An abbreviated and easily digestible rundown of the day's most important events in Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Since the beginning of the invasion seven months ago, the Ukrainian people have fought valiantly to protect their homeland.
Explosions were heard at the Belbek airfield on the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula on Saturday evening. Locals are posting video footage on the web showing plumes of black smoke rising from a massive fire. A spokesman for the Russian occupation authorities in Sevastopol admitted that an "emergency" had arisen at Belbek airport. He claimed that a plane had run off the runway on landing and had caught fire. Explosions were also heard in the northern part of Sevastopol.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Saturday that Ankara would not ratify Finland's and Sweden's admission to NATO unless the two Nordic countries fulfilled their promises to the Turks. Erdogan said in an address to Parliament, "We will stick to our principles until the promises made to our country are kept."
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry condemns the illegal detention of Ihor Murashov, Director General of the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), reports pravda.com.ua. "This crime is another sign of terrorism on the part of Russia and a flagrant violation of international law. Russia must immediately release the Director General of the NPP. "We call on the international community, in particular the UN, the G7, and the IAEA, to take decisive action in this regard," the statement said.
Another 11 ships with grain have left Ukraine, pravda.com.ua reports.
A motorcade in which civilians were trying to leave the war zone was found shot up by Russian invaders in the Kupyansk region, Oleh Sinekhubov, head of the Kharkiv regional state administration, said on Saturday. According to initial reports, at least 20 people were killed by the invaders. Forensic experts have left the scene and an investigation has been launched.
Russian troop casualties in Ukraine have reached 59,610 by Saturday morning, according to the General Staff of the Ukrainian Army. Overnight, 530 intruders, 16 tanks, and six Russian drones were destroyed. Since the start of the re-invasion on February 24, the Russians have lost 2 354 tanks, 4 4949 armored personnel carriers, 1 397 guns, 336 multi-layer jets, 176 Zenit artillery pieces, 264 aircraft, 226 helicopters, 1 009 drones, 246 cruise missiles, 3 786 cars and tankers, 15 ships and speedboats, and 131 pieces of specialized equipment.
The Ukrainian army officially confirmed on Saturday that the siege of Liman is complete.
Ukraine's state-owned company Energoatom said on Saturday that Russian invaders had kidnapped Ihor Murashov, General Director of the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (NPP).
The Ukrainian army is likely to surround or take over Liman in the next 72 hours, the US Institute for the Study of War said Saturday morning.
Using air defense systems, the Ukrainian Air Force shot down a Russian Ka-52 Alligator helicopter in the skies over the Kherson region, the Ukrainian army's command "Yuzhny" said, according to pravda.com.ua.
On Friday, Russia vetoed a resolution in the UN Security Council (UNSC) condemning Russia's annexation of Ukrainian territory. The resolution, drafted by the US and Albania, was supported by 10 Security Council members. Only Russia voted against it, while four countries abstained—China, India, Brazil, and Gabon.
According to pravda.com.ua, citing the Pentagon, Iranian drones used by Russia are not as effective as believed.
Keys to Mexico's plan for peace in Ukraine
The President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, presented his proposal for the formation of a High-Level Caucus for Dialogue and Peace in Ukraine. During his intervention in the Security Council, and later in the general debate of the 77th General Assembly, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, formally presented Mexico's proposal.
Solution through diplomatic channels, of a ceasefire. "This requires political will from the parties and commitment from the international community," said Ebrard.
Creation of a security perimeter around the Zaporiyia plant.
Investigation of the complaints filed on alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Guarantee of access to fertilizers to global markets.
Formation of a Committee for Dialogue and Peace in Ukraine, with the participation of other heads of state and government, including, if possible, Narendra Modi of India and Pope Francis.
The Mexican government also stresses that given the direct involvement of a permanent member in the conflict (Russia), the Security Council has shown itself to be incapable of taking action, thus failing to fulfill its primary responsibility under the United Nations Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security.
"In the face of Security Council paralysis and building on General Assembly resolution A/RES/ES-11/1, Mexico and France also co-authored General Assembly resolution A/RES/ES-11/2, entitled 'Humanitarian consequences of the aggression against Ukraine,' adopted on March 24 with overwhelming support, this resolution 'strongly encourages the continuation of negotiations between all parties, and again urges the immediate peaceful resolution of the conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine through political dialogue, negotiations, mediation, and other peaceful means by international law'."
Seeking a High-Level Caucus for Dialogue and Peace
Mexico's proposal on the establishment of a High-Level Caucus for Dialogue and Peace in Ukraine seeks to advance Secretary-General Guterres' mediation efforts and would therefore operate under his leadership, in partnership with other heads of state and government. Given his high moral character, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pope Francis are expected to support Guterres in this effort.
The objective of this Caucus seeks to serve as a diplomatic channel to engage with both the Russian Federation and Ukraine, with a view to confidence-building measures, reduction of tensions, and negotiation of a ceasefire that could lead to a truce, thus opening a path for dialogue towards the ultimate goal of achieving a sustainable peace agreement.