Third round of talks
Last night, after several hours of talks, Ukraine and Russia concluded the third round of negotiations.
Mikhail Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, announced that “the third round of negotiations has ended. There are small developments in improving the logistics of humanitarian corridors (...) Intensive consultations have continued on the main political block of the settlement, along with a ceasefire and security guarantees”. In a video message, the adviser noted that there is no significant progress yet on the key political issue, the cessation of hostilities, expressing his optimism for this outcome in the future.
Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has announced a shift to wartime economy, with the Ukrainian state placing government orders to meet critical needs, such as food, medicines or fuel. Restrictions on the export of important goods were introduced, including wheat, buckwheat, meat, sugar, salt, oats and millet.
The Ministry of Finance has announced a first war bond issue and is planning a second one.
Russia continues intervention, but suffers heavy losses
In the Polesye direction of offense, Russian troops are concentrating their main efforts on encircling Kiev. On the Seversk direction, Russia is trying to mount an offense on the city of Sumy. In the Slobozhanske direction, attempts are being made to continue the offensive towards the cities of Kanev, Dnipro and Severodonetsk.
In the Donetsk direction, with armored vehicle forces, offensive operations continue in the directions of Dnipro and Zaporozhye to reach the administrative borders of the Donetsk region. Despite heavy losses, Russian troops advanced on Volnovakha, attacking the suburbs of Mariupol, Stary Krym, from the west.
In the Taurida direction, the invader remains on the borders of the Kherson region, aiming to urgently restore the runway at the Melitopol airport.
OSCE mission leaves Ukraine
The evacuation of all international members of the OSCE Mission is almost complete, the remaining group - the head of the mission and the top leadership - is now leaving Ukraine. The mission had been working in Ukraine since March 2014.
According to David Arakhamia, leader of the People’s Servant group, NATO countries “are not ready to discuss Ukraine’s NATO membership in the next five or ten years”. In these circumstances, “there may be direct (security) guarantees from various countries, such as the U.S., China, the United Kingdom, possibly Germany and France. We are open to discussing such things in a wider circle, not only in bilateral talks with Russia, but also with other partners”, said Arakhamia.
President Volodymyr Zelensky also said in a March 1 interview with Reuters that “our partners ... - because Russia does not want Ukraine to be in NATO - must develop joint security guarantees for Ukraine".
China calls for calm and negotiations
According to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the conflict in Ukraine should be resolved through negotiations. “Solving complex problems requires calm and common sense, without pouring gas into the fire and stimulating conflict. China believes that in order to resolve the current crisis, we must address the goals and principles of the UN Charter, respect and protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, uphold the principle of the indivisibility of security, and consider the legitimacy of the parties' concerns”, Mr. Wang said.
According to him, the United States is now trying to form a bloc to put pressure on China, but if this happens the PRC will “take the necessary measures to firmly protect its rights and legitimate interests”.
Deripaska calls for an end to hostilities
“We need peace as soon as possible, because we have long since passed the point of no return - I agree with him. The whole world will be different after these events, and Russia will be different”, the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska commented on the Ukraine speech by the historian Yuval Noah Harari. He noted that “Ukrainians are a very real nation, they are extremely independent, they do not want to be part of Russia and they will fight hard”, Kommersant wrote.
Zelensky announces support package for entrepreneurs
They exempt a number of categories of entrepreneurs-individuals, as well as employees enlisted in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Territorial Defense of payments in the social fund.
Entrepreneurs are exempt from paying land tax and rent for communal and state lands in all territories where hostilities take place.
The exemption is applied for the duration of martial law and for at least one year after its lifting.
Payment of taxes has been deferred for all non-paying businesses. This is only the first part of government support, the president said.
Russia’s foe list
The Russian government has approved a list of foreign states and territories involved in “unfriendly actions” against the Russian Federation, including: Australia, the United Kingdom, EU countries, Iceland, Canada, Liechtenstein, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Korea, San Marino, Singapore, the United States, Taiwan, Ukraine, Montenegro, Switzerland, Japan, but also Albania, Andorra, Northern Macedonia, and Micronesia.
Controversial green corridors
The Russian Defense Ministry yesterday ordered a ceasefire and the opening of humanitarian corridors in four Ukrainian cities - Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv and Sumy. Vladimir Putin had announced that the measures in question had been taken at the request of French President Emmanuel Macron. Civilians are guaranteed access to Belarus (Kyiv) and Russia (Mariupol, Kharkov and Sumy), according to Russian media.
But Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk commented she is against such corridors that lead only to Belarus and Russia. Moreover, the Ukrainian security service commented on Russia’s true intentions regarding the “green corridors"” and the transportation of the locals to Russia.