"We will not do anything consciously to bypass sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union. You know our position, we are against the sanctions ... China is not party to the conflict in Ukraine and we do not think that the normal trade cooperation with other countries should be hit. Even Europe is involved in normal business with Russia, you have not terminated you trade with Russia, and our normal trade cooperation with Moscow must not be hit," Wang said. commenting on the China-EU summit held on Friday.
On Friday morning, a fire broke out at the oil depot in Belgorod. According to regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov, this happened as a result of shelling by two Ukrainian helicopters, which penetrated Russian airspace at a low altitude.
"I do not discuss any of my orders as commander-in-chief, the leader of this state. There are things which I only share with the armed forces of Ukraine when they talk to me," Zelensky told the Fox News broadcaster.
"Through USAI [Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative], DoD will provide up to $300 million in security assistance to bolster Ukraine’s capacity to defend itself. This decision underscores the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in support of its heroic efforts to repel Russia’s war of choice," Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said.
"Wizz Air is constantly monitoring the ongoing situation, therefore all flights to/from Russia will be cancelled for the full summer season schedule up until 30 October. The flights are being removed from the booking system. Any further changes will be announced in due course," the airline tweeted on late Friday.
Wizz Air in fact stopped the air traffic to and from Russia after February 24 when the military operation started. However, it was unclear how long the flights would be suspended.
"The ICRC team, which consists of three vehicles and nine personnel, did not reach Mariupol or facilitate the safe passage of civilians today. They will try again on Saturday to facilitate the safe passage of civilians from Mariupol," the humanitarian organization said in a statement.
According to the ICRC, the team had to return to Zaporizhzhia "after arrangements and conditions made it impossible to proceed."
The organization stressed that the success of the operation depends on the parties upholding the agreements and providing security guarantees.
"If and when the safe passage operation does happen, the ICRC's role as a neutral intermediary would be to accompany the convoy out from Mariupol to another city in Ukraine," the ICRC said.
"We had a strategic partnership with Russia since 2003; however, the agency has suspended all cooperation with Russia since the beginning of the month," De Bolle told French magazine Le Journal du Dimanche.
De Bolle noted that a Ukrainian liaison officer continues to work at the agency's headquarters in The Hague, providing "all our partners a direct access to the Ukrainian police in order to better assist them."
"In the next 10 years, this issue will be relevant, more precisely, within 10 years," Kalin said in an interview with the TRT Haber broadcaster.
He recalled that Europe had previously developed the Nabucco project as an alternative to Russian supplies.
"If we talk about alternatives, then, as you know, Turkey and Azerbaijan have implemented the TANAP project [Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline], its expansion can be considered as an alternative. Connection of various sources here is possible through the territory of Turkey," Kalin said.
Deputy Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Dmitriy Polyansky said earlier in the day there is credible information that Ukrainian nationalists are planning a provocation in the Kharkov region, including attacks on railway tankers containing up to 800 tonnes of chlorine.
"We do not have information on this. Of course, we are open to receiving information from the parties," Haq said during a press briefing.
The UN spokesperson called on all sides in Ukraine to avoid any actions that could escalate the situation.
Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzia on Tuesday expressed concerns about the misuse of vehicles belonging to international organizations by Ukrainian troops for military purposes such as to transport weapons. Nebenzia said Vehicles with United Nations insignia have been being confiscated by Ukrainian forces and also OSCE vehicles as well.
"Right now there is no indication of any misuse of UN vehicles at this point," Haq said during a press briefing.
The spokesperson acknowledged that one vehicle was taken from its area, but United Nations staff was able to disable it.
"None of our vehicles is being misused," Haq said.
Since, video evidence has surfaced on media and social media of Ukrainian troops misusing ambulances for transporting soldiers and vehicles of international corporations.
"We do not believe it is in the interest of the United States to engage in information exchange under this Convention and urge you to consider suspending this practice. We were pleased that the United Kingdom has already taken such action, and we believe suspension of tax information exchange represents another opportunity to work closely with our allies in response to Russia’s invasion," the letter to Biden said.
They also suggested a suspension of the Income Tax Convention altogether, which they say would prevent preferential tax treatment for Russian businesses in the US and discourage American investment in Russia.
The US should suspend the tax treaty until adherence "returns to the orbit" of American national interest, the senators said in the letter.
"We will neither confirm nor deny," Motuzyanik said at a briefing, commenting on strikes by Ukrainian helicopters on the oil depot.
On Friday morning, a fire broke out at the oil depot in Belgorod. According to local governor Vyacheslav Gladkov, this happened as a result of shelling by two Ukrainian helicopters, which penetrated Russian airspace at low altitude.
The Russian defence ministry said in an evening briefing on Friday that the Belgorod oil facility was not part of military infrastructure.
"In the course of the special military operation in Ukraine, the Russian Ministry of Defense discovered evidence that Ukrainian authorities supported and directly sponsored by the US Department of Defense, were implementing dangerous projects and experiments as a part of military biological program ... We have circulated documented evidence received by our Ministry of Defense as official documents of the Security Council and the General Assembly, those are Russian letters dated March 11, 18, and 29, there will be a new letter today," Polyanskiy said during a press conference.
Earlier in the day, the 23rd summit between the European Union and China was held via videoconference. The EU was represented by President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von Der Leyen, while on the Chinese part President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang participated.
"China finds it deeply regrettable that the situation in Ukraine has come to where it is today," Xi was quoted as saying by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
China's stance on the Ukrainian issue has always been "consistent and clear-cut," with Beijing always standing at the side of peace, making its decisions independently "based on the merits of each matter," Xi said.
"China calls for upholding international law and universally recognized norms governing international relations, acts in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and advocates the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security," the president added.
Beijing though backs the EU efforts to bring about a political solution to the Ukrainian crisis, "encouraging peace talks in its own way."
"Peace talks are the only viable way to prevent an escalation of tensions. The international community should keep creating favorable conditions and environment for the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine and make room for political settlement, rather than add fuel to the fire and heighten tensions," Xi stressed.
"China and the EU need to commit themselves to keeping the situation under control, preventing spillover of the crisis, and, most importantly, keeping the system, rules and foundation of the world economy stable, in order to bolster public confidence. The two sides may carry out coordination and cooperation in this regard," Xi added.
"Russian President Vladimir Putin had a phone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan... Fundamental assessments of the ongoing negotiation process were also given," the Kremlin said in a statement, adding that Putin thanked Erdogan for organizing a round of talks between Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul.
The sides also discussed humanitarian issues and agreed on further contacts, the Kremlin added.
"We declared our readiness to organize such a meeting in Istanbul, especially in the context of steps on Crimea and Donbass. [Volodymyr] Zelensky holds a positive opinion. Putin also spoke positively earlier. Based on the results of today's conversation, the date of the meeting will be determined by the parties themselves," Erdogan told Anadolu Agency.
"At the summit in Versailles several days ago, the 27 EU countries agreed to achieve energy autonomy from Russia - this includes all energy resources - and adopt a plan to help handle oil, gas, all sources of energy. The agreement was reached, so now we are on the path to our energy independence," Le Drian said at a press conference in Tallinn when asked if Paris is ready to cut its gas partnership with Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's decree on requiring gas payments in rubles goes into effect today. It stipulates that all contracts for pipeline gas deliveries with companies registered in countries that have sanctioned Russia be settled in the Russian national currency.
French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced on Thursday that Paris will not accept the Russian demand, citing the existing contracts between the countries.
The European Union and China are holding the 23rd summit on Friday. The EU delegation includes European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and top diplomat Josep Borrell.
"[China] will continue to work with the EU and the international community to play a constructive role to deescalate the situation as soon as possible, end hostilities, prevent a larger humanitarian crisis," the ministry said in a statement.
"Indeed, as you mentioned this day, our western colleagues would like to reduce any meaningful international issue to the crisis in Ukraine. You know our position. We do not hide anything. We appreciate that India is taking this situation in the entirety of facts, not just in a one-sided way," Lavrov said.
"We continue to implement projects in the areas of energy, science and technology, outer space, pharmaceutical industry, and of course we cooperated and continue to cooperate in the efforts to fight coronavirus infection," Lavrov said.
Lavrov arrived in India on Thursday. In addition to the talks with his his Indian counterpart, Lavrov is expected to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"At the moment, we do not face any difficulties. But, of course, we continue to undertake the necessary measures," Erdogan told reporters.
Earlier in the week, the Turkish defence ministry said it detected a mine drifting along the coast of the Turkish town of Igneada at the eastern Black Sea shore close to the Bulgarian border.
The Russian Federal Security Service claimed that the Ukrainian army has set about 420 mines close to its seaports, while not excluding the possibility of them drafting into the Bosphorus Strait and then the Mediterranean Sea.
"It's not about putting on a sweater, turning down the heating a little, as some in the West think, or paying a few forints more for gas and at gas stations. And the point is that if there is no energy coming from Russia, then there is no energy in Hungary," Orban said on Hungarian radio station Kossuth, adding that this is the question of "whether the economy functions or not."
"It's unpractical for us that there is cheap Russian energy, gas, we turn it off, and get expensive American [gas] instead. This is a great idea in itself, but I don’t know how it can reach Hungary, this LNG, which is transported by sea on ships, I think this is absurd," Orban said.
Orban has previously spoken out against extending anti-Russian sanctions to energy resources because this would lead to a slowdown and halt of the Hungarian economy. Polish President Andrzej Duda suggested that Hungary's unwillingness to abandon Russian energy sources would cost Budapest.
According to CNN, Ukrainians are directly involved in the discussions on security guarantees that are currently at a very early stage.
"On March 31, the Gazprom Group terminated its participation in German GAZPROM Germania GmbH and all its holdings, among which Gazprom Marketing & Trading Ltd," Gazprom wrote on Telegram.
