov, according to the ministry, and "could look to conduct further such operations in the coming weeks."

Ukraine, Russia negotiators to talk again on Monday

Cease-fire talks between Russia and Ukraine are ongoing via video-link and would continue on Monday, said Ukrainian delegate Mykhailo Podolyak. 

"Working groups are constantly functioning," he wrote on Twitter. "A large number of issues require constant attention."

Previously, Podolyak and Russian negotiator Leonid Slutsky both confirmed there was progress and that results could materialize in the coming days.

Report: Ukraine using facial recognition software Clearview AI

Ukraine has begun using Clearview AI, a facial recognition developed by a US startup, as a tool to identify Russian assailants and victims of the ongoing Russian invasion.

Clearview AI [Artificial Intelligence] told the Reuters new agency it has provided the tool to Ukraine's Defense Ministry.

Ukraine gets free access to the platform's search engine for faces, which can let authorities vet people of interest at checkpoints, among other uses. However, the details on how Ukraine is utilizing the technology were not immediately known.

Clearview's founder and CEO Hoan Ton-That said his platform has more than 2 billion images from the Russian social media service VKontakte at its disposal, out of a database of over 10 billion photos.

However, critics have warned that facial recognition is not yet 100% accurate, which could lead to people being wrongly identified. Clearview has been facing lawsuits in the US for allegedly violating people's privacy by using their images from the web.

Zelenskyy calls on software giants to step up Russia boycott

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Microsoft, SAP and Oracle to stop offering support for their products in Russia.

In a tweet, Zelenskyy called out the tech giants, saying there can be "no 'half' decisions or 'halftones'! [grey areas] There is only black and white, good or evil!"

Last week, Microsoft and SAP said they would stop sales of their products and services in Russia, while Oracle suspended its operations in the country.

However, Zelenskyy was referring to the support for products delivered remotely, via software updates and international help desks. It is unclear whether these services have been suspended.

Kremlin: Too early to confirm Putin-Zelenskyy meeting

At the talks between Moscow and Kyiv, negotiators were also discussing the possibility a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Kremlin said.

Moscow is not ruling out the idea, according to Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

However, "we need to understand what should be the result and what will be discussed at this meeting," the spokesman was quoted as saying but the Interfax news agency.

Peskov told the agency it was too early to discuss the outcome of the efforts to set up a meeting.

Earlier on Sunday, both sides signaled cease-fire talks were making headway.

Moscow also said talks would continue on Monday by video link.

IMF: Russia could default on foreign debt

The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Kristalina Georgieva said Russia is at risk of a deep recession that might make it unable to pay its debts.

"We no longer think of Russian default as improbable," Georgieva said in an interview with US broadcaster CBS.

As well as targeting key Kremlin figures and Russian oligarchs, many of the punitive measures will likely cripple Russia's financial system.

The measures helped send the rouble crashing against other currencies, which has already "significantly diminished" the purchasing power of the Russian people, Georgieva added.

The Russian central bank's foreign exchange reserves are largely blocked and servicing government debt has become increasingly complicated.

Last week, Morgan Stanley said a Russian default could come as early as next month.

Hundreds arrested at anti-war protests across Russia

More than 800 people were detained during peace rallies across Russia.

OVD-Info, which monitors arrests during protests, said police had held 817 people during demonstrations in 37 cities.

There was a heavy police presence at central Moscow locations including Manezhnaya Square near the Kremlin, with officers carrying demonstrators away to waiting police vans, in footage posted by Russian media.

Protesters risk fines and possible prison sentences by taking to the streets against what Moscow calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine.

The number of people protesting appeared to be far fewer than a week ago. Over 14,000 people have been detained across Russia since the invasion started on February 24, according to OVD-Info.

Berliners take to the streets in support of Ukraine

Kyiv: Broken power line at Chernobyl repaired

Ukraine says it has fixed a broken power line to the Chernobyl power plant, which has been seized by Russian troops.

Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said that ''heroes'' from the national power grid company managed to restore the connection.

In 1986, the now-decommissioned facility in northern Ukraine was the scene of the worst nuclear meltdown in history that killed hundreds and spread a radioactive cloud west across Europe.

Nowadays, outside power is directed into the facility to run pumps which keep spent nuclear fuel cool and prevent radiation leaks.

The UN's atomic watchdog said the broken line had "no critical impact on safety."

But there were concerns when Russia seized control of Chernobyl that Moscow may attempt to sabotage the facility.

'We do not want to live as an appendage to this insane empire'

Mariupol evacuation delayed once again

A humanitarian convoy carrying aid, along with evacuation buses, once again failed to reach the besieged port city of Mariupol due to Russian shelling, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on national TV.

"The column has stayed in (the Russian-occupied city of) Berdiansk, and will tomorrow again attempt to reach Mariupol,” she said.

