Macron distances himself from Biden’s comments that Putin ‘cannot remain in power’; Russia and Ukraine to hold fresh talks on Monday
US president Joe Biden has denied he is calling for regime change in Russia, after he said during a visit to Poland that Putin “cannot remain in power”. When asked by a reporter if he wanted to see Russian president Vladimir Putin removed from office he said “no”. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, had already distanced himself from Biden’s comments, while the UK cabinet minister Nadhim Zahawi distanced the UK government from his remarks.
Representatives from Russia and Ukraine will meet this week for a new round of talks aimed at ending the war. Ukraine said the two sides would meet in Turkey on Monday.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy used a video interview with independent Russian media outlets to signal his willingness to discuss having Ukraine adopt a “neutral status”, and also make compromises about the status of the eastern Donbas region, in order to secure a peace agreement with Russia. But he said he was not willing to discuss Ukrainian demilitarisation, and that Ukrainians would need to vote in a referendum to approve their country adopting a neutral status.
The UK Ministry of Defence said Russia is “effectively isolating Ukraine from international maritime trade”, in an update late Sunday. It also said Russian naval forces were continuing to conduct sporadic missile strikes against targets across Ukraine.
Russia’s communications and internet regulator said in a public statement it would investigate the outlets that interviewed Zelenskiy, and has told them not to distribute the interview.
In a separate late-night video, Zelenskiy promised to work this week for new sanctions against Russia and spoke of the impending new round negotiations, saying “we are looking for peace without delay.”
Putin is seeking to split Ukraine into two, emulating the postwar division between North and South Korea, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief has said. In comments that raise the prospect of a long and bitter frozen conflict, General Kyrylo Budanov, warned of bloody guerrilla warfare.
Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said on Telegram that online schooling would restart in the capital this week.
The French foreign minister said on Sunday there would be “collective guilt” if nothing was done to help civilians in Mariupol, the Ukrainian city besieged by Russian forces.
The UK government’s top legal adviser has appointed a war crimes lawyer to advise Ukraine on the Russian invasion. The attorney general, Suella Braverman, announced on Sunday that Sir Howard Morrison QC would act as an independent adviser to the Ukrainian prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, Press Association reported.
Despite reports that Zelenskiy had been pushing to speak on video during the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles tonight, and some statements of support from celebrities in his favour, it was not clear if the Academy had agreed, or if it would opt instead for watered-down references to the conflict and vague statements of support. There were signs of support for Ukraine on the Oscars red carpet, with stars such as Jamie Lee Curtis wearing blue and yellow ribbons.