zelensky ukraine

A representative of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described signatories to the Budapest Memorandum as a reason Ukraine is at war, citing their failure to hold up their end of the agreement.

“They signed their obligation to protect Ukraine, to provide the security and safety,” Fedir Venislavsky, President Zelenskyy’s representative to Ukraine’s Constitutional Court, told Fox News.

“Which means when Ukraine gave up its nuclear potential … Ukraine was confident the other countries who have signed all of those agreements were going to guarantee its territorial integrity, it is independence and it is sovereignty.”

“Unfortunately, we are deeply sorry” the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum and the Charter “did not perform” and “provide the security of Ukraine” and “there is a war because of that going on in our territory,” Venislavsky explained.

The Budapest Memorandum “says that whatever countries would sign that, they would guarantee the safety and security of Ukraine. And there is the charter about the special partnership between NATO and Ukraine and all the signatories,” Venislavsky added.

“Innocent people are dying every day simply because we believed that those countries were going to provide what they obliged for.”

Venislavsky said the failure to protect Ukraine will have lasting consequences.

“After the Ukrainian case, I think there are going to be a lot of doubts in the world regarding international obligations that are given in exchange for whatever concessions,” Venislavsky said.

Zelensky Steps Up Criticism Of West

A Washington post report (Zelensky steps up criticism of West, demanding weapons and sanctions) report said:

Zelensky is demanding that the United States and its allies send more weapons and ratchet up sanctions, portraying some leaders as timid in the face of Russian aggression. His escalation of criticism comes one day after President Biden extemporaneously declared that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.”

Zelensky said in a video address on Sunday, praising the southern port city that has come under horrendous bombardment by Russian forces. “Their determination, heroism and firmness are astonishing,” he said. “If only those who have been thinking for 31 days on how to hand over dozens of jets and tanks had one percent of their courage.”

The Washington Post report added:

In a separate interview with the Economist, Zelensky asserted that some countries had drawn a red line at sending more offensive weapons to Ukraine “because they are afraid of Russia. And that is it. And those who say it first are the first to be afraid.”

Zelensky was responding to a question about French President Emmanuel Macron, who had said earlier that Biden’s remarks about Putin during a speech in Poland risked an “escalation of words and actions.”

Zelensky argued that Western nations, which have already imposed historic sanctions on Russia, had not gone far enough in their efforts to cripple the country’s economy because they “have not completed the sanctions on disconnecting the banking system from SWIFT.”

He called for a full embargo on Russian oil and gas exports rather than what he called “incomplete” sanctions. “We are not guinea pigs to be experimented on.”

Biden’s remarks in Warsaw at the end of his three-day European trip was intended to demonstrate Western resolve, but Zelensky seems to have used them as an opportunity to question it.

The Ukrainian leader has previously taken advantage of his global platform to rally nations to Ukraine’s defense while pressuring them to take more direct action, such as by enforcing a no-fly zone. NATO member countries have steadfastly resisted that call. This weekend, Zelensky repeated his earlier pleas for the West to send him additional planes, tanks, and armored personnel vehicles.

The report said:

Western officials contend that they have already provided an extraordinary amount of financial and military support to Ukraine and have promised to continue.

About two-thirds of NATO members are providing lethal assistance, Julianne Smith, the U.S. permanent representative to the body, said Sunday. Since January 2021, the United States has provided $2 billion worth of lethal assistance, including Stinger and Javelin missiles, Smith said.

It said:

As casualties mounted, Zelensky accused the West of playing “ping-pong” over a Polish proposal to send MiG fighter jets to Ukraine, which the United States opposes. It has become a symbol of Western division over how many and what kinds of lethal weapons to give Ukrainian forces.

It added:

Zelensky conducted a lengthy video interview posted Sunday with several Russian journalists in which he suggested he was open to negotiations over the eastern Donbas region, home to pro-Russian separatists. Russian authorities later warned the media not to publish the interview.

