Thursday, February 22, 2024

Live Update: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 127

Russia, wary of NATO’s eastward expansion, began a military campaign in Ukraine on February 24 after the Western-leaning Kiev government turned a deaf ear to Moscow’s calls for its neighbor to maintain its neutrality. In the middle of the mayhem, Moscow and Kiev are trying to hammer out a peaceful solution to the conflict. Follow the latest about the Russia-Ukraine conflict here:

US to support Ukraine for ‘as long as it takes’: Biden

US President Joe Biden says the US and its NATO allies will support Ukraine for “as long as it takes” as it faces down Moscow’s offensive.

“We are going to stick with Ukraine, and all of the [NATO] alliance are going to stick with Ukraine, as long as it takes to make sure they are not defeated by Russia,” Biden told reporters at the NATO summit.

“Ukraine has already dealt a severe blow to Russia,” he added, noting that he did not know how the conflict was going to end, but pledging “it will not end with a Russian defeat of Ukraine”.

Biden also stated Washington will announce a new military aid package for Ukraine worth $800m in the coming days.

Putin downplays Ukraine grain blockage, denies Russia to blame

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that Moscow is blocking Ukrainian grain exports and questioned the impact of missing Ukrainian agricultural goods on the world food market.

“We do not prevent the export of Ukrainian grain. The Ukrainian military has mined the approaches to their ports, no one prevents them from clearing those mines and we guarantee the safety of shipping grain out of there,” Putin said at a news conference in Moscow, speaking alongside visiting Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Putin also repeated Russia’s assertion that Western sanctions are to blame for problems on the global food market and rising prices. But he downplayed Ukraine’s impact on the global market, noting there were only five million tonnes of wheat currently stuck in the country.

“This is a quantity which does not affect the world markets in any way,” he added, saying it represented only 0.5 percent of global production.

The United Nations estimated in early May that 22 million tonnes of grain was stuck in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in early June that the figure could rise to 75 million tonnes by the autumn.

Indonesian leader issues food supply warning on Moscow visit

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has warned global food supply issues will not improve if Russian fertiliser and Ukrainian wheat is unavailable to global buyers.

Speaking during a news conference alongside President Vladimir Putin, the Indonesian president also said he had urged G7 leaders to ensure sanctions on Russia do not affect food and fertiliser supplies.

Erdogan urges Finland, Sweden to fulfil NATO deal promises

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged Sweden and Finland to honour a deal they signed with Ankara in order to win its support for their joining of NATO, saying the agreement needs to be fully implemented otherwise ratification of the pair’s membership bids will not be sent to the Turkish parliament.

“We have strongly emphasised the message that we expect genuine solidarity from our allies, not only in words but also in action,” Erdogan told reporters at the NATO summit, which previously saw the Nordic countries formally invited to join the US-led military bloc.

He cited a pledge by Stockholm to extradite 73 “terrorists” as part of the promises made to Ankara and described the signing of the trilateral accord as recognition of his government’s sensitivities around “terrorism” and a “diplomatic victory” for Turkey.

Lavrov says new ‘iron curtain’ descending between Russia and West

Russia’s foreign minister stated a new “iron curtain” is descending between Russia and the West.

“It’s practically already coming into place. Let them just behave carefully,” Sergey Lavrov said of Western countries during a press conference.

The term “iron curtain” is used to describe the political boundaries that divided the European continent in the years following the end of World War II until the conclusion of the Cold War in 1991, as the Soviet Union and the United States faced off.

Scholz says Germany ramping up military capabilities as fast as it can

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says Berlin is ramping up its military capabilities as fast as it can amid Russia’s offensive.

“For Germany, this means that we will continue to expand our contribution on land, at sea and in the air,” Scholz told reporters at the NATO summit.

Germany will permanently maintain a regional marine commando in the Baltic Sea, a tank division with 15,000 soldiers and 20 naval units, he added.

Scholz also noted Germany will begin the NATO ratification process for Sweden and Finland this week.

Johnson says Snake Island withdrawal shows ‘impossibility’ of subduing Ukraine

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Russian forces’ withdrawal from Snake Island is firm evidence of Ukraine’s ability to “repel” Moscow’s invasion.

“If you wanted evidence of the amazing ability of the Ukrainians to fight back to overcome adversity and to repel the Russians then look at what has happened just today on Snake Island, where again Russia has had to cede ground,” Johnson told a news conference at the NATO Summit.

“In the end, it will prove impossible for Putin to hold down a country that will not accept his rule,” he continued.

Johnson added that he believed Ukrainian troops “do indeed have it in their power to repel the Russians and to get them back to the pre-February 24th position”, citing the date on which Moscow launched its offensive.

Sweden, Finland to sign NATO accession protocol next week: Stoltenberg

NATO’s secretary-general stated Sweden and Finland will next week sign their accession protocols to formally join the alliance.

Jens Stoltenberg told reporters at the NATO summit that the move will take place on Tuesday, July 5.

The accession protocol must then be ratified by all 30 existing member states to allow both countries to become part of NATO and benefit from the alliance’s collective defence clause, which states that an attack on one member is considered an attack on all.

Kremlin to decide ‘at the necessary time’ whether Putin will attend G20 summit

The Kremlin announced President Vladimir Putin has not yet decided whether to attend November’s G20 summit in Indonesia.

In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia had an invitation to attend the event and would decide “at the necessary time” whether Putin will go in person.

Russian official says possible price caps on oil could push prices higher: Report

Russia’s Interfax news agency has quoted Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak as saying that attempts to limit the price of Russian oil could lead to “disbalance” in the market and push prices higher.

Novak’s remarks came after G7 leaders agreed on Tuesday to explore “the feasibility of introducing temporary import price caps” on Russian fossil fuels, including oil, and tasked ministers to evaluate the proposal urgently.

Nearly 16 million people in Ukraine need humanitarian aid: UN

Nearly 16 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, the United Nations resident coordinator for Ukraine has said.

“Almost 16 million people in Ukraine today need humanitarian assistance — water, food, health services, roof over their head and protection,” Osnat Lubrani stated in a press conference Thursday.

“These are conservative numbers which United Nations is revising now,” Lubrani noted.

Lubrani added that at least six million people have so far been displaced internally by the conflict and another 5.3 million have fled abroad since the invasion on February 24.

Ukrainian officials hail ‘liberation’ of Snake Island

The head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office has hailed Russian forces’ withdrawal from Snake Island.

“KABOOM! No Russian troops on the Snake Island anymore. Our Armed Forces did a great job,” Andriy Yermak tweeted.

The Ukrainian army’s commander-in-chief also praised the “liberation” of the strategically important island.

“I thank the defenders of Odesa region who took maximum measures to liberate a strategically important part of our territory,” Valeriy Zaluzhny said in a Telegram post.

“Unable to withstand the fire of our artillery, missile and air strikes, the occupiers left Snake Island,” he added.

A key adviser to Zelensky, Mykhailo Podolyak, has dismissed Russian claims that it had pulled its forces from Snake Island as “a gesture of goodwill” to allow Kyiv to export agricultural products.

Russia’s defence ministry announced its armed forces had “completed their tasks on Snake Island” in a statement earlier today.

In response, Podolyak, who is also the head of Ukraine’s negotiating team, tweeted that “in order for Moscow to show its goodwill, we have to beat it up regularly”.

Russian official says sanctions could amount to ‘casus belli’

The deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council has warned that sanctions against Moscow could be a justification for war.

“I would like to point out once again that under certain circumstances such hostile measures can also qualify as an act of international aggression. And even as a casus belli [justification for war],” Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president, said.

Medvedev was once seen as a liberal but has emerged as one of the most hawkish proponents of the war, delivering a series of scathing denunciations of the West, which has imposed sweeping sanctions on Moscow over its invasion.

Russia claims over 6,000 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered, been captured: Report

Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency has quoted the country’s defence ministry as saying that more than 6,000 Ukrainian servicemen have been captured or surrendered since the beginning of the war.

The ministry also said the exchange of 144 prisoners of war with Ukraine, announced on Wednesday by Ukrainian intelligence, was organised according to a direct order from President Vladimir Putin, RIA reported.

Kyiv made no immediate comment on the report.

Pope implicitly accuses Russia of ‘imperialism’ over invasion

Pope Francis has implicitly accused Russia of “armed conquest, expansionism and imperialism” in Ukraine, calling the conflict a “cruel and senseless war of aggression”.

The head of the Catholic Church said during an address to a delegation of Orthodox leaders who had come to Rome for a religious celebration on Wednesday that the war was pitting Christians against one another.

