Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (March 31)
As Thursday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day:
A large humanitarian convoy set out for besieged Mariupol in southern Ukraine. The convoy of 45 buses will try to bring supplies and evacuate some residents, Ukrainian officials said. By the Mariupol mayor's estimates, tens of thousands remain trapped in the city, encircled for weeks by Russian forces and lacking food, water and power. The International Committee of the Red Cross said it might begin evacuations Friday, but needs security guarantees from troops on the ground.
Russian troops appear to be moving away from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, a senior U.S. defense official said. The move is seen as part of the broader pullback of troops from the area around Kyiv and other parts of northern Ukraine. The International Atomic Energy Agency said Russian forces also formally returned control of the Chernobyl site to Ukrainian authorities.
Ukraine and Russia are expected to resume peace talks over video on Friday, Ukraine's lead negotiator said.
The U.S. Treasury Department imposed new sanctions on Russian tech companies and illicit procurement networks that are used to evade sanctions. The agency said more sanctions are on the way, targeting sectors critical to Russia's military. As gas prices surge, in part because of Russia's war in Ukraine, the U.S. is also planning the largest-ever release from its emergency oil stash.
Russia will begin enforcing ruble payments for its natural gas exports on Friday. This plan had pushed European gas prices surging as the region depends on Russian gas. The Kremlin's decree on Thursday said exports will be halted if ruble payments aren't made, but it also laid out how foreign buyers might continue current contracts by converting euros and dollars to rubles in a Russian bank.
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