Day 33 of Putin's war. Three members of Russo-Ukrainian negotiations have suffered symptoms of chemical poisoning, Bellingcat says

28 March, 11:19 AM
Ukrainian soldiers near Kyiv (illustrative photo) (Photo:REUTERS/Marko Djurica)

Ukrainian soldiers near Kyiv (illustrative photo) (Photo:REUTERS/Marko Djurica)

Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine has been going on for more than a month. Today, March 28th, is the 33nd day of Putin's war. NV has been tracking main events of the day.

UPDATE(1846): Three members of the delegation, attending Russo-Ukrainian negotiations on March 3-4 suffered sypmtoms of chemical poisoning, Bellingcat has reported. WSJ has said Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich was one of them.  

"Three members of the negotiating team retreated to an apartment in Kyiv later that night and felt initial symptoms - including eye and skin inflammation and piercing pain in the eyes - later that night. The symptoms did not abate until the morning," Bellingcat has said in a Twitter statement.

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Previously Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has stated Abramovich, sanctioned by the EU and the U.S., had been trying to help Ukraine amid Russian invasion. Zelensky had been reportedly trying to ask the West to lift sanctions of the oligarch. 

Meanwhile Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine's Defense Ministry Military Intelligence Directorate, has said in an interview that Ukrainian intellligence has been getting information about Russia's plans in Ukraine from its sources in the Kremlin. 

Ukrainian lawmaker Rustem Umerov, who, Belligcat says, was also present during the negotiations that day, has refuted the information about him being poisoned.

"I’m fine. This is my response to all the yellow news spreading around, Umerov wrote.  "Please do not trust any unverified information. We have an informational war ongoing as well."

UPDATE (1730): The Ukrainian army has liberated Irpin, a town in Kyiv Oblast that had been a hotspot of heavy fighting, Irpin Mayor Oleksandr Markushyn has said in a Facebook statement.

However it is still not safe for residents to return to Irpin, the mayor added.

"Today, Irpin has been liberated, but a mopping up operation is underway,” the mayor said and thanked the military personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the territorial defense, the National Police and the Main Intelligence Directorate.

Meanwhile Russia has hinted that it might cut off gas supplies to Europe if the EU countries don't agree to pay for gas in rubles. Despite this blackmail, most of the EU countries have refused to do so. Their decision has been met with a lot of praise from Ukrainian government officials.

UPDATE (1550): The Russian military has fired more than 40 missiles against residential areas and social infrastructure in Kyiv Oblast, Kyiv Oblast Governor Oleksandr Pavliuk has said in a statement.

Pavliuk has also named the most dangerous areas of Kyiv Oblast:

Zhytomyr highway;

Bucha - Irpen - Hostomel;

Nemeshaevo;

Dmitrivska territorial community;

Makarivska territorial community;

North of the Vyshgorodsky district

Territories of some settlements of Baryshevskaya, Kalityanskaya, Velykodymerskaya communities.

UPDATE (1539): The main pro-Russian party in Ukraine, Opposition Platform for Life, has stopped its activity in Ukraine, Opposition Platform lawmaker Vadim Rabinovych has said in a statement.

“We have always talked about peace. The party was built as a party of peace. But now there is no peace. The party has been terminated. War changes everything. The world before Feb. 24 and after are two different worlds,” Rabinovych said.

Rabinovych left Ukraine on Feb. 3 for medical treatment in Israel.

UPDATE (1451): Russo-Ukrainian negotiations will be held on Tuesday, March 29, David Arakhamia, head of the Servant of the People political party and Ukrainian delegate during the negotiations told Interfax.ua news agency on March 28. 

"We are still on the road. Due to logistical difficulties, we will arrive quite late, probably very late," Arakhamia said.

"(The Russian delegation) also departed half an hour ago, will also arrive around 2100 today. So we've decided that we will start negotiations tomorrow at 1000, "Arahamiya added.

The delegations will meet in Istanbul.

UPDATE (1312): Russian forces have been trying to create a cordon around Kyiv and block main transport routes, Hanna Maliar, a deputy defense minister of Ukraine, said on Ukrainian television on March 28.

