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Selensky rejects Pope’s appeal – The night at a glance

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi has sharply rejected a controversial appeal by Pope Francis for peace negotiations with Russia. The Church is with the people, Zelensky said in his evening video address on Sunday. "And not two and a half thousand kilometers away, somewhere, to mediate virtually between someone who wants to live and someone who wants to destroy you."

Selensky continued: "When Russian evil started this war on February 24 (2022), all Ukrainians stood up to defend themselves. Christians, Muslims, Jews - everyone." And he thanked every Ukrainian cleric who is in the army, in the defense forces. They are on the front line, they protect life and humanity, they support with prayers, conversations and deeds. "That's what the church is - with the people."

The pontiff had triggered massive opposition with a misleading appeal for peace negotiations in Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine. The statements by the head of the Catholic Church were understood in Ukraine and by many of its supporters as a one-sided appeal to Kiev alone - by some even as a call for capitulation. In a Swiss television interview published at the weekend, the 87-year-old also used the phrase "white flag" in reference to the difficulties faced by the Ukrainian army - in times of war, this has been the sign of surrender, i.e. giving up without a fight against enemy troops, for centuries.

"Our flag is blue and yellow, that is the flag with which we live, die and endure," replied Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. The German government and Poland also criticized the pontiff.

"When you see that you are defeated, that things are not going well, you have to have the courage to negotiate," said Francis in the interview, which was conducted at the beginning of February but has only now been made public. Without naming any of the parties to the conflict, Russia or Ukraine, he added: "Don't be ashamed to negotiate before things get worse." Nevertheless, this was often taken as a hint to Ukraine in particular.

Baerbock on Pope quotes: "I don't get it"

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock reacted with bewilderment to the Pope's appeal. "I really wonder what he was thinking," said the Green politician on the ARD program "Caren Miosga". "I don't understand it."

Baerbock demanded that we have the courage to stand by the people of Ukraine and do everything we can for Ukraine to defend itself. If there was a minimal chance that the Russian side would show a willingness to talk, "then the whole world would be there to talk. Unfortunately, we see the opposite every day."

Selensky praises air defense

Selensky praised the air defense soldiers "who defend our skies day and night". On Sunday night alone, they managed to shoot down 35 so-called kamikaze drones of the Shahed type. "In total, the Russian terrorists have already used 175 of these killer drones against Ukraine since the beginning of March, fortunately 151 of them were shot down by our soldiers." Nevertheless, there have been casualties among the civilian population.

At the same time, Selensky announced the further expansion of firepower and Ukrainian air defense. "More air defense systems and other means of defense against Russian aircraft mean more peace," he said.

Baerbock open to ring exchange of cruise missiles

Baerbock was also open to her British colleague David Cameron's proposal to provide Ukraine with new cruise missiles via a ring swap. "That would be an option," she said on "Caren Miosga". She pointed out that such a ring swap had already taken place for other material.

In a ring swap, Germany could hand over Taurus cruise missiles to the UK - and London could in turn supply more Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine.

Report: Russia gains excess weight with aircraft bombs

According to a US media report, Russia's army has gained tactical advantages with the increased use of guided aircraft bombs on the front lines in Ukraine. As the news channel CNN reported on Sunday, Ukraine has hardly any defence options against the FAB-1500 glide bomb, which weighs just under 1.5 tons and can be dropped on its targets by aircraft from a distance of 60 to 70 kilometers, beyond the range of Ukrainian air defence. Thanks to its small wings, the bomb can hit its target relatively accurately. A 15-meter-wide crater would be created on impact.

In an interview with CNN, Ukrainian air force spokesman Yuri Ihnat confirmed that the increased use of these glide bombs was most recently noticed in the fighting around the eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka. "Within 24 hours, 250 of them were used," he said. Russia is converting its old bombs to the new, guided type in a factory near Moscow. "This is not a cheap or quick conversion, but it still costs less than the millions for a missile," Ihnat said.

Report: Russian naval chief dismissed

The commander of the Russian navy, Admiral Nikolay Yevmenov, has been retired according to an officially unconfirmed report. This was reported on Sunday by the newspaper "Izvestia", citing unnamed sources. Yevmenov has been replaced by Admiral Alexander Moiseyev, the previous commander of the Northern Fleet. The website of the Russian Ministry of Defense initially made no announcement.

Izvestia did not give a reason for the change in personnel. The Russian Black Sea Fleet recently suffered considerable losses of combat ships and soldiers due to attacks by Ukrainian missiles and so-called naval drones - unmanned boats loaded with explosives. Due to the threat posed by the Ukrainian armed forces, Russian naval combat units have largely withdrawn from the occupied Crimean peninsula.

This will be important on Monday

The Bundestag's Defense Committee is holding a special session on Monday to discuss the Russian wiretapping of air force officers. The background to this is a recording published by Russia of a conversation between senior German air force officers in which they discuss deployment scenarios in the event that the German Taurus cruise missile is delivered to Ukraine after all. At the meeting, the CDU/CSU also wants to address Chancellor Olaf Scholz's rejection of a Taurus delivery to Ukraine.

©Keystone/SDA

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