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The mayor of Irpin, a northwestern Kyiv suburb that has been the scene of some of the heaviest fighting near the capital, said that the city has been “liberated” from Russian troops

A local resident passes with his bicycle in front of damaged buildings and a tank in the town of Trostsyanets, about 400 kilometres east of capital Kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday.Efrem Lukatsky/The Associated Press

This digest has now been archived. Find the latest Russia-Ukraine updates here.

Here are the latest updates on the war in Ukraine:

  • Ukrainian forces claimed to have retaken the Kyiv suburb Irpin and the eastern town of Trostyanets, south of Sumy, from the Russians in what is becoming a back-and-forth stalemate on the ground
  • Ahead of the peace talks with Russia taking place Tuesday, Ukraine’s foreign minister said a ceasefire was the most his country could hope for, adding that Ukraine isn’t trading “people, land or sovereignty”
  • Zelensky says Ukraine is prepared to declare neutrality, which would be a concession to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demand that the Kyiv government abandon its ambition to join NATO
  • The mayor of Mariupol said on Monday all civilians must be evacuated from the encircled Ukrainian city to allow them to escape a humanitarian catastrophe
  • Reporting from the Wall Street Journal and investigative outlet Bellingcat said Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators were suspected of being poisoned after a meeting in Kyiv. But a U.S. official said intelligence suggests that’s not the case, and Abramovich and the negotiators were ill due to an environmental factor, not poisoning

8:32 p.m. ET

Thousands of Ukrainian children join virtual classes as Kyiv launches online learning

Danyil Mykhailiv left Kyiv with his parents, three-year-old sister and grandparents shortly after the war started and they now live in Lviv.ANTON SKYBA/The Globe and Mail

Danyil Mykhailiv did something on Monday that should be ordinary for most children but is extraordinary for millions of kids in Ukraine these days: He attended school.

Danyil, who is 13, left Kyiv shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began and a rocket slammed into his school. He crammed into a car with his mother, father, three-year-old sister and grandparents and they headed west to Lviv.

On Monday, Danyil opened his computer and saw his teacher in Kyiv for the first time since the war began. “I was excited to see him,” Danyil said during a break from his online lessons in biology and physics. “I’m missing my school and my teachers.”

Danyil was one of thousands of children who tapped into classes offered by schools across Kyiv today as local officials moved to restart the education system. City leaders said resuming classes was critical in helping children keep up with their studies and cope with the continuing stress of the war.

Officials said that 656 schools and universities have been at least partially damaged by Russian bombing and another 74 have been completely destroyed. Many schools buildings, especially in the western part of the country, which is generally safer, have been turned into shelters for refugees.

- Paul Waldie in Lviv, Ukraine

8:11 p.m. ET

Calgary’s Calfrac suspending Russian operations

Calfrac Well Services Ltd. says it will suspend shipments of its products to Russia and also cancel any future shipments of parts and equipment.

Calfrac noted that although the provision of parts and equipment to Russia is “not restricted by applicable sanctions, the company cancelled such shipments that were bound for Russia at the onset of the Ukraine invasion.”

Among the small number of Canadian energy services companies that provide drilling or hydraulic fracturing equipment in Russia, Calfrac stood out both for its reliance on sales from the country and its inability to announce an exit plan. Calfrac got 12 per cent of its revenue and 17 per cent of its operating profit by geography from Russia in 2021.

- David Milstead

7:45 p.m. ET

Canada sending team to International Criminal Court to investigate Russian war crimes

The Canadian government is sending a specialized team of RCMP investigators to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to gather evidence of potential Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

The RCMP will also be tasked with interviewing Ukrainians, who have come to Canada, for testimony of war crimes committed by Russian forces, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said in an interview Monday.

The RCMP have long had officers assigned to the International Criminal Court [ICC], a global court located Netherland’s city of The Hague, to assist in investigations involving war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

But at the request of the ICC, Mr. Mendicino said Ottawa is now sending a specialized team of RCMP officers to specifically help in the ICC’s formal investigation of alleged Russian atrocities.

