(Bloomberg) — Joe Biden said Vladimir Putin had made a “big mistake” in suspending a landmark nuclear treaty as the US president met in Warsaw with eastern European leaders who have offered staunch support for Ukraine.
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In Moscow, the Russian leader lauded deepening ties with Beijing during a visit by China’s top diplomat, who said the relationship between the two countries was “solid as a mountain” and would withstand turmoil.
Russia’s War in Ukraine: Key Events and How It’s Unfolding
The Group of Seven nations are set to create a new tool to coordinate their enforcement of existing sanctions on Russia, an effort to tighten the screws and improve compliance, according to people familiar with the matter. In addition, G-7 nations plan to offer key support for Ukraine’s effort to access International Monetary Fund financing by the end of March, people familiar with that issue said.
(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)
Listen back to the latest in our series of special Twitter Space conversations about one year of war in Ukraine. Today’s focused on the impact on global energy supplies and markets, and on the environment and renewable energy policies. You can access it via this link. You can also listen back to our conversation yesterday on the war itself and military lessons learned.
How Does Ukraine Continue to Beat Back Russia? (Podcast)
Biden Doesn’t See Putin Using Nukes Despite Halting Arms Treaty
Ukrainians are Crowdfunding Their Defense From Drones to Mortar
G-7 Readies New Tool to Boost Enforcement of Russia Sanctions
Putin Says He Is Waiting for Xi Amid China Peace Push on Ukraine
India Doesn’t Want to Call Russia’s War a ‘War’ at G-20
Russia, South Africa, China to Simulate Air Attacks in Exercise
Five Charts Showing Impact of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
On the Ground
Russia is bolstering the number of its troops along the main offensive axes near eastern towns of Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiyivka and Shakhtarsk, the Ukrainian General Staff said in a statement on Facebook. Russian forces fired nine rockets over the past 24 hours, four of which hit the city of Kharkiv, according to the statement. There were also more than 20 attacks with multiple launch rocket systems and ten strikes from Russian military jets.
(All times CET)
Biden Doesn’t See Nuclear Threat in START Suspension (4 a.m.)
Biden said Putin had made the world less safe by suspending participation in the New START nuclear treaty, but added he does not believe it signals the Russian leader will use nuclear weapons.
Putin made a “big mistake,” Biden said while speaking to reporters Wednesday in Warsaw before a meeting with a group of eastern-flank NATO allies known as the Bucharest Nine.
“I don’t read into that that he’s thinking of using nuclear weapons or anything like that,” Biden said in an interview with ABC News released later Wednesday, adding that the Russian president’s decision was nonetheless “not very responsible.”
Ukraine Seeks to Restore Online Asset Declarations for Officials (8:16 p.m.)
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy supports resuming electronic declarations of assets by Ukrainian government officials and lawmakers, the leader of the Servant of the People party, David Arakhamia, said on Telegram. A bill to resume the declarations is set for a speedy vote, he said.
The G-7 group’s ambassadors to Ukraine said on Twitter on Feb. 10 that they look forward to “rapid” restoration of the declarations as one of anti-corruption mechanisms. Ukraine closed public access to asset declarations on the first day of the Russian invasion and suspended them for the period of the martial law.
G-7 to Extend Crucial Support for Ukraine’s IMF Funding Bid (6:47 p.m.)
Group of Seven nations plan to offer key support for Ukraine’s effort to access International Monetary Fund financing by the end of March as IMF officials have begun talks with the US, people familiar with matter said.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has discussed a lending program with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva in recent days, with Treasury and IMF teams in daily contact, one of the people said. The Washington-based lender and Ukraine have been exploring a multi-year aid package worth as much as $16 billion to help cover the war-battered country’s needs and provide a catalyst for additional international funding.
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G-7 Readies New Tool to Boost Russia Sanctions Enforcement (6:36 p.m.)
The Group of Seven nations are set to create a new tool to coordinate their enforcement of existing sanctions on Russia, an effort to tighten the screws and improve compliance, according to people familiar with the matter.
