Sun, 26 Mar 2023

In a historic speech to a joint session of the British parliament on Wednesday, visiting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the British people for their support since "Day One" of Russia's invasion and called on allies to deliver the "necessary" weapons to defeat Russia. Follow FRANCE 24's live blog for the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).

1:23pm: Germany's Scholz 'certain' Putin 'will not achieve goals' in Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Wednesday it was clear almost a year on from Russia's invasion of Ukraine that Moscow would not win and assured the war-torn country its future was in the EU.

"(President Vladimir) Putin will not achieve his goals - not on the battlefield and not through a dictated peace. That much, at least, is certain after a year of war," Scholz said in a speech to parliament.

"Ukraine belongs to Europe, its future lies in the European Union. And this promise holds true," Scholz said on the eve of a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels.

1:08pm: Sunak says Britain wants a decisive military victory in Ukraine

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday his government wanted to see a decisive military victory on the battlefield this year in Ukraine.

"Our objective remains to ensure a Ukrainian victory in this conflict," Sunak told parliament.

"We will continue to support Ukraine to ensure a decisive military victory on the battlefield this year."

12:40pm: Germany's Scholz criticises 'public competition' to send arms to Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday criticised what he saw as the public competition among some countries over who can deliver more and better weapons to Ukraine, saying it harmed unity among allies.

"We preserve and strengthen this cohesion by first preparing decisions confidentially - and only then communicating them," Scholz told the Bundestag lower house of parliament according to a manuscript of his speech, citing his co-operation with US President Joe Biden on the decision to supply tanks to Ukraine.

"What harms our unity is a public competition to outdo each other along the lines of: battle tanks, submarines, aircraft - who is asking for more?" he added.

12:14pm: UK announces new round of Russia sanctions

The British government on Wednesday announced a fresh round of sanctions targeting Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, a statement said.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the new sanctions on organisations that Russian President Vladimir Putin's military relied on would "accelerate the economic pressure on Putin - undermining his war machine to help Ukraine prevail".

12:05pm: Zelensky arrives in UK

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Britain on Wednesday for only his second overseas trip since Russia's invasion began nearly a year ago.

Zelensky, dressed in his trademark olive-green top, was hugged by Sunak after disembarking from a military transport plane at Stansted airport north of London.

12:03pm: Zelensky to visit Brussels on Thursday

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is to visit Brussels on Thursday, a European Union diplomat said on Wednesday.

Zelenskiy is travelling to London to meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and address parliament on Wednesday at a time when Kyiv is urging the West to deliver more weapons to help it drive Russian forces out.

11:54am: King Charles to meet Zelensky during surprise visit

Britain's King Charles will hold an audience with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during his trip to the United Kingdom on Wednesday, Buckingham Palace said.

Zelensky is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and address Britain's parliament, as well as visit King Charles at his London residence.

Zelensky's trip to Britain will be his second foreign visit since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly a year ago, and comes at a time when Kyiv is urging the West for more military support.

10:18am: Russia sanctions create parallel oil market, TotalEnergies CEO says

Western sanctions against Russia are creating a parallel oil market, the chief executive of French oil major TotalEnergies said on Wednesday.

"We had a relatively transparent, well-functioning global oil market .. I understand the political objective, but I don't think we have fully appreciated the consequences," Patrick Pouyanne told reporters after his company posted a record profit for 2022. "There is no longer a unified oil market [...] With all these bans, we are creating a grey market for oil," he said adding that Russia was "without a doubt capable of selling its products elsewhere."

>> French giant TotalEnergies posts record $20.5 million profit amid high oil prices

Unlike rivals such as BP and Shell, TotalEnergies has kept some of its investments in Russia, including the Yamal venture producing liquefied natural gas in Russia's Arctic.

9:50am: Zelensky to visit UK for first time since Russian invasion

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky will Wednesday make his first visit to the UK since the Russian invasion of his country, Britain said, announcing that it would offer fighter jet training to Ukrainian troops.

Zelensky would meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and address parliament, Sunak's office said, adding that the UK was planning "to train fighter jet pilots and marines" from the Ukrainian armed forces.

"As part of today's talks, the prime minister will offer to bolster the UK's training offer for Ukrainian troops, including expanding it to fighter jet pilots to ensure Ukraine can defend its skies well into the future," a statement said.

8:14am: Russia says EU price cap exemptions show its oil is still in demand

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Wednesday that European Union moves to add what he called "exemptions" to its price cap on oil products showed that Russian oil was still in demand.

"Yesterday we saw another change to the European Union's regulations, the exemptions," he said in comments published by the state-run TASS news agency.

"This once again emphasises that our oil products are in demand in Europe, once European politicians indicated that their actions defy any logic and take such decisions and think how to get out of this situation," he said

7:49am: Moscow intensifies winter assault, Kyiv expects new offensive

Russian forces ramped up a winter assault in eastern Ukraine, bringing tens of thousands of freshly mobilised troops to the battlefield, while Kyiv expected Moscow to broaden its offensive as towns in the northeast and south came under fire.

Ukraine's military said on Tuesday that 1,030 Russian troops were killed over 24 hours, the highest daily toll of the war. The figure could not be independently verified, and Russia has also claimed to have killed large numbers of Ukrainian troops in recent weeks. For its part, Russia said it had inflicted 6,500 Ukrainian casualties in the month of January.

Ukraine national security chief Oleksiy Danilov said in an interview on Tuesday that the Kremlin is expected to target the northeastern Kharkiv or southern Zaporizhzhia regions in a new thrust.

"Attempts at an offensive in either the Kharkiv or Zaporizhzhia direction will of course be made," he told Reuters,

speaking in his office in Kyiv. "How successful they'll be will depend on us."

The Ukraine Armed Forces said on Tuesday evening that more than 30 towns and villages in Kharkiv and 20 communities in Zaporizhzhia came under fire.

Originally published on France24

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