Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (R) greets Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda in Lviv, Poland, January 11, 2023
Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1422 GMT:
At the joint press conference in Warsaw, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke of the ongoing battle for Bakhmut in the east of the country.
He said the situation continues to be the “most difficult in the country”, but “we are in Bakhmut and the enemy does not control Bakhmut”.
However, he noted the problems of shortages of ammunition to resist Russia’s 10 1/2-month assault, and did not rule a withdrawal if necessary.
The most important thing is not to lose our military. And certainly, if there is a moment of even more intense events and the danger that we may lose personnel due to the encirclement, there will be appropriate correct decisions made by the general on the spot.
UPDATE 1414 GMT:
Speaking at his joint press conference with Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Warsaw, Polish President Andrzej Duda said he seeks to “obtain security guarantees for Ukraine” at the NATO summit in Lithuania in July.
Duda supported “Ukraine’s pursuit of EU and NATO membership” and continued:
Poland is currently Ukraine’s largest economic partner. These data clearly show that the greatest international turnover is currently between Poland and Ukraine — this is related to the current situation and the general change that the eastern direction has been completely closed to Ukraine. I am convinced that this trend will continue in the future, that Ukraine will cooperate with the West as part of the Community, as part of the European Union.
Duda added, “We deeply believe that together we will rebuild Ukraine more beautiful than it used to be. Everything will be new, a brand-new future.”
UPDATE 1217 GMT:
A Moscow court has fined leading Russian actor Dmitry Nazarov 50,000 rubles ($629) for his video ” Do the Russians Want Wars?”.
Nazarov was convicted of “discrediting the Russian army”. He was not present at the trial and said through a lawyer that he did not admit guilt.
The actor is well-known for a starring role in the TV series Kitchen. Since 2002, he had been a leading actor at the Chekhov Moscow Art Theater.
But Nazarov ran into trouble over the videos, sometimes with his wife Olga Vasilyeva, in which he recites anti-war poems. In mid-February, Nazarov and Vasilyeva, who had been at the Moscow Art Theater since 2005, were fired.
UPDATE 1204 GMT:
China’s Permanent Representative to the European Union, Fu Cong, says Beijing does not support the Russian invasion of Ukraine and does not provide military assistance to Moscow.
In an interview with The New York Times, Fu added that China does not recognize Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Ukrainian territories, including the Crimea peninsula and the Donbas area in eastern Ukraine.
The diplomat said a statement in February 2022 about “boundless friendship” between the countries, just before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, “is nothing but rhetoric”.
He said that China has not condemned the invasion because it understands Russia’s claims of a defensive war against NATO and “the real reasons [for the assault] are more complicated” than those set out by Western leaders.
The interview was conducted before today’s visits of French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to Beijing.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded, “The whole context of our mutual understanding is set out in two documents, two signed statements that were adopted as a result of Russian-Chinese negotiations. They are very informative and they fully cover the entire range of issues that are on the joint agenda.”
UPDATE 1146 GMT:
Russia’s second-largest bank VTB has reported a record annual loss of 612.6 billion rubles ($7.7 billion).
VTB was one of the first Russian banks to be excluded from the SWIFT global payments system after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. VEB head Andrey Kostin, a close associate of Putin, has been sanctioned by the US and the UK.
VTB’s Chief Financial Officer Dmitry Pianov said, “As a leader in servicing foreign trade activities and in investment banking, we became the first target for the maximum possible sanctions.”
The bank said it suffered an “unprecedented outflow of [foreign] currencies”; losses from the disposal of its subsidiaries, including those in Europe; and the effects of rising interest rates in Russia.
In 2021, VTB posted a net profit of 327 billion rubles ($4.1 billion).
UPDATE 1124 GMT:
Visiting Beijing, French President Emmanuel Macron said China can play a “major role” to end the war in Ukraine because of its close relationship with Russia.
Macron is emphasizing dialogue with China, preventing Moscow from having an exclusive relationship with Beijing. He said:
We hear increasingly loud voices expressing a strong concern about the future of relations between the west and China that in some form lead to the conclusion that there is an inescapable spiral of mounting tensions.
But he also added a veiled warning to China not to get too close to Vladimir Putin: “We have decided since the beginning of the conflict to help the victim, and we have also made it very clear that anyone helping the aggressor would be an accomplice in breach of international law.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrives in Beijing on Thursday.
UPDATE 1040 GMT:
More than 200 Russian independent journalists have signed an open letter calling on Moscow to release US journalist Evan Gershkovich, seized by the Russian State security service FSB in Yekaterinburg last week.
Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal correspondent who has lived in Moscow for six years, has been accused of espionage. Analysts say Russia may be using him as a bargaining chip to get the return of Russian intelligence operatives detained abroad.
The letter’s signatories said the allegations against Gershkovich are “preposterous and unjust”: “[The FSB has] provided no evidence to support this claim. It expects us to take its investigators at their word.”
They add, “There is no reason for society to trust these ‘professionals’.”
UPDATE 1017 GMT:
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has arrived in Warsaw and has been received by Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) April 5, 2023
UPDATE 1111 GMT:
Poland’s Agriculture Minister Henryk Kowalczyk has quit, protesting the European Commission’s decision to extend duty-free imports for Ukrainian grain until June 2024.
Kowalczyk cited the call for tariffs by Polish farmers, who say they are being hurt by cheaper Ukrainian grains, “As it is clear that this demand will not be met by the European Commission at this point, I decided to resign.”
Prime ministers of five states, including Poland, wrote European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to seek action.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: On Wednesday, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy makes his first official visit to neighboring Poland since Russia’s invasion in February 2022.
Zelenskiy has had closed-door discussions in Poland, including in December during a stopover on return from the US. However, today’s official ceremonies will be a sign of Ukraine’s successful resistance — with significant assistance from its neighbor — against Vladimir Putin’s attempt to conquer it.
In the opening phase of the invasion, Poland received most of the Ukrainians who fled. More than 8 million have crossed the border, and about 1.5 million have established residence.
Warsaw has provided substantial political, economic, and military assistance to Kyiv. It led the way in commitments earlier this year to battle tanks, and it has delivered the first four Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets, a possible opening to supplies by other countries of advanced warplanes.
A senior advisor to Polish President Andrzej Duda, Marcin Przydacz, said on Monday:
The visit will take place at the invitation of President Duda. There will be long, broad talks, not only about the security situation, but also about economic and political support.
He said Zelenskiy will meet both Poles and Ukrainians in Warsaw’s Castle square.
On Tuesday, the US committed another $2.6 billion in military assistance to Ukraine, including three air surveillance radars, anti-tank rockets, and fuel trucks.
The package also has artillery rounds, anti-armor systems, small arms, heavy equipment transport vehicles, artillery and tank ammunition, and mortar systems.
The military aid takes that US total to $35.2 billion during the Russian invasion.