Russian President Vladimir Putin today told Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi that European natural gas purchases from Russia could be made in euros, reinforcing German reports of some softening at the Kremlin position, which previously required energy payments in rubles only.
“Putin has said that all current contracts will remain in place,” Draghi announced in Rome today.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has announced that it is on its way to the besieged Mariupol with humanitarian aid and will arrive in the city this coming Friday. Teams from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will arrive in the city to provide urgent medical care to the city’s citizens who are under siege from the second week of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The organization announced that the teams are ready to evacuate civilians from the city as much as possible.
Yuan Watson, a Red Cross spokesman, said Ukraine and Russia should decide on exact and identical conditions for the city’s rescue operation, scheduled for next Friday, adding that the lives of tens of thousands of people depend on the success of the operation.
“For logistical and security reasons, we will be prepared to lead the safe passage operation tomorrow, subject to all parties agreeing on exactly the same conditions, including the evacuation route, start time and length of the operation,” said Watson of the organization’s headquarters in Geneva.
Earlier, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Varchuk said that the Ukrainian government plans to send to Mariup a convoy of 45 buses from the city of Zaporizhia that will make a 220-kilometer journey to the city. At least 17 buses have already begun their journey, according to the Prime Minister’s Office Ukraine.
Russia and Ukraine will resume peace talks tomorrow and hold them online. The Guardian reports that a senior Ukrainian official has said Putin and Zlansky may meet soon, but the Kremlin is lowering expectations regarding a breakthrough. As you may recall, Zelsky said last night that “right now there are only words, nothing concrete.”
Jeremy Fleming, head of the British intelligence agency GCHQ (UK government communications headquarters), said last night (Wednesday) that there is new intelligence information showing that a number of Russian soldiers stationed in Ukraine sabotaged their equipment and even accidentally shot down one of their planes, Reuters reports.
“We have seen Russian soldiers lacking weapons and morale – they refuse to carry out orders, terrorize their equipment and have even accidentally shot down their aircraft,” Fleming said in a speech in Australia. “Putin completely misjudged the situation. We believe his advisers are afraid to tell him the truth,” he said.
The GCHQ intelligence agency intercepts broadcasts from around the world to identify and disrupt threats to the UK, and has close links with the US National Security Agency and other agencies in Australia, Canada and New Zealand – all five-eyed intelligence allies and sharing signal intelligence. In 2017, it was announced that Israel is an observer society in the Alliance.
Russia’s Defense Ministry says its armed forces are professional and are performing their duty in Ukraine with great success. According to the ministry, the West is spreading lies against the operation in an attempt to overthrow Russia.
At the same time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zlansky released a video tonight in which he said that nothing “concrete” came out of the peace talks with Russia: “Yes, there is a process of negotiations, but so far these are just words – nothing concrete.”
According to Zalansky, any withdrawal from the Kyiv region stemmed from the Ukrainian opposition: “We know that this is not a withdrawal, but the consequences of the work of our defenders.