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Live blog: Zelenskyy keen to meet China’s Xi; Canada to send tanks to Kiev

Friday, February 24, 2023 

2120 GMT — EU approves 10th package of Russia sanctions

The European Union has approved a tenth package of Russia sanctions on the anniversary of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine, the Swedish EU presidency said late on Friday.

“Together, the EU member states have imposed the most forceful and far-reaching sanctions ever to help Ukraine win the war,” the Swedish EU presidency said on Twitter.

“The EU stands united with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.We will keep supporting Ukraine, for as long as it takes.”

The package includes tighter export restrictions regarding dual-use goods as well as measures against entities supporting the war, spreading propaganda or delivering drones used by Russia.

2046 GMT — Zelenskyy hopes China would support ‘just peace’

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he was planning to meet China’s Xi Jinping after Beijing called for urgent peace talks to end the war in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian president also said he was doing his best to prevent Chinese arms supplies to Russia to avoid any risk of “World War III.”

“I am planning to meet with Xi Jinping,” he told reporters as Ukraine marked the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

“This will be important for world security,” he said.

Zelensky did not say when or where he was planning to meet Xi but expressed hope that China would support a “just peace” and Ukraine.

“I really want to believe that China will not supply weapons to Russia. It is very important for me,” Zelensky said.

2033 GMT — Canada imposes new Russia sanctions, pledges battle tanks to Ukraine

Canada has imposed new Russia-related sanctions and sending four more Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, marking the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Friday.

The new sanctions would target 129 individuals and 63 entities including Russian deputy prime ministers and other officials, Trudeau told reporters in Toronto.

Canada will also provide an armored recovery vehicle and over 5,000 rounds of ammunition to help Ukraine in its defense against Russia.

“Vladimir Putin made a grave miscalculation when he launched his war of aggression,” Trudeau said. “He underestimated Ukrainians, and he underestimated the solidarity of their friends around the world … but today, we are stronger and more unified than ever.”

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1643 GMT — Moscow says ‘highly values’ China efforts to settle Ukraine conflict

Russia said it appreciated Beijing’s efforts to settle the Ukraine conflict but insisted any solution to the crisis should recognise Russia’s control over four Ukrainian regions.

“We highly value the sincere desire of our Chinese friends to contribute to the settlement of the conflict in Ukraine through peaceful means,” the foreign ministry said, but added any settlement must recognise “the new territorial realities”.

1624 GMT – Poland, US in talks to produce ammunition for Ukraine

Polish President Andrzej Duda on Friday said that during US counterpart Joe Biden’s visit to Warsaw they began talks on producing much-needed ammunition for Ukraine.

In response to a journalist’s question about military support for Ukraine, Duda said: “I can reveal that I spoke to President Biden about starting joint military production, of ammunition for example.”

“So you can say that talks on the matter have been launched at the highest presidential level. These talks will definitely continue,” he added. 

1606 GMT — ‘Victory is inevitable’ if allies do their homework: Zelenskyy

President  Zelenskyy has said Ukraine would push back Russian troops if Western allies kept their promises following pledges of more financial and military aid.

“If partners respect all their promises and deadlines, victory will inevitably await us,” Zelenskyy said during a press conference that started with a minute of silence, “if we can all do our homework, we can all win.” 

Zelenskyy added that Kiev needed to cooperate with China to put an end to the war after Beijing presented a position paper on the conflict in Ukraine.

“China started talking about Ukraine and that’s not bad,” Zelenskyy said. “It seems to me that there is respect for our territorial integrity, security issues,” he added.

1600 GMT – Türkiye stresses for just & lasting end of war in Ukraine

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has stressed on the need for just and lasting end of Russia-Ukraine conflict as soon as possible through talks. 

The ministry said in a statement that Türkiye supports efforts towards solution by initiatives such as Istanbul Grain Deal, adding that it keep extending support and exerting effort towards ending this war. 

“Unfortunately, heavy cost of this war is felt throughout the world”, the ministry stated. 

1500 GMT – US prosecutors seize assets, charge Russia on Ukraine conflict anniversary

US prosecutors on said they were seeking to seize six properties in New York and Florida allegedly belonging to a sanctioned Russian oligarch, and separately charged a Russian national with illegally exporting counterintelligence equipment.

The announcements came on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation.”

1356 GMT – China should also talk to Kiev if it wants peace in Ukraine: German president

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier voiced doubt on China’s recently announced peace plan to end the Ukraine war.

“It is questionable whether the superpower China wants to play a constructive role to this end. But if it does, then China should certainly talk not only with M Moscow but also with Kiev,” Steinmeier said during an event to mark the anniversary of the war.

