The war in Ukraine is in focus for a NATO summit in Madrid, its secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, was considered “important” for the alliance’s future on Wednesday. Finland and Sweden will be formally invited to join the alliance after Turkey put down its opposition on Tuesday. Follow our live blog for the latest developments. All times are Paris time, GMT + 2.
14:40: EU redistributes 3.5 billion euros of regional funds to receive Ukrainian refugees
The European Union’s executive on Wednesday made new 3.5 billion euros ($ 3.7 billion) from regional development funds available to receive Ukrainian refugees after some 6.2 million fled to the bloc since Russia invaded its neighbor on 24 February.
Russia intensified its attacks on all fronts on Wednesday, a day after a missile strike on a shopping mall killed at least 18 people in central Ukraine.
“EU member states have welcomed millions of Ukrainians fleeing this war, but they must also address its economic consequences – extra costs and supply chain difficulties,” said Valdis Dombrovskis, deputy chief executive of the European Commission.
14:35: Zelensky asks NATO for modern artillery and money
President Volodymyr Zelensky told NATO leaders on Wednesday that Ukraine needs modern weapons and more financial support in its fight against Russia’s invasion.
“We must break the Russian artillery advantage … We need much more modern systems, modern artillery,” Zelensky told the NATO summit in Madrid via video link.
He added that financial support was no less important than assistance with weapons.
“Russia still receives billions every day and spends them on war. We have a deficit of billions of dollars, we do not have oil and gas to cover it,” Zelensky said, adding that Ukraine needs about $ 5 billion a month for its defense.
The United States and Canada, which are much less dependent on Russia as an energy supplier than Europe, have banned all Russian oil imports.
However, the European Union has imposed a gradual oil embargo as part of its sanctions against Moscow.
14:08: Russia not “scared” by US military build-up in Europe, says Deputy Foreign Minister
Russia said on Wednesday that it would not be intimidated by US military reinforcements in Europe as tensions spiraled around Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine.
“I think those who propose such solutions are under the illusion that they will be able to intimidate Russia, somehow hold it back – they will not succeed,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters.
13:55: Macron, Erdogan discusses ways to export grain from Ukraine
French President Emmanuel Macron and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan discussed the importance of finding ways to allow Ukraine to export its grain and ensure security at the port of Odessa at the NATO summit in Spain.
Macron also welcomed Sweden’s and Finland’s plans to join NATO, added a statement from Macron’s office.
13:08: Russia can buy “friendly” countries’ currencies to weaken the ruble
Russia could begin buying currencies in “friendly” countries and using these holdings to try to influence the exchange rate of the dollar and the euro, as a way of counteracting sharp rises in the ruble, its finance minister said on Wednesday.
The ruble has soared to seven-year highs, reinforced by capital controls that include restrictions on Russians withdrawing currency savings, thereby eating into Russia’s export revenues by lowering the value of dollar and euro revenues from sales of commodities and other commodities abroad.
The Russian authorities stopped buying foreign currency through market interventions in early 2022, according to a budget rule designed to protect it from external shocks, to ease the pressure on the ruble at a time when it was falling sharply.
12:50: Pope Francis says shopping mall bombed the latest “barbaric” attack
On Wednesday, Pope Francis called the bombing of a crowded shopping center in the city of Kremenchuk the latest in a series of “barbaric attacks” on Ukraine.
Ukraine said at least 18 people were killed and about 60 injured on Monday by a Russian missile attack. Russia’s defense minister said it had met a legitimate military target in the city and that the mall was not being used.
12:05: The working group has frozen $ 330 billion in Russian assets since the Ukrainian invasion
A sanctions group with leading Ukrainian allies has frozen more than $ 330 billion in financial resources owned by Russia’s elite and central bank since Moscow’s troops invaded, the group said on Wednesday.
The Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs Task Force (REPO) said in a joint statement that they had blocked $ 30 billion in assets for Russian oligarchs and officials and immobilized $ 300 billion owned by the Russian central bank.
The REPO was formed on March 17, three weeks after the invasion of Ukraine, to increase pressure on Moscow financially in hopes of persuading Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war. Its members include senior finance and legal officials from the United States, Australia, France, Canada, Germany, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom and the European Commission.
11:53: Biden says that the US is changing its strength in Europe based on threats
The United States is changing its strength in Europe based on threats coming from Russia after its invasion of Ukraine and other directions, US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday during a NATO summit in Madrid.
He confirmed that the United States would increase the number of fighters in Spain to six from four and said that Washington would send two more F-35 squadrons to Britain and establish the 5th Army headquarters in Poland.
11:34: NATO delegates expect a summit to “redefine European-Atlantic order”
FRANCE 24’s Sarah Morris reports from Madrid.
09:56: “You will not win”, says the Spanish Prime Minister to Putin
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, host of this week’s NATO summit, said on Wednesday that the alliance delivered a strong message to President Vladimir Putin about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: “You will not win.”
Earlier, Sanchez said Russia would be identified as NATO’s “main threat” in its new strategic concept, as opposed to its previous strategic partner status.
9:50: NATO to supply weapons to Ukraine for as long as needed, says Scholz
NATO allies will continue to supply Ukraine with weapons in its war against Russia for as long as needed, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Madrid on Wednesday.
“It is good that the countries that are gathered here, but many others, are also making their contributions so that Ukraine can defend itself – by providing financial resources, humanitarian aid, but also by providing the weapons that Ukraine urgently needs,” Scholz told reporters. as he arrived on the second day of NATO.
8:55: Russia poses a direct threat to NATO security, says Stoltenberg
NATO leaders meeting in Madrid on Wednesday will label Russia a threat to their security as they review the alliance’s defense in response to the war against Ukraine, the NATO chief said. Jens Stoltenberg sa.
“We will clearly state that Russia poses a direct threat to our security,” Stoltenberg said ahead of the unveiling of NATO’s strategic plan.
8:15: NATO invites Finland and Sweden to join after Turkey raises objections
NATO leaders will formally invite Finland and Sweden to join the alliance on Wednesday after the two Nordic countries reached an agreement with Turkey, said NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday. Joseph Keen from FRANCE 24 reports:
7:40: At least three killed in Russian missile attack in Mykolaiv
At least three people were killed and five were injured in one Russian missile attack on a residential building in Ukraine‘s southern city of Mykolaiv on Wednesday, said local authorities who have launched a rescue operation for survivors.
Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said eight missiles had hit the city and urged residents to evacuate. He said the building appeared to have been hit by a Russian X-55 cruise missile.
07:15: The Madrid summit is crucial for the alliance’s future, says NATO chief
More than 40 leaders will gather for what NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called a “pivotal summit” for the alliance’s future.
NATO Countries, which have already committed billions of dollars in military aid to Kyiv, will agree on a “comprehensive aid package to Ukraine, to help them maintain their right to self-defense,” Stoltenberg said.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)