Ukraine Latest: General Visits Embattled Bakhmut to Show Support
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A senior Ukrainian army general visited the embattled city of Bakhmut in a show of support for its defenders after months of Russian attacks in the yearlong war.
Group of 20 finance chiefs failed to agree on a joint statement after Russia and China balked at wording on the war that G-20 leaders had backed in November. PKN Orlen, Poland’s largest oil company, reported that inflows via from Russia via the Druzhba pipeline had stopped, while saying that customers won’t be affected.
European Union governments backed 10th set of sanctions against Russia on Friday, including new export restrictions on dual-use and advanced technology that contributes to Russia’s war effort.
Russia’s War in Ukraine: Key Events and How It’s Unfolding
You can follow all our special coverage of the one year mark of Russia’s invasion via our website, on Twitter and on Bloomberg Television, including live broadcasts from Kyiv. You can also read our biggest pieces from the past week on Flipboard.
(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)
Listen to our special conversations from this week, including our Twitter Space yesterday analyzing Zelenskiy’s press conference as it happened. We also discussed the military strategies of the war, the impact on energy and the environment, the effect of sanctions including on the wealth of Russia’s oligarchs and what the future holds for Ukrainian refugees.
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On the Ground:
Russia’s main efforts continue to be focused on conducting offensive operations on the Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Shakhtars’ke axes, the Ukrainian General Staff said on Facebook. Russia carried out 27 airstrikes and 75 attacks from MLRS. Around Bakhmut, Kremlin troops are actively conducting aerial reconnaissance to adjust artillery fire. Russian troops shelled towns in Dnipropetrovsk region with heavy artillery, damaging three schools, 10 apartment buildings, 11 private houses, electricity lines and local gas transportation pipelines.
(All times CET)
CIA Head Reinforces Warning to China (12:08 a.m.)
CIA Director William Burns said the Biden administration is confident that China’s leaders are considering providing lethal equipment to Russia in its war against Ukraine, echoing comments by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Joe Biden over the past week.
China hasn’t made a decision yet and the US hasn’t seen evidence of such shipments, Burns said in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” recorded Friday. That’s why Blinken and Biden “have thought it important to make very clear what the consequences of that would be as well,” Burns said.
Russia to G-20: New Power Centers Needed (6:30 p.m.)
Russia accused the “collective West” of undermining the Group of 20, saying the US, European Union and other Group of Seven countries are seeking to blame Russia for global economic and security problems.
A Russian Foreign Ministry statement responding to this week’s meeting of G-20 finance chiefs called for the recognition of “new centers of power,” including Russia.
Ukrainian General Visits Embattled Bakhmut (4:21 p.m.)
Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskiy, commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, visited the contested city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region on Saturday, the forces said on Facebook.
Russian troops have been trying since August to capture the city as a springboard to wider territorial gains in Ukraine’s east. Fighting continues on the outskirts of Bakhmut, which had a pre-war population of about 70,000, and around it, the Ground Forces said.
Kremlin forces likely made “marginal territorial gains” in the area on Friday, according to the Institute for the Study of War, which noted that Russian sources are again claiming the capture of nearby villages.
G-20 Finance Chiefs Fail to Reach Agreement (2:44 p.m.)
Group of 20 finance chiefs failed to agree on a consensus statement at their meeting in Bengaluru due to an impasse over language on Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The issuance of a chair’s summary, as opposed to a traditional communiqué, was a backtrack after a joint statement had been agreed at November’s leaders’ summit in Indonesia.
Read more: Russia’s War Sees G-20 Finance Chiefs End With No Communiqué
Hungary’s NATO Expansion Vote Seen in Late March (2:30 p.m.)
Hungary may not cast its final vote to ratify Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership bids until the second half of March, following separate talks with each country, said Cabinet Minister Gergely Gulyas.
The nation is the only European Union member that hasn’t yet nodded to the NATO enlargement plans. Turkey is the other member of the North Atlantic treaty that so far hasn’t approved the accession of the Nordic countries.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Friday he supports NATO enlargement.
Poland’s Says Russia Cuts Oil Deliveries (1:36 p.m.)
PKN Orlen SA, Poland’s biggest oil company, stopped receiving oil via the Druzhba pipeline from Russia, Chief Executive Officer Daniel Obajtek said in a tweet. Orlen said consumers won’t be impacted by the halt, which it said it prepared for. No reason was given for the halt.
Read more: Poland’s Orlen Says Russia Cuts Oil Supply Via Key Pipeline
Russia’s Foreign Ministry Denies Swiss Talks (1:14 p.m.)
Russia isn’t holding negotiations on the Ukrainian situation in Switzerland since it no longer considers the country neutral after it joined anti-Russian sanctions, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in comments on the ministry website.
Zakhorova was referring to comments this week by Ignazio Cassis, the Swiss foreign minister, who told the Le Temps newspaper this week that secret, “non-high-level” talks on trying to reach a peace settlement are under way in Geneva.
Switzerland can no longer pretend to play any intermediary role, including providing a venue for talks, Zakharova said.
Scholz Says China’s Proposal Has ‘Light and Shadow’ (1:05 p.m.)
The German chancellor, who’s in India for two days, said China’s position paper on ways toward a cease-fire in Ukraine contained both light and shadow. The 12-point plan has been roundly dismissed as offering clear benefits to Russia.
Olaf Scholz said he welcomed the “red lines” described by Beijing on the use of nuclear weapons, but criticized the lack of any demand by China that Russia pull its troops out of occupied territory in Ukraine. “A dictated peace manufactured by Russia isn’t an option,” Scholz said.
Read more: China Cease-Fire Proposal for Ukraine Falls Flat With US, Allies
EU Adopts 10th Sanctions Package Against Russia (12 p.m.)
EU member states formally adopted a 10th package of sanctions on Moscow including tighter export restrictions and technology controls, as well as requiring banks to report information on Russian Central Bank and other sanctioned assets they hold.
The bloc’s envoys signed off on the measures late Friday ahead of its final ratification. The EU also imposed measures against individuals and entities supporting the war, spreading the propaganda, or delivering drones by Russia.
The measures come amid a push to better enforce existing sanctions and crack down on companies circumventing them.
Macron to Visit China in April, Urges Russia Out (11:30 a.m.)
Emmanuel Macron will visit China in early April, the French president told reporters on Saturday.
He praised China’s move to become involved in efforts to end the conflict in Ukraine, while reiterating that peace “is possible only if it comes first with an end to Russian aggression, withdrawal of troops and respect for the territorial sovereignty of the Ukrainian people.”
“China must now help us to put pressure on Russia, of course, so that it never uses chemical or nuclear weapons, which China has already done, but that it stops this aggression as a prelude to negotiations,” Macron said.
Ukrainians Are Moving Abroad for Good (9:30 a.m.)
More than 8 million Ukrainians, mostly women and children, fled the country after Russia’s invasion a year ago - and many are staying away.
The United Nations has called it Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II, and Ukraine has been tipped into a spiral of demographic decline that’s likely to damage its postwar growth prospects as well.
On Friday, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy implored Ukrainians to return once it’s safe to do so.
Read more: More Ukrainians Are Settling Abroad as War Grinds On
Russia Running Low on Iranian Drones, UK Says (9 a.m.)
Consistent with this week’s reporting from Bloomberg, the UK defense ministry said Russia has depleted its stock of Iranian-made drones and will likely seek a new batch.
There have been no reports of Iranian one-way-attack uncrewed aerial vehicles (OWA-UAVs) being used in Ukraine since about Feb. 15, the ministry said on Twitter.
Although the weapons don’t have a good record in destroying their intended targets, Russia likely sees them as useful decoys which can divert Ukrainian air defenses from more effective Russian cruise missiles, according to the ministry.
Read more: Russia May Be Running Low on Iranian Drones, Awaits New Supplies
Russia, China Naval Drills Under Way Off South Africa (7:30 a.m.)
Joint naval exercises involving China, Russia and South Africa are under way as planned, TASS reported, citing the African nation’s defense ministry. The operation is expected to run through Monday.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko said in a statement on Friday that Ukraine was “deeply concerned” about the drills and said South Africa was “adopting the experience of the Russian war machine.”
“We call on the Republic of South Africa not to encourage further Russian aggression and its sense of impunity,” he said.
Read more: Russia, South Africa, China to Simulate Air Attacks in Exercise
Biden Rules Out Giving Ukraine F-16s ‘For Now’ (4:10 a.m.)
President Joe Biden said he is ruling out Ukraine’s request for F-16 fighter jets at this time, despite increased pressure from Zelenskiy.
“He doesn’t need F-16s now,” Biden said in an interview with ABC News broadcast Friday evening. “I am ruling it out for now.”
The US has resisted sending Ukraine F-16 warplanes over concerns their delivery could further escalate the war.
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