As the Russia-Ukraine war enters its 37th day, we take a look at the main developments.
Updated by Faith Barbara Namagembe at 1159 EAT on Friday 1 April 2022.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warns that Russia is consolidating and preparing “powerful strikes” in the country’s south, including the besieged port city of Mariupol.
- NATO also says it is not seeing a pull-back of Russian forces in Ukraine and expects “additional offensive actions”, alliance head Jens Stoltenberg warns.
- Russia’s refocusing of its military efforts on the eastern Donbas region could herald a “longer, more prolonged conflict” as Ukrainian forces put up fierce resistance there, a senior US defence official says.
- Russian forces have pulled out of the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power site and moved towards Belarus, but they took an unspecified number of captive Ukrainian servicemen with them, officials in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, say. Troops seized control of the Chernobyl site – where radioactive waste is still stored – on February 24, the first day of the invasion.
- US President Joe Biden says his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, may be “isolated” and could have placed some of his advisers under “house arrest”. Biden also says he is “sceptical” about Moscow’s claim to be scaling back its onslaught in parts of the country.
- The European Union is set to hold a virtual summit with China against a backdrop of increasing alarm over Beijing’s growing proximity to Moscow and its reluctance to condemn its invasion of Ukraine.
- European Parliament President Roberta Metsola says she is on her way to Ukraine, making her the first EU leader to visit the war-torn country. The Maltese MEP, who was elected in January, tweets “On my way to Kyiv” alongside a Ukrainian flag, but gives no further details.
- Turkey says the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine could meet “within about a week or two” to step up negotiations on ending the conflict.
- Russia says it will expand the list of EU figures banned from entering the country following Western sanctions.
- Putin says “unfriendly” countries, including all EU members, must set up rouble accounts to pay for gas deliveries from April, or “existing contracts would be stopped”.
- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz insists payments continue in euros or US dollars, while France says Paris and Berlin are preparing for a cut in Russian gas deliveries.
- The United States hits a series of Russian tech firms with sanctions, including the nation’s largest chipmaker, Mikron.
- Biden announces
- an unprecedented release of crude from US strategic oil reserves, saying it will “ease the pain” of rising fuel prices.
- Ukraine’s government sends 45 buses to evacuate civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol, where Russia has declared a local ceasefire following a global outcry over the suffering of civilians trapped by a month of relentless shelling.
- The first convoy arrives in the Russian-occupied port of Berdyansk, a hub in the operation to evacuate civilians to the Ukrainian-controlled town of Zaporizhzhia.