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Live blog: Quad ministers denounce Russian threats of nuclear war

Friday, March 3, 2023

Russia cannot be allowed to wage war with impunity, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his counterparts from India, Japan and Australia said in a statement following a meeting in New Delhi.

The so-called Quad group also said that the use or threat of use, of nuclear weapons in Ukraine was “inadmissible”. 

Late last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended a landmark nuclear arms control treaty and threatened to resume nuclear tests.

Blinken met with counterparts from the Quad group on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in New Delhi, where ministers had traded blame over the conflict. The Quad groups India, Australia, Japan and the United States. 

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2100 GMT — US dispatching bridge-launchers to Ukraine for spring fight

The US has announced a new $400 million military aid package for Ukraine that for the first time includes armoured vehicles that can launch bridges — allowing troops to cross rivers or other gaps as Russian and Ukrainian forces remain entrenched on opposite sides of the Dnieper River.

This round of aid on Friday will be drawn from existing US weapons stockpiles so it can arrive in Ukraine faster.

The US and allies are trying to rush additional support to Kiev to best position it for intensified spring fighting.

The Armoured Vehicle Launched Bridge is a portable, 18-metre folding metal bridge that is carried on top of a tank body.

Providing that system now could make it easier for Ukrainian troops to cross rivers to get to Russian forces.

More here

1515 GMT — No plans to declare martial law following Ukraine’s cross-border attack: Kremlin 

Russia does not plan to declare martial law following the recent incident in Bryansk region, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said. 

On Thursday, Moscow said Ukrainian troops launched an offensive in Russia’s Bryansk region, which killed one civilian and injured a 10-year-old boy. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin called it “a terrorist attack.”

At a press briefing in Moscow, Peskov said the investigation is ongoing, the conclusions will be made upon its completion. 

1510 GMT — EU’s Borrell sees ‘small improvement’ at G20 with Russia 

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he saw a “small improvement” in diplomacy with Moscow at a Group of 20 meeting that saw rare US-Russia talks. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met briefly Thursday with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in New Delhi, and pressed him over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Borrell noted that Lavrov remained in the room when Western nations criticised Russia, unlike at the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Bali last year, when he stormed out. 

“At least this time he stayed and he listened. This is a small improvement but it’s important,” Borrell said at the Raisina Dialogue, a forum in New Delhi. “I think it’s better than nothing.”

1505 GMT — Ukraine meeting energy needs despite Russian air strikes: PM 

Ukraine is managing to generate as much power as it needs, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has said, despite waves of Russian air strikes on its energy network. 

Shmyhal told a news conference no immediate changes were planned in government and that reforms would continue. 

He also said that Kiev, which has applied for membership of the NATO military alliance, hoped for “concrete decisions” from its NATO allies.

1503 GMT — Russia seeks explanation for Serbian rockets in Ukraine 

Russia is seeking an official explanation from its ally Serbia about reports that the Balkan country has delivered thousands of rockets to Ukraine for its fight against Russia’s invasion. 

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova expressed “deepest concern” about the reports, which first came from pro-government Russian media last month. 

“We are following this story,” Zakharova said in a statement posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry website late Thursday. She added that the possible arming of Ukraine represented a “serious question” for Serbian-Russian relations. 

The media reports said a Serbian state arms factory recently delivered some 3,500 missiles for the Grad multiple rocket launchers used by both the Ukrainian and Russian armed forces.

1007 GMT — Lavrov says Ukraine’s president made peace talks with Russia ‘criminal offence’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made negotiations with Moscow a “criminal offence,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

Speaking at the Raisina Dialogue conference in New Delhi, Lavrov said everybody is asking when is Russia ready to negotiate to end the war that began in February 2022, but nobody prompts Ukraine for peace talks.

He reminded that Ukraine’s principal sponsor, the West, has been continuously saying that “it is not time to negotiate yet because Ukraine must win in the battlefield before any negotiation”.

1005 GMT — Kremlin warns against more Western arms for Ukraine ahead of Biden, Scholz meeting

The Kremlin warned Western countries against providing more arms to Ukraine as key Kiev backers President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz were set to meet in Washington.

