Ukraine latest: U.N. General Assembly calls for Russia to withdraw

The war that began with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has reached a grim one-year milestone, with mounting military and civilian deaths.

As Russia steps up attacks around Bakhmut, Western nations have raised their military support for Ukraine to the highest level yet, with commitments to send main battle tanks.

Read our in-depth coverage. For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine war page.

Ukraine’s year of agony and defiance in face of Putin’s onslaught

Analysis: Xi Jinping ponders ramifications of supporting Russia

Putin plays long game with West over Ukraine: former U.S. diplomat

India’s Russian imports soar 400% as U.S. offers little resistance

Russian war sanctions show why U.S. must rethink its strategies

Note: Nikkei Asia decided in March 2022 to suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code. Entries include material from wire services and other sources.

Here are the latest developments:

Friday, Feb. 24 (Tokyo time)

5:43 a.m. The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly approves a nonbinding resolution calling for Russia to withdraw from Ukraine.

Japan, the U.S. and the other Group of Seven members are among the 141 countries voting in favor. North Korea, Russia, Belarus, Syria and three other countries vote against the resolution, which The Associated Press reports was drafted by Ukraine in consultation with its allies. The 32 abstainers include China, India, Bangladesh, Laos, Mongolia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

3:50 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden will meet virtually Friday with other Group of Seven leaders and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tells reporters. She says “sweeping sanctions” will be imposed on key revenue-generating sectors for Russia, with measures targeting more banks as well as the defense and technology industries.

New economic, energy and security assistance for Ukraine will also be announced, Jean-Pierre says.

Thursday, Feb. 23

9:00 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine “has been a strategic failure for the Kremlin,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says in India ahead of a two-day meeting of G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors.

The U.S. has provided over $46 billion in security, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, Yellen says. In the coming months, Washington expects to provide another $10 billion worth of support, she adds.

Asked about China’s deepening ties with Russia, she says: “We have made clear that providing material support to Russia or assistance with any type of systemic sanctions evasion would be a very serious concern to us.”

“And we will certainly continue to make clear to the Chinese government and to companies and banks in their jurisdictions about what the rules are regarding our sanctions, and the serious consequences they would face in violating them.”

Read more for Yellen’s remarks on debt assistance for Sri Lanka and other countries.

6:02 a.m. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls the invasion “an affront to our collective conscience” that not only violates the U.N. charter and international law, but is also having “dramatic humanitarian and human rights consequences” and an impact “felt far beyond Ukraine.”

“The possible consequences of a spiraling conflict are a clear and present danger,” Guterres warns a General Assembly emergency special session. “Every day, we are reminded of the grave threat that haunts us all when irresponsible military activity continues around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant — the largest nuclear facility in Europe.”

The U.N.’s position “is unequivocal,” he says: “We are committed to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders.”

4:15 a.m. What keeps Chinese President Xi Jinping up at night lately? A diplomatic source familiar with Sino-American diplomacy believes it is not the fallout from the spy balloon incident but the possibility that the U.S. might take a harder line on sanctions.

In a meeting between Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, and his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Germany, Blinken warned that there would be “implications and consequences” if China provides military support to Russia or assistance with systemic sanctions evasion. That statement might mean more than meets the eye. Read the whole story in Nikkei Asia’s China Up Close this week.

Wednesday, Feb. 22

9:45 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin says Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping plans to visit Russia as their two nations’ relations reach “new frontiers.”

“We await a visit of the President of the People’s Republic of China to Russia, we have agreed on this,” Putin says at a meeting in Moscow with top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi. Read more.

7:46 p.m. Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of parliament, has voted quickly in favor of suspending Moscow’s participation in the New START treaty, rubber-stamping a decision that President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday when he accused the West of trying to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia in Ukraine. Asked in what circumstances Russia would return to the deal, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Everything will depend on the position of the West … When there’s a willingness to take into account our concerns, then the situation will change.”

7:06 p.m. Pope Francis, speaking two days before the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has called for a cease-fire and peace negotiations, saying no victory could be “built on ruins.” Francis, who has appealed for an end to violence in Ukraine at nearly every public appearance since Russia’s invasion of the country last year, spoke at his weekly general audience at the Vatican.

“It has been a year since the start of this absurd and cruel war, a sad anniversary,” he said. “The number of dead, wounded, refugees and displaced people, the (amount of) destruction and economic and social damage speak for themselves,” Francis said.

6:30 p.m. German exports to Russia plummeted 45% year-on-year to close to 15 billion euros ($16 billion) in 2022, its lowest level in two decades, as European Union sanctions targeted Moscow for the war in Ukraine and German companies ended their businesses in the country, the German Eastern Business Association said Tuesday.

“The disentanglement from the Russian market is progressing rapidly and will continue in 2023,” Michael Harms, managing director of the German Eastern Business Association, said at the group’s spring press conference in Berlin.

11:21 a.m. Russia urges U.N. states to vote against an “unbalanced and anti-Russian” move at the General Assembly by Ukraine and others to mark one year since Moscow invaded. The 193-member U.N. General Assembly is due to vote later this week on a draft resolution stressing “the need to reach, as soon as possible, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.” Ukraine and its supporters hope to deepen Russia’s diplomatic isolation by seeking approval of nearly three-quarters of the General Assembly to match — if not better — the support received for several resolutions last year.

Meanwhile, China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun told reporters on Tuesday that China would release a “position paper” on Ukraine likely within days that “will be mainly reflecting the consistent positions of China on this issue.” He said China would call for dialogue and a peaceful settlement. “We have never called it a peace plan,” Zhang said. “We will continue to emphasize respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries. We emphasize that countries should accommodate the security concerns of each other.”

7:35 a.m. At least one Russian rocket slammed into a busy street in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson killing six people, officials say, as Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech marking one year of war in Ukraine. Military and city authorities said 12 others were wounded in the attack. The blast also damaged shops behind a bus stop, took down power cables, and shattered windows. “This time of day it’s very crowded here so there are probably many casualties,” Viktoria, a woman waiting for a bus who declined to give her last name, told Reuters.

6:00 a.m. Nikkei Asia’s Big Story this week looks at the nearly yearlong war through the eyes of Ukrainians like Marta Yuzkiv, an army surgeon.

“Combat medics face unusual challenges in the Donbas battles,” Marta says, referring to Ukraine’s eastern coal region. “Normal fighting lasts 30 or 40 minutes, an hour at most, and when interrupted we carry the casualties out, but the fighting in Donbas is almost endless.” Read more here.

U.S. President Joe Biden poses onstage with children holding flags after he delivered remarks outside the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland, on Feb. 21. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

  © Reuters

2:40 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden rallies NATO allies in Poland after his surprise visit to Ukraine.

“One year ago, the world was bracing for the fall of Kyiv,” Biden said at Warsaw’s Royal Castle. “I can report: Kyiv stands strong, Kyiv stands proud, it stands tall and, most important, it stands free.”

Biden also said the U.S. will host a NATO summit next year as the defense alliance turns 75 years old.

Polish President Andrzej Duda, during a news conference, thanks Biden for his visit to both Ukraine and Poland, saying it “sends a very powerful message of responsibility, which the United States of America carries constantly the responsibility for the security of Europe and the world.”

2:20 a.m. Russia will still abide by limits on how many nuclear warheads it can deploy under the New START arms control treaty, despite its decision to suspend participation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says.

“In order to maintain a sufficient degree of predictability and stability in the sphere of nuclear missiles, Russia intends to adhere to a responsible approach and will continue to strictly observe the quantitative restrictions provided for by the New START treaty within the life cycle of the treaty,” the ministry says in a statement.

The ministry says Russia will continue to notify the U.S. of planned test launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles under a 1988 agreement.

New START was signed in 2010 by the two countries, which together possess 90% or so of the world’s nuclear warheads.

Russian video footage released Feb. 15 reportedly shows the country’s Tu-95MC strategic bombers. (Russian Defense Ministry/handout via Reuters)

  © Reuters

Tuesday, Feb. 21

10:07 p.m. President Vladimir Putin says Russia will suspend its participation in the New START arms control treaty and warns that Moscow could resume nuclear tests. The treaty, signed in 2010, caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads the two countries can deploy. It was due to expire in 2026.

Putin says, without citing evidence, that some people in Washington were considering a resumption of nuclear testing. “Of course, we will not do this first,” he said. “But if the United States conducts tests, then we will. No one should have dangerous illusions that global strategic parity can be destroyed.”

China, whose top diplomat Wang Yi arrived in Moscow on Tuesday, has cautioned against any nuclear escalation to the Ukraine war.

Speaking to reporters in Athens, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken calls Putin’s announcement “deeply unfortunate and irresponsible.”

“We’ll be watching carefully to see what Russia actually does,” Blinken adds, saying the U.S. remains “ready to talk about strategic arms limitations at any time with Russia irrespective of anything else going on in the world or in our relationship.”

6:50 p.m. President Vladimir Putin vows to continue with Russia’s yearlong war in Ukraine, accusing the U.S.-led NATO alliance of fanning the flames of the conflict in the mistaken belief that it can defeat Moscow in a global confrontation.

Flanked by four Russian tricolor flags, Putin tells Russia’s political and military elite that Russia will “carefully and consistently resolve the tasks facing us.” Putin says Russia has done everything to avoid war, but that Western-backed Ukraine had been planning to attack Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow on Feb. 21. (Sputnik/Pool via Reuters)

5:30 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine has been a strategic failure, says U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “One year after President Putin attacked Ukraine it is clear that his war has been a strategic failure in every way,” Blinken told a joint news conference with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in Athens.

3:30 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin will update the country’s elite on the war in Ukraine on Tuesday, nearly one year to the day since ordering an invasion. Putin will focus on what he casts as the “special military operation” in Ukraine, give his analysis of the international situation and outline his vision of Russia’s development after the West slapped on the severest sanctions in recent history.

