Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Live Update: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 368

Russia, wary of NATO’s eastward expansion, began a military campaign in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, after the Western-leaning Kiev government turned a deaf ear to Moscow’s calls for its neighbor to maintain its neutrality. In the middle of the mayhem, Moscow and Kiev are trying to hammer out a peaceful solution to the conflict. Follow the latest about the Russia-Ukraine conflict here:

No movement in NATO guarantees for Ukraine: Germany

There has been no development for months in the discussion of possible NATO security guarantees for Ukraine, a German government spokesperson has said.

“At the recent meeting of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron with Ukrainian leader [Volodymyr Zelensky], this issue played no role at all,” the spokesperson stated.

The statement follows a recent report by The Wall Street Journal that said some of NATO’s biggest European members are floating a defense pact with Ukraine.


By supplying arms to Kiev West becomes companion in its crimes: Putin

Supplies of weapons to Ukraine by the NATO bloc may be considered the participation in the conflict since the alliance receives no payments for it, which means the West becomes a companion in Kiev’s crimes, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview for the “Moscow. Kremlin. Putin” program on Rossiya-1 TV channel aired on Sunday.

“They supply arms worth tens of billions of dollars to Ukraine. This is the participation in a way. Why? Because it is not simply military-technical cooperation, since they do not receive money for it,” Putin noted.

The president added that “those arms are delivered unilaterally, which means in a way, at least indirect, but still the participation in the Kiev regime’s crimes.”


Macron to Visit China in Early April to Discuss Ukrainian Crisis

On Friday, China released a 12-point document titled “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis,” promoting, among other things, respect of the sovereignty of all countries, the cessation of hostilities and the resumption of peace talks between Moscow and Kiev.


Zelensky calls EU’s new Russian sanctions package “powerful”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the European Union’s 10th sanctions package would deal a significant blow to Russian enterprises.

“Now, new sanctions steps are in the 10th package, powerful, against the defense industry and the financial sector of the terrorist state and against the propagandists who drowned Russian society in lies and are trying to spread their lies to the whole world,” Zelensky stated in his nightly address.

“They definitely won’t succeed,” the president added.

The package, which the EU approved Friday, includes:

  • Targeted restricted measures against individuals and entities supporting the war, spreading propaganda or delivering drones used by Russia in the war
  • Measures against Russian disinformation
  • Tighter export restrictions regarding dual-use and advanced technology

Sanctions will continue to be introduced, Zelensky said.

He added that the Ukrainian government is working “to extend global and, in particular, European sanctions to the Russian nuclear industry, Rosatom, all those involved in the missile program and nuclear blackmail of the terrorist state.”

“The partners – the United States, the UK – have already made relevant steps. We expect the appropriate steps from the European Union,” he continued.


CIA director says US is “confident” China considering lethal aid for Russia

The director of the CIA says the US is “confident” that China is “considering” sending lethal aid to Russia but intelligence suggests there has been no final decision by Beijing.

“We’re confident that the Chinese leadership is considering the provision of lethal equipment,” CIA Director William Burns told CBS News.

“We also don’t see that a final decision has been made yet, and we don’t see evidence of actual shipments of lethal equipment,” Burns added.

CNN reported Friday that the US has intelligence that the Chinese government is considering providing Russia with drones and ammunition for use in the war in Ukraine, three sources familiar with the intelligence told CNN.


Zelensky reportedly plans to send his weapons wishlist to Washington


Ukranian troops holding their lines in Bakhmut despite constant attacks

Ukrainian troops are standing their ground around Bakhmut despite a significant concentration of Russian forces near the eastern town, a Ukrainian commander said Saturday.

Cmdr. Yuriy Fedorovych Madyar, a colonel in Ukraine’s military, published a video message on his Telegram channel about the state of the fighting around Bakhmut, which remains one of the most fiercely contested territories in the war.

“Ukrainian troops have retained their positions on all three suburbs of Bakhmut — the northern, eastern and southern-southwestern. The enemy had no territorial successes,” Madyar stated, adding, “Enemy assault operations were unsuccessful.”

The colonel noted Ukrainian forces “don’t see any additional accumulation” of Russian troops in these areas. Still, the concentration of Russian forces in Bakhmut is “already considerable,” allowing the Russians “to launch assault operations several times a day.”

Madyar said the situation in the southern suburbs of Bakhut is stable, and that it’s the northern suburbs that are proving “the most difficult part of the front lines to hold on to.”

“There is a large number of enemy troops and high intensity of enemy assault operations,” Madyar stated, describing the situation in the northern suburbs. “Appropriate forces were sent there to prevent the enemy from implementing its plan to surround the city and its outskirts.”

Madyar added that over the past week, the number of remaining civilians seen in the streets of Bakhmut “has fallen to zero.”

Russia state news agency RIA Novosti carried a report this week showing a Russian soldier walking through the outskirts of Bakhmut, saying that Ukrainian forces have been holding on to their lines but retreating “occasionally.”

The Russian private military company Wagner has also claimed that it now controls the village of Yahidne. The village is in the northern suburbs of Bakhmut — the same area that Madyar, the Ukrainian colonel, said was proving the most difficult to hold.


Putin will eventually be killed by inner circle: Zelensky

Vladimir Putin will eventually be killed by a member of his inner circle, Volodymyr Zelensky believes.

As Russia is subject to increasingly tough economic sanctions, Putin’s government will become ever more fragile and provoke his rivals to get rid of him, he told the journalist Dmytro Komarov in a documentary.

“There will certainly be a moment when the fragility of Putin’s regime is felt in Russia,” he stated, adding, “Then carnivores will eat a carnivore. It is very important, and they will need a reason to justify this.”

“They will remember. They will find a reason to kill a killer. Will it work? Yes. When? I don’t know,” he continued.

Putin keeps a close circle, impenetrable but to a few close advisers whose loyalty stretches back decades. However, a rift has emerged between the Russian army and the Wagner mercenaries as each blames the other for failures on the battlefield while trying to claim credit for triumphs for themselves.


Scholz and Macron reportedly tell Zelensky to ‘start considering peace talks with Russia’

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