The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence said Sunday that Russia is trying to divide the country in two — “to create North and South Korea in Ukraine” — with the east controlled by Moscow.

In a message on Telegram, Kyrylo Budanov said Putin is “changing the main operational directions” — focusing on efforts to link Crimea in the southeast to areas in the east under its control.

Ukraine Running Out Of Weapons As Other Countries Fail To Send Promised Aid

Another media report said:

Ukraine is believed to be running out of weapons, amid warnings some countries have failed to send promised aid.

According to The Times, Ukrainian president Zelenskyy has told UK’s PM Boris Johnson that his country was getting through a week’s supply of weapons in just 20 hours as the Russian attack and constant shelling comes on multiple fronts.

But while many countries have promised weapons to help bolster the Ukrainian arsenal, some have not kept up the supply.

Paul Grod, president of the Ukrainian World Congress, told the newspaper that some nations – including Germany and France – had not delivered promised arms.

According to The Times, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has said the military only has a fortnight of anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles left.

Some countries have sent extra weapons in previous days, which he said has only “partially improved” the situation.

On 9 March, British defence secretary Ben Wallace told the House of Commons that the UK had delivered 3,615 anti-tank (NLAW) weapons and would soon supply a “small consignment” of Javelin anti-tank missiles.

Biden’s Vow: No U.S. Troops Will Fight Russia

A media report said:

In closed-door discussions at NATO and with the leaders of more than 30 nations, Biden repeatedly vowed not to send U.S. troops into combat against Russia.

Biden remained opposed to using NATO or U.S. fighter jets to secure the country’s airspace from Russian attacks.

The U.S. president ended his trip Saturday and returned home with few concrete answers about how or when the war will end.

Capturing Kyiv And Major Cities Was Not A Priority, Says Russia Commander

A top Russian commander on Friday appeared to signal that Moscow was narrowing its war aims, saying that capturing Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, and other major cities was not a priority.

Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi, chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian military’s General Staff, said in a public statement that the military would instead concentrate “on the main thing: the complete liberation of the Donbas,” the southeastern region that is home to a Kremlin-backed separatist insurgency.

Diplomatic Challenge For Biden

 

A media report said:

If Putin decides to limit the scope of the fight, it would pose new diplomatic challenges for Biden. That could prove more difficult if Putin decided to move some of his forces back — whether as a real retreat or a strategic feint.

Putin’s thinking remained murky as Biden boarded Air Force One on Saturday night for the flight back to Washington, complicating his administration’s calculus as it looks for ways to keep the pressure on Russia without going too far.

It all adds up to a tricky task for Biden, who came into office determined to end America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan and now faces the challenge of managing the response to another war.

He has received high marks — even from Republicans — for sending more than $2 billion in military and security aid to Ukraine.

“Visible American leadership is no longer taken for granted in Europe,” said Ian Lesser, executive director in Brussels for the German Marshall Fund.

Biden Drew Criticism From Zelenskyy

It said:

The U.S. president also drew criticism from Zelenskyy for refusing to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

“Their advantage in the sky is like the use of weapons of mass destruction,” Zelenskyy told Biden and leaders of other NATO countries during their closed-door meeting Thursday.

Limits Of European Action

The report said:

Biden faced the limits of European action when he put to his allies the question of curtailing Russia’s ability to profit from the sale of its oil and gas. Europe gets a large percentage of its energy from Russia, and Biden once again found a deep reluctance to making any decision to cut off that lifeline.

The U.S. president announced a longer-term plan to help wean Europeans off the use of Russian fuel.

A Geopolitical Earthquake

The report said:

Jeremy Bash, who served as a top adviser at both the Pentagon and the CIA under former President Barack Obama, called Putin’s war “a geopolitical earthquake” and a “once-in-a-generation contest” that has forced Biden to adapt quickly to a rapidly changing security and diplomatic world.

“President Biden is now a wartime commander-in-chief waging four wars at once,” Bash said Saturday. “An economic war, an information war, likely a cyber war, and an unprecedented indirect military war against Putin. And so far, Putin has been unable to achieve a single one of his objectives.”

Biden’s Remarks On Putin

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden told a crowd in Warsaw. Biden described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “butcher.”

Media reports said:

Republican lawmakers were quick to pounce on Biden’s comments about Putin.

Sen. James E. Risch (Idaho), the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Sunday that Biden had made a “horrendous gaffe” at the end of what had been “a good speech” in Poland.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said Biden’s comment “plays into the hands of the Russian propagandists” and was a mistake.

“We’re in a crisis. We’re in a war situation,” Portman said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And so clarity is incredibly important.”

Risch and Portman were among a group of Senate Republicans who signed a letter earlier this month calling on Biden to give more military aid to Ukraine, including fighter planes. The administration, however, said U.S. intelligence agencies believe such moves would be read by Russia as an escalation that could spark a wider war.

Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, suggested the impromptu comment threatened to overshadow the discussions over how to continue to assist Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

Several of the Biden administration’s most ardent supporters in the foreign policy quickly chided the U.S. president for seeming to seek Putin’s removal.

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, called it a “bad lapse in discipline that runs risk of extending the scope and duration of the war.”

A New York Times report (After Biden’s Fiery Speech, Nine Unscripted Words Reverberate) said:

Administration officials were forced to walk back the ad-lib that Russian President Vladimir V. Putin “cannot remain in power,” which captured the attention of foreign policy experts, lawmakers and allies.

President Biden’s high-stakes speech in Warsaw on Saturday was crafted with the intent of throwing the full weight of the United States behind its European allies, while framing the Russian invasion of Ukraine as part of a global “battle between democracy and autocracy.”

And although the forceful denunciation of President Vladimir V. Putin’s war resonated with some leaders, it was an unprompted ad-lib that captured the attention of foreign policy experts, members of Congress and NATO allies.

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Mr. Biden declared, a comment that two White House officials said was not included in the president’s prepared speech.

Even as top administration officials spent Sunday walking back Mr. Biden’s remarks, the statement had already sent ripple effects throughout the world, highlighting just how powerful nine unprompted words from the president can be, particularly during a foreign policy crisis.

Macron

“I wouldn’t use this type of wording because I continue to hold discussions with President Putin,” Macron told France 3 TV channel in remarks aired on Sunday.

“If we want to do this, we must not escalate,” he said, “neither with words nor with actions.”

Biden’s Aides

Biden’s aides worried that his surprising remark might roil some of those allies the president was determined to keep unified. The White House has tried to ensure that each step taken against Russia is in line with European allies.

Taken literally, the remark meant the U.S. would be reversing a policy of not pushing for regime change. Biden’s staff felt as if it had little choice but to play down the off-the-cuff comment.

“We do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia or anywhere else, for that matter,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in Jerusalem after meeting with Israel’s foreign minister, Yair Lapid.

Michal Baranowski, a senior fellow and director of the Warsaw office of the German Marshall Fund who attended Biden’s speech, acknowledged that the president’s comment could be perceived as “a call for regime change.” But he said it was unlikely to lead to further escalation with Russia.

Russia’s Reaction

Moscow was quick to respond. On Saturday, Dmitri Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said that it was not for Biden to decide who the Russian president should be.

“That’s not for Biden to decide,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters. “The president of Russia is elected by Russians.”

Peskov later told Russia’s RBC that Biden was clearly “the victim of many misconceptions”.

“This speech – and the passages which concern Russia – is astounding, to use polite words,” Peskov said. “He doesn’t understand that the world is not limited to the United States and most of Europe.”

Vyacheslav Volodin, a senior Russian lawmaker, wrote on Telegram that neither Boris N. Yeltsin nor Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who led during the Cold War, was the target of similar comments from American heads of state.

“The reason for this behavior will be more professionally explained by psychiatrists,” Volodin said. “U.S. citizens should be ashamed of their president.”

“This is how a weak and sick person behaves – psychiatrists will be able to explain his behaviour better,” Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, said on Saturday.

Americans Worried

A new poll showed Americans worried about just that. About 82 percent of those surveyed by NBC News were concerned that the war could eventually involve nuclear weapons, and three-quarters of Americans said they feared U.S. combat troops could end up fighting in Ukraine.

The poll also found little support for Biden’s leadership in the crisis. Only 12 percent expressed a “great deal” of confidence in the president’s ability to manage the crisis, while 44 percent expressed “very little” confidence.

Ban On Gold Transaction

The latest round of sanctions that has been drawing mixed reactions across the board: the U.S. ban on gold transactions with Russia.

On Thursday, the U.S. made it clear that any transaction involving gold related to the Central Bank of the Russian Federation is already covered by existing sanctions, and any violations were likely to attract secondary sanctions.

Russia has an estimated $132 billion in gold stockpiles, roughly 20% of the holdings in the Russian Central Bank, thanks to heightened buying activity since the 2014 annexation of Crimea. Those reserves, coupled with Russia’s $630 billion in foreign exchange reserves, can help finance its war machine.

The U.S. announcement to block gold transactions was done alongside Group of Seven and EU allies that will also impose the gold reserve ban. Putin’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has termed the foreign reserves ban ‘thievery,’ with finance minister Anton Siluanov revealing earlier this month that about $300 billion had been frozen.

A cross-section of experts, however, is not optimistic that a gold ban will be equally effective while others say that Putin might have unveiled the ultimate countermeasure against all sanctions.

There’s growing speculation by U.S. officials that Russia is using its vast gold reserves to support its currency as a way to circumvent the impact of sanctions. One way to do that is by swapping the gold for a more liquid foreign exchange that is not subject to current sanctions. Another way would be to sell the bullion through gold markets and dealers. The gold could also be used to directly purchase goods and services from willing sellers.

However, some experts are now questioning the rationale behind banning Russian gold transactions.

“Any sanctions on Russia’s gold reserves would do little more than reveal the degree to which government bureaucrats do not understand gold. The beauty of gold, unlike currencies, is that it is an untrackable store of value that has no counterparty,” Brien Lundin, editor of Gold Newsletter, has told MarketWatch.

“At least in smaller amounts, Russia could easily sell gold on the open market. In bulk quantities, it could just as easily sell the gold to China with no record of the transaction,” Lundin has added, noting that China has demonstrated that it is an “eager buyer of gold.”

Jeff Wright, chief investment officer at Wolfpack Capital, says selling gold is probably not Russia’s first choice anyway because it could effectively signal a complete collapse of its economy and a sign of weakness by Russian leadership. Rather, Russia is more likely to resort to selling discounted oil to Russian-aligned countries, rather than selling gold, according to Wright.

And, these experts might be right on the money.

Not Payment For Russian Gas In Roubles, German Minister’s Advise

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner on Friday advised German energy providers not to pay for Russian gas in roubles, as demanded by Moscow.

However, despite redoubling efforts to reduce their reliance on Russian gas, European consumers have few short-term options for covering their gas needs elsewhere.

Dollar’s Share Drops In Global Transactions

The share of the U.S. dollar in global financial settlements dropped in February, according to the SWIFT interbank transaction system.

The use of the greenback fell 1.07%, down to 38.85% of all global transactions conducted via SWIFT. However, on a yearly basis, the dollar’s share was still up by 0.42%.

The share of settlements in euro rose in February by 1.23%, to 37.79%. The euro has increased the most among the top 5 global currencies year on year.

Next Russia-Ukraine Meeting In Istanbul

Russian and Turkish Presidents, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have agreed to organize the next round of talks between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations in Istanbul, the Turkish presidential office said on Sunday after their telephone conversation.

“During the call, the presidents discussed the latest developments in the Russian-Ukrainian war and the negotiating process. President Erdogan and President Putin agreed to organize the next meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations in Istanbul,” it said.