The instrument, tentatively called the “Enforcement Coordination Mechanism,” aims to bolster information sharing and other actions, including regarding countries and firms anywhere in the world suspected of aiding Russia’s war in Ukraine by evading or undermining sanctions, according to one of the people, who asked not to be identified in advance of an announcement.
The G-7 and the European Union are expected this week to also announce new sanctions and trade restrictions on goods used by Russia’s military, including technology, components, heavy vehicles, industrial machinery, electronics and construction equipment. They are also set to target companies in countries such as Iran that are supporting Moscow’s war efforts with military supplies.
Duda Asked Biden to Move US Army Equipment to Poland (6:26 p.m.)
Poland has asked the US to move military equipment to storage facilities in the country, President Andrzej Duda said on Wednesday.
Duda told TVN24 after meeting with Biden in Warsaw that such a move would help increase the US military presence in the NATO member and is much less costly than boosting the number of soldiers in the eastern European country.
Finland Says It’s Ready to Join NATO Without Sweden (4:16 p.m.)
Finland is set to join NATO if it gets the final ratifications for its membership bid, regardless of what progress Sweden has made toward joining the alliance, according to President Sauli Niinisto. At a briefing with the Swedish and Norwegian prime ministers, Niinisto said the matter is up to parliament — and if Turkey and Hungary sign off, “we will become members of NATO.”
Finland’s parliament has moved ahead with the accession process, raising questions over whether the country would move forward in joining the alliance without Sweden, whose bid continues to be blocked by Turkey.
Spain to Send Six Battles Tanks to Ukraine (3:45 p.m.)
The Spanish government plans to deliver six Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine between March and April as part of a European effort to bolster the nation’s arsenal, Defense Minister Margarita Robles said on Wednesday. The older Leopard 2 A-4 models need to be repaired – and the government is prepared to send more, Robles told reporters in parliament.
India Doesn’t Want to Call Russia’s War a ‘War’ at G-20 (3:32 p.m.)
Indian officials hosting Group of 20 finance chiefs this week are seeking to avoid using the word “war” in any joint statement when referring to Russia’s invasion, a person familiar with the matter said.
That would mark a departure from a consensus reached by leaders in Bali in November. The person said using words like “crisis” will be more acceptable. Officials in India are also worried that any plans by some nations to impose additional sanctions on Russia will draw attention away from the other priorities of the G-20 meetings, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public.
Biden Says Putin Made ‘Big Mistake’ in Suspending Treaty (3:29 p.m.)
Biden said Putin made a “big mistake” in suspending participation in the New START nuclear treaty, his first direct response to the announcement. The US president made the brief remark ahead of a meeting of the so-called Bucharest Nine in the Polish capital.
In response to a shouted question from the press, Biden grinned and said he didn’t have time to discuss his response to Putin’s announcement. “Big mistake,” he added as he walked into the meeting.
Read More: Biden Says Putin Made ‘Big Mistake’ in Suspending Treaty
Biden in Warsaw Reinforces NATO’s Collective Defense Commitment (3 p.m.)
Biden, meeting with nine eastern European leaders who have been vocal in backing Ukraine, reinforced the US commitment to help defend any NATO member state that comes under attack, embedded in the military alliance’s Article 5.
“Article 5 is a sacred commitment the United States has made,” Biden told leaders in Warsaw. “We will defend literally every inch of NATO, every inch of NATO.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, also present at the meeting, warned that the Russian leader “is not preparing for peace; on the contrary, he is preparing for more war.”
Putin Says Russia Is Fighting on Its ‘Historical Borders’ (2:41 p.m.)
“Right now there is a battle on our historical borders for our people,” Putin told tens of thousands of people at a concert in Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium in support of troops fighting in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Putin led a chant of “Russia” from a stage at the stadium that hosted the 2018 World Cup soccer final. The televised rally was held on the eve of a public holiday in Russia, the “Defender of the Fatherland,” a title Putin said carried “mystical and holy” significance for the country.
Switzerland Ramps Up Humanitarian Aid to Ukraine (2:30 p.m.)
Switzerland plans to increase humanitarian aid to Ukraine and Moldova by 140 million francs ($151 million), the government said.
The country has so far allocated around 1.3 billion francs to aid measures, with about 1 billion francs going toward hosting refugees. More than 75,000 Ukrainians have sought refugee status in Switzerland, some 25,000 people are still being hosted by private individuals.
