Ukraine war stage-1 over, focus to now shift, says Russia: 10 points
Ukraine war: About 300 people were left dead in the March 16 attack on an iconic theatre in the port city of Mariupol by Russia, Kyiv has said
A month after launching a surprise offensive in Ukraine, Russia on Friday announced a surprise shift in strategy, stressing that it would now be focusing on the rebel-dominated Donbas region. "The main objectives of the first stage of the operation have generally been accomplished. The combat potential of the armed forces of Ukraine has been considerably reduced, which...makes it possible to focus our core efforts on achieving the main goal, the liberation of the Donbas," Sergei Rudskoi, the deputy chief of the Russian armed forces' General Staff, was quoted as saying in reports. While the Kremlin has defined the last few weeks of relentless bombing on major cities, including Mariupol, and advance on capital city of Kyiv, as the first phase of war, there is speculation that Moscow's forces have been largely stalled due to the resistance offered in the conflict-hit country, which prompted the declaration of new goals.
Here are top updates a month into the Ukraine war:
1. In his daily nightly address, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy yet again sent out a fresh appeal to the Kremlin, more so his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin - “The territorial integrity of Ukraine should be guaranteed. That is, the conditions must be fair, for the Ukrainian people will not accept them otherwise.”
2. With the latest remarks of the top defence official, Moscow has yet again brought back the focus on its unclear objective of attacking Ukraine. Putin had earlier said he aimed to "demilitarize" and "denazify" the country. But now "liberation" of Donbas has been announced as the goal.
3. About 300 people were left dead in the March 16 attack on an iconic theatre in the port city of Mariupol by Russia, Kyiv has said. More than 1,300 people had taken refuge in the theatre as the port city saw relentless shelling in the last few weeks. The March 16 strike has been one of the deadliest Ukraine has seen in a month of war.
4. In a fresh move to increase global pressure on Moscow, the United States and the European Union announced a new deal to reduce the reliance on Russian energy, multiple reports said.
5. Putin on Friday cleared another law that says people found guilty of spreading fake news about the work of officials abroad, reports said. Earlier this month, the Russian president had approved a law linked to crackdown on media groups over fake news - it was met by boycott from international networks, including the BBC and CNN. '
6. A month into the war, more than 3.7 million people have been displaced from their homes. The UNICEF says at least half of the children have been affected.
7. Stressing that the Kremlin has been riddled with old methods of warfare, Brigadier General Kyrylo Budanov also told US publication The Nation: "We have large Russian forces on our territory, and they have encircled the cities of Ukraine. As for the prospects of peace, despite the negotiations, they still remain vague and unpredictable."
8. US president Joe Biden on Friday thanked Poland, which has taken in more than 2 milion refugees from the war-torn Ukraine.
9. According to the UK's ministry of defence, cities on northern, western and southern border in Ukraine have been facing Russia's offensive.
10. Russia has been accused of multiple war crimes since the start of the war four weeks ago. It has been, however, denying all claims.
(With inputs from AP, AFP, Reuters)