The latest on the Russia–Ukraine crisis, April 11. Click here for updates from April 10.
Ukraine Says Tens of Thousands Killed in Mariupol
Ukraine on Monday said tens of thousands of people have likely been killed in Russia’s assault on the southeastern city of Mariupol.
“Mariupol has been destroyed, there are tens of thousands of dead, but even despite this, the Russians are not stopping their offensive,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address to South Korean lawmakers without providing more details.
If confirmed, it would be by far the largest number of dead so far reported in one place in Ukraine.
The head of the Russia-backed self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, told Russia’s RIA news agency on Monday that more than 5,000 people may have been killed in Mariupol. He said Ukrainian forces were responsible.
Citing figures from Mariupol’s city administration, Ukraine’s human rights ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova said 33,000 residents of Mariupol had been deported to Russia or territories held by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Russia said on Sunday it had “evacuated” 723,000 people from Ukraine since the start of what it called its “special operation.” Moscow denies attacking civilians.
Biden Urges Modi Not to Step Up Indian Use of Russian Oil
President Joe Biden asked India’s Narendra Modi on Monday not to accelerate the buying of Russian oil as the United States and other nations try to cut off Moscow’s energy income following the invasion of Ukraine. The Indian prime minister made no public commitment to refrain from Russian oil, a source of tension with the United States.
Meeting by video call, Biden told Modi that the United States could help India diversify its sources of energy, according to press secretary Jen Psaki. Even though India receives little of its oil from Russia, it stepped up recently with a major purchase as other democracies are trying to isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The president also made clear that he doesn’t believe it’s in India’s interest to accelerate or increase imports of Russian energy or other commodities,” Psaki said.
While the two nations ended the meeting with Biden saying they committed to strengthening their relationship, White House officials could not say if India stood with them in fully condemning Putin, saying the choice ultimately rested with Modi’s government. The two leaders will meet in person May 24 in Tokyo for a summit of the Quad, a coalition that also includes Australia and Japan.
French Bank SocGen Ends Business in Russia
Societe Generale has announced it is ending its Russian activities—making it the first big Western bank to announce it’s quitting Russia.
SocGen is also selling its entire stake in Rosbank to a company linked to a Russian oligarch, costing the French bank some 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion).
Rosbank is a heavyweight in the Russian banking sector, and Societe Generale was the majority shareholder.
“After several weeks of intensive work,” the bank said in a statement, it had signed an agreement with Russian investment fund Interros Capital to sell all of its stake in Rosbank as well as its insurance subsidiaries in Russia.
Interros is one of the largest funds in the country, which holds assets in heavy industry and metallurgy.
Ukrainian Authorities in Kharkiv Begin Clearing Landmines
Ukrainian authorities in the northeastern city of Kharkiv warned people not to go near what they said were landmines being dropped on the city.
On Monday, security forces cordoned off an area in the east of Kharkiv as they cleared a number of small devices scattered across residential streets.
Lieutenant Colonel Nikolay Ovcharuk, head of the demining unit of the state emergency service, said the devices were plastic PTM-1M mines, which detonate using timers and which were widely used by Soviet forces in Afghanistan.
“They have self-destructing timers,” he said as loudspeakers warned people not to approach the cordoned-off area where mine disposal teams were working.
The Epoch Times could not independently confirm the type of device. Scatterable landmines such as PTM-1M mines are prohibited under the Ottawa treaty on anti-personnel mines because of the risk of civilian casualties.
Russia Will Not Pause Military Operation in Ukraine for Peace Talks
Russia will not pause its military operation in Ukraine for subsequent rounds of peace talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.
Russian officials say peace talks with Ukraine are not progressing as rapidly as they would like, and have accused the West of trying to derail negotiations by raising war crimes allegations against Russian troops in Ukraine, which Moscow denies.
Speaking in an interview with Russian state television, Lavrov said he saw no reason not to continue talks with Ukraine but insisted Moscow would not halt its military operation when the sides convene again.
Lavrov said that President Vladimir Putin had ordered to suspend military action during the first round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators in late February but that Moscow’s position had changed since.
“After we became convinced that the Ukrainians were not planning to reciprocate, a decision was made that during the next rounds of talks, there would be no pause [in military action] so long as a final agreement is not reached,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov last week accused Kyiv of presenting Moscow with an “unacceptable” draft peace deal that deviated from agreements the sides had previously reached. Kyiv dismissed Lavrov’s comments at the time as a tactic to undermine Ukraine or divert attention from war crime accusations against Russian troops.