Polish Premier Tells Hungarian President Solidarity With Ukraine Needed (1:54 p.m.)
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told Hungarian President Katalin Novak during a visit to Warsaw that solidarity with Ukraine is necessary to end the conflict. “The war in Ukraine is the most important topic that needs to be discussed,” Morawiecki said in a statement after the meeting.
Hungary and Poland have backed each other for years as they defied the EU over the rule of law. But the friendship soured after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban refused to make a clean break with Putin following the invasion.
Putin Awaiting Xi Amid China Peace Push on Ukraine (1:22 p.m.)
Putin said he’s waiting for his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to visit Russia. Cooperation between Russia and China is “very important for stabilizing the international situation,” Putin told Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi at talks in Moscow, asking him to pass on greetings to “my friend” Xi. Russia and China are reaching “new milestones” including in trade, which may grow to $200 billion sooner than their goal of 2024, Putin said.
“The current international situation is indeed critical and complex but the relationship between China and Russia is solid as a mountain and can stand the test of international risks,” Wang replied, adding that the “strategic” ties between Moscow and Beijing won’t be subject to pressure from any third parties.
Read More: Putin Says He Is Waiting for Xi Amid China Peace Push on Ukraine
More Ukrainians Want Zelenskiy Elected to Second Term (1:08 p.m.)
Volodymyr Zelenskiy should be elected to a second term as Ukrainian president, according to 65% of respondents in a poll conducted this month by pollster Rating Group. That’s a jump over the leader’s prewar backing, when only 20% supported a second term as of October 2021.
The number who say Zelenskiy should leave office dropped to 25% from 43% in 2021. The Ukrainian president is trusted by 59% of those polls, compared with 14% a month before the invasion.
Russia, South Africa, China to Simulate Air Attacks in Exercise (12:59 p.m.)
The navies of Russia, China and South Africa will conduct maneuvers, including simulated air attacks on ships and liberating hostages from pirates, in 10 days of exercises off the African country’s coast. The participants will also fire artillery in the maneuvers, the “active portion” of which will take place Feb. 25-27, Russia’s Interfax quoted the country’s Northern Fleet as saying.
Read More: Russia, South Africa, China to Simulate Air Attacks in Exercise
The exercises, known as MOSI II, have been criticized by some of South Africa’s biggest trade partners, including the US and the EU, which have questioned the timing of the exercises a year after the invasion of Ukraine started. Those countries have already been irked by South Africa’s abstention from United Nations resolutions condemning Russia’s invasion.
Scholz Planning to Speak With Putin Again Soon (12:15 p.m.)
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is planning another telephone conversation with Putin “soon,” according to his chief spokesman, Steffen Hebestreit.
“I would dampen expectations though as we’re doing so even though we know that it often has little chance of success,” Hebestreit said at the regular government news conference in Berlin. Scholz is convinced of the importance of keeping channels open to Putin even if there is no sign currently of an imminent change of policy in the Kremlin regarding the war on Ukraine, Hebestreit added.
Germany-Ukraine Trade Declined Less Than Expected (11:35 a.m.)
Although trade flows between Germany and Ukraine declined by almost 7% last year, that was a smaller drop than expected and business has been recovering since the late fall, according to a Berlin-based lobby group that promotes commercial ties with eastern Europe and central Asia.
German companies in Ukraine have maintained or quickly restored production wherever possible, Michael Harms, the managing director of the East Commission, said by email. German firms are also intensively involved in restoring destroyed infrastructure and the long-term reconstruction of the country, Harms said.
“Exports to Russia fell by 45% in 2022, to the lowest level in two decades,” Harms said. “However, the drastic losses were more than offset by double-digit increases in exports to other markets.”
Ukrainian Finance Minister to Address G-7 Counterparts (11:30 a.m.)
Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko will make a video address and have discussions with Group of Seven finance ministers and central banks chiefs at their meeting Thursday, Deputy Minister Olha Zykova said on the We-Ukraine TV channel. She said Ukraine expects to obtain information about the funding the country can receive as additional financial aid this year.
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