Steinmeier called on Beijing, which enjoys close ties with Moscow, to take a clear stance against Russia’s war on Ukraine.

1342 GMT – Turkish and Ukrainian presidents discuss Ukraine war

In a phone call, the Turkish and Ukrainian presidents discussed the recent powerful earthquakes in Türkiye and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war which marks the first anniversary.

President Erdogan voiced his readiness to contribute “in any way they can to build a cease-fire and negotiated solution, and shape peace in the one-year-old Russia-Ukraine war.”

1511 GMT – Germany to send Ukraine another four tanks, taking total to 18 – ministry

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius decided to hand over another four Leopard 2 A6 battle tanks from German military stocks to Ukraine, the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

“Germany is thus increasing the number of tanks it is handing over from 14 to 18,” the ministry added.

1450 GMT — Ukraine prepares for counteroffensive in conflict’s anniversary

Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov has said that his forces were making plans to push Russian troops out of the country, a year after Russia launched its attack.

“A year ago, it was difficult for us to get serious weapons. Today, civilised countries see that you are the shield of Europe in the east,” Reznikov told the armed forces.

“There will be a counteroffensive. We are working hard to prepare and secure it.”

1425 GMT — G7 to urge countries against military aid to Russia: Japan PM

A virtual Group of Seven summit will call on countries to not send military aid to Russia, Japan’s prime minister has said.

“In view of the military support for Russia by third countries that has been pointed out, the G7 intends to call for such support to cease,” Fumio Kishida told reporters hours before Japan chairs the meeting. 

He did not single out any nation, though Russia has reportedly used Iranian drones in Ukraine, and Washington has recently warned that Beijing is weighing supplying Moscow’s effort. China has denied those claims.

1420 GMT — Putin ‘has failed to achieve a single goal in Ukraine: von der Leyen

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has “failed to achieve a single” goal after his attacks on Ukraine.

“One year on from the start of his brutal war, Putin has failed to achieve a single one of his strategic goals… Instead of wiping Ukraine from the map, he is confronted with a nation more vigorous than ever,” von der Leyen told reporters in Tallinn.

1050 GMT — EU pledges more support for refugees

European Union officials have pledged continued support to millions of Ukrainian refugees, as they marked the anniversary of Russia’s military campaign.

More than 8 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the war, according to the United Nations refugee agency, and nearly 5 million have registered for EU temporary protection or similar national protection schemes in Europe.

Margaritis Schinas, the EU Commission vice president, said that he didn’t think it was “automatic” that refugee numbers would increase in the coming months.

0822 GMT — Russia in talks with Chinese drone maker on supplies: report

Russia is in talks with a Chinese drone maker to supply it with self-explosive drones that could be deployed in Ukraine, German magazine Der Spiegel reported. 

The magazine said it has seen information indicating that Russia’s military is negotiating with Chinese drone manufacturer Xi’an Bingo Intelligent Aviation Technology to produce such drones for Moscow on a large scale.

The Chinese manufacturer, the report said, has agreed to build and test 100 ZT-180 prototype drones before delivering them to Russia by April 2023.

0813 GMT — NATO says ‘resolute’ in supporting Ukraine

NATO declared itself “resolute” in its support of Ukraine and said “Russia’s efforts to break the resolve of the brave people of Ukraine are failing”.

In a statement issued one year after Russia’s attack on Ukraine, NATO also said that Russia must “immediately” end its “illegal war” which was impacting global food and energy supplies, and demanded Moscow answer for its “war crimes”.

0626 GMT — Russia’s Wagner group claims capture of Ukraine village near Bakhmut

The head of Russia’s Wagner Group said that his fighters had captured a village near Ukraine’s eastern city of Bakhmut, the scene of fierce fighting between the two sides for months.

Berkhivka “is entirely under our control”, Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a statement released by his press service on the one-year anniversary of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine. 

0650 GMT — Zelenskyy’s message on Ukraine war anniversary: ‘We will defeat everyone’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy marked the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale attack with a sombre message of defiance to his people, saying “we will defeat everyone”.

In a video released to the media and titled “the year of invincibility”, the 45-year-old sat at a desk and recalled how he addressed Ukrainians a year ago in a hurried statement.

0140 GMT — US to provide further $2B in security assistance to Ukraine

The US will provide Ukraine with another $2 billion in security assistance, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said.

“Today, the United States announced a further $2 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, all designed for a specific purpose, which is with our military looking hard at this set of problems, what can we do to give Ukraine the tools that it needs to win,” said Jake Sullivan on CNN Town Hall on the conflict.

