Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Live Update: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 364

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:

Czechs sent dozens of tanks, hundreds of heavy machinery to Ukraine: PM

The Czech Republic has supplied hundreds of pieces of heavy military equipment to Ukraine over the past year including 89 tanks, Prime Minister Petr Fiala has said after meeting US President Joe Biden.

Detailing for the first time the extent of Czech supplies, coming under cooperation of the state and the private sector, Fiala stated the country has shipped 226 fighting and armoured infantry vehicles, 38 howitzers, 33 multiple rocket launchers, six air defence systems and four helicopters.

Russia says it is studying Xi’s global security initiative

Russia announced it is studying a newly released paper on Beijing’s Global Security Initiative, Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s flagship security proposal.

“The positions of the two countries on the most pressing international issues coincide or are close, which the Russian and Chinese leadership has repeatedly spoken about,” Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharkova said at a briefing.

“The same can be said for the Global Security Initiative,” she added.

China on Tuesday released the proposal, which aims to uphold the principle of “indivisible security”, a policy that one state should not strengthen its own security at the expense of another. Moscow endorses the policy and has argued that NATO’s eastward expansion has threatened its security.

EU members fail to agree on new Russia sanctions

European Union countries failed to agree on new sanctions against Russia meant to be in place for the one-year anniversary of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on Friday, diplomatic sources in the bloc’s hub Brussels said.

The proposed package includes trade curbs worth more than 10 billion euros ($10.6bn), according to the bloc’s chief executive, including a ban on EU imports of Russian rubber. It would also bar EU exports to Russia of tech equipment and spare parts that Moscow might use on the battlefield.

The Brussels-based executive also wants the 27 EU countries to better track Russian assets on their soil as the bloc seeks ways to use them to help rebuild Ukraine from the war. Some countries, however, pushed back against the spectre of facing fines for failing to report, according to the sources.

“There are several issues outstanding, including on rubber and reporting obligations,” said one of the sources.

All sources spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the confidentiality of the negotiations among the bloc.

Biden says Russia treaty suspension ‘big mistake’

US President Joe Biden said Russia’s decision to suspend the New START Treaty – a 2010 agreement that limits the number of Russian and US deployed strategic nuclear warheads – was a “big mistake”.

He spoke ahead of a meeting with eastern European leaders in Warsaw, where he reaffirmed US commitment to their security.

“As NATO’s eastern flank, you are the front line of our collective defence,” Biden stated.

“You know better than anyone what is at stake in this conflict. Not just for Ukraine, but for the freedom of democracies throughout Europe and around the world,” he added.

Ukraine must get help it needs: NATO

NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Ukraine must get the help it needs and that Russia could not be allowed to chip away at European security.

“We must sustain and step up our support for Ukraine. We must give Ukraine what they need to prevail,” Stoltenberg told a summit of the Bucharest 9 countries together with US President Joe Biden.

Sanctions on nuclear energy would harm Hungary’s interests: Minister

Sanctions against Russian nuclear energy would harm Hungary’s interests and should not be brought forward by the European Union, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said.

Hungary’s 12.5-billion-euro ($13.3bn) nuclear project, which has been significantly delayed, was awarded in 2014 without a tender to Russia’s Rosatom, and Szijjarto stated Hungary lobbied hard to prevent either the company or its officials being brought under EU sanctions.

“We had to act forcefully against the listing of Rosatom or Rosatom officials,” Szijjarto continued, adding, “Any sanctions on nuclear energy or Rosatom would harm Hungary’s fundamental national interests.”

Hungary has opposed including nuclear power in EU sanctions against Russia, and also urged a ceasefire and peace talks over Ukraine to prevent further escalation of the war into a broader conflict.

Biden meets leaders of eastern NATO allies as Russia worries rise

President Joe Biden is wrapping up a four-day visit to Poland and Ukraine by reassuring allies on NATO’s eastern flank that his administration is highly attuned to the looming threats and other impacts caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Before departing Warsaw, Biden is holding talks with leaders from the Bucharest Nine, a collection of nations in the easternmost parts of the NATO alliance. The group was formed in response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

The alliance consists of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

Biden dared not visit Kiev without asking Russia for security guarantees first: Diplomat

US President Joe Biden dared to make a ‘brave’ visit to Kiev only after obtaining guarantees of security from Russia, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said during a briefing Wednesday.