Both Russia and Ukraine are predominantly Orthodox Christian but there is a sizeable Catholic minority in Ukraine.

The pope also told his Orthodox visitors, in a clear reference to Russia, that all needed “to recognise that armed conquest, expansionism and imperialism have nothing to do with the kingdom that Jesus proclaimed”.

Officials fear more bodies will be found in ruins of Kremenchuk mall

The dismantling of the Kremenchuk mall and search for survivors in the aftermath of the Russian missile strike continued overnight Wednesday and into Thursday, according to the Mayor of Kremenchuk, Vitalii Maletskyi.

Rescue workers were now dismantling parts of the mall “near the epicenter of the explosion,” he said.

Maletskyi added that the missile struck and exploded in a home appliance store and that the rubble in this part of the mall was extensive, so he feared this might be where other bodies may be found.

The number of dead remains at 18, but 21 people are still missing, he stated.

The attack targeted a site in central Ukraine far away from the epicenter of Russia’s war, which has recently been focused in the east of the country. Ukrainian officials said the attack was conducted by a Russian KH-22 missile, which is capable of carrying an explosive warhead of up to 1 ton.

HRW demands probe into Kremenchuk bombing as “potential war crime”

The bombing of the mall in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine, “should be investigated as a potential war crime,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.

In a report published on Thursday, Yulia Gorbunova, a senior Ukraine researcher at HRW added that “if the Russian authorities don’t, the International Criminal Court and other investigative bodies should.”

In a thorough report into the bombing, HRW spoke with 15 people to publish their report, including the injured, doctors, mall staff, other witnesses and local officials.

Gorbunova added “the civilians of Kremenchuk who suffered such an intense loss from June 27 strike, deserve justice. There needs to be a thorough investigation, and those responsible should be held to account.”

Norway denies blocking Russian access to Arctic islands

Norway is not blocking Russian access to the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, only applying international sanctions, the Nordic country’s foreign minister has told the Reuters news agency.

Anniken Huitfeldt’s remarks came after Russia on Wednesday accused Norway of disrupting the delivery of critical supplies and threatened retaliation against Oslo over access to Svalbard, citing unspecified “retaliatory measures” unless it resolved the issue.

Svalbard, midway between Norway’s north coast and the North Pole, is part of Norway, but Russia has the right to exploit the archipelago’s natural resources under a 1920 treaty, and some settlements there are populated mainly by Russians.

NATO member Norway, which is not in the European Union but applies EU sanctions against Russia, has announced sanctions would not affect the transport of goods by sea to Svalbard.

Much of the freight for the archipelago’s Russian settlements, however, passes first by road through the border point between Russia and Norway on the mainland, which is closed to sanctioned goods.

Putin rejects Johnson’s claim a woman wouldn’t have invaded Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s charge that if he were a woman he would not have invaded Ukraine.

Speaking at a news conference in the early hours of Thursday during a visit to Turkmenistan, Putin pointed to former British leader Margaret Thatcher’s decision to send troops into the Falklands as a rebuttal of Johnson’s theory.

Johnson on Wednesday dubbed Putin’s decision to launch what Moscow calls a “special military operation” against Ukraine a “perfect example of toxic masculinity” and mocked Putin’s macho posturing.

Hitting back, Putin told reporters: “It’s not an entirely accurate reference from the British Prime Minister to what is happening today.”

Russia says its forces have withdrawn from Snake Island as a ‘gesture of goodwill’

Russian forces have withdrawn from Snake Island off Ukraine’s coast in the Black Sea as a “gesture of goodwill”, the country’s defence ministry says.

The ministry added the move showed Russia is not impeding United Nations efforts to organise a humanitarian corridor to export agricultural products out of Ukraine.

Ukraine and its Western allies have accused Russia of blockading Ukrainian ports to prevent the export of the country’s grain, contributing to a mounting global food crisis.

Snake Island, which Russia occupied on the first day of its invasion, achieved worldwide fame when Ukrainian border guards stationed there rejected a Russian warship’s demand for their surrender.

Sweden to bolster weapons support for Ukraine

Sweden’s defence ministry has said the country will send more anti-tank weapons and machine guns to Ukraine.

The arms package, which also includes equipment for mine clearing, is valued at around 500 million Swedish crowns ($49 million), the ministry added.

