Ukraine Latest: Zelenskiy Will Ask EU Leaders for Fighter Jets

(Bloomberg) – At an EU summit in Brussels, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he would call on EU leaders to provide Ukraine with fighter jets to repel the Russian invasion. The leader of Ukraine called for expanded sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s regime, including missile and drone production.

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The leader of the European Parliament pledged to support Ukraine’s membership in the bloc, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU fully supports Ukraine’s “peace formula” and said the bloc would join the bloc propose a tenth package of sanctions against Russia in the coming days.

President Joe Biden said in an interview that Russian President Vladimir Putin had “already lost Ukraine” and that US aid to Kiev was open-ended for the time being.

Group of seven member states are discussing whether to sanction companies in China, Iran and North Korea they believe are supplying Russia with parts and technology that serve military purposes, according to people familiar with the matter.

(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)

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Important Developments

  • Russia’s biggest wartime dealmaker celebrates exit of foreign firms
  • Russia blames USA for Nord Stream explosion and threatens consequences
  • Biden’s top adviser on Russia leaves Ukraine conflict
  • Rheinmetall in talks to deliver Panther main battle tanks to Ukraine
  • Meloni, Macron Spar on Zelenskiy’s invitation to dinner in Paris
  • G-7 considers sanctions against Chinese firms for supporting Russian military

On the floor

Russian forces have launched “their next major offensive” in the Luhansk region, the War Research Institute said. The pace of Russian operations along the Svatove-Kreminna line in western Luhansk has picked up significantly over the past week as the army made “minor progress” along the Kharkiv-Luhansk border. Russia is increasing troop levels, with the capture of Donbass remaining its main objective at the front, Ukrainian intelligence representative Andriy Yusov said in a TV interview. Russian attacks from other directions are also possible, but could mainly be an attempt “to distract or withdraw Ukrainian forces and assets,” he said.

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(All times CET)

Prime Minister of Ukraine meets with JPMorgan on “investment environment” (1 p.m.)

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal tweeted that he had met with JPMorgan officials about the “favorable investment environment” that Ukraine is creating, including in energy, natural resources and digital technologies.

Rheinmetall in talks to deliver Panther and Lynx vehicles to Ukraine (12:47 p.m.)

Germany’s Rheinmetall is in talks to supply Ukraine with its state-of-the-art main battle tanks and combat vehicles, CEO Armin Papperger said.

“Ukraine is interested in Lynx and Panther, currently the most modern armored personnel carriers and battle tanks,” Papperger was quoted as saying by the Handelsblatt on Thursday.

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Read more: Rheinmetall in talks to deliver Panther main battle tanks to Ukraine

Ukraine’s future lies in EU, says Metsola (11:29)

Ukraine must be granted the fastest possible accession process in order to join the EU, said the President of the European Parliament during Zelenskyy’s visit to Brussels.

“Ukraine is Europe and the future of your country lies in the European Union,” Roberta Metsola told lawmakers, assuring parliament’s support for Ukraine’s membership.

“We know the sacrifice your people have endured and we must honor it not only with words but also with deeds,” she said, adding that Ukraine will provide funds and aid for reconstruction, as well as military training and equipment such as fighter jets need.

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Meloni criticizes Macron’s dinner invitation in Zelenskyj (10:40 a.m.)

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni called French President Emmanuel Macron’s dinner invitation to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy “inappropriate” as the European Union should show unity in its support for Ukraine. “Our strength is community and cohesion,” Meloni told reporters ahead of an EU summit.

Meloni’s comments come as Italian media reported that she was barred from Wednesday’s Paris dinner, which was also attended by German Olaf Scholz, over a diplomatic row with Macron over migration.

Macron, in response to Meloni’s comments, told reporters that France and Germany have a special role to play in supporting Ukraine and that it is up to Zelenskiy to choose the format he prefers.

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Russia blames the USA for the Nord Stream explosion and threatens the consequences (10:28 a.m.)

Russia blamed the US for blasts that damaged the Nord Stream pipelines and warned against a response after American investigative journalist Seymour Hersch published an article claiming the Biden administration had attacked the gas transmission network.

“We assumed that the US and several NATO allies were involved in this disgusting crime,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters in Moscow. The state news service RIA Novosti reported that he had threatened Washington with unspecified “consequences”.

Scholz blames allies for battle tanks (10 a.m.)

Chancellor Scholz indicated his frustration with some allies who he said were “pointing the finger at Germany” for supplying arms to Ukraine but have not yet committed to a plan to supply the government in Kiev with main battle tanks.

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“Germany is making a key contribution to ensuring that we provide rapid assistance,” he said before the EU summit. “We are now trying to ensure that many others who have pointed their finger in the past now follow suit with specific measures.”

Estonia urges allies to send warplanes to Ukraine (9:45 am)

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas called on other countries to supply fighter jets to Ukraine. “I plead for everyone to do what they can because the price goes up with every hesitation, every delay,” she told reporters upon arrival for a summit in Brussels. Kallas called for more sanctions.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda also called for more sanctions against companies like Rosatom, targeting the diamond sector and more banks. This “would help to have more impact on the Russian economy,” he said.

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Russia’s Wagner Group Stops Hiring Convicts for Ukraine Fight (7:49 am)

Russia’s private military company Wagner has “completely stopped” recruiting convicts from the country’s prisons, its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a Telegram post without explanation.

The mercenary group began hiring prisoners last summer and offered them early release from their sentences if they agreed to a six-month contract to fight in Ukraine. The US estimated in December that Wagner had up to 40,000 convicts stationed in Ukraine, as well as 10,000 of his regular contractors.

Mud season in eastern Ukraine peaks in March, UK says (6am)

Cross-border mobility (CCM) restrictions in eastern Ukraine are likely to be at their highest in mid-to-late March, the UK Ministry of Defense has said.

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“Commanders on both sides will most likely try to avoid major offensives at such times,” added the UK.

Ukraine has said it expects another Russian attack later this month. Conditions on the ground could be overridden by political considerations over the schedule, the ministry said.

Biden says US aid is open-ended for now (1:25 p.m.)

President Joe Biden said US aid to Zelenskyy’s government was indefinite for the time being and that Russian President Vladimir Putin had “already lost Ukraine.”

In a wide-ranging interview with Judy Woodruff on PBS NewsHour Wednesday night, Biden added he was proud that “I’ve managed to fully unify NATO” since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began nearly a year ago.

“There’s no way Putin will be able to do that — he’s already lost Ukraine,” Biden said in the interview, which came a day after his second State of the Union address. In that speech, he called Putin’s invasion “a test for eternity, a test for America, a test for the world.”


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