Newsdeck

WAR IN EUROPE

Ukraine Latest: Putin blames US for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Volodymyr Zelensky, right, and Andrzej Duda at the presidential palace in Warsaw on 5 April 2023. (Photo: Wojtek Radawanska / AFP / Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said relations between the US and Russia are 'experiencing a deep crisis', as he sought to blame Washington for his invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on a visit to China that the Asian country can play a “major role” in Ukraine while adding that he opposes moves to decouple from the world’s second-biggest economy. Nato foreign ministers held a second day of talks in Brussels on Wednesday, focusing on threats and spending after Finland became the 31st member.

President Volodymyr Zelensky was visiting Poland, one of Ukraine’s staunchest allies, to discuss defence and economic cooperation.

Key developments

Ukraine to produce ammunition with Poland 

Ukraine and Poland agreed to set up the joint production of weapons and ammunition, Zelensky said during a press conference with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Warsaw.

Nato approves long-term aid programme for Ukraine  

Nato agreed to start work on a multiyear assistance programme for Ukraine to signal support for the nation over the long term, the head of the alliance told reporters after a two-day meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers.

Nato wants to ensure that when the war ends, Ukraine has the highest level of interoperability with allied structures and is able to move its military from Soviet-era standards to Nato’s, Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, adding that it would be important for Ukraine’s eventual membership of the alliance.

“This will assist Ukraine on its path to Euro-Atlantic integration, because Ukraine’s future is in the Euro-Atlantic family,” he said.

Rouble weakens to lowest since April 2022

The rouble weakened past 80 per dollar before paring losses in offshore pricing, while in local trading the currency weakened as much as 0.3% to 79.72 per dollar.

 

 

 

China can’t be peace mediator for Ukraine, says Lithuania 

China cannot act as a peace mediator over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as Beijing’s stance would rob Kyiv of its sovereignty, according to Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis.

His comments to Bloomberg Television come as European leaders were trying to calibrate their relationship with China as it becomes an increasingly difficult interlocutor and President Xi Jinping builds close ties with Putin.

Aside from Macron’s visit to Beijing, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is also travelling to China this week after urging the European Union to scale back the risks in dealing with Beijing rather than decouple completely in response to a new era of state security and control.

Putin says US-Russia ties in ‘deep crisis,’ blames Washington 

US encouragement of “colour revolutions” led to the war in Ukraine, Putin said at a Kremlin ceremony to receive the credentials of new foreign ambassadors, adding that Russia would continue to insist on “equality and respect for sovereignty” in relations.

Putin also accused the EU of having chosen a policy of “confrontation with Russia”. He has for years accused the US of stoking pro-democracy protests in neighbouring former Soviet states while denying that Russia propped up authoritarian regimes and stoked pro-Moscow separatism in countries such as Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia.

Before Russia’s invasion, the Kremlin denied repeated US warnings that Putin planned to attack Ukraine, triggering Europe’s biggest conflict since World War 2.

Latvia reintroduces draft in response to Russia’s war

Latvia’s Parliament reintroduced compulsory military service to bolster the size of its defence forces after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Legislators voted 68-11 to create a state defence service that will begin calling up 18-year-olds to serve for 11 months of training on 1 July. The military previously ended the draft in 2007.

Russian troops aren’t in control of Bakhmut, says Zelensky 

Ukrainian forces are present in Bakhmut and Russian troops aren’t in control of the eastern city, Zelensky said during a joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw.

Ukraine will make “appropriate decisions” if there’s a threat of losing troops in Bakhmut in case Russia manages to encircle the city, he said.

Poland may eventually transfer its entire fleet of Soviet-era MiG 29 fighter jets to Ukraine if needed, Duda said. The country has already sent or will soon deliver eight aircraft, with six more ready in the near future, he added.

Ukraine to get $2.5bn US grant via World Bank 

The World Bank will provide Ukraine with a $2.5-billion grant from the US, Ukraine’s Finance Ministry said in a statement. This is the second tranche from a $9.9-billion package planned for 2023. The money will be directed to backstop state administration, education, healthcare, pension payments and several social care programmes, the ministry said.

Belarusian air defence to hold drills near Polish border 

A Belarusian air defence unit would hold drills at the Brestskiy training range on April 5-7, the country’s defence ministry said on Telegram. The drills would involve resisting radio-electronic interference, sabotage and reconnaissance groups, as well as drones.

The Brestskiy training range is situated near the city of Brest in southwestern Belarus, 6km from the border with Poland and 34km from the border with Ukraine.

Ukraine to cover $3.3bn of recovery from budget, says minister  

The country needs a total of $14-billion for critical recovery this year, Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko said on local TV. The state will allocate $3.3-billion for recovery from its budget, but needs to raise the rest.

The International Monetary Fund and foreign partners pledged enough support to Ukraine to allow it to finance the state budget deficit this year, as well as in the first quarter of 2024. The country’s finances are much better and under greater control than last year, Marchenko said.

Germany’s Habeck urges stricter observance of sanctions  

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck called for stricter adherence to sanctions for companies based in non-EU countries, German newswire DPA reported. “We have clear data that the existing sanctions are being circumvented, circumvented via third countries,” DPA cited Habeck as saying, while returning from a visit to Kyiv where he met Zelensky.

Companies from non-EU countries that have sent unauthorised goods to Russia should also have to take sanctions into account, Habeck said. Whoever knows about sanctions violations must report them; otherwise, it was a criminal offence, he said.

Russian shelling kills four Ukrainian civilians, wounds 14 overnight 

Russian troops shelled eight regions of Ukraine, almost a third of all regions, overnight using mortar, artillery, tanks, tactical aviation and drones, the Ukrainian military said. At least four civilians were killed and another 14 wounded, while 75 infrastructure facilities were damaged, the military said without giving details.

Swedish, Turkish ministers meet at Nato gathering 

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom met his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on the sidelines of a Nato meeting in Brussels and met his Hungarian colleague later on Wednesday, as his country presses for its bid to join the alliance to be finalised by the two allies.

Turkey told Sweden that its anti-terror legislation due to enter into force on 1 June was “very important for Turkey,” Billstrom said, adding the law would prohibit people from using Swedish territory for terrorist activity or to finance such activity.

“We are now ready with everything within the memorandum, it’s only one more piece and that’s the legislation,” Billstrom said referring to a deal hashed out in Madrid last year between Turkey, Finland and Sweden aimed at easing Turkish concerns so it would green-light the Nordic country’s membership. “So yes we believe we are doing what we’ve committed ourselves to do.”

 

 

 

Poland, Ukraine to sign deal on armoured personnel carrier deliveries

Zelensky and Morawiecki on Wednesday signed a letter of intent for the delivery of defence equipment including the Polish-made KTO Rosomak armoured personnel carrier, according to the prime minister’s office.

German, Czech ministers press Nato allies for more defence spending 

The German and Czech foreign ministers urged allies to boost defence spending, especially as Nato looks to beef up its posture, particularly on the bloc’s eastern flank.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a second day of meetings among Nato’s foreign ministers in Brussels, Germany’s Annalena Baerbock said all allies’ defence spending would need to rise, but that investments needed to be more coordinated. Members at the Russian border were especially in need of help, she said, adding: “That’s why we need more financial means and need to use them efficiently.”

Asked about spending at least 2.5% of GDP, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky said defence expenditure needed to rise following “Putin’s imperialism”. DM

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