“It is essential that we preserve the record of what happened and what is happening in Ukraine in real time,” he said.

The ICC’s chief prosecutor, British lawyer Karim Khan QC, has said there are grounds to believe war crimes have been carried out against Ukrainian civilians. If there’s evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity, Mr. Khan will ask ICC judges to issue arrest warrants to bring individual Russians to trial in The Hague.

- Robert Fife

5:15 p.m. ET

Ukraine claims to retake ground ahead of peace talks

A woman holds a child next to a destroyed bridge during evacuation from Irpin, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, outside of Kyiv, today.STRINGER/Reuters

Ukrainian forces claimed to have retaken a Kyiv suburb and an eastern town from the Russians in what is becoming a back-and-forth stalemate on the ground, while negotiators began assembling for another round of talks Tuesday aimed at stopping the fighting.

Ahead of the talks, to be held in Istanbul, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country is prepared to declare its neutrality, as Moscow has demanded, and is open to compromise on the fate of the Donbas, the contested region in the country’s east.

The mayor of Irpin, a northwestern Kyiv suburb that has been the scene of some of the heaviest fighting near the capital, said Monday that the city has been “liberated” from Russian troops.

Irpin gained wide attention after photos circulated of a mother and her two children who were killed by shelling as they tried to flee, their bodies lying on the pavement with luggage and a pet carrier nearby.

And a senior U.S. defense official said the U.S. believes the Ukrainians have retaken the town of Trostyanets, south of Sumy, in the east.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. intelligence assessments, said Russian forces largely remained in defensive positions near the capital, Kyiv, and were making little forward progress elsewhere in the country.

The official said Russia appeared to be de-emphasizing ground operations near Kyiv and concentrating more on the Donbas, the predominantly Russian-speaking region where Moscow-backed rebels have been waging a separatist war for the past eight years.

Late last week, with its forces bogged down in parts of the country, Russia seemed to scale back its war aims, saying its main goal was gaining control of the Donbas.

While that suggested a possible face-saving exit strategy for Russian President Vladimir Putin, it also raised Ukrainian fears that the Kremlin intends to split the country in two and force it to surrender a swath of its territory.

-The Associated Press

4:55 p.m.

Zelensky briefs Trudeau as ceasefire talks with Russia set for Tuesday in Turkey

Canadian parliamentarians and guests give Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a standing ovation as he addresses the Canadian parliament, on March 15.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave Prime Minister Justin Trudeau an update Monday on new ceasefire talks with Russia that are being held amid Ukrainian claims of military gains against Russian forces.

“The prime minister and president discussed the continuing Russian military aggression and the devastating impacts to Ukraine’s people, infrastructure, and economy,” Trudeau’s office said in a summary of the call with Zelensky.

The two leaders talked about next steps, including more humanitarian, financial and military support, as well as further sanctions against Russia, it said. But the readout from Trudeau’s office did not mention Zelensky’s latest bargaining positions with Moscow.

“Prime Minister Trudeau reaffirmed Canada’s steadfast support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine,” it said.

Earlier Monday, Trudeau said that while the Russian invasion may be driving up energy prices, it is still providing the impetus to move the world towards developing greener energy sources.

“The resolve of the world to reduce its dependency on Russian oil and gas is morphing into a heightened urgency for the transformation of our energy mix towards lower carbon emissions in our energies in the coming years,” Trudeau said during an event in southern Ontario.

-The Canadian Press

4:23 p.m. ET

Biden says remark that Putin ‘cannot remain in power’ was about ‘moral outrage’

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the speech he gave in Poland over the weekend in the State Dining Room of the White House, today.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden said Monday that he would make “no apologies” and wasn’t “walking anything back” after his weekend comment that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.” The president also insisted he’s not calling for regime change in Moscow.

“I was expressing the moral outrage that I felt toward this man,” Biden said. “I wasn’t articulating a policy change.”

