Secretary Jens Stoltenberg confirmed that NATO has not not accepted Poland's proposal that the Alliance send a peacekeeping mission to Ukraine.
Twenty-one days after the start of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, both countries continue to discuss mechanisms to restore peace without giving up their respective security demands. Below are the main developments of the conflict as they unfold.
France will pay half of companies' extra cost of gas and electricity. To cushion the impacts of the conflict, the French government will assume the payment of half of the extra cost of gas and electricity to companies at risk of having losses due to the increase in energy prices.
This policy will benefit all companies in which the cost of energy represents more than 3 percent of their sales revenue. Additionally, the government will guarantee loans to energy-intensive companies, which will have more flexibility to defer payment of taxes and social contributions. From March 16 to July 31, the State will also finance a reduction of 35 euro cents per liter of fuel for ships.
The US creates multilateral task force against Russian elites. On Wednesday, the United States announced the creation of a multilateral task force that will have the objective of coordinating the seizure of assets of Russian oligarchs and trying to prosecute those who evade their sanctions.
Representatives from the U.S., Germany, France, Italy, the U.K., the European Commission, Australia, Canada, and Japan participated in the launch of the "Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs" (REPO) multilateral task force, which will be made up of experts in sanctions, money laundering, taxation, and the fight against corruption.
“Our sanctions, trade restrictions, and other measures have already imposed significant costs on Russia, its leadership, and those who enabled Putin’s unprovoked invasion,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. “This multilateral task force will raise those costs even more, by galvanizing coordinated efforts to freeze and seize assets of these individuals in jurisdictions around the world and deny safe haven for their ill-gotten gains.”
NATO has no plans to deploy troops to Ukraine despite a Polish proposal. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said of Poland's proposal that the Alliance send a peacekeeping mission to Ukraine that "there are no plans to deploy allied troops" on Ukrainian territory.
"We support efforts for peace, we ask President Putin to withdraw his forces, but we have no plans to deploy NATO troops on the ground in Ukraine," Stoltenberg said after an extraordinary meeting of NATO defense ministers.
The Kremlin weighs in on Ukraine's neutral status. Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia is analyzing the possibility of Ukraine opting for a "neutral status" similar to the Swedish or Austrian models.
"It is an option that is really being discussed at the moment and that can really be considered a compromise... There are very specific formulas that I think are close to an agreement," he said, but pointed out that the conversations "are not easy."
For its part, the Ukrainian presidency called for "absolute security guarantees," and stated that “Ukraine is now in a state of direct war with Russia. Therefore, the model can only be Ukrainian.”
Lavrov also mentioned that Russia is trying to create an opportunity to work "in a calmer environment, without further escalation of hysteria." He calls the current historical situation "a fateful moment in modern history, as it reflects a 'battle'... over what the world order will look like."
Zelensky assures Ukraine experiences "unprecedented terror." During a videoconference with the U.S. Congress, President Volodymyr Zelensky assured that the "terror" his country is experiencing "is something that Europe has not seen in 80 years."
His intervention comes after President Joe Biden signed a law that contemplates US$13.6 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine and the countries on the eastern flank of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Besides asking Biden for "new packages" of sanctions against Russia, Zelensky insisted on asking the NATO to impose a "No-Fly Zone" over Ukraine. Both the U.S. and NATO, however, have opposed such proposal.
Russia ceases to be a member of the Council of Europe after 26 years. On March 16, Marija Pejcinovic, the secretary of the Council of Europe (CE), announced the expulsion of Russia from the Council as a result of its military operation in Ukraine. Previously, on Feb. 25, the EC Committee of Ministers suspended Russia's participation in that institution.
Russian authorities analyze hate speech promoted by META. On Wednesday, a Russian court will analyze a legal action to recognize the META company as an extremist organization and ban its activities in that country.
Previously, META said that it would authorize calls for violence against "Russians" on some of its platforms when the messages mentioned the "invasion" of Ukraine. The United Nations also denounced the "simply unacceptable language" of the Silicon Valley company.
#Ukraine Video: In response to several sanctions blocks put in place against #Russia since the start of the special military operation, the Kremlin has imposed a set of sanctions on senior #US and Canadian officials including President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pic.twitter.com/Jme0uEm7WH— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) March 16, 2022