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Troops continue to move from positions in Russia and Belarus to eastern Ukraine ahead of what is likely to be a protracted conflict. Ukraine has warned of a possible Russian naval landing operation in Mariupol. Air raid sirens were ringing in kyiv early on Sunday.
Billionaire Roman Abramovich is trying to relaunch talks between Ukraine and Russia, which both sides say have stalled. Ukrainian central bank and finance officials will travel to Washington for next week’s meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Shelling resumed near kyiv and the Lviv region near Poland saw its first known missile attack in weeks. Russia has warned the United States against its arms deliveries.
The UK has said destroyed roads are hampering the delivery of humanitarian aid. Ukraine’s economy could halve, said Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko.
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Every hour CET:
Eastward movement of Russian units continues (8:10 a.m.)
Combat and support equipment for Russian forces is being transferred from Belarus, including to sites near Kharkiv and Severdonetsk, the UK Ministry of Defense said. Russian artillery continues to strike positions across eastern Ukraine, where Moscow is expected to step up its offensive activity in the coming days.
Moscow has not changed its “ultimate goal” in Ukraine, the UK said, and remains determined to “assert its own regional dominance”.
The Ukrainian General Staff said in a morning update that Russian units continued to move into eastern Ukraine from neighboring Kursk, Bryansk and Voronezh regions.
Ukraine says Russia continues to hammer Mariupol (8:01 a.m.)
Russia continues to hammer the port city of Mariupol, according to the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, amid the window opened by Moscow for troops from the besieged city to surrender.
Airstrikes and preparations for a naval landing by Russian forces appear to be underway, Ukraine said. Russia said it would spare the lives of soldiers who surrendered from 6 a.m. Moscow time, with the window expected to last for several hours.
Taking control of Mariupol remains a key objective for Russia as it tries to create a land bridge to the Crimean peninsula.
Russia Demands Surrender of Mariupol Defenders (11:30 p.m.)
Russia called on Ukrainian forces in the beleaguered industrial port city of Mariupol to lay down their arms on Sunday to avoid being killed. Ukraine has rejected similar Russian demands in the past.
Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, head of Russia’s National Defense Control Center, spoke of a “catastrophic situation” in Azovstal, a sprawling steelworks that has become a last bulwark in the city’s defence.
“All who lay down their arms are assured of the preservation of life,” Tass said quoting Mizintsev.
Austria needs Russian gas; Putin’s “logic of war” (9:30 p.m.)
Austria could end imports of Russian natural gas “maybe in a few years,” Chancellor Karl Nehammer told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Austria is 80% dependent on Russian gas, so “it’s not possible today, tomorrow”, he said.
Nehammer was received by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday, the first European leader to do so since Russia invaded Ukraine.
He told NBC that Putin “is in his own war logic” and that the Russian leader believes he is winning the war.
Zelenskiy says Russia is negotiating deadlock (7:53 p.m.)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said talks with Russia were at an “impasse because we will not swap our territory and our people”.
If Russian forces followed through on a threat to destroy remaining Ukrainian troops fighting in Mariupol, it would “end” the talks, he said in an interview with Ukrainian media online.
Abramovich seeks to restart talks (6:52 p.m.)
Billionaire Roman Abramovich has traveled to Kyiv in a bid to revive peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, which stalled after evidence emerged of Russian atrocities against civilians.
Abramovich met with Ukrainian negotiators to discuss ways to restart negotiations, according to people familiar with the matter.
In Russia, Abramovich “represents the side that supports a diplomatic resolution and an end to the war,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told online media. “Nobody can guarantee that it’s not a game.”
Putin’s Ukrainian ally Medvedchuk detained in police custody (6:41 p.m.)
A Ukrainian court has ordered the continued detention of Kremlin-friendly politician Viktor Medvedchuk after he attempted to flee the country, according to a statement posted on the court’s Facebook page.