“(Arms deliveries) place a significant burden on the economies of these countries and negatively affect the well-being of citizens of these countries, including Germany,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“It is obvious that this will prolong the conflict and have sad consequences for the Ukrainian people,” he added. 

0847 GMT — Wagner chief says Ukraine’s Bakhmut ‘practically surrounded’

The chief of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner said his fighters had “practically encircled” Bakhmut, an eastern Ukrainian city that Russia has been trying to seize for months. 

“Wagner paramilitary group units have practically surrounded Bakhmut, only one road remains” under Ukrainian control, Yevgeny Prigozhin said, calling on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to abandon the city.

Bakhmut, once known for its salt mines and sparkling wine, has seen the longest and bloodiest battle of the offensive.

0750 GMT — EU’s Borrell sees ‘small improvement’ in US talking with Russia

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he saw a “small improvement” in diplomacy with Moscow after a Group of 20 meeting that saw rare US-Russia talks.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met briefly Thursday with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the meeting in New Delhi, with the top US diplomat pressing Moscow over its attack on Ukraine.

Borrell noted that Lavrov remained in the room when Western nations criticised Russia, unlike at the last G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Bali last year, when he stormed out.

0720 GMT — Russia’s Lavrov says Moscow will not let West blow up gas pipelines again

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia “will not let the West blow up gas pipelines again” and said that Moscow would no longer rely on the West as an energy partner.

Moscow has suggested that Western countries were responsible for the blasts that damaged the Nord Stream pipelines in September, an assertion they have dismissed, and has called for an international investigation.

0310 GMT — Moldova approves declaration condemning Russia 

Moldova’s parliament approved a declaration condemning Russia over its war on Ukraine, local media reported.

Politicians recognised that Russia started a war with Ukraine with the annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and has since continued its aggression against the country, the state-run Moldpres news agency said.

It said parliament also recognised that Russia has been waging an illegal, unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine, intensified through the wide-scale attack. 

0100 GMT — Brazil’s Lula tells Zelenskyy he wants to help with Ukraine peace

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has renewed a proposal for his country to take part in international mediation concerning Ukraine, during a call with his counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“I have just had a video meeting with the president of Ukraine. I reaffirmed Brazil’s desire to speak with other countries and participate in whatever initiatives around the construction of peace and dialogue,” Lula posted on Twitter.

“War cannot be of interest to anyone.”

0000 GMT — US hosts war planning exercises for Ukrainians

The US is hosting war planning exercises in Germany for Ukrainian military officers to help them think through upcoming battlefield decisions, officials said.

The multi-day, tabletop exercises have been carried out at a war-gaming facility at a US Army base in Wiesbaden, Germany, where the top US military officer, Army General Mark Milley, visited.

“No one is sitting there telling the Ukrainians, go left or go right or do this or do that. That is not the job of the international community,” Milley told reporters travelling with him to Germany.

“All we’re doing is setting up the framework and the mechanics to allow the Ukrainians to self-learn, to learn against a situation, or various scenarios.”

2200 GMT — Biden, Scholz to focus on Ukraine, China in talks

US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will focus their discussions mainly on the war in Ukraine, but could also touch on concerns that China may provide lethal aid to Russia, a senior administration official has said.

The two leaders are slated to meet for an hour, including a significant one-on-one component, the official said.

“The overarching purpose of this meeting was a chance for the two leaders to be able to coordinate specifically on Ukraine,” the official said.

The US had not seen evidence that China had provided lethal aid to Russia thus far, but was tracking the situation closely, the official said. 

2100 GMT — US to announce new aid package to Ukraine

The United States will announce a new military aid package for Ukraine, worth roughly $400 million and comprised mainly of ammunition, two officials and a person familiar with the package said.

Aid for Ukraine is expected to be a major topic when President Biden and German Chancellor Scholz meet at the White House.

The package, the sources said, is expected to contain more Guided Multiple Launch Rockets (GMLRS) for HIMARS launchers, ammunition for the Bradley Fighting Vehicles, as well as armored vehicle launched bridges.

For our live updates from Thursday (March 2), click here.

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