Vereshchuk said more than 140,000 civilians were evacuated from other conflict zones, including several thousand from towns close to the capital Kyiv.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has warned that Mariupol faces "a worst-case scenario" if the warring parties don't urgently reach a "concrete humanitarian agreement."

The port city of around half a million has been under siege since early this month.

Pro-Russian protest held in Belgrade

A far-right group has staged a protest in Serbia's capital in support of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Several dozen vehicles flying Serbian and Russian flags took part in the "ride in support of Russia" convoy through the central streets of Belgrade. The letters Z and V used by Russian forces on their vehicles in the conflicts in Ukraine were visible on the vehicles.

Despite formally seeking EU membership, Serbia has refused to join international sanctions against its traditional ally Russia. However, it did vote in favor of the UN resolution condemning Moscow's aggression.

Meanwhile, Serbia's president said AirSerbia will reduce its flights to Moscow, two weeks after it doubled its service to the Russian capital and introduced larger aircraft to cater to the increased demand.

Beside some Turkish carriers, AirSerbia is the only European airline that has kept on flying to Russia since the international flight ban was announced.

Russia confirms attack on Ukrainian military facility

Russia said its forces hit a military training facility in western Ukraine, near the Polish border.

Defense ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said the strike at the Yavoriv base had killed "up to 180 foreign mercenaries" and a "large amount of foreign weapons were destroyed."

The statement could not be independently verified.

A Ukrainian regional governor said 35 people were killed and 134 wounded in the attack, which involved more than 30 Russian cruise missiles.

Russia strikes military base outside Lviv

Konashenkov said Russia had used high precision long range weapons to strike Yavoriv and a separate facility in the village of Starichi.

The attack, so close to the border with Poland, appeared to mark a significant escalation in the conflict.

Mariupol officials say death toll has almost doubled in the besieged city

More than 2,100 residents of Ukraine's city of Mariupol have been killed since hostilities began, the local authorities have said.

"As of today, 2,187 Mariupol residents have died from attacks by Russia," the city council posted on Telegram, raising the toll by almost 1,000 since Wednesday, when they said 1,207 civilians had died in the first nine days of the siege.

These numbers could not be independently verified.

"People have been in a difficult situation for 12 days. There is no electricity, water or heating in the city. There is almost no mobile communication. The last reserves of food and water are running out," the council said.

Russian forces have continued to shell non-military targets in the southern port city and several attempts at civilian evacuations have failed due to the fighting.

Taking Mariupol and other ports on the Azov Sea could allow Russia to establish a land corridor to Crimea, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.

A map showing where Ukrainian refugees are fleeing to
The EU fears that the total number of Ukrainian refugees might reach 5 million if the war continues

Russia, Ukraine both speak of progress in cease-fire talks

Russian and Ukrainian officials gave their most optimistic assessments yet of progress on cease-fire talks, suggesting there could be positive results within days.

"We will not concede in principle on any positions," Ukrainian negotiator and presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said in a video posted online. He added that the Kremlin now understands this and "is already beginning to talk constructively."

"I think that we will achieve some results literally in a matter of days," he said.

Russia's Interfax news agency cited a Russian delegate, Leonid Slutsky, as saying the talks had made substantial progress.

"According to my personal expectations, in the coming days this progress may grow into a joint position of both delegations, into documents for signing," Slutsky said.

Neither side indicated what the scope of any agreement might be.

DW speaks to Andras Racz, German Council on For. Relations

Separately, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said Moscow was showing signs of willingness to engage in substantive negotiations about ending the conflict.

Negotiators from Moscow and Kyiv have held several rounds of talks since Putin sent in troops to the country on February 24. Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers also met in Turkey on Thursday.

Russia sanctions set to dominate US-China talks

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will meet with China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Rome on Monday to discuss the war in Ukraine and its impact on regional and global security.

The meeting was planned for some time as part of a broader effort to maintain open channels of communication with Beijing and manage competition, National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said in a statement.

Separately, Sullivan told US broadcaster CNN that Washington was watching closely to see to what extent Beijing provided economic or material support to Russia. 

Mathias Bölinger reports from Kyiv

"We will not allow that to go forward and allow there to be a lifeline to Russia from these economic sanctions from any country, anywhere in the world," Sullivan said.

Beijing, a key trading partner of Moscow, has refused to call Russia's actions an invasion, although Chinese President Xi Jinping last week did call for "maximum restraint" in Ukraine.

US will defend 'every inch' of NATO territory, says White House official

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan reaffirmed the United States would defend NATO territory after Russia struck a military base near the Polish border on Sunday.

Sullivan told CBS News that President Biden has "been clear repeatedly that the United States will work with our allies to defend every inch of NATO territory and that means every inch."

The Biden aide also told CNN there would "absolutely" be consequences if China or others tried to help Russia evade Western sanctions.

