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Russia Ukraine War highlights: EU to tighten sanctions on Russian oil companies, but stops short of import ban; Ukraine negotiator says talks with Russia will continue on Tuesday; Beijing to face US ire if it helps Russia evade sanctions

Russia-Ukraine War highlights: EU to tighten sanctions on Russian oil companies, but stops short of import ban; Ukraine negotiator says talks with Russia will continue on Tuesday; Beijing to face US ire if it helps Russia evade sanctions

Russia-Ukraine War highlights: EU to tighten sanctions on Russian oil companies, but stops short of import ban; Ukraine negotiator says talks with Russia will continue on Tuesday; Beijing to face US ire if it helps Russia evade sanctions
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Summary

Russia-Ukraine War highlights: Moscow and Kyiv are set to resume another round of ceasefire talks on Monday, even as Russian military forces continued with air raids and ground assaults and pressed on major Ukrainian cities, including capital Kyiv. While the two sides hailed progress at earlier rounds of ceasefire talks, there seem to be no respite after more than two weeks of fighting. Russian forces had earlier stepped up attacks in western Ukraine with a deadly airstrike on a military base where defending troops had trained with NATO forces, bringing the conflict closer to Poland and other members of the bloc. After the targeted airstrike, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky threatened NATO members that they will soon be assaulted by Russian forces. US has warned Moscow if it hits at NATO, while Washington is also planning to meet the Chinese side and stress the economic penalties Beijing will face if it helps Russia in its war in Ukraine, US officials say. Track all the highlights on the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis here

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That would all from the Russia-Ukraine war front. For all other news updates from around the globe, please stay logged on to CNBC TV18.com. Thanks for joining us. Goodbye. 

Mar 14, 2022 9:47 PM

In close contact with India, China, France and others on mediation efforts to bring end to war in Ukraine: UN chief

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday that he was in close contact with India and a number of other countries on mediation efforts to bring an end to the war in Ukraine. Voicing deep concern that Ukraine is on fire and the country is being decimated before the eyes of the world, Guterres asserted that it is time to stop the horror unleashed on the people of Ukraine and get on the path of diplomacy and peace.

I have been in close contact with a number of countries -- including China, France, Germany, India, Israel and Turkey on mediation efforts to bring an end to this war, Guterres told reporters here. The appeals for peace must be heard. This tragedy must stop. It is never too late for diplomacy and dialogue. We need an immediate cessation of hostilities and serious negotiations based on the principles of the UN Charter and international law, he said.

Guterres said countless innocent people including women and children have been killed. After being hit by Russian forces, roads, airports and schools lie in ruins. According to the WHO, at least 24 health facilities have suffered the attack, he said.

Guterres stressed that further escalation of the war, whether by accident or design, threatens all of humanity.

Mar 14, 2022 9:43 PM

Refugee exodus reaches 2.8 million as Russia strikes hit west Ukraine

People fleeing what had been the relative safety of western Ukraine joined thousands crossing into eastern Europe on Monday after Russia attacked a Ukrainian base near the border with NATO-member Poland.

Ukraine said 35 people were killed at the base on Sunday. Moscow said up to 180 "foreign mercenaries" died and a large number of foreign weapons were destroyed.

Ukraine also reported renewed airstrikes on an airport in the west of the country.

The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24 climbed to more than 2.8 million, United Nations data showed on Monday, in what has become Europe's fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War Two.

European Union officials have said 5 million may end up fleeing while others have put the figure higher.

Millions of people have also been displaced inside Ukraine, with many evacuated only as far as the quieter western regions, including to cities like Lviv.

Mar 14, 2022 9:26 PM

Russian, Iranian foreign ministers to discuss Ukraine, nuclear deal on Tuesday

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will on Tuesday discuss the conflict in Ukraine and ongoing international talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear pact with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the Russian news agency RIA said on Monday.

Mar 14, 2022 9:19 PM

Russian, Iranian foreign ministers to discuss Ukraine, nuclear deal on Tuesday

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will on Tuesday discuss the conflict in Ukraine and ongoing international talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear pact with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the Russian news agency RIA said on Monday.

Mar 14, 2022 9:19 PM

Ukraine says Russian shelling is still preventing aid delivery to Mariupol

Shelling by Russian forces was still preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Black Sea port city of Mariupol on Monday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

She said a convoy had been trying to reach the encircled city on Monday to deliver aid and help evacuate women and children, but, as with similar attempts over the past week, it had not been able to reach the city.

She confirmed that some civilians had managed to leave Mariupol in a convoy of cars on Monday.

Mar 14, 2022 8:49 PM

Russia, Belarus ready to boost union state cooperation amid sanctions

The prime ministers of Russia and Belarus reaffirmed their commitment to a union state between their two countries on Monday and stated the importance of cooperation in the face of Western sanctions.

Western nations have taken unprecedented measures to punish Russia and its ally Belarus over the war in Ukraine, threatening both countries' economic health.

"We are taking coordinated measures to protect our economic security and the technological sovereignty of Russia and Belarus," Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said after meeting his Belarusian counterpart Roman Golovchenko in Moscow.

"Above all, we consider it necessary to strengthen integration in the union state," he added.

The two Slav neighbours are formally part of a "union state" and have been in talks for years to move closer together, a process that accelerated after Russian President Vladimir Putin propped up Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko in 2020 when his rule was threatened by months of mass street protests.

Western nations imposed sanctions on both countries after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a special military operation designed to de-militarise and "denazify" the former Soviet republic.

"We are grateful to our Belarusian friends for their constructive position on the situation around Ukraine," Mishustin said. "For us, this is very important and valuable."

"I am convinced that the illegitimate economic sanctions will not hinder the advancement of integration in the union state and the further development of our fraternal relations," he said.

Golovchenko appealed to Russia for economic support, saying Belarus was ready to implement the agreements on economic integration contained within the union state's framework.

"Given the high vulnerability of the Belarusian economy to external shocks, we are counting on support from the Russian Federation at this difficult time," he said.

He also called for urgent implementation of support measures including delaying the restructuring of Belarusian debt, transitioning to a new pricing system for Russian oil and fixing natural gas prices for Minsk in Russian roubles pegged to Russian domestic prices.

Mar 14, 2022 8:39 PM

Russia may face "deep recession": IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva

Russia may face a "deep recession," IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva has said, as she warned that the impact of the "unprecedented" Western sanctions on Moscow for its military aggression against Ukraine will be "quite severe" for the Russian economy. IMF's Managing Director Georgieva also said that a Russian sovereign default is no longer an improbable event because the economic sanctions on Russia will prevent it from accessing foreign reserves and paying down the outstanding debt. Half of the gold and foreign exchange reserves of the Bank of Russia have been frozen due to sanctions, Russia's Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Sunday.

This is about half of these reserves that we had. We have a total amount of reserves of about USD 640 billion. Currently, we cannot use about USD 300 billion of these reserves, Russia's state-run TASS news agency quoted him as telling the Rossiya 1 TV channel. In Washington, the IMF chief told CBS News on Sunday that the reason the sanctions are "unprecedented" is that the "unthinkable happened, a devastating war in Ukraine." Georgieva said the impact of the sanctions is "quite severe for the Russian economy. We expect a deep recession in Russia, and this abrupt contraction is affecting already how the Russian population is taking the heat on them. Russian leaders have repeatedly said that the Kremlin will take appropriate steps to minimise the consequences of the "economic war" that the Western countries have declared on Moscow.

"The ruble depreciated significantly. What does it mean? Real incomes have shrunk. The purchasing power of the Russian population has significantly diminished," Georgieva said, according to the transcript of the interview provided by CBS News. "In terms of servicing debt obligations, I can say that no longer we think of Russian default as an improbable event. Russia has the money to service its debt but cannot access it. What I'm more concerned is that there are consequences that go beyond Ukraine and Russia," she said.

The IMF, she said, was mostly concerned about the immediate neighbours of Russia and Ukraine, the Central Asian republics, the Caucasus, Moldova, because they have trade relations with both Russia and Ukraine more than the rest of the world, and because of this outflow of people refugee wave in Europe, that is of the order of magnitude of what happened in the Second World War. "So there the impact is most significant. Beyond the immediate neighbours, there are two groups of countries we are very worried about," she said. The first group are countries that have yet to recover from the COVID-induced economic crisis. "For them, this shock is particularly painful," she said. The second group of countries are those that are more dependent on energy imports from Russia because there the impact on consumption, but also on inflation is going to be more prominent, she said.

Measures designed to damage the Russian economy following its 'special military operation' against Ukraine have been introduced by the US, UK and EU, among others. The US has banned all Russian oil and gas imports and the UK will phase out Russian oil by the end of 2022. US President Joe Biden has said the American sanctions target "the main artery of Russia's economy" after his Russian counterpart ordered the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Western countries have frozen the assets of Russia's central bank, to stop it from using its USD 630 billion reserves. Meanwhile, Russia is taking action and will be able to minimise the consequences of the economic war that the Western countries have declared, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday.

He was commenting on the statements of US President Biden on the prospects for the Russian economy facing more sanctions by the West. Measures are being taken to minimise the consequences [of sanctions]. A whole set of measures has been adopted by the Central Bank, which are being implemented. There is every reason to believe that the consequences of this economic war will be minimised, Peskov was quoted as saying by TASS news agency. Earlier, Russia's Finance Minister Siluanov said that part of the Russian foreign exchange reserves is in Chinese currency. However, Western countries are now putting pressure on China in order to limit trade with it, he said.

"Of course, there is pressure to limit access to those reserves that we have in yuan (Chinese currency). I think that our partnership with China will allow us to maintain the cooperation that we have achieved, and not only to maintain but also to multiply it in conditions when Western markets are closed, Siluanov said. The minister reiterated that the debts of countries that were "unfriendly" to Russia would be paid in rubles

Mar 14, 2022 8:30 PM

Zelenskyy to deliver virtual address to US Congress

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will deliver a virtual address to the U.S. Congress as the Russian war on his country intensifies.

Zelenskyy will speak Wednesday to members of the House and Senate, the Democratic leaders announced.

The Congress, our country and the world are in awe of the people of Ukraine, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in a statement Monday.

They said all lawmakers are invited to the talk that will be delivered via video at the U.S. Capitol. It comes as Congress recently approved $13.6 billion in the emergency military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

We look forward to the privilege of welcoming President Zelenskyys address to the House and Senate and to convey our support to the people of Ukraine as they bravely defend democracy, the leaders said.

Zelenskyy spoke by video with House and Senate lawmakers earlier this month, delivering a desperate plea for more military aid.

Mar 14, 2022 8:19 PM

Ukraine negotiator says talks with Russia will continue on Tuesday

Talks between Ukraine and Russia paused on Monday and will continue on Tuesday, one of Ukraine's negotiators said on Twitter.

"A technical pause has been taken in the negotiations until tomorrow. For additional work in the working subgroups and clarification of individual definitions. Negotiations continue," said negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak.

Mar 14, 2022 7:55 PM

EU to tighten sanctions on Russian oil companies, but stops short of import ban

European Union states are set to adopt new sanctions against Russia's oil majors Rosneft, Transneft and Gazprom Neft, but will continue to buy oil from them, an EU source told Reuters on Monday.

The three companies are already subject to EU restrictions on loans and debt financing. Under the new package to be discussed later on Monday by EU top diplomats, they will also face an investment ban, which is expected to freeze their funding from sources in the EU in new production and exploration projects in all fossil fuels.

But in a sign of the EU's concerns about the impact of sanctions on oil prices and supplies, EU governments insisted on clarifying that the new measures would not prevent EU states and companies from buying oil from the three Russian companies, the source said.

