Russia signals less ambitious goals in Ukraine war
Russia signaled on Friday that it may backtrack on its war aims to focus on eastern Ukraine after failing to break national resistance in a month of fighting and attacks on civilians, including up to to 300 dead in the bombing of a theatre.
The possible change came when President Joe Biden visited elite US troops serving with NATO just across the border in Poland and Frenchman Emmanuel Macron proposed an internationally-backed evacuation civilians trapped in the bombed city of Mariupol.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered the February invasion to destroy Ukraine’s military and overthrow pro-Western President Volodymyr Zelensky, placing the country in the grip of Russia.
However, Sergei Rudskoi, a top general, suggested a drastically reduced “main objective” of controlling Donbass, an eastern region already partly held by Russian proxies.
Here are the live updates on the Ukraine-Russia war:
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Japan’s prime minister and his US ambassador warned Russia against using nuclear weapons during a Saturday visit to Hiroshima, the site of an atomic bombing in World War II.
Their warning comes after Moscow on Tuesday refused to rule out the deployment of its nuclear arsenal, saying it could be used in the war in Ukraine if Russia faced an “existential threat”.
Japanese leader Fumio Kishida and Ambassador Rahm Emanuel visited a peace memorial park and museum, where the US diplomat called Russia’s stance “unacceptable”.
About 140,000 people died in the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, a toll that includes those who survived the explosion but later died from radiation exposure.
Three days later, Washington dropped a plutonium bomb on the Japanese port city of Nagasaki, killing an estimated 74,000 people and ending World War II.
A new curfew will be imposed on the Ukrainian capital Kviv from Saturday evening to Monday morning, Mayor Vitali Klitschko announced.
“The military command has decided to tighten the curfew. It will start from 8:00 p.m. Saturday and last until 7:00 a.m. Monday,” he said on Telegram.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was seen chairing an army meeting and discussing arms supplies in a video released by his ministry on Saturday, the first time he has spoken publicly for more than two weeks.
In the video, uploaded to social media, Shoigu said he discussed issues related to the military budget and defense orders with the Ministry of Finance.
“We continue to deliver weapons and equipment ahead of schedule through credits. The priorities are long-range high-precision weapons, aeronautical equipment and maintaining readiness for the engagement of strategic nuclear forces,” said Shoigu, who oversees what Russia calls its special military operation in Ukraine.
The meeting was attended by a number of senior Russian military officials, including Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, who also had not been seen in public recently.
Joe Biden prepared in Warsaw on Saturday with two Ukrainian ministers for the first face-to-face meeting between the US president and senior kyiv officials since the Russian invasion began.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov will make a rare trip outside Ukraine, a possible sign of growing confidence in the response against Russian forces.
The White House said Biden would “pass” at a meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin with Kuleba and Reznikov in the Polish capital.
Biden last met Kuleba in Washington on February 22 – two days before Russia began its assault.
Since then, Kuleba has also met Blinken in Poland near the border with Ukraine on March 5.
Biden is on the second and final day of a visit to Poland after meeting EU and NATO leaders in Brussels earlier in the week.
- US President Joe Biden will attend a meeting in Warsaw on Saturday between Ukrainian foreign and defense ministers and their US counterparts, the White House announced.
- “This morning, President Biden will participate in a meeting between Secretaries (Antony) Blinken and (Lloyd) Austin and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov,” the White House said.
- Russia’s “bragging” about its nuclear weapons is fueling a dangerous arms race, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the Doha Forum on Saturday.
- “They boast that they can destroy with nuclear weapons not just a certain country but the entire planet,” Zelensky said in a video message to the forum of political and business leaders.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pushed for new talks with Russia as Moscow signaled it was scaling back its ambitions to focus on territory claimed by Russian-backed separatists in the east after attacks elsewhere stalled.
- In an announcement on Friday that seemed to indicate more limited goals, the Russian Defense Ministry said a first phase of its operation was nearing completion and would now focus on the Donbass region bordering Russia, which has enclaves pro-Moscow separatists.
- “The combat potential of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has been significantly reduced, which … allows us to focus our efforts on achieving the main goal, the liberation of Donbass,” said Sergei Rudskoi, head of the Russian General Staff. Operational direction.
- Russia has reframed its war aims in Ukraine in a way that could make it easier for President Vladimir Putin to claim a face-saving victory despite a dismal campaign in which his military suffered humiliating setbacks, analysts say military.
- Russia attacked its neighbor by land, air and sea on February 24 and pushed all the way to the capital kyiv – where its forces have been pinned down for weeks – in what Ukraine and the West have described as an attempt to overthrow the democratic government of President Volodymyr. Zelensky.
- On Friday, however, a senior military official said the real goal was to “liberate” the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting the Ukrainian army for eight years.
- “The main objectives of the first stage of the operation have generally been achieved,” said Sergei Rudskoi, head of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff.
- French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin’s request for Europe to pay for gas in rubles as he accused Moscow of trying to circumvent sanctions for its war on Ukraine.
- Macron told reporters after an EU summit in Brussels that the Russian decision “is not in line with what was signed, and I don’t see why we would apply it”.
- Putin made the request this week as Moscow struggles to prop up its economy in the face of debilitating sanctions imposed by the West following its invasion of Ukraine.
- Macron said “we are continuing our analytical work” following the Kremlin’s maneuver.
- But he insisted “all the texts signed are clear: it is prohibited. So European players who buy gas and who are on European soil must do so in euros”.
- A senior White House official said Friday that India’s position at the United Nations on the Ukraine crisis was “unsatisfactory” but also unsurprising given its historic relationship with Russia.
- Mira Rapp-Hooper, director for the Indo-Pacific at the White House National Security Council, told an online forum hosted by the School of Advanced International Studies in Washington that India needed alternatives to maintain close ties with Russia.
- “I think we would certainly all recognize and agree that when it comes to votes at the UN, India’s stance on the current crisis has been unsatisfactory to say the least. But that has also not been surprising. “, she said.