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No Putin-Zelensky meeting, says Kremlin

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Since launching its offensive on February 24, Russia has gained control over large parts of Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline.

Russia: Almost 350,000 people are trapped without water and electricity in the southern city of Mariupol, which has been bombarded by Russian troops for almost a month in what EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell described as a “massive war crime”.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Europe to significantly dial up pressure on Moscow to halt its invasion, saying the continent must cease all trade with Russia. “No euros for the occupiers. Close all of your ports to them.

The Kremlin said there was still no basis for possible talks between President Vladimir Putin and Zelensky and that significant progress needed to be made first. The Kremlin’s military command had warned authorities in Mariupol had until “5am… on March 21” to respond to eight pages of demands, which Ukrainian officials said would amount to a capitulation.

Meanwhile, Several hundred mines have drifted into the Black Sea after breaking off from cables near Ukrainian ports, Russia’s main intelligence agency and shipping market participants said.

The Black Sea is a major shipping artery for grain, oil and oil products. “Due to storm weather, the cables connecting the mines to anchors were broken,” Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, said in a press release dated March 19.”Due to wind and water currents, the mines are drifting freely in the western part of the Black Sea,” the FSB said.The FSB said about 420 mines had broken lose.

Novorossiisk Port Authority, in a note seen by Reuters, said that shipping was at risk in the western Black Sea. Shipping sources said Turkish authorities had cautioned about the risk for those using the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits.

Meanwhile, any deal agreed in peace negotiations with Russia will be submitted to a referendum in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky told a regional Ukrainian public media outlet Monday.

“I explained it to all the negotiating groups: when you speak of all these changes (in a future accord) and they can be historic… we will come back to a referendum,” Zelensky told Suspilne, an internet news site.

“The people will have to weigh in on certain kinds of compromise,” Zelensky said, adding that what the compromises cover are part of the talks with Russia. Zelensky spoke at length about the key question of whether Ukraine should never join NATO, as he recently conceded.


Wednesday, March 23, 2022 – 01:00

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