“Biden did not dare to visit Kiev without warning Russia and without asking the Russian side to ensure his safety,” she noted.

The spokeswoman stated that “the US leader’s visit was staged with drama, but, in reality, resembled a failed stage of in a provincial theater.”

“In order to assign some drama to this moment, they have even sounded the air raid alarm,” she continued, adding, “Although, they told the people of Kiev in advance not to pay attention to it, due to absence of any actual threat. Everyone warned their neighbor: Biden is about to come, they will launch the siren, but it’s okay, we can stay home or do our own staff, because it is a part of the staging.”

“If Washington wanted to make another example to its allies on how to support the Kiev regime, it didn’t come out too well,” Zakharova stated.

“Especially amid the loud claims that they are in total control of the situation and the Kiev has endured and is about to win,” she concluded.

Russia-China ties key to ‘stabilise international situation’: Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated during a meeting in Moscow with China’s top diplomat that cooperation between Beijing and Moscow was important to “stabilise the international situation”.

“The cooperation between China and Russia on the world stage is very important to stabilise the international situation,” Putin said at the meeting with Wang Yi.

Putin also added he was looking forward to a visit to Moscow by Chinese President Xi Jinping and to deepening the partnership between the two countries.

In comments broadcast on Russian state TV, Wang said relations between Beijing and Moscow could not be influenced by other countries.

Before meeting with Putin, Wang held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Lavrov noted that “our ties have continued to develop dynamically, and despite high turbulence in the global arena we have shown the readiness to speak in defence of each other’s interests”.

WHO: War’s impact on mental health unprecedented in Europe since World War II

About 10 million people in Ukraine are at risk of mental illnesses such as anxiety, stress and PTSD, with children and elderly people separated from their families being affected the worst, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

Dr Hans Kluge, the WHO Europe regional director, stated every person in Ukraine had been affected by the war, mental health-wise.

“We know from our latest health survey that one out of 10 Ukrainians are affected by the war, [and] have a moderate or severe mental condition,” Kluge noted, speaking from Copenhagen.

“And one out of five people affected by the war [have] some kind of mental health condition [ranging] from depression, anxiety up to psychosis,” he continued.

He added the key issue is to destigmatise mental illnesses, and praised Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska’s championing of mental health programmes.

“We’re doing a lot of self-help training courses that can help everyone mentally and give psycho-social first aid to their neighbours and people in society,” Kluge said, adding, “I was very impressed to see that there are now special financing schemes in primary healthcare to provide that mental health support.”

Wagner chief urges Russians to pressure army to give his fighters ammunition

The head of the Wagner mercenary outfit, Yevgeny Prigozhin, urged Russians to pressure Russia’s regular army into sharing ammunition with his fighters in Ukraine.

“If every Russian at his own level – in order not to call anyone to rallies – would simply say ‘give ammunition to Wagner’, as is already going on on social media, then this would already be important,” he said on Telegram, adding, “We’ll make them give (us) ammunition.”

Prigozhin has accused Russia’s top military leaders of high treason after alleging they held back much-needed ammunition for the fight in Ukraine and declined to provide air support.

Pope deplores ‘absurd and cruel’ Ukraine war

Pope Francis said that the war in Ukraine is “absurd and cruel” and called for a ceasefire and negotiations.

During his weekly general audience, Francis called it a “sad anniversary” and said he was “close to the martyred Ukrainian people”.

The pope added that “real victory” in Ukraine “cannot be built on ruins”.

France regrets Russia’s decision to suspend participation in New START treaty

France regretted Russia’s decision to suspend its participation in the New START treaty, and called on Moscow to act responsibly and reconsider its decision.

In a statement, the French foreign ministry said the New START treaty is “an essential instrument of the international architecture of nuclear arms control, and strategic stability”.

It also expressed concern over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s remarks that his country is ready to conduct a nuclear test in case the US conducts one.

The French ministry also underlined the importance of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which Russia signed and ratified in 1996.

Russia’s parliament moves to suspend New START nuclear treaty

Russia’s parliament moved to suspend Moscow’s participation in the New START treaty, as officials lined up to blame the United States and the West for the breakdown of the last remaining nuclear pact between Washington and Moscow.