NYT says the dead reporter was not on assignment for them

After initial reports stated that a New York Times reporter was killed in Irpin, near Kyiv, the US daily said the journalist was "not on assignment for any desk at The Times in Ukraine."

DW previously cited Kyiv police as saying that the man was an NYT reporter, based on a press ID found on his body. However, the paper said that the press badge "had been issued for an assignment many years ago."

DW has now amended the update on the reporter's death.

Ukraine accuses Russia of using phosphorus bombs

Ukraine's human rights ombudsman, Lyudmila Denisova, said Russia used phosphorous bombs during overnight attacks in eastern Ukraine. Use of these weapons in residential areas is prohibited under the Geneva convention.

Denisova shared a photo purporting to show an alleged phosphorus attack in the town of Pospasna in the eastern Luhansk region, but these claims have not yet been independently verified. A senior Ukrainian police officer previously accused Russian troops of launching phosphorus bomb attacks in Luhansk.

Poland struggles to cope with refugee stream

US journalist reportedly killed in Irpin

A video journalist from the US has reportedly been shot dead in Irpin, outside Kyiv, according to Kyiv police official Andriy Nebytov.

He shared images of the journalist's body, as well as his press ID and US passport.

The press ID showed the reporter as an employee of the New York Times, but the prestigious US daily said that the man was not working for them at the moment of his death.

The journalist is a Peabody and DuPont Award winning filmmaker, best known for producing humanitarian stories from conflict zones.

He has been a journalist for over two decades.

An unverified video appeared to show his journalist colleague being treated in a hospital with wounds. He described being shot at while in a car.

Russia hopes to lean on China amid sanctions

Russia said it is seeking help from China to shore up its economy amid western sanctions. Moscow claimed half of its foreign currency and gold reserves had been frozen by the West.

"We have part of our gold and foreign exchange reserves in the Chinese currency, in yuan. And we see what pressure is being exerted by western countries on China in order to limit mutual trade with China. Of course, there is pressure to limit access to those reserves," Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said.

Ukraine: Babies born in bomb shelters

He said he hoped to increase partnership with China due to the closure of western markets.

Dniprorudne mayor kidnapped

The mayor of Dniprodrudne, Yevheniy Matvieyev, was kidnapped by Russian forces, according to Ukrainian officials such as Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

Dniprorudne has around 20,000 inhabitants. Earlier, Russian troops kidnapped Melitopol Ivan Federov on Friday, Ukraine's parliament said. 

EU top diplomat Josep Borrell criticized the kidnappings as "another attack on democratic institutions in Ukraine." He accused Russia of attempting to establish "illegitimate government structures" in Ukraine.

Pope Francis condemns Russia's actions

Pope Francis has called for an end to the "massacre" in Ukraine, condemning Russia's "unacceptable armed attack" on its neighbor. 

Francis decried the "barbarity" of killing children and civilians. He said Ukrainian cities risked "being reduced to cemeteries."

Missile attack near Lviv

An area outside the major western Ukrainian city of Lviv was targeted by a missile attack early Sunday. 

Eight missiles are believed to have been fired at Ukraine's Center for International Peacekeeping and Security, according to Lviv's Regional Military Administration on Telegram. The center is located in Yavoriv, not far from the Polish border and some 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Lviv.

Lviv regional governor Maksym Kozytskyy said on Telegram that 35 people have died in the strike and a further 134 were injured.

The strike on the military base could possibly be a Russian message intended for NATO. The US and other NATO countries previously conducted training exercises with the Ukrainian military at the center called Rapid Trident 21, according to the US Army website.

A Ukrainian general cited by the US army website said the Rapid Trident 21 exercises held at the Yavoriv center were "not just another stage of military skills improvement, but also an important step towards Ukraine's European integration."

Ukraine's defense minister said in a tweet that "foreign instructors" work at the training center. A NATO official told Reuters news agency that there was no alliance personnel at the base. 

The mayor of Ivano-Frankivsk, Ruslan Martsinkiv, said on Facebook that the western Ukrainian city's airport was also targeted in an attack early Sunday. 

Nine reportedly killed in attack near Odesa

A Russian airstrike in the southern city of Mykolaiv near Odesa left nine people dead, according to regional governor Vitaliy Kim.

Mykolaiv serves as an important transportation hub within Ukraine. 

Bus transporting Ukrainians overturns in Italy

A bus transporting around 50 Ukrainians veered off the road in Italy, killing one person and leaving others injured, according to local Italian firefighters. 

The accident occurred near Forli in the northern Emilia-Romagna region. 

The Italian Interior Ministry said the bus was heading to the southern city of Pescara when it overturned. 

Some 35,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Italy so far since Russia's invasion. 

Germany sends tons of food to Ukraine

Germany has sent more than 440 tons of food to Ukraine via a new initiative, the government said.

