Bans, Blocks, Borders: The Russia-Ukraine Conflict Over The Weekend

This is a developing story.

The world was brought to the brink of a global war on Thursday following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s launch of the invasion of Ukraine. The act bared the volatility of the international community as global markets plummet and commodity prices increase.

But one thing’s for sure: the conflict did not end with the week.

Ukraine continues to fight

Ukraine is mustering its military strength to fight off Russia’s advancements. On Saturday, the country’s ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova said that their forces were able to destroy 102 Russian tanks, 14 fighter jets, 11 helicopters, 15 artillery pieces, and 536 armored vehicles. But the country suffered at least 240 civilian casualties, according to estimates by the United Nations.

“We are defending our homes, we are defending our families, we are defending democracy, we are defending our choice to be sovereign, but we are also defending Europe,” said Markarova.

Earlier in the day, Ukraine reported that Russian forces blew up a gas pipeline in the city of Kharkiv. The country’s prosecutor general said, however, that the Russian forces weren’t able to overtake the city as the Ukrainian forces continue to battle.

Zelensky refused evacuation offer

US President Joe Biden offered Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky an evacuation plan out of Kyiv on Saturday. Zelensky, an actor who played a president in a local TV show and won the 2019 presidential elections, refused the offer saying, “I need ammunition, not a ride.”

The Ukrainian president has also taken arms and joined the military force to defend the country, following his institutionalizing of martial law.

Zelensky also posted a video on Saturday reiterating the country’s desire to fight Russian aggression. “I am here. We are not putting down arms,” he said.

Ukrainian boxing brothers to join military forces

Before the week ended on Friday, Ukrainian hall of fame boxers the Klitschko brothers vowed to join the fight to defend their country. The 50-year old Vitali Klitschko, who also serves as the capital city Kyiv’s mayor previously said he would take up arms against the invaders, while his younger brother Wladimir Klitschko has joined the country’s reserve forces this month and is now being called to the frontlines.

“I don’t have another choice. I have to do that,” said Mayor Klitschko in a Good Morning Britain interview on Friday. “I would fight.”

US imposes economic sanctions on Russia

Also on Saturday, Biden announced restrictive economic sanctions to impose on Russia as part of the collective global efforts to “further isolate Russia from the international financial system and our economies.”

Washington D.C. plans to remove select Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system, impose measures to restrict the Russian Central Bank from deploying international reserves, ban select “wealthy Russians” to become American citizens, and coordinate a transatlantic task force to implement the sanctions and monitor the frozen assets of select Russian individuals related to the invasion.

EU bans Russia from airspace, media; sanctions Belarus

The European Union joins in the growing global support for embattled Ukraine. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen released a statement on Sunday a list of its actions “against the aggressor – Putin’s Russia.”

“For the first time ever, the European Union will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and other equipment to a country that is under attack,” the statement read.

The coalition is closing off its entire airspace to Russians, whether “Russian-owned, Russian-registered, or Russian-controlled aircraft” and even any aircraft owned, chartered, or controlled by a Russian legal or natural person. It also moves to ban Moscow’s state-owned media like Russia Today and Sputnik from airing in any EU country.

The union also announced a ban on Belarus exports “from mineral fuels to tobacco, wood and timber, cement, iron and steel.” The ban also extends to “Belarusians helping the Russian war effort.”

“[We] will target the other aggressor in this war – [Belarusian President Alexander] Lukashenko’s regime. Lukashenko’s regime is complicit in this vicious attack against Ukraine,” von der Leyen said further in the statement.

Lukashenko, a self-proclaimed dictator, has previously said it will not order Belarusian forces to join the rising conflict between Russia and Ukraine. However, Russian forces were able to take over the nuclear power plant Chernobyl in Ukraine through the Ukraine-Belarus border.

These announcements are on top of the previously announced exclusion of Russian banks from SWIFT system, freezing of assets of Russia’s central bank and Russian oligarchs.

The European Union is a coalition of 27 member countries in the continent, including Spain, France, Germany, and Italy.

Russia Blocks Sale Of Securities By Foreigners

On its side, Russia blocked foreigners from selling its securities. In a Reuters report on Sunday, the country’s central bank ordered its local market traders to reject bids for securities from foreign clients.

In effect, this stops the flow of the ruble out of the country thereby sustaining its economic reserves following a series of sanctions from global superpowers and coalitions.

Many analysts are noting this as an act to pacify the “financial panic” setting in Moscow as the conflict and the sanctions continue.

Rogers, Bell block Russian Today

Here in Canada, communication giants Rogers and Bell said on Sunday that they have also dropped Moscow’s state-owned Russian Today in its cable channel line-up. Rogers will replace the channel occupied by the Russian media with a Ukrainian flag.

Minister of Canadian Heritage and Quebec Lieutenant Pablo Rodriguez lauded the moves, highlighting that “[Russian Today] is the propaganda arm of Putin’s regime.”

Ontario’s Liquor Control Board also said on Friday that it is pulling out all Russian-produced products. Local liquor stores in Manitoba, Newfoundland, and Labrador have also removed Russian alcohol from their shelves.

Turkey chokeholds Black Sea from Russia

Turkey joins in the fray by banning Russian ships from entering the Black Sea. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that the country has deemed the situation in Ukraine to have escalated into a war, allowing itself to block belligerent countries to access the Black Sea under the 1936 Montreux Convention.

“We came to the conclusion that the situation in Ukraine has transformed into a war,” said Çavuşoğlu in an interview on CNN Turk. “We will implement all articles of Montreux transparently.”

The move comes after Zelensky asked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to close the country’s airspace and the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to Russian forces. Earlier in the month, at least six warships and a submarine have transited the straits to enter the Black Sea and conduct “naval drills” near Ukraine’s waters.

With this in effect, Russian forces will have trouble advancing to Ukraine on the other side of the Crimean peninsula.

INTERACTIVE: Black Sea waterways Ukraine Russia
Source: AlJazeera

Germany shifts to invest in the military but still allows gas bill payments to Russia

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday that the government is earmarking €100 billion to revamp the country’s military, a move that is considered a major shift in its defense policy.

“It’s clear we need to invest significantly more in the security of our country, in order to protect our freedom and our democracy,” said Scholz.

However, the country’s economic ministry spokesperson said today that Germany’s gas bills to Russia can still be paid in an effort to keep the country’s energy supply flowing.

“There are still channels by which Germany’s gas bills can be paid despite the exclusion of Russia from the main global payments system SWIFT,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also admitted that it is “impossible to estimate the total impact of sanctions against Russia on the German economy at the moment.”

On Tuesday, Scholz pulled the plug on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline that’s supposed to duplicate the country’s import of energy resources from Russia. European gas prices shot up after the US$11-billion project failed to get certification from Berlin.

Putin’s private militia covertly moves to assassinate Zelensky

Around 400 Russian mercenaries are reportedly working in private to infiltrate Kyiv and execute an assassination attack on Zelensky. In a The Times report, an individual familiar with the issue relayed that the Wagner Group–effectively referred to as Putin’s private militia–is currently stationed in Ukraine’s capital with orders to kill the country’s president in exchange for a reward.

The country, already under martial law, effected a “hard curfew” on Kyiv to eradicate the city of Russian saboteurs, advising citizens they may be “liquidated” if they were caught outside beyond the curfew.

Zelensky asks EU to fast-track membership

Zelensky asked the European Union to fast-track Ukraine’s membership to the coalition, as the country fights off Russia’s advancements. In a video released today, the Ukrainian president requested a special procedure for membership given the current circumstances.

“Our goal is to be with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be equal,” said Zelensky. “I’m sure that’s fair. I am sure we deserve it.”

Usually, applicant countries to the European Union must meet the Copenhagen criteria: a stable democracy that respects human rights and the rule of law, a functioning market economy, and the acceptance of the obligations of membership. Ukraine has previously expressed intent to prepare the application to join the union in 2030.

While the European Union is not a military alliance, the coalition boosted its military capability following the Kosovo War in 1999, most notably establishing EU Battlegroups military units.

Elon Musk activates Starlink in Ukraine

With the Russian invasion dealing heavy damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure, the country’s communication lines have been disrupted, including its internet services.

After a Twitter callout, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk relayed that the company’s satellite internet service Starlink is now active in the country, with more terminals coming. The technology uses low-orbit satellites to offer broadband access.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict today: peace talks, cluster bombs, and mobile crematoriums

As the war enters its 5th day, Russian and Ukrainian delegates commenced peace talks on the Belarus border in an effort to resolve the current conflict.

Ukraine, represented by its Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, plans to demand “an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops from Ukraine,” directives coming from Zelensky.

But Zelensky is not optimistic about the results of the talks.

“I do not believe much in the result of this meeting — but let them try so that not a single Ukrainian citizen has doubts that I as president did not try to stop the war when there was a chance, albeit little,” the Ukrainian president said on Telegram.

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke today with Putin, asking to respect three primary concerns from the international community: “a halt to all strikes and attacks against civilians and places of residence, preservation of all civil infrastructure, and securing the main roads, in particular the road south of Kyiv.”

Macron’s office said that Putin had “confirmed his willingness to commit to these three points.”

“At the same time, it was noted that the Russian side is open to negotiations with representatives of Ukraine and expects that they will lead to the desired results,” Kremlin said in a readout today following the call with Macron.

Nevertheless, Putin reiterated that a ceasefire would be “possible only if Russia’s legitimate security interests are unconditionally taken into account, including the recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea, the solution of the tasks of demilitarizing and denazification of the Ukrainian state and ensuring its neutral status.”

Russia seems to be intent on continuing its attacks on Ukraine as reports on Moscow’s nuclear forces being placed on enhanced combat duty. Videos of Russian forces using cluster bombs in Kharkiv have also circulated on social media.

In a Daily Mail report, Russia is said to be using mobile crematoriums as it continues its attack on Ukraine. The said vehicles, equipped with incinerators, are supposedly designed to quickly remove the military and civilian casualties of the attack to “hide the true scale of war.”

According to Ukraine’s health ministry, it is estimated that 352 civilians have been killed since Russia’s attacks on the country.

Information for this briefing was found via CBS News, USA Today, Vancouver Sun, AlJazeera, Daily Mail, and Reuters. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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