Finance chiefs of the world’s largest economies strongly condemned Moscow for its war on Ukraine on Saturday, with only China and Russia itself declining to sign a joint statement. Read FRANCE 24’s liveblog below to see how the day’s events unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).
This liveblog is no longer being updated. For more of our coverage on the war in Ukraine, please click here.
7:30pm: EU adds sanctions on Wagner for Africa ‘rights abuses’
The EU on Saturday announced additional sanctions against Russia‘s Wagner mercenary organisation for “human rights abuses” in the Central African Republic, Sudan and Mali.
Eight individuals and seven entities tied to the paramilitary group were added to the bloc’s list for asset freezes and a travel ban.
The Wagner Group itself – which is actively fighting in Russia’s war in Ukraine – was already sanctioned by the European Union in 2021.
6:43pm: Russia says West ‘destabilised’ G20 talks
Russia on Saturday accused the West of destabilising the G20 finance ministers’ meeting in India by trying to force through a joint statement on Ukraine that stalled because of disagreements.
“We regret that the activities of the G20 continue to be destabilised by the Western collective and used in an anti-Russian… way,” the foreign ministry said.
5:51pm: Zinchenko captains Arsenal as mark of respect to Ukraine
Oleksandr Zinchenko was named captain of Premier League leaders Arsenal for their trip to Leicester on Saturday to mark the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian international replaced Martin Odegaard as the Gunners’ normal skipper at the King Power stadium and wore an armband in the colours of the Ukrainian flag.
“Zinchenko will wear our captain’s armband today, as a mark of respect and love on the first anniversary of the conflict in Ukraine,” Arsenal posted on Twitter.
5:40pm: Prigozhin says Wagner fighters capture village north of Bakhmut
Russian mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Saturday that fighters of his Wagner group had captured the village of Yahidne, just north of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.
FRANCE 24 could not independently confirm the claim, which Prigozhin made in a short audio message.
5:35pm: ‘Hundreds of Parisians and Ukrainians’ march in solidarity with Ukraine
At the march from eastern Paris‘s Place de la République to Place de la Bastille the day after the first anniversary of the Russian invasion on February 24, “hundreds of Parisians and Ukrainians […] were marching in solidarity with Ukraine and also in memory of the victims of the war”, FRANCE 24’s Liza Kaminov reported.
4:18pm: Thousands attend Berlin protest over sending arms to Ukraine
A demonstration against supplying Ukraine with weapons for war with Russia attracted 10,000 people on Saturday, drawing criticism from top German government officials and a large police presence to maintain order.
Organised by a prominent left-wing German politician, the protest comes a day after the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which drew promises of more weapons from western allies, fresh sanctions against Russia and shows of support for Kyiv across the globe.
“We call on the German chancellor to stop the escalation of arms deliveries. Now! […] Because every day lost costs up to 1,000 more lives – and brings us closer to a 3rd world war,” the protest’s organisers said on their website.
The “Uprising for Peace” was organised in part by Sahra Wagenknecht, a member of Germany’s left-wing Die Linke party.
3:05pm: Hungary signals fresh delay in Finland, Sweden NATO approval
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff signalled on Saturday a possible further delay in Budapest’s ratification of Finland and Sweden joining NATO, saying a vote may take place only in the second half of March.
Sweden and Finland applied last year to join the transatlantic defence pact after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. But all 30 NATO members need to back the applications and Sweden has faced objections from Turkey for harbouring what Ankara considers to be members of terrorist groups.
With Hungary’s ratification process stranded in parliament since July, Orban aired concerns about Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership for the first time on Friday. Among other criticisms, he has accused both countries of spreading “outright lies” about the health of democracy and the rule of law in Hungary.
2:24pm: Russia stops oil deliveries to Poland via pipeline, Polish company says
Polish energy group PKN Orlen announced on Saturday that Russia had stopped supplying the group with oil through the Druzhba pipeline, which affects about 10 percent of Orlen’s needs.
“Deliveries through the Druzhba pipeline towards Poland were stopped by the Russian side,” the Polish company said in a statement to AFP.
2:11pm: Germany says regrets China’s position on Ukraine war
German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said on Saturday it was “regrettable” that China had blocked a G20 statement to condemn Russia‘s war on Ukraine.
He was speaking to reporters after a meeting of finance leaders from the world’s major economies in Bengaluru.
“But for me it was more important that all the others adhered to a clear position of international law, multilateralism and the end of the war,” Lindner said.
2:03pm: G20 chair India says most members condemn Ukraine war
G20 chair India on Saturday said most members of the bloc “strongly condemned” the war in Ukraine and reiterated their positions demanding Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine.
In a statement at the end of financial leaders’ meet near Bengaluru, India said the statement condemning Russia’s war was endorsed by all members except Russia and China.
India stuck to the language used in the G20 leaders’ declaration in Bali last year on the conflict, adding that it recognised that the bloc was not the forum to resolve security issues, while acknowledging that such issues can have significant consequences for the global economy.
12:51am: EU targets 121 individuals, entities in fresh sanctions against Russia
New EU sanctions over Russia’s war in Ukraine adopted on Saturday target 121 individuals and entities, including Iranian drone manufacturers, officials said.
The measures, agreed late Friday ahead of Saturday’s formal adoption, are the 10th round of European Union sanctions aimed at undercutting Russia’s finances and military supplies used in its invasion that started a year ago.
They echo sanctions announced Friday by the United States and by Britain, and follow up on a G7 statement that warned of penalties for any country abetting Russia in its war.
11:14am: Macron says will visit China to ‘help us pressure Russia’
French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday said he would visit China in early April and called on Beijing to “help us pressure Russia” to end the war in Ukraine.
Speaking a day after China called for urgent peace talks as it released its plan to end the war in Ukraine, Macron said peace was only possible if “the Russian aggression was halted, troops withdrawn and territorial sovereignty of Ukraine and its people was respected”.
>> Macron to visit China, calls on Beijing to pressure Putin on Ukraine
“The fact that China is engaging in peace efforts is a good thing,” the French leader said, asking Beijing “not to supply any arms to Russia”.
He also sought Beijing’s help to “exert pressure on Russia to ensure it never uses chemical or nuclear weapons and it stops this aggression prior to negotiations”.
10:12am: Russia’s war in Ukraine is a ‘big catastrophe’, says Germany’s Scholz
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the war between Russia and Ukraine is a “horrible war with much destruction […] a big catastrophe” at a G20 summit in India.
“The world is suffering from this aggression […] but we will do everything we can so that the world remains a good place,” he
said adding that cooperation between India and Germany was “very, very important”.
9:51am: US’s Yellen says ‘absolutely necessary’ for G20 to condemn war in Ukraine
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Reuters that a strong statement condemning Russia‘s war in Ukraine was “absolutely necessary” for a communique from the G20 finance leaders’ meeting in India concluding on Saturday.
Yellen said in an interview that leaving a war condemnation out of the communique would be a step back from a statement made by G20 leaders last November on the Indonesian island of Bali.
Asked whether there would be no communique from the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting without such a statement, Yellen said negotiations were continuing.
Yellen said in an interview that leaving a condemnation of President Putin’s out of the final communique from the G20 would be a backwards step from the statement made by G20 leaders last November on the Indonesian island of Bali.
8:46am: Biden says he does not ‘anticipate’ China providing weapons to Russia
US President Joe Biden said Friday that he does not “anticipate a major initiative” from China to provide weapons to Russia in its war against Ukraine.
His comments come days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS that China was “considering providing lethal support” to Moscow ranging “from ammunition to the weapons themselves” — which Beijing denied.
In a wide-ranging television interview with ABC News — covering his bid for re-election and the war in Ukraine — that aired Friday evening, Biden appeared to backtrack on Blinken’s comments.
“I don’t anticipate — we haven’t seen it yet — but I don’t anticipate a major initiative on the part of China providing weaponry to Russia,” he said.
7:50am: Belarusian President Lukashenko to visit China in coming days
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko will visit China on February 28 for a state visit, the Chinese foreign ministry said Saturday.
Lukashenko is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and has backed Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
2:27am: China urges Russia-Ukraine talks, UN supports no nukes clause
China called Friday for urgent peace talks as it released its provided it’s solution to ending the war in Ukraine, but several Western powers rebuffed the proposals while condemning Beijing’s close ties to Moscow.
The United Nations expressed cautious optimism over the Chinese proposals, particularly over its call to avoid using nuclear weapons.
Russia reacted positively to Beijing’s efforts and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky offered a muted response, saying Kyiv needed to “work with China” on approaches to put an end to the year-old war.
Zelensky told reporters he was planning to meet with President Xi Jinping after the Chinese leader’s government called for the peace talks, saying it would “be important for world security.”
10:19pm: EU approves 10th package of Russia sanctions on anniversary of invasion
The European Union approved a tenth package of Russian sanctions on the anniversary of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU presidency said late on Friday.
It’s one year since Russia’s brutal and illegal invasion of Ukraine.
Today, the EU approved the 10th package of Russian sanctions.
The package includes e.g.:
– Tighter export restrictions regarding dual-use and technology
— Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU (@sweden2023eu) February 24, 2023
“Together, the EU member states have imposed the most forceful and far-reaching sanctions ever to help Ukraine win the war,” the Swedish EU presidency said on Twitter.
“The EU stands united with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. We will keep supporting Ukraine, for as long as it takes.”
The package includes tighter export restrictions regarding dual-use goods as well as measures against entities supporting the war, spreading propaganda or delivering drones used by Russia.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP & Reuters)
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