UKRAINE UPDATE: 24 APRIL 2023
Russia may quit grain deal if EU export ban proceeds; Chinese diplomat says ex-Soviet states not sovereign
European states reacted angrily to remarks by China’s ambassador to France questioning the independence of former Soviet states, which have tainted Beijing’s bid to be seen as a credible peace broker following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
General Mark Milley, the US’s top uniformed military officer, says there’s “no silver bullet” the US and its allies can give to Ukraine to ensure it defeats Russia. Milley spoke on Friday alongside US defence chief Lloyd Austin, who said Ukraine’s most pressing need is for ground-based air defences. The pair held a meeting of military donors to Ukraine at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
Moscow may retaliate if the US and other allies proceed with an outright ban on most exports to Russia by withdrawing from the UN-brokered deal for Ukrainian grain shipments, said Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chair of Russia’s Security Council.
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Russia may quit grain deal if export ban proceeds – Medvedev
Moscow may retaliate if the US and allies proceed with an outright ban on most exports to Russia by withdrawing from the UN-brokered deal for Ukrainian grain shipments and banning exports of some of its own goods, Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chair of Russia’s Security Council, said on Telegram.
Group of Seven officials are discussing the idea ahead of a leaders summit in Japan in May, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday. The aim would be to include European Union member states in the crackdown. The proposal is still being debated and could change, the people said.
If G7 leaders endorse the move at the summit, precisely what would be excluded would have to be agreed upon, with medicines and agricultural products — including food — very likely to stay exempt, one of the people said.
Zelensky aide says nation has ‘clear sovereign status’
Mykhailo Podolyak, an aide to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, said on Twitter that “all post-Soviet Union countries have a clear sovereign status”. His comment came after China’s ambassador to France on Friday questioned the sovereignty of former Soviet states in a French TV interview.
Russia’s ‘real men’ recruitment drive likely to fall short – UK
A new drive by Russia for recruits — now appearing on social media sites, on billboards and on TV — is likely to fall short of attracting the reported target of 400,000 volunteers, the UK defence ministry said.
“The new adverts appeal to potential recruits’ masculine pride, appealing for ‘real men’, as well as highlighting the financial benefits of joining up,” the ministry said in a Twitter thread. “The authorities are almost certainly seeking to delay any new, overt, mandatory mobilisation for as long as possible to minimise domestic dissent.”
A day earlier, the UK said Russia had scrapped certain “patriotic” remembrance events on what was termed safety grounds, saying “the authorities were highly likely concerned that participants would highlight the scope of recent Russian losses”.
Anger as Chinese diplomat says ex-Soviet states not sovereign
European states reacted with fury to remarks by China’s ambassador to France questioning the sovereignty of former Soviet states. The firestorm threatens to overshadow China’s attempts to portray itself as a peacemaker in Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Lu Shaye said in an interview on the French network LCI that some “ex-Soviet Union countries” don’t have effective status under international law. “There is no international agreement to realise their status as a sovereign nation,” he said.
Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia announced plans to summon the top Chinese diplomats in their nations to explain the comments. All three are former members of the Soviet bloc, which collapsed in 1991.
Ukraine decrees new sanctions on Russia
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed several decrees on further sanctions against the Russian defence industry, targeting individuals and legal entities that help to circumvent anti-Russian sanctions. The list includes citizens of Russia, Switzerland and Iran, according to decrees.
“This time, 322 companies were added to the sanction lists — manufacturers of weapons, components, etc,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address.
“The tougher the sanctions regime against Russia,” the faster “the end of the aggression will be”, he said.
EU set to ban many goods transiting through Russia
The European Union is set to propose a ban on many goods transiting through Russia as the bloc attempts to tighten the screws on the enforcement of sanctions imposed over the past year.
The transit ban would extend to numerous technologies and other goods, including several types of vehicles, but not all items would be barred from travelling via Russia en route to third countries, according to people familiar with the proposals.
Russia to expel ‘more than 20’ German diplomats
Russia will cut staff limits for German diplomatic missions and expel “more than 20” diplomats in a tit-for-tat move following what Moscow called the recent “massive expulsion” of Russian diplomats from Germany, spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on the defence ministry’s TV channel, Zvezda. Germany’s Bild tabloid put the number of expulsions at 34 out of about 90.
“Russia has decided on the ‘mirror’ expulsion of German diplomats from Russia, as well as on significantly limiting the maximum number of employees of German diplomatic missions in our country,” the ministry said earlier in a statement.
According to the statement, Germany’s ambassador, Geza Andreas von Geyr, was informed about the plan on April 5. More than 20 Russians were expelled in Berlin’s recent action, Russia’s state news agency RIA reported. DM