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Mar 21, 2023
Ukraine Latest: Blast Hits Russian Missiles in Crimea, Kyiv Says
(Bloomberg) -- Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, making his first visit to Kyiv since Russia’s invasion, offered strong support to Ukraine and invited President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to take part in the Group of Seven summit in mid-May. Zelenskiy agreed to participate in the meeting via video link.
Vladimir Putin embraced Chinese President Xi Jinping’s proposal for ending the war in Ukraine as a potential blueprint for peace as the leaders pledged ever-closer ties.
The Chinese proposal aligns largely with Russia’s intentions and “could be used as the basis for a resolution when Kyiv and the West are ready for it,” the Russian leader said on the second day of Xi’s three-day visit.
Although Zelenskiky has stopped short of rejecting China’s initiative, he said Tuesday evening that a cease-fire, one of its central elements, wouldn’t work. The US and other nations supporting Ukraine have rejected the plan, which they say would let Russia hold territory it seized in Ukraine. A US spokesman tore into Xi for “parroting” Russia’s position.
- Kishida Offers Support to Ukraine, Invites Zelenskiy to G-7
- Ukraine Wins $15.6 Billion IMF Loan, First for Nation at War
- After Talks With Xi, Putin Hails China Proposals For Ukraine
- US Will Speed Up the Delivery of Abrams Tanks to Ukraine
- Only Seven NATO Allies Meet Spending Goal Despite Russia’s War
- New Kings of Russian Oil Were These Six Traders in December
(All times CET)
Kishida Invites Zelenskiy to G-7 Summit (2 a.m.)
Kishida, the last leader from a Group of Seven country to visit since Ukraine was attacked more than a year ago, invited Zelenskiy to the G-7 summit in May.
He made the trip to Kyiv after stopping in New Delhi to pressure Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to join other leaders in shunning Russia over its aggression. Japan is set to host the G-7 summit in Hiroshima.
“Japan will support Ukraine until peace is restored,” Kishida said Tuesday at a news press conference with Zelenskiy in Kyiv. The visit by Kishida marks a departure from Japanese precedent and serves as the clearest sign yet of support from Tokyo for Zelenskiy.
Zelenskiy said he encouraged Kishida to join in Ukraine’s postwar reconstruction.
IMF Agrees to $15.6 Billion Wartime Loan (1:10 a.m.)
Ukraine won staff backing for a $15.6 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, setting up the first loan to a nation at war in the institution’s 77-year history.
The IMF and the government in Kyiv reached a staff-level agreement on a comprehensive loan program over four years, the Washington-based lender said in an emailed statement on Tuesday. The agreement is expected to be finalized with the approval of the IMF board in coming weeks.
White House Criticizes Xi for ‘Parroting’ Russia’s Stance (8:41 p.m.)
John Kirby, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, tore into Xi for flying “all the way to Moscow” without yet speaking to Zelenskiy.
“And he and his regime keeps parroting the Russian propaganda that this is somehow a war of the west on Russia, that it’s some sort of existential threat to Mr. Putin,” Kirby said. “That’s just a bunch of malarkey. Ukraine posed no threat to anybody, let alone Russia.”
Kirby said Xi could show China is impartial “if he’s willing to talk to President Zelenskiy and willing to get the other side and, if any future potential negotiation can incorporate Ukrainian views and perspective.”
Zelenskiy Says China Hasn’t Confirmed a Talk With Xi Yet (6:42 p.m.)
Zelenskiy so far has received only signals but no concrete proposals on a possible talk with China’s Xi, the Ukrainian leader said during a meeting in Kyiv with Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who became the final Group of Seven leader to travel to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began over a year ago.
Kishida invited Zelenskiy to the summit of G-7 leaders in May in Hiroshima, and Zelenskiy said he will participate online. The Japanese premier also said he will be in contact with China regarding Russia’s aggression and the situation in Ukraine.
Putin Warns UK on Sending Ukraine Depleted-Uranium Shells (5:46 p.m.)
Russia will be forced to respond if the UK goes ahead with plans to supply Ukraine with shells containing depleted uranium, Putin said.
“If this happened, then Russia will have to respond in an appropriate way, keeping in mind that the ‘collective West’ is starting to use weapons with a nuclear component,” Putin said in a statement. The Russian leader, who has repeatedly threatened such reactions, didn’t elaborate.