In a session on Wednesday morning, Russia’s State Duma, the lower house, voted to approve the suspension of the treaty. The Federation Council, the upper chamber of parliament, was due to vote on the same proposal after 3pm (12:00 GMT) in Moscow.

Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev, who is now deputy chairman of the country’s Security Council, stated the move was a “long overdue” response to the US and NATO effectively declaring war on Russia.

“This decision was forced on us by the war declared by the United States and other NATO countries on our country. It will have a huge resonance in the world overall and in the United States in particular,” Medvedev said in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

Swedish security police say Russia is biggest threat to Sweden’s security

Russia poses a serious threat to Swedish security and has become increasingly aggressive in its actions, Sweden’s security police announced.

“Russia is currently the single biggest threat (to Sweden),” the Swedish Security Service said in a statement, adding, “The regime’s actions are unpredictable and it is inclined to take big risks.”

“Russia considers Sweden to be part of Europe, NATO and the collective West and that increases the threat to Sweden,” Daniel Stenling, head of counter-intelligence, told a news conference.

The Security Service said China and Iran were the other two most prominent threats to Sweden, and that the two were cooperating with Russia.

EU close to finalising 10th sanctions package against Russia

The EU is close to agreement on a 10th sanctions package against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, and EU governments hope to reach a deal on Wednesday if they can overcome differences about a ban on Russian rubber and diamond imports, EU diplomats say.

Among those the bloc is seeking to target are people involved in the illegal deportations of about 6,000 Ukrainian children.

The sanctions package, worth 11 billion euros ($11.7bn), is also likely to include, for the first time, a ban on all exports to seven Iranian entities believed to be making items used by Russia in the war.

The EU also plans to ban sales to Russia of all dual-use and electronic components used in armed systems, such as drones, missiles and helicopters – basically anything that can be found in Russian weapons on Ukrainian battlefields.

The EU is also likely to cut off more Russian banks – including the private Alfa-Bank, the online Tinkoff bank and the commercial lender Rosbank – from the SWIFT global messaging system.

Zelensky says he has not seen any official peace plan from China

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he has not seen any official peace plan from China. He added he is counting on international support for Ukraine’s own peace formula.

During a joint press conference with Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Zelensky noted Ukraine is interested in all countries being involved in ending the war.

“We expect the UN to support our peace formula on February 23. I think it is essential to have one, single standpoint,” Zelensky said, adding, “I have not seen any official document [from China].”

On Monday, China said it is willing to work with other countries to achieve an early ceasefire and lasting peace in Ukraine, the country’s top diplomat Wang Yi told state news agency Xinhua. Wang arrived in Moscow on Tuesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Wang shared with him key points of China’s peace plan, but Ukraine’s peace formula purposed by Zelensky remains the priority.

“We look forward to receiving the text, as this is not a place where you can jump to conclusions just by hearing what the plan is about. We need to find out all the details. Once we receive the document, we will carefully study it and draw conclusions, ” Kuleba added.

Italian fighter jets for Ukraine ‘not on the table’: PM

The supply of military planes to Ukraine “is not on the table”, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has said after talks in Kyiv with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Speaking in a news conference alongside Zelensky, Meloni said Italy was considering sending more air defence systems beyond the SAMP/T-MAMBA, on which it has worked with France.

US believes Russia had failed intercontinental ballistic missile test around when Biden was in Ukraine

Russia carried out a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile that appears to have failed around the time President Joe Biden was in Ukraine on Monday, according to two US officials familiar with the matter.

Russia notified the United States in advance of the launch through deconfliction lines, one official said. Another official said that the test did not pose a risk to the United States and that the US did not view the test as an anomaly or an escalation.

The test of the heavy SARMAT missile – nicknamed the Satan II in the West and capable of delivering multiple nuclear warheads – appears to have failed, officials said.

It has been successfully tested before and had this one worked, US officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin would have highlighted the test in his State of the Nation address on Tuesday.

Instead, Putin made no mention of the launch in the speech that lasted an hour and 45 minutes. He did, however, formally declare that Russia will be suspending his country’s participation in the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty with the United States, imperiling the last remaining pact that regulates the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals.

