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LIVE: Zelensky urges French firms to to cease business in Russia

Renault, Auchan, Leroy Merlin must stop being sponsors of the Russian war machine, stop financing the murder of children and women, of rape, says Ukraine's President

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Volodymyr Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (Photo: AP/PTI)

Live news updates: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday said sending peacekeepers to Ukraine may lead to a direct confrontation between Russia and the NATO military alliance.

Poland last week said an international peacekeeping mission should be sent to Ukraine and be given the means to defend itself, Reuters reported.

Ukrainian leaders accused Russia of seizing 15 rescue workers and drivers from a humanitarian convoy trying to get desperately needed food and other supplies into the bloodied port city of Mariupol, which also came under naval attack after weeks of air and land strikes.

President Vladimir Putin intends to attend a G20 summit being hosted by Indonesia later this year, Russia's ambassador in Jakarta said on Wednesday, following calls by some members for the country to be barred from the group.

US President Joe Biden plans to announce new sanctions against Russia on Thursday while in Brussels for meetings with NATO and European allies, according to a top national security aide.

11:44 PM

Russia to expel a number of American diplomats: Interfax

Russia told Washington on Wednesday it would throw out a number of American diplomats in response to a U.S. move to expel Russian staff from the permanent U.N. mission, Interfax news agency said.
The agency also cited the foreign ministry as telling the United States any hostile actions against Russia would provoke a decisive response.
11:43 PM

US to announce Russia-related sanctions on Thursday: White House

The United States will announce a package of Russia-related sanctions on political figures and oligarchs on Thursday while U.S. President Joe Biden meets with NATO leaders on Ukraine, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Wednesday.
Sullivan, speaking to reporters as Biden headed to Brussels for the NATO summit, said G-7 leaders will also agree on Thursday to coordinate on sanctions enforcement and plan to issue a statement.
He also said officials will have more to say on Friday about European energy issues.
11:27 PM

Ukraine's Zelensky urges French firms to 'stop sponsoring the Russian war machine'

French companies including carmaker Renault and retailer Auchan must leave the Russian market, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky told French lawmakers on Wednesday.
"Renault, Auchan, Leroy Merlin must stop being sponsors of the Russian war machine, stop financing the murder of children and women, of rape," Zelensky said in an address via video link to France's National Assembly.
"French companies must leave the Russian market." Seated at a desk in his trademark khaki T-shirt, Zelensky received a standing ovation from French lawmakers after his appeal. At his request they also observed a minute of silence in tribute to the victims of the nearly month-long war.
11:17 PM

US 'absolutely' will hit Chinese firms if they violate export controls on Russia: Raimondo

The United States will "absolutely" enforce export controls if Chinese companies send semiconductors to Russia that were made with U.S technology, a move that could "essentially shut them down," Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Wednesday.
Raimondo doubled down on U.S. threats to punish any company in any country that violated tough export controls imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, together with 32 other countries worldwide.
Raimondo said all Chinese semiconductor companies relied on U.S. software to make their semiconductors, which made them subject to controls. "If we find that they are selling chips to Russia, then we can essentially shut them down by denying them use of that software, and we're absolutely prepared to do that," she told Reuters in an interview.
11:09 PM

Nickel jumps, zinc climbs on worries over supplies, energy

Nickel prices jumped 15% to their upper limit and zinc and other industrial metals also climbed on Wednesday as disruptions from the Russia-Ukraine conflict and higher energy prices stoked concerns of shortages.
Benchmark nickel on the London Metal Exchange spiked by nearly $3,000 in the span of about 20 minutes and held the 15% gain at $32,380 a tonne by the time closing prices were set.
11:01 PM

Google to pause ads that exploit, dismiss Russia-Ukraine war

Alphabet-owned Google said on Wednesday it will pause all ads containing content that exploits, dismisses or condones the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The move follows many major social media platforms that have announced new content restrictions around the conflict, including blocking Russian state media RT and Sputnik in the European Union.
Earlier this month, the search giant said it had stopped selling all online ads in Russia.
10:54 PM

