- Russian attacks have not eased in Chernihiv despite a Russian promise to scale back, the northern region’s governor says.
- Ukraine’s military says the Russian move is aimed at misleading its forces, while President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Kyiv will not reduce its “defensive efforts”.
- US President Joe Biden also urges caution, saying the West needs to wait and see if Russia de-escalates.
- The UN warns Ukraine is going from being the “breadbasket of the world” to teetering on the “breadline” as war nears sixth week.
Here are all the latest updates:
Russia keeping some troops near Kyiv to tie down Ukrainian troops, official says
Russia is moving forces from northern to eastern Ukraine to try to encircle Ukrainian troops, but is keeping some behind near the capital Kyiv to tie down part of the Ukrainian military there, an adviser to Zelenskyy has said.
“Although the Russians are withdrawing some troops from [around] Kyiv, they will still leave certain forces here [near Kyiv] to keep our troops here,” Oleksiy Arestovych said in televised comments.
Kyiv’s deputy mayor, Mykola Povoroznyk, meanwhile told national television the capital itself had not been shelled overnight.
“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” he said.
Shelling in almost all frontline cities in Donetsk, local governor says
Russian forces are shelling nearly all cities along the frontline separating Ukrainian government-controlled territory from areas held by Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Donetsk region, the regional governor has said.
Pavlo Kyrylenko said on national television the situation could worsen as Russian forces concentrated their efforts to attack the Donetsk region.
Poland plans to stop using Russian oil by end of year, PM says
Poland’s prime minister says his country plans to stop using Russian oil by the end of 2022 and to stop importing Russian coal by May at the latest as it cuts economic ties with Moscow.
“We will impose a total embargo on Russian coal, and I hope that by April, May at the latest, we will have completely exited from Russian coal,” Mateusz Morawiecki told a news conference. “We will do everything to stop using Russian oil by the end of this year.”
Chernihiv governor sees no let-up in Russian attacks
The governor of Ukraine’s northern Chernihiv region says there has been no let-up in Russian attacks despite a promise by Moscow to scale down military operations there.
“Do we believe in it [the promise]? Of course not,” Governor Viacheslav Chaus said on Telegram.
“The ‘decreased activity’ in the Chernihiv region was demonstrated by the enemy carrying out strikes on (the city of) Nizhyn, including air strikes, and all night long they hit [the city of] Chernihiv.”
Russia hit industrial facilities in western Ukraine: Regional governor
Russian forces have hit industrial facilities in three strikes on the Khmelnitskyi region of western Ukraine overnight, regional governor Serhiy Hamaliy says.
He gave no details of the targets but said fires had been “localised” and checks were being made to determine whether there were any casualties.
Turkey, a mediator in Ukraine, mends its own ties with neighbours
The sight of Russian and Ukrainian negotiators meeting in Istanbul for face-to-face talks highlights the position in which Turkey finds itself as a perceived neutral side in the war in Ukraine.
Turkey could have been in a quandary as two ostensible allies fought a devastating war. Instead, the NATO member state continues to supply weapons to Ukraine, while refusing to sanction Russia, and is now leading efforts to mediate between the two sides.
Read more here.
Residential areas of Ukraine’s Lysychansk shelled: Governor
Residential areas of Ukraine’s eastern city of Lysychansk have been shelled by heavy artillery on Wednesday morning, Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai wrote on Telegram.
“A number of high-rise buildings have been damaged. Information on casualties is being confirmed,” he said. “Many buildings have collapsed. Rescuers are trying to save those still alive.”
UK taking sceptical view on Russian pledges: Deputy PM
Britain will take a very sceptical view towards any promises coming from Russia about Ukraine and will respond to Moscow based on its actions, not its words, according to Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab.
“I would be very careful in taking at face value what is coming out of Putin’s war machine,” he told Times Radio, adding that room for diplomacy must still be made.
“Ultimately, they need to be tested by their actions and they need to withdraw from Ukraine, not just reposition,” he said, adding: “But I think we take a very sceptical view about anything coming out of Moscow.”
US warns Moscow may ‘detain’ Americans in Russia
The US Department of State has issued a travel advisory warning that Moscow “may single out and detain US citizens in Russia” and repeating earlier warnings for Americans not to travel to the country.
The warning was “due to the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine by Russian military forces” as well as the potential for harassment of US citizens by Russian authorities, the travel advisory said, repeating calls for Americans travelling or living in Russia to leave “immediately”.
Multiple explosions heard in Kyiv: Report
A Ukrainian news outlet is reporting “multiple explosions” in Kyiv, a day after Russia pledged to reduce combat operations around the capital
The Kyiv Independent also said air raids went off early in the morning on several regions across the country, including in Zhytomyr, Kharkiv, Dnipro and Poltava.
⚡️Multiple explosions heard in Kyiv.
