A couple mark the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, standing next to the St. Volodymyr statue in Holland Park, London, February 24, 2023 (PA)
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Ukraine War, 1 Year On: Zelenskiy — “We Will Rebuild and Restore Everything”
Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1536 GMT:
Meeting in Bengaluru, India, all G20 countries except for Russia and China have agreed to “strongly condemn” Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The language of the statement the same used in November’s gathering in Bali. The G20 reiterated that it was not the forum to resolve security issues.
China prevented any communiqué condemning the Russian invasion.
Germany’s Finance Minister Christian Lindner said Beijing’s action was “regrettable”. He added, “For me it was more important that all the others adhered to a clear position of international law, multilateralism and the end of the war.”
UPDATE 1329 GMT:
Russia has stopped deliveries to Poland’s largest oil company PKN Orlen.
Chief executive officer Daniel Obajtek tweeted, “We’re effectively securing supplies.”
The company is “prepared” for any cutoff, supplying its refineries via sea.The Druzhba pipeline, which supplies oil to Poland, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia has been exempted from EU sanctions on Russia’s energy exports to help countries with limited options for alternative deliveries.
Russian oil now accounts for about 10% of Polish supply.
UPDATE 1015 GMT:
Senior advisor Mykhailo Podolyak has withdrawn Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s cautious welcome of China’s position paper.
If you claim to be a global player, you don't offer an unrealistic plan. You don't bet on an aggressor who broke intl law and will lose the war. It's not far-sighted. As someone who plans for decades doesn't play "🇷🇺 3-day games."
China, the "window of opportunity" is not endless
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) February 25, 2023
In contrast, French President Emmanuel Macron said Chinese engagement was a “good thing”, noting that he will visit Beijing in early April.
“China must help us put pressure on Russia so that it never uses chemical or nuclear weapons, [an effort] which China has already made, and that [Moscow] stops its aggression as a precondition for talks,” he said.
UPDATE 1010 GMT:
Footage of the first Leopard 2 tanks from Poland arriving in Ukraine….
Video of the formal handover of the first Polish Leopard 2A4 tanks to Ukraine. They're now part of Ukraine's 4th Tank Brigade. pic.twitter.com/q36Fco8z9Z
— Euan MacDonald (@Euan_MacDonald) February 25, 2023
UPDATE 0820 GMT:
The European Union has approved its 10th set of sanctions on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.
“Together, the EU member states have imposed the most forceful and far-reaching sanctions ever to help Ukraine win the war,” the Swedish presidency announced. “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 over goods with military uses; punishment of entities supporting the war, spreading propaganda or delivering drones used by Russia; cutoff of more Russian banks from the international transactions system; and reduction in trade between the EU and Russia by more than 10 billion euros ($10.58 billion).
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had pledged confirmation of the sanctions on the first anniversary of Vladimir Putin’s invasion.
However, Poland objected that there were too many exemptions on imports of Russian rubber and that transition periods were too long.
Agreement was finally reached at 10 p.m.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called for further action:
The 10th 🇪🇺 sanctions package targets russian military industry, propaganda & financial system. The pressure on russian aggressor must increase: we expect decisive steps against Rosatom & russian nuclear industry, more pressure on military & banking.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 25, 2023
Canada also announced further sanctions on Friday, citing 129 Russian individuals and 63 entities.
Those blacklisted include the Deputy Prime Minister, others ministers, and employees of the Presidential administration, the military, and weapons producers.
UPDATE 0736 GMT:
A woman is taken away by Moscow police as she tries to lay flowers at the monument to Ukrainian poet Lesya Ukrainka.
Moscow’s residents set up a memorial at the monument in mid-January, remembering the 46 victims of a Russian missile strike destroying an apartment block in Dnipro in south-central Ukraine.
A young woman was detained because she wanted to lay flowers on the monument to Lesya Ukrainka in #Moscow. pic.twitter.com/ZWJP1NsY82
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) February 24, 2023
UPDATE 0710 GMT:
The international coalition supporting Ukraine’s resistance stepped up aid on Friday with a series of announcements.
