Ukraine: Top US, Russian generals talk for first time since war | Key points
The fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces continues for nearly three months, with no peace in sight. On Thursday, top US and Russian generals spoke on telephone for the first time since the Ukraine invasion began. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke to his Russian counterpart General Valery Gerasimov and discussed security-related issues, AFP reported.
The telephonic conversation between the two generals comes on a day when a Kremlin official said that Moscow wants to take the entire Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine, which it had recognised as independent days before the invasion began. This on a day when 12 people have been killed and 40 injured in Russian shelling in Severodonetsk in Luhank region, AFP reported.
Here are the top developments that unfolded in battleground Ukraine.
1. The United States is working to arm the Ukrainian fighters with advanced anti-ship missiles to help them defeat Russia's naval blockade, Reuters quoted White House officials. There are concerns that more powerful weapons which could sink Russian warships can intensify the conflict. The agency reported that three U.S. officials and two congressional sources said two types of powerful anti-ship missiles, the Harpoon made by Boeing and the Naval Strike Missile made by Kongsberg and Raytheon Technologies were in active consideration for either direct shipment to Ukraine, or through a transfer from a European ally that has the missiles.
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2. US President Joe Biden has offered his support to the bids by Finland and Sweden to join NATO. NATO's secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said he was hopeful that the applications could be soon accepted despite initial opposition by Turkey. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blocked the bids, saying he’s frustrated with the approach of some members of the alliance towards Kurdish groups he considers terrorists.
3. Germany has pledged 1 billion euros in grants to Ukraine during the meeting of finance officials from the G7 economic powers. "I have just declared for Germany in the meeting that we want to participate to the tune of 1 billion euros in grants," German finance minister Christian Lindner was quoted by Reuters.
4. China is seeking to replenish its crude stockpiles with cheap Russian oil, Bloomberg reported. The move is being seen as Beijing's strategy to strengthen its energy ties with Moscow. The crude would be used to fill China’s strategic petroleum reserves, and talks are being conducted at a government level with little direct involvement from oil companies.
5. European Council chief Charles Michel has said that the European Union would support a speedier accession of Serbia into the bloc and help it to diversify its energy supplies, Reuters reported. "We need to speed up EU integration and we must create incentive for reforms," Michel said in Belgrade.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) on Wednesday for the first time in its history recognised China's “stated ambitions and coercive policies” as a threat to the alliance's interests, security and values in a sign of the rapid shift in European geopolitical attitudes. The much-anticipated strategic concept, the first since 2010, was released during a historic Nato summit in Madrid that saw the participation of Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Korea.
Russian President Vladimir Putin would not have started the war in Ukraine if he was a woman, said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday days after G7 members mocked the bare-chested pictures of the Russian leader. During his interview, the British PM also emphasized that everyone wants the Russia-Ukraine war to end. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked other leaders sitting around a table. "We all have to show that we're tougher than Putin."
Health officials in South Korea on Wednesday approved the country's first domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine for people 18 years or older, adding another public health tool in the fight against a prolonged pandemic.
Sri Lankan doctors and other medical staff as well as teachers will take to the streets on Wednesday to demand that the government solve a severe fuel shortage at the heart of the South Asian country's worst economic crisis in decades. The government, left with only enough fuel to last about a week, on Tuesday restricted supplies to essential services, like trains, buses and the health sector, for two weeks.
The chief of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has said there won't be a dissolution of or surrender by the group even if the peace talks with the Pakistan government succeeds. In a video released by TTP, its chief, Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud, who has been leading the peace talks for the group, revealed that former Director-General of ISI and Core Commander Peshawar (Gen) Faiz Hameed has been representing the Pakistan government.