Ukraine says it repelled Russian forces at battle in Kyiv suburbs

Ukraine claims it has retaken strategically important Kyiv suburb.  The Ukrainian military said its troops had driven Russian forces out of Makariv, a town about 60 kilometers (37 miles) west of Kyiv.

The strategically important town was the scene of a fierce battle and has sustained significant damage from Russian shelling, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said, adding its recapture prevents Russian forces from encircling the capital from the northwest.  The “state flag of Ukraine was raised over the city of Makariv” as the Russians retreated, the ministry wrote in a post on Facebook.  DW could not confirm the claim by the Ukraine forces.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine was willing to consider dropping its demands for full NATO membership in exchange for security guarantees.  “It’s a compromise for everyone: for the West, which doesn’t know what to do with us with regard to NATO, for Ukraine, which wants security guarantees, and for Russia, which doesn’t want further NATO expansion,” Zelenskyy said late Monday in an interview with Ukrainian television channels.  Ukraine is well aware it cannot be admitted to NATO at the moment because they “do not want to fight with Russia,” Zelenskyy said, adding, “Okay, what other security guarantees are possible?”  Zelenskyy was adamant that he needed to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin in order to understand whether Russia even intends to stop the war.  Putin has so far ignored Zelenskyy repeated requests for direct talks.  On Monday, Zelenskyy said again that he is ready to meet Putin “in any format” but would also not bow to ultimatums from Russia to surrender.  The president also suggested that after a cease-fire agreement, Kyiv would be ready to discuss the status of Crimea and the eastern Donbas region held by Russian-backed separatists.  However, Zelenskyy said he plans to put any agreements reached with Russia to a nationwide referendum for public approval.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry says it has withdrawn from peace treaty negotiations with Japan as a result of sanctions imposed by Tokyo over the invasion of Ukraine.  “Under the current conditions, Russia does not intend to continue negotiations with Japan on a peace treaty,” the foreign ministry said and cited Japan’s “openly unfriendly positions and attempts to damage the interests of our country.”  Last week Japan announced plans to revoke Moscow’s trade status and expand the freezing of assets against Russian individuals.  Russia and Japan have not officially ended World War II hostilities due to disputes over islands north of Hokkaido.  And Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida hit back at Russia’s decision to withdraw from the peace treaty.  “The latest situation occurred as a result of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and Russia’s attempt to shift the issue to Japan-Russia relations is extremely unjustified and absolutely unacceptable,” he said in parliament.  Japan “strongly protests,” he added, condemning Russia for its actions to “unilaterally change the status quo by force.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said again that he is ready to meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin “in any format” but would also not bow to ultimatums from Russia to surrender.  Russian publication Komsomolskaya Pravda briefly published a casualty figure of nearly 10,000 deaths of Russian soldiers since the invasion of Ukraine on February 24 began but then deleted it.  US President Joe Biden says Vladimir Putin is considering the use of biological and chemical weapons as a false flag attack, based on US intelligence assessments.  The Pentagon has accused Russian forces of committing war crimes in Ukraine and said it would help gather evidence of them.  The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday that Russia’s attacks on the Ukrainian coastal city of Mariupol amount to a “war crime.”  German Christian Democratic Union (CDU) lawmaker Michael Brand called for sanctions against former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder over his strong links with Russia.  The humanitarian organization Save the Children said upwards of 6 million children are in imminent danger as a growing number of hospitals and schools come under attack during Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.  A Moscow court ruled in favor of Russia’s FSB intelligence services on Monday, agreeing to label the US internet giant Meta (formerly Facebook) an “extremist organization.”