Ukraine Says Troops Still Holding Out in Besieged Mariupol
Ukraine said on Monday its forces were still holding out in the port of Mariupol, where Russia was renewing its assault in the city.
“Communication with the units of the defense forces heroically holding the city is stable and maintained,” Ukraine’s military commander-in-chief, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, said on Facebook.
“We are doing the possible and impossible for the victory and the preservation of the lives of personnel and civilians in all directions. Believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine!”
Earlier, a post on the Facebook page of a brigade of marines holding out in the city said they had run out of ammunition and were now facing death or capture, with Monday likely to be the “ultimate battle.”
Petro Andryushchenko, an aide to the Mariupol mayor, said on social media that the marines’ page had been hacked and the post was fake. Reuters could not independently verify it.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Kremlin would not halt its operation for any new round of peace talks.
Kremlin Responds to Clinton’s NATO Statement
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has refuted former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s comment on NATO’s open-door policy toward Russia, arguing that Washington has made it impossible for Moscow to join the alliance.
“I know for sure that the American side has repeatedly spoken about the impossibility of such membership. De facto, it was said that the doors, on the contrary, are closed, because it is fundamentally impossible,” Peskov told reporters on Monday.
Earlier last week, Bill Clinton published an article in The Atlantic attempting to justify his administration’s policy on the expansion of NATO.
“My policy was to work for the best, while expanding NATO to prepare for the worst. Yes, NATO expanded despite Russia’s objections, but expansion was about more than the U.S. relationship with Russia,” the former president explained. He added that “[the United States] left the door open for Russia’s eventual membership in NATO.”
EU Fails to Agree on Russian Energy Ban
The European Union’s foreign ministers have not agreed on a ban on Russian oil and natural gas imports, Head Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said on Monday, adding that discussions on the issue will continue. The energy ban was expected to be part of the latest EU sanctions package against Moscow.
“We discussed, first of all, how to ensure the effectiveness of the existing sanctions in order to avoid gaps in their implementation. But we also discussed new steps we can take, including sanctions against oil and gas,” Borrell said. “We have not made decisions regarding such sanctions, we agreed to continue the discussion.”
Borell stressed the importance of EU countries becoming less reliant on Russian energy, arguing that buying gas from Moscow is “financing the war.” He did, however, admit that it’s impossible to cut a 55 percent dependence on Russian gas overnight, referring to the situation in Germany, which has already warned of a looming “collapse” of its economy.
Austrian Chancellor Meets Putin in Moscow
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer says his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow was “very direct, open and tough.”
In a statement released by his office after the meeting, Nehammer said Monday his primary message to Putin was “that this war needs to end, because in war both sides can only lose.”
Nehammer was the first European leader to meet Putin in Moscow since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February.
The Austrian leader stressed that the Monday trip was “not a friendly visit,” but rather his “duty” to exhaust every possibility for ending the violence in Ukraine.
Nehammer’s Moscow visit comes after a trip on Saturday to Kyiv, where he met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Austria is a member of the European Union and has backed the 27-nation bloc’s sanctions against Russia, though it so far has opposed cutting off deliveries of Russian gas. The country is militarily neutral and is not a member of NATO.
Russia Claims Killing of Senior Nationalist Commander in Ukraine
Russian commandos have killed a prominent member of Ukraine’s nationalist Right Sector group, the Russian defense ministry claimed on Monday. Taras Bobanich was accused by Moscow of causing hundreds of civilian deaths in eastern Ukraine during hostilities in 2014.
A Russian recon team killed Bobanich while on patrol about half a mile south from the city of Izium in Ukraine’s Kharkov region, the ministry statement said. It said he was a deputy commander of the Right Sector responsible for reserve operations.
The ministry didn’t disclose the circumstances of Bobanich’s death. The Right Sector’s social media reported that he was killed on Friday near Izium, calling him a “legendary nationalist.”
The 33-year-old came originally from western Ukraine. He rose to national prominence during the mass protests and armed coup of 2013–2014, during which Ukrainian nationalists served as the street fighting force against Ukrainian law enforcement.
Russia Halts All Bond Sales Over ‘Cosmic’ Borrowing Costs
Russia is hitting pause on any new government borrowing owing to what finance minister Anton Siluanov told local media was a “cosmic” rise in debt servicing costs following war-related Western sanctions on Moscow.
