A month after the start of the Russian invasion, the conflict is bogged down. While Westerners fear a chemical attack, NATO has warned Moscow. US President Joe Biden is traveling to Poland on the Ukrainian border this Friday. Follow the latest information live.
Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, General Kyrylo Budanov, has promised the Russians a “real hell” in Ukraine, where the Russian army, which he deems “medieval”, will face a constant guerrilla war of Ukrainian partisans, he says. in an interview published Friday.
“The Russian command has made many mistakes and we are using these mistakes,” General Budanov, who spoke in Ukrainian from kyiv, told the American weekly The Nation, through an interpreter at his side.
“The Ukrainian army has shown that the Russian army, the second army in the world, was just a myth. It’s just a concentration of medieval power, old methods of combat,” added this young general of 36. years old, who joined the army after the fall of the USSR and was trained in NATO methods.
Ukrainian forces have launched a counter-offensive on the southern city of Kherson, the only major urban center completely conquered by Moscow forces, which is now “contested”, a senior Pentagon official said on Friday.
“The Ukrainians are trying to take back Kherson,” the official, who requested anonymity, told reporters. “We cannot say exactly who is in control of Kherson, but the fact is that it is no longer as firmly under Russian control as before.”
Taken on March 3 by Russian forces, this strategic city located at the mouth of the Dnieper, where demonstrations were violently repressed, “is again a disputed territory”, he added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday evening signed a law punishing prison sentences of up to 15 years for “false information” about Moscow’s action abroad, an additional repressive weapon to control information on its offensive. in Ukraine.
This text, whose presidential signature marks the entry into force, punishes the “public dissemination of knowingly false information under the guise of reliable information” about the “activities of Russian state bodies outside Russian territory”.
The expected penalty increases to 15 years in prison if the “false information” has “resulted in serious consequences”.
France will launch an “exceptional humanitarian operation” in Mariupol, with Greece and Turkey. “We are going to launch a humanitarian operation with Greece and Turkey to evacuate all those who want to leave Mariupol, announces Emmanuel Macron. We will organize things in the best possible conditions. This city of more than 400,000 inhabitants has only 150,000 inhabitants who live in catastrophic conditions,” explained Emmanuel Macron.
The command center of the Ukrainian air forces in Vinnytsia (center) was hit Friday by a salvo of Russian cruise missiles, which caused “significant damage”, according to the Ukrainian army.
“The Russians fired six cruise missiles. Some were shot down by anti-aircraft defenses. The others hit several buildings, causing significant damage,” the air force command announced on Telegram.
Pope Francis condemned the “odious war” against “our defenseless Ukrainian brothers”, during a ceremony dedicated to Ukraine and Russia at the Vatican.
“These days, (…) bombs are destroying the homes of many of our defenseless Ukrainian brothers,” said the Argentine sovereign pontiff during this religious service at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, before entrusting the Ukraine and Russia to the Virgin Mary.
“This odious war (…) provokes fear and confusion in everyone”, added the pope in front of some 3,500 people, including the Ukrainian ambassador and representatives of the diplomatic corps.
About 2,000 faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square to follow the ceremony on giant screens, according to the Holy See’s press service, while priests and bishops from all over the world were called to join in this prayer at the same time. moment.
France summons the Russian ambassador after a tweet deemed “unacceptable”.
Talks with Moscow are “very difficult”, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba said on Friday, more than a month after the start of the Russian invasion.
“The negotiation process is very difficult,” the head of Ukrainian diplomacy said in a statement, rejecting any “consensus” with Moscow at this stage. Earlier in the day, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan assured that Russia and Ukraine agreed on four out of six negotiating points.
The Russian army said on Friday it would now focus on the “liberation” of eastern Ukraine, saying it had achieved the initial objectives of the military operation it has been carrying out there since February 24 .
“The combat capabilities of the Ukrainian forces have been significantly reduced, which allows (…) to concentrate the bulk of the efforts on the main objective: the liberation of Donbass”, in eastern Ukraine, said Deputy Chief of the Russian General Staff Sergei Rudskoy.
