Ukraine Update: Zelenskiy Says Talks Are Russia’s ‘Only Chance’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said peace talks are Russia’s “only chance” given the growing number of countries imposing sanctions against it, urging Moscow to engage in negotiations.
U.S. President Joe Biden warned his Chinese counterpart of “implications and consequences” if Beijing provides material support to Russia. Xi Jinping told Biden that China regrets the war, but criticized American sanctions. That’s according to official accounts of a two-hour conversation between the leaders on Friday, their first since the invasion of Ukraine last month.
Some investors said they received interest payments on Russian debt, easing fears of a default triggered by financial sanctions. Oilfield services providers Schlumberger and Halliburton Co. are curbing their Russia operations. Oil edged higher as the International Energy Agency warned of a supply crunch.
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LG Halts Shipments to Russia (5:12 a.m.)
LG Electronics Inc. is suspending all shipments to Russia, joining Samsung Electronics Co. in halting sales to the country because of its invasion of Ukraine. LG is “deeply concerned for the health and safety of all people” and is committed to humanitarian support, the company said Saturday by email.
Samsung suspended shipments to Russia earlier this month and South Korea’s government has also joined a list of countries announcing sanctions against the country.
Schlumberger to Suspend Russia Investment (4:23 a.m.)
Schlumberger said it will suspend new investment and technology deployment to its Russian operations. The oilfield contractor will “continue to actively monitor this dynamic situation and will fulfill any existing activity in full compliance with applicable international laws and sanctions,” Chief Executive Officer Olivier Le Peuch said in a statement.
The company previously said it would take an earnings hit from the combined effects of Russia’s attack on Ukraine and an increasingly snarled global supply chain that is slowing product shipments. Russia accounts for about 5% of its revenue, according to a filing.
Zelenskiy Reiterates Need for Talks With Moscow (3:33 a.m.)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in a nighttime Facebook video message from Kyiv, said that Russia’s “occupation forces were stopped in almost all directions” and that its initial plan to seize Ukraine has failed. Because of the growing coalition of countries imposing sanctions, peace negotiations are “the only chance for Russia,” he said. “It’s time to meet, it’s time to talk,” he said, addressing Moscow.
Blinken, Kuleba Discuss Civilian Casualties (12:45 a.m.)
Blinken and Kuleba discussed “the growing number of civilian casualties” in the war, State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement on Friday.
During their call, Blinken “reiterated robust U.S. support for the people of Ukraine through security, humanitarian, and economic assistance,” Price said, adding the Secretary commended the Ukrainians for defending their country against Russian forces. Kuleba and Blinken met at the Polish-Ukrainian border earlier this month.
Halliburton Winding Down Russia Operations (12:25 a.m.)
Halliburton Co. said it’s winding down operations in Russia and will halt future business there amid sanctions imposed in response to President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Halliburton, the world’s biggest provider of fracking, is alone among the three major oilfield-service providers to publicly declare a pullout from one of the world’s largest crude producers. The Russian oil sector relies on foreign technology, gear and expertise to sustain domestic output of of the Kremlin’s key sources of revenue.
Halliburton followed some of the largest oil explorers in announcing plans to abandon Russia including BP Plc and Shell Plc. The Houston-based fracker’s stock has climbed 15% since Russian troops began the assault on Ukraine late last month, almost four times the advance in the broader market. “The war in Ukraine deeply saddens us,” Halliburton Chief Executive Officer Jeff Miller said Friday in a statement.
Russia Default Fears Ease as Payments Reach Investors (10:38 p.m.)
Fears of a bond default by Russia eased after $117 million of interest payments due this week started to reach international investors, promising to temporarily avert a lapse that would have injected even more uncertainty into world credit markets.
Money managers based in the U.K., Germany and the U.S. said on Friday they had received coupon payments on two Russian Eurobonds that were originally due on Wednesday. Credit rating companies still see a significant risk of default after sanctions largely cut Russia off from global finance.
EU Mulls Using Sanctioned Assets for Ukraine (10:15 p.m.)
EU officials are discussing the possibility of using the assets of sanctioned Russian tycoons to help fund Ukraine’s war recovery efforts, according to three people familiar with the matter.
The idea is at a very early stage and no decision has been taken, the people said. Any decision over how to handle the assets would ultimately need to be made by member states.
“At this point the assets are only frozen,” said Eric Mamer, spokesman for European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, when asked for comment. “The president has not asked for this to be explored.”
Ukraine Says Another 9,000 Civilians Evacuated (9:25 p.m.)
More than 9,000 civilians were evacuated from combat zones on Friday, including almost 5,000 from the besieged southern city of Mariupol, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a video statement.
Vereshchuk said seven humanitarian corridors, out of the nine routes that had been agreed, were open for evacuees, while a cease-fire was not respected in the Kharkiv region among others. Ukraine is seeking evacuations from the southwestern city of Kherson on Saturday.
Oil Edges Higher as IEA Warns of ‘Emergency’ (9:15 p.m.)
Oil rose for a second day as the International Energy Agency warned markets are in an “emergency situation” that could get worse, pointing to looming supply strains from the loss of Russian exports. WTI for April delivery rose $1.72 to settle at $104.70 a barrel in New York.
No End in Sight for Ukraine-Russia Talks (8:39 p.m.)
Mykhailo Podolyak, Ukraine’s chief negotiator in talks with Russia, said Friday the talks could take weeks or longer as the two sides discuss security guarantees, a cease-fire, withdrawal of Russian troops and a resolution of disputed areas. Ukraine, he said, will not give up any territory.
