Ukraine-Russia morning briefing: Five developments as Russian general reportedly killed in storming of Mariupol

·3-min read
Mariupol is under siege from Russian forces - AP
Mariupol is under siege from Russian forces - AP

Good morning. Ukraine has said that there is possible room for compromise in talks with Russia, but is Vladimir Putin on the same page?

After delegations from Ukraine and Russia met on Tuesday via video link, Volodymyr Zelensky hinted on Wednesday morning that talks between the two sides were progressing.

Yet, Russia's massive bombardment of key cities continues, with large blasts hitting Kyiv this morning.

Here's what happened overnight – and you can follow the latest updates in our liveblog and listen to the latest episode of our daily Ukraine podcast here.

1. Reports of another Russian general killed

Ukrainian officials said a Russian general had been killed during the storming of Mariupol.

Maj Gen Oleg Mityaev, who commanded the 150th motorised rifle division, died on Tuesday, said the Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko.

There was no confirmation from Russia on the fourth reported death of a Russian general in Ukraine.

2. Zelensky hails ‘more realistic’ talks with Kremlin

Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, said on Wednesday that peace talks with Russia were sounding “more realistic” but more time was needed.

Officials in Kyiv have raised hopes that fighting could soon come to an end, saying Moscow might be coming to terms with its failure to impose a new government and running out of fresh troops.

Mr Zelensky said: “The meetings continue, and, I am informed, the positions during the negotiations already sound more realistic. But time is still needed for the decisions to be in the interests of Ukraine.”

However, a Russian statement painted a different picture. It said: "Vladimir Putin laid out his principled assessments of the ongoing talks between Russian and Ukrainian representatives on an agreement that would take into account Russia’s earlier demands. He stressed that Kiev is not showing a serious commitment to finding mutually acceptable solutions."

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Zelensky had suggested that Ukraine should accept it will never be able to join Nato, remarks that came close to meeting a demand issued by Vladimir Putin and that could be seen as a concession to Moscow as part of a peace agreement.

3. US Senate supports investigating Putin for war crimes

The US Senate has unanimously approved a resolution seeking investigations of Vladimir Putin and his regime for war crimes over the invasion of Ukraine.

The bipartisan measure from Senator Lindsey Graham said the Senate strongly condemned the "violence, war crimes. crimes against humanity" being carried out by Russian military forces under Putin's direction.

It encourages international criminal courts to investigate Putin, his security council and military leaders for possible war crimes.

It came as the UK's National Crime Agency and intelligence services began attempts to identify and freeze assets owned by the Russian president in Britain.

Read that full story here.

4. More than 122,000 households sign up for refugee scheme

More than 120,000 individuals and organisations have expressed an interest in taking in Ukrainian refugees, the Government has said.

According to the latest figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, 122,305 expressions of interest have been received by the Homes for Ukraine programme.

The response to the scheme, which encourages members of the public to throw open their homes to people fleeing the fighting in Ukraine, comes amid intense criticism of the Government's response to the refugee crisis.

A woman escapes from Mariupol on Tuesday with her cats - EPA
A woman escapes from Mariupol on Tuesday with her cats - EPA

5. Nato considers new plans to deter Russia

Nato is set to tell its military commanders on Wednesday to draw up plans for new ways to deter Russia, including more troops and missile defences in eastern Europe, officials and diplomats said.

Defence ministers will order the military advice at Nato headquarters, just over a week before allied leaders, including US President Joe Biden, gather in Brussels on March 24.

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