Ukraine Latest: Von der Leyen, Zelenskiy to Hold Talks in Kyiv

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(Bloomberg) -- European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made an unannounced visit to Kyiv, where she was to hold talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on the country’s request to join the European Union and its rebuilding after the war.

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Meanwhile, Ukraine said its partners hadn’t heeded its plea for preemptive sanctions that could’ve persuaded Russia to withdraw troops before Feb. 24. The comment from Zelenskiy’s office was a response to U.S. President Joe Biden said the Ukrainian leader had brushed off his warnings about an imminent invasion.

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Key Developments

  • Von der Leyen Visits Kyiv Ahead of Key Week for Ukraine’s EU bid

  • Biden Says Zelenskiy Brushed Off Warnings of Russia’s Invasion

  • Iran Has Lessons on Grim Survival for Russia Under Sanctions

  • Ukraine Seeks New IMF Deal to Shore Up Its War-Ravaged Finances

  • Chef José Andrés Warns US Food Aid to Ukraine Going to Waste

(All times CET)

Ukraine Steps Up Diplomatic Outreach (12:32 p.m.)

Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted that he had a call with his Polish counterpart Zbigniew Rau to discuss the next deliveries of heavy weapons and the seventh EU sanctions package on Russia. Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov met Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and had a “productive and frank discussion.” Meanwhile Ukrainian lawmaker Fedir Venislavskyi said the country was taking all necessary measures to save the two Britons and a Moroccan captured by Russia and sentenced to death, according to the Guardian, citing Reuters.

Von der Leyen Visits Kyiv in Boost for Ukraine’s EU Bid (9:30 a.m.)

The head of the EU’s executive arm made her second visit to Kyiv since the start of the war.

“We will take stock of the joint work needed for reconstruction and of progress made by Ukraine as it pursues its European path,” von der Leyen said. “This will feed into our assessment, which we will present soon.”

The commission is expected to recommend on June 17 that Ukraine be granted candidate status to join the bloc, starting a process that could last more than a decade in which the country must adopt EU rules and standards.

Ukraine Open to Prisoner Swap for Britons, Telegraph Says (9:19 a.m.)

Ukraine is open to a prisoner swap to secure the release of two British men who have been sentenced to death, the Telegraph reported, citing Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK. The two men, who have lived in Ukraine for several years, were serving members of the Ukrainian military. The UK is keen to avoid treating their capture as a bilateral issue, the Telegraph said.

US, Ukraine Spar Over Invasion Warning (9:17 a.m.)

Biden said Zelenskiy tuned out warnings that Russia would invade Ukraine in the lead-up to the February attack.

“I know a lot of people thought I was maybe exaggerating, but I knew, and we had data to sustain, he was going in off the border. There was no doubt. And Zelenskiy didn’t want to hear it, nor did a lot of people,” Biden said Friday. The president acknowledged that the possibility of Russian President Vladimir Putin launching a full-scale invasion may have seemed far-fetched at that time.

Zelenskiy’s spokesman, Serhiy Nikiforov, said the Ukrainian president had had multiple calls with Biden before the invasion where the two leaders shared their assessments of the situation. Besides, Zelenskiy had called upon the country’s partners to prepare preemptive sanctions to push Russia to de-escalate, but “our partners didn’t want to hear us.”

More Children Die in Mariupol (9:09 a.m.)

Ukraine’s prosecutor general has learned of the death of 24 more children in Mariupol, Guardian report. That means at least 287 children have died so far in the war, while 492 have been injured, the paper said, citing a statement from the prosecutor general’s office.

“These figures are not final, as work is under way to establish them in places of active hostilities, in the temporarily occupied and liberated territories,” according to the statement.

BASF CEO Bats for Tech Sanctions (9:00 a.m.)

The chief executive officer of BASF SE, which would have to shut down its main site in Ludwigshafen if Russian gas supply is cut off, said he favors sanctions on the technology industry instead. Curbs on aircraft replacement parts, semiconductors or software updates would have a much bigger impact on Russia than a possible gas embargo, Martin Brudermueller said in an interview with Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Japan Says China-Russia Ties May Deepen Further (4:20 a.m.)

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said ties between Moscow and Beijing may deepen further as Russia is under intense international sanctions. The joint military activities carried out by the two countries are also a cause for concern, he said at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

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