Global Review – 31st March

Putin is being ‘misinformed by his advisors’

A US official has told Fox News that Russian President Vladimir Putin “didn’t even know his military was using and losing conscripts in Ukraine” – showing a clear breakdown in the flow of accurate information to the Russian President. “We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions. They are too afraid to tell him the truth.” Russian forces have struggled more than expected since invading Ukraine. While Russian forces have surrounded the city of Mariupol and heavy fighting continues in Kharkiv, Ukrainians have so far kept them out of the capital city of Kyiv.

Russia continues bombardment of Ukrainian cities

Russian forces continued to attack the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv and Chernihiv on Wednesday as a small number of Russian units withdrew – just hours after Moscow pledged to “increase mutual trust” by de-escalating its military presence around those same cities. A round of Russian shelling hit a slew of civilian sites, including residential areas and at least one library, Ukrainian officials said. The attacks came alongside renewed Russian aggression in the eastern Donbas region.

‘Half of Irpin is destroyed’ – Mayor

Oleksandr Markushin, mayor of the Ukrainian city of Irpin in the Kiev oblast, has told CNN that half of the city had been destroyed. He said that “50% of the city and critical infrastructure have been destroyed and the rubble has not been removed”. Russian forces have attacked Irpin in recent days, but the city is now under full Ukrainian control. The mayor said that despite the fighting, many people still remain in the city.

Russians withdrawing from Chernobyl

Russian forces in Ukraine have started withdrawing from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant area, the Pentagon said. The Kiev government had asked the UN to send a special mission to Chernobyl to avert any accident at the disused plant. IAEA chief Rafael Grossi is on a mission to a southern plant to prepare an emergency plan in case of accidents.

Peace talks to resume Friday

The Guardian quotes a senior Ukrainian official saying that Russia and Ukraine will resume online talks on Friday, April 1. The head of the Ukrainian negotiating delegation, David Arakhamia said in an online post that Ukraine has suggested that the two countries should meet, but that Russia has said that more work needs to be done on a draft treaty first.

Draghi feels Putin ready to help peace

Following a 60-minute telephone call with President Putin, Italian Prime Minister Mario Dragħi said he felt the Russian President was ready to help peace. However, Draghi said, de-escalation was needed. The Italian premier reiterated the readiness of his government to contribute to the peace process, in the presence of clear signs of de-escalation by Russia, underlining the importance of establishing a ceasefire as soon as possible to protect the civilian population and support the negotiating effort.

US evaluates new sanctions

The Biden administration continues to examine options for additional sanctions on Russia. White House spokesperson Kate Bedingfiled said President Joe Biden is continuing to explore options to expand the sanctions and there will be more information in the coming days.

Putin and Draghi discuss the payment in rubles

The Kremlin said President Putin explained to Premier Draghi the reasons for switching to rubles for payments for natural gas supplies to several countries, including Italy. There is concern in Europe for gas supplies: Germany has already announced an emergency plan. President Putin and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz agreed to hold additional gas payment negotiations. The European Union says it is “prepared” for a possible stop in the flow of gas from Russia.

Refugees exceed four million

Ukranian refugees have exceeded the four-million mark and the UN High Representative for Refugees is in Ukraine to address the situation. Meanwhile, UNHCR announced that it had lost contact with some employees in Mariupol. Commissioner Filippo Grandi told CNN, “Some have managed to get out. Some are in and we cannot communicate with them at this point.” UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said two million children have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24. “The situation inside Ukraine is spiralling,” she said. UNICEF also estimates that more than 2.5 million children have been internally displaced inside of Ukraine.

Academy starts disciplinary action against Will Smith

The Oscars Academy has started diciplinary proceedings  against the actor Will Smith after he hit the comedian Chris Rock on Oscar night on Sunday after the comic made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, a result of the hair-loss condition alopecia. The actor, who won the first Oscar of his career at the ceremony, has since apologised. The Academy said Smith was asked to leave the ceremony after hitting Rock but refused. Action, which may be taken at its next board meeting on April 18, may include “suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions”.

Bruce Willis diagnosed with aphasia

Hollywood actor Bruce Willis’ family took to social media to announce that the 67-year-old actor will be ‘stepping away’ from his acting career following a diagnosis of a neuro-degenerative disease called aphasia – a health condition that is ‘impacting his cognitive abilities’. With a career spanning several decades, Willis is popularly known for the Die Hard franchise. Willis’ wife, Emma Heming Willi,s said this was “a really challenging time for our family”.

Sharon Stone’s Basic Instinct mansion up for sale

In “Basic Instinct” Michael Douglas goes to interrogate Sharon Stone in a spectacular beachfront oceanfront villa in Carmel, California. The luxurious property is now on sale for $29 million and fans of the cult film, which consecrated the two actors and above all the beautiful Sharon with the famous leg-crossing scene, will at least be able to cherish the dream of reliving the highlights of the film live. The villa, much coveted by producers and directors, has also been the backdrop for other famous takes, such as that of “Big Little Lies”. Even if the price is very high, especially after the recently-completed renovation, the house is truly a dream and it may not be difficult to find a buyer: nine bathrooms, five bedrooms, 12 fireplaces, two kitchens, a gym overlooking the Pacific, a swimming pool and a splendid two-storey library. All with glass walls that offer a spectacular view of the ocean and the lush garden from every room.

World Cup: Mexico, USA qualify for Qatar 2022

Mexico, after beating El Salvador (2-0), and the United States, despite losing to Costa Rica (2-0), have validated their ticket for the 2022 World Cup , during the 14th and last day of qualifying in the CONCACAF Zone. Mexicans and Americans finish respectively second and third in the group behind Canada. Costa Rica still have a chance to participate in the World Cup in Qatar scheduled from  November 21 to December 18, as they will play an intercontinental play-off against New Zealand in June.

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