Siluanov told the Izvestia news outlet in an interview on Monday that Russia will halt all government bond auctions for the rest of 2022.
“We do not plan to go to the local market or foreign markets this year,” Siluanov told Izvestia. “It makes no sense because the borrowing cost would be cosmic.”
In a wide-ranging interview, Siluanov said that recent changes to Russia’s budget policy mean that all revenue streams, including from sales of oil and gas, can be used to pay down its domestic and foreign debt and so the country doesn’t need to borrow at this time.
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Russia Seeks to End US-Dominated World Order: Lavrov
Russia’s military action in Ukraine is meant to put an end to the U.S.-dominated world order, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has explained. Washington has been seeking supremacy by imposing ad-hoc rules and violating international law, he claimed, in an interview aired by Russian television on Monday.
“Our special military operation is meant to put an end to the unabashed expansion [of NATO] and the unabashed drive toward full domination by the U.S. and its Western subjects on the world stage,” Lavrov told Rossiya 24 news channel.
“This domination is built on gross violations of international law and under some rules, which they are now hyping so much and which they make up on a case-by-case basis,” he added.
China and Russia Pushing For Greater BRICS Cooperation
Beijing and Moscow have announced their intention to boost ties between the BRICS nations—a five-member alliance that includes their countries plus India, Brazil, and South Africa.
China is seeking to promote financial and fiscal cooperation within the alliance, Chinese minister of finance Liu Kun said at the first BRICS Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting held on April 8. He called on BRICS members to strengthen macro policy coordination to boost the global economy. China will share information and conduct experience exchanges in infrastructure investment among the BRICS.
“In recent years, BRICS countries have maintained strong cooperation momentum and made important contributions to optimizing global economic governance and boosting the resumption and high-quality development of the global economy,” Liu said.
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Russia: We’ve Destroyed S-300 Missile Systems Given to Ukraine by European State
Russia said on Monday that it had used cruise missiles to destroy S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems which had been supplied to Ukraine by an unidentified European country.
Russia launched Kalibr cruise missiles on Sunday against four S-300 launchers which were concealed in a hangar on the outskirts of the Ukrainian city of Dnipro, the defense ministry said.
Russia said 25 Ukrainian troops were hit in the attack.
“High-precision sea-launched Kalibr missiles destroyed the equipment of a S-300 anti-aircraft missile division which had been delivered to the Kyiv regime by a European country,” the ministry said.
Russia did not say which European country had supplied the S-300 systems.
NATO member Slovakia, which had donated such a missile system to Ukraine, says that it cannot confirm that air defense systems it has provided to Ukraine have been destroyed by the Russian armed forces.
Asked by The Associated Press whether Russia has destroyed Slovak-supplied S-300s, Slovakian Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok said that “we have no evidence of this.”
“We’ve been hearing news to that end, but based on information provided by the Ukraine side we cannot confirm that. The Ukrainian side has excluded that,” he said at an EU meeting in Luxembourg.
Russian forces also shot down two Ukrainian Su-25 aircraft near the city of Izium and destroyed two ammunition depots, one of which was near the southern city of Mykolaiv, the Russian defense ministry said.
The Ukrainian military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hungary Says Rubles-for-Russian Gas Plan Breaches No EU Sanctions
Hungary plans to pay for Russian gas in euros through Gazprombank, which will convert the payment into rubles to meet a new requirement set by President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday.
Putin has warned Europe it risks having gas supplies cut unless it pays in rubles as he seeks retaliation over Western sanctions for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Under the scheme, Hungarian energy group MVM’s subsidiary, CEE Energy, would pay an upcoming bill in euros, which Gazprombank would convert into rubles and then transfer to Russia’s Gazprom Export, Szijjarto told a news conference.
With weeks to go before bills are due, the European Commission has said that those with contracts requiring payment in euros or dollars should stick to that.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban said last week Hungary was prepared to pay rubles for Russian gas, breaking ranks with the European Union which has sought a united front in opposing Moscow’s demand for payment in the currency.
“As for paying in [rubles], we have a solution that does not violate any sanctions but at the same time it secures Hungary’s gas supply,” Szijjarto said.
Szijjarto said the option to pay bills in another currency rather than euros was included in a bilateral contract between CEE Energy and Gazprom Export concluded in September, which will now be modified to reflect the planned changes.
He did not go into detail and it was unclear whether the falls in the Russian currency would affect the new payment terms in any way.
Szijjarto added that Hungary, which relies on Russia for most of its oil and gas, opposed the EU taking a joint approach to the issue, which Budapest considers a bilateral matter.
