Russia-Ukraine live news: Zelenskyy warns of Donbas attacks | Russia-Ukraine war News

  • The United States says Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demand that foreign buyers pay for Russian gas in roubles is a sign of “desperation”.
  • Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine to resume online on Friday.
  • Washington has announced plans to release an “unprecedented” amount of oil from its strategic petroleum reserve.
  • Italy and Germany say they agree on the importance of sanctions against Russia.
  • Ukraine says “there are no longer any outsiders” at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
[Al Jazeera]

Here are all the latest updates:

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: List of key events, day 37

As the Russia-Ukraine war enters its 37th day, we take a look at the main developments.

Read more here.

Ukrainian service members on patrol in the Kyiv region
Ukrainian service members patrol an area in a village near a frontline, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv Region [File: Serhii Nuzhnenko/Reuters]

UK says Ukraine has retaken villages of Sloboda, Lukashivka

British military intelligence has said Ukrainian forces have retaken the villages of Sloboda and Lukashivka to the south of Chernihiv and located along main supply routes between the city and Kyiv.

“Ukraine has also continued to make successful but limited counter attacks to the east and north east of Kyiv,” Britain’s Ministry of Defence said.

Chernihiv and Kyiv have been subjected to continued air and missile strikes despite Russian claims of reducing activity in these areas, the ministry added.


Governor accuses Ukraine of targeting Russian city

A regional governor has accused Ukraine of attacking a fuel depot in the Russian city of Belgorod, which lies across the border to the north of Kharkiv.

The official, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said two Ukrainian helicopters carried out the attack, which started a fire at the facility.

Two people had been hurt, he said.


Metsola to visit Kyiv

The president of the European Parliament is travelling to Kyiv.

Roberta Metsola, who is from Malta, tweeted a picture of herself in a black coat, but did not give any details on the trip.


Ukraine hopes for ‘super modern’ equipment for air force

Ukraine’s ambassador to Japan, Sergiy Korsunsky, has told the media that the country might soon be able to better protect itself from Russian air attacks because it is expecting to get “super modern” equipment from the US and the United Kingdom.

“They still have superiority in air force, in airplanes and missiles, and we expect to begin to receive super-modern equipment from the United States and Britain to protect our skies and our cities,” Korsunsky said.

In a series of tweets on Thursday, Ukraine’s air force said it needed “Patriot systems from the US or the cheaper, more mobile NASAMS system from Norway”.

Both Patriot and NASAMS are surface-to-air missile systems.


New conscripts to join Russian armed forces

April 1 marks the spring draft in the Russian military.

Some 134,500 conscripts have been called up this time around, according to a presidential decree.

It is not clear what role conscripts might have played in the war in Ukraine.

Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that none of those called up would be sent to any “hotspots”.


Two Ukrainian ‘traitor’ generals fired

There are reports that Zelenskyy has stripped two generals of their ranks because they were “traitors”.

Ukrainian media outlets say the generals were senior members of the national security service, Andriy Naumov and Serhiy Kryvoruchko.

“These high-ranking servicemen, who could not decide on where their homeland is, who violate the military oath of allegiance to the Ukrainian people regarding the protection of our state, its freedom, independence, will certainly be deprived of their high military rank,” the president was quoted as saying.


Russia says EU sanctions ‘will not remain unanswered’

Russia has warned it will respond to EU sanctions.

“The actions of the EU will not remain unanswered … the irresponsible sanctions by Brussels are already negatively affecting the daily lives of ordinary Europeans,” Senior foreign ministry official Nikolai Kobrinets told the RIA news agency.


Ukraine war to dominate EU-China Summit

Leaders from the EU and China are due to hold their first summit in two years later on Friday and the war in Ukraine is expected to dominate discussions.

An EU official has told Reuters news agency that China’s stance towards Russia will be the “million-dollar question”.

“Do we prolong this war or do we work together to end this war? That is the essential question for the summit,” the official said.

China has not condemned Russia’s invasion and has called for peace talks to accommodate the “legitimate concerns of all sides”.


Russia preparing ‘powerful strikes’ in Donbas: Zelenskyy

Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy has said Russian troops are planning “powerful strikes” in the eastern Donbas region.

“In Donbas, in Mariupol and in Kharkiv’s direction, Russian forces are amassing resources for powerful strikes. We will defend, we will do everything possible to stop the occupiers and clear our territory from their evil and senseless crimes,” he said.


Russia redeploying forces from Georgia to Ukraine, UK says

The UK Ministry of Defence has said Russia is redeploying forces from Georgia to help with its war in Ukraine, a move it said highlights Moscow’s “unexpected losses” in the invasion.

