Ukraine Update: Polish and Baltic Presidents Set to Visit Kyiv

President Vladimir Putin said he remains confident the goals for what he called Russia’s “special military operation” will be met.

Ukraine Update: Polish and Baltic Presidents Set to Visit Kyiv
Vladimir Putin, Russia's President, delivers his annual news conference in Moscow. (Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)

The presidents of Poland and the three Baltic states are heading to Kyiv in a show of support that follows the visits of other leaders to the Ukrainian capital, including from Boris Johnson and European Union chiefs.

U.S. President Joe Biden ramped up his condemnation of Vladimir Putin by accusing the Russian president’s forces of committing genocide in Ukraine, as Washington prepares a new military aid package for Kyiv. Russia has been massing its forces in the east of Ukraine with a fresh push expected to try and seize control of the broader Donbas region.

Putin said peace talks are stalled, and vowed to continue his “military operation” even as he called the conflict “a tragedy.” Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said the discussions are “extremely difficult.”

Ukraine Update: Polish and Baltic Presidents Set to Visit Kyiv

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Key Developments

All times CET:

Baltic and Polish Leaders to Visit Kyiv (6:28 a.m.)

The leaders of Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania are on their way to Kyiv, Jakub Kumoch, a foreign policy aide to Polish President Andrzej Duda, wrote on Twitter.

Oil Holds Advance as Putin Continues War (6:04 a.m.)

Oil steadied in Asia after rallying back above $100 a barrel as the Russian president vowed to continue his war in Ukraine, which has rattled markets and tightened global crude supply. West Texas Intermediate surged 6.7% on Tuesday, the most in three weeks. 

U.S. Prepares New Surge of Military Aid (4:44 a.m.)

Roughly $750 million in weaponry is expected to be sent under presidential drawdown authority, people familiar with the matter said. This allows Biden to transfer equipment from U.S. stocks without congressional approval to speed up delivery during an emergency. The types of weapons are still being discussed.

The U.S. has provided more than $2.4 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since Biden took office. Of that, more than $1.7 billion was delivered after the invasion began on Feb. 24.

Top Oil Merchant Will Stop Trading Russian Crude (2:57 a.m)

Volumes of Russian oil handled by Vitol “will diminish significantly in the second quarter as current term contractual obligations decline,” a company spokesperson said by email. “We anticipate this will be completed by end of 2022.”

BP Plc, Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. earlier announced plans to abandon their stakes in investments related to Russia as they take steps to halt dealings with the nation. Refiners in India and China have continued to purchase Russian oil cargoes, either directly from Moscow or via traders. 

Separately, Russia is ready to sell crude oil and petroleum products to “friendly countries” within any price range, Izvestia reports, citing an interview with Energy Minister Nikolay Shulginov.  

Biden Says Putin Has Committed ‘Genocide’ (11 p.m.)

Biden for the first time accused Russia of committing genocide in Ukraine. Speaking at an event in Iowa on Tuesday laying out steps to lower fuel costs that have surged during the war, Biden described Russia’s actions in the conflict as a “genocide.” He later stood by his comments, but said lawyers would ultimately make the official determination. 

“Yes, I called it genocide because it has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of being able to be Ukrainian,” the president told reporters before departing Iowa. “The evidence is mounting.” 

Ukraine Update: Polish and Baltic Presidents Set to Visit Kyiv

Macron Says Putin Is Paranoid, Won’t Stop Attacks (7:56 p.m.)

French President Emmanuel Macron told Le Point magazine that Vladimir Putin’s decision to attack Ukraine derived from anti-West resentment and paranoia. Covid-19 exacerbated Putin’s feeling of isolation, according to Macron. 

“He found himself in Sochi for months, he locked himself down, he had less contact with other thinking,” Macron said, predicting that Putin won’t stop his attacks and needs a military victory ahead of May 9, the day Russia marks its victory in World War II. The French leader stressed that he will continue to speak to his Russian counterpart to warn him about the dangers of continuing the cycle of violence.

German President Isn’t Welcome in Kyiv (6:36 p.m.)