Air raid sirens went off early in the morning of March 28 in several oblasts across the country, including Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Kharkiv, Dnipro, and Poltava Oblasts.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) March 30, 2022
Russia’s Lavrov makes first China visit since Ukraine war
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has arrived in China in his first visit to the key ally since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine last month.
In a post on its Weibo social media account, the Russian embassy in Beijing confirmed Lavrov had landed in the eastern city of Huangshan, posting photos of delegates descending from a plane and being met by health officials in hazmat suits.
Lavrov will attend a series of meetings hosted by China to discuss ways to help Afghanistan. Diplomats from the US and the Taliban-led country’s neighbours are also expected to attend.
But Russia’s bloody assault on Ukraine is likely to loom large over proceedings.
Beijing has said Foreign Minister Wang Yi will collectively meet with representatives at the meeting, but it is not clear whether he will meet one-on-one with Lavrov.
— MFA Russia 🇷🇺 (@mfa_russia) March 30, 2022
Patients, staff at Mariupol hospital ‘forcibly taken’ to Russia: Council
The Mariupol City Council has accused Russian troops of forcibly removing more than 70 patients and medical staff at a maternity hospital to Russian territory.
“Another case of forcible deportation of Mariupol residents to the territory of the aggressor power,” it said in a statement. “More than 70 people were forcibly removed from Maternity Hospital No 2 in the Left Bank district – it’s medical staff and patients.”
The state-run Ukrinform news agency says more than 20,000 people from Mariupol have been taken to Russia against their will.
The Kremlin has previously denied forcibly removing Ukraine citizens, saying those who’ve arrived in Russia have done so voluntarily.
Satellite images show buildings flattened, on fire in Mariupol
UN records 1,179 civilian deaths in Ukraine
The UN human rights office says it has verified 1,179 civilian deaths in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began. A further 1,860 civilians were wounded, it said.
“Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes,” it said in a statement.
Ukraine journalist detained, taken to Donestsk: Union
The National Union of Journalists in Ukraine says Russian forces in Zaporizhzhia region have arrested a local journalist and taken her to the Donetsk region for “an investigation into her actions”.
Citing the journalist’s sister, the union said the Russians accused Irina Dubchenko of sheltering a wounded Ukrainian soldier.
In #Zaporozhye region, #Russian servicemen kidnapped Ukrainian journalist Irina Dubchenko, head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine said. She was taken to #Donetsk “to conduct investigative actions.” Irina hid a seriously wounded #Ukrainian serviceman at her home. pic.twitter.com/Yn8gXwBlrn
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) March 29, 2022
Evacuations from southern Ukraine continue
Some 1,665 people evacuated from southern Ukrainian cities on Tuesday, arriving in the city of Zaporizhzhia in their personal cars, according to an official.
Iryna Vereshchuk, the deputy prime minister of Ukraine, said the evacuees included 936 people from besieged Mariupol.
She accused the Russian forces of blocking convoys of evacuation buses and trucks with humanitarian aid that were sent to Berdyansk, Melitopol and Enerhodar. Convoys of people fleeing Tokmak and Enerhodar were also blocked, she said.
‘Irpin is still not safe’: Mayor tells residents of ‘liberated town’ not to return yet
Oleksandr Markushyn, the mayor of Irpin, a Kyiv suburb that Ukrainian forces claimed control of on Monday, has told residents of the area not to return just yet.
“Do not come back yet. The city is still not safe. We still hear gunshots and shelling, Grads [multiple rocket launchers] are even still being deployed,” he said in a video message on Tuesday.
“I will absolutely inform everyone as soon as it is possible to return.”
Mayor of #Irpen: it is still impossible to return to the city
“The city is still being shelled by the enemy, there are many stretch marks, mines and unexploded shells in the city. I ask you very much to stay where you are now”. pic.twitter.com/l1muHNsELH
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) March 29, 2022
Polish cabinet approves law to ban Russian coal imports
The Polish government has adopted draft legislation that will allow a ban on imports of Russian coal, according to a cabinet spokesperson.
“We don’t want these imports to be possible any longer, although we realise that there’s a risk related to the fact that the European Union has not approved such actions to date,” Piotr Muller told reporters in Warsaw.
Sanctions in the EU as a rule have to be agreed by the whole trading bloc, and Brussels could potentially punish countries acting unilaterally.
Zelenskyy to address Australian parliament
Ukraine’s president is scheduled to address Australia’s parliament on Thursday evening.
Employment minister Stuart Robert told parliament that Zelenskyy would make an address by video at 5.30pm (06:30 GMT), according to parliament records.
Ukrainian soldier who defended Snake Island released in prisoner exchange
A Ukrainian soldier who gained fame with his refusal to surrender when Russian troops invaded a tiny island in the Black Sea has been released from Russian captivity.
In a tweet, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence said Roman Hrybov, who told a Russian warship “to go fuck yourself”, has “returned from Russian captivity to his native Cherkasy region”.
Russian troops had detained Hrybov when they seized Ukraine’s Snake Island on the first day of Moscow’s invasion on February 24.
Roman Hrybov, the author of the famous “Russian Warship, Go F*** Yourself” phrase, returned from Russian captivity to his native Cherkasy region. Glory to the Hero! #GlorytoUkraine pic.twitter.com/uruPgkBLGv
— Defence of Ukraine (@DefenceU) March 29, 2022
Death toll in Mykolaiv attack rises to 12
At least 12 people have been killed in a Russian rocket attack on a government building in the southern city of Mykolaiv, according to Ukraine’s emergency services.
In a Telegram post, the agency said 33 others were wounded.
📹Відео роботи підрозділів ДСНС на місці ліквідації наслідків ракетного удару по будівлі Миколаївської ОДАhttps://t.co/4rBZIysjbJ pic.twitter.com/iUJ4i0Lggz
— DSNS.GOV.UA (@SESU_UA) March 29, 2022
‘Ukrainians are not naïve’: Zelenskyy
Here’s more on the Ukrainian president’s late night address, during which he called for caution over Russian pledges to scale back the offensive on Kyiv.
“Of course, we see all the risks. Of course, we see no reason to trust the words of certain representatives of a state that continues to fight for our destruction,” he said.
“Ukrainians are not naïve people. Ukrainians have already learned during these 34 days of invasion and over the past eight years of the war in Donbas that only a concrete result can be trusted.”
Ed Sheeran, Camila Cabello perform at ‘Concert for Ukraine’ in Birmingham
Chart-toppers Ed Sheeran and Camila Cabello were among music stars who took to the stage on Tuesday night at a televised concert aiming to raise funds for a Ukrainian humanitarian appeal.
The lineup for the two-hour “Concert for Ukraine” in Birmingham also featured Ukrainian singer Jamala, who won the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, music veteran Nile Rodgers & Chic as well as groups Snow Patrol and Manic Street Preachers.
Organisers said the concert had raised 12.2 million British pounds ($16m) which will be donated to the Disasters Emergency Committee – an umbrella of British charities – for the humanitarian appeal in Ukraine.
— camila (@Camila_Cabello) March 30, 2022
Russia suffering an ‘unprecedented blow in Ukraine’: Envoy
Ukraine’s UN ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya has told the UN Security Council that the “demilitarisation of Russia is well under way” due to “unprecedented” personnel and equipment losses.
Since the beginning of the invasion into Ukraine, Kyslytsya said the Russian occupiers have lost more than 17,000 military personnel, at least 1,700 armoured vehicles and almost 600 tanks.
He also said Russia also has lost 300 artillery systems, 127 planes and 129 helicopters, almost 100 rocket launchers systems, 54 air defence systems and seven ships.
Kyslytsya said that is “an unprecedented blow to Moscow, where the numbers of Soviet losses in Afghanistan pale in comparison”.
Russia’s promised withdrawal aimed at ‘misleading’ Ukraine: Military
Ukraine’s military says it distrusts Russia’s announced withdrawal from around Kyiv and Chernihiv.
“There are indications that the Russian forces are regrouping to focus their efforts on eastern Ukraine,” the Ukrainian general staff said in a statement.
“At the same time, the so-called ‘withdrawal of troops’ is most likely a rotation of individual units and is aimed at misleading the Ukrainian military leadership” by creating the misconception that the Russians have decided not to try to encircle Kyiv, it said.
Russia ‘almost certainly failed’ in Kyiv offensive: UK
The British Ministry of Defence says Russian setbacks and Ukrainian counterattacks around Kyiv mean “it is almost certain” that Russia “has failed in its objective to encircle” the capital city.
In its latest intelligence update, the ministry said Russian pledges to cut back troops around Kyiv may indicate its “acceptance that it has now lost the initiative in the region”.
“It is highly likely that Russia will seek to divert combat power from the north to their offensive in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east,” the ministry added.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 29 March 2022
Find out more about the UK government’s response: https://t.co/MGJpGUFJ8K
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) March 29, 2022
Russia, Ukraine trade accusations over naval mines
Russia and Ukraine have traded accusations about the naval mines that have been set adrift in the Black Sea.
The Russian military has alleged that the Ukrainian military had used old naval mines to protect the coast against a Russian landing and some of them have been ripped from their anchors by a storm and left adrift. Russian Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev reaffirmed on Tuesday that “the threat of Ukrainian mines drifting along the coastline of Black Sea states remains”.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry responded in a statement, accusing Russia of using Ukrainian mines it seized after the 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and setting them adrift to “discredit Ukraine before international partners”.
The conflicting claims by Russia and Ukraine couldn’t be independently verified.
