Russia-Ukraine live updates: Peace talks may now be off the table, Zelenskyy says

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(NEW YORK) — Russian forces are continuing to have a tough time pushing through Ukraine due to Ukrainians, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and backed by weapons and military equipment from the United States and many European countries, putting up “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.

The attack began Feb. 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation.” Heavy shelling and missile attacks, many on civilian buildings, have continued throughout the country, including some in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, as well as other major cities like Kharkiv and Mariupol.

In recent days, Russian forces appear to be pulling away from Kyiv after Russian officials said they were reducing military action near Kyiv and in Chernihiv in northern Ukraine in an attempt to increase “mutual trust and create conditions required” for further peace talks with Ukrainian negotiators.

Russia is now being accused of committing war crimes by the United States and countries throughout Europe after graphic images emerged of civilians lying dead in the streets of the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, some with their hands bound and shot at close range.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Apr 05, 6:40 am
Russian brigade accused of Bucha atrocities will be sent back to war, Ukrainian intelligence says

A brigade of the Russian Ground Forces accused of committing war crimes in the Ukrainian city of Bucha will be sent back to war, according to the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.

“The Russian command will not rotate the personnel in this unit and will throw it back to the front,” the directorate said in a statement Tuesday.

As of Monday, Russia’s 64th Motor Rifle Brigade was withdrawn from Ukraine to Belarus, according to Ukrainian intelligence. By Wednesday, the personnel will be transported to the western Russian city of Belgorod, just north of the border with Ukraine, with plans to return to the front line in the direction of the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, according to Ukrainian intelligence.

“Usually, Russian units leaving the combat zone receive much more time for recovery and rest,” the directorate said. “This indicates that ‘special tasks’ are expected for the 64th Brigade. The first of them: intimidation of inhabitants of settlements of Ukraine. Those who committed the crimes of genocide in Bucha may repeat this again in other cities.”

“Another goal of the rapid return of the 64th Brigade to the territory of Ukraine is the rapid ‘disposal’ of unnecessary witnesses. That is, relocation to a part of the front where they will not have a chance to stay alive to make it impossible to testify in future courts,” the directorate added. “The personnel of the unit, aware of the resonance of the events in Bucha and the responsibility for the crimes committed, massively opposes the return to Ukraine. However, the Russian command ignores these sentiments and threatens the tribunal if they refuse to continue fighting. The militaries do not accept reports of dismissal from Russian soldiers.”

On Monday, the directorate published online what it said was a list with the names of hundreds of personnel of Russia’s 64th Motor Rifle Brigade whom they believe were directly responsible for the atrocities in Bucha. Ukrainian officials have said there is evidence of other Russian units being involved. Russia has denied the claims.

Apr 05, 6:06 am
Ukraine has retaken ‘key terrain’ from Russia, UK says

Ukrainian troops have retaken “key terrain” in the north of the country, “after denying Russia the ability to secure its objectives and forcing Russian forces to retreat” from areas around Chernihiv and north of Kyiv, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update Tuesday.

“Low-level fighting is likely to continue in some parts of the newly recaptured regions, but diminish significantly over this week as the remainder of Russian forces withdraw,” the ministry added. “Many Russian units withdrawing from northern Ukraine are likely to require significant re-equipping and refurbishment before being available to redeploy for operations in eastern Ukraine.”

Apr 05, 5:24 am
Peace talks may now be off the table, Zelenskyy says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy indicated Tuesday that peace talks with Russia may now be off the table, following the gruesome discovery of scores of dead civilians in Bucha and other towns outside Ukraine’s capital that were recently recaptured from Russian forces.

“The most difficult thing is to talk about what they did,” Zelenskyy told reporters in Kyiv. “We believe that this is genocide. We believe that they should be punished for it.”

“I believe that we need to set such a bar for these negotiations,” he added. “It may happen that there will be no meeting.”

Zelenskyy’s comments came a day after he traveled to Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, where bodies in civilian clothes were found strewn in the streets and in mass graves. Many of the victims appeared to have been shot at close range and some even showed signs of torture. ABC News journalists on the ground saw some of the dead, including a family that locals said were executed with their hands bound.

Apr 05, 5:07 am
Russia threatens to fine Wikipedia if it doesn’t remove info about Ukraine war

Russia’s communications and media regulator, Roskomnadzor, is demanding that Wikipedia remove content that contradicts the Kremlin’s narrative about the war in Ukraine.

“Based on a motion from the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, Roskomnadzor demanded on April 4 that the Wikipedia management put an end to the dissemination of false socially significant information,” the agency said in a statement Tuesday. “Materials containing false information about the special military operation in Ukraine and operations of the Russian Armed Forces have been massively published on Wikipedia in the recent period. Wikipedia has become a new line for continuous information attacks on Russians.”

Roskomnadzor accused the free online encyclopedia of “deliberately” misinforming Russian users. The agency noted that it has previously asked Wikipedia “to remove false information about events in Ukraine” and threatened to fine the San Francisco-based company up to 4 million rubles (about $47,000) for failing to delete such content, which is illegal under Russian law.

Apr 04, 10:54 pm
US cuts Russia off from dollars it holds at American financial institutions

The U.S. Treasury said Monday night that it would no longer allow the Russian government to make payments on debt using dollars it holds at U.S. financial institutions, another step that puts pressure on the Russian government’s funds.

This step “was in the works before the weekend and isn’t a response” to the atrocities in Bucha, according to a Treasury spokesperson.

“One of the most potent actions of the 700-plus sanctions we’ve imposed have been our sanctions on Russia’s Central Bank, which were levied with unprecedented multilateral coordination, speed, and impact,” the spokesperson said. “Today is the deadline for Russia to make another debt payment. Beginning today, the U.S. Treasury will not permit any dollar debt payments to be made from Russian government accounts at U.S. financial institutions.”

“Russia must choose between draining remaining valuable dollar reserves or new revenue coming in, or default,” the spokesperson continued. “This will further deplete the resources Putin is using to continue his war against Ukraine and will cause more uncertainty and challenges for their financial system.”

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