“And we will keep working with them month by month to figure out if there are additional tools that they need,” said Sullivan.

0130 GMT — Beijing urges warring sides to reach ‘peaceful settlement’

China has said it wants to prevent the Ukraine crisis from getting out of control in a position paper released on the one year anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“Dialogue, negotiation are the only viable way to resolve the Ukraine crisis,” China said according to a paper on its position on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis as released by the Foreign Ministry. 

“All parties should support Russia and Ukraine in working in the same direction and resuming direct dialogue as quickly as possible,” the ministry said, stressing that “nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear wars must not be fought”.

“Parties to the conflict should strictly abide by international humanitarian law, avoid attacking civilians or civilian facilities.”

2330 GMT — Australia imposes more sanctions on Russia 

The Australian government has said it would send more drones to Ukraine to aid its fight against Russia on the anniversary of the attack, and imposed new targeted financial sanctions against 90 Russian individuals and 40 entities.

The latest targets include Russian ministers overseeing energy, resources and industry sectors, and key players in defence including arms manufacturer Kalashnikov Concern, aviation firm Tupolev and submarine developer Admiralty Shipyards.

“We continue to stand with Ukraine,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in a statement.

“(The uncrewed aerial systems) provide a battlefield intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.” He did not specify how many drones would be shipped, the models involved, and whether they would be armed.

2234 GMT — Chinese company discusses ‘sending Russia drones’

Russia is in talks with a Chinese manufacturer about buying 100 drones, with a delivery date of April, German magazine Der Spiegel has reported.

Der Spiegel said Chinese drone manufacturer Xian Bingo Intelligent Aviation Technology had said it was prepared to make 100 prototypes of its ZT-180 drone, which the magazine said could carry a 35-50kg warhead.

It said the drone was similar to Iran’s Shaheed-136, with which Russia has launched countless attacks on Ukraine.

The magazine also said Bingo had plans to help establish a production site for the drone in Russia, where up to 100 aircraft could be made a month. Bingo could not immediately be reached for comment outside of normal business hours.

It added that there had been earlier plans for a company controlled by the Chinese army to send Russia spare parts for its SU-27 warplane.

2233 GMT — British PM to urge G7 to speed up military aid to Kiev

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will tell G7 allies they must increase aid to Kiev faster to give Ukraine a “decisive” battlefield advantage, a statement issued by his office said.

“For Ukraine to win this war — and to accelerate that day —  they must gain a decisive advantage on the battlefield… Instead of an incremental approach, we need to move faster on artillery, armour, and air defence,” he is expected to say in a virtual meeting on the first anniversary of Russia’s assault.

Ukraine conflict: Analysing Türkiye’s mediation that yielded positives

2200 GMT — Landmarks lit, vigils held to mark first anniversary of Ukraine war 

Paris lit up the Eiffel Tower in blue and yellow and people draped in Ukrainian flags gathered at a vigil in London, as the world marks one year of war between Ukraine and Russia.

Russia attacked Ukraine by land, air and sea on February 24, 2022, the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War Two. 

Russia has called its actions “a special military operation,” while Ukraine and the West call the attack an unprovoked land grab.

In Brussels, European Union buildings including those of the European Parliament and Commission were similarly lit up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag.

In London, people draped in Ukrainian flags and holding banners gathered at Trafalgar Square at a vigil to mark the anniversary.

Ukraine had success with counter-offensives in late 2022 to seize much of the territory it lost early on, and the war has settled into one of attritional trench warfare and rising losses on both sides. 

Russia controls around a fifth of Ukraine a year on.

2000 GMT — UN approves resolution calling for Russia to leave Ukraine

The United Nations has voted overwhelmingly to demand Russia “immediately” and “unconditionally” withdraw its troops from Ukraine, marking the one-year anniversary of the war with a call for a “just and lasting” peace.

In the UN General Assembly, 141 members voted in favour of the resolution, which reaffirms support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, seven opposed it, and 32 abstained, including China, Pakistan and India.

The 141-7 vote with 32 abstentions was slightly below the highest vote for the five previous resolutions approved by the 193-member world body since Russia sent troops and tanks across the border into its smaller neighbour on February 24, 2022.

The General Assembly has become the most important UN body dealing with Ukraine because the Security Council, which is charged with maintaining international peace and security, is paralysed by Russia’s veto power. Its resolutions are not legally binding, unlike Security Council resolutions, but serve as a barometer of world opinion.

For our live updates from Thursday (February 23), click here

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