"It is very difficult for the Russians but we have to be honest: the enemy still has hope of capturing Kyiv, because capturing Kyiv is, in fact, capturing Ukraine, and this is their goal, ” Maliar added.

According to her, Ukrainian infantry, airborne assault troops, Special Operations Forces, and territorial defense forces have been involved into the operation to defend Kyiv today.

UPDATE (1235): Some 530 Russians soldiers are being killed in action in Ukraine every day, Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to the President's Office head, said in a Twitter statement on March 28.

According to him, this means Ukrainian forces are still highly motivated and the fighting all over Ukraine is still very intensive.

On March 28 Ukraine's Army General Staff reported that Russia has already lost 17,000 servicemen in Ukraine. Podolyak said he thought more weapons from the West could help Ukraine double Russian loses in this war.

UPDATE (1214): The State Emergency Service of Ukraine has denied reports made by several Ukrainian officials and media, including NV, that there are massive fires burning in Chornobyl Exclusion Zone.

"As of 0700 satellite data for March 28 show no massive fires in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone. Please don't spread false information," the SES statement reads.

Yesterday Ukrainian Ombudswoman Liudmyla Denisova said 10,000 hectares of forest are burning in the exclusion zone. Her statement was reported by dozens of Ukrainian media.

UPDATE (1125): Fighting near Kyiv has damaged both several high-power lines supplying power to neighborhoods in Kyiv's right bank, and has blocked a few pumping stations belonging to the city's water system, reports the Kyiv City Council.

Power has been cut off to approximately 87,000 residents in the neighborhoods of Borshchahivka, Vynohradar, Vitriani Hory and Pushcha-Vodytsya. Repair crews are awaiting permission from the Armed Forces to begin repair work.

Water supply in Kyiv has not been affected, says the municipal water regulator, but low pressure may be experienced as a result.

Meanwhile, supermarket chain ATB has announced that it will be reopening 29 stores in the country, 21 of which are located in the Kyiv metro area. 8 stores will reopen in Kharkiv. ATB says that it is monitoring the situation in the country, and is making all efforts to maximize supplies of food and basic necessities to all of its stores.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has announced that no humanitarian evacuation and aid delivery corridors will be opened in Ukraine today, due to possible false flag attacks that may be conducted by the Russians.

"Our intelligence services has reported the possibility of provocations from the occupiers' side on the humanitarian corridor routes, which is why, in the interests of safety, we are not opening humanitarian corridors for citizens today," she stated via Telegram messenger.

With the second month of Putin's war against Ukraine underway, the the Russian advance has practically stalled, while the Russians have "officially" stated that they would be focusing on the Donbas front of the war. However, evidence of this switch of focus has yet to surface.

Instead, yesterday, the Russians launched yet more missile attacks against western Ukraine, including the western Ukrainian city of Lutsk, where the missiles struck an oil depot. No casualties have yet been reported as a result.

As of the morning of 0900, Kyiv time, the following has occurred:

  • Overnight, pieces of an intercepted Russian missile crashed over the Darnytsia neighborhood of Kyiv, setting a garage attached to a residential house on fire. No casualties are reported, and the fire has been extinguished, according to the State Emergency Service.
  • At the U.S. Academy Awards film ceremony, popularly known as The Oscars, a minute of silence was observed in honor of sacrifices caused by Russian aggression against Ukraine. U.S. celebrities at the ceremony called for Ukraine to receive all the support it needs.
  • The Ukrainian Armed Forces successfully held off a Russian advance on Zaporizhzhya and is currently fighting off Russian attempts to break through Kyiv's defenses on two sides. In the past 24 hours, Ukraine's military has beaten back five attacks in the Donbas, and destroyed four enemy aircraft.

No serious changes in Russian deployments have been observed, in contrast to recent statements made by the Russian Ministry of Defense, noted the UK's Defense Ministry. Despite talk of a "phase two" of the Russian's invasion of Ukraine, Russian force disposition has not changed to match that narrative, UK intelligence data suggests. Russian military objectives continue to be hampered by poor logistics and successful Ukrainian counterattacks.

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