The UK said it will supply the armor-piercing shells along with Challenger 2 tanks being sent to Ukraine. Depleted-uranium munitions don’t cause a nuclear explosion but use the metal’s high density to penetrate armor. The US deployed the weapon in its Iraq invasion, prompting criticism that uranium poses health risks.
China Plan May Become Basis for War Settlement: Putin (5:30 p.m.)
China’s peace proposal may be taken as a basis for a future settlement in Ukraine, when Kyiv and its western allies are ready for it, Putin said after talks with Xi.
“Many of the provisions of the peace plan proposed by China are in line with Russian approaches and could be used as the basis for a resolution when Kyiv and the West are ready for it,” Putin said alongside Xi in the Kremlin. They were his most detailed comments yet on the blueprint.
Russia’s Pushkin Museum Becomes Second to Change Director (4:46 p.m.)
Russia appointed a new director for the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, the second major cultural institution to change leadership this year amid a wartime push for patriotic values. Marina Loshak, the Pushkin museum’s head for the past decade, resigned. Her replacement, Elizaveta Likhacheva, used to be in a pro-Kremlin youth group that staged protest acts against cultural figures and worked for the Interior Ministry, according to Agenstvo.
The respected director of Moscow’s Tretyakov Art Gallery was relieved of her post last month in favor of the daughter of a general in the FSB intelligence agency.
Russia Raids Nobel-Winning Human Rights Group (4:12 p.m.)
Russian police raided the homes of several leaders of human rights group Memorial and opened a criminal case against one of them, the organization said on its Telegram channel.
Oleg Orlov, co-chairman of Memorial, faces up to three years in prison on charges of repeatedly violating the law against “discrediting” the army’s actions in Ukraine. Russian authorities last year ordered the closure of Memorial, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in October, amid a campaign of repression against critics of the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia Extends Pledged Oil Cuts Through June: Novak (3:49 p.m.)
Russia will keep its oil production at a reduced level through June, taking into account the current market situation, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said.
The country last month pledged to cut its crude-only output by 500,000 barrels per day in March in response to western energy sanctions. Russia is currently close to making this pledged cut, Novak in a statement, without providing any further details.
NATO Sees Russia-China Ties Moving ‘Closer and Closer’ (3:10 p.m.)
The meeting between Xi and Putin is “part of a pattern” of China and Russia coming “closer and closer,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels.
Stoltenberg said China needs to understand Ukraine’s perspective and to engage Zelenskiy if it wants to be serious about brokering peace, noting Beijing still hasn’t condemned Russia’s illegal war of aggression. Still, China’s proposal includes some elements he supports, including on nuclear safety and the importance of territorial integrity, he said.
The alliance chief said NATO still hasn’t seen any proof of China delivering lethal aid to Russia, despite requests from Moscow and signs Beijing is considering whether to comply with those demands.
Only Seven NATO Allies Meet Spending Goal Despite Russia’s War (2:42 p.m.)
Only one more NATO ally met the military alliance’s goal to spend at least 2% of economic output on defense last year, with a total of seven countries achieving the commitment despite new pledges following Russia’s invasion.
The US, UK and Poland are in line with NATO’s target, along with Estonia, Greece and Latvia. The new entry is Lithuania, according to spending estimates in NATO’s 2022 annual report published Tuesday. The total is up from three allies when the pledge was agreed in 2014.
US Will Speed Up Abrams Deliveries to Ukraine (2:11 p.m.)
President Joe Biden’s administration will speed up delivery of the US’s M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine by nine months, with Kyiv’s forces now expected to receive them by autumn, people familiar with the matter said.
The people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations, said the Pentagon was set to announce the accelerated timetable later Tuesday. The move underscores the urgency the US and its allies feel in their support of Ukraine in the face of Russia’s sustained missile and artillery barrages. The US has said it will send 31 Abrams to Kyiv.
Read More: US Will Speed Up the Delivery of Abrams Tanks to Ukraine
Ukraine Approves $14 Billion Boost in Defense Spending (1:21 p.m.)
Ukraine’s parliament approved an increase in the state budget for defense by 518 billion hryvnia ($14 billion), lawmaker Roksolana Pidlasa said on Facebook. The money will be used for military needs, including compensation for servicemen, purchases of food and equipment including drones.
(An earlier version corrected the spelling of Xi.)
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