The US pledged another $2 billion in security assistance and more than $10 billion in financial aid.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan confirmed the package of “more artillery, more ammunition, more HIMARS [rocket systems] on the back of major announcements about American tanks and armored vehicles”.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said funding would ensure that the Zelenskiy Government can continue to meet “the critical needs of its citizens, including healthcare, education, and emergency services.”
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki confirmed the despatch of four German-made Leopard heavy battle tanks to Ukraine.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said additional military support to Ukraine will include four more German-made Leopard 2s, bringing the total to eight.
Sweden pledged 10 Leopard 2s. Earlier in the week, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in Kyiv that Madrid will supply six.
"Excuse me, where is the road to Moscow?"
The first reaction of Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov to the new Leopard 2A4 tanks that arrived in Ukraine today. pic.twitter.com/DZ4l0LQHGE
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) February 24, 2023
US President Joe Biden said the US will not — for now — send fighter jets to Ukraine.
“We’re sending [Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy] what our seasoned military thinks he needs now. He needs tanks, he needs artillery, he needs air defense, including another HIMARS [rocket system].
There’s things he needs now that we’re sending him to put them in a position to be able to make gains this spring and this summer going into the fall.
But UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said London is ready to supply fighter jets to eastern European countries, enabling them to release their Soviet jets to Ukraine.
Poland’s leaders have said they are willing to deliver MiG-29 jets, introduced by the Soviet Union in the 1970s, if the supply is part of a coalition initiative.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Both Ukraine and Russia have welcomed a Chinese initiative to end Vladimir Putin’s invasion, but the West has pushed back the 12-point position paper.
Beijing’s initiative calls for respect of sovereignty of all countries and says one country’s security cannot be at the expense of the security of others.
It seeks de-escalation and a ceasefire, emphasizing dialogue and negotiation as the only way to resolve the conflict. “All measures conducive to easing the humanitarian crisis must be encouraged and supported.” Civilians and prisoners of war will be protected, and safety will be maintained at nuclear plants.
Asserting that a “Cold War mentality” must be abandoned, the proposal opposes the expansion of military blocs — an implicit reference to any Ukrainian accession to NATO — and unilateral sanctions.
Zelenskiy: Russia Must Withdraw
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he “wanted to believe” Beijing was interested in a “fair peace”: “China has started talking about Ukraine, and that is not bad. The Chinese statement respects our territorial integrity.
He set out conditions for the pursuit of the initiative, beginning with Russia’s complete withdrawal of troops from Ukrainian territory. “Compromise” was only possible when Moscow stopped “killing civilians, destroying infrastructure, and burning forests”.
Commenting on Russia’s war crimes, he said the mass killing of civilians in Bucha near Kyiv last March was the “most horrible” thing he has seen: “The devil is not at the bottom but is among us in this land.”
Reinforcing the line of Ukraine’s allies that China must not provide military assistance to Moscow, Zelenskiy said a “fair peace” meant not “supplying weapons to Russia”: “I’m doing my best to prevent that from happening. This is priority number one.”
The President returned to his 10-point peace formula, presented to the G20 summit in November. As well as requiring Russian withdrawal, the plan calls for reparations and prosecutions of Moscow’s leaders who authorized war crimes.
He suggested a summit for China, India, Latin America, and Africa to join the plan. He would attend in person “even though it’s very difficult for me to leave Ukraine”.
Russia Demands Permanent Occupation
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow appreciated the China proposals and was open to achieving the goals of its “special military operation” through political and diplomatic means.
But she insisted that this meant recognition of the “new territorial realities” in Ukraine — Vladimir Putin’s “annexations” of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east and the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in the south — as well as the seizure of Crimea in 2014.
US President Joe Biden responded that the Chinese initiative was “just not rational”.
Putin’s applauding it, so how could it be any good? I’ve seen nothing in the plan that would indicate that there is something that would be beneficial to anyone other than Russia, if the Chinese plan were followed.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, visiting Estonia, was dismissive of the position paper: “China doesn’t have much credibility because they have not been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine and they also signed just days before the invasion an agreement between President Xi and President Putin on a limitless partnership with Russia.”
Rebuffing China’s criticism of the supply of weapons for Ukraine’s defense, he said, “Military support today is the way to achieve a peaceful agreement tomorrow.”