Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will host UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for talks on Thursday, while Ukraine calls for an embargo on Russia’s energy supply and US President Joe Biden is preparing a proposal for military, economic and humanitarian aid.
Guterres arrived in Ukraine with the intention of working to “expand humanitarian aid and secure the evacuation of civilians from conflict areas”, topics included in his talks earlier this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
“The sooner the war ends, the better – for the sake of Ukraine, Russia and the world,” Guterres tweeted.
The UN said on Wednesday that it has teams in Moscow and Kyiv that follow up on the “principled” agreement reached by Guterres with Putin to allow the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross to evacuate civilians trapped at the Azov steelworks in the besieged port city of Mariupol.
“What we still have is an agreement in principle. What we are trying to do is translate it into a detailed agreement and an agreement in place,” Guterre’s spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters. “Ultimately, what we want is to ensure that a ceasefire is respected that would allow us to move people safely.”
“We do not have those conditions at the moment,” the spokesman said.
Ukrainian Presidential Adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Thursday “it is a matter of time” before an embargo is imposed on Russia’s main energy industry.
While European nations have taken steps to reduce or eliminate their dependence on Russian oil and gas, the replacement of these supplies and potential economic hits at home have prompted some leaders to express caution about how fast they should proceed on the path demanded by Ukrainian officials. an embargo.
Podolyak tweeted that avoiding Russia’s energy supply is both a moral issue and an issue of Russia ceasing to “be a reliable and predictable partner in the eyes of the world.”
“Switching to alternative delivery channels quickly will be expensive, but not as expensive as not doing so,” Podolyak tweeted. “In the medium term, Moscow will face total economic and political isolation. As a result, poverty, the extent of which Russia has not yet seen.”
His comments came a day after Russia’s Gazprom stopped supplying natural gas to Poland and Bulgaria.
Gazprom said on Wednesday that Poland and Bulgaria had not met Russia’s demand to pay for natural gas in rubles. The company said that four unnamed natural gas buyers have paid Russia in rubles, and 10 European companies have created ruble accounts to make payments in Russian currency, Bloomberg News reported.
The White House said on Wednesday that this move from Russia was expected.
“That is why, of course, we have been in contact with Europe, including with these countries … for the last 24 hours, with leaders in Poland and Bulgaria,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. “We have been working for a while now, for months with partners around the world to diversify the natural gas supply to Europe while waiting, and to also address short-term needs and replace volumes that would otherwise come from Russia.”
Polish President Andrzej Duda said Russia’s gas shutdown violated “basic legal principles”, while Bulgaria’s Energy Minister Alexander Nikolov said gas was being used as a “political and economic weapon.”
The White House said Biden was scheduled to comment on Thursday “on support for Ukrainians defending their country and their freedom from Russia’s brutal war.”
Press secretary Psaki told reporters on Wednesday that Biden will send to Congress this week a proposed package similar to those already implemented to help Ukraine, with security, humanitarian and financial assistance to “help meet a range of needs that the Ukrainians has. “
The US Congress can also send “loan-leasing” legislation that further frees the flow of weapons to Biden’s desk for a signature as early as the end of this week.
The US Department of Defense said on Wednesday that more than half of the 90 US howitzers have reached Ukraine, and a first round of training on long-range weapons has already been completed.
Pentagon Secretary-General John Kirby cited the ongoing flow of weapons and aid in the success that Ukraine has maintained in the fight against Putin’s unprovoked invasion.
“He is concentrating all his firing forces in eastern and southern Ukraine. So he has not achieved any of his strategic goals,” said Kirby. “I think it is proof that the type of system provided to Ukraine has had an effect … on their self-defense needs.”
National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report. Some information came from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.