Live Updates: Russia continues to pound Chernihiv, UK says

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Ukrainian refugees wait at the Central Railway Station in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday, March 30, 2022. The United Nations refugee agency says more than 4 million people have now fled Ukraine after Russia invaded , a new stage in the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

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LONDON — Britain’s Ministry of Defense says Russia is continuing to shell Chernihiv in northern Ukraine, despite Moscow’s claim to have scaled back its offensive around that city and kyiv.

The Ministry of Defense said that “extensive Russian bombardments and missile strikes continued”.

He said on Thursday that “Russian forces continue to hold positions east and west of Kyiv despite the withdrawal of a limited number of units. Heavy fighting is likely to take place on the outskirts of the city in the next days. “

The British intelligence update also says heavy fighting continues in the southern port of Mariupol, which has been besieged by Russia for weeks but Ukrainian forces still control the center of the city.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIAN-UKRAINE WAR:

— Russia is bombing areas in Ukraine where it has pledged to reduce

— US intelligence determines Putin was misled by advisers on Ukraine

— Poland will end imports of Russian oil; Germany warns against gas

– UN agency says 4 million refugees have now fled Ukraine

– UN food chief says Ukraine war food crisis worst since WWII

— Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

Both Russia and Ukraine have said they are working to help civilians evacuate west from the beleaguered port city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian military said it was committed to a local ceasefire along the road from Mariupol to the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia from Thursday morning.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Thursday that Ukraine was sending 45 buses to pick up people. She said the International Committee of the Red Cross acts as an intermediary between the two parties.

Similar evacuation efforts had been planned before and collapsed amid recriminations over fighting along the route. Ukraine last week accused Russian forces of arresting bus drivers and rescue workers traveling to Mariupol.

Civilians who have managed to leave the city for Ukrainian-controlled territory have generally done so using private cars, but the number of vehicles to drive remaining in Mariupol has dwindled and fuel stocks are low.

Russia operated its own evacuations from the territory it captured at Mariupol. Ukraine alleges that Russia sends its citizens to “filtration camps” in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine and then forcibly takes people to Russia.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recalled Ukrainian ambassadors to Georgia and Morocco, suggesting they had not done enough to persuade those countries to support Ukraine and punish Russia for the invasion.

“With all due respect, if there will be no weapons, if there will be no sanctions, if there will be no restrictions for Russian companies, then s ‘please look for another job,’ Zelenskyy said in his nightly address to the nation on Wednesday. “I expect concrete results from the work of our representatives in Latin America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa in the coming days.”

Zelenskyy also said he was waiting for results from Ukrainian military attachés in embassies abroad.

He said “the diplomatic front is one of the main fronts” in Ukraine’s battle to win the war against Russia.

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The talks between Ukraine and Russia will resume on Friday via video, according to the head of the Ukrainian delegation, David Arakhamia.

The delegations met in person on Tuesday in Istanbul, after two weeks of meeting by video, and the outlines of a possible peace agreement seemed to take shape.

The Ukrainian delegation has offered a framework under which the country would declare itself neutral – dropping its NATO candidacy, as Moscow has long demanded – in exchange for security guarantees from a group of other nations.

Russian diplomats responded positively to Ukraine’s proposal.

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DUBLIN — An aircraft rental company has filed $3.5 billion in insurance claims for aircraft and aircraft engines stranded in Russia due to sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

AerCap said it leased 135 planes from Russian airlines and took 22 back outside Russia.

The Dublin-based company said AerCap says it is unclear whether it will recover further, and Russian airlines continue to use its planes even though it has terminated leases and demanded the planes be returned.

After sanctions barred US and European companies from renting, selling or servicing aircraft and aircraft parts in Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law allowing his country’s airlines to re-register aircraft. foreign aircraft and use them for domestic flights.

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The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency visited a nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on Wednesday to meet with Ukrainian officials and provide technical assistance.

Rafael Mariano Grossi said the IAEA was not involved in political talks with the Russians.

“We are trying to be very active in order to ensure that as soon as possible the situation will improve and the facilities will be back in Ukrainian hands,” Grossi said.

Ukraine has 15 nuclear reactors in four power plants, one of which (Zaporizhzia) is under the control of the Russian army.

Ukraine is also home to the disused Chernobyl power plant, the site of the 1986 nuclear accident, which the Russian military seized at the start of the war. On Tuesday, eight reactors were operating and the others were shut down for regular maintenance.

— Extract from a video published by the Energoatom press service at Media Port – Mykolaiv region, Ukraine

LONDON — A British intelligence chief is warning that Russia is hunting cyber targets and bringing in mercenaries to shore up its stalled military campaign in Ukraine.

Jeremy Fleming, who heads Britain’s electronic spy agency GCHQ, said Russian President Vladimir Putin had “massively misjudged” his chances of securing a quick military victory in Ukraine.

In a speech in Australia, Fleming praised Ukraine’s “information operation” for effectively countering Russia’s massive disinformation campaign about the war.

While Russia was expected to launch a major cyberattack as part of its military campaign, Fleming said such a move had never been in Moscow’s playbook.

But Fleming warns that “Russian cyber actors are looking for targets in countries that oppose their actions.”

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the White House for pledging an additional $500 million in direct aid, but said he was open with US President Biden that Ukraine needed more to resist to the Russian invasion.

“If we are really fighting together for freedom and for the defense of democracy, then we have the right to demand help in this difficult turning point,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address to the nation on Wednesday. “Tanks, planes, artillery systems. Freedom should not be armed worse than tyranny.

Before Wednesday’s announcement of $500 million in aid, the Biden administration had sent about $2 billion in humanitarian and security assistance to Ukraine since the war began last month. It’s part of the $13.6 billion Congress approved earlier this month for Ukraine as part of a broader spending bill.

Zelenskyy said negotiations with Russia were continuing but for now they were just “words without details”.

On the alleged withdrawal of Russian forces from Kyiv and Chernihiv, Zelenskyy said: “We know that this is not about a withdrawal but about the consequences of being driven out. But we also see that Russia is now concentrating its forces for new strikes on Donbass and we are preparing for it.

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