Ukraine war - latest: Secret 'CIA peace deal' is a 'hoax', Kremlin says; why are EU leaders in Ukraine? (2023)

Key points
  • Zelenskyy to make case for Ukraine joining EU in talks
  • Next six months of war will be 'absolutely crucial', says US
  • Why are European Union leaders in Ukraine?
  • Reports of secret peace proposal are 'hoax' - Kremlin
  • Dominic Waghorn: Race on to arm Ukraine before a spring offensive
  • Live reporting by Faith Ridler.Updates also from Deborah Haynesin Ukraine and Diana Magnay in Moscow


EU sanctions should prevent Russia rebuilding military, Zelenskyy says

Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said EU sanctions on Russia should aim to ensure Moscow cannot rebuild its military capability.

The Ukrainian President made the comments at a EU summit news conference in Kyiv alongside European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel .


What is the nuclear pact Russia signed with the US?

We reported earlier as NATO called on Russia to respect the only treaty it has with the US aimed at keeping a lid on nuclear weapons expansion.

It also urged Moscow to allow on-the-ground inspections of military sites to resume.

But what is this treaty - and why is it so vital?

The so-called New START Treaty was signed by Russia and the US in 2010.

It caps the number of long-range nuclear warheads they can deploy at 1,550 and limits the use of missiles that can carry atomic weapons.

It allows short-notice inspections of each other's nuclear bases and support facilities.

"We note with concern that Russia has failed to comply with legally-binding obligations under the New Start Treaty," NATO ambassadors said today.

The US-led military alliance supports the treaty and believes it helps to limit the expansion of nuclear forces.

The envoys said Russia's refusal to hold consultations or allow US inspections since last August "prevents the United States from exercising important rights under the treaty and undermines the United States' ability to adequately verify Russian compliance with the treaty's central limits".

"We call on Russia to fulfil its obligations under the treaty by facilitating New Start inspections on Russian territory and by returning to participation in the treaty's implementation body," the forum in which the two sides could consult, NATO said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly ramped up his nuclear rhetoric since he ordered troops into Ukraine almost a year ago, raising concern among western allies and the public over whether he might actually use such weapons.

The US-Russia committee formed under the treaty last met in October 2021, but Russia unilaterally suspended its co-operation with the pact's inspection provisions in August 2022 to protest US support for Ukraine.

Inspections of US and Russian military sites under the New START Treaty were paused by both sides because of the spread of the coronavirus in March 2020.


Russian bank 'buys two credit institutions in eastern Ukraine'

Russia's state-owned Promsvyazbanksaid today that it had bought two creditinstitutions in Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions, doublingits chain of branches in Ukrainian territory.

Promsvyazbank (PSB), one of Russia's 13 "systemicallyimportant credit institutions", offers a wide range of servicesbut has focused on state employees and the defence sector sinceit was bailed out by the central bank in 2017.

It had already been targeted with Western sanctions lastyear over Russia's actions in Ukraine.


Mike Pompeo: China 'wants world dominance and is a bigger threat than Vladimir Putin'

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told Sky News he believes China's President Xi is a bigger threat to the world than Vladimir Putin.

Speaking on Beth Rigby Interviews, Mr Pompeo said President Xi is intent on world dominance.

"He wants to own you," the US politician warned.

"He wants hegemonic intent across the world with his Marxist-Leninist vision, and Chinese economic and political dominance in every corner of the world.

"That is his vicious objective. We have an obligation to the next generation to push back against it."

Asked if the Chinese leader is more dangerous than his Russian counterpart - who invaded Ukraine almost a year ago today - Mr Pompeo replied: "Absolutely. [It's] Not even close.

"Vladimir Putin has a very capable nuclear program, and an economy that is dependent on a single industry. And if we produce energy in America, that industry would be a lot less valuable to him," he said.

You can read more from Sky News in the link below...


Ukraine opens criminal case against head of Wagner Group of mercenaries

Ukraine has opened a criminal case against the head of the Wagner Group of Russian mercenaries, which have been leading the fight on the eastern front.