EU Morphed Into a Military Organization: Lavrov
The EU made a “serious U-turn” by morphing into a military organization acting in the interests of Washington and NATO, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday in an interview with Russian media. He cited a remark that EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell made last Saturday.
The European official said the conflict in Ukraine “will be won on the battlefield” as he announced more European military aid to Kyiv. Lavrov called the statement “outrageous.”
“When a diplomatic chief … says a certain conflict can only be resolved through military action … Well, it must be something personal. He either misspoke or spoke without thinking, making a statement that nobody asked him to make. But it’s an outrageous remark,” Lavrov told Rossiya 24 news channel.
Western nations acting in pursuit of American interests were trying to turn Ukraine into “a foothold for final suppression of Russia,” Lavrov said. After Moscow used force to counter that threat, European nations made a rapid shift in their attitude towards Russia. Now it “reflects spite and fury” towards the country. The dramatic change is evidence that the conflict in Ukraine is not about Ukraine, Lavrov believes.
“Western propaganda shifted gear into depicting Russia as pure evil and [Ukraine] as pure good. The current Ukrainian regime is presumably a beacon of democracy, justice, freedom that is drawn to everything European, to the values that Europe claims it always adhered to,” the minister said.
Neither is true, Lavrov argued. Ukraine is a hotbed of radical nationalism while Western powers easily break any norms when it fits them, while telling others to comply.
Croatia Expels 24 Russian Diplomats
Croatia is expelling 24 Russian diplomats and other embassy staff, joining other European nations that have done so.
The Croatian Foreign Ministry on Monday said they have summoned Russia’s ambassador in Zagreb and conveyed the “strongest condemnation of the brutal aggression on Ukraine and numerous crimes that have been committed.”
Germany Says Ukraine Needs Heavy Weapons to Defend Itself
Germany’s foreign minister says Ukraine needs heavy weapons to defend itself and this is no time for “excuses.”
Ukraine’s president has warned that his country faces a crucial time and that Russian troops will step up operations in the east.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said as she arrived for a meeting with her European Union counterparts Monday, “What is clear is that Ukraine needs further military material, above all heavy weapons, and now is not the time for excuses—now is the time for creativity and pragmatism.”
Germany broke with a foreign policy tradition after Russia’s invasion to supply arms to Ukraine but has faced criticism from Kyiv for perceived hesitancy and slowness in providing material.
Ireland: Consider EU Oil Sanctions on Russia
Ireland’s foreign minister said the European Union should consider imposing sanctions on Russia’s oil industry but cautioned that it’s most important for the 27-nation bloc to remain unified.
Several EU countries are dependent on Russian oil and gas imports. After much debate, the bloc agreed last week to a phase in of restrictions on imports of coal over Moscow’s war on Ukraine.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said that “we need to take a maximalist approach to sanctions to offer the strongest possible deterrents to the continuation of this war and brutality.”
Speaking as EU foreign ministers gathered Monday in Luxembourg, Coveney said “that should include, in our view, oil. We know that that’s very difficult for some member states and we have to keep a united position across the EU.”
The EU’s executive arm, the European Commission, is assessing what more can be done with a fresh package of sanctions.
East Ukraine Focus of New Russian Assaults
Ukrainian troops have repulsed several Russian assaults in the country’s east, the focus of a new offensive by the invading forces, British intelligence claimed on Monday, while President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said this week will be crucial to the course of the war.
Austrian leader Karl Nehammer planned to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday and will call for an end to the conflict. It would be Putin’s first face-to-face meeting with a European Union leader since Russia’s invasion started on Feb. 24.
Russian forces were also pushing their offensive to establish control over the southern port city of Mariupol, a key target whose capture would link up areas of Russian control to the west and east.
Powerful explosions rocked cities in the south and east and air raid sirens blared out across Ukraine early on Monday.
Zelenskyy kept up his campaign to generate international support and rally his countrymen, warning the coming week would be important and tense.
He was due to address South Korea’s Parliament by videolink on Monday.
Since Russia invaded, Zelenskyy has appealed to Western powers to provide more defense help, and to punish Moscow with tougher sanctions including embargoes on its energy exports.
Zelenskyy said he had confidence in his own armed forces but “unfortunately I don’t have the confidence that we will be receiving everything we need” from the United States.
Biden Will Speak to Modi as US Warns India on Imports of Russian Energy
President Joe Biden will meet virtually with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, the White House said.
