UKRAINE UPDATE: 4 APRIL 2023
Russia assumes rotating presidency of UN Security Council; Finland officially joins Nato
Russia took its turn in the rotation heading the United Nations Security Council, with its ambassador vowing to promote its stance on its invasion of Ukraine.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck arrived in Kyiv with a small delegation of business representatives to demonstrate his nation’s commitment to help rebuild Ukraine.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by telephone with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov about Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter arrested by Russia last week and charged with spying. In a call that Russia said was initiated by the US, Blinken demanded the release of Gershkovich and a second American.
- Nato chief urges allies to pledge yearly €500m to Ukraine
- Macron heads to China seeking major Ukraine shift
- Europe’s inflation crisis pulls governments into a food fight
- Blinken demands Russia free US journalist in Lavrov call
- Finland’s Prime Minister Marin unseated by pro-business party
Russia’s UN envoy opens UN term with no apologies
Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s UN ambassador, shrugged off questions about his country’s fitness to take the rotating presidency of the Security Council for this month even as it continues its invasion of Ukraine.
“The order of the presidency is well defined,” Nebenzya told reporters on Monday. He made it clear that Russia would use the opportunity to promote its defence of the war, with an appearance at the world body by Foreign Minister Lavrov later in the month and a session to “dispel some misconceptions and propaganda” over its policy on “evacuating children from crisis zones”.
The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes concerning the alleged abduction of children from Ukraine.
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield described the Russian presidency of the council as “an April Fool’s joke”. She told reporters: “We expect that they will behave professionally, but we also expect that they will use their seat to spread disinformation and promote their own agenda as it relates to Ukraine” and “we will stand ready to call them out at every single moment that they attempt to do that”.
Ukraine gets first $2.7bn tranche of new IMF loan
Ukraine received the first tranche of the International Monetary Fund’s new extended financing programme, Ukrainian Central Bank chief Andriy Pyshnyi said on Facebook. The disbursement followed the March 31 IMF Board decision.
Kyiv is to receive two more tranches, each equalling $893.5-million this year, after reviews set for mid-June and mid-October, according to a schedule stipulated by a memorandum with the Washington-based lender.
Zelensky and Germany’s Habeck visit Ukrainian village
President Volodymyr Zelensky and Germany’s Habeck visited Yahidne on the anniversary of its liberation from Russian occupation. The village, 100km north of Kyiv, was under Russian control for 40 days at the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion. Some 400 residents were kept in a basement, and not all survived.
Finland officially joins Nato on Tuesday
Nato will welcome Finland on the sidelines of a gathering of Nato foreign ministers in Brussels on Tuesday, which also marks the 74th anniversary since the founding of the military organisation, the alliance chief, Jens Stoltenberg, told reporters.
Finland’s flag will be raised alongside those of its new allies outside Nato’s headquarters, once final paperwork from both Turkey and Finland is handed to US representatives in Brussels. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will also be present for the meeting of foreign ministers.
While that still leaves Sweden outside the alliance after the bids were decoupled, Stoltenberg said “we shouldn’t give the impression that Sweden is left alone” as the process of its integration into Nato has already started. “My aim is to ensure we also get Sweden in the near future, and that this will remain a very quick accession process,” he said.
Denmark, Norway to donate ammunition to Ukraine
Denmark and Norway agreed to jointly donate 8,000 artillery shells to Ukraine, according to a statement by the Danish Defence Ministry.
The agreement follows a March decision by the Danish Parliament to participate in European defence measures. Norway will be donating the shells and Denmark will provide the associated fuses, propellant bags and primer cartridges.
Ukraine reports casualties in latest shelling
Ukraine’s Defence Ministry said 12 civilians were killed and 32 were injured by Russian shelling at targets throughout the country over the past 24 hours.
Zelensky to visit Poland this week
The Ukrainian president will visit Poland on Wednesday for talks with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda, the head of Duda’s chancellery told RMF radio in an interview.
The two have met several times since Russia started its war against Ukraine. Poland, a key ally for its military and humanitarian support of Ukraine, has become a temporary home for millions of refugees.
Bulgarian election produces no clear victor to end deadlock
Bulgaria’s fifth general election in two years produced no clear winner, according to incomplete official results, likely extending a deadlock that has paralysed politics and put at risk European Union unity over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia ‘confiscates passports of officials to stop defections’
Russia’s security services are confiscating the passports of senior officials, former officials and state company executives to prevent overseas travel, the Financial Times reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.
Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, confirmed that Russia had tightened the restrictions on foreign travel for some who work in “sensitive” areas, according to the report.
St Petersburg blast kills pro-war blogger
A pro-Kremlin military blogger was killed by a bomb hidden inside a figurine at a cafe in St Petersburg, Russia’s Interior Ministry said. Vladlen Tatarsky, whose real name was Maxim Fomin, supported Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The explosion at a cafe in St Petersburg wounded 32 people, Tass reported. Russia’s Investigative Committee said it opened a criminal probe into Sunday’s blast, which officials blamed on an improvised bomb hidden inside a statuette that was presented to Tatarsky.
Tatarsky became widely known after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by espousing goals including the complete destruction of the Ukrainian state. DM