European court tells Russia to ensure two Britons do not face death penalty

The European Court of Human Rights announced it has instructed Russia to ensure that two Britons who were captured after fighting for Ukraine will not be facing the death penalty.

“The Court indicated in particular to the Government of the Russian Federation, under Rule 39 [interim measures] of the Rules of Court, that they should ensure that the death penalty imposed on the applicants was not carried out,” the court said in a statement.

Russian forces in control of Lysychansk oil refinery: Separatist leader

The Russian installed ambassador to Moscow from the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic has said that Russian forces with local separatists have taken full control of the Lysychansk oil refinery, RIA news reports.

“The territory of the largest oil refinery in Ukraine… has completely come under the control of allied troops,” Rodion Miroshnik stated.

“Constant airstrikes” in Lysychansk destroyed the police department and damaged part of the oil refinery on Wednesday, the governor of Luhansk has stated.

“It is difficult to find a safe place in the city. People dream of at least half an hour of silence, but the occupiers do not stop firing from all available weapons,” Serhiy Haidai wrote on Telegram.

The Russians on Thursday morning were conducting an offensive near Verkhnokamyanka and storming the Lysychansk refinery, he said without addressing Russia’s claims that it had taken control of the refinery.

Shelling was continuing along the territory of the Seversky Donets river, from both the Severodonetsk and Lysychansk side, Haidai stated, adding that Russian forces were still attempting to block Lysychansk and take control of a section of the Lysychansk-Bakhmut highway.

Russian forces destroyed Dnipropetrovsk grain warehouse: Governor

Russian forces are continuing to attack communities in and around the Kryvyi Rih district of Dnipropetrovsk, the regional governor has said.

An attack destroyed a warehouse in the town of Zelenodolsk, containing 40 tonnes of grain, causing a fire, Valentyn Reznichenko wrote on Telegram.

Another hit the centre of the village Velyka Kostromka, he noted, adding that there were so far no casualties.

Reznichenko stated Russian forces fired from “different weapons” but didn’t specify which types.

Death toll in Mykolaiv climbs to six

Rescue workers have found another body in the rubble from a strike in Mykolaiv Wednesday, taking the death toll to six with another six wounded, emergency services say.

Earlier authorities said ten missiles had fallen on the port city, with one hitting a multi-story residential building.

What Putin did in Ukraine is ‘evil’: Johnson

What Russian President Vladimir Putin has done in Ukraine is “evil”, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stated.

Asked during an interview with GB News at the NATO summit in Madrid whether Putin was evil, Johnson said: “I think that what he has done is evil. And I think it probably follows that if you are what you do, then certainly.”

“It’s been an appalling act of unwarranted aggression against an innocent population,” he added.

NATO agrees to modernise Ukraine’s military

NATO has agreed to a long-term financial and military aid package to modernise Ukraine’s largely Soviet-era military.

The alliance’s new Strategic Concept document, its first since 2010, said that a “strong independent Ukraine is vital for the stability of the Euro-Atlantic area”.

To that end, “We stand in full solidarity with the government and the people of Ukraine in the heroic defence of their country,” the communique added.

The communique also called Russia the “most significant and direct threat to the allies’ security”, having previously classified it as a “strategic partner”.

IAEA loses transmission from Ukraine’s Russian-held nuclear power plant

The United Nations atomic watchdog has said it has again lost its connection to its surveillance systems keeping track of nuclear material at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Europe’s largest, which the watchdog wants to inspect.

“The fact that our remote safeguards data transmission is down again – for the second time in the past month – only adds to the urgency to dispatch this mission (to Zaporizhzhia),” the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement on Wednesday. The connection was lost on Saturday “due to a disruption of the facility’s communication systems”, it added.

Russia opens criminal case against Ukrainian intelligence chief over terrorist threats

Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case against the chief of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate, Kirill Budanov, over terrorist threats.

“Russia’s Investigative Committee has launched criminal proceedings against the head of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate on the grounds of a crime as defined under Part 1 of Article 205 of Russia’s Criminal Code (threat of a terrorist act),” the IC’s post uploaded to its Telegram channel reads.

The investigators say that Budanov, in an interview with the British daily The Financial Times, “publicly expressed a threat of committing terrorist acts on the territory of Russia and territories not controlled by Ukraine.”

The IC did not provide an exact quote from Budanov’s interview.

Zelensky says ties cut with Syria after it recognised separatist republics

President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced the end of diplomatic ties between Kyiv and Damascus after Moscow ally Syria recognised the independence of eastern Ukraine’s two separatist republics.

“There will no longer be relations between Ukraine and Syria,” Zelensky said in a video posted on Telegram, adding that the sanctions pressure against Syria “will be even greater”.

Putin: Russia will respond if NATO sets up infrastructure in Finland, Sweden

President Vladimir Putin stated Russia would respond in kind if NATO set up infrastructure in Finland and Sweden after they join the US-led military alliance.

Putin was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying he could not rule out that tensions would emerge in Moscow’s relations with Helsinki and Stockholm over their joining NATO.

Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine is going according to plan, and there is no need to meet any deadlines for ending it, Putin noted.

According to Putin, the goal of the special military operation is to liberate Donbass, to defend the people living there, and “to create conditions that will guarantee the security of Russia itself.”

The West is using Ukraine as an instrument to achieve its own goals and implement their imperial ambitions, Putin added.

“The call on Ukraine to continue combat operations and the call for refusing from talks only prove our suggestion that Ukraine is not a goal and the interests of the Ukrainian people are not the goal for the West and NATO. It is an instrument used to protect their own interests,” he continued.

“It means that NATO, NATO’s leading nations simply want to assert themselves, to assert their role in the world, not their leadership, but their hegemony in the direct sense of thee word, their imperial ambitions. That’s all,” he stated.

Defence underspending by western alliance a factor in allowing Putin to invade Ukraine: UK

The UK’s foreign secretary Liz Truss has said that one of the reasons that Russia was able to invade Ukraine was because of underspending on defence in Europe.

Appearing on Sky News, she stated, “I’ve been very clear that the entire free world, the western alliance, does need to focus more on deterrence. We need to focus more on defence. And what we know is prevention is better than cure.”

“The lesson that Vladimir Putin learned from underspending on defence was that he could invade a sovereign nation, and we simply can’t let our guard down again, we can’t allow that to happen again,” she added.

Asked about the size of British armed forces, and warnings from within the army that it isn’t big enough, she noted, “I would say that we need a full range of capabilities to deal with the threats that we face now. Whether those are cyber threats, whether those are land-based threats, naval threats, and we have the balance right. But of course we need to continue to evolve, because we’re seeing, you know, we never expected in our lifetimes to see this kind of war on in Europe.”

Truss has described Putin as “an appalling dictator perpetrating a war that was neither legal nor justified” and said that “he has ordered the most appalling crimes to be committed in Ukraine.”

Truss has stated it is a “realistic” ambition to push Russian forces out of Ukraine entirely.

She has told listeners to BBC radio in the UK “All of Ukraine that has been invaded by Russia is illegally occupied. And, ultimately, the Russians need to be pushed out of all of that territory.”

PA Media report that asked whether the Government believes Russia can be pushed out of all of Ukraine within a foreseeable timeframe, she noted, “It is realistic, and that is why we are supplying the extra lethal aid we’re supplying.”

Putin still wants most of Ukraine, war outlook grim: US intelligence chief

Russian President Vladimir Putin still wants to seize most of Ukraine, but his forces are so degraded by combat that they likely can only achieve incremental gains in the near term, Avril Haines, the top US intelligence officer said.

“We perceive a disconnect between Putin’s near-term military objectives in this area and his military’s capacity, a kind of mismatch between his ambitions and what the military is able to accomplish,” she told a Commerce Department conference.

“In short, the picture remains pretty grim and Russia’s attitude toward the West is hardening,” Haines continued, adding, “We think he has effectively the same political goals that we had previously, which is to say that he wants to take most of Ukraine.”

The US intelligence community assesses that it will take “years” for the Russian military to recover from the damage it has sustained in carrying out its war in Ukraine, according to Haines.

“Their ground forces have now been degraded so much that we expect it will take years for them to recover in many ways,” she stated

That could push Russia to become more reliant on “asymmetric tools” such as cyberattacks, efforts to try to control energy, or even nuclear weapons in order to project “power and influence,” she continued.