“President Biden will continue our close consultations on the consequences of Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine and mitigating its destabilizing impact on global food supply and commodity markets,” press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on Sunday.
Daleep Singh, U.S. deputy national security adviser for international economics, who visited India recently, said the United States will not set any “red line” for India on its energy imports from Russia but does not want to see a “rapid acceleration” in purchases.
Lured by steep discounts following Western sanctions on Russian entities, India has bought at least 13 million barrels of Russian crude oil since the country invaded Ukraine in late February. That compared with some 16 million barrels for the whole of last year, data compiled by Reuters shows.
This meeting will precede the “U.S.–India 2+2 Ministerial” meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, India External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, and India Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, the White House said.
Biden, who last spoke to Modi in March, recently said that only India among the Quad group of countries was “somewhat shaky” in acting against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
The South Asian nation has tried to balance its ties with Russia and the West but unlike other members of the Quad countries—United States, Japan, and Australia—it has not imposed sanctions on Russia.
Daleep Singh during his visit said the United States was ready to help India diversify its energy and defense supplies. India is the world’s third-biggest oil importer and consumer.
He also warned that the United States does not want its allies helping resurrect the ruble, which nosedived immediately after the war began but has recovered in recent days.
Bavaria Outlines Consequences of Russian Gas Ban
Germany would face “mass unemployment, social decline, and democratic upheaval” should it stop buying Russian gas overnight, Bavaria’s top official has warned.
In an interview with the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ) newspaper published on Sunday, Minister-President Markus Söder said that Germany already “stood on the brink of social and economic overload,” with “galloping inflation” in evidence even before the military conflict in Ukraine broke out. The politician cited “energy and food prices” which were already a “true burden for many families,” calling for the middle class to be saved from being sucked into an “undertow of decline.”
According to Söder, “If we now stop gas from Russia overnight, then we will experience mass unemployment, social decline and democratic upheaval.” He advised the powers that be in Berlin to “act with foresight and not in a mad rush.”
Russia Ups Wheat Export Tax to Historic High
Russia has hiked up the tax on wheat exports to $101.4 per from April 13 to 19, the country’s Ministry of Agriculture announced on Friday.
This is the first time Russia has raised its wheat export duty to over $100, media reported. The levy has been on the rise for four weeks in a row after dropping for nine weeks prior to that.
The ministry also raised the export tax on barley and corn to $75.4 and $70.6 per ton, respectively.
According to Alexander Korbut, the vice president of the Russian Grain Union, Russian grain export duties are likely to grow further.
Zelenskyy Praises Germany’s Position Toward Ukraine After Call With Scholz
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Sunday he had discussed possible additional sanctions on Russia in a call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and praised what he said was a more favorable change in Germany’s position toward Kyiv.
“I spoke today with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz about how to bring to account all those guilty of war crimes. About how to strengthen sanctions against Russia and how to persuade Russia to seek peace,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.
“I am happy to note that recently Germany’s position is changing in Ukraine’s favor. And I consider this absolutely logical as a majority of Germans support this policy. I am grateful to them. And I expect that everything we agreed will be implemented. This is very important.”
Germany, reluctant in the early stages of the Russian invasion to provide Ukraine with arms, has now agreed to supply anti-tank weaponry and missiles.
Scholz said on Friday that Germany could end Russian oil imports this year but stopping gas imports would be tougher because the country would need to build infrastructure to import gas from alternative sources.
A statement from Scholz’s office on Sunday on the chancellor’s call with Zelenskyy did not mention a discussion of sanctions, saying Zelenskyy had informed Scholz of “the current situation and negotiations between Ukraine and Russia.”
Zelenskyy Claims Tens of Thousands Killed in Mariupol, Seeks Military Aid From South Korea
Tens of thousands of people have likely been killed in Russia’s assault on the southeastern city of Mariupol, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claimed on Monday, as he asked Seoul for any military aid it could provide.
“Mariupol has been destroyed, there are tens of thousands of dead, but even despite this, the Russians are not stopping their offensive,” Zelenskyy said in a video address to South Korean lawmakers.
Reuters has confirmed widespread destruction in Mariupol but could not verify the accuracy of his estimate of those killed in the city, which lies between eastern areas of Ukraine held by Russian-backed separatists and Russian-annexed Crimea.
Zelenskyy did not specify which weapons he sought, but said South Korea had many weapons that could not only help save the lives of ordinary Ukrainians, but help prevent Russia from attacking other nations.