Talks between Russia and Ukraine are stalling on the main points, Moscow’s chief negotiator lamented on Friday, while emphasizing a rapprochement on less important aspects.
“Positions are converging on secondary points. But on the main political (issues) we are treading water,” said Vladimir Medinsky, quoted by Russian news agencies.
Russia acknowledged on Friday the death of 1,351 of its soldiers since the start of its military offensive in Ukraine a month ago, accusing Western countries of making a “mistake” by delivering weapons to kyiv.
“During the special military operation, 1,351 soldiers were killed and 3,825 wounded,” Deputy Chief of Staff Sergei Roudskoy told a press briefing. In addition, Russia has received 419,736 refugees from Ukraine since the start of the operation, according to Mikhail Mizintsev, director of the Russian National Center for Defense Management.
The United States “does not intend to use chemical weapons under any circumstances”, that is to say even if Russia uses them in Ukraine, assured Friday the national security adviser American Jake Sullivan, aboard Air Force One.
During an exchange with the press, however, he warned that Moscow would pay “a very high price” in the event of the use of chemical weapons, clarifying remarks the day before by President Joe Biden who had promised a “response” in such a scenario, but remaining evasive on the “nature” of this response.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday compared the deprogramming in Western countries of Russian cultural figures and events to the burnings orchestrated by the Nazis.
“The last time it was the Nazis in Germany, almost 90 years ago, who carried out such a campaign to destroy an unwanted culture. The images of books being burned in public squares are well remembered,” said he said, during a meeting with cultural personalities.
A military chaplain was killed by Ukrainian “Smerch” rocket fire on a Russian border village not far from the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in the grip of heavy fighting, the Orthodox Church announced on Friday.
Russia has minimized the scope of a possible exclusion from the G20, wanted by the United States in reaction to Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine, believing that such a blow would not be “deadly”.
Ukraine has asked the European Union to close its borders with Russia and Belarus, an allied country of Moscow in the invasion led by the Russian army in Ukraine for a month.
Russia has denied any violation of international law after being accused by Ukraine of using phosphorus bombs as part of its military intervention in the neighboring country.
“Russia has never violated any international convention,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said when asked by the press about the Ukrainian accusations.
A Russian bombardment on a medical center in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, left four dead and at least three injured, regional police in the country’s second city said. “Seven civilians were injured, four of whom succumbed to their injuries in a bombardment with multiple rocket launchers,” police said on their Telegram channel, adding that the strike took place “around 05:45 GMT” on “a medical center” in the south of Kharkiv.
About 300 dead are feared in the theater of Mariupol bombarded by the Russian air force on March 16 while hundreds of people were sheltered there, announced this Friday the town hall of the city, citing witnesses.
“Witnesses have information that about 300 people died in the Mariupol Drama Theater as a result of a bombing by a Russian plane. Until the end, we do not want to believe this horror. Until the end, we wants to believe that everyone is safe. But the testimonies of those who were inside the building at the time of this terrorist act say the opposite”, writes the town hall of Mariupol on its Telegram account.
Russia claims to have destroyed the Ukrainian army’s largest fuel reserve near kyiv the day before with cruise missiles.
“The largest remaining fuel reserve of the Ukrainian army, which was used to supply units in the central part of the country, has been destroyed,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement. communicated.
US President Joe Biden travels to Poland on Friday, in a city near the Ukrainian border, on the front line of the Western commitment against the invasion launched by Moscow, which looks more and more like a war of attrition.
US President Joe Biden on Thursday promised for the first time a NATO “response” to the conflict in Ukraine if Russia resorted to chemical weapons there, a risk deemed very real at summits of the alliance and the G7 gathered in Brussels after a month of a deadly and devastating war launched by Vladimir Putin.
The Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs indicated that the government of President Jair Bolsonaro was “clearly opposed” to the idea of excluding Russia from the G20, as suggested in particular by the United States.