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Russian units ‘forced’ to turn back to reorganize

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Ukraine negotiator says peace talks focused on security guarantees

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators at peace talks in Istanbul discussed security guarantees for Kyiv that would be legally secured by third-party countries, Ukrainian negotiator and presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Wednesday.

“It seems important to me that if we sign an agreement on security guarantees, Ukraine will have not only its own powerful army, but also an additional security circuit at the expense of allied countries that will stand side by side with us,” he said in comments to media.

He did not specify which countries would give the guarantee. Russian forces would need to withdraw to their positions held on Feb. 23, before the invasion, and only then would Ukraine put it up in a referendum, he said.  

Russia is no longer giving Ukraine ultimatums in the talks, he said, pointing to its stalled military campaign.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov however, suggested Wednesday that there were no significant advances at the talks.

“We cannot yet state anything promising and any breakthroughs,” he said during his daily media briefing. “There is still a very extensive work to be done.”

Kremlin says it ‘cannot yet state’ any breakthroughs from peace talks

The Kremlin has said it “cannot yet state” whether “anything promising and any breakthroughs” have come from peace talks with Ukrainian counterparts in Istanbul this week. 

In a daily briefing Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was “positive” that the Ukrainian side had “begun to formulate and put on paper what they propose.” 

“As for the rest,” he said, “we cannot yet state anything promising and any breakthroughs.” He said there was still “very extensive work to be done.” 

Meanwhile, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Wednesday that Kyiv had improved its negotiating position with Moscow from where it stood even before the start of the war. 

“Serious success has been achieved,” he said in a post on Facebook early Wednesday. “We improved our position in all respects,” he added, as he pointed to Russia’s military difficulties in Ukraine as the reason for the success in talks. 

Russia accused of firing at Red Cross building in Mariupol

Ukrainian ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova accused Russian forces of taking aim at a building “of the International Committee of the Red Cross” in the besieged port city of Mariupol Wednesday. 

“Enemy aircraft and artillery fired on a building marked with a red cross on a white background,” Denisova said in a Telegram post. She said there was no information on any potential victims. 

NBC News was unable to verify the claim.

In a statement, ICRC spokesperson Caitlin Kelly said the ICRC could confirm that an image purported to portray the damage of the strike did depict the ICRC warehouse in Mariupol.

However, Kelly said that because the ICRC did not have a team on the ground, it could not provide any other information, including information on potential casualties or damage. 

The ICRC spokesperson said “all aid supplies” in the warehouse had already been distributed. 

At least 2 million children have been forced to flee Ukraine, UNICEF says

At least 2 million children have now been forced to flee Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in late February, UNICEF has said.

“The situation inside Ukraine is spiraling,” UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a statement Wednesday. “As the number of children fleeing their homes continues to climb, we must remember that every single one of them needs protection, education, safety and support.”  

According to UNICEF and the United Nations refugee agency, children make up half of all refugees from the war in Ukraine, with the UNHCR saying Wednesday more than 4 million people have now fled the country since the war began.

More than 1.1 million children have so far arrived in Poland, with hundreds of thousands of others making their way to Romania, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, among other nations, according to UNICEF. 

The agency reiterated its warning “of the heightened risk of trafficking and exploitation” in the midst of the crisis. It said it was working with governments, as well as with other agencies and other groups to introduce additional measures to keep children safe, including strengthened child protection screenings at border crossings. 

Putin ‘being misinformed’ by advisers who are afraid to tell him the truth, U.S. official says

Russian President Vladimir Putin is “being misinformed” by advisers about “how badly the Russian military is performing,” a U.S. official has told NBC News.

“Putin didn’t even know his military was using and losing conscripts in Ukraine, showing a clear breakdown in the flow of accurate information to the Russian president,” the official said. “We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions, because his senior advisers are too afraid to tell him the truth.”

The move by the administration to share this information comes after weeks of accusations by U.S. officials that Putin was increasingly isolated — even from his own top advisers, though no evidence has been provided.

Last month, Putin had a tense exchange, on camera, with the head of Russia’s spy service during a security meeting about the disputed areas in eastern Ukraine. Putin repeatedly interrupted Sergei Naryshkin, chief of the foreign intelligence service, and told him to “Speak plainly!”