US’s Ilhan Omar backs ICC probe in Ukraine
Progressive US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has voiced support for the International Criminal Court’s probe into possible war crimes in Ukraine.
“The targeting of civilians is horrifying and directly violates international law,” Omar, who was previously criticised for backing an ICC investigation into possible Israeli war crimes in Palestine, wrote on Twitter.
“I fully support the ICC investigation into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. I am committed to pushing for international law being enforced without political consideration.”
Thousands may have died in Mariupol in past month: UN
Thousands of civilians may have died in the besieged port city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine since bombing began four weeks ago, a UN official has said.
“We do think that there could be thousands of deaths, of civilian casualties, in Mariupol,” Matilda Bogner, head of the UN human rights mission in Ukraine, said in a virtual interview with the Reuters news agency.
The mission has deployed some 60 monitors in Ukraine.
US, EU to hold ‘high-level dialogue on Russia’
US and European Union diplomats will hold a “high-level dialogue on Russia” in Washington, DC on Wednesday, according to the US State Department.
“This inaugural session will focus on US and EU strategic objectives and policy coordination aimed at ending the Kremlin’s war of choice in Ukraine,” a State Department spokesperson told Al Jazeera.
The talks come a week after Biden held meetings with top European officials in Belgium and Poland. Victoria Nuland, US undersecretary of state for political affairs, will lead the US delegation, the State Department said.
US troops ‘liaising’ with Ukrainian forces: Pentagon
The Pentagon has clarified that US troops in Poland were “liaising” with Ukrainian forces as they hand over weapons to them, but were not training “in the classic sense” following remarks from Biden on the matter.
“It’s not training in the classic sense that many people think of training. I would just say it’s liaising,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said on Tuesday.
On Monday, Biden said that while in Poland last week, he talked to US troops who were helping “train” Ukrainian forces.
Zelenskyy says Russia talks gave ‘positive’ signals
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described the signals from peace talks with Russia as positive, but he expressed caution about Moscow’s promise to sharply curtail military action in some areas.
“We can say the signals we are receiving from the talks are positive but they do not drown out the explosions of Russian shells,” he said, adding that Ukraine could only trust a concrete result from the talks.
“The Russian army still has significant potential to continue attacks against our state,” he said. “Therefore we are not reducing our defensive efforts.”
WFP warns of ‘devastation’ to global aid efforts
The executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that the crisis in Ukraine, a major food producer, will have disastrous humanitarian consequences around the world, especially in places already suffering from food shortages, like Yemen and the Horn of Africa.
David Beasley said the world was already grappling with increased food and transportation prices – issues that will get worse as Ukraine goes from being “the breadbasket of the world” to being on “the breadline”.
“Fifty percent of the grain that we buy comes from Ukraine,” Beasley told the UN Security Council. “We feed 125 million people, before Ukraine ever happened. And so, you can only assume the devastation that this is going to have on our operations alone.”
Russia accuses West of escalating the war by arming Ukraine
Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, has accused the West of escalating the conflict in Ukraine by supplying what he called the “Kyiv regime” with weapons.
Nebenzya also rejected US assertions that the invasion of Ukraine was a “war of choice”, saying that the West was trying to create an “anti-Russia state” in Ukraine.
UN calls for ‘unhindered’ humanitarian access in Ukraine
Joyce Msuya, UN assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, has said aid convoys are planned for Ukraine in the coming days and weeks, but warring parties must ensure “unhindered” humanitarian access in the country.
“Civilians in Ukraine desperately need this assistance and protection,” Msuya told a UN Security Council meeting.
“But to do that, all parties must uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access to help civilians in their homes and those on the road in Ukraine, and to allow those civilians who want to leave to get out.”
Pentagon says Russia repositioning, not withdrawing, troops around Kyiv
Russia has started moving small numbers of troops away from positions around Kyiv, the Pentagon has said, adding it was more of a repositioning than a retreat or a withdrawal from the war.
“Has there been some movement by some Russian units away from Kyiv in the last day or so? Yes, we think so. Small numbers,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said during a news briefing.
“But we believe that this is a repositioning, not a real withdrawal, and that we all should be prepared to watch for a major offensive against other areas of Ukraine. It does not mean that the threat to Kyiv is over.”
Ukraine war threatens ‘rules-based international order’: Biden
US President Joe Biden has warned that the war in Ukraine threatens the “rules-based international order”, including in the Asia Pacific region, where Washington is locked in growing competition with Beijing.
Speaking at the White House alongside the prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, Biden said “all nations” have a right to territorial integrity and sovereignty regardless of their size or population.
“It’s clear that Putin’s war is unacceptable to nations in every region in the world – not just in Europe but in every region of the world,” Biden told reporters. “It’s an attack on the core international principles that underpin peace and security and prosperity everywhere.”
Read more here.
Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.
Read all the updates from Tuesday, March 29 here.