“Ukraine needs various military technologies from airplanes to tanks,” he said through an interpreter. “South Korea can help us.”
South Korean defense minister Suh Wook and Ukrainian defense minister Oleksii Reznikov held a phone conversation on Friday on Reznikov’s request. Reznikov thanked Suh for sending humanitarian aid and supplies and asked South Korea to send anti-aircraft weapons, Seoul’s defense ministry said on Monday.
More EU Sanctions on Russia an Option, Borrell Says
More European Union sanctions on Russia are an option, the bloc’s top diplomat said on Monday when asked if the EU was ready to consider a Russian oil embargo in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Look, sanctions are always on the table. Discussing Ukraine means certainly to discuss the effectiveness about sanctions, the one already decided and certainly [EU foreign] ministers will discuss which are the further steps,” Borrell said before a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.
Berlin Sets Timeline for Energy Independence
A spokesperson for the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy said at a briefing last week that the country could completely cut its dependence on Russian energy in two years.
Susanne Ungrad said Berlin is aiming to end Russian oil imports by the end of this year, while coal could be phased out by the fall, and natural gas could be given up by the middle of 2024.
Discussions are currently underway on how to further speed up the process, she added. Ungrad also noted that abandoning Russian energy would require “a national application of strength.”
New Zealand Sending Transport Plane and Money to Europe
New Zealand will send a military transport plane and a support team of 50 to Europe, as well as give money to Britain to buy weapons, as it significantly steps up its response to the war in Ukraine.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday that the C130 Hercules plane would travel throughout Europe to carry equipment and supplies to distribution centers. She said the plane wouldn’t fly directly into Ukraine as most military equipment is transported into the country by land.
Ardern said her government would also spend an additional NZ$13 million ($9 million) on military and human rights support, including NZ$7.5 million for Britain to buy weapons and ammunition. Ardern said that brings New Zealand’s total contribution to the war effort to NZ$30 million ($20 million) with 67 people deployed.
Chechen Chief Kadyrov Says Russian Forces Will Take Kyiv
Ramzan Kadyrov, the powerful head of Russia’s republic of Chechnya, said early on Monday that there will be an offensive by Russian forces not only on the besieged port of Mariupol, but also on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities.
“There will be an offensive … not only on Mariupol, but also on other places, cities, and villages,” Kadyrov said in a video posted on his Telegram channel.
“Luhansk and Donetsk—we will fully liberate in the first place … and then take Kyiv and all other cities.”
Kadyrov, who has often described himself as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “foot soldier,” said there should be no doubt about Kyiv.
“I assure you: not one step will be taken back,” Kadyrov said.
Kadyrov has been repeatedly accused by the United States and European Union of rights abuses, which he denies.
Moscow fought two wars with separatists in Chechnya, a mainly Muslim region in southern Russia, after the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union. But it has since poured huge sums of money into the region to rebuild it and given Kadyrov a large measure of autonomy.
The Kremlin describes its actions in Ukraine as a “special operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” its neighbor and on Sunday Russia intensified its attacks in eastern Ukraine.
Russia Will Take Legal Action If Forced Into Sovereign Debt Default: Newspaper
Russia will take legal action if the West tries to force Moscow to default on its sovereign debt, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told the daily Izvestia newspaper in an interview early on Monday.
“Of course we will sue, because we have taken all the necessary steps to ensure that investors receive their payments,” Siluanov was quoted as saying in the pro-Kremlin newspaper.
War to Slash Ukraine’s GDP Output by Over 45 Percent, World Bank Forecasts
Ukraine’s economic output will likely contract by a staggering 45.1 percent this year as Russia’s invasion has shuttered businesses, slashed exports, and rendered economic activity impossible in large swaths of the country, the World Bank said on Sunday in a new report.
The World Bank also forecast Russia’s 2022 GDP output to fall 11.2 percent owing to punishing financial sanctions imposed by the United States and its Western allies on Russia’s banks, state-owned enterprises, and other institutions.
The World Bank’s “War in the Region” economic update said the Eastern Europe region, comprising Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova, is forecast to show a GDP contraction of 30.7 percent this year, because of shocks from the war and disruption of trade.
Growth in 2022 in the Central Europe region, comprising Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania, will be cut to 3.5 percent from 4.7 percent previously due to the influx of refugees, higher commodity prices, and deteriorating confidence hurting demand.
Tom Ozimek, Naveen Athrappully, The Associated Press, and Reuters contributed to this report.