Russia Ukraine war – latest news: Putin will keep pushing ‘if he smells blood’, warns Zelensky


Russia’s Medvedev issues new nuclear threat

Vladimir Putin will keep Russia on the offensive in Ukraine if he senses weakness from Kyiv, Volodymyr Zelensky has warned.

“If he will feel some blood – smell that we are weak – he will push, push, push,” the Ukrainian president told the Associated Press.

He added that if the fortress city of Bakhmut fell to Russian forces, Mr Putin would “sell this victory to the West, to his society, to China, to Iran”.

Mr Zelensky said he has invited the Chinese president Xi Jinping, a long-term Russian ally, to visit the battered country.

It comes as the first British tanks reached Ukraine, with the Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov pictured giving the UK a thumbs up as he took a ride in what he said was the first Challenger 2 main battle tank received from the British army.

Mr Reznikov wrote on Twitter that the tanks had “recently arrived in our country” and posted a video that showed him sitting in one of a long line of tanks in an open field, all of them flying Ukraine’s yellow and blue flag.


Putin will ‘push, push, push’ if he smells Ukraine is weak, says Zelensky

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that unless his nation wins a drawn-out battle in a key eastern city, Russia could gather international support for a deal that could require Ukraine to make unacceptable compromises.

If Bakhmut fell to Russian forces, Vladimir Putin would “sell this victory to the West, to his society, to China, to Iran,” Zelensky said.

He added: “If he will feel some blood — smell that we are weak — he will push, push, push.”

He also invited the leader of China, long aligned with Russia, to visit Ukraine.

Read the full story here:

Arpan Rai29 March 2023 06:28


Sweden summons Russian envoy over ‘retaliation’ remark

Sweden’s Foreign ministry on Wednesday summoned the Russian ambassador after Moscow’s diplomatic mission to Stockholm posted on its website that the Scandinavian country would become a “legitimate target for Russia‘s retaliatory measures” if it joins NATO.

Foreign Minister Tobias Billström decried what he called an “obvious attempt at influence.”

Billström told Swedish news agency TT that the country’s security policy is determined by its government and no one else.

It’s unclear when the Russian ambassador will appear at the Foreign Ministry.

In May, Sweden and neighboring Finland angered Moscow after jointly applying for NATO membership, abandoning decades of non-alignment in the wake of Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Sweden’s bid has stalled due to opposition from Turkey whose president has said his country wouldn’t ratify membership before disputes between Ankara and Stockholm are resolved.

The Turkish government has accused Sweden of being too soft on groups that it deems to be terror organizations.

Moreover, Hungary’s parliament has yet to ratify Sweden’s NATO membership bid and it remains unclear when it will do so.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain29 March 2023 11:14


Russia starts exercises with Yars intercontinental ballistic missiles

Russia has begun exercises with its Yars intercontinental ballistic missile system and several thousand troops, its defence ministry said on Wednesday, 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.

The drills involve the Strategic Missile Forces comprehensive control checking of the Omsk missile formation together with a command and staff exercise with the Novosibirsk missile formation equipped with the Yars systems.

During the exercises, the Yars mobile systems will conduct manoeuvres in three Russian regions, the ministry said, without identifying the regions.

“Also, strategic missilemen will carry out a set of measures to camouflage and counter modern aerial reconnaissance means in cooperation with formations and units of the Central Military District and the Aerospace Forces.”

There are few confirmed tactical and technical characteristics of the Yars mobile intercontinental ballistic missile systems, which reportedly have an operational range of 12,000 km (7,500 miles).

According to military bloggers, the systems are able to carry multiple independently targetable nuclear warheads and can be mounted on a truck carriers or deployed in silos.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain29 March 2023 10:30


Hungary says ‘grievances’ hold up ratification of Sweden’s NATO accession

Hungary is holding up Sweden’s admission to NATO because of grievances over criticism by Stockholm of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s policies, the Hungarian government spokesman said on Wednesday.

Bridging the gap will require effort on both sides, spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said.

Sweden and its neighbour Finland asked to join the NATO military alliance last year following Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine. But the process has been held up by Hungary and Turkey.

After months of foot-dragging by Orban’s ruling Fidesz party, Hungary’s parliament approved a bill on Monday to allow Finland to join NATO but the Swedish bill is still stranded.

“In the case of Sweden, there is an ample amount of grievances that need to be addressed before the country’s admission is ratified,” Kovacs said on his blog.

Hungary’s PM Victor Orban


Swedish representatives “have been repeatedly keen to bash Hungary through diplomatic means, using their political influence to harm Hungarian interests”, he said, referring to Swedish criticism over the erosion of rule of law by Orban’s government in the past 13 years. Orban denies these allegations.

He said Stockholm had taken a “hostile attitude” to Budapest for years.

