The European Union added Russia to its blacklist of tax havens, part of a series of economic measures taken against Moscow since its invasion of Ukraine. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters it was more important that applications from Finland and Sweden to join NATO be ratified quickly than together as the alliance’s defense ministers gathered for talks on how to increase aid to Ukraine. Follow FRANCE 24 for live updates. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).
12:35 p.m.: Russia was added to the EU’s blacklist of tax havens
The EU added Russia to its blacklist of tax havens on Tuesday, the latest in economic and diplomatic measures taken against Moscow since its invasion of Ukraine.
The bloc said in a statement that Russia’s 2022 tax law had failed to quell concerns over its opaque treatment of international holding company tax issues.
“Furthermore, the dialogue with Russia on issues related to taxation has stalled following the Russian aggression against Ukraine,” the European Council said.
11:05: Kremlin says NATO is getting more involved in Ukraine conflict
The US-led NATO military alliance is showing its hostility towards Russia every day and is becoming more and more involved in the conflict in Ukraine, the Kremlin has said, commenting on the Western alliance’s recent pledges to increase military support for Kiev.
“NATO is an organization that is hostile to us and proves this hostility every day,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “It is doing its best to make its involvement in the conflict around Ukraine as clear as possible.”
Moscow claims that arms deliveries to Ukraine from NATO countries are prolonging the conflict and increasing the possibility of a further escalation. Kiev and the West say supplies of advanced military hardware are essential to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s offensive.
10:25: More important Finland, Sweden will soon go together, says the NATO chief
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that it is more important that applications from Finland and Sweden to join the alliance be ratified quickly than together.
The two countries applied to join NATO after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and their membership bids have been ratified by all allies except Hungary and Turkey. Ankara is widely seen as the main holdout and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has indicated that his country may ratify Finland’s application without going ahead with Sweden’s.
Western officials have argued that it would be easier to integrate the two countries simultaneously into NATO’s military structures, but Stoltenberg said that was a secondary factor.
“The main issue is not whether Finland and Sweden are ratified together. The main issue is that they are both ratified as full members as soon as possible,” Stoltenberg told reporters. “I am confident that both will be full members and I am working hard to get both ratified as soon as possible.”
>> Read more: Sweden’s attempt to join NATO faces continued resistance from Turkey
09:30: Germany restarts production of Gepard ammunition for Ukraine
Germany has signed a contract with Rheinmetall to resume production of ammunition for the Gepard anti-aircraft gun it has supplied to Kiev, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has said.
“We will quickly start our own production of Gepard munitions at Rheinmetall. I am very pleased that we have been able to guarantee the delivery of this important part of the air defense,” Pistorius said ahead of a meeting with NATO ministers in Brussels.
Germany has been trying for months to find new ammunition for Gepard anti-aircraft guns that its own military had phased out in 2010.
07:15: Ukraine must get the weapons it needs to ‘win this war’, NATO’s Stoltenberg says
NATO must ensure that Ukraine gets the weapons it needs “to win this war”, the alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has confirmed, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin is not preparing for peace but instead “is preparing for more war”.
“We see no signs that President Putin is preparing for peace, what we see is the opposite, he is preparing for more war, new offensives and new attacks,” Stoltenberg said ahead of a meeting with NATO defense ministers.
“This is a grinding war of attrition, therefore a battle of logistics,” he added, referring to Ukraine’s need for more weapons and talk of possibly providing aircraft to Ukraine.
On Monday, Stoltenberg said NATO must “increase production” of munitions to meet Ukraine’s battlefield needs, which are currently draining stocks.
06:50: Russian Wagner has made further small gains on the outskirts of Bakhmut
Russia’s Wagner Group has made further small advances around the northern outskirts of Bakhmut over the past three days, the British Ministry of Defense has said in its daily intelligence update.
The tactical Russian advance south of Bakhmut is likely to have made little progress, Britain said in a regular Twitter bulletin.
“Russia is likely aiming to reverse some of the gains made by Ukrainian forces in September-November 2022: there is a realistic possibility that their immediate objective is to advance west to the Zherberets River,” it added.
06:10: Russia rejects allegation of plot to destabilize Moldova
Russia has rejected an accusation by Moldovas president that Moscow plans to destabilize the former Soviet republic.
Moldovan President Maia Sandu complained on Monday that Russia plans to use foreign saboteurs to topple her tiny country’s leadership, stop it from joining the European Union and use it in the war against Ukraine.
“Such claims are completely baseless and unfounded,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, accusing Kiev of trying to drag Moldova “into a tough confrontation with Russia.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said last week that his country had uncovered a Russian intelligence plan “to destroy Moldova”. Days later, Moldova’s government resigned.
22:40: Bakhmut closed to aid workers as Ukraine says the city is “too dangerous” for civilians
Ukraine closed the town of Bakhmut to humanitarian volunteers on Monday as authorities said it was now “too dangerous” for civilians to be there. The fighting near the large Ukrainian-held city in the Donetsk region has been going on for seven months.
“It looks like the Russians are getting closer to encircling it, although they are still quite a long way from completely encircling it,” said FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg reporting from Kiev. Ukraine has closed the city to humanitarian workers and journalists due to increased risk of street fighting.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)
Originally published on France24