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The Kremlin press pool says that a meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin is “conceptually possible.”
The EU said, “Ukraine belongs to our European family,” but it will not fast track Ukraine’s petition for EU membership. It did say it would, “without delay…further strengthen our bonds and deepen our partnership to support Ukraine in pursuing its European path.”
In White House remarks, President Joe Biden announced the next wave of Russia sanctions (executive order text here), which includes prohibitions on:
- Imports of Russian fish, seafood, alcohol, diamonds, and any other imports selected by the Department of Treasury, in consultation with State and Commerce
- The export, re-export, sale, or supply of luxury goods to Russia, as determined by the Department of Commerce, in consultation with State and Treasury (Commerce indicates that will include spirits, tobacco, clothing, jewelry, vehicles, and antiques)
- New investment in any sector of the Russian economy, as determined by the Department of Treasury, in consultation with State
- The export, re-export, sale, or supply of U.S. dollar-denominated banknotes to Russia
The U.S. is also expanding full blocking sanctions to additional Russian elites, and Biden called on Congress to revoke permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) from Russia and Belarus. This had been dropped from the Ukraine package, which passed the Senate last night, at the White House’s behest because, as Biden explained, he wanted to coordinate a little more with the EU and G7 on the announcement.
The G7 made a joint announcement that they would:
- Revoke Russia’s most-favored nation (MFN) status at the WTO
- Deny Russia borrowing privileges at multilateral financial institutions, like the IMF and World Bank
The EU announced the above G7 sanctions, as well as a luxury goods export ban and a Russian iron and steel import ban. It is also banning new EU investments in Russia’s energy sector.
Canada announced additional sanctions on five Russian elites – Roman Abramovich, Alisher Usmanov, Ella Pamfilova, Elena Morozova, and Igor Yanchuck – and 32 Russian military entities.
The White House warned that Russia seizing assets of exiting companies “will ultimately result in even more economic pain for Russia.” Russian oil producer Surgutneftegaz is allowing Chinese buyers to receive oil without providing a letter of credit in order to bypass sanctions.
YouTube is blocking access globally to Russian state-funded media. Russia is blocking Instagram after its parent company, Meta, announced it was relaxing its hate-speech policy regarding Russia.
Deutsche Bank says it’s not “practical” to exit Russia right now.
In a deviation from its usual strikes, Russia hit airports in western Ukraine – Lutsk and Ivano-Frankovsk – overnight, as well as Dnipro. Mariupol evacuees continue to be prevented by Russian shelling. Russia’s Defense Minister told Russian President Putin that “everything is going to plan.” Ukraine appears to have killed a third Russian general in 15 days of battle. Russia’s air force is flying 200 sorties per day, while Ukraine is flying about 5-10 a day.
The UN estimates there are 2.5 million refugees and an additional 2 million internally displaced within Ukraine. The mayor of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv says it is “at the limits of our capacity” to care for 200,000 displaced Ukrainians. The Washington Post took a closer at the economic disaster facing Ukraine. The Wall Street Journal reported on absolute devastation in Kharkiv.
Congress doubled military aid to Ukraine with one phone call. The EU is doubling its military aid to Ukraine. 42 Senators wrote to President Joe Biden urging him to provide fighter jets to Ukraine. 15 Representatives wrote to President Biden urging him to support Ukraine’s air defense capabilities, facilitate the transfer of manned and unmanned aircraft, strengthen economic sanctions, and bolster humanitarian aid.
Russia may be trying to backfill its forces with non-traditional and non-Russian combatants. Russian private military group Wagner is on a hiring spree. Russia’s Defense Minister told President Putin that 16,000 “volunteers” from the Middle East want to fight for Russia. Ukraine claims that Russian planes attacked Belarus from Ukrainian airspace in order to provoke Belarus into the fight. However, the U.S. says there isn’t strong evidence that Belarusian troops have entered the theater yet.
Russia warned that Ukraine is planning chemical weapons attacks, which longtime Russia observers suggest means that Russia could be planning chemical weapons attacks. The UN weighed in, saying it was not aware of any biological weapon program in Ukraine. White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates told reporters that there are “strong indications…that the heinous way Russia is prosecuting this war will result in war crimes.” NPR took a closer look at footage of the fight last week at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and found that Russia fired toward reactor buildings.