Several German trading and food firms sent water, juice, canned fish and other items to Ukrainian regions in dire need of assistance. 

"Every day we receive new reports of further terrible destruction. Solidarity with Ukraine and its people is a matter of honor," German Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir told German news agency dpa. "We are doing everything we can to help people in the war zones."

Russia attempting to 'envelop' Ukrainian troops in country's east

The UK's Defense Ministry (MOD) said Russian forces are attempting to "envelop" Ukrainian troops in the eastern parts of the country "as they advance from Kharkiv in the north and Mariupol in the south." 

The British MOD said, "Russia is paying a high price for each advance as the Ukrainian Armed Forces continue to offer staunch resistance across the country."

Reports: Russia installs new mayor in Melitopol 

According to media reports, a new mayor has been installed in southeastern Ukraine's Melitopol city after the previous mayor Ivan Fedorov was reportedly abducted by Russian troops. 

Galina Danilchenko was introduced on local TV as the newly installed mayor, local media reported. CNN also cited a statement on the Zaporizhzhia regional administration website. 

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said the abduction of the elected mayor was a gross violation of international law and a "war crime under the Geneva Conventions."

"The perpetrators of this and other crimes will be brought to the strictest responsibility," said the ministry in a Facebook post. 

DW's Birgitta Schülke on refugees in Poland's Przemysl

NATO chief warns against 'possible' Russian plan to use chemical weapons

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expects a further intensification of the fighting and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, he told the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag

He said Ukrainians were resisting Russian forces with courage and determination, but the coming days could get worse.  

Stoltenberg also dismissed recent "absurd claims" by Moscow that the US was secretly operating laboratories in Ukraine to make chemical and biological weapons.

"Now that these false allegations have been made, we must remain vigilant, because it is possible that Russia itself could be conducting missions with chemical weapons under this tissue of lie," he said.  

He also rejected calls for NATO to impose and enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine. "That could mean a direct confrontation and escalation. We need to end this war, not let it expand," he added.  

As a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said: "End this war, withdraw all your forces back and commit to diplomacy."  

Russia's military struggling – DW speaks to security analyst

Zelenskyy warns of new pro-Russia 'pseudo republics' in Ukraine

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed fellow Ukrainians in an online speech and reiterated their right to live in their land on their own terms.

Zelenskyy also said Russian forces would create new people's republics in captured territories, similar to those operating in Donetsk and Luhansk since 2014. Moscow recognized the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk "people's republics" immediately before its invasion of Ukraine.

"The occupiers on the territory of the Kherson region are trying to repeat the sad experience of the formation of pseudo republics," Zelenskyy said.

"They are blackmailing local leaders, putting pressure on deputies, looking for someone to bribe," he added.

Zelenskyy said such "pseudo republics" would end up being isolated from the rest of the world and face poverty, crime and exodus.

Zelenskyy said the withdrawal of IT professionals, businesses and artists from Russia was the fate that awaited Donetsk and Luhansk as well.

Towns and villages in the Kherson region have been under occupation by Russian troops since the first days of the war.

Urging Ukrainians to continue their fight, he said they would regain what is theirs. "Ukraine will not forget. Ukraine will find and prosecute," he said.

Zelenskyy said the agreed-upon humanitarian corridors worked and that aid would be arriving in Mariupol on Sunday. 

Evacuated Mariupol resident speaks to DW

Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Saturday

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron urged an immediate cease-fire during a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Elysee Palace called the call "very frank and difficult." The Kremlin said Putin "informed the leaders about the real state of affairs."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and discussed prospects for peace talks with Putin.

Meanwhile, the UK Ministry of Defence said "the bulk of Russian ground forces" were about 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the center of Kyiv. "If they decide to carpet bomb [Kyiv], and simply erase the history of this region ... and destroy all of us, then they will enter Kyiv. If that's their goal, let them come in, but they will have to live on this land by themselves," Zelenskyy said.

Fears of more civilian deaths in Ukraine

About 13,000 people were evacuated from a number of Ukrainian cities on Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said. It is almost twice the number who managed to get out on Friday.

Satellite images from before and after Russia's attacks show significant destruction of civilian infrastructure in the port city of Mariupol. Russian forces advanced Saturday into the city's eastern outskirts, but Ukraine says it was still in charge of the city. 

US President Joe Biden has authorized $200 million (Є183 million) in additional weapons and other assistance for Ukraine, the White House has said.

Russia warned that Western arms shipments to Ukraine were now "legitimate" military targets. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russian troops could target supplies. 

Der Spiegel reported Saturday that Germany was to set up a task force to help enforce sanctions against Russian oligarchs. Several countries, including Italy, France and the UK, have already seized assets belonging to Russian billionaires. 

DW's Mathias Bölinger reports from Kyiv

lo,wd/fb (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)