UKRAINE UPDATE: 28 MARCH 2023
Zelensky’s government calls for urgent UN Security Council meeting; Hungary to vote on Finland’s bid to join Nato
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government has called for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council over Russia’s move to station nuclear weapons in Belarus and the EU has threatened additional sanctions.
Hungary is expected to vote on the ratification of Finland’s application to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato), putting Helsinki one step closer to joining the alliance.
Turkey, the only other Nato member not to act on Finland’s accession bid, is expected to vote before its Parliament goes into recess ahead of the May 14 elections. The US is pushing for Finland and Sweden’s applications to be completed before the alliance’s July summit.
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Deaths reported in Russian attack in eastern Donetsk
At least two people were killed and more than 30 others injured when S-300 missiles hit the towns of Slovyansk and Druzhkivka, Ukrainian national police said on Facebook. A rescue operation was ongoing and the casualty toll was expected to rise. Administrative buildings, infrastructure objects, several multistorey residential buildings, as well as dozens of cars and an orphanage were destroyed.
Germany’s 18 Leopard tanks now in Ukraine
A German government official announced the news, confirming an earlier report by the magazine Der Spiegel. The battle tanks of the model 26A were handed over at the border and will soon be used on the battlefield by Ukrainian troops who were trained in Germany in the past two months. Initially, Germany had only promised 14 Leopards, but later added four more in order to be able to create a full battalion of 31 tanks together with supplies from Poland and other EU states.
EU is working on sanctions of Moldovan oligarchs
The European Union is looking to sanction Moldovan oligarchs who are accused of helping to destabilise the country, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Moldova had earlier called on the EU to sanction oligarchs it says are working with Russia in seeking to foment violence and overthrow the government, and several EU states have backed those calls, Bloomberg previously reported. Russia has dismissed the claims.
The EU is working on a legal basis that would allow it to sanction the individuals, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The bloc hopes to have that framework in place by June when a European Political Community summit is due to take place in Chișinău, the capital of Moldova.
Baltic nations call for more sanctions on Belarus and Russia
Russia’s plans to place nuclear arms in Belarus are “desperate moves” designed to destabilise Europe, and allies should respond by imposing sanctions on Belarus, Lithuania and Latvia’s foreign ministries said.
“The EU and G7 should impose more sanctions against Russia and Lukashenko’s regime and close all the loopholes in the existing ones,” Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said on Twitter.
“These are desperate moves by Putin and Lukashenko to create another wave of tension and destabilisation in Europe,” Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Lithuania will call for the adoption of new sanctions.”
EU’s Borrell threatens more sanctions on Russia
Stationing Russian nuclear arms in Belarus, as Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Saturday, “would mean an irresponsible escalation & threat to European security,” Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said on Twitter. The EU was ready to respond with more sanctions, he said.
France’s foreign ministry also condemned Putin’s agreement to deploy nuclear arms in Belarus, calling on Moscow in an emailed statement to show a sense of responsibility.
Kyiv calls for urgent UN Security Council meeting
Zelensky’s government has called for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council over Russia’s move to station nuclear weapons in Belarus.
“Ukraine expects effective actions to counteract the Kremlin’s nuclear blackmail”, including from permanent members of the council, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said in a strongly worded statement.
The Russian president’s vow to station Russian nuclear arms in Belarus was “yet another step by the criminal Putin regime”, the ministry said. DM