“At such a crucial and very complicated juncture in our development, our lives, everyone is waiting for a message in the hope of hearing an assessment of what is happening, an assessment of the special military operation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state television. The speech, to members of both houses of parliament and to military commanders and soldiers, is due to begin at 0900 GMT in central Moscow.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on Feb. 21 voiced concern the Ukraine war could escalate and urged “certain countries to … stop fueling the fire.” 

  © Reuters

11:30 a.m. China is “deeply worried” about the escalation of the Ukraine conflict and the possibility of the situation spiraling out of control, China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang says. Beijing, which last year struck a “no limits” partnership with Moscow, has refrained from condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The United States has warned of consequences if China provides military support to Russia, which Beijing says it is not doing. “We urge certain countries to immediately stop fueling the fire,” Qin said during a speech.

7:30 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden landed in the Polish capital, Warsaw, on Monday evening, Polish television footage shows, after making a surprise visit to Ukraine. Earlier in the day Biden walked around Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, on an unannounced visit, promising to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes, on a trip timed to upstage the Kremlin ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

1:00 a.m. Russia’s economy contracted 2.1% last year, the federal statistics service said on Monday, compared with a 5.6% year-on-year rise in 2021, hurt by the fallout from Moscow’s decision to send tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine last February. Rosstat’s first gross domestic product (GDP) estimate for 2022 was a marked improvement on forecasts made soon after the conflict began. The economy ministry at one point predicted that Russia’s economy would shrink more than 12% last year, exceeding the falls in output seen after the Soviet Union collapsed and during the 1998 financial crisis.

12:30 a.m. President Joe Biden’s surprise visit to Kyiv was “meticulously planned over a period of months, involving several officers in the White House,” Jon Finer, the U.S. principal deputy national security adviser, says during a press call.

Planning for operational security was conducted by only a few people each from the White House, Pentagon, National Security Council and other groups. “The president was fully briefed on each stage of the plan and any potential contingencies, and then made the final ‘go’ or ‘no go’ decision after a huddle in the Oval Office and by phone with some key members of his national security cabinet on Friday,” Finer says.

“We did notify the Russians that President Biden would be traveling to Kyiv,” says Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser. “We did so some hours before his departure for de-confliction purposes.”

Biden had the opportunity for extended talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Sullivan says.

“They talked about Ukraine’s needs in terms of energy, infrastructure, economic support, humanitarian needs,” he says. “And they also talked about the political side of this, including the upcoming U.N. General Assembly session on Ukraine.”

Monday, Feb. 20

U.S. President Joe Biden visits St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during an unannounced visit to Kyiv on Feb. 20.

  © Reuters

7:26 p.m. U.S. President Joe Biden says during an unannounced visit to Kyiv that Washington will provide Ukraine with a new military aid package worth $500 million. Biden says the package details will be announced on Tuesday and that Washington will also provide more ammunition for high-mobility artillery rocket systems in Ukraine’s possession. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has written on Telegram that Biden’s visit is an “extremely important sign of support for all Ukrainians” and has posted a photo of the two leaders shaking hands.

7:10 p.m. China tells the United States to keep out of its relationship with Russia, just as Beijing’s top diplomat prepares for a visit to Moscow, and possibly a meeting with Vladimir Putin, to discuss ideas for peace in Ukraine. China is preparing to outline its position on a possible “political settlement” to the Ukraine war just as Washington and Beijing spar over the shooting down of spy balloons over the United States and amid U.S. claims China may supply weapons to Moscow.

7:04 p.m. U.S. President Joe Biden made an unannounced visit to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Monday, days before the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Read more.

1:00 p.m. Russia has charged 680 Ukrainian officials, including 118 members of the armed forces and defense ministry, with breaking laws governing the conduct of war, including the use of weapons against civilians, TASS news agency reports. According to the report, which quoted Russia’s chief public investigator, the Ukrainian officials were charged with the “use of prohibited means and methods of warfare,” referring to Article 356 of the Russian criminal code. Of the 680, 138 have been charged in absentia.

9:00 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an interview published on Sunday that French President Emmanuel Macron was wasting his time considering any sort of dialogue with Russia. Zelenskyy, interviewed by the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, was responding to a suggestion by Macron that Russia should be “defeated but not crushed” and that the conflict in Ukraine would have to be settled by negotiations. The two presidents spoke by telephone on Sunday. “It will be a useless dialogue. In fact, Macron is wasting his time. I have come to the conclusion that we are not able to change the Russian attitude,” Zelenskyy told the Italian daily.

1:00 a.m. The Ukraine war will have cost the German economy around 160 billion euros ($171 billion) — or some 4% of its gross domestic output — in lost value creation by the end of the year, the head of the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) says. That means GDP per capita in Europe’s largest economy will be 2,000 euros lower than it would otherwise have been, DIHK chief Peter Adrian told the “Rheinische Post.” Industry makes up a higher share of the economy in Germany than in many other countries, and the sector is for the most part energy-intensive, meaning German companies have been especially hard hit by a surge in energy prices, which last year hit record highs in Europe.

For earlier updates, click here.


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