UKRAINE UPDATE: 5 APRIL 2023
Finland officially joins Nato; US provides $2.6bn more in weapons aid
Finland officially joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) on Tuesday, becoming the defence alliance’s 31st member. The Kremlin called it another ‘aggravation’ of relations.
The US announced $2.6-billion in additional military aid to Ukraine, with the Defense Department saying the US would “continue to work with its allies and partners to provide Ukraine with capabilities to meet its immediate battlefield needs and longer-term security assistance requirements”.
French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will travel to China, where they’ll try to persuade Chinese President Xi Jinping to change his stance on Russia’s war.
- Finland Joins NATO as Defense Alliance Expands Northward
- Xi Courts Macron in Bid to Drive Wedge Between Europe and US
- Russian Who Fled House Arrest in Italy Says He Is Now in Russia
- NATO Chief Urges Allies to Pledge Yearly €500 Million to Ukraine
- UK Drops Part of Probe Into Sanctioned Russian Billionaire
US announces $2.6bn more in weapons aid to Ukraine
The latest package includes $500-million drawn from existing US inventories, including more ammunition for US-provided High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (Himars), air-defence interceptors and artillery rounds.
The remaining $2.1-billion will be produced and provided over the longer term under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, including air-defence capabilities, artillery and tank ammunition, mortar systems, rockets and anti-armour systems, according to a statement from the Pentagon.
Turkey guzzling Russian diesel that Europe can’t buy
Turkey is loading up on millions of barrels of diesel from Russia that European Union countries can no longer buy.
Shipments of diesel-type fuel into Turkey from Russia last month soared to the highest in at least seven years, Vortexa data compiled by Bloomberg show. That follows sanctions in early February that stopped EU nations from purchasing seaborne imports of Russian fuel in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
Russia looks to fleeing foreign firms to boost budget
The Kremlin is giving foreign companies a way out of Russia at a price, to help bolster the state budget amid surging wartime expenditure.
Businesses seeking to sell their Russian assets now face a mandatory contribution to the budget even if they offload them for a symbolic sum or even zero. That’s because under the rules introduced last week a donation equal to at least 10% of the market value of a company must be paid if the seller offers it at a discount of 90% or more.
Record Russian LNG volumes via Belgium
Belgium imported record volumes of Russian LNG in March, highlighting Europe’s dependency on the fuel even as the region seeks to curb energy flows that fund Moscow’s war machine.
Imports of liquefied natural gas from the Yamal LNG plant in the Arctic into Belgium’s Zeebrugge terminal rose by 11% from the previous month, ship-tracking data on Bloomberg show.
Biden calls on Turkey, Hungary to approve Swedish bid
Turkey and Hungary should ratify Sweden’s Nato accession “without delay”, US President Joe Biden said after Finland’s membership in the alliance was formalised.
“When Putin launched his brutal war of aggression against the people of Ukraine, he thought he could divide Europe and Nato. He was wrong,” Biden said in a statement. “Today, we are more united than ever.”
As its first act as a Nato member, Finland submitted its ratification of Sweden’s membership to Blinken.
Kremlin blasts Finland Nato accession, vows response
The Kremlin branded Finland’s accession to Nato as yet another “aggravation” of the standoff between Russia and the West.
“Nato expansion is an encroachment on our security and the interests of the Russian Federation. That is how we perceive it. We will take countermeasures,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to the Tass state news service.
Russia would carefully monitor the actions of Nato in Finland and respond accordingly, Peskov added.
Sweden lauds Finland’s Nato membership while pressing own case
Finland’s membership in Nato is good for Sweden, even as Stockholm presses to overcome Turkey’s resistance to approving its accession, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom told reporters in Brussels.
“We would like to join Nato as well, that’s no secret, but it’s going to be beneficial for the security of Sweden and Finland as well that Finland now becomes a member,” Billstrom said. “It’s of the utmost importance that Sweden now becomes a member.”
Finland’s accession will strengthen Nato, says Stoltenberg
Finland’s accession to Nato will make both the Nordic country and the military alliance safer, Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters ahead of a ceremony to mark its official membership.
Despite its 1,000km-long border with Russia, Finland and Nato will become safer because the country joins “an alliance where we guarantee the security of all allies”, removing room for Moscow to miscalculate about allies’ readiness to protect Finland, he said.
“That makes Finland safer and Nato stronger,” Stoltenberg added. Finland was due to become Nato’s 31st member later on Tuesday after the final paperwork was completed. Its flag will join those of its 30 allies outside Nato headquarters.
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 Sergey 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 Fools’ joke”. DM