Podolyak defined the Russian invasion as a “Syrian or Afghan type of war” as Russian forces target civilians and large cities.
White House Weighs in on Xi Call (7:58 p.m.)
Biden warned warned Xi of “implications and consequences” should China support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a video conference on Friday, the White House said.
“The president underscored his support for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis,” the White House said. “The two leaders also agreed on the importance of maintaining open lines of communication, to manage the competition between our two countries.”
EU Discussing New Fund to Help Ukraine Finance Defense (7:30 p.m.)
European Council President Charles Michel said he discussed with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy the idea of creating an international fund to help the country provide services amid the invasion by Russia.
The Ukraine Solidarity Fund, which would be paid for by international donors, would help Ukraine with immediate defense efforts and basic services, as well as the eventual rebuilding of the country. EU leaders will discuss the fund proposal when they meet in Brussels next week.
ICE to Remove Russian, Belarusian Debt From Indexes (6:45 p.m.)
Intercontinental Exchange said it will remove all Russian and Belarusian debt from its indexes on March 31.
It said the price at which all securities will be removed is zero. “These changes are being made in accordance with the letter and spirit of the sanctions, as well as the rules and regulations that govern our business,” the exchange said.
IAEA Says Repairs on Nuclear Plant Power Line Has Begun (6:33 p.m.)
Ukrainian engineers have begun repairing one of three disconnected power lines linking the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant and expect it to be working again early next week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement, citing Ukraine’s regulator.
Xi Laments War, Criticizes Sanctions in Call With Biden (5:50 p.m.)
Xi told Biden that China didn’t want to see war in Ukraine, according to summaries released by the Chinese side, and observed that “the prevailing trend of peace and development is facing serious challenges”’ and “the world is neither tranquil nor stable.”
But he criticized Western sanctions against Russia, saying that ordinary people will suffer and that further escalation “will also trigger a serious crisis in global trade and economy, finance, energy, food, industrial supply chain.”
Ukraine Says 222 People Killed in Kyiv Since Start of War (5:15 p.m.)
Since Russia launched its invasion on Feb. 24, 222 people have been killed in Ukraine’s capital, including 60 civilians, four of which were children, Deputy Mayor Mykola Povroznyk said.
Casualties in Kyiv also included 889 wounded, including 241 civilians, of which 18 were children.
Fifty-five buildings in the city -- including 36 residential buildings, five private houses, and 11 schools and kindergartens -- suffered damage from shelling.
U.S. General Sees No Evidence Russia Is Recruiting in Syria (4:18 p.m.)
Russia hasn’t made any substantial effort to recruit Syrian mercenaries to help in its invasion of Ukraine, despite reports to the contrary, the top U.S. general in the Middle East said.
“We have seen no evidence of recruiting in Syria to bring people back to Ukraine,” General Frank McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, said at a Pentagon press briefing. “We haven’t seen any large-scale effort to do that.”
Ukraine Mounts Defense Against Russian Cyber Campaign (3:10 p.m)
Russian cyber attacks have so far struggled to successfully disrupt or infiltrate Ukrainian systems like critical national infrastructure, according to Western government officials.
Ukraine is being targeted by many denial-of-service attacks, which are of low sophistication and impact, yet Kyiv has mounted a strong defense after years of experience in fending off cyber attacks, the officials said, asking not to be identified discussing private information.
Putin’s Speech at Rally Interrupted by State TV (2:20 p.m.)
Russian state television abruptly interrupted a broadcast of Vladimir Putin’s speech to a Moscow rally Friday, switching from the president mid-sentence to footage of a popular singer.
State media typically cover Putin’s public appearances from start to finish. The Kremlin blamed a server error, according to Interfax. The broadcaster switched to other officials and then resumed with Putin’s speech again, recorded from the beginning.
Putin hailed Friday’s anniversary of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and said the current “military operation” in Ukraine is aimed at preventing “genocide.” Authorities said as many as 200,000 people gathered for the event in and around Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium.
Zelenskiy Cites ‘Substantive’ Talks on EU Membership (12:23 p.m.)
Zelenskiy said he had a “substantive” conversation with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the country’s bid for EU membership. The Commission will issue its opinion on Ukraine’s application “within a few months,” Zelenskiy said on Twitter.
“Together we are moving towards our strategic goal,” Zelenskiy said, issuing a tweet in Ukrainian and English.
Ukraine Refugees to Poland Now Exceed 2 Million (11:41 a.m.)
The number of refugees reaching Poland from Ukraine now exceeds 2 million, mostly women with children, Polish border authorities said. Some 52,500 people crossed on Thursday and another 12,000 early Friday morning.
About 700,000 of the refugees are school-age children, and 10% have already been placed in Polish schools, according to the education ministry.
West Wants to Avoid Stumbling Into War With Russia by Mistake (11:23 a.m.)
The U.S. and its allies have established phone lines with Russia and stepped up patrols along NATO’s eastern flank to ensure the alliance doesn’t get dragged into a war over a misunderstanding on the Ukrainian border.
In the past 24 hours, Russian missiles landed near Lviv, the city in western Ukraine that’s been a key gathering point for people fleeing the conflict. At the weekend Russia hit a military facility in the region about 20 miles from Poland. Russian forces so far haven’t sought to provoke or engage allied forces, NATO officials say.
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