On Tuesday, Kiev proposed a new system of security guarantees for Ukraine. David Arakhamia, a member of the Ukrainian delegation at the talks with Russia, said that Kiev saw member states of the UN Security Council, along with Turkey, Germany, Canada, Italy, Poland and Israel, as guarantors of Ukraine's security.
"If these were serious guarantees, that is, with the participation of the United States, as well as other major European countries, I don't see how it [Poland as another guarantor] could do any harm," Kaczynski told Polskie Radio, when asked if Poland is ready to be a security guarantor for Ukraine.
"No, rejection of Russian gas is impossible unless we are willing to live with massive consequences. Some countries could do that, while for Austria it is not possible this year. We are in a difficult position and cannot simply abandon Russian gas," Stern said in an interview with Austrian newspaper Die Presse.
He noted that since Austria had no access to the sea, there was no access to liquefied gas.
"Any diversification would mean increased investment in expensive infrastructure to gain access to more expensive gas. The exit from Russian gas comes at a cost," he added.
On 24 February, Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine after the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk appealed for help in defending themselves against Ukrainian forces. In response to Russia’s operation, Western countries have rolled out a comprehensive sanctions campaign against Moscow and started discussions on abandoning gas imports from Russia.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed the government and the national energy giant Gazprom to switch gas payments with countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia to rubles.
"We continue negotiations in the format of a video conference. Our positions on Crimea and Donbas remain unchanged," Medinsky wrote on Telegram.
"There is precise information that the Ukrainian authorities are convincing the Western patrons to urge the ICRC and various international humanitarian NGOs to abandon attempts to contact the Russian prisoners of war," the statement read.
Particularly, the SVR said revealing that the Ukrainian officials informed the United Kingdom that Kiev has no intentions to abide by the Geneva Convention on Treatment of Prisoners of War.
The UK Foreign Office in turn suggested Kiev to organize an ICRC visit of several prisoners of war kept in exemplary good conditions to "whitewash" the Ukraine authorities in the eyes of the international community and "to partially mitigate the consequences of disclosure of torturing captured soldiers," the SVR said.
"The SVR receives credible data that after the appalling video records of torturing Russian prisoners of war in Ukraine was published, the nationalist Kiev regime is undertaking efforts to prevent further disclosure of such facts," the statement read.
Earlier, the footage of what is believed to be Russian soldiers being shot in the legs appeared on the Internet. The incident reportedly occurred at one of the Ukrainian military bases in the Kharkov region. On Sunday, the head of the Russian Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin ordered to investigate all the circumstances of brutal treatment of Russian soldiers in Ukraine.
"Today, Putin has several international phone conversations, the dialogue continues. One of them will be a conversation with Erdogan, we confirm this. We will give a message ... In the middle of the day, the president plans to hold an operational meeting with members of the Security Council." Peskov told reporters.
Earlier in the day, a fire occurred at Belgorod's petroleum depot. The city's authorities said that the incident was caused by the attack of the two Ukrainian helicopters, which had entered Russian airspace at a low altitude.
"As for Belgorod, of course, the president was briefed. You know that the Ministry of Emergency Situations went there ... and [measures] are being taken to reorganize the fuel supply chains so that what happened in no way affects the level of supply with all the necessary fuel elements," Pekov told reporters.
The spokesman also said that Russia’s air superiority over Ukraine is a fact but law enforcement agencies need to give assessments.
"The federal government is currently reviewing this decree in terms of specific implications," Buechner told a briefing.
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the procedure for the fulfillment of obligations to Russian natural gas suppliers by foreign buyers, which stipulates that all contracts for pipeline gas deliveries with companies registered in unfriendly countries must be settled in rubles.
"Gazprom, as a Russian company, unconditionally and fully complies with the requirements of Russian legislation. Notifications about the new procedure for settlements in Russian rubles are officially sent to counterparties today. Gazprom is a responsible partner and continues to reliably export gas to consumers," the company wroter on Telegram.
"We are preparing our response, there is movement forward, primarily in terms of recognizing the impossibility of Ukraine being a bloc country, the impossibility for Ukraine to seek happiness in the North Atlantic Alliance, a non-nuclear, non-bloc neutral status. This is what is now recognized as an absolute necessity," Lavrov told reporters following a meeting wtih his Indian counterpart.
"Regarding potential further contacts, they are being worked out now, and will be announced," he added.
"Yes, we were shelled, we are on the site now ... The rescue service workers told us there were helicopters, from which the shooting was conducted," the employee said.
She added that the attack had damaged the windows and office equipment.
"As for Ukraine, China pursues an independent peaceful foreign policy and makes its own decisions based on the merits of the case," Zhao told a briefing.
The European Parliament called on Thursday for holding China accountable for any support rendered to Russia's special military operation in Ukraine.
"We are not just sending our prayers, we are sending our guns, we are sending munitions, we are sending our humanitarian aid … and we are going to be sending our armoured vehicles, our Bushmasters as well, and we will be flying them over there on our C-17 [Globemaster III military transport aircraft]," Morrison said, aired by ABC Radio.
The prime minister specified neither the number of vehicles nor the date when the vehicles will be sent to Ukraine.