Prosecutors suspect Medvedchuk, a US-sanctioned tycoon since 2014, of high treason and terrorist financing. His assets were frozen in 2021. He denies any wrongdoing.
Medvedchuk had been under house arrest since last year, but fled during the initial invasion of Russia. He was apprehended by Ukrainian security forces this week at an undisclosed location.
Zelenskiy has a follow-up call with Johnson (6:22 p.m.)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke with Boris Johnson on Saturday, a week after the British Prime Minister’s visit to kyiv. They discussed “the need for a long-term security solution for Ukraine”, according to a reading from Downing Street.
Russian ships barred from Italian ports after sanctions (6:14 p.m.)
Russian ships will not be able to anchor in Italian ports from Sunday, the Ansa news agency reported. The move is part of the European Union’s recent sanctions package against Moscow for invading Ukraine, Ansa said.
The change also applies to ships that changed their flag to another Russian nationality after Feb. 24, Ansa said. Ships moored in Italy should leave as soon as possible.
Ukrainian central bankers visit Washington (5:17 p.m.)
Central bank governor Kyrylo Shevchenko and his deputy Serhiy Nikolaychuk will travel to Washington for the spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, bank spokeswoman Halyna Kalachiva said. They will be accompanied by Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko. Meetings start Monday.
The IMF has created a new account intended to give donor countries a safe way to support the Ukrainian economy. Canada, in its recent budget, offered up to C$1 billion ($795 million) to be disbursed through the account, and it will be available to other IMF members or intergovernmental entities who wish to use it as vehicle to provide assistance, the IMF said. .
Minister promises Kyiv will service foreign debt (2:12 p.m.)
More than 80% of the debt Ukraine has to repay this year is domestic, “which we can easily cover” or refinance, Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko said in a TV interview.
He said the foreign debt repayment schedule is “fairly moderate and straightforward”, peaking in September when Kyiv has to pay interest on $500 million in Eurobonds. The minister said Ukraine had cut spending by 180 billion hryvnia ($6 billion) and needed $5-7 billion a month to fund its budget while the war continued.
Ukraine’s economy could contract by 30-50%, Marchenko said.
Ukraine’s economy will fall by 45% in 2022, says World Bank
Putin, Saudi Crown Prince bullish on OPEC+, Kremlin says (12:40 CET)
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman have drawn up a “positive assessment” of their cooperation within the OPEC+ producer group to stabilize the world oil market, the Kremlin said in a statement on Saturday.
The phone conversation came at the initiative of Saudi Arabia, the Kremlin said, and the leaders also discussed the situation in Ukraine and Yemen. The crown prince spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday and also discussed Ukraine, according to state television.
Saudi Arabia and other major Persian Gulf oil producers have so far resisted calls from the United States to increase production as prices surged amid the Ukraine crisis and concerns over possible sanctions on Russian exports.
Russia captured more than 1,000 civilians, official says (12:43 p.m.)
More than half of civilians captured by Moscow forces are women, said Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, who demanded in a televised briefing that they be released immediately. “We will not exchange soldiers for civilians. It would violate the Geneva Conventions,” she said.
Ukraine has captured more than 700 Russian soldiers, and Russia has captured about 700 Ukrainian soldiers, with further prisoner swaps possible, she said.
Ukraine and Russia agreed on Saturday on nine humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians. Russian troops shelled the center of Lysychansk in the Luhansk region as people gathered to be evacuated, she said.
Lithuanian leader dismisses Russian threat to Baltic countries (11:38 a.m.)
President Gitanas Nauseda has urged Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership as soon as possible, the Financial Times reported.
He brushed off threats from Moscow to increase its military presence in the Baltics, saying Russia had had such weapons in Kaliningrad, a Russian position wedged between Poland and Lithuania, for years.
“The Kaliningrad region is probably the most militarized region in Europe, and tactical nuclear weapons are already there,” Neuseda said. “I don’t think we should react to that rhetoric.”
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