Russian presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky, who leads the Russian delegation to the talks, wrote on his Telegram channel earlier on Sunday that a regular round on online talks with Ukraine was held on Sunday. The sides, in his words, agreed to meet offline on March 29-30.

Scholz Speaks Against No-fly Zone In Ukraine

Germany is against sending NATO peacekeepers to Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told the ARD TV channel on Sunday.

“We will not act there in the military sphere even if one calls it peacekeeping troops,” he said. “We won’t aspire to create a no-fly zone there,” the chancellor added.

Most Brits Expect Problems Paying Heating And Energy Bills

More than 67% of UK residents expect problems paying bills for heating and electricity, according to the latest poll carried out by Techne, a London-based market and data research company.

The survey, reported by the Sunday Express on Saturday, shows that the cost of living is the top concern for 58% of British citizens.

More than 80% of 1,642 surveyed individuals said they are going to avoid large purchases, while 55% are planning to decrease spending on leisure activities. Some 37% said they will try to save on clothes.

31% of respondents cited Ukraine as a key reason for concern. Nearly a third of those surveyed said the crisis in the Eastern European country and Western anti-Russia sanctions will push back the date they can retire.

Over the past six months, Europe has been struggling with an unprecedented energy crisis that has been sending prices for gas, petrol and electricity to record high levels.

The latest sanctions imposed on Russia over its military operation in Ukraine have worsened the situation as concerns over energy security in the region deepened as Russia remains the continent’s biggest energy supplier.

Canada To Increase Defense Spending

A Reuters report said:

Canada will continue to increase its defense spending, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday, as he announced new sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

“Canada will be increasing pressure by sanctioning 160 members of the Russian Federation Council who facilitated and enabled this unjustified invasion,” Trudeau told reporters after a NATO summit in Brussels.

In coming days, Canada will also impose new prohibitions on the export of certain goods and technologies to Russia, “with the aim of undermining and eroding the capabilities of the Russian military,” according to a statement.

The Russian embassy in Canada tweeted that targeting members of the Federation Council was “a ridiculous gesture and a demonstration of impotence of Western sanctions policy”.

Asked about defense spending, Trudeau said “our investments in our Canadian Armed Forces will continue to increase and we will have more to say about this at the appropriate time.”

Several European countries, including Germany, Poland and Denmark, have increased military spending in response to the Ukraine crisis.

In 2021, Canada’s defense spending was an estimated 1.4% of its gross domestic product, short of a 2% NATO target. Defense Minister Anita Anand said last week she would lay out “aggressive options” for defence spending amid the Ukraine crisis.

Germany Eyes Buying Missile Defence System

Another Reuters report said:

Germany is considering purchasing a missile defence system to shield against a potential attack from Russia, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said late on Sunday.

“This is certainly one of the issues we are discussing, and for good reason,” he told public broadcaster ARD when asked whether Germany might buy a defence system such as Israel’s Iron Dome.

When asked whether Germany aimed to procure a missile defence system with a longer range than its existing Patriot batteries, Scholz said: “We need to be aware that we have a neighbor who is prepared to use violence to enforce their interests.”

The Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported earlier a missile defence shield for the whole territory of Germany was one of the topics discussed when Scholz met with Eberhard Zorn, Germany’s chief of defence.

Specifically, they spoke about a possible acquisition of the Israeli “Arrow 3” system, the paper said.

The defence ministry declined to comment on the report. Israel’s defence ministry had no immediate comment.

Earlier, Scholz announced that Germany would sharply increase its defence spending to more than 2% of its economic output and inject 100 billion euros ($110 billion) into defence.

U.S. Considering Another Release of Oil From Its Reserve

The Biden administration is considering another release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve that could be bigger than the sale of 30 million barrels earlier this month, a source said. In total, the U.S. and other members of the International Energy Agency (IEA) released about 60 million barrels from reserves.