That contrasts with action by the United States last week to ban oil imports from Russia, which led to a jump in oil prices. The United States does not import as much gas from Russia as the EU does.

Under the new EU sanctions, Rosneft, Transneft and Gazprom Neft would be subjected to a "transaction ban," the official said, which would block investments and other transfers of financial resources to them.

"We will propose a big ban on new European investments across Russia's energy sector," the head of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday pre-announcing the sanctions but without indicating the targeted companies.

"This ban will cover all investments, technology transfers, financial services, etcetera, for energy exploration and production," she added.

Many EU governments requested carve-outs that would allow EU companies to pay their bills to the Russian majors and continue buying their oil, the source said.

That request has led to a slight delay in the approval of the new sanctions, which had been initially submitted for approval on Sunday.

After some changes to the legal texts to make it completely clear that oil can still be purchased from the Russian companies, EU top diplomats are set to discuss and approve the amended proposal later on Monday, the source said.

Mar 14, 2022 7:43 PM

US official says Russia seeking military aid from China

A U.S. official said Russia asked China for military equipment to use in its invasion of Ukraine, a request that heightens tensions about the war as top aides from the U.S. and China governments met Monday in Rome.

In advance of the talks, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan bluntly warned China to avoid helping Russia evade punishment from global sanctions that have hammered the Russian economy. We will not allow that to go forward, he said.

Russia on Monday denied it needed China's help.

No, Russia has its own potential to continue the operation, which, as we have said, is unfolding in accordance with the plan and will be completed on time and in full, said Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said the talks with the U.S. were underway around 11:50 a.m. Rome time (1050 GMT), but gave no details.

The prospect of China offering Russia financial help is one of several concerns for President Joe Biden. A U.S. official said that in recent days, Russia had requested support from China, including military equipment, to press forward in its ongoing war with Ukraine. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters, did not provide details on the scope of the request. The request was first reported by the Financial Times and The Washington Post.

The Russians have seen significant losses of tanks, helicopters and other materials since the start of the war more than two weeks ago. Ukraine, while overmatched by Russian forces, is well-equipped with anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.

The Biden administration is also accusing China of spreading Russian disinformation that could be a pretext for Putin's forces to attack Ukraine with chemical or biological weapons.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has put China in a delicate spot with two of its biggest trading partners: the U.S. and the European Union. China needs access to those markets, yet it also has shown support for Moscow, joining with Russia in declaring a friendship with no limits.

In his talks with senior Chinese foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi, Sullivan will indeed be looking for limits in what Beijing will do for Moscow.

"I'm not going to sit here publicly and brandish threats," he said Sunday, making the rounds of Sunday news shows. But what I will tell you is we are communicating directly and privately to Beijing that there absolutely will be consequences if China helps Russia backfill its losses from the sanctions.

Without giving details, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Monday that the Ukraine situation will definitely be a hot topic" at the meeting, which had been scheduled before Russia invaded its neighbour.

Asked at a daily briefing about the reported Russian request for assistance, Zhao responded: The U.S. has been spreading disinformation targeting China recently over the Ukraine issue. It is malicious."

What is pressing now is that all parties should exercise restraint and strive to cool down the situation, rather than fueling the tension," Zhao told reporters. We should promote diplomatic settlements instead of further escalating the situation."

The White House said the talks will focus on the direct impact of Russia's war against Ukraine on regional and global security.

Biden administration officials say Beijing is spreading false Russian claims that Ukraine was running chemical and biological weapons labs with U.S. support. They say China is effectively providing cover if Russia moves ahead with a biological or chemical weapons attack on Ukrainians.

When Russia starts accusing other countries of preparing to launch biological or chemical attacks, Sullivan said Sunday, its a good tell that they may be on the cusp of doing it themselves.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, on ABC's This Week, said we haven't seen anything that indicates some sort of imminent chemical or biological attack right now, but we're watching this very, very closely.

The striking U.S. accusations about Russian disinformation and Chinese complicity came after Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova alleged with no evidence that the U.S. was financing Ukrainian chemical and biological weapons labs.

The Russian claim was echoed by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao, who claimed there were 26 bio-labs and related facilities in which the U.S. Department of Defense has absolute control. The United Nations has said it has received no information backing up such accusations.

There is growing concern inside the White House that China is aligning itself with Russia on the Ukraine war in hopes it will advance Beijing's vision of the world order in the long term, according to a person familiar with the administration view who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official wasn't authorized to comment publicly.

Sullivan said on CBS that the Russian rhetoric on chemical and biological warfare is "an indicator that, in fact, the Russians are getting ready to do it and try and pin the blame elsewhere and nobody should fall for that.

The international community has assessed that Russia used chemical weapons in attempts to assassinate Putin detractors such as Alexei Navalny and former spy Sergei Skripal. Russia also supports the Assad government in Syria, which has used chemical weapons against its people in a decade-long civil war.

China has been one of few countries to avoid criticizing the Russians for its invasion of Ukraine. China's leader Xi Jinping hosted Putin for the opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, just three weeks before Russia invaded on Feb. 24. During Putin's visit, the two leaders issued a 5,000-word statement declaring limitless friendship."

The Chinese abstained on U.N. votes censuring Russia and has criticized economic sanctions against Moscow. It has expressed its support for peace talks and offered its services as a mediator, despite questions about its neutrality and scant experience mediating international conflict.

But questions remain over how far Beijing will go to alienate the West and put its own economy at risk. Sullivan said China and all countries are on notice that they cannot basically bail Russia out ... give Russia a workaround to the sanctions, with impunity.

Chinese officials have said Washington shouldn't be able to complain about Russia's actions because the U.S. invaded Iraq under false pretences. The U.S. claimed to have evidence Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction though none was ever found.

On CNN, Sullivan said the administration believes China knew that Putin was planning something before the invasion of Ukraine. But he said the Chinese government "may not have understood the full extent of it because its very possible that Putin lied to them the same way that he lied to Europeans and others.

Mar 14, 2022 7:29 PM

UN says at least 636 civilians killed in Ukraine so far

The U.N. human rights office said on Monday it had confirmed the deaths of at least 636 civilians in Ukraine through to March 13, including 46 children.

The actual toll is likely much higher, it said since there have been delays receiving and corroborating reports from places with intense hostilities such as Kharkiv and Mariupol. The office has some 50 staff members involved with human rights monitoring in the country.

Mar 14, 2022 7:08 PM

Russia accuses Ukraine of missile strike on Donetsk; Ukraine denies

Russia's defence ministry said on Monday that 20 people had been killed and 28 wounded when a Ukrainian missile with a cluster charge exploded in the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

The ministry provided no evidence and Ukraine denied launching such an attack. Reuters could not independently verify the statements by either side.

"It is unmistakably a Russian rocket or another munition, there's not even any point talking about it," Ukrainian military spokesman Leonid Matyukhin told a televised briefing.

Pro-Russian separatists who control part of Ukraine's Donetsk region said earlier that a child was among those hit in the alleged strike and they accused Kyiv of committing a war crime.

Ukraine has denied suggestions it would try to recapture the eastern cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, under the control of Russian-backed forces since 2014, by force.

Ukraine and its allies have previously accused Russia of planning "false flag" operations to create pretexts for further military offensives against Ukraine.

Mar 14, 2022 6:48 PM

Pressure on Putin must be increased to the maximum - German Finance Minister

The pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin must be increased to the maximum to end the war in Ukraine as soon as possible, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said on Monday, adding that sanctions would hit Germany too.

"The pressure on Vladimir Putin must be increased to the maximum in order to end this war as quickly as possible. We, therefore, welcome the continued work on sanctions," Lindner told reporters in Berlin.

To help cushion the impact of higher energy prices, Lindner said he wanted to introduce a fuel rebate for car drivers, adding: "The state must not leave citizens and the economy alone to face higher prices."

Mar 14, 2022 6:38 PM

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