Russian troops take control of Kherson in the Ukraine

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Russian troops with weapons captured from the Ukrainian army including Javelin anti-tank weapons

RUSSIA’S Defence Ministry said its troops have taken control of Ukraine’s southern region of Kherson as the Russian military campaign entered its 20th day.

‘The armed forces of the Russian Federation have taken full control of all the territory of Kherson region,’ the ministry’s spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, said at a briefing on Tuesday, without further elaboration.
The city of Kherson, the provincial capital of nearly 250,000 people, was the first key urban centre to be captured by Russian troops after Moscow launched a military campaign against Ukraine on February 24.
The spokesman also said that the Russian troops seized 10 American-made Javelin anti-tank missile systems and a number of other weapons provided to Ukraine by Western countries.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a ‘special military operation’ on February 24, aimed at the ‘demilitarisation’ of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, largely populated by ethnic Russians, in eastern Ukraine.
In 2014, the two regions – collectively known as the Donbass – declared themselves new republics, refusing to recognise Ukraine’s Western-backed government.
Several US officials claimed that Moscow had asked China for military equipment after it launched the operation in Ukraine. The claims have been denied by the Kremlin.
Beijing also rejected the claims on Tuesday, noting that Washington has been spreading ‘malicious disinformation’ that risked escalating the situation.
‘The US has repeatedly spread malicious disinformation against China on the Ukraine issue,’ the Chinese embassy in London said in a statement, noting that ‘China has been playing a constructive role in promoting peace talks.’
‘The top priority now is to ease the situation, instead of adding fuel to the fire, and work for diplomatic settlement rather than further escalate the situation,’ the statement added.
The Kremlin says Russia is capable of taking full control of major cities of Ukraine without external help.
Amid the US claims, the prime ministers of three member countries of the European Union headed to Ukraine to show support for the country on behalf of the bloc.
The premiers of the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovenia were travelling to Kiev by train on Tuesday.
Michal Dwoczyk, a top aide to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, said the trio had crossed the Polish-Ukraine border by train after 8 am (0700 GMT), adding that the idea of the trip was agreed at an EU leaders’ summit in France last week.
‘The purpose of the visit is to confirm the unequivocal support of the entire European Union for the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine,’ Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said in a statement also released by the Polish government.
The statement said that the visit also aims to ‘present a broad package of support for Ukraine and Ukrainians.’

  • Russia says it is capable of taking full control of major cities of Ukraine and possesses enough military might to achieve its planned objectives in the European country without external help, including from China.

‘The defence ministry of the Russian Federation, while ensuring the maximum safety of the civilian population, does not exclude the possibility of taking major population centres under full control,’ Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in a press conference on Monday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a ‘special military operation’ on February 24, aimed at the ‘demilitarisation’ of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, largely populated by ethnic Russians, in eastern Ukraine.
In 2014, the two regions – collectively known as the Donbass – declared themselves new republics, refusing to recognise Ukraine’s Western-backed government.
Announcing the operation, Putin said the mission was aimed at ‘defending people who for eight years are suffering persecution and genocide by the Kiev regime.’
Since the beginning of the operation, the United States and its European allies have described the offensive as Putin’s imperial-style land grab, saying it has so far been poorly executed because the Kremlin underestimated Ukrainian resistance and Western resolve to punish Russia with unprecedented waves of sanctions.
An American official even alleged that Russia had requested support from China – including military equipment – to press forward in its military operation in Ukraine.
The allegation, however, was rejected on Monday by Beijing, which denounced Washington for spreading ‘disinformation’ over China’s role in the conflict.
When asked whether the allegation was true, Peskov also said ‘No.’
He stressed that the Russian Federation has sufficient military might to achieve all of its objectives in the European country without any help from China.
‘Russia possesses its own independent potential to continue the operation. As we said, it is going according to plan and will be completed on time and in full,’ the Kremlin’s spokesman stressed.
The United States says China will face consequences if it helps Russia evade sanctions imposed by Washington and its allies in response to Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.
Peskov also said claims by Washington and the European Union (EU) that Putin was somehow disappointed with the progress of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine amounted to a provocation that aimed to prompt Russia to storm cities.
According to the Kremlin’s spokesman, the US has shown its complete disregard for human life with the bombing of Yugoslavia and its capital Belgrade in 1999, its wars in the Middle East, including Iraq, and the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
‘We don’t need advice from such strategists. All the plans of the Russian leadership will be achieved on time and in full,’ Peskov further said, stressing that at the start of the military operation, Putin clearly asked the defence ministry to avoid storming major cities such as Kiev because he thought Ukrainian units would use civilians as human shields.
Separately on Monday, Russia’s RIA news agency, citing a member of the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), reported that the delegation had suspended its participation in the European body and would no longer take part in meetings.

  • Diplomatic efforts to broker peace between the warring sides in Ukraine have gathered momentum with negotiators from Moscow and Kiev set to resume talks next Monday.

The developments come as the fourth round of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, held after both sides hailed progress in earlier rounds despite no considerable breakthrough, was held via video conference last Monday.
Kiev has already said it is willing to negotiate but has refused to surrender or accept any ultimatums.
Meanwhile, fighting rages in the Kiev suburbs as Russian forces make rapid advances toward the capital. Only roads to the south remain open and Kiev is preparing to mount a ‘relentless defence’, according to the Ukrainian president’s office.
Ukrainian presidential adviser and negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said ‘a hard negotiation between Moscow and Kiev has started.’
‘Political positions of two parties have actively explained but the ongoing communication is hard because of too different political systems,’ he said, tweeting a photo of the talks.
Earlier, Podolyak made the announcement, saying negotiations ‘go non-stop in the format of video conferences’.
His statement on Twitter corroborated an earlier statement issued by Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Russian presidency.
In a tweet late on Sunday, Podolyak said working groups are ‘constantly functioning’ and a ‘large number of issues require constant attention.’
‘On Monday, March 14, a negotiating session will be held to summarise the preliminary results,’ he wrote.
In another tweet, he took a jibe at Moscow, saying they had ‘turned to China for military help’, referring to Western media reports, while dismissing Kremlin’s military operation in Ukraine as a ‘failure’.
Meanwhile, a senior member of Russia’s negotiating team, Leonid Slutsky, believes that ‘important progress’ has been made in the earlier rounds of talks hosted on the border of neighbouring Belarus.
Slutsky says there is a possibility for the two sides to come up with draft peace agreements, the RIA news agency reported on Sunday.
He, however, did not clarify what matters of contention the potential agreements would cover.
‘If we compare the positions of both delegations at the start of the talks and now, we see significant progress,’ he told the network, according to Russian news agencies.
‘My own expectations are that this progress could develop over the next few days into a unified position held by both delegations in documents to be signed,’ agencies cited him as saying.
‘According to my personal expectations, this progress may grow in the coming days into a joint position of both delegations, into documents for signing,’ Slutsky said.
Negotiators from the two warring sides have held several rounds of talks since Russia launched the military operation in Ukraine last month.
Earlier this week, Turkey hosted a first meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers in an attempt to de-escalate tensions.
Zelensky last Saturday said Russia had adopted a ‘fundamentally different approach’ in the talks.Kiev has already said it is willing to negotiate but has refused to surrender or accept any ultimatums.
Meanwhile, fighting rages in the Kiev suburbs as Russian forces make rapid advances towards the capital. Only roads to the south remain open and Kiev is preparing to mount a ‘relentless defence’, according to the Ukrainian president’s office.