- Sputnik International, 1920, 25.02.2022
Situation in Ukraine
On 24 February, Russia launched a special military operation amid Kiev's ongoing shelling of the DPR and LPR. President Vladimir Putin stated that the op is meant to protect the people of Donbass, and its goal is the complete demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine.
Service members of pro-Russian troops are seen atop of an armoured vehicle with the symbol Z painted on its side in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine March 24, 2022. - Sputnik International

LIVE UPDATES: Ukrainian Nationalists Continue to Hold 4.5 Mln Civilians Hostage, Russian MoD Says

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Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine on 24 February in response to calls from the Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics for protection against intensifying attacks by Ukrainian troops.
On Tuesday, Russia and Ukraine concluded the latest round of peace talks in Istanbul, Turkey. Moscow has announced the intention to scale down military activities in the Kiev and Chernigov regions and focus on its goals in Donbass.
Russia's chief negotiator, Vladimir Medinsky, said that Kiev is willing to adopt a neutral status under a system of international guarantees, upheld by the UNSC members as well as Germany, Canada, Poland, Israel and Turkey.
The official stressed that Ukraine's proposals on security guarantees do not apply to the territories of Crimea and Donbass.
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18:59 GMT 30.03.2022
Berlin Ready to Provide Ukraine With Security Guarantees, German Foreign Minister Says
18:55 GMT 30.03.2022
Blinken Thanks N. Macedonia Prime Minister for Support on Ukraine
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by telephone with N. Macedonian Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski to congratulate him on his new position and thank him for Macedonia's support of Ukraine, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Wednesday.

“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with North Macedonia Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski. Secretary Blinken congratulated Prime Minister Kovachevski on his new position and on the formation of the new cabinet. The Secretary thanked North Macedonia for its unwavering and steadfast support for Ukraine in the face of President Putin’s continued brutal war of aggression,” Price said in a readout of the leaders’ call.

Blinken thanked Kovachevski for Macedonia’s commitment to NATO as its newest member, as well as for hosting evacuees from Afghanistan, the readout said.

Blinken also said the United States looks forward to further cooperation with Macedonia on a number of security and defense issues to promote democracy and stability in the region, according to the readout.
18:48 GMT 30.03.2022
London Tightens Sanctions Against Russia's Tinkov, Shvidler
The United Kingdom has imposed new sanctions against Russian businessmen Oleg Tinkov and Evgeny Shvidler, restricting their access to aviation and technical services in the UK, the Foreign Office said on Wednesday.

The UK authorities blocked vessels owned or controlled by Tinkov and Shvidler from entering the country’s ports. In the event of a violation, their yachts may be detained and banned from registration or their existing registration be canceled.

Similar measures may be applied to aircraft owned or controlled by the two businessmen. Providing maintenance to aircraft or ships owned by Tinkov and Shvidler is also restricted under the new sanctions.

The UK Foreign Office imposed the first package of sanctions against Tinkov on 24 March, freezing his assets and banning entry into the country. London introduced these measures in light of "Russia's destabilizing actions in Ukraine."

On 1 March, the UK passed a law that effectively bans vessels with any connection to Russia from entering UK ports. The measure applies to Russian-flagged vessels registered, owned, controlled, chartered or operated by Russia.
18:38 GMT 30.03.2022
MoD: Russia Has Agreed to Four Additional Humanitarian Corridors in Zaporozhye Direction Proposed by Kiev
18:37 GMT 30.03.2022
Russia Has Delivered Over 6.5 Tonnes of Humanitarian Aid to Ukraine - MoD
The Russian Defence Ministry also said that the country's military has evacuated over 20,000 people from dangerous areas in Ukraine, Donetsk and Lugansk People's republics over the past 24 hours without Kiev's assistance.
18:36 GMT 30.03.2022
Ukrainian Nationalists Continue to Hold 4.5 Mln Civilians Hostage, Russian MoD Says
"The nationalists continue to use the tested tactics of deploying heavy military equipment in residential areas. The militants take direct orders from Kiev to use any property and equipment of the civilian population they need, to enter apartments and install firing posts there, and at the slightest displeasure of the owners to shoot them on the spot", the MoD said.
According to the ministry, Kharkov residents are being blocked by Ukrainian neo-Nazis and held hostage by militants as human shields. Civilians cannot leave through humanitarian corridors, while those who try to leave by their personal cars, are being fired at from mortars.
17:54 GMT 30.03.2022
Google: Gov't-Backed Hackers From Russia, China, N. Korea Use Ukraine-Related Themes
Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) has found that the hackers from Russia, China and North Korea, which are backed by their governments, are using the topics related to Ukraine to get targets to open malicious emails, the company said on Wednesday.

"TAG has observed a continuously growing number of threat actors using the war as a lure in phishing and malware campaigns. Government-backed actors from China, Iran, North Korea and Russia, as well as various unattributed groups, have used various Ukraine war-related themes in an effort to get targets to open malicious emails or click malicious links," the statement said.

According to the company, financially motivated and criminal perpetrators are also using the events for targeting users.

"For example, one actor is impersonating military personnel to extort money for rescuing relatives in Ukraine. TAG has also continued to observe multiple ransomware brokers continuing to operate in a business as usual sense," it explained.
17:53 GMT 30.03.2022
EUCOM: US Needs to Resume Military Presence in Black Sea
The United States needs to resume its military presence in the Black Sea in light of Russia's special operation in Ukraine, US European Command (EUCOM) chief Gen. Tod Wolters said in a congressional testimony on Wednesday.