“Between 1,200 and 2,000 of these Russian troops are being reorganised into 3x Battalion Tactical Groups,” the defence ministry said in a Twitter post.

“It is highly unlikely that Russia planned to generate reinforcements in this manner and it is indicative of the unexpected losses it has sustained during the invasion.”


Russian forces took Ukrainian troops as hostages from Chernobyl: Kyiv

Ukraine’s nuclear agency Energoatom says Russian forces have taken Ukrainian troops as hostages with them as they left the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

“As they ran away from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the Russian occupiers took members of the National Guard, whom they had held hostage since February 24, with them,” Energoatom said in a statement on Telegram, citing plant workers.

It was unclear how many Ukrainian servicemen had been taken away.


‘There will be battles ahead,’ Ukraine’s Zelenskyy says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the situation in the country’s south and the Donbas region remained extremely difficult and reiterated that Russia was building up forces near the besieged city of Mariupol.

“There will be battles ahead. We still need to go down a very difficult path to get everything we want,” he said in a late-night video address.


US renews warnings for Americans to leave Russia and Ukraine

The US Department of State has renewed warnings for American citizens in Russia and Ukraine to leave the countries immediately.

“We are warning US citizens that the Russian government security officials in both Russia and Ukraine may be singling out US citizens based on their nationality,” spokesperson Ned Price told reporters on Thursday.

Earlier this week, an update to the official US travel advisory for Russia said: “Russian security services have arrested US citizens on spurious charges, singled out US citizens in Russia for detention and/or harassment, denied them fair and transparent treatment, and have convicted them in secret trials and/or without presenting credible evidence.”

Brittney Griner of the United States gestures during a game against Australia at Saitama Super Arena in their Tokyo 2020 Olympic women's basketball quarterfinal game in Saitama, Japan
American WNBA basketball player Brittney Griner has been held in Russia on drug-smuggling charges for weeks [File: Brian Snyder/Reuters]

US military aid already arriving in Ukraine, Pentagon says

An initial half-dozen shipments of US weapons and other security assistance have reached Ukraine as part of the $800m package of aid that Biden approved on March 16, the Department of Defense has said.

Spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday that the shipments included Javelin anti-tank weapons, Stinger anti-aircraft missile systems, body armour, medical supplies and other material.

Kirby said the $800m in assistance is likely to be fully delivered within about two weeks. It also includes Mi-17 helicopters, small arms, ammunition, vehicles, secure communications systems, and satellite imagery and analysis capability.


Russian troops have left Chernobyl, Ukraine says

Russian troops have left Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) after weeks of occupation, officials in Kyiv have said.

“There are no longer any outsiders on the territory of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant,” Ukraine’s state agency in charge of the Chernobyl exclusion zone said on Facebook.

The UN nuclear watchdog, IAEA, also confirmed that it had been informed by Ukraine that Russian forces handed control of the power plant and “moved convoys of troops”.

The agency said it would send the “first assistance and support mission to the Chornobyl NPP in the next few days”.


Italy and Germany say they agree on importance of sanctions against Russia

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz agreed on a phone call about the importance of keeping up sanctions against Russia, which are “proving very effective”, Draghi’s office has said.

The phone call between the two leaders comes after Putin threatened to halt contracts supplying Europe with a third of its gas unless they are paid in Russian currency.


US says Russia’s roubles-for-gas demand is sign of ‘desperation’

Putin’s demand that foreign buyers pay for Russian gas in roubles is a sign of Moscow’s economic and financial “desperation”, US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price has said.

European nations, some of which rely heavily on Russian gas, have rejected the demand, with the German government saying it amounted to “blackmail”.

“I think fundamentally this is just another indication of the dire straits that Russia’s economy is in,” Price told reporters during a news briefing, adding that it was up to countries in Europe to determine their response.


US to add more entities in Russia, Belarus to sanctions list

The US Department of Commerce will impose further sanctions in the coming days targeting Russia’s defence, aerospace and maritime sectors, adding 120 entities from Russia and Belarus to its blacklist, the White House has said.

That will bring the number of Russian and Belarusian parties added to the list to more than 200 since the invasion of Ukraine began, spokesperson Kate Bedingfield told a news conference.


Ukraine war should not hinder Iran deal revival, US analysts say

Detractors of the Iran nuclear deal have added Russia’s involvement in talks to revive the multilateral pact to their long list of grievances against the agreement, as Russian forces continue their offensive in Ukraine.

However, supporters of the accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), say the conflict in Ukraine should intensify – not blunt – efforts to restore it.

Read more here.


Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all the updates from Thursday, March 31 here.