Turkey’s Foreign Minister said Russia and Ukraine are converging on key aspects in negotiations. A pro-government Turkish newspaper reported that there has been progress on Ukrainian neutrality and NATO membership, collective security guarantees for Ukraine, “denazification” (which is still a fairly vague term), and lifting restrictions on use of the Russian language in Ukraine.
At the same time, the Kremlin’s spokesperson dampened hopes, saying, “The degree of progress falls short of what we would like.” “For now, there is no substantial movement,” he added. Meanwhile, Ukraine says talks on neutrality/NATO are “relatively easy,” and there seems to be a path on “denazification” and Russian language. However, Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk are tougher. They also worry that talk of progress could be a smokescreen by Russia to distract the West from further sanctions.
President Joe Biden added Poland to his European trip this week. Slovenia is sending its diplomats back to Kyiv and urging the rest of the EU to do so as well.
The White House released its readout from the call between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. It said that Biden “described the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia.” The EU is poised to line up behind the U.S. in warning China of consequences should it help Russia.
The White House also released a statement warning American companies to ensure they are prepared for Russian cyberattacks, and promising the U.S. would respond if necessary.
Poland is pushing the EU to impose a total ban on trade with Russia.
Russia reportedly has $140 billion in gold. However, no one wants to buy it, and London’s gold marketplace banned all bars from Russian refineries.
The Biden Administration, based on private industry data, believes that there have been a dramatic decline in Russian oil sales. That said, India confirmed that it bought Russian oil at a 20% discount last week and would continue to seek further sales. Germany and Qatar are negotiating a long-term energy partnership on LNG, although Germany currently has no LNG terminals. The UK is planning its first oil and gas licensing round since 2020.
The U.S. and EU are weighing using the sales of Russian oligarchs/elites’ seized assets to finance Ukraine’s war recovery efforts. Russian oligarchs and elites are quietly leaving Manhattan.
Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport is furloughing 40% of its staff and cutting their pay by a third.
LG is stopping all shipments to Russia. Ukraine criticized Johnson & Johnson for not pulling out of Russia.
The Institute of the Study of War has assessed that Ukraine defeated Russia in the initial phase of the invasion, and that a bloody stalemate is likely for some time. The U.S., meanwhile, believes that, after failing to secure a quick victory, Russia is shifting its strategy that involves securing key territories while seeking leverage to compel Ukraine to agree to terms.
The U.S. believes Russia is considering moving more battalions into Ukraine, though it hasn’t seen any movements to that effect yet. Russia also still has a “significant majority” of its ballistic missiles and over half of its cruise missiles available, though the Pentagon also sees a “not insignificant number of failures” in its precision guided munitions.
The UN says 902 civilians have been killed but believes the toll is much higher because it cannot verify casualties in places like Mariupol, which may have tens of thousands dead alone. Russia gave Ukraine until 5:00am today to surrender Mariupol, which it did not. There are also reports that Mariupol residents were taken to Russia against their will. AP’s reporters in Mariupol, the only international reporters left there, were evacuated by Ukrainian troops amid rumors that Russian troops were trying to find them. The EU’s foreign policy chief called what’s happening in Mariupol a “massive war crime.”
A shopping center in Kyiv was hit (video here, aftermath here), but it’s possible that Ukraine’s forces were taking shelter/operating out of there. Ukraine also claims that Russian shelling caused an ammonia leak in Sumy. Some workers at the Chernobyl plant were freed in exchange for a fresh batch of workers.
Shipments of the $800 million in U.S. security assistance announced by the White House have begun but haven’t arrived in Ukraine yet. The U.S. will reportedly send Ukraine Soviet-era air defense equipment that it secretly acquired decades ago. It has also floated Turkey providing Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine – Turkey’s purchase of these systems caused severe strain on the U.S.-Turkey relationship.