Live updates: UK sees stalled flighting, Black Sea blockade

British defense officials say Russian forces have made no significant progress in the past 24 hours amid continuing supply problems and aggressive resistance from Ukrainian fighters

Via AP news wire
Monday 28 March 2022 08:36

LONDON — Russian forces have made no significant progress in the past 24 hours amid continuing supply problems and aggressive resistance from Ukrainian fighters, U.K. defense officials say.

Poor morale and a lack of momentum have compounded the problems facing Russian forces, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in its latest intelligence briefing.

Heavy fighting continues around Mariupol as Russian forces try to capture the port on the Sea of Avov, which connects to the Black Sea, the ministry said in a briefing posted on Twitter.

Earlier, the ministry said Russia was maintaining a blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, cutting off maritime trade with the country. The Russian navy is also launching “sporadic” missile strikes against targets in Ukraine, the ministry said.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:

— Russia shifts focus to try to grind Ukraine’s army in east

— Poll: War raises Americans' worry that US could be nuclear target

— Holocaust survivors flee from Ukraine to Germany for safety

— Ukrainian welders turn donated vehicles into army transport

— Ukraine war threatens food supplies in fragile Arab world

— The Oscars have moment of silence, and a plea, for Ukraine

— ‘My personal tragedy’: Ukrainians brace for an attack on Odesa

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

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

BEIJING — China’s ambassador to the U.S. says that of all parties concerned in the Ukraine, only China has Russia’s ear.

Qin Gang’s comments to the Phoenix Television channel, which has close ties with China’s ruling Communist Party, come as Beijing’s tacit support for Moscow is receiving increasing scrutiny from Washington and others.

China has refused to criticize Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, or even refer to it as such. It has also vigorously opposed punishing economic sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West.

Qin said China was uniquely positioned to help peacefully resolve what he called “the crisis.”

“Now, all parties concerned are in serious confrontation with Russia except China. Only China has the ear of Russia,” Qin told the channel’s “Talk With World Leaders” program in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

Qin blamed NATO’s eastward expansion for having provoked Russia. “Russia feels duped by NATO on its eastward expansion. It feels threatened and cornered,” Qin said.

While Beijing claims it is impartial in the conflict, Chinese state media has repeated false and unsupported claims made by Moscow.

Phoenix has itself received attention for embedding a reporter with Russian troops who has produced a steady stream of pro-Moscow reports.

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LVIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s priorities at the Ukrainian-Russian talks in Turkey this week will be “sovereignty and territorial integrity,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told his nation Sunday in his nightly address.

“We are looking for peace, really, without delay,” he said. “There is an opportunity and a need for a face-to-face meeting in Turkey. This is not bad. Let’s see the outcome.”

This week, he said, “I will continue to appeal to the parliaments of other countries” to remind them of the dire situation in besieged cities like Mariupol.

Zelenskyy also told independent Russian journalists Sunday that his government would consider declaring neutrality and offering security guarantees to Russia, repeating earlier statements. That would include keeping Ukraine nuclear-free, he said.

He told the reporters that the issue of neutrality — and agreeing to stay out of NATO — should be put to Ukrainian voters in a referendum after Russian troops withdraw. He said that a vote could take place within a few months once Russian troops leave.

Russia quickly banned Zelenskyy’s interview from being published. Roskomnadzor, which regulates communications for Moscow, issued the ban Sunday, saying there could be action taken against the Russia-based media outlets that took part, which included “those that are foreign media outlets acting as foreign agents.”

Zelenskyy responded by saying Moscow was afraid of a relatively short conversation with journalists. “It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic,” he said, according to the Ukrainian news agency RBK Ukraina.

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BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says that neither NATO nor U.S. President Joe Biden aim to bring about regime change in Russia.

Biden said of Russian President Vladimir Putin during a speech on Saturday that “this man cannot remain in power.” The White House and other U.S. officials rushed to clarify that Biden wasn’t actually calling for Putin to be toppled.

Asked during an appearance Sunday on ARD television whether Putin’s removal is in fact the real aim, Scholz replied: “This is not the aim of NATO, and also not that of the American president.”

Scholz added: “We both agree completely that regime change is not an object and aim of policy that we pursue together.”

Asked whether Biden made a dangerous mistake with his comment, Scholz replied: “No.” He said that “he said what he said” and Secretary of State Antony Blinken also had clarified that he wasn’t talking about regime change.

Scholz last month announced a big increase in German defense spending. On Sunday, he confirmed a report by the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that the government is considering acquiring a missile defense shield along the lines of Israel’s “Iron Dome.”

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