Demand for rouble gas payments is contract breach: Germany

Russian President Vladimir Putin's demand for gas supplies to be paid in roubles is a breach of the delivery contracts, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Wednesday.
The minister also told a news conference he would discuss with European partners a possible answer to Moscow's announcement about gas payments, which are customarily made in dollars.
10:08 PM

Western official encouraged by resignation of Russian envoy

The resignation of Kremlin special envoy Anatoly Chubais over the invasion of Ukraine is encouraging but is unlikely to shake Russian President Vladimir Putin's firm grip on power, a Western official said on Wednesday.
The official said that the resignation of Chubais, the architect of Russia's post-Soviet economic reforms who once served as former President Boris Yeltsin's chief of staff, was a "significant statement" but added he was "relatively high up on the list" of people who might make such a step.
"I think it's encouraging that there are senior members of the Russian political class that are doing such things, but it doesn't lead me to a conclusion that this is in any way undermining the security of Putin and his regime, given the iron grip that he holds together with those at the centre of his power," the official said, on condition of anonymity.
10:03 PM

NATO: 7,000 to 15,000 Russian troops dead in Ukraine

NATO is estimating that 7,000 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in a month of fighting in Ukraine.
A senior NATO military official said Wednesday the estimate was based on information from Ukrainian officials, what Russia has released — intentionally or not — and intelligence gathered from open sources.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by NATO.
When Russia unleashed its invasion February 24 in Europe's biggest offensive since World War II and brandished the prospect of nuclear escalation if the West intervened, a lightning-swift toppling of Ukraine's democratically elected government seemed likely.
9:36 PM

Putin discusses Ukraine with Israeli prime minister Bennett: Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the conflict in Ukraine by telephone with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday, the Kremlin said in a statement.
Bennett "shared his assessment of the situation around Ukraine, taking into account his contacts with leaders of a number of foreign countries, and expressed several ideas in relation to the ongoing negotiations," the statement said.
9:12 PM

Ukraine president says he received assurances from UK's Johnson

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Wednesday said he had spoken with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had assured his support for Ukraine ahead of NATO, G7 and EU summits.
"Received assurances of his (Johnson's) support on the eve of tomorrow's important meetings. Discussed the course of hostilities and defense assistance to Ukraine," Zelenskiy said on Twitter.
Thursday's NATO summit in Brussels is expected to unlock additional aid for Kyiv including equipment to help Ukraine protect against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.
9:00 PM

Inflation expectations in Russia reach 11-year high of 18.3% in March

Inflationary expectations for the year ahead among households in Russia rose to an 11-year high of 18.3% in March from 13.5% in February, central bank data showed on Wednesday.
The central bank's monetary policy will prevent an uncontrolled increase in prices and will help inflation reach the 4% target in 2024, the bank said in a monthly report.
7:54 PM

Biden: Russia chemical attack is 'real threat'

US President Joe Biden has left the White House for a four-day trip to Europe, where he will meet with key allies to discuss Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
As he departed Wednesday, Biden told reporters the possibility that Russia could use chemical weapons in the Ukraine war is a “real threat.” He said he would say more on the subject directly to the leaders he was meeting with Thursday.
There are fears that Russia could use chemical or nuclear weapons as its invasion stalls amid logistical problems and fierce Ukrainian resistance.
7:51 PM

In a first, Kremlin veteran quits over Ukraine war and leaves Russia

A veteran envoy of President Vladimir Putin has resigned over the Ukraine war and left Russia with no intention to return, two sources said on Wednesday, the first senior official to break with the Kremlin since Putin launched his invasion a month ago.
The Kremlin confirmed that Anatoly Chubais had resigned of his own accord.
Chubais was one of the principal architects of Boris Yeltsin's economic reforms of the 1990s and was Putin's boss in the future president's first Kremlin job. He held senior business and political jobs under Putin, lately serving as Kremlin special envoy to international organisations.
7:47 PM

Two additional yachts in southern France linked to Russian oligarchs immobilised by French authorities

Two additional yachts linked to a Russian oligarch were immobilised by French customs authorities in the south of the country, several French news outlets reported on Wednesday, citing government sources.
The two vessels had values of 20 million euros and 70 million euros respectively, the reports by BFM television and AFP newsagency, among other media outlets, said.

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First Published: Mar 23 2022 | 7:19 AM IST

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