Kyiv has also pledged to track down and prosecute any fighters who try to flee abroad.

The Wagner Group is run by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an ally of President Vladimir Putin often known as "Putin's chef".

The group has recruited thousands of fighters,including convicts from Russian prisons, to wage war in Ukraine.

"The Prosecutor General's Office has served a notice ofsuspicion to the head of the private military company 'Wagner'," prosecutor general Andriy Kostin said.

"The head of this group is directly responsible forthousands of war crimes. He openly admits his role in the waragainst Ukraine and, with the Kremlin's permission, resolvesstaff issues by recruiting tens of thousands of prisoners."

Under Ukraine's criminal code, suspects in criminal casesmust be informed in a "notice of suspicion".

The statement didnot say how such a notice could have been served to Mr Prigozhin.

Mr Kostin listed accusations against Wagner, includingencroachment on Ukraine's territorial integrity and waging anaggressive war.

He said Wagner mercenaries of all ranks would beheld responsible, including those who fled abroad.

Ukraine would send Oslo a "request for investigativeactions" against a former Wagner commander arrested in Norwaylast month, Mr Kostin said.


Air raid sirens quiet in most of Ukraine

A bit of an update on news that air raid sirens were sounding across Ukraine this morning.

It appears the danger is largely over for now, with the map below showing that alerts are only active in the Crimean peninsula and the eastern Luhansk region.


A glimpse of the scene in eastern Ukraine

These are the latest images to emerge from the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk, where relentless fighting has continued into another month.

In the city of Horlivka, which had a pre-war population of 292,000, people were seen clearing debris and gathering goods from a bombarded market.


Estonia could boycott Paris Olympics if Russian and Belarusian athletes are not barred

Estonia could boycott the Paris 2024 Olympics if Russian and Belarusian athletes are not barred from competing, the country's prime minister said.

It comes after the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) said that athletes from the two countries, banned from competitions in Europe, might be allowed to earn slots for the Olympics by qualifying through Asian events.

However, the IOC later said it was standing by sanctions imposed against Russia and Belarus.

"Our efforts should be on convincing other friends andallies that participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes isjust wrong. Boycotting is the next step, " Kaja Kallas said.

Baltic and Polish sports ministers have also called oninternational sports bodies for a similar ban amid the war inUkraine, while Latvia and Kyiv have threatened to boycott thegames.

The three Baltic states and Poland, members of the EuropeanUnion and NATO which border Russia and Belarus, have been strongsupporters of Ukraine.

"Russia has been destroying Ukrainian nation, state andpeople for a year. Russia has killed hundreds of Ukrainianathletes, including Olympic and world champions," Ms Kallas said.

"To allow athletes to enter the Olympic arena at the priceof blood of Ukrainians - is that a fair play?"


Head of Paris 2024 Olympics says it is up to IOC whether Russian and Belarusians can compete

The head of the Paris 2024 Olympics has said it is for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to decide whether Russian and Belarusian athletes can participate.

The comments, made by Tony Estanguet, come after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the IOC to ban the athletes.

"I am in favour of maintaining this symbol of universality for the Games," Mr Estanguet said when asked about their participation.

"The priority is not about who will participate in 2024 but how and when this conflict and this war will end, that's the priority.

"That's not in the hands of Paris 2024."


Six killed and 19 injured in Russian strikes on Ukraine

Nine Ukrainian regions were hit by renewed Russian bombardment in the past 24 hours, killing six people and injuring at least 19.

There have been strikes in Donetsk, Kherson, Kharkiv, Sumy, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk and Luhansk since Thursday.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk region, said Russian forces killed two people in Kramatorsk and Bakhmut and wounded eight.

In Kharkiv, two were killed and one was injured when Russian troops fired on a residential building.

Around 65 missiles were launched at Kherson in the south, killing two people and wounding nine, including a five-year-old child.

A shipyard, school and residential buildings were damaged in the strikes.

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