CNN initially reported the apparent test occurred while Biden was in Ukraine, based on information from sources. After this story was first published, one of the officials said the test occurred just before Biden was in the country. The second source had told CNN that the test was on Monday without providing any more specific timing.

The timing of the test suggests that the US and Russia were communicating through several different channels earlier this week for deconfliction purposes — US officials also notified the Russians on Sunday night, hours before Biden’s visit to Kyiv, that the president would be making the trip to the Ukrainian capital, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan stated on Monday.

UK hopes Putin will reconsider decision to suspend Russia’s participation in nuclear agreement

The United Kingdom hopes President Vladimir Putin will “reconsider his rash decision to suspend Russia’s participation in the New START Treaty,” a spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Tuesday.

Sunak’s spokesperson added that arms control is vital to global security and “this is another example of Putin jeopardizing global security for political gain,” a government press officer told CNN.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry stated Tuesday the decision to suspend participation in the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty – announced by Putin during a speech Tuesday – is “reversible,” and that despite its decision, Moscow will respect the nuclear weapons cap established under the treaty.

Russia says it’ll respect weapons caps under nuclear arms treaty, despite suspending participation

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that Moscow will respect the nuclear weapons caps established under the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty after President Vladimir Putin announced the country was suspending participation in it.

The ministry also said in a statement published on its website that the decision to suspend participation in the treaty is “reversible,” just hours after Putin’s announcement.

“At the same time, in order to maintain a sufficient degree of predictability and stability in the nuclear missile sphere, Russia intends to adhere to a responsible approach and will continue to strictly comply with the quantitative restrictions on strategic offensive arms stipulated by it within the life cycle of the Treaty,” according to the ministry.

“In addition, the Russian side will continue to participate in the exchange of notifications with the American side on launches of ICBMs and SLBMs on the basis of the relevant agreement between the USSR and the USA in 1988,” it said.

About the nuclear arms treaty: The treaty puts limits on the number of deployed intercontinental-range nuclear weapons that both the US and Russia can have. It was last extended in early 2021 for five years, meaning the two sides would soon need to begin negotiating on another arms control agreement.

Under the treaty, both the United States and Russia are permitted to conduct inspections of each other’s weapons sites, though inspections had been halted since 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Biden meets with Moldovan president after US expressed concerns about effects of Russia’s war

US President Joe Biden met with Moldovan President Maia Sandu in Warsaw Tuesday.

It comes a few days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US has “deep concern” about Russia’s efforts to destabilize Moldova’s government. Sandu also stated last week that Russia was plotting a coup in Moldova.

During the meeting, Biden highlighted ongoing US assistance to “help Moldova strengthen its political and economic resilience, including its democratic reform agenda and energy security, and to address the effects of Russia’s war against Ukraine,” according to the White House.

Moldova, situated between Ukraine and Romania, was previously part of the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, a handful of “frozen conflict” zones in eastern Europe emerged, including a slither of land along Moldova’s border with Ukraine known as Transnistria.

The territory declared itself a Soviet republic in 1990, opposing any attempt by Moldova to become an independent state or to merge with Romania. When Moldova became independent the following year, Russia quickly inserted itself as a so-called “peacekeeping force” in Transnistria, sending troops in to back pro-Moscow separatists there.

In the context of the war today, the Russian-backed separatist enclave at the southwestern edge of the country could now present a potential bookend to any Russian assault westwards from Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

Biden named Putin 10 times in his speech in Poland

US President Joe Biden singled out Russian President Vladimir Putin by name 10 times in his speech from Warsaw, going after the Russian leader directly as he rallied the world behind Ukraine.

By contrast, Putin didn’t name Biden once in his lengthy and belligerent address from Moscow earlier in the day.

Biden said Putin had unleashed a “murderous assault,” ordered tanks into Ukraine and attempted to starve the world.

“President Putin’s craven lust for land and power will fail, and the Ukrainians’ love for their country will prevail,” he added.

US assessment of Russia’s nuclear program remains unchanged: Officials

While Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared that Russia is suspending participation in the New START arms reduction treaty, the US assessment of Russia’s nuclear program remains unchanged, two senior administration officials told CNN.

There remains some uncertainty among US officials as to what Russia plans to do now that it has halted participation in the agreement, the officials said.

But officials in President Joe Biden’s administration remain confident that the US will know if Russia begins to build out its nuclear program.

“We’re confident in our ability to monitor these very questions,” a senior administration official said when asked if the US would know if Russia began to build up its nuclear program beyond what it has now.

“New START is an important tool, but it’s not the only tool we have at our at our disposal,” the official added.

The official would not detail the tools the US has in its arsenal. Historically, the US has relied on intelligence gathering to monitor Russia’s nuclear program in addition to the information that is gathered as a part of New START.

The Biden administration’s confidence in monitoring Russia’s nuclear program mirrors the comments from State Department spokesperson Ned Price earlier.

“We haven’t seen any reason to change our nuclear posture, our strategic posture just yet, but this is something we monitor every day,” Price said on “CNN This Morning.”

The treaty limits each the US and Russia to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers. It also requires on-site inspections as part of compliance checks. Russia has not been in compliance with the treaty for months, because it hasn’t allowed inspections that are part of it. The inspections have now not occurred since 2020, because they were halted due to Covid-19 and never resumed.

As Russia continues with its invasion of Ukraine, Putin is doubling down on his commitment to the war. US officials are wary to say that those efforts would handicap Russia’s ability to build its nuclear program, but some see it as unlikely that they would engage in those efforts while the war in ongoing.

“I wouldn’t want to offer an assessment as whether that has overstretched them to the point that they would be precluded from some way in some way from taking steps to develop their nuclear arsenal but … they’ve got a lot of problems on their hands,” an official stated, adding, “I think they’re going to be careful not to not to bite off more than they can chew.”

Zelensky meets with US congressional delegation in Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with a delegation from the US House of Representatives led by Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs Michael McCaul on Tuesday, Zelensky’s office said in a statement.

“This is a very powerful signal. Yesterday — President Biden’s visit, today — a meeting with you. I believe this is very important evidence that the United States supports Ukraine,” Zelensky stated, according to the statement.

Zelensky and the US delegation discussed the situation on the frontline and the “crimes committed by Russian invaders,” his office said. “I have just been informed that Kherson was shelled once again. People died again. We need weapons to stop these crimes,” he added.

Zelensky also reiterated his gratitude for the strong support from both chambers and parties of Congress, the US President and the American people.

“We are grateful for all the steps that have been taken, which have been endorsed by the President of the United States and the Congress. For the aid packages for our army, our military on the battlefield. And, of course, for the financial support to overcome all the challenges that have arisen as a result of Russian aggression,” he continued.

Earlier this month, McCaul spoke to CNN about bipartisan support for Ukraine and was asked if he believes the US is considering sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, McCaul replied, “I hope so,” and reiterated his concern over a drawn-out conflict between Russia and Ukraine while noting, “I think the momentum is building for this to happen.”

Polish president: Thanks to Ukrainian heroism and support of allies, Kyiv has not fallen

Polish President Andrzej Duda on Tuesday gave thanks to US President Joe Biden, the United States and US Congress for supporting Ukraine in a speech outside the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland.

“As the full-scale Russian invasion started, everybody thought that Ukraine would fall within 72 hours, within three days,” he said, thanking “the heroism of the defenders of Ukraine” and “the support given to Ukraine by the free world.”

Duda was speaking to a large crowd after talks with Biden in the Polish capital, as the US leader continues his tour of the region ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

“We stand in solidarity with Ukraine, and we will stand in solidarity with Ukraine,” he said.

“Long live free Ukraine. Long live the alliance of the Republic of Poland with the United States, long live NATO, long live the free world, long live Poland. There is no freedom without solidarity,” Duda added.

Hard and bitter days” are ahead as Ukraine continues to defend itself from Russia: Biden

As the war approaches its one-year mark, the months ahead will continue to be difficult for Ukrainians as they defend their country, US President Joe Biden said, looking at what is to come in the conflict.

Biden stated in an address in Poland Tuesday that there is “much for us to be proud of,” but he also urged allies to be “honest and clear-eyed as we look at the year ahead.”

The president noted fighting for freedom is something that will always be difficult, but at the same time, “always important.”

“As Ukraine continues to defend itself against the Russian onslaught and launch a counteroffensive of its own, it will continue to be hard and very bitter days. Victories and tragedies,” he continued, adding the United States and its western allies will continue to support Ukraine as well as “hold accountable those responsible for this war.”

Biden said that “Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia,” as he addressed a large crowd in Warsaw, Poland, marking the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“For free people refuse to live in a world of hopelessness and you know, this has been an extraordinary year in every sense,” Biden stated,adding, “Extraordinary brutality of Russian forces and mercenaries. They have committed depravities, crimes against humanity without shame or compunction.”

Biden continued to lay out actions taken by Russia’s military in Ukraine since the war began.

“They have targeted civilians with death and destruction,” he said.

“Used rape as a weapon of war. Stolen Ukrainian children in an attempt to steal Ukraine’s bombed train station, maternity hospitals, schools, orphanages. No one, no one can turn away their eyes from the atrocities that Russia is committing. It is abhorrent. It is abhorrent. But extraordinarily, as well, has been the response of the Ukrainian people and the world,” he continued.

“One year after the bombs began to fall, Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine. Ukraine is still independent and free. From Kherson to Kyiv, the land has been reclaimed,” the president added.

Biden noted Russian President Vladimir Putin still doubts the conviction and continued support of NATO allies for Ukraine, nearly one year into the war.

“There should be no doubt. Our support for Ukraine will not waver, NATO will not be divided and we will not tire,” Biden said in Warsaw.

“President Putin’s craven lust for land and power will fail, and the Ukrainian people’s love for their country will prevail,” Biden added.

Biden said freedom is at stake in the war.

“We are seeing again today what the people of Poland and the people across Europe saw for decades, appetites of the autocrat cannot be appeased — they must be opposed. Autocrats only understand one word: no. No, no. No, you will not take my country. No, you will not take my freedom. No, you will not take my future,” Biden stressed.

Russian official calls Biden’s visit to Kyiv a “performance”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov described US President Joe Biden’s visit to Kyiv and the military aid package the US has promised Ukraine as a “performance.”

“What’s new in this? You know, the performance is on. And so it continues,” Lavrov told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

“Everything works in this vein, from the point of view of our former Western colleagues, and from the point of view of saving the Nazi regime. Attempts are futile,” Lavrov claimed.

Biden announced a half-billion dollars of additional assistance to Ukraine during his surprise visit to Ukraine on Monday.

Developing partnership with China is a Russian foreign policy priority: Kremlin official

The secretary of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, spoke with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi during Wang’s trip to Moscow on Tuesday, according to Russian state news agencies TASS and RIA Novosti.

Patrushev stated the deepening of Russian-Chinese coordination in the international arena was particularly important, according to RIA. The Russian official added developing a strategic partnership with China is an “unconditional priority” for Russian foreign policy.

“Relations between the Russian Federation and China are valuable in themselves and are not subject to external conjuncture,” TASS cited Patrushev as saying.

China’s top diplomat will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Wednesday, according to TASS, citing the Russian foreign ministry on Tuesday. It’s the first visit to the country from China’s top diplomat since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
China has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Czech president-elect calls Biden visit to Ukraine and Poland an “extremely strong signal”

Czech President-elect Petr Pavel on Tuesday called US President Joe Biden’s visit to Kyiv and Warsaw an “extremely strong signal” of Washington’s commitment to Ukraine and its European allies.

The former Czech army chief, who was elected as the country’s new leader in January, warned against negotiating with Russia, saying eastern European countries that were part of the Soviet Union-era Warsaw Pact defense treaty were highly aware of Russia’s capabilities.

“We have no idealistic ideas about where Russia is heading, about the possibility of negotiation with Russia. We all know that Russia understands power,” Pavel told CNN, adding, “For us, power comes from unity. That’s why we are very clear on a united approach of all EU and NATO countries against Russian aggression.”

He said the Russians had suffered several “fatal mistakes” in Ukraine but cautioned Moscow shouldn’t be underestimated.

Pavel gave a note of caution on the question of supplying Ukraine with military aircraft, given it takes at least half a year to train pilots and ground and support crews. “It’s much easier to train crews for tanks and artillery.”

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