The president’s remark about Putin, which came at the end of a Saturday speech in Warsaw that was intended to rally democracies for a long global struggle against autocracy, stirred controversy in the United States and rattled some allies in Western Europe.

Biden on Monday rejected the idea that his comment could escalate tensions over the war in Ukraine or that it would feed Russian propaganda about Western aggression.

“Nobody believes … I was talking about taking down Putin,” Biden said, adding that “the last thing I want to do is engage in a land war or a nuclear war with Russia.”

He said he was expressing an “aspiration” rather than a goal of American foreign policy.

“People like this shouldn’t be ruling countries. But they do,” he said. “The fact they do doesn’t mean I can’t express my outrage about it.”

-The Associated Press

3:32 p.m. ET

Ukraine setting red line ahead of peace talks – ‘not trading people, land, or sovereignty’ foreign minister says

Ukraine’s foreign minister said a ceasefire was the most his country could hope for from the talks with Russia, due to be held in Istanbul on Tuesday after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

“We are not trading people, land or sovereignty,” Dmytro Kuleba said.

Ukrainian officials had suggested Russia could be more willing to compromise having seen stiff Ukrainian resistance and heavy Russian losses. But a senior U.S. State Department official said Putin did not give that impression.

“Everything I have seen is he is not willing to compromise at this point,” the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity, after Ukraine’s president sketched out a potential way to end the crisis over the weekend.

When the sides last met in person, Ukraine accused Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of ignoring pleas to discuss a ceasefire, while Lavrov said a halt to fighting was not even on the agenda.

Since then, they have held talks via video and publicly discussed a formula under which Ukraine might accept some kind of formal neutral status. But neither side has budged over Russia’s territorial demands, including Crimea, which Moscow seized and annexed in 2014, and eastern territories known as the Donbas, which Moscow demands Kyiv cede to separatists.

“I don’t think there will be any breakthrough on the main issues,” Ukrainian interior ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko said.


1:55 p.m.

‘Environmental’ factor sickened Abramovich, Ukrainian negotiators, not poisoning, according to U.S. official

Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich walks past the High Court in London in this file photo.Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

A U.S. official said on Monday that intelligence suggests the sickening of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators was due to an environmental factor, not poisoning.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal and investigative outlet Bellingcat reported that Abramovich and the negotiators had suffered symptoms of suspecting poisoning earlier this month after a meeting in Kyiv.

The U.S. official told Reuters: “The intelligence highly suggests this was environmental,” adding: “E.g., not poisoning.”


12:55 p.m. ET

Nobel Peace Prize-winner’s paper closes amid Russian pressure

Russia’s leading independent newspaper suspended operations Monday after pressure from Russian authorities, a move that comes less than six months after its editor won the Nobel Peace Prize for his paper’s courageous reporting under difficult circumstances.

The paper, Novaya Gazeta, said it will remain closed for the duration of what the newspaper referred to in quotations as “the special operation” in Ukraine, the term that Russian authorities insist media must use.

The newspaper was the last major independent media outlet critical of President Vladimir Putin’s government after others either shut their doors or had their websites blocked since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24.

The trigger for the shutdown was a second formal warning from the Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor, which has increasingly taken on the role of a censor in recent years, Novaya Gazeta had long had a difficult relationship with the government.

Novaya Gazeta’s longtime editor Dmitry Muratov shared the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize with Maria Ressa, a journalist from the Philippines, in October. Muratov said last week he was donating his Nobel medal to be auctioned off to raise funds for Ukrainian refugees and called for an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine.

- The Associated Press

12:16 p.m. ET

Russian billionaire Abramovich, Ukrainian peace negotiators hit by suspected poisoning: WSJ

Sanctioned Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators suffered symptoms of suspected poisoning earlier this month after a meeting in Kyiv, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Abramovich, who accepted a Ukrainian request to help negotiate an end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and at least two senior members of the Ukrainian team, were affected, the WSJ report said.

Their symptoms included red eyes, constant and painful tearing, and peeling skin on their faces and hands, the WSJ report added.

Abramovich and the Ukrainian negotiators, including Crimean Tatar lawmaker Rustem Umerov, have since improved and their lives are not in danger, WSJ reported.

A person familiar with the matter confirmed the incident to Reuters but said Abramovich had not allowed it to stop him working.

The Kremlin has said Abramovich played an early role in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine but the process was now in the hands of the two sides’ negotiating teams.

Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what President Vladimir Putin calls a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and the West say Putin launched an unprovoked war of aggression.


12:15 p.m. ET

Nearly 4 million fled Ukraine, but pace slows

A girl holds her toy as Ukrainian refugees take directions at the central train station in Warsaw, Poland, Monday, March 28, 2022.Czarek Sokolowski/The Associated Press

The number of refugees who have flooded out of Ukraine is nearing 4 million, but data shows fewer people have crossed the border in recent days.

Border guards, aid agencies and refugees say Russia’s unpredictable war on Ukraine offers few signs as to whether it’s just a pause or a permanent drop-off.

In the first two weeks after Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, about 2.5 million people in Ukraine’s pre-war population of 44 million left the country to avoid the bombs and bloodshed. In the second two weeks, the number of refugees was roughly half that.

The total exodus through Sunday now stands at 3.87 million, according to the latest tally announced Monday from UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency. In the previous 24 hours, only 45,000 people crossed Ukraine’s borders to seek safety, the slowest one-day count yet.

“People who were determined to leave when war breaks out fled in the first days,” said Anna Michalska, a spokeswoman for the Polish border guards.

UNHCR says the war has triggered Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II, and the speed and breadth of refugees fleeing to countries including Poland, Romania, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia — as well as Russia — is unprecedented in recent times. Poland alone has taken in 2.3 million refugees and Romania nearly 600,000. The United States has vowed to take in 100,000.

-The Associated Press

11:24 a.m. ET

Putin not seen ready to compromise ahead of peace talks

Ukraine and Russia were preparing on Monday for the first face-to-face peace talks in more than two weeks, but a senior U.S. official said Russian President Vladimir Putin did not appear ready to make compromises to end the war.

Ukrainian officials also played down the chances of a major breakthrough at the talks, due to be held in Istanbul after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Sunday.

But the fact that they were taking place in person at all - for the first time since an acrimonious meeting between foreign ministers on March 10 - was a sign of shifts behind the scenes as Russia’s invasion has become bogged down.

On the ground, there was no sign of respite for civilians in besieged cities, especially the devastated port of Mariupol, whose mayor said 160,000 people were still trapped inside and Russia was blocking attempts to evacuate them.

But the mayor of Irpin, near Kyiv, said Ukrainian forces had seized back full control of the town. “We have good news today - Irpin has been liberated,” Oleksandr Markushyn said, adding that it expected further attacks and would defend itself. Reuters could not immediately verify the information. Read full story.


11:07 a.m. ET

Russia and Western nations at odds over gas payments in rubles

Russia said on Monday it will not supply gas to Europe for free as it works out methods for accepting payments for its gas exports in rubles but G7 nations refused the demand.

At a meeting of European Union leaders on Friday, no common position emerged on Russia’s demand last week that “unfriendly” countries must pay in rubles, not euros, for its gas in the wake of the United States and European allies teaming up on a series of sanctions aimed at Russia.

Concerns over security of supply were enhanced after the demand, with companies and EU nations scrambling to understand the ramifications.

The Russian central bank, the government and Gazprom, which accounts for 40 per cent of European gas imports, should present their proposals for ruble gas payments to President Vladimir Putin by March 31. Read full story


11 a.m. ET

Russian delegation lands in Turkey for talks

A Russian Government Special Flight Squadron carrying members of the Russian delegation lands at Ataturk Airport, ahead of the expected peace talks with Ukrainian officials, in Istanbul, Turkey March 28, 2022.YORUK ISIK/Reuters

A plane carrying members of a Russian delegation has landed in Istanbul ahead of talks with Ukrainian negotiators aimed at ending the month-long war.

