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Live blog: Polish, Slovak jets sent to Ukraine will be ‘destroyed’ – Russia

Friday, March 17, 2023

The Kremlin has said fighter jets given to Ukraine by Poland and Slovakia would be destroyed and repeated that Western arms deliveries to Kiev would not change Russia’s military aims.

“The supply of this military equipment — as we have repeatedly said — will not change the outcome of the special military operation…” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

“Of course, all this equipment will be destroyed.” 

Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger had earlier said Slovakia would donate 13 MiG-29 warplanes to Ukraine, making it the second NATO member to announce such a shipment following a similar move by Poland.

This comes ahead of a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Russia next week for talks with President Vladimir Putin, as Beijing touts a plan to end the grinding Ukraine war.

For more updates👇 

1757 GMT — Spain rules out fighter jets for Ukraine

Spain will not send any type of combat planes to Ukraine, Defence Minister Margarita Robles has said.

Spain will always be “very respectful” of the decisions taken by other allies to help Ukraine, but will not join them in sending fighter jets, Robles told reporters at the Defence Ministry.

“Spain’s position has always been very clear. We are not going to send combat planes,” she said.

1753 GMT — More diplomacy, not tanks, needed to stop Ukraine war: German opposition

Germany’s opposition Left Party has urged the government to stop arms deliveries to Ukraine, and actively work for a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

“We need diplomacy instead of tanks. Germany must join the international peace initiatives and actively work for a cease-fire, and peace negotiations,” Amira Mohamed Ali, the party’s parliamentary group leader, said in a statement .

She underlined that more and more military experts are coming to the conclusion that this war cannot be decided on the battlefield.

1732 GMT — Putin should be tried along with others responsible for Ukraine barbarity: Poland

Putin should be tried as a war criminal along with others responsible for atrocities in Ukraine, Poland’s government spokesman said after the ICC issued an arrest warrant for him.

“This is an important decision from the court, which points to war crimes committed by the Russian apparatus of violence,” Piotr Muller told state-run news agency PAP.

“Vladimir Putin is at the head of this machine and should be tried as a war criminal along with those who directly and indirectly implement barbaric warfare.”

1711 GMT — UK says ICC Putin warrant ‘welcome’ step

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has said the UK welcomed the ICC’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Putin, adding that investigations into alleged atrocities in Ukraine must continue.

“We welcome the step taken by the independent ICC to hold those at the top of the Russian regime, including Vladimir Putin, to account,” Cleverly tweeted, adding “those responsible for horrific war crimes in Ukraine must be brought to justice”.

1702 GMT — EU’s Borrell hails ICC arrest warrant for Putin as important decision

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has called the ICC’s issuing of an arrest warrant for Putin an important decision for international justice.

Borrell said the move was just the start of “holding Russia accountable for its crimes and atrocities in Ukraine”.

“This is an important decision of international justice and for the people of Ukraine,” he said. 

1613 GMT — ICC arrest warrant for Putin has ‘no meaning’ for Russia: Zakharova

“The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view,” said Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

“Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it,” she added.

1604 GMT — Kiev hails ‘historic’ ICC warrant for Putin

Ukrainian officials have hailed a decision by the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for Putin over the “unlawful deportation” of Ukrainian children.

“The world received a signal that the Russian regime is criminal and its leadership and henchmen will be held accountable,” Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said on social media.
“This is a historic decision for Ukraine and the entire system of international law,” Kostin added.

1528 GMT — UN working at ‘all levels’ for Ukraine grain deal extension

Discussions are ongoing at “all levels” to ensure a Ukrainian grain exports deal aimed at easing the global food crisis is extended beyond’s expiry date, the United Nations has said.

Russia and Ukraine are in disagreement about the duration of an extension to the Black Sea Grain Initiative which allows for the safe transportation of grain and foodstuffs from Ukrainian ports.

“The agreement foresees the renewal for 120 days. There are discussions ongoing and we’re not going to speculate on what is going to happen,” UN spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci told a press conference.

1510 GMT — ICC issues arrest warrant for Putin over Ukraine war crimes

The International Criminal Court has said it issued an arrest warrant for Putin for war crimes because of his alleged involvement in abductions of children from Ukraine.

The court said in a statement that Putin “is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”

It also issued a warrant for the arrest of Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, on similar allegations.

READ MORE: ICC issues arrest warrant for Putin over suspected war crimes in Ukraine

1228 GMT — US warns Chinese call for Ukraine ceasefire would aid ‘Russian conquest’

The United States has opposed Chinese calls for a ceasefire in Ukraine, saying this would simply consolidate “Russian conquest” and allow the Kremlin to prepare a new offensive, a White House spokesman said.

