NATO Countries To Provide Weapons, Air Defense Systems To Ukraine: Stoltenberg

NATO Countries To Provide Weapons, Air Defense Systems To Ukraine: Stoltenberg


(Update 13:02pm ET): NATO Chief Stoltenberg said on Friday that NATO members would provide more weapons and air defense systems to Ukraine, according to the Wall Street Journal‘s Anthony DeRosa.

After some confusion, BILD journalist Julian Röpcke clarifies that Stoltenberg did not say NATO would be providing the weapons – rather, individual NATO members would do so on their own accord.

Meanwhile, Stoltenberg also said that cyberattacks on NATO members might be enough to trigger “Article 5,” which considers an attack against one ally as an attack against all allies.

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(Update 12:45pm ET): Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday threatened Sweden and Finland with “military consequences” if they were to join NATO.

Meanwhile, German Defense Minister Lambrecht said on Friday that he fears Russian President Vladimir Putin won’t hesitate to attack NATO partners.

We still have some hope that he won’t cross any othee borders. But I have to honestly say: That’s not a certainty!

NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, meanwhile, said on Friday that NATO would be deploying ‘response force units’ to Eastern Europe in order to bolster defenses.

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(Update 11:50am ET): While it seemed like a long shot from the beginning, the prospect of talks between Russia and Ukraine was cast into doubt as the Kremlin said Ukraine had stopped responding after rejecting Moscow’s initial offer of a meeting in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.

Instead, Ukraine sought a meeting in the Polish capital, Warsaw, the Kremlin said, adding it had heard nothing further. There was no immediate word from Ukraine on the Russian comments. The diplomatic to and fro comes as fighting continues on the ground with Russian forces having entered the capital Kiyv.

Of course, as Bloomberg adds, any talks would likely struggle to find common ground on the question of “neutrality” for Ukraine, which has sought to join NATO and draw closer to Europe.

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(Update 10:20am ET): Following news that Russia is ready to send a delegation to Minsk for Ukraine talks, moments ago the Kremlin announced that Putin has agreed to organize negotiations after Zelensky said he was ready to discuss Ukraine’s “neutral status” (i.e., not joining NATO). Here are the latest headlines from Reuters:

  • KREMLIN SAYS PUTIN HAS AGREED TO ORGANISE NEGOTIATIONS AFTER ZELENSKIY SAID HE WAS READY TO DISCUSS UKRAINIAN NEUTRALITY
  • KREMLIN SAYS WE HAVE NOTIFIED THE UKRAINIANS OF PROPOSAL TO HOLD TALKS IN MINSK
  • KREMLIN SAYS PUTIN HