Russian leader Vladimir Putin (R) with Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko (File)
Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1040 GMT:
Russian attacks have killed three more civilians and wounded two in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine.
UPDATE 0901 GMT:
UK military intelligence assesses that Russia has lost at least six Zoopark-1M counter-battery radar and will struggle to replace them because of international sanctions on supplies of high-tech electronics.
Counter-battery radars are significant in the Russian invasion because they enable forces to quickly locate and strike enemy artillery.
The British analysts say Russia “likely only has a very limited number left in Ukraine”.
UPDATE 0852 GMT:
The International Monetary Fund’s Executive Board has approved a 4-year, $15.6 billion loan program for Ukraine.
About $2.7 billion will be immediately disbursed under the Extended Fund Facility, with Ukraine committing to wide-ranging changes, including in the energy sector.
The funding is part of a global $115 billion package of economic support, alongside $80 billions in pledges for grants and concessionary loans from multilateral institutions and other countries, and $20 billion in debt relief commitments.
The IMF provided $1.4 billion in emergency financing in March 2022, just after Vladimir Putin’s invasino. It committed another $1.3 billion in a “food shock window” program in October.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy tweeted:
I'm thankful to the IMF and @KGeorgieva for approving a new four-year support program for Ukraine for the total of $15.6 billion. It is an important help in our fight against Russian aggression. Together we support the 🇺🇦 economy. And we are moving forward to victory!
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 31, 2023
UPDATE 0802 GMT:
Footage of Friday’s ceremony in Bucha, near Kyiv, marking the anniversary of the liberation of the town and remembering the victims of the 33-day Russian occupation….
UPDATE 0737 GMT:
Russian shelling killed two civilians, including a baby boy, and injured two in Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine on Friday.
Having been checked in their 10-month assault on Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, Russian forces have reportedly shifted their focus to Avdiivka, about 90 km (56 miles) to the south.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: In a rare show of disagreement, Russia has knocked back neighboring Belarus — one of its few allies in Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine — over negotiations to end the war.
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko used an address to the nation on Friday to suggest a ceasefire with discussions “as soon as possible” to halt the invasion. He offered to mediate the talks.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Vladimir Putin and Lukasheko may discuss the proposal for a truce. However, he said Russian forces will continue to carry out “the special military operation” in Ukraine, emphasizing that Russian assaults are the only way to achieve Moscow’s goals.
Lukashenko paid lip service to Putin’s declaration last week that Russia will deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. He used the pretext of a Western “hybrid war” against Minsk as well as Moscow.
However, the Belarusian leader tried to maintain some authority and leverage by portraying his country as an equal partner of Russia, stressing ”sovereignty and independence”. He said no one should be concerned that Russia ”captured something” in Belarus, maintaining that Russian troops training in the country are “subordinated to Belarusian forces”.
Russian forces used Belarus as a launch area for the February 2022 invasion, and continue to rely on bases in the country for training and positioning of troops and weapons. However, Lukashenko has held out against any involvement of his military in the “special military operation”.