Ukraine’s War Update: White House Pledging Addition Aid, Russia Withdrawal Of Soldiers From Kyiv and Chernihiv, Zelenskyy Pressed For Fighter Jets, And Peace Talks To Resume April 1st

UKRAINE (March 31, 2022)–Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the White House for pledging an additional $500 million in direct aid, but said he was open with U.S. President Biden about Ukraine needing more to resist the Russian invasion.

“If we really are fighting for freedom and in defense of democracy together, then we have a right to demand help in this difficult turning point,” Zelenskyy said in his nighttime video address to the nation Wednesday. “Tanks, aircraft, artillery systems. Freedom should be armed no worse than tyranny.”

Prior to Wednesday’s announcement of $500 million in aid, the Biden administration had sent Ukraine about $2 billion in humanitarian and security assistance since the start of the war last month.

That’s all part of the $13.6 billion that Congress approved earlier this month for Ukraine as part of a broader spending bill.

Zelenskyy said the negotiations with Russia were continuing but for now, they were only “words without specifics.”

About the supposed withdrawal of Russian forces from Kyiv and Chernihiv, Zelenskyy said: “We know that this is not a withdrawal but the consequences of being driven out. But we also are seeing that Russia is now concentrating its forces for new strikes on Donbas and we are preparing for this.”

Zelenskyy has also pressed for fighter jets, but the White House scuttled a plan to transfer them to Ukraine by way of Poland, saying it feared Russia would take that as evidence of the U.S. directly engaging in the fight over Ukraine soil and perhaps trigger a dangerous expansion of the war.

The Ukraine president has also pressed the U.S. and Europe to close the air over Ukraine to Russian planes, but critics have cautioned that that, too, could provoke a deadly expansion of hostilities to other countries.

The Latest:

Britain’s spy service chief says there’s new intelligence some Russian soldiers are ‘sabotaging their own equipment’White House says Russian president’s advisers ‘too afraid to tell him the truth’ as EU says he is surrounded by ‘yes men’

  • Russia and Ukraine will resume online peace talks on Friday 1 April. A senior Ukraine official said leaders of the two countries, Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskiy, could meet “soon”, but the Kremlin downplayed hopes of an early breakthrough. Ukraine’s president said in a televised address to the nation on Wednesday that “for the moment there are just words, nothing concrete”.

  • Zelenskiy said he talked to Joe Biden for an hour on another “very active diplomatic day”, thanking the US president for a new $1bn humanitarian aid package and an additional $500m in direct budget support. Zelenskiy said: “The support of the United States is vital for us. And now it is especially important to lend a hand to Ukraine, to show all the power of the democratic world.”

  • Russian shelling continued on Wednesday despite Moscow saying on Tuesday that it would scale back its attacks around Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv. However, reports citing the Pentagon said that Russian forces were “walking away” from the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

  • UK, US and EU officials say Putin has been misled over Russian military performancePutin has received misinformation about how well Russia is doing and how much the sanctions have affected the country because some of those closest to him are afraid to tell him the truth, according to a speech planned by the head of Britain’s GCHQ spy service on Thursday.

  • Sir Jeremy Fleming is also expected to say that some Russian soldiers are refusing to carry out orders, and that they are poorly equipped and have low morale.

  • Global restrictions on exports of industrial components to Russia have hit car and tank production. A carmaker has shut down and tank production has halted, according to the US.

  • Liz Truss, Britain’s foreign secretary, is due to land in India on Thursday to urge Narendra Modi’s government to reduce its strategic dependency on Russia. Her arrival in New Delhi coincides with that of her sparring partner Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, who will be making his first visit since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

  • The UK has announced new laws targeting the access of Russian oligarchs to “UK aviation and maritime technical services”, according to the Foreign Office.

  • Eight Russian oligarchs on the UK sanctions list over their links to Vladimir Putin were granted “golden visas” to live in Britain. The individuals were granted the right to live in the UK after promising to invest at least £2m under the controversial tier 1 investor visa scheme, the UK government has admitted.

  • Russian hackers have recently attempted to penetrate the networks of Nato and the militaries of some eastern European countries, according to a report by Google’s threat analysis group. The report did not say which militaries had been targeted in what Google described as “credential phishing campaigns” launched by a Russian-based group called Coldriver, or Callisto.

  • Slovakia has said it will expel 35 Russian diplomats based on information provided by intelligence services. Fellow EU countries Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and the Czech Republic have all announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats suspected of spying.

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Source: AP News  and The Guardian contributed to the article.

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