“Adding Ankara’s woes and grievances to the mix does not leave much room to manoeuvre, at least not until the Swedes start changing their tune and help these lingering wounds heal,” Kovacs said.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said last week that Turkey’s parliament would also start ratifying Finland’s accession. But it held off approving Sweden’s bid, accusing it of harbouring Kurdish militants.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain29 March 2023 10:00


Russia’s Patrushev says Moscow is committed to preventing nuclear war

Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said on Wednesday that Moscow is committed to preventing nuclear war and military confrontation between nuclear-armed states, the TASS news agency reported.

It comes after his earlier comments where he said Russia “has modern unique weapons capable of destroying any adversary, including the United States, in the event of a threat to its existence”.

(Getty Images)

Maryam Zakir-Hussain29 March 2023 09:30


UN nuclear boss heads to Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog set off on Wednesday for Russian-occupied southeastern Ukraine to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station for the second time since Moscow’s forces invaded last year.

Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, says he is travelling to Europe’s largest nuclear power station to review the situation there as part of a push to reduce the risk of a major accident.

Moscow and Kyiv have repeatedly accused each other of shelling the site of the power station over the last year. Grossi has pushing for a safety agreement between Ukraine and Russia to protect the facility.

An IAEA spokesperson confirmed Grossi was on his way to the plant. He said Grossi was in the Zaporizhzhia region, but declined to say where. He shared a photograph of Grossi standing in body armour by an armoured U.N. car on the side of a road.

Grossi told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro that his attempt to broker a deal to protect the nuclear plant was still alive, and that he was adjusting the proposals to seek a breakthrough.

Grossi, who met President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday, described the situation at the plant as “very dangerous” and very unstable.

The IAEA has had its own monitors stationed at the Zaporizhzhia plant since last year, when Grossi travelled to the facility and fears were mounting of the possibility for a nuclear accident.

Rafael Grossi with Volodymyr Zelensky


Maryam Zakir-Hussain29 March 2023 08:59


Ukrainian forces shell Russian-occupied Melitopol – Russian media

Ukrainian forces have shelled the Russian-controlled Ukrainian city of Melitopol, south of the Zaporizhzhia region, and Russian media reported on Wednesday that as a result, the city’s power supply had been cut.

Ivan Fedorov, the exiled mayor of Melitopol, which has been occupied by Russian forces since March last year, said on the Telegram messaging app that several explosions had gone off in the city.

Russia‘s state TASS news agency, citing Moscow-installed officials in the area, said Ukrainian shelling had damaged the city’s power supply system and knocked out electricity in the city and some nearby villages.

TASS also reported that a locomotive depot was destroyed but according to initial information, there were no casualties.

Melitopol is some 120 km (74 miles) southeast of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is expected to visit the plant later on Wednesday.


Maryam Zakir-Hussain29 March 2023 08:30


Zelensky invites Xi to visit Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has extended an invitation to Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

“We are ready to see him here,” Zelensky told the news agency in an interview.

Xi has not talked to Zelensky since Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine in February last year but China published a 12-point plan for “a political resolution of the Ukraine crisis” last month.

Xi discussed the conflict with his “dear friend”, Russian President Vladimir Putin, while on a state visit to Moscow last week, although the talks did not show progress on how to end the war.

China’s proposal includes a call for a de-escalation and eventual ceasefire in Ukraine.

But the United States has been dismissive of the proposal, given that China has declined to condemn Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

The United States says a ceasefire now would lock in Russian territorial gains and give Putin’s army more time to regroup.

Ukraine has welcomed China’s diplomatic involvement but Zelensky has said he will only consider peace settlements after Russian troops leave Ukrainian territory.

(Getty Images)

Maryam Zakir-Hussain29 March 2023 08:00


What is happening on the frontline?

Here is the latest from the battlefield:

* Russian forces are moving forward in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut despite fierce resistance and have almost taken full control of a metals plant there, the Russian-installed leader in the region said.

* Russian forces trying to encircle the town of Avdiivka in recent days have made only marginal gains despite heavy losses in armoured vehicles, including a tank regiment that has likely lost a large proportion of its tanks, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain29 March 2023 07:40


What are tactical nuclear weapons?

Tactical nuclear weapons are intended to destroy enemy troops and weapons on the battlefield. They have a relatively short range and a much lower yield than nuclear warheads fitted to long-range strategic missiles that are capable of obliterating whole cities.

Unlike the strategic weapons, which have been subject to arms control agreements between Moscow and Washington, the tactical weapons never have been limited by any such pacts, and Russia hasn’t released any numbers in its arsenal or other specifics related to them.

(Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

The U.S. government believes Russia has about 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons, which include bombs that can be carried by aircraft, warheads for short-range missiles and artillery rounds.

While strategic nuclear weapons are fitted to land- or submarine-based intercontinental ballistic missiles that are constantly ready for launch, tactical nuclear weapons are stored at a few tightly guarded storage facilities in Russia, and it takes time to deliver them to combat units.

Some Russian hawks long have urged the Kremlin to send a warning to the West by moving some tactical nuclear weapons closer to the aircraft and missiles intended to deliver them.

Martha Mchardy29 March 2023 07:00


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