Earlier this month, in a televised message to mark International Women’s Day, Putin claimed Russia will not use any conscript soldiers in Ukraine: “I emphasize that conscript soldiers are not participating in hostilities and will not participate in them. And there will be no additional call-up of reservists.”

Ukraine to discuss ‘military-technical’ cooperation with Turkey, negotiator says

The Ukrainian delegation that held peace talks with Russia in Istanbul this week is staying behind for discussions on “military-technical” cooperation with Turkey, a member of the negotiating team said. 

“The Russian delegation left Turkey. Members of the Ukrainian delegation continue their work,” negotiator David Arakhamia said on Telegram. 

He said meetings with high-ranking Turkish officials were scheduled for Wednesday to discuss military-technical cooperation. After that, he said members of the delegation would return to Ukraine.

Turkey, a NATO member that shares a maritime border with both Russia and Ukraine, has played an intermediary role between the two countries since Russia launched its invasion. 

Women walk Wednesday in front of a theater in central Moscow adorned with the letter “Z” made of a huge black and orange St. George’s ribbon, a symbol of support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Women walk in front of a theatre adorned with the letter Z formed by a huge Russia's patriotic black and orange Saint George's ribbon in central Moscow on Wednesday.
Natalia Kolesnikova / AFP – Getty Images

China and Russia ‘more determined’ to develop bilateral ties, Chinese foreign minister says

China and Russia are “more determined” to develop bilateral ties and boost cooperation, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Wednesday following a meeting in Tunxi in east China’s Anhui Province, with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. 

Wang said bilateral ties had withstood new tests, but had maintained the “correct” course for development. He also reaffirmed China’s support for continued peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. 

In opening remarks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had said Russia was “interested in ensuring the sustainable and consistent development of our relations with the People’s Republic of China.”

 “We are living through a serious stage in the history of international relations,” Lavrov said, according to the Russian foreign ministry. “We will move towards a multipolar, equitable and democratic world order with you and other like-minded nations,” he added. 

Lavrov was expected to take part in two multinational meetings on Afghanistan along with representatives from Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Russian forces target homes, infrastructure on outskirts of Kyiv, officials say

Russian forces have struck more than 30 residential buildings and pieces of infrastructure in the Kyiv region over the past 24 hours, the Kyiv Regional State Administration said on Telegram.

The strikes came despite statements by Moscow that it would scale down military operations around Kyiv and in the northern city of Chernihiv.

The shelling took place mainly in towns northwest and west of the capital, including in Hostomel, Bucha and Makariv, according to the region’s post.

“The night passed relatively calmly, to the sounds of sirens and the sound of gunfire from battles around the city, but there was no shelling in the city itself,” Kyiv Deputy Mayor Mykola Povoroznyk said on Ukrainian TV, according to Reuters.

Earlier, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said on TV that Russia is transferring its forces from Kyiv and the north of Ukraine to the east and near the besieged southern port city of Mariupol. 

Nearly half of Ukraine’s population worried about finding enough to eat, U.N. agency says

According to the World Food Program, 45 percent of Ukraine’s population is worried about finding enough food to eat, with 1 in 5 reducing the size and number of their own meals to ensure their children can eat.

“We’re talking about a catastrophe on top of a catastrophe,” WFP Executive Director David Beasley told the U.N. on Tuesday. “It’s not just decimating Ukraine and the region. It will have a global impact beyond anything we’ve seen since World War II,” he said.

The WFP is providing cash assistance, freshly baked bread, ready-to-eat food across the country, it said in a statement Wednesday. The conflict in Ukraine is driving food prices high across the globe which “further limit access to food for millions of people,” it said.

“In a country which used to grow food for 400 million people around the world, one person in five now reports having to reduce the size and number of their meals while adults skip meals so their children can eat,” it said. The WFP said it required $590 million to assist millions of people affected by the crisis. 

12 dead in strike on Mykolaiv regional government building

The death toll in a strike Tuesday morning that hit a regional government building in Mykolaiv has risen to 12, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine has said. 

In a Telegram post Wednesday, the emergency service said rescue efforts were still underway.

It said the bodies of a dozen victims had so far been pulled out of the rubble. At least 33 people were also injured, with 18 rescued, the emergency service said.

On Tuesday, the regional governor, ​​Vitaliy Kim, said on Telegram that his personal office was destroyed in the attack. He said most people appeared to have survived the assault, however. 

U.S., U.K., Germany, Mexico, Russia send top officials to India

India is gearing up for a week of high-level individual visits by top officials from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico and Russia.

U.S. deputy national security adviser Daleep Singh, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, German foreign and security policy adviser Jens Plötner will all meet Indian officials this week in New Delhi.

Singh, who’s traveling Wednesday and Thursday, will “consult closely with counterparts on the consequences of Russia’s unjustified war against Ukraine and mitigating its impact on the global economy,” National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said in a statement Tuesday.

While no joint meetings between the delegations have been announced, Ukraine is expected to remain the top agenda as New Delhi faces monumental pressure from the West over its continued relationship with Moscow.

U.N. names 3 experts to probe possible war crimes in Ukraine

The United Nations named three human rights experts Wednesday to investigate possible war crimes in Ukraine, where Russia has been accused of indiscriminate bombardment of civilians.

The independent panel, led by Erik Mose of Norway, will probe all accusations of rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law “in the context of the aggression against Ukraine by the Russian Federation,” a statement said.

The U.N. Human Rights Council has created the commission of inquiry for one year at the request of Ukraine and allies including the European Union, Britain and the United States. 

The panel will interview witnesses and collect forensic material for any future legal proceedings. It is to report initial findings in September.

Mose is a former judge of the European Court of Human Rights and a former president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda who also served as a judge on Norway’s Supreme Court. Other panel members are Jasminka Dzumhur, the human rights ombudsperson of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Pablo de Greiff, of Colombia, who was the first U.N. justice investigator.

Russia redeploying troops from Kyiv to east and south, presidential adviser says

Russia is transferring its forces from Kyiv and the north of Ukraine to the east and near the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said.

Moscow made the move so its forces could have a “qualitative and quantitative” advantage and encircle Ukrainian troops, he said.

Russia’s deputy defense minister said Tuesday that Moscow would scale back its military presence near Kyiv and Chernihiv.

“There is very heavy fighting there now,” Arestovych said on Ukrainian TV of the eastern regions, adding that there was also fighting in Mariupol, “where the city is half captured and there are heavy street fights happening.”

For weeks, Russian forces have surrounded Mariupol, causing widespread destruction in residential areas and leaving residents in a grave humanitarian situation.

Germany triggers ‘early warning’ of possible gas supply emergency

Germany declared an “early warning” Wednesday that it could be heading toward a gas supply emergency amid demands from Russia that it be paid for energy supplies in rubles. 

Federal Economy Minister Robert Habeck triggered the “early warning,” saying the measure was designed to prepare for a possible disruption or stoppage of natural gas flows from Russia. Under Germany’s current gas emergency plan, the early warning level is the first of three stages. 

Habeck said supplies were safeguarded for the time being and that Germany was closely monitoring supply flows with market operators. 

“Nevertheless, we must increase precautionary measures to be prepared for an escalation on the part of Russia,” he said. The economy minister said that “with the declaration of the early warning level, a crisis team has convened.” 

It comes after Russia demanded that Germany and other nations pay for energy supplies in rubles as Moscow contends with the economic impacts of Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine. 

‘Nothing that happens here will be unnoticed,’ IAEA chief says on visit to Ukrainian nuclear plant

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi promised technical assistance to help prevent the possibility of a “nuclear accident” as he met with government officials and staff at a power plant in Ukraine Wednesday.

“We are ready to support you in whatever way and form we can that nothing that happens here will be unnoticed,” he told staff at the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant based near the city of Yuzhnoukrainsk in Mykolaiv province. “Because the IAEA will be here to support and to say whenever there is a problem.” 

In a separate Twitter post, Grossi, who reached Ukraine on Tuesday, wrote that the IAEA’s on-site presence would help prevent “the danger of a nuclear accident” that could have severe public health and environmental consequences in and beyond Ukraine.

Families flee Ukraine with beloved pets in tow

NBC News saw dozens of families at border crossings and in train stations in southeastern Poland, carrying crates with dogs, cats and other pets with them from Ukraine.

Many said they could not bear leaving them behind because they are not just pets, but family members, and would be in danger in Ukraine.

On Wednesday, the United Nations refugee agency said the number of people fleeing Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion had reached more than 4 million, with more than 2.3 million fleeing to neighboring Poland. 

Over 3.9 million people have fled Ukraine since the war started on February 24
Jacobia Dahm for NBC News

Ukraine has achieved ‘serious success’ in negotiations, presidential adviser says

Kyiv has improved its negotiating position with Moscow from where it stood even before the start of the war in February, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said.

“Serious success has been achieved,” he said in a post on Facebook early Wednesday. “We improved our position in all respects,” he added.

He pointed to Russia’s military struggles in Ukraine as the reason for the success in the negotiations. Russian and Ukrainian negotiators met Tuesday in Istanbul for a round of peace talks, and Moscow said that it would scale back its military presence near Kyiv.

Arestovych warned however, that despite Ukraine’s success at the negotiating table, the war was not over.

“Negotiations will in no way slow down the war and will not cancel it,” he said. “This is a separate line that prepares a future peace agreement because any war, even a hundred-year war, ends with a peace agreement.”

Number of refugees who have fled Ukraine surpasses 4 million, UNHCR says

The number of refugees who have fled the war in Ukraine has reached more than 4 million, the United Nations refugee agency has said. 

In an update Wednesday morning, the UNHCR said at least 4,019,287 have fled the country since Russia launched its invasion into Ukraine. 

More than half of those who have fled, over 2.3 million, have sought refuge in neighboring Poland. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of others have fled to Romania, Moldova, Hungary and Slovakia.

More than 300,000 people have also ended up in Russia, while more than 10,000 have arrived in Belarus. 

A number of other nations have also taken in refugees fleeing the crisis, with Germany, Ireland and the U.K. among them. 

Russia strikes Chernihiv after saying it would scale down activity, governor says

Russian forces shelled the northern city of Chernihiv “the whole night,” the governor of the region said on Telegram Wednesday.

The shelling came less than a day after Russia said that it would scale down its military activity near the capital Kyiv and Chernihiv.

“The enemy demonstrated a ‘decrease in activity’ in the Chernihiv region by striking Nizhyn, including by air, and spent the whole night hitting Chernihiv,” regional governor Viasheslav Chaus said in a post on Telegram. “In fact, the enemy roamed Chernihiv all night.”

Since the early stages of the war, Chernihiv has came under heavy assault from Russian forces, who have also encircled the city. Their military progress however, had largely stalled.

One dead after Russia accused of firing on residential neighborhoods in Luhansk, officials say

At least one person is dead after Russian forces were accused of firing on residential neighborhoods in the Luhansk region on Wednesday morning, Ukrainian authorities have said. 

In a Telegram post, Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk region, said Russian forces had “fired on residential neighborhoods in one of the Lysychansk districts of the Luhansk region.”

“There are a lot of blockages. Rescuers are trying to save the living,” he said.

According to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, at least one person died in the attack. Five people have been rescued with eight already evacuated to safety, it said in a post on Telegram.

The state emergency service said Information about the dead and injured was still being “clarified.”

Ukrainian residents wait for food outside a church in the northeastern city of Trostianets, on Tuesday.

Ukrainian residents wait for food outside a church in the northeastern city of Trostianets, on March 29, 2022.
Fadel Sena / AFP – Getty Images

Russian units forced to return to Belarus, Russia to reorganize, U.K. says

Russian units suffering heavy losses have been “forced to return to Belarus and Russia to reorganize and resupply,” Britain’s defense ministry has said. 

In an intelligence update early Wednesday morning, the defense ministry said such activity was putting further pressure on Russia’s “already strained logistics and demonstrates the difficulties Russia is having reorganizing its units in forward areas within Ukraine.” 

It warned that Russia would likely continue to “compensate” for the reduced capability on the ground through mass artillery and missile strikes. 

The statement added that Russia’s proclaimed focus on an offensive in Donetsk and Luhansk was likely a “tacit admission that it is struggling to sustain more than one significant axis of advance.”

Three humanitarian corridors agreed for evacuation and aid

Three humanitarian corridors have been agreed to for the evacuation of Mariupol and Melitopol residents and delivery of humanitarian aid, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced on Wednesday.

In a Telegram post she said that the corridors will deliver aid to the city of Berdyansk and will clear the way for people traveling using their own transport from Enerhodar to Zaporizhzhia.

“On the way back to the city of Zaporizhzhia, people from Berdyansk and Melitopol will be able to join the humanitarian columns in their own vehicles,” she said.





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