War in Ukraine: what to remember from Friday, March 18

Three weeks after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Moscow claims to have seen a “coming together” of positions in the negotiations with kyiv on the question of a neutral status for Ukraine, as well as progress on that of the demilitarization of the country.

“The subject of Ukraine’s neutral status and its non-membership of NATO is one of the key points of the negotiations, it is the point on which the parties have brought their positions as close as possible”, said the head of the Russian delegation to the talks with kyiv, Vladimir Medinsky, quoted by Russian agencies. However, he noted “shades” about the “security guarantees” claimed by Ukraine.

On the subject of demilitarization, the delegations are “half-way” an agreement on the issue, he assured. One of the members of the Ukrainian delegation, adviser to the presidency Mikhailo Podoliak, meanwhile said on Twitter that the “statements of the Russian side are only their demands to leave”.

Bombing near Lviv airport

Russian “missiles” on Friday destroyed an aeronautical factory in the airport district of Lviv, a large Ukrainian city near the Polish border, without causing any casualties, assured the mayor of the city Andriy Sadovy.

In Mariupol, “hundreds” of people still under the rubble

According to the city council of the besieged port of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine, the bombardment of a theater on Wednesday by Russian forces, according to kyiv, left at least one person seriously injured but no deaths at this stage. However, this assessment remains very provisional, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky having previously mentioned “hundreds” people still under the rubble. More than 130 people were saved.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Russian military and its separatist allies are now fighting in downtown Mariupol.

In three weeks, 6.5 million “internally displaced”

Between the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 and Wednesday, the UN has identified 6.48 million internally displaced people in Ukraine, according to a document (link in English) released on Friday, citing estimates from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

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According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (link in English), 3.2 million Ukrainians have fled their country since the start of the conflict.

New exchange between Macron and Putin

Emmanuel Macron spoke again by telephone with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Friday, after three weeks of Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“The President of the Republic returned to the deterioration of the situation in Ukraine, the continuation of strikes affecting civilians and the non-respect of humanitarian law, while the negotiations between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations have so far not produced progress”, said the Elysée. Emmanuel Macron “shared with President Putin his extreme concern over Mariupol, and again demanded the immediate observance of a ceasefire,” continued the presidency.

Meeting between Washington and Beijing

Joe Biden on Friday warned Xi Jinping against the “consequences” for China of aid to Russia, while the Chinese president has cultivated ambiguity, confining himself to believing that military conflicts are not “in nobody’s interest”.

The US President has “describes the implications and consequences of China providing material support to Russia as it carries out a brutal attack on Ukrainian towns and civilians”the White House said in a statement.

The meeting between the two leaders, eagerly awaited, lasted nearly two hours according to the White House.

Zelensky soon before the French Parliament

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will speak to French deputies and senators on Wednesday by videoconference.

“The war situation affecting the Ukrainian people concerns all the peoples of Europe, and their parliamentary assemblies”underlined the presidency of the National Assembly in a press release.

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