The day of the war in summary: Russia intensifies offensive in Donetsk – Putin assures Scholz gas payments in euros

Russian forces appear to be focusing their attacks on eastern Ukraine. Contrary to what was announced yesterday, Northern Chernihiv is probably still under fire. Meanwhile, Chancellor Scholz is on the phone with Kremlin head Putin. And Germany is considering a role as a guarantor of security. The 35th day of the war at a glance.

Russia is escalating hostilities in eastern Ukraine

The Russian announcement to concentrate the war of aggression on the Donbas seems to be confirmed. According to the governor of the Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, there are widespread attacks. Almost all the cities along the dividing line separating the areas controlled by Ukrainian and pro-Russian separatists are under fire. According to the Russian army, the Russian army destroyed two ammunition depots in the city of Kamyanka.

On the Ukrainian side, it was rumored that Russia was moving troops from the north of the country to the east to encircle Ukrainian troops there. Some Russian soldiers remained close to the capital Kiev, Oleksiy Arestovych, an advisor to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said on TV. This should prevent Ukraine from moving troops east.

No relaxation in Chernihiv

The northern Chernihiv region is still under fire, according to its governor, despite Russia’s announcement that it will curtail military activities there. “Do we believe the announcement? Of course not,” wrote Wiatscheslav Tschau on Telegram. “The enemy shows the ‘reduced activity’ in the Chernihiv region with air strikes on Nizhyn and overnight on the (city of) Chernihiv.”

Acts of war also continue in other parts of the country. According to the governor, three industrial plants in Ukraine’s western Khmelnitskyi region were hit by Russian bombing. Serhii Hamalii did not disclose which ones exactly. Fires were discovered. It will be checked if there have been any casualties.

In Chernobyl, Ukraine fears further attacks. As a result, the ammunition could explode in the decommissioned nuclear power plant. A total of 64 military items in Ukraine were destroyed within 24 hours. Spokesman Igor Konashenkov also counted on Ukrainian special forces staff in the Mykolaiv region. Information about the fighting was not independently verifiable.

Russia offers ceasefire in Mariupol – kidnapping reports

The port city of Mariupol continues to be hotly contested. Russia has promised a ceasefire to evacuate civilians. “The Russian Armed Forces will declare a ceasefire on March 31 from 10:00 (9:00 CEST) solely for humanitarian purposes,” said Major General Mikhail Mizintsev. Civilians should therefore be able to flee first to Berdyansk in the west and then to Zaporizhia.

In addition, reports of kidnappings from the city to Russia are on the rise. “More than 70 people, including women and medical personnel, were forcibly removed by the occupants of the No. 2 maternity ward,” the municipal administration of the southern Ukrainian port city said on Telegram.

Altogether, more than 20,000 Mariupol residents have already been brought to Russia “against their will”. The Russians took their documents and took them “to distant Russian cities,” the city administration said. Even this information cannot be independently verified, as Mariupol has been under siege since the end of February and communication is down.

Scholz and Putin on the phone – Moscow continues to accept euros for gas deliveries

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz have agreed on gas payments in a phone call. In the background was Russia’s announcement that it would soon accept only rubles and no more euros. The West rejects it. Putin would have assured over the phone that nothing would change for the European contractual partners. The Kremlin said the decision should not “lead to a worsening of contractual conditions for European importers of Russian gas”.

The Hebestreit government spokesman confirmed that it must be paid in rubles, but that Russia will continue to accept euros. Payments should therefore continue to be transferred exclusively in euros to Bank Gazprom, which is not affected by sanctions. “The bank then converts the money into rubles,” Hebestreit said, quoting the Russian head of state.

The phone call came at the request of Moscow. According to the Kremlin, Putin and Scholz also exchanged views on the negotiations between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations in Istanbul. The talks also discussed how to rescue civilians from disputed areas of Ukraine, including the port city of Mariupol.

The Kremlin sees no turning point in the negotiations

After yesterday’s negotiations in Istanbul with Ukrainian delegates, the Russian negotiators initially spoke positively. The West then reacted with skepticism. Now Moscow is adopting more sober tones. “At the moment we cannot report anything very promising or turning point,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. However, he called it “positive” that the Ukrainian side “has finally started to formulate its proposals in concrete terms and put them in writing”.

Germany is ready to act as a guarantor of security

One of the pre-requisites formulated for a peace agreement is that the international community guarantees the security of Ukraine. Germany has announced that it is prepared in principle to assume this role of guarantor together with other countries.

Ukrainian President Selenskyj asked Chancellor Olaf Scholz in several phone calls whether Germany would be willing to participate in international security guarantees for his country – “and the Chancellor has signaled a general will,” government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said. The prerequisite is a corresponding peace agreement between Ukraine and Russia. The goal must be “that Ukraine feels safe, that it will no longer be attacked by Russia,” Hebestreit said.

The federal government prepares the delivery of new weapons

Further military support for Ukraine is likely to come soon from Germany. According to a media report, it is an armaments package worth around 300 million euros. It should only be weapons and equipment that the industry can supply at short notice. The material of the actions of the Bundeswehr is not among them. According to the information, there are in particular around 200 different products. These include 2,650 Matador-type rocket-propelled grenades and 18 reconnaissance drones. Both could be delivered immediately.

Britain should also want to launch a full package. A Times report quoted Prime Minister Boris Johnson apparently considering the supply of “more lethal weapons”. In a cabinet meeting, the prime minister reportedly spoke about such deliveries and warned that Russian President Putin could become “more unpredictable and vengeful” in the future. “The Ukrainian army not only retains control of the larger cities, but is even forcing the Russians to withdraw. Our support must change with that,” he said.

Data on the consequences of sanctions have been published

For the first time since the start of the war in Ukraine, the federal government has also published a summary of the consequences of the sanctions in Germany. According to this, the punitive measures against Russia have so far frozen around 95.5 million euros of funds in this country. The Federal Ministry of Finance did not want to publish information on the “total number of people, organizations and institutions” affected by the sanctions or an individual list of those who have been sanctioned.

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