Live updates on war in Ukraine: Russia flexes muscles with ICBM exercise; Kyiv is waiting for a call from China

Ukraine is still waiting for an audience with China’s Xi

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Kiev has still not heard about an alleged phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping leave Moscow’s Kremlin March 21, 2023 after a reception honoring the Chinese leader’s visit to Moscow.

Grigory Sysoev | Sputnik | via Reuters

Following Xi’s high-profile visit to Russia last week, it was reported that the influential leader – who is largely allied with Russia and President Vladimir Putin on an ideological and strategic level – would also hold a phone call with Ukraine’s president, as China has been trying to seduce to position itself as a peace broker to end the war.

So far, however, nothing has been agreed, said Zelenskyj.

“We are ready to see him here,” he told the Associated Press on Tuesday, while en route to Kiev after visiting the Sumy region.

“I want to speak to him. I had contact with him before the full-scale war broke out. But for the whole year, more than a year, I didn’t have one.”

When asked if there was any plan to meet with Xi at the moment, Zelenskyy replied “no”.

Holly Ellyatt

Russia flexes its muscles during exercises with Yars ICBMs

Russia on Wednesday launched military exercises using its Yars intercontinental ballistic missile system, the Defense Ministry said.

“In total, more than 3,000 military personnel and about 300 pieces of equipment are involved in the exercise,” the ministry said a statement on its website.

The exercises involve the Strategic Missile Forces, which, according to the ministry, are conducting “a comprehensive control check of the Omsk missile formation, as well as “a command and staff exercise with the Novosibirsk missile formation,” equipped with the Yars mobile ground-based missile systems.

Russia has often proudly displayed its Yars ICBMs during the annual Victory Day military parade in Moscow.

Russian Yars ICBMs parade through Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in central Moscow May 9, 2022.

Alexander Nemenov | AFP | Getty Images

The ballistic missile can reportedly carry multiple independently targetable nuclear warheads and is designed to evade missile defense systems up to a range of 7,500 miles. Advice from defense experts.

During the exercises, the rocket launchers will be involved in maneuvers in three regions, the ministry said, although it did not specify where.

The Defense Ministry added that the exercise with the Novosibirsk Missile Formation “will determine the overall level of combat training of the division, but will also assess the capabilities of modern weapons and special equipment entering the formations.”

— Holly Ellyatt

EU countries seek legal way to stop Russian LNG imports

European Union countries agreed to seek a legal way to prevent Russian companies from supplying liquefied natural gas to EU countries by preventing Russian companies from booking infrastructure capacity.

EU countries’ energy ministers suggested that the new EU gas market rules should include the possibility for governments to temporarily prevent Russian and Belarusian gas exporters from bidding in advance for capacity on the infrastructure needed to deliver LNG to Europe is.

The proposal is part of the countries’ negotiating position on new EU gas market rules. It has to be negotiated with the European Parliament – a process that can take months.

The 27-nation EU has pledged to forego Russian gas in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. European pipeline imports of gas from Russia have plummeted since the invasion, but LNG imports have increased.

– Reuters

US has seen no signs Russia is any closer to using tactical nuclear weapons, White House says

John Kirby, White House Strategic Communications Coordinator for the National Security Council, speaks during a news conference at the White House in Washington, November 28, 2022.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

The United States has seen no signs of Vladimir Putin moving any closer to using tactical nuclear weapons in his war against Ukraine, just days after the Russian leader said he would bring such weapons to Belarus.

“We are monitoring this as best we can. We have seen no movement from Mr. Putin to do what he promised,” White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters about Putin’s statement on Belarus.

“And we have seen no indication that Mr. Putin is inclined towards or approaching or hinting at preparations for the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine.”

– Reuters

Russian woman whose daughter drew anti-war picture gets two years in prison but escapes

Russian citizen Alexei Moskalyov, accused of discrediting the country’s armed forces in the course of the Russian-Ukrainian military conflict, attends a court hearing in the Tula region town of Yefremov, Russia, March 27, 2023.

SOTA | via Reuters

A Russian man who was investigated by police after his daughter painted an anti-war picture at school has been sentenced to two years in a penal colony for discrediting the armed forces.

But the whereabouts of the convicted Alexei Moskalyov was unclear. The court said in an official post on VKontakte, similar to Facebook, that he fled house arrest.

Moskalyov has been separated from his 13-year-old daughter Masha since he was placed under house arrest earlier this month and she was transferred to a children’s home in her hometown of Yefremov, south of Moscow.

The case has sparked an outcry among Russian human rights activists and sparked an online campaign for the father and daughter to be reunited.

– Reuters

Zelenskyy visits Ukrainian positions near the Russian border in the Sumy region

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits positions of Ukrainian border guards near the border with Russia in the Sumy region.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits positions of Ukrainian border guards near the border with Russia amid Russian attack on Ukraine in Sumy region, Ukraine, March 28, 2023.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits the city of Okhtyrka amid the Russian attack on Ukraine in Sumy region, Ukraine, March 28, 2023.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits positions of Ukrainian border guards near the border with Russia amid Russian attack on Ukraine in Sumy region, Ukraine, March 28, 2023.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters

Belarus says NATO’s behavior prompted it to host Russian nuclear weapons

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko visits Obuz-Lesnovsky training ground in Belarus January 6, 2023.

Andrei Stasevich | belt | Reuters

Belarus’ foreign ministry said on Tuesday it had decided to deploy Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons, reportedly because of NATO’s “coercive measures” and “building military potential” in neighboring countries.

“Unilateral coercive measures in politics and economy are accompanied by the building of military potential on the territory of neighboring countries – NATO members in close proximity to our border,” the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. This is reported by the Russian news agency Tass.

“Given these circumstances and the resulting legitimate national security concerns and risks, Belarus is taking forced response measures to strengthen its own security and defense capabilities,” the ministry said.

Russia’s ally Belarus is seen as Moscow’s anti-NATO bulwark, as it borders Poland, Lithuania and Latvia – all NATO members – and Ukraine to the south and Russia to the east.

Over the weekend, Russia announced it would deploy tactical nuclear weapons (designed for battlefield use rather than mass destruction) in Belarus, saying President Alexander Lukashenko had proposed it.

Minsk and Moscow both insisted the plans would not violate international non-proliferation agreements, saying the US had already done the same to its allies and that Belarus would not have control over the weapons.

NATO has criticized Russia’s nuclear rhetoric, calling it “dangerous and irresponsible”.

— Holly Ellyatt

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