Russia-Ukraine conflict: 331 Ukrainians killed since invasion; Putin says ready for talks if all demands are met

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Russian president Vladimir Putin on Friday told German chancellor Olaf Scholz that dialogue on Ukraine would be possible only if Russian demands are met, the Kremlin readout on a phone call between the two leaders said.

'These include the neutral and non-nuclear status of Ukraine, its 'denazification', recognition of Crimea as part of Russia and of the 'sovereignty' of separatist territories in eastern Ukraine," the Kremlin added.

Kyiv on Friday also said that it was planning to hold the third round of talks with Moscow this weekend.

The two sides held the first and second rounds of negotiations on 28 February and 3 March respectively.

Not bombing Ukrainian cities: Putin

Putin also denied that Russian troops were bombing Ukrainian cities, dismissing such information as 'fake'.

He told Scholz that reports about "the alleged ongoing air strikes of Kyiv and other large cities are gross propaganda fakes," the statement said.

Two children among seven killed in Russian shelling

A Russian airstrike on a rural residential area in Kyiv region killed at least seven people on Friday, including two children, Ukraine state police said in a statement

Police said the strike hit the village of Markhalivka, around 10 km from the southwestern outskirts of the capital.

Europe's third-largest nuclear power plant attacked

The Zaporizhzhia plant became the target of an overnight attack, raising concerns of a radiation leak.

Russian troops Friday seized the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe after a middle-of-the-night attack that set it on fire and briefly raised worldwide fears of a catastrophe in the most chilling turn in Moscow's invasion of Ukraine yet.

Firefighters put out the blaze, and no radiation was released, UN and Ukrainian officials said, as Russian forces pressed on with their week-old offensive on multiple fronts.

331 Ukrainians killed since invasion started: UN

The UN human rights office, in its latest count of casualties released Friday afternoon, said it had confirmed 331 people killed and 675 people injured since the beginning of the Russian invasion.

The rights office uses strict methodology and only reports casualties it has confirmed. It believes the real figures are much higher. Ukrainian officials have presented far higher numbers.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency reported Friday that more than 1.2 million people have left Ukraine since the fighting began.

Its data portal on Ukraine showed that the majority — about 650,000 — had gone to neighboring Poland, and roughly 145,000 had fled to Hungary. Another 103,000 were in Moldova and more than 90,000 in Slovakia.

NATO rejects Ukraine's no-fly zone demand

NATO allies rejected Ukraine's demand for no-fly zones on Friday, saying they were increasing support but that stepping in directly would lead to a broader, even more brutal European war so far limited to Russia's assault on its neighbour.

Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, wants to join the European Union and Western military alliance NATO, whose members are bound in its founding treaty to defend each other from invasion.

"We are not part of this conflict," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference.

Russia censors media

Russians could face prison sentences of up to 15 years for spreading information that goes against the Russian government's position on the war in Ukraine, a move that comes as authorities block access to foreign media outlets.

The Russian parliament voted unanimously Friday to approve a draft law criminalizing the intentional spreading of what Russia deems to be “fake” reports.

Russian authorities have repeatedly decried reports of Russian military setbacks or civilian deaths in Ukraine as “fake” reports. State media outlets refer to Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a “special military operation” rather than a “war" or “invasion.”

India urges for ceasefire to facilitate evacuations

Concerned over the non-availability of a humanitarian corridor for the evacuation process amid Russia’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine, the Ministry of External Affairs on Friday urged Russian and Ukrainian authorities to announce a ‘local ceasefire’ at least so that Indian nationals can be safely evacuated.

“Highest attention is on the Eastern Ukraine particularly Kharkiv and Pisochin. We have managed to get some buses there. Five buses are already operational, more buses will be functional later in the evening. 900-1000 Indians stranded in Pisochin and 700 plus are in Sumy. We are concerned about Sumy,” added Bagchi.

“During the 24 hours, 18 flights have landed in India with around 4,000 Indians on board. The total number of flights that have landed have been 48, carrying 10348 Indians,” he said.

He mentioned that sixteen flights were scheduled for the next 24 hours including Indian Air Force’s C-17 aircraft.

India abstains from voting on Ukraine resolution at UN

India on Friday abstained in the UN Human Rights Council on a vote to urgently establish an independent international commission of inquiry to investigate alleged human rights violations and related crimes following Russia's military operation in Ukraine.

The resolution was adopted with 32 votes in favour, two against (Russia and Eritrea) and 13 abstentions, including India, China, Pakistan, Sudan and Venezuela.

India has abstained on two resolutions on Ukraine in the 15-nation Security Council and one in the 193-member General Assembly in the last week.

With inputs from agencies

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Russia-Ukraine conflict: 331 Ukrainians killed since invasion; Putin says ready for talks if all demands are met
Russia-Ukraine conflict: 331 Ukrainians killed since invasion; Putin says ready for talks if all demands are met
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