“We don’t support calls for a ceasefire right now,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters ahead of next week’s visit to Moscow by Xi.

“We certainly don’t support calls for a ceasefire that would be called for by the PRC in a meeting in Moscow that would simply benefit Russia,” he said, using China’s official acronym — the People’s Republic of China.

1228 GMT — Central African summit mulls economic outlook, Ukraine

Heads of state from the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) has began a one-day summit to discuss the region’s economy and the impact of the Ukraine war.

Cameroonian President Paul Biya, hosting the meeting, declared the summit open before proceedings went behind closed doors.

The six-nation group gathers the Central African Republic, Chad, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo in addition to Cameroon, in a union around a common currency, the CFA franc.

Several of its members are exporters of oil, whose price has been buffeted by the war in Ukraine.

1215 GMT — EU draft plan shows backing for ‘1M artillery shells’ for Ukraine

The European Council will welcome a plan to provide 1 million artillery shells to help Ukraine fight against Russia at an EU summit next week, according to a draft of the conclusions seen by the German daily Handelsblatt.

The wording of the passage, which calls for facilitating the immediate provision of ammunition to Ukraine, including through joint procurement, could still change before the summit begins on Thursday, reported Handelsblatt. 

1213 GMT — China should encourage Russia to withdraw from Ukraine: UK

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said Xi should use his trip to Moscow to encourage Putin to withdraw Russian troops from Ukraine, according to a spokesperson.

“If China wants to play a genuine role in restoring sovereignty to Ukraine, then we would obviously welcome that,” the spokesperson told reporters.

“We’re clear that any peace deal which is not predicated on Ukraine’s sovereignty and self-determination is not a peace deal at all. So we will continue to call on China, as we have done before, to join other countries across the world in calling on Putin to withdraw his troops.”

0914 GMT — Slovakia to send MIG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine

The Slovak government has approved sending MIG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, Prime Minister Eduard Heger said, stepping up its military assistance to Kiev.

Its fleet of 11 MiG-29 planes was retired last summer and most of them are not in operational condition. It will send those that are operational and the rest will go for spare parts.

Slovakia is the second country to send warplanes to Kiev after Poland. The country will also supply part of its KUB air defence system.

0458 GMT — Wagner claims ‘Afghan unit’ fights on its side in Ukraine

The head of Russia’s Wagner private military company (PMC) has claimed that people from Afghanistan are fighting as part of the group in Ukraine.

In a statement on Telegram, Yevgeny Prigozhin said there is an artillery unit that operates US M-777 howitzers and works with Javelin anti-tank tank missile systems that were either bought from the Ukrainian military or were captured in battles.

“Yes indeed, the Afghan fighters of the Wagner PMC work with us in small numbers. Now there is an artillery unit, which at one time was trained to work on American artillery systems, M-777 howitzers, plus it works with Javelin anti–tank missile systems, which we manage to buy from Ukrainian units, or capture,” he said.

0108 GMT — Ukraine vows to drag ‘war crimes’ guilty into local courts, ICC

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made no direct reference to the UN-mandated report accusing Russia of “war crimes” in his fresh video address and instead spoke about those killed in the Russian bombing of a theatre in the southern city of Mariupol one year ago.

“Russian bombs destroyed the Mariupol theatre, a building used as a shelter. Women and children were inside. Some people were pregnant, others elderly,” Zelenskyy said.

No one knows the death toll for certain.

Moscow denies deliberately targeting civilians, though the conflict has killed thousands, displaced millions, pulverised Ukrainian cities, shaken the global economy and created a Cold War chill in international relations.

“The day will come when those guilty of war crimes against Ukraine will appear in the halls of the International Criminal Court and in national courtrooms,” Zelenskyy said.

“We will do all the legal work. We will mobilise all the partners that are necessary for this. This is already being done. Every day we bring justice closer to Ukraine.”

2200 GMT — Russia calls UN-backed report a ‘controlled leak’

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova has said that UN-mandated investigative body’s report accusing Russia of “war crimes” in Ukraine has “no legal consequence.”

Regarding media reports claiming that the International Criminal Court [ICC] may open two cases against Russia due to its “special military operation” in Ukraine, Zakharova said it was a “controlled leak” aimed at “keeping the topic afloat, but at the same time not to bear any responsibility.”

Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute on the ICC and does not have obligations under it, so its decisions will have no legal consequence, she added.

“Therefore, Russia does not cooperate with this body, and possible ‘recipes’ for arrest coming from the International Criminal Court will be legally null and void for us,” she said.

For our live updates from Thursday (March 16), click here.

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