“We have to image our way through the next five or ten years and we're doing that with respect to the Black Sea,” Wolters told the US House Armed Services Committee. “Turkey is the owner of the Montreux declaration, and I would just characterize what they're doing in this arena as very picky with who goes through … but we need to get back in the Black Sea and it needs to occur sooner rather than later.”

In spite of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, there is still some travel back and forth with small commercial vessels through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles straits, Wolters said.

The Montreux Convention of 1936 ensures the freedom of passage through the straits for merchant ships both in times of peace and war, but regulations may differ by country. The document limits the period of stay in the Black Sea of ​​warships of non-Black Sea states to three weeks. In emergency situations, Turkey has the right to prohibit or restrict the passage of military ships through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles.

Kiev has repeatedly called on the Turkish government to block the passage of Russian ships due to Moscow's ongoing military operation in Ukraine that began on 24 February.
17:20 GMT 30.03.2022
Ukrainian armoured transporter during inspection. File photo. - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.03.2022
Situation in Ukraine
Ukrainian Forces Fired on Border With Russia Hours Before Russian Military Op Began, Eyewitness Says
17:20 GMT 30.03.2022
A man carries combat gear as he leaves Poland to fight in Ukraine, at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, Wednesday, March 2, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.03.2022
Situation in Ukraine
Ukrainian Embassies Worldwide Continue Recruiting Mercs, Head of Russian Delegation in Vienna Says
15:35 GMT 30.03.2022
Putin Briefs Italian PM Draghi on Russia-Ukraine Talks in Istanbul
Russian President Vladimir Putin briefed Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on the progress of the talks in Istanbul, the Kremlin said.

"Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic Mario Draghi. At the request of Mario Draghi, Vladimir Putin informed him about the progress in the negotiations between the Russian and Ukrainian representatives that were held in Istanbul on Tuesday," the statement says.
"Explanations were also given in connection with the decision to switch to rubles in payments for natural gas supplies to a number of countries, including Italy," the statement says.
15:34 GMT 30.03.2022
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a news conference following a meeting with Guatemalan Foreign Minister Pedro Brolo Vila at the Russian Foreign Ministry's Reception House in Moscow. - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.03.2022
Situation in Ukraine
Lavrov: Kiev's Readiness to Ensure Non-Bloc, Non-Nuclear Status of Ukraine is Significant Progress
15:21 GMT 30.03.2022
Kremlin: Putin, Scholz Discuss Russia-Ukraine Talks, Gas Payment Issues
Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz discussed results of Russia-Ukraine talks in Turkey and gas payment issues during a phone conversation on Wednesday, the Kremlin said.

"Vladimir Putin and Olaf Scholz exchanged views in connection with the recent round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian representatives held in Istanbul the day before. The issues of ensuring the safe evacuation of civilians from areas of clashes, primarily from Mariupol, were considered," the Kremlin said in a statement.

Putin informed Scholz in detail about Moscow’s decision to switch to ruble payments for gas.

"It was noted that the decision should not lead to a deterioration in contractual conditions for European companies importing Russian gas. It was agreed that experts from the two countries would additionally negotiate on this matter," the Kremlin said.
15:19 GMT 30.03.2022
UK´s Johnson: Ukraine Ceasefire Not Enough to Lift Russia Sanctions
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that economic and financial sanctions imposed on Russia by Western countries following Moscow's military operation in Ukraine should not be lifted just because a ceasefire is agreed.

"I certainly don't think that you could expect the G7 [the group of seven most industrialized economies] to lift sanctions simply because there's been a ceasefire in Ukraine," Johnson told a parliamentary committee.
15:14 GMT 30.03.2022
Russian MoD: Documents Show Kiev Planned to Use Drones Capable of Spraying Deadly Substances
15:11 GMT 30.03.2022
US EUCOM: Time to Re-Examine NATO's Permanent Architecture in Eastern Europe
Russia's military operation in Ukraine is an opportunity for NATO to re-examine its permanent military architecture in Eastern Europe, US European Command chief Gen. Tod Wolters said on Wednesday.

"It's got to change and certainly this is an opportunity as a result of this senseless act on behalf of Russia to re-examine the permanent military architecture that exists not only in Eastern Europe, but in our air policing activity in aviation, in our standing naval maritime groups," Wolters told a House hearing.
15:09 GMT 30.03.2022
A research assistant carries a portable cooler marked with a biohazard label, file photo - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.03.2022
Situation in Ukraine
Russian MoD: Kiev Regime Seriously Considered Using Bioweapons Against Russia, Donbass
14:59 GMT 30.03.2022
Key Goals in Kiev and Chernigov Directions Have Been Accomplished, Russian MoD Says
-Russia's Defence Ministry pointed out that Russia was conducting a planned redeployment of forces on Kiev and Chernigov directions, and that all goals there have been accomplished.
-The major goal of the redeployment is to start advancing more actively in key directions - first of all to complete the liberation of Donbass, the ministry added.
-On Wednesday, Russian Forces Destroy 69 Ukrainian Military Objects
14:50 GMT 30.03.2022
Russian Correspondents Come Under Fire in Lugansk People's Republic
14:37 GMT 30.03.2022
White House: Biden to Hold Phone Call With Zelensky at 14:45 GMT
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