Haines said Russia is beginning to turn its focus to the Donetsk region. The intelligence community believes Russia will struggle to overtake the eastern province — as it is close to achieving in neighboring Luhansk — but that Russian President Vladimir Putin likely believes time is on Moscow’s side because he thinks the West will eventually tire of supporting Ukraine.

““The consensus is that the war in Ukraine will go on for an extended period of time,” Haines stated, acknowledging the US assessment of the situation is “grim.””

Haines added the intelligence community sees three likely scenarios that could come into focus in the coming weeks and months.

“The most likely is that the conflict remains a grinding struggle in which the Russians make incremental gains, but no breakthrough,” she stated. Under that scenario, the Russian military will have secured Luhansk and much of Donetsk by the fall, as well as solidifying control of southern Ukraine.

The other scenarios are that Russia could achieve a breakthrough and refocus on Kyiv or Odesa; or, finally, that Ukraine could stabilize the front line and begin to make smaller gains, likely in Kherson or elsewhere in southern Ukraine.

Russians fight to encircle Ukraine’s last eastern stronghold

Russian forces are battling to surround the Ukrainian military’s last stronghold in the long-contested eastern Donbas province.

Ukrainian troops are fighting to prevent their encirclement as Russian forces push towards two Luhansk province villages south of the city of Lysychansk.

The UK’s defence ministry announced Russian forces were making “incremental advances” in their offensive to capture the city.

Lysychansk is the last major area of the province under Ukrainian control following the retreat of Ukraine’s forces from the neighbouring city of Severodonetsk.

Russia tells UN it is ready to help lower threat of a food crisis

Russia’s top diplomat told the secretary-general of the United Nations that the country was ready to coordinate efforts to reduce the threat of a global food crisis, the Russian foreign ministry announced.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also told Antonio Guterres in a phone call that Moscow was committed to fulfilling its grain and fertiliser export obligations.

Biden thanks Erdogan for supporting Finnish and Swedish NATO membership bids

US President Joe Biden thanked his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the start of a meeting Wednesday for agreeing to allow Finland and Sweden to join NATO.

“I want to particularly thank you for what you did, putting together the situation with regard to Finland and Sweden, and all the incredible work you’re going to try to get the grain out of … Ukraine,” Biden told Erdoğan during the NATO summit in Madrid.

“You’re doing a great job,” Biden added.

Turkey has been in discussions with Russia about exporting grain from Ukraine. Erdoğan said he hopes diplomacy will help to get grain out of Ukraine.

“I pray that we’ll be able to re-establish the balance through diplomacy in order to cultivate positive results, especially with regards to the grain,” Erdoğan told Biden.

“The conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the negative developments with regards to taking grain out of Ukrainian ports, as well as the developments involving oil and natural gas, require all of us to work together in order to settle the disputes once and for all,” he added.

“There are countries that are deprived of the grain and we will open corridors and we will allow them access to the grain that they so need,” he said.

Erdoğan said it gave him “great pleasure” to meet with Biden “after a long interval.”

The Turkey’s president added that the two leader’s joint efforts mean that “we will be able to go back to our countries with our hands full.”

Zelensky accepts personal invitation to attend G20 summit in Indonesia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed his Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo in Kyiv Wednesday and accepted his personal invitation to attend the G20 summit in Bali in November.

“Ukraine’s participation will depend on the security situation in Ukraine and who else might be attending,” Zelensky said at the joint press briefing to mark Widodo’s first visit to Ukraine.

Zelensky went on to say Widodo’s visit was important to help stop the war.

“I consider our talks today to be an important step for strengthening global anti-war coalition of all the countries that can bring back and guarantee stability to the world,” he continued, adding, “You achieved victory in your struggle for freedom, we believe that we can defend our freedom and independence from the colonizing war of the Russian Federation.”

Widodo also stated he will convey a message of peace from Zelensky to Russian President Vladimir Putin when he meets with him on Thursday. Widodo also invited Putin to the G20.

The Indonesian president also discussed the importance of Ukraine to the world food supply chain, saying, “all efforts must be made so that Ukraine can return to exporting food again.”

In April, Putin accepted an invitation to attend the G20 summit, Widodo had announced. However, there has been vehement opposition to the prospect of his attendance. The White House has conveyed privately to Indonesia that Russia should not be allowed to participate in this year’s G20 summit. Finance ministers from multiple nations walked out of a closed-door G20 session in Washington in April when the Russian delegate began his prepared remarks.

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