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier planned to visit Kyiv in a gesture of solidarity with the Ukrainian government, but he wasn’t welcome, according to Bild.

“I was prepared for it,” the newspaper cited Steinmeier as saying in Warsaw on Tuesday. “But apparently, and I have to take this on board, that wasn’t wanted in Kyiv.”

Steinmeier has been criticized by Ukrainian officials for his previous support of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. In a rare admission, the former foreign minister said in a TV interview this month that he and other German officials had failed in their policy toward Russia and President Vladimir Putin over the past two decades.

Ukraine Update: Polish and Baltic Presidents Set to Visit Kyiv

Ukraine Negotiator Says Talks Continue, Are Difficult (4:42 p.m.)

Talks continue with Russia in working subgroups, Mykhailo Podolyak said by WhatsApp message, adding “the emotional background is difficult.” He said Moscow was seeking to use public statements to drive its claims in the negotiation process.

Putin Says Peace Talks ‘at Dead End’ (4:15 p.m.)

The “military operation” is going “according to plan,” Putin said in a joint press conference with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. In his first public comments on the atrocities reported in Bucha, he said allegations that Russia was responsible were “fake.”

Putin also accused Ukraine of backing off earlier concessions. The government in Kyiv says it has not changed its position and in turn blames Russia for the lack of progress.

Russia’s economy has withstood the sanctions “blitzkrieg,” Putin said, citing the recovery of the ruble exchange rate. But he conceded that logistics and payment systems remain a weakness and the long-term impact could be more painful. 

Ukraine Update: Polish and Baltic Presidents Set to Visit Kyiv

ArcelorMittal to Restart Blast Furnace in Ukraine (4:04 p.m.)

Europe’s biggest steelmaker said it was responding to a request from the government in Kyiv. The company idled operations at its Kryvyi Rih facility when the war broke out. Pig iron production will return to around fifth of the plant’s normal output.

Airbus Defends Decision to Buy Russian Titanium (4:03 p.m.)

The company said sanctions would hurt aerospace manufacturers who depend on the lightweight metal and wouldn’t deter Putin when it comes to Ukraine.

The European plane maker has been stockpiling titanium for many years, Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury said at the company’s AGM. That’s given it some breathing room in the short and medium term, even if an embargo does take effect.

OPEC Sees War Curbing Oil Supply and Demand (3:32 p.m.)

The comment from the cartel suggests it sees little need to divert from its current production policy. OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo told the European Union on Monday that the oil market was beyond its control.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries cut forecasts for global oil consumption in 2022 by 410,000 barrels a day, according to its latest monthly report. At the same time, it lowered projections for supplies from outside the cartel by 330,000 barrels a day, with Russia’s output now seen 530,000 barrels a day below previous estimates.

World Bank Announces $1.5 Billion for Ukraine (2:19 p.m.)

The World Bank is preparing $1.5 billion for Ukraine to support the continuation of essential government services during the war, the institution’s president, David Malpass, said in Warsaw. 

Donors and recipient countries approved $1 billion for Ukraine and $100 million for Moldova, according to Malpass. The disbursement is part of as much as $3 billion that the World Bank has pledged in funding for Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

Number of People Returning to Ukraine Surges (12:30 p.m.)

The number of people returning to Ukraine from abroad has jumped to about 30,000 per day, according to Andriy Demchenko, a spokesman for the State Border Guard Service.

While in the first days of the war mostly men were coming back to Ukraine, now there are more women, elderly people and children returning, Demchenko said in a video briefing. The United Nations Refugee Agency estimates that more than 4.3 million refugees fled the country after the outbreak of war, with some 7.1 million displaced internally.

Putin Says Conflict With West Inevitable (11:30 a.m.)

Speaking to workers at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East, Putin said conflict with the West was inevitable and that Russia is too large to isolate from the rest of the world.

Western sanctions imposed over the invasion of Ukraine won’t keep Moscow from developing space-exploration efforts, he added, vowing to resume the country’s lunar program. 

Ukraine Update: Polish and Baltic Presidents Set to Visit Kyiv

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