Tue. Jul 5th, 2022

US official says Russian shelling has made humanitarian efforts ‘difficult’

Russian shelling of critical infrastructure like roads, bridges and railroads in Ukraine is making it “difficult” for humanitarian workers to reach people in need of aid, a senior US official said.

“The situation on the ground in Ukraine is rapidly getting worse,” the US official said. “In the absence of a ceasefire, humanitarian safe passage must be assured in order to allow aid workers to reach those in need of humanitarian aid,” the official said.

The US said 4.7mn people had been displaced as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Around 3mn Ukrainians are now refugees, the official said, including 1mn children.

The Biden administration has provided around $ 293mn of humanitarian aid to Ukraine in the last two weeks, the official said.

Eastern European leaders arrive in Kyiv as Russian shelling continues

The leaders of three EU countries met with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Tuesday evening in a show of European solidarity even as Russian shelling continued on residential neighborhoods in the Ukrainian capital.

The trip by the prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia is the most high-profile visit to Kyiv since Russia invaded the country on February 24. In a video posted by Ukrainian officials online, Zelensky was shown giving the visiting leaders a briefing on the military and humanitarian situation in the country.

“Your visit to Kyiv at this difficult time for Ukraine is a powerful testimony of support,” Zelensky wrote in a note accompanying the video. “We really appreciate this.”

The trip came as NATO said it would hold an emergency summit next week in Brussels of the alliance’s 30 leaders, including US President Joe Biden.

“We will address the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, our strong support for Ukraine, and further strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defense in response to a new reality for our security,” said Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary-general.

Despite the symbolism of the wartime visit to Kyiv, officials in Brussels expressed reservations about the trip, insisting it was not an official mission on behalf of the EU. The presidents of the European Council and the European Commission were informed about the travel plans last week and pointed to the security risks involved, their spokespeople said.

Read more about the eastern European leaders’ meeting with Zelensky here

Ukraine war round-up: The leaders of Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic arrive in Kyiv

The leaders of Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic arrived in Kyiv late on Tuesday in a show of European solidarity. The EU distanced itself from the trip, saying it was not an official EU mission.

The leaders of NATO states will meet next week for a summit in Brussels to discuss Ukraine.

The US imposed sanctions on 11 Russian military officials.

Russia outlined a $ 8bn rescue plan to counter international sanctions and imposed sanctions on US President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other top US officials.

The head of NATO urged China to “clearly condemnRussia’s invasion of Ukraine and not extend any form of support to Moscow, after the US told allies China signaled its willingness to provide military assistance to Russia.

A Moscow court fined a state television editor, Marina Ovsyannikova, on Tuesday for a video condemning the war in Ukraine.

Nearly 7 per cent of the Ukrainian population have fled the war-torn country as the number seeking refuge in neighboring countries hit 3mn.

Economic developments:

  • American pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly will cease exporting non-essential medicines to Russia and donate any profits generated from its sales of essential treatments to humanitarian relief efforts

  • Tobacco group Imperial Brands is pulling out of Russia

  • Volkswagen is struggling to secure crucial supplies from parts manufacturers in Ukraine and announced it will consider moving more of its production out of Europe to the US and overseas if the Ukraine conflict continues

  • Russian vodka imports will be subject to a 35 per cent tariff in the UK, as part of the new economic sanctions

  • In stock markets, the US benchmark S&P 500 added 2.14 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite closed up 2.92 per cent. Europe’s Stoxx 600 closed down 0.3 per cent

  • Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, traded below $ 100 for the first time in a fortnight. It settled 6.5 per cent lower at $ 99.91, its lowest close since February 25

Military developments:

  • Russian forces shelled residential neighborhoods in Kyiv on Monday night, killing at least two people

  • Ukrainian authorities in the western city of Rivne said 19 people were killed in a Russian air strike on a TV tower

  • A Russian cruise missile landed in front of a 10-story residential building in Kyiv’s Podil district. The explosion shattered windows and damaged balconies but police said no one was killed or seriously injured

Ukrainian and Russian military claims cannot be independently verified.

Russian state TV editor fined for video condemning war in Ukraine

A Moscow court fined a state television editor on Tuesday for a video condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine after she crashed a live newscast to protest against the invasion.

Marina Ovsyannikova was fined Rbs30,000 ($ 280) for violating public order in the video, in which she urged Russians to protest against the war, saying: “What’s happening in Ukraine is a crime and Russia is the aggressor. The responsibility for this aggression lies with one man: [Russian president] Vladimir Putin. “

Ovsyannikova is still facing investigation over the protest itself in which she appeared live on air for a few seconds during Russia’s main state evening newscast, holding a sign that said “Stop the war – Do not believe propaganda – They’re lying to you” and chanting “Stop the war! No to war! ”

Her supporters are concerned that she could receive a sentence of up to 15 years in prison under a draconian new law that criminalizes acts such as “discrediting the Russian armed forces” and spreading “fake news” about the conflict.

Police detained Ovsyannikova immediately after her protest and held her incommunicado throughout the night while her lawyers fruitlessly searched for her.

In a brief statement to reporters after her hearing, Ovsyannikova said police interrogated her for 14 hours and did not let her sleep, contact relatives, or access legal counsel.

Ovsyannikova’s extraordinary protest is the most high profile display of discontent in Russia nearly three weeks into the war.

Read more on the fine here

NATO calls Brussels summit next week to discuss Ukraine

The leaders of NATO states will meet next week for an extraordinary summit in Brussels, as the US-led alliance continued to build up its eastern defense posture in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The summit is scheduled for March 24, when US President Joe Biden will meet the leaders of NATO’s other 29 members in person, and was announced on Tuesday.

“We will address the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, our strong support for Ukraine, and further strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defense in response to a new reality for our security,” said Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

“At this critical time, North America and Europe must continue to stand together in NATO,” he added.

Biden will also attend the European Council meeting of EU leaders on March 24-25, an EU official said.

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