WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
After weeks of escalating tensions in the region and sanctions imposed by Western nations, Russia has begun its invasion of Ukraine, with President Vladimir Putin authorizing a military operation in the eastern part of the country on Thursday, February 24.
“Russia cannot feel safe, develop, and exist with a constant threat emanating from the territory of modern Ukraine,” Putin said. “All responsibility for bloodshed will be on the conscience of the ruling regime in Ukraine.”
Explosions were heard in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv shortly after Putin’s announcement that signaled what appeared to be the start of war in Europe. Ukraine vowed to defend itself from what it called a “war of aggression.”
“The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now,” said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
Bookmark and refresh this page for updates and analyses of the latest news on the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis.
Britain sanctions Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin
Britain on Wednesday, June 29, announced sanctions on oligarch Vladimir Potanin, described by London as Russia’s second richest man and who has been buying assets from firms exiting Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.
India’s top cement maker paying for Russian coal in Chinese yuan
India’s biggest cement producer, UltraTech Cement, is importing a cargo of Russian coal and paying using Chinese yuan, according to an Indian customs document reviewed by Reuters, a rare payment method that traders say could become more common.
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Ukraine tells NATO Russia wants to dictate future world order
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told NATO leaders on Wednesday, June 29, his country needed more advanced weapons and money to defend itself against Russia, warning that Moscow’s ambitions did not stop at Ukraine.
He put the monthly cost of defending Ukraine against Russia’s invasion at about $5 billion.
“This is not a war being waged by Russia against only Ukraine. This is a war for the right to dictate conditions in Europe – for what the future world order will be like,” he said in a virtual address to a summit of the Western defense alliance in Madrid.
“That is why it is absolutely necessary to support Ukraine, even now, with weapons, finances and political sanctions against Russia, which will stop its ability to pay for the war.”
Zelenskiy said Ukraine needed modern missile and air defense systems to counter Russia’s artillery.
“By providing them to us, you can completely break Russia’s tactics to destroy cities and terrorize civilians,” he said.
Moscow calls its actions a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of what it calls anti-Russian nationalism fomented by the West. Ukraine and the West say Russia launched an unprovoked war of aggression.
Zelenskiy said Russia did not want to stop at taking areas of southern Ukraine or the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, where the heaviest battles of the war are being fought.
“It wants to absorb city after city in Europe, which the Russian leadership considers its property and not independent states. This is Russia’s real goal,” he said.
“The question is – who is next for Russia? Moldova? The Baltic States? Poland? The answer is all of them.”
He said NATO was adapting a new 10-year strategy that was “first and foremost a strategy for the security of your societies, your states” while Ukraine suffered “cruise missiles, torture, murder of children, rape of women.”
“Financial support for Ukraine is now no less important than aid with weapons,” he said. “We need about $ 5 billion a month – and that’s a fundamental thing. This is exactly what is needed for defense, for security.”
Pope: Ukraine shopping center bombing the latest ‘barbarous’ attack
Pope Francis on Wednesday, June 29, called the bombing of a crowded shopping centre in the city of Kremenchuk the latest in string of “barbarous attacks” against Ukraine.
Ukraine said at least 18 people were killed and about 60 injured on Monday, June 27, by a Russian missile strike. Russia’s defence ministry said it had hit a legitimate military target in the city, and that the shopping centre was not in use.
“Every day, I carry in my heart dear and martyred Ukraine, which continues to be flagellated by barbarous attacks like the one that hit the shopping centre in Kremenchuk,” Francis told crowds in St. Peter’s Square on the feast of St. Peter and Paul.
“I pray that this mad war can soon end and I renew my appeal to persevere without tiring in praying for peace.
“May the Lord open the those paths to dialogue which men either do not want or not able to find. May they not neglect to help the Ukrainian population, which is suffering so much,” he said.
US accuses 5 firms in China of supporting Russia’s military
US President Joe Biden’s administration added five companies in China to a trade blacklist on Tuesday, June 28, for allegedly supporting Russia’s military and defense industrial base, flexing its muscle to enforce sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
The Commerce Department, which oversees the blacklist, said the targeted companies had supplied items to Russian “entities of concern” before the February 24 invasion, adding that they “continue to contract to supply Russian entity listed and sanctioned parties.”
The agency also added another 31 entities to the blacklist from countries that include Russia, UAE, Lithuania, Pakistan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Uzbekistan and Vietnam, according to the Federal Register entry. Of the 36 companies added, 25 had China-based operations.
“Today’s action sends a powerful message to entities and individuals across the globe that if they seek to support Russia, the United States will cut them off as well,” Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security Alan Estevez said in a statement.
Asked whether these Chinese firms had supplied items to Russia’s military, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian neither confirmed nor denied the accusations, but repeated China’s opposition to US sanctions on Russia.
“China and Russia carry out normal trade cooperation on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit. This should not be interfered with or restricted by any third party,” he told a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday, June 29.
The Chinese embassy in Washington said Beijing had not provided military assistance to Russia or Ukraine. It said it would take “necessary measures” to protect the rights of its companies, arguing that the sanctions violate international law.
Three of the companies in China accused of aiding the Russian military, Connec Electronic Ltd, Hong Kong-based World Jetta, and Logistics Limited, could not be reached for comment. The other two, King Pai Technology Co, Ltd and Winninc Electronic did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Hong Kong is considered part of China for purposes of US export controls since Beijing’s crackdown on the city’s autonomy.
The firms’ blacklisting means their US suppliers need a Commerce Department license before they can ship items to them.
The United States has set out with allies to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for the invasion, which Moscow calls a “special operation,” by sanctioning a raft of Russian companies and oligarchs and adding others to a trade blacklist.
While US officials had previously said that China was generally complying with the restrictions, Washington has vowed to closely monitor compliance and rigorously enforce the regulations.
“We will not hesitate to act, regardless of where a party is located, if they are violating US law,” Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration Thea Rozman Kendler said in the same statement.
G7: China must press Russia to stop Ukraine war
G7 leaders urged China on Tuesday, June 28, to use its influence with Russia to stop its invasion of Ukraine and drop “expansive maritime claims” in the South China Sea, in unprecedentedly tough criticism of Beijing’s policies and human rights record.
They called on China to press Russia to pull forces out of Ukraine immediately and unconditionally, citing a ruling by the International Court of Justice that Moscow suspend its military operation, and related UN General Assembly resolutions.
China says sanctions on Russia cannot resolve the Ukraine crisis and has criticized the United States and its allies for supplying arms to Ukraine.
“G7 countries only make up 10% of the world’s population. They have no right to represent the world or to think their values and standards should apply to the world,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a press briefing on Wednesday, June 29, when asked about the G7 communique.
In the communique, concluding their three-day summit in the Bavarian Alps, the Group of Seven rich industrial democracies took aim at what they called coercive Chinese non-market policies that distorted the global economy.
The Chinese section of the communique, highlighted by the United States, referred to China’s “non-transparent and market-distorting interventions” and other forms of economic and industrial directives.
The G7 leaders committed to work together to ensure a level playing field for their businesses and workers.
The communique further voiced serious disquiet about the situation in the East and South China seas and unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion.
“We stress that there is no legal basis for China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea,” it said.
It also the G7 was now “gravely concerned” – a term not used in their summit a year ago – about the human rights situation in China, including forced labour in Tibet and Xinjiang. China should also honor its commitments to uphold rights, freedom and a high degree of autonomy in Hong Kong, they said.
A NATO summit starting immediately after the G7 summit will tackle China’s deepening ties with Russia since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and what is seen as Beijing’s growing inclination to flex geopolitical muscle abroad.
Britain sanctions Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin
Britain on Wednesday, June 29, announced sanctions on oligarch Vladimir Potanin, described by London as Russia’s second-richest man and who has been buying assets from firms exiting Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.
Potanin, known as Russia’s “Nickel King,” was included in the latest wave of sanctions listings by Britain which included business figures, financial firms and other entities.
Britain, along with Western allies, has been imposing sanctions against Russian elites, banks and strategic industries since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Russia says it is conducting a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
“Today’s sanctions show that nothing and no one is off the table, including Putin’s inner circle,” a British government spokesperson said.
Potanin is one of Russia’s richest people, although his net worth depends largely on the value of his 36% stake in Nornickel, the world’s largest producer of palladium and refined nickel.
Since the invasion, Potanin has snapped up Rosbank from Societe Generale when the French lender exited the Russian market, before adding a 35% stake in TCS Group. The deals were done via his Interros holding company.
“Potanin continues to amass wealth as he supports Putin’s regime, acquiring Rosbank, and shares in Tinkoff Bank in the period since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” the government press notice accompanying the announcement said.
The British sanctions list said Potanin had been included because he was “obtaining a benefit from or supporting the government of Russia by owning or controlling Rosbank. Rosbank is carrying on business in the Russian financial services sector, which is a sector of strategic significance to the Government of Russia.”
The list also included Anna Tsivileva, who the foreign office said was Putin’s cousin and president of Russian coal mining company, JSC Kolmar Group. The mining company was also sanctioned.
UK adds 13 new Russia-related sanctions designations
Britain said it had added 13 new individuals or entities to its Russian sanctions list on Thursday, June 30.
Indonesian president visits Ukraine on ‘peace mission’
Indonesian President Joko Widodo started a visit on Ukraine on Wednesday, June 29, that is intended to help rekindle peace talks between Russia and Ukraine and explore ways to free up exports of grain to global markets.
President Widodo, better known as Jokowi, and his wife arrived in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv by train, the Indonesian presidential website said.
Jokowi is the chair of the Group of 20 (G20) nations and one of six world leaders the United Nations appointed as “champions” of a Global Crisis Response Group (GCRG), formed to address the threat of an hunger and destitution posed by the war in Ukraine.
He has said he is committed to tackling rising food and energy prices, with the Ukraine conflict causing food and energy shortages that have stoked inflation in many countries.
Before the war, Ukraine had been one of Indonesia’s biggest wheat suppliers.
Jokowi will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy before traveling to Russia for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Indonesian leader said he will urge Putin to agree to a ceasefire.