The Russia-Ukraine conflict is now in its 399th day.

Kremlin  spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia's goals may be achieved through different means, but Ukraine has cut the possibility of political and diplomatic solution.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia's goals may be achieved through different means, but Ukraine has cut the possibility of political and diplomatic solution. (AFP)

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The Kremlin has said the ongoing confrontation between Russia and the West will last for a long time.

Asked if Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine may end this year, spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said: "If you mean a war in a broad context -- a confrontation with hostile states, with unfriendly countries, a hybrid war that they have unleashed against our country -- then this is for a long time."

As for the time period of the "special military operation" in Ukraine, it is better to ask the Defence Ministry, the spokesperson said at a press briefing in Moscow.

Since the war started last February, the West has given Ukraine unprecedented support, providing finance, weapons as well as humanitarian aid.

On the contrary, it has imposed tough economic sanctions on Moscow such as export controls, oil embargo and a price cap on Russian crude.

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1831 GMT — IAEA chief says trying for deal on Russia-held nuclear plant

The chief of the UN atomic watchdog has said he was working on a compromise security plan for the Moscow-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and warned of increased military activity around it.

There are persistent fears over the safety of the plant in the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia, where there has been frequent shelling since Russian troops attacked last year.

During a rare visit to Europe's largest nuclear plant currently controlled by Russian forces, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi said he was working to find a com promise that would suit both Moscow and Kiev.

"I am trying to prepare and propose realistic measures that will be approved by all parties," Grossi told reporters during a press tour organised by Moscow.

1655 GMT — Violent clashes continue in Ukraine's Donetsk region

Violent clashes in Ukraine's Donetsk region continue 13 months into the start of the Moscow-Kiev war, with the cities of Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Vuhledar being major hotspots in the fighting.

On the Donetsk front, clashes in Bakhmut have been the most significant.

Russian forces have been trying for months to capture Bakhmut, a transport and logistics hub in Ukraine’s Donetsk, which is part of the largely Russian-speaking industrialized Donbass region. 

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner paramilitary group involved in Russia's "special military operation," claimed earlier this month that the city had almost been encircled.

1621 GMT — Germany commits to billions in military aid for Ukraine

Germany agreed  to give billions of euros of new military aid to Ukraine in the coming years to bolster Kiev's fight back against Russia.

Berlin has shifted away from a traditionally pacifist stance since Moscow sent its forces into Ukraine last year, becoming one of Kiev's biggest military backers.

Parliament's budget committee gave the green light for about $8.7 billion (eight billion euros) to be spent on directly purchasing weapons and equipment for Ukraine.

Around 12 billion euros in total will be released related to the Ukraine conflict over the next decade or so. The other four billion will go to the German military to replenish stocks.

1617 GMT — Hungarian president hails Türkiye's role on Black Sea grain deal

Hungarian President Katalin Novak hailed Türkiye's role in the Black Sea grain initiative and urged an immediate ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine.

Novak's comments came at a joint press conference with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the presidential complex in the Turkish capital Ankara.

She also said her country favoured enlargement of the alliance and called for steps to be taken in this direction. 

0822 GMT — Russia-Belarus linkup does not raise nuclear risk in Ukraine: Polish think tank

The presence of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus does not increase the risk of nuclear conflict in Ukraine, according to an assessment by a Polish think tank.

“It will, however, be another confirmation of the incorporation of Belarus into the Russian military space,” said a report from the Center for Eastern Studies (OSW) in Warsaw.

“Moscow’s actions are facilitated by the constitutional resignation of Belarus from the status of a nuclear-free state, which allows for the deployment of Russian nuclear weapons on its territory.”

0652 GMT — Gazprom to ship over 40 mcm of gas to Europe through Ukraine 

Russia's Gazprom has said it would ship 42.4 million cubic metres of gas to Europe via Ukraine. 

0436 GMT — Russia kicks off exercises with Yars missile system

Russia has begun exercises with its Yars intercontinental ballistic missile system and several thousand troops, its defence ministry said, in what is likely to be seen as another attempt by Moscow to show off its nuclear strength.

President Vladimir Putin has aimed to make the Yars missile system, which replaced the Topol system, part of Russia's "invincible weapons" and the mainstay of the ground-based component of its nuclear arsenal.

"In total, more than 3,000 military personnel and about 300 pieces of equipment are involved in the exercises," the defence ministry said in a statement on the Telegram messaging service.

READ MORE: Russia begins drills for Yars intercontinental ballistic missiles

0427 GMT — Russia ramps up cyberattacks on Ukraine allies: analysts

Russia's cyberwar on Ukraine has largely failed and Moscow is increasingly targeting Kiev's European allies, according to US and French analysts.

French defence firm Thales said in a report that Russia was hitting Poland, the Nordic and Baltic countries with an arsenal of cyber weapons aiming to sow divisions and promote anti-war messages.

"Cyberwarfare didn't deliver the game-changing blow that Russia hoped for," Thales' technical director for cyber defence, Ivan Fontarensky, told AFP news agency, highlighting the resilience of Ukraine's defences

Microsoft said in a threat assessment earlier this month that Russian actors had launched attacks in at least 17 European countries in the first six weeks of this year.

0427 GMT — Zelenskyy invites Xi to visit Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has extended an invitation to Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit the country in an interview with the Associated Press published.

"We are ready to see him here," he told AP.

2227 GMT — Biden calls Putin's nuclear deployment talk 'dangerous'

US President Joe Biden has blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin's stated plan to deploy nuclear weapons in neighbouring Belarus, branding it "dangerous" talk.

"This is dangerous kind of talk and it's worrisome," Biden told reporters at the White House.

The Kremlin leader announced on Saturday that he was ordering the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, run by fellow leader Alexander Lukashenko as one of Russia's closest allies.

Washington has denounced the plan, which follows over a year of Moscow's attempts to conquer pro-Western Ukraine — a neighbour of both Russia and Belarus.

However, US officials say they have seen no sign of Russia actually moving nuclear weaponry.

"They haven't done that yet," Biden said.

2358 GMT — US wants to play down role in Nord Stream blasts: Russia 

The Russian embassy in the US has said Washington is seeking to play down damaging information about the alleged involvement of its intelligence services in last year's blasts that damaged the Nord Stream gas pipelines.

The Russian embassy in the US said in a statement posted on its Telegram messaging platform that Washington is doing "everything possible" to prevent "impartial efforts" to establish circumstances around the explosions.

"We see this as an obvious attempt ... to play down information from reputable journalists that is damaging for the United States about the likely direct involvement of American intelligence services," the embassy said in the statement posted in Russian.

For our live updates from Tuesday (March 28), click here.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies