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Russia-Ukraine war military dispatch: March 13, 2022 | Russia-Ukraine war News

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Russian air strikes have hit a Ukrainian military training base outside the western city of Lviv near the Polish border, leaving many people dead and wounded – although there was significant discrepancy in the figures provided by Ukraine and Russia.

Ukrainian officials said there had been an increase in civilian evacuations from cities under Russian bombardment on Sunday and that a relief convoy was attempting to enter the besieged city of Mariupol.

Russian troops cracked down on protesters in the Russian-controlled southern city of Kherson, and a US journalist was killed by Russian troops near Kyiv.

Here were the main military developments on Sunday – the 18th day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Military base attack

Lviv’s governor said at least 35 people were killed and 134 others wounded as more than 30 cruise missiles from Russia hit the Yavoriv military training facility, also known as the International Peacekeeping and Security Center.

However, Russia’s Defence Ministry Spokesperson Igor Konashenkov has said the strikes had killed “up to 180 foreign mercenaries” and destroyed a large amount of weapons supplied by foreign nations.

The facility served as a crucial hub for cooperation between Ukraine and the NATO countries supporting Ukraine’s defence against Russia’s invasion. It was the most western attack since Russia launched its military campaign in Ukraine on February 24.

The international airport in Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine was also hit by a missile, according to the city’s mayor.

Smoke rises amid damaged buildings following an attack on the Yavoriv military base.
Smoke rises amid damaged buildings following an attack on the Yavoriv military base [@BackAndAlive/via Reuters]

Death toll rises in Mariupol

The city council of the besieged southern port Mariupol has said 2,187 residents have been killed since the start of Russia’s invasion.

The council said in a statement on Sunday that Russia has dropped more than 100 bombs on Mariupol, with 22 bombings in the last 24 hours.

Evacuations increase

Ukraine was able to evacuate more than 5,550 people from front line cities on Sunday via nine humanitarian corridors, deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said a total of nearly 125,000 civilians had been evacuated through safe-passage corridors so far, and that a convoy with humanitarian aid – including food, water, and medicine – for Mariupol is close to the city.

The city council said the situation in Mariupol is dire as it is running out of its last reserves of food and water, and Russian forces blockading the city continue to shell non-military targets.

As fighting increases in the eastern Donetsk region, new evacuation routes are being opened for civilians a Ukrainian presidency spokesperson said.

The head of Luhansk regional administration, Serhiy Haidai, said there had been massive shelling of several towns, including Kreminna and Rubizhne, which had prevented buses from leaving with civilians.

A woman cries as she hugs her child in a corridor of a hospital in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine.
Anastasia Erashova cries as she hugs her child in a corridor of a hospital in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine [Evgeniy Maloletka/AP Photo]

Journalist killed near Kyiv

US journalist Brent Renaud was killed in Irpin, about 10km (6 miles) northwest of the capital, when Russian troops opened fire on the car he was travelling in, the Kyiv police force said in a statement. A journalist travelling with him was injured and taken to hospital in Kyiv.

Irpin has been shelled by Russian forces for days, and the mayor has ordered journalists not to enter the city due to the danger of attacks.

Fighting continued to rage in the Kyiv suburbs as Russian forces advanced. The Ukrainian president’s office said that only roads to the south remain open.

Russia consolidates control in southern Ukraine

Russia continues to occupy three major Ukrainian cities in the south of the country – Kherson, Melitopol, and Berdyansk.

All of them have seen daily demonstrations against Russian forces, prompting the Russian military administration to take tough measures and ban protests.

Russian troops fired warning shots on Sunday at protesters in Kherson, which was seized by the Russian army earlier in March, a local broadcaster reported.

Nine people have been killed in a Russian bombardment near Mykolaiv, near the strategic port of Odesa in southern Ukraine, the regional governor said.

Ukrainian official accuses Russia of using phosphorus munitions

Ukraine’s human rights ombudswoman shared photos purporting to show that Russia used banned phosphorus munitions in an overnight attack on the town of Popasna in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region. The claims could not be independently verified.

“The bombing of a civilian city by the Russian attackers with these weapons is a war crime and a crime against humanity according to the Rome convention,” Lyudmila Denisova said.



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Is a new strategy needed to fight armed groups in the Sahel? | Conflict

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Video Duration 24 minutes 45 seconds

From: Inside Story

Mali pulls out of the regional G5 Sahel force, blaming a lack of progress and disagreements.

A founding member of a multinational West African security alliance is pulling out.

Mali is withdrawing from the G5 Sahel joint force fighting armed groups linked to ISIL (ISIS) and al-Qaeda.

The military government blamed a lack of progress and internal divisions.

It also accused a country outside of the region of trying to isolate Mali, without providing details.

With France, Germany and the European Union reducing their involvement in Mali, who’ll be left to look after security in West Africa?

Presenter: Mohammed Jamjoom

Guests:

Niankoro Yeah Samake – Malian politician and president of the Party for Civic and Patriotic Action

Emmanuel Kwesi Aning – Director of research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre

Jacques Reland – Senior research fellow at the Global Policy Institute



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European energy giants set to keep buying Russian gas | Oil and Gas News

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The European Union’s guidelines appear to allow the continent’s energy giants to keep buying Russian gas without breaching sanctions.

By Bloomberg

European energy giants are pressing ahead with plans to keep buying Russian gas as the European Union’s guidelines appeared to allow them to do so without breaching sanctions.

Even as conflicting messages continued to emerge from Brussels over the legality of complying with Moscow’s demands to pay for gas in rubles, Italy’s Eni SpA said it was opening a ruble account to keep the gas flowing.

It’s the clearest sign yet that the biggest European importers of Russian gas are counting on business as usual. Germany’s Uniper SE and Austria’s OMV AG also expect to find a way to keep buying.

Moscow’s demand on March 31 that gas payments should now be made in rubles threw markets and policy makers into disarray and companies have been scrabbling ever since for a way to keep the crucial energy flowing without breaching sanctions aimed at weakening Russia in its war in Ukraine. The move has divided the bloc, with Poland and Bulgaria quick to reject Moscow’s demands — and have their gas cut off as punishment.

Share of natural gas imports coming from Russia, 2020 |

The bloc has issued two sets of guidance on the matter so far, both of which allow room for interpretation. There’s still nothing in writing from the Commission that explicitly stops companies from paying Gazprom PJSC in a way that the Russian company has indicated would be satisfactory.

Gas prices fell on Monday as the latest Brussels missive to member states stopped short of banning companies from opening bank accounts in rubles. Then on Tuesday, European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said that opening an account in rubles would go beyond the recommendations and constitute a breach of sanctions. Gas prices rose, before easing back again after Eni said it was pressing ahead.

“Anything that goes beyond opening an account in the currency of the contract with Gazprombank and making a payment to that account and then issuing a statement saying that with that you consider you have finalized the payment contravenes the sanctions,” Mamer said.

The issue has divided the bloc, with Poland outraged at the EU’s reluctance to set out clear red lines. In the opposite camp, Prime Minister Mario Draghi went as far as to say that it was a gray area when it came to sanctions. And enforcing sanctions is a matter for member states, rather than the bloc.

“There is no official pronouncement of what it means to breach sanctions,” he said. “Nobody has ever said anything about whether ruble payment breach sanctions.”

(releads)

–With assistance from Vanessa Dezem, Jonathan Tirone, Alberto Nardelli and Jerrold Colten.



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EU set to approve new military aid for Ukraine | Russia-Ukraine war News

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Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell says bloc set to approve another 500 million euros ($527m) in military aid for Ukraine.

European Union defence ministers are set to approve another 500 million euros ($527m) in military aid for Ukraine, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said.

“We have to continue to support the Ukrainians with arms, that’s why we will pull 500 million euros more” from the European Peace Facility, Borrell told reporters on Tuesday on the way to the meeting of EU defence ministers.

The new tranche of military support would bring the bloc’s military aid to 2 billion euros ($2.1bn).

Borrell also expressed support for Finland and Sweden’s requests to join NATO and hoped the alliance would be able to overcome Turkey’s objection to the bids.

According to Borrell, the two countries will “receive strong support from all member states because it increases our unity and makes us stronger”.

German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht and her Luxembourg counterpart Francois Bausch argued both countries belonged in NATO “because of the values that they are defending”.

Sweden has signed a formal request to join NATO, a day after the country announced it would seek membership in the 30-member military alliance.

Legislators in Finland have formally approved Finnish leaders’ decision to join as well.

The moves by the two Nordic countries, ending Sweden’s more than 200 years of military non-alignment and Finland’s non-alignment after World War II, have provoked the ire of the Kremlin.

While most NATO members are keen to welcome the two countries as quickly as possible, Turkey has potentially complicated their accession by saying it cannot allow them to become members because of their perceived inaction against exiled Kurdish fighters.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday doubled down on comments last week indicating that the two Nordic countries’ path to NATO would be anything but smooth.

He accused the two Nordic countries of refusing to extradite “terrorists” wanted by his country.

“Turkey has opposition to this. Turkey says that the two harbour terrorism, that they have supporters of the PKK and the Kurdish nationalists living in their countries. This is something that throughout the week is going to be a big issue,” Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor James Bays reported from Brussels.

“We understand that the Turkish foreign minister and the US secretary of state are going to meet in New York in the coming days but how can this issue be overcome?”

Turkey is a NATO member. All 30 NATO countries must agree to open the door to new members.

Sanctions against Russia stalled

The EU has been unable to agree on its sixth package of sanctions against Russia – which includes asset freezes and travel bans on prominent supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The plan outlined earlier this month by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen included an embargo on Russian oil imports to come into effect at the end of 2022.

The sanctions against Russia target individuals including Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as well as banning the export of luxury goods, and coal imports, and excluding Russian and Belarusian banks from using the SWIFT international payment system.

However, Hungary, which is nearly completely dependent on Russian oil, is holding up an EU-wide embargo that requires unanimity from the 27 member states.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has likened the oil embargo to an atomic bomb hitting his country’s economy.



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