Ukraine: the Russian army at the gates of Kiev

Diplomatic failure and tightening of the noose on Kiev. As the Russian army’s invasion of Ukraine enters its third week on Thursday, there is no reason to expect the fighting to stop.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba failed to agree a ceasefire with the Turkish mediator on Thursday during their first meeting since the start of the war.

According to Mr Kuleba, his Russian counterpart assured him that Russia “will continue its aggression until we capitulate, which will never happen”. Sergueï Lavrov, for his part, considered “dangerous” the deliveries of weapons from the West to Ukraine, in particular the deliveries of portable surface-to-air missiles.

Russian tanks in view of the ring road

At the same time, the Russian army continues its maneuvers to surround Kiev. Russian tanks, backed by a hail of Grad missiles, arrived on the northeastern outskirts of the Ukrainian capital on Thursday. Other columns have already arrived in the northern and western suburbs. The towns of Irpin and Boutcha, now abandoned, have been heavily bombed for ten days. Half of Kiev’s 3.5 million residents fled the last evacuation and supply routes in the South, according to the town hall.

Russian gains on other fronts have been minimal for six days. The Ukrainian army, for its part, focuses on ambushes of armored columns with its spear, AT4 and NLAW missiles supplied by the West, or Turkish Bayraktar drones.

The number of Russian tanks destroyed in a documented and geolocated way exceeds 160, but according to Kiev, would reach double. The Ukrainian army has lost at least 46 tanks, according to independent sources.

New Western Economic Turnstile

Western countries, for their part, continue to shower Russia with recriminations and financial sanctions. The bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol, which killed three people on Wednesday, including a young girl, was labeled a “war crime” by European Union diplomacy chief Josep Borrell and the Prime Minister of Spain on Thursday. Pedro Sanchez. Sergei Lavrov, replied that the building served as a base for a Ukrainian nationalist battalion. The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced on March 2 that an investigation into war crimes committed by both sides in Ukraine will be opened immediately. The Spanish and German courts also announced on Tuesday the start of their own investigations in this direction.

For his part, French President Emmanuel Macron called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for the fourteenth time in a month, along with the head of the German government, Olaf Scholz, to demand an immediate ceasefire. The heads of state or government of the 27 member states of the Union opened a summit in Versailles on Thursday dedicated to the crisis and which will lead to new sanctions. London on Thursday raised the target it has already taken: the assets in the United Kingdom of seven Russian oligarchs are immediately frozen, including the owner of the Chelsea football club, Roman Abramovich, the owner of Rusal, the world’s number two aluminum, Oleg Deripaska and Igor Setchin, boss of the public group Rosneft, number two in Russian oil.

Pandora’s box of repossessions is open

In addition, the Russian central bank was suspended by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), which is considered the “central bank of central banks” of the planet. The leadership of the BRI is ensured by the governors of the central banks of Germany, England, Belgium, France, Italy, United States, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland.

In retaliation for Western sanctions, the Kremlin on Thursday banned the re-export of certain foreign goods and equipment related to telecommunications, medicines, agricultural machinery, electrical equipment, locomotives and turbines. While public opinion continues to overwhelmingly support the Kremlin, often with the theme “this war may be absurd, but we still cannot wish for the defeat of our people”, the government has also taken steps to preserve the functioning of civil aviation. (through the certification in Russia of aircraft owned by European leasing companies), as well as sea and river, rail and road transport.

Vladimir Putin estimated that foreign companies that had left Russia could see their assets seized and placed under “external management”. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, for his part, signed the decree paving the way for the confiscation without compensation of the property of Russian citizens.

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