“They definitely have the capacity to do significantly more – they (IEA members) have about 1.5 billion barrels of SPR inventories. By all means, this was the whole idea of an SPR, to provide relief in emergency times,” said Natasha Kaneva, head of commodities research at JP Morgan.

U.S. Brands India’s Response To Ukraine War ‘Unsatisfactory’

India’s refusal to cast aside its longstanding friendship with Russia over the war in Ukraine is “unsatisfactory,” U.S. diplomat Mira Rapp-Hooper told an online conference hosted by the School of Advanced International Studies, while admitting it was also “unsurprising.”

Rapp-Hooper, director for the Indo-Pacific region on the White House’s National Security Council, was specifically referring to India’s recent votes at the UN, where it has declined to come out against Russian actions in Ukraine and remained silent in the Security Council votes on the matter.

“I think we would certainly all acknowledge and agree that when it comes to votes at the UN, India’s position on the current crisis has been unsatisfactory, to say the least. But it’s also been totally unsurprising,” she said on Friday.

While explaining that India had strengthened its ties with Russia for its own safety as its relationship with China deteriorated, the American diplomat suggested the country was now thinking “long and hard” about its decision to cozy up to Moscow and suggested the U.S. should focus on providing India with “options.” This she characterized as “providing for its strategic autonomy,” though her approach seemed aimed at driving India directly into the arms of the U.S. and NATO rather than giving it any ‘autonomy’ in the matter.

Rapp-Hooper suggested Washington not stop at trying to talk India out of buying Russian armaments, noting that “we have a number of partners that have chosen to keep their chips in with Russia, in terms of their defense procurement, in part as a hedge against China.” These countries are now rethinking those decisions and need replacements for those weapons systems, she said, implying the US should guide them toward purchasing its own systems or those built by allies.

New Delhi buys more weapons from Russia than any other country, having purchased almost half (49.3%) of its arms from Moscow for what has amounted to $6.5 billion over the last five years. This has unsurprisingly rubbed Washington the wrong way, leading it to threaten sanctions over India’s 2018 purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system.

While India has canceled several other weapons orders from Russia in the wake of the Ukraine invasion, including MiG-29 fighters, helicopters and anti-tank weapons, Washington is hoping to use the previous purchases as leverage to convince India to further distance itself from Moscow. New Delhi has thus far declined to join in the sanctions pile-on against Russia, and has not explicitly condemned its actions in Ukraine. However, some have worried that the US sanctioning India will drive it away from the Quad alliance, which includes Japan and Australia and is aimed at reining in China’s influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

US ‘Flooded’ Ukraine With Weapons For Eight Years

Since 2014, the U.S. has been “flooding” Ukraine with weaponry, systematically increasing its influence there by de facto expanding NATO without granting Ukraine formal membership in the alliance, American journalist Glenn Greenwald blogged on Sunday.

He emphasized that American politicians and media have been attempting to present Russia in an unfavorable light for a long time. At the same time, their political opponents who urged for a diplomatic resolution of Ukraine-related issues, faced the “set of accusations about their loyalty and patriotism” as well as of a pro-Russian attitude.

According to the journalist, “most taboo of all was any discussion of the heavy involvement of the U.S. in Ukraine beginning in 2014.” In his opinion, this involved the U.S. influence on Ukrainian politicians, the supplies of armaments and the deployment of military instructors and intelligence officers. “Along with its NATO allies, the U.S. has flooded Ukraine with billions of dollars of sophisticated weaponry, with at least some of those arms ending up in the hands of actual neo-Nazi battalions integrated into the Ukrainian government and military,” the journalist noted.

In the recent years, the US policy “amounted to a form of de facto NATO expansion without the formal membership,” Greenwald wrote. “The U.S. is, by definition, waging a proxy war against Russia, using Ukrainians as their instrument, with the goal of not ending the war but prolonging it,” he thinks. In the end, the author noted that US President Joe Biden is “risking war between the world’s two largest nuclear powers over Ukraine.”


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