Western media continue to report about the war in Ukraine: on March 30, the media covered the Kremlin’s indignation at what Western intelligence reported about Vladimir Putin, Russia’s failed blackmail of Western countries on gas for rubles, and Dutch parliament’s accusations of their country's government of delaying sanctions against Moscow.
Meanwhile, Volodymyr Zelenskyн has delivered new addresses for helping Ukraine, and the Kremlin’s bloodthirsty leader has said that peace terms with Kyiv are "not mature" yet.
Kremlin: US understands nothing about Putin
According to The New York Times, the Kremlin on March 31 dismissed American intelligence showing that President Vladimir Putin has been misinformed about his military’s struggles in Ukraine, and warned that such a "complete misunderstanding" of the situation in Moscow could have "bad consequences."
"It turns out that neither the State Department nor the Pentagon have real information about what is happening in the Kremlin," Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, stated. "They do not understand President Putin, they do not understand the decision-making mechanism and they do not understand the efforts of our work."
This is how he responded to declassified U.S. intelligence that American officials claimed showed growing tension between Putin and the Ministry of Defense, including with the defense minister, Sergei Shoigu. Peskov said the United States was grossly misinformed.
"This is not only unfortunate, but also a cause for concern," he said.
Separately, Peskov noted that the meeting between Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskyy is unlikely to be held in April — before that, a draft peace agreement would need to be finalized and approved by senior officials from both sides.
"Only after that can a meeting at the highest levels be discussed."
Putin and gas ultimatum
Reuters quotes bloodthirsty dictator Vladimir Putin as saying he signed a decree on March 31 on paying for Russian gas in rubles.
As the dictator explained, foreign buyers must pay in roubles for Russian gas from April 1, and contracts would be halted if these payments were not made.
"In order to purchase Russian natural gas, they must open rouble accounts in Russian banks. It is from these accounts that payments will be made for gas delivered starting from tomorrow," Putin said in televised remarks.
If such payments were not made, the Moscow leader threatened "everyone with ensuing consequences."
Putin's decision to impose ruble payments for gas slightly strengthened the Russian currency. But Western companies and governments called the move a breach of existing contracts. Germany has even begun to prepare for a possible "cut off" of gas supplies from the Russian Federation.
Putin's blackmail caved in a day
The Guardian reports that Germany and France have again rejected Russia's demands that European countries pay for its gas in rubles, calling the maneuver "blackmail".
Germany economy minister Robert Habeck stated that Germany was prepared for all scenarios, including a stoppage of Russian gas flows to Europe.
French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said France and Germany rejected Russia’s demand.
After that, as reported in its March 31 top news digest, all Putin's threats turned out to be a farce, and Moscow stated it would make exceptions for European companies that, of course, would be able to pay in dollars and euros.
"So, Putin’s gas-ruble show-offs have caved," Andrey Gurkov, a Deutsche Welle economic columnist, wrote about this.
Later, the Kremlin again began to persuade Germany to agree to settlements in rubles, simply by buying the currency for the euro, DW reports.
Moscow is urged to stop war, but Kremlin is regrouping
The Independent reports that Norway’s President Jonas Gahr Stoere urged Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine.
He spoke to the Russian president for an hour, commenting that it was best to leave nothing "untried".
"I asked the president urgently to end the war in Ukraine, pull out Russian troops and secure humanitarian access," Jonas Gahr Stoere said.
He admitted to having very limited expectations of what could be achieved.
The outlet also quotes NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who said that Russian troops are not withdrawing from Ukraine, but are regrouping.
"Russia is trying to regroup, resupply and reinforce its offensive in the Donbas region," he stated in Brussels.
At the same time, according to the Secretary General, Russia maintains pressure on Kyiv and other cities, so additional offensive actions can be expected."
Putin to Italy: Peace with Ukraine is "not mature yet"
Sky News quoted Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi after a conversation with Vladimir Putin. The latter believes that the conditions for a ceasefire in Ukraine are not mature yet.
Putin also told Draghi that current gas contracts remained in force and that European firms would continue to pay in euros and dollars.
"What I understood, but I may be wrong, is that the conversion of the payment is an internal matter of the Russian Federation," Mr Draghi said.
Bloodthirsty dictator also told the Italian prime minister it was "premature" for a meeting with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Zelensky reminds Australia about the downed Boeing
The New York Times reports that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine urged Australian lawmakers in his address on
Zelenskyy reminded parliamentarians of Cold War fears of a nuclear attack and of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 that killed about 300 people in 2014, including 30 Australians.
Australia has repeatedly blamed Russia for the attack on the plane, which was shot down by a missile over eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin denies any responsibility.
Had the world punished Russia immediately after the terrorist attack in 2014, Mr. Zelenskyy said, Russia would not have been emboldened to eventually invade Ukraine.
In his opinion, if Russia is not stopped, its actions will push other countries to invade peaceful neighbors.
"Whatever is happening in our region — the Russian aggression, destroying the lives of people — has become a real threat to your country and your people, as well," he said. "This is the nature of the evil. It can instantly cross any distance, any barriers."
Australian lawmakers gave Mr. Zelenskyy a standing ovation. Prime Minister Scott Morrison called him a "lion of democracy," while labeling President Vladimir Putin of Russia a "war criminal."
"You have our prayers, but you also have our weapons, our humanitarian aid, our sanctions against those who seek to deny your freedom — and you even have our coal," Mr. Morrison assured.
Dispute in Dutch Parliament
Reuters reports on Volodymyr Zelenskyy's address to the Dutch parliament, after which its lawmakers demanded that Prime Minister Mark Rutt's government speed up imposing sanctions against Russia.
"Stronger sanctions are needed so that Russia doesn’t have a chance to pursue this war further in Europe," Zelenskyy said, adding that the Dutch should stop energy imports from Russia.
Zelenskyy received a standing ovation, but discussions then turned to the government’s lack of progress in freezing or seizing much of an estimated 27 billion euros ($30 billion) in Russian assets registered in the Netherlands, often in shell companies.
"Sanctions were agreed weeks ago and the Netherlands is shamefully behind," said opposition Labour Party leader Lilianne Ploumen.
Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra responded that the government was working as quickly as it could, but legal hurdles and privacy laws were hindering progress.
In Zelenskiyy’s address he also thanked the Dutch for military support and courts in The Hague.
The Netherlands has supplied Ukrainian forces with anti-tank rockets and is also supporting NATO’s increased presence along the military alliance’s eastern flank with Patriot air defense systems.
Instead of an afterword. The Kremlin continues to put forward ultimatums to the West, but they are caved one by one, because in fact Moscow, suppressed by sanctions, is not ready to waive selling oil and gas. At the same time, Russia, which has allegedly decreased its military activity in some directions, is trying to regroup and may yet return to attempts (most likely unsuccessful) to capture the capital of Ukraine.
Against this background, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy continues to address parliaments around the world for military assistance and calls for increased sanctions against the Kremlin, while Putin says that the conditions for peace with Kyiv are "not mature yet." At the same time, the Russian "liberal" media are already reporting that the bloodthirsty leader himself does not know what to do — whether to listen to people from his circle offering peace, or to listen to the war party, after receiving all the data on the losses and the state of Moscowia’s economy.
Most of all, of course, besides his own life, he is paranoid about his precious rating that increased amid propaganda promises about a "victorious" march in Kyiv. Ukraine continues to fight for itself for 36 days.