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The Foreign Ministers of Ukraine and Russia met in Turkey today, to no avail. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister told reporters, “Russia is not in a position at this point to establish a ceasefire. They seek a surrender from Ukraine.” He said most of the talks were focused on humanitarian corridors, especially for the southern city of Mariupol, but Russia is not open to the idea.
Russia’s Foreign Minister held a separate press conference in which he said Russia “didn’t attack Ukraine” and repeated the same demands as always – Ukraine must be disarmed and accept a neutral status. Russia has offered humanitarian corridors, but only from Ukraine to Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is continuing his tour-de-parliaments, giving a video address to Israel’s Knesset. Lithuania called for immediate EU candidate status for Ukraine, but France said Ukrainian membership will take “a few years.”
Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Poland for a visit. She will head to Romania after.
The UK announced sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs – Roman Abramovich, Igor Sechin, Oleg Deripaska, Andrey Kostin, Alexei Miller, Nikolai Tokarev and Dmitri Lebedev.
FBI Chief Chris Wray testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that the U.S. has taken down a number of crypto networks that could be used to bypass sanctions. Wray said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin overestimated the ability of crypto to evade sanctions. Russian elites are trying to shift some of their wealth to Dubai.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told CNN, “There is no expiration date” on export controla and other sanctions. They will last “as long as it takes.”
The House passed a $13.6 billion Ukraine aid package, but Congress is prepared for – really anticipating – more aid. Senate Appropriation Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) told the Washington Post, “There will be strong support [in Congress] for Ukraine…Whenever needed.” The bipartisan leaders of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees introduced the Suspending Normal Trade Relations with Russia and Belarus Act. The bill would suspend permanent normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, invest USTR with authority to increase tariffs on imports from the two countries, and block all imports of Russian energy products, among other provisions. The ability to increase tariffs is an important because revoking PNTR may not have a huge impact, according to the Progressive Policy Institute.
Russia will ban exports of telecom, medical, auto, agricultural, electrical, and tech equipment until the end of 2022. It is also moving toward seizing or nationalizing assets of foreign companies that are leaving the market. The Economy Ministry has outlined new policies to take temporary control if the foreign ownership exceeds 25%.
An official at Russia’s aviation authority said that China has refused to supply Russian airlines with aircraft parts after Boeing and Airbus stopped shipments. Russian carmaker Lada halted production amid a part shortage.
MSCI, S&P Dow Jones, and FTSE Russell began dropping Russian stocks from their global benchmarks this week. Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan are exiting and suspending Russia operations respectively. Mining giant Rio Tinto is terminating commercial relationships with Russian companies. A number of big law firms are exiting Russia. Italian energy group Eni suspended purchases of Russian oil.
After being bogged down for weeks, the U.S. believes Russia’s military has made some gains toward Kyiv from the west and northeast. Kyiv’s mayor estimates that half of the city’s population has fled. The U.S. also believes that the northern city of Chernihiv is isolated like Mariupol. General Paul Nakasone, the Commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, said the U.S. has seen 3-4 cyberattacks from Russia on Ukraine thus far. Ukraine claims it has killed over 12,000 Russian soldiers, while the U.S. puts the number more in the 5,000-6,000 range.
The U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Greenfield told BBC that Russia’s attacks “constitute war crimes.” This is among the more definitive statements from the Biden Administration thus far, but Greenfield has also seemed to be more out front than others in the Administration on this issue. Ukraine claims that Russia has done over $100 billion in damage to the country’s infrastructure.
The U.S. essentially shut the door on the Polish MiG-29 transfer. Politico reports that President Biden ultimately sided with advisers arguing the deal would be too provocative, especially amid clumsy comments from Ukraine, the EU, and Poland. This appears to end a very confusing episode…for now.
The White House and State Department are warning that Russia could stage a false flag chemical or biological attack.
The End Game
The Washington Post has a story worth highlighting more in full today, talking about the end-game for all of this. A few select quotes are below.
- “The endgame is going to be pretty complicated, and the endgame is going to have to deal with Putin as who he is.” -Jim Townsend, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
- “The current U.S. strategy, according to senior Biden administration officials, is to ensure that the economic costs for Russia are severe and sustainable…Despite repeatedly engaging in diplomatic efforts with Russia in the run-up to the invasion, Biden officials have largely not pursued diplomacy with Putin since the conflict began, citing the Kremlin’s lack of seriousness about such negotiations as the reason.”
- “The Biden administration has yet to engage directly with the Russian government over an off-ramp to curb the violence or any initial steps to bring an end to the war.”
- “Discussions with [France, Israel, and Turkey] — which the Kremlin views as bit players in contrast to the United States — have failed to reach any constructive agreements.”
- “Despite the bleak prospects, U.S. officials say they are in no rush to directly engage Putin, whom they view as unserious about diplomacy.”
- “European officials involved in the crisis discussions say that — as in Washington — their leaders at this point are exerting little energy toward trying to guide Putin to specific actions that could lead to a sanctions rollback, partly because they, too, remain skeptical that the Kremlin is ready to negotiate.”