Turkey’s private DHA news agency said the Russian government plane landed at Istanbul Airport on Monday. The face-to-face talks between the two sides are scheduled to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that Ukraine could declare neutrality, potentially accept a compromise on contested areas in the country’s east, and offer security guarantees to Russia to secure peace “without delay.” He said only a face-to-face meeting with Russia’s leader could end the war.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday that the two presidents could meet, but only after the key elements of a potential deal are negotiated.

Earlier talks, held both by video and in person, failed to make progress on ending the war that has killed thousands and driven more than 10 million Ukrainians from their homes — including almost 4 million from their country.

NATO-member Turkey has close relations with both Ukraine and Russia. Earlier this month, it hosted a meeting between the two countries’ foreign ministers.

-The Associated Press

10:41 a.m. ET

Beer giants Heineken and Carslberg join exodus from Russia

Brewing giants Carlsberg and Heineken said on Monday they would quit Russia, joining an exodus of Western companies as pressure grows on Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged international companies to turn their backs on the Russian market after the launch last month of what Moscow termed a “special military operation” against its neighbour.

For Carlsberg, the Western brewer most exposed to Russia, the exit would result in a “substantial non-cash impairment charge” this year, it said without providing further details.

The company holds a 27% share of the local market through its ownership of the country’s biggest brewer, Baltika.

“We have taken the difficult and immediate decision to seek a full disposal of our business in Russia, which we believe is the right thing to do in the current environment,” Carlsberg said. “Upon completion we will have no presence in Russia.”

The company’s shares, which have fallen by roughly a quarter since the start of the invasion, traded 4.2% higher on Monday, heading for their best day since November 2020.

Heineken, the third largest brewer in Russia, earlier said it was aiming for an “orderly transfer” of its local business, which accounts for just 2% of total sales, reducing its operations during a transition period to minimize the risk of nationalisation.


10:07 a.m. ET

Ukrainian forces retake control of town of Irpin, says local mayor

The mayor of Irpin, near Kyiv, said on Monday Ukrainian forces had seized back full control of the town which has been one of the main hotspots of fighting with Russian troops near the capital.

“We have good news today - Irpin has been liberated,” Mayor Oleksandr Markushyn said in a video post on Telegram. “We understand that there will be more attacks on our town and we will defend it courageously.”

The information could not immediately be verified by Reuters.


9:48 a.m. ET

Central Europe readies for new refugee waves as Ukraine fighting spreads

People, mainly women and children, arrive at Przemysl, Poland on a train from Odesa in war-torn Ukraine on March 28, 2022.JEFF J MITCHELL/Getty Images

Central European nations are bracing for a renewed influx of refugees from Ukraine that could test their capacity to house, school and find work for the rising numbers of mainly women and children escaping the war.

While the flow of people across the EU’s eastern borders has ebbed, aid workers say recent Russian missile strikes on military targets in Lviv may spur more people to leave the city just 60 km (40 miles) from the border with NATO-member Poland.

“We are getting news from Lviv...that there is likely a very large number of buses that has gathered that could come our way either tomorrow or the day after,” said Regina Slonicka, a former journalist now volunteering at Warsaw train station. “So again we will have a great need for help.”

Since Russia invaded its neighbour on Feb. 24 the fighting has displaced more than 10 million people and forced nearly 4 million to flee Ukraine in Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since the end of World War Two, according to the U.N. refugee agency.

More than half of the refugees arriving in the European Union have come via Poland, home the to region’s largest Ukrainian community of around 1.5 million people before the war. Others have come through Romania, Slovakia and Hungary.


9:21 a.m. ET

Russia’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper suspends activity after second warning

Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta's, pictured here last year, said on Monday it was suspending its online and print activities amid the war in Ukraine.MAXIM SHEMETOV/Reuters

Russia’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper, whose editor Dmitry Muratov was a co-winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, said on Monday it was suspending its online and print activities until the end of Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine.

The investigative paper, which has already removed material from its website on Russia’s military action in Ukraine to comply with a new media law, said it had received another warning from state communications regulator Roskomnadzor on Monday about its reporting, prompting it to pause operations.

“We are suspending the publication of the newspaper on our website, social media networks and in print until the end of the ‘special operation on Ukraine’s territory’,” the paper wrote on its website.

In a separate message to readers, Muratov and his reporters said the decision to halt their activities had been difficult but necessary.

“There is no other choice,” the note said. “For us, and I know, for you, it’s an awful and difficult decision.”

Roskomnadzor did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In comments published by Russian news agencies, the regulator said it had issued Novaya Gazeta a second warning for failing to properly identify an organisation deemed a “foreign agent” by the authorities in its publications.

Pressure against liberal Russia media outlets has mounted since Moscow sent troops into Ukraine last month, with most mainstream media and state-controlled organisations sticking closely to the language used by the Kremlin to describe the conflict.


8:53 a.m. ET

Video: Civilians clear rubble from missile-hit school in Kharkiv

8:50 a.m. ET

EU wants to end golden passport schemes, targets Russians

The European Commission recommended Monday that EU nations end golden passport schemes that allow wealthy people to buy their way into the bloc’s citizenship, and urged them to assess whether Russian oligarchs linked to the Kremlin or who support the war in Ukraine should be stripped of citizenship rights previously granted.

The European Commission launched infringement procedures against Cyprus and Malta in 2020 about their golden passports schemes, and the Russian war in Ukraine has put an increased focused on the topic.

The Commission warned that some Russian or Belarusian citizens who are among the 877 individuals targeted by asset freezes and travel bans imposed since 2014, or who support the Russian invasion of its neighbor, might have acquired EU citizenship or had access to the Schengen area via these schemes.

The EU’s executive arm said the countries should now consider whether they should withdraw golden passports issued to such individuals. In addition, it recommended immediately taking away residence permits that have been granted under an investor scheme to Russian or Belarusian citizens supporting the war or subject to sanctions.

-The Associated Press

7:43 a.m. ET

China says the U.S. should take seriously Beijing’s concerns about punishing economic sanctions against Russia

China, which has what it calls a “no limits” partnership with Moscow, has strongly objected to the sanctions, saying they will worsen the global economic outlook without bringing an end to the conflict.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing Monday that China and other nations believe “people of all countries have no responsibility to pay for geopolitical conflicts and great power games.”

“The problem now is not about who wants to help Russia bypass sanctions, but about the normal economic and trade relations between countries, including China, and Russia have been unnecessarily damaged,” Wang said.

“We urge the U.S. to take China’s concerns seriously when dealing with the Ukraine issue and relations with Russia, and not to damage China’s legitimate rights and interests in any way,” Wang said.

-The Associated Press

6:40 a.m. ET

Biden’s remark on the end of Putin is ‘alarming’, Kremlin says

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during an event at the Royal Castle, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Warsaw, Poland March 26, 2022.EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/Reuters

The Kremlin said on Monday that U.S. President Joe Biden’s remark that Vladimir Putin could not remain in power was a cause for alarm, a measured response to a public call from the United States for an end to Putin’s 22-year rule.

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said on Saturday at the end of a speech to a crowd in Warsaw. He cast Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a battle in a much broader conflict between democracy and autocracy.

The White House tried to clarify Biden’s remarks and the president on Sunday said he had not been calling for regime change.

Asked about Biden’s comment, which was given little coverage on Russian state television, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “This is a statement that is certainly alarming.”

“We will continue to track the statements of the U.S. president in the most attentive way,” Peskov told reporters.

Putin has served as Russia’s paramount leader since Boris Yeltsin resigned in 1999. The Kremlin says Putin is a democratically elected president and that the Russian people - rather than the United States - decide who leads Russia.

Biden’s remark risked fuelling accusations by top Russian officials that the United States is bent on unseating Putin.


6:06 a.m. ET

Kremlin says Russia-Ukraine talks could start in Turkey on Tuesday

The Kremlin said that peace talks between Russia and Ukraine may get under way in Turkey on Tuesday and it was important that they would take place face-to-face, after what it described as a lack of major progress in negotiations so far.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan agreed in a telephone call on Sunday for Istanbul to host the talks, which Ankara hopes will lead to a ceasefire in Ukraine.

Turkey said the talks could begin as early as Monday, but Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that was unlikely as the negotiators would only be arriving in Turkey on Monday.

“While we cannot and will not speak about progress at the talks, the fact that they continuing to take place in person is important, of course,” Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

“We are adhering to a policy of not disclosing any information about the talks, which we think could only hurt the negotiation process.”

Peskov added that no major progress had been made in the talks themselves, or on the idea of a potential meeting between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Unfortunately we cannot see any substantial achievements or breakthroughs (in the talks) so far,” he said.


5:51 a.m. ET

Mariupol mayor pleads for evacuation of all citizens

Destroyed cars are seen in front of an apartment building which was damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine March 27, 2022.ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO/Reuters

The mayor of Mariupol said on Monday all civilians must be evacuated from the encircled Ukrainian city to allow them to escape a humanitarian catastrophe.

Mayor Vadym Boichenko said 160,000 civilians were still trapped in the southern port city on the Sea of Azov without heat and power after weeks of Russian bombardment.

He said 26 buses were waiting to evacuate civilians from Mariupol, which normally has a population of about 400,000 people, but Russian forces had not agreed to give them safe passage. He did not say where they were waiting.

“The situation in the city remains difficult. People are beyond the line of humanitarian catastrophe,” Boichenko said on national television. “We need to completely evacuate Mariupol.”

He added: “The Russian Federation is playing with us. We are in the hands of the invaders.” Read full story


5:39 a.m. ET

Ukraine seeking peace ‘without delay’ in talks, Zelensky says

Ukraine could declare neutrality and offer security guarantees to Russia to secure peace “without delay,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said ahead of another expected round of talks between the two sides — though he said only a face-to-face meeting with Russia’s leader could end the war.

In an interview with independent Russian media outlets, Zelensky stressed that Ukraine’s priority is ensuring its sovereignty and preventing Moscow from carving it up.

But, he added: “Security guarantees and neutrality, non-nuclear status of our state — we are ready to go for it.”

Zelensky has suggested as much before, but rarely so forcefully.

Russia has long demanded that Ukraine drop any hope of joining the western NATO alliance, which Moscow sees as a threat. Zelensky said that the question of neutrality, which would keep Ukraine out of NATO or other military alliances, should be put to Ukrainian voters in a referendum after Russian troops withdraw.

“We must come to an agreement with the president of the Russian Federation, and in order to reach an agreement, he needs to get out of there on his own feet ... and come to meet me,” he said in an interview that Russia barred its media from publishing.

In an overnight video address to his nation, Zelensky said Ukraine sought peace “without delay” in talks due to get underway this week in Turkey.

-The Associated Press

5:30 a.m. ET

China’s ambassador to the U.S. says that of all parties concerned in the Ukraine, only China has Russia’s ear

Qin Gang’s comments to the Phoenix Television channel, which has close ties with China’s ruling Communist Party, come as Beijing’s tacit support for Moscow is receiving increasing scrutiny from Washington and others.

China has refused to criticize Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, or even refer to it as such. It has also vigorously opposed punishing economic sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West.

Qin said China was uniquely positioned to help peacefully resolve what he called “the crisis.”

“Now, all parties concerned are in serious confrontation with Russia except China. Only China has the ear of Russia,” Qin told the channel’s “Talk With World Leaders” program in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

Qin blamed NATO’s eastward expansion for having provoked Russia. “Russia feels duped by NATO on its eastward expansion. It feels threatened and cornered,” Qin said.

While Beijing claims it is impartial in the conflict, Chinese state media has repeated false and unsupported claims made by Moscow.

Phoenix has itself received attention for embedding a reporter with Russian troops who has produced a steady stream of pro-Moscow reports.


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