The Russia-Ukraine conflict is now in its 402nd day.

On Saturday Russia took over the presidency of the UN's top security body, which rotates every month.
On Saturday Russia took over the presidency of the UN's top security body, which rotates every month. (AP)

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said it was absurd Russia had assumed the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), adding this showed the institution's "total bankruptcy".

"Unfortunately, we ... have some obviously absurd and destructive news," Zelenskyy said in an evening video address, adding that Russian shelling had killed a five-month-old boy on Friday.

"And at the same time Russia is chairing the UN Security Council. It's hard to imagine anything that proves more the total bankruptcy of such institutions," he said.

On Saturday, Russia took over the presidency of the UN's top security body, which rotates every month. 

The last time Moscow held the post was in February 2022, when its troops launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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1438 GMT — Protesters face off in Kiev as clergyman's home raided

Protesters have faced off outside a historic monastery in the Ukrainian capital after the home of a leading clergyman was raided by the security services.

Metropolitan Pavlo of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has been accused of links with Moscow despite renouncing them, was called in for questioning on charges of inciting religious hatred.

TheSecurity Service of Ukraine (SBU) said Pavlo is suspected of "justifying and denying the aggression by the Russian army against Ukraine and of glorifying its members" as well as "violating the equality of citizens on racial, national, regional and religious grounds".

1352 GMT — Russian UNSC presidency a 'slap in the face': Kuleba

Russia's presidency of the UNSC for the month of April is "a slap in the face to the international community", Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said.

"I urge the current UNSC members to thwart any Russian attempts to abuse its presidency," Kuleba said at the start of Russia's tenure of the body's rotating presidency.

In a statement on Twitter, Kuleba called Russia "an outlaw on the UNSC".

Later this month, Moscow has said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is planning to chair a UN Security Council meeting on "effective multilateralism".

1341 GMT — Russian UNSC presidency is 'symbolic blow': Yermak

A top Ukrainian official has criticised the 'symbolic blow' of Russia assuming the rotating presidency of the UNSC.

"It's not just a shame. It is another symbolic blow to the rules-based system of international relations," Andriy Yermak, the Ukrainian president's chief of staff, wrote in English on Twitter.

1203 GMT — Ukrainian cleric in court amid dispute over Kiev monastery

Ukraine's top security agency has notified top Orthodox priest Metropolitan Pavlo who was suspected of justifying Russia's aggression amid a bitter dispute over a famed Orthodox monastery.

Facing a court hearing in the Ukrainian capital, the metropolitan strongly rejected the claim by the SBU that he condoned Russia's attacks. 

Earlier in the week, Pavlo cursed Zelenskyy, threatening him with damnation. He described the accusations against him as politically driven.

1114 GMT — North Korea accuses Ukraine of having nuclear ambitions: KCNA

North Korea's Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong Un, has accused Ukraine of calling for nuclear weapons, state media KCNA reported, basing her assertion on an online petition in that country that has drawn under 1,000 signatures so far.

Kim said this kind of petition could be a political plot by Zelenskyy's office, but did not provide any evidence for the assertion.

Following Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement last week that Moscow plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, a public petition was filed to the Ukrainian presidential office's website on Thursday, calling for Ukraine to host nuclear weapons on Ukrainian territory, or for it to be armed with its own nuclear weapons.

1044 GMT — Kiev orders 100 armoured vehicles from Poland

Ukraine has ordered 100 Rosomak multi-purpose armoured vehicles, which are made in Poland under a Finnish license, Poland's prime minister said.

"I bring an order placed yesterday by (Ukrainian) Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal for 100 Rosomaks that will be fabricated here," Mateusz Morawiecki said during a visit to the Rosomak manufacturing site in the southern Polish town of Siemianowice Slaskie.

The order will be financed through funds that Poland has received from the European Union and US funds that Ukraine has received, he said, without providing details or the overall cost of the contract.

0933 GMT — Russia to boost munitions supplies to its forces in Ukraine

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has promised to boost munitions supplies to Russian forces in Ukraine during a visit to the headquarters of Moscow's troops fighting in the country, according to footage published by the Defence Ministry.

In a video published by the ministry on Telegram, Shoigu is shown presiding over a meeting with senior military officers, including General Valery Gerasimov, Russia's most senior soldier.

In the footage, Shoigu is shown telling colleagues that Russia would take steps to boost the supply of munitions to troops at the front.

He says: "the volume of supplies of the most demanded ammunition has been determined. Necessary measures are being taken to increase them".

1925 GMT — Munitions, anti-tank rockets in next '$2.6B' US pledge for Kiev

A new $2.6 billion US military aid package that could include air surveillance radars, anti-tank rockets and fuel trucks for Ukraine's fight against Russia is expected to be announced as soon as Monday, three US officials have said.

A half a dozen types of munitions, including tank munitions, are also expected to be on the list of equipment that could be finalised over this weekend, the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said, adding that the dollar amount and specific equipment in the package could change.

Also slated for inclusion were precision aerial munitions, bridging equipment Ukraine would use to assault Russian positions, recovery vehicles to help disabled heavy equipment like tanks and additional rounds for NASAMS air defences that the US and allies have given to Kiev.

The aid was comprised of $2.1 billion in weapons aid coming from Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funding that allows President Joe Biden's administration to buy weapons from industry rather than from US weapons stocks.

The remaining $500 million, mainly comprised of munitions to help Kiev push a spring offensive against Russia's offensive, was expected to come from Presidential Drawdown Authority funds, which allow the president to take from current US stocks in an emergency.

READ MORE: Russia outlines anti-West global strategy, sees China, India as partners

1900 GMT — US has small stockpile of long-range missiles to hand them over to Ukraine: Pentagon

The United States has a small stockpile of long-range missiles, which limits the possibility of handing them over to Ukraine, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley has said in an online interview with the Defense One media outlet, TASS news agency reported.

Asked whether Washington was planning to supply Ukraine with ATACMS [Army Tactical Missile System] missiles with a strike range of up to 300 kilometres, Milley replied: "Well, there's a policy decision to date not to, so far. And I would never predict anything on the table, off the table, for the future."

"But from a military standpoint, we have relatively few ATACMS, we do have to make sure that we maintain our own munitions inventories, as well," he continued. "And the range of the weapon - I think there's a little bit of overstating of what an ATACMS can do and can't do."

"You're looking at a single shot, so think of a musket versus a repeating rifle. Whereas the GMLRS fires six shots, and ATACMs fires one. Now the range of the ATACMS is longer, but there's other systems they can get you that range," the high-ranking military official said.

"There’s UAVs, for example, that could do it, and the Brits have a couple of systems. So, those are some things that we're looking at to give them a little bit more legs. But right now, we're not providing the ATACMS," Milley said.

READ MORE: Will China arm Russia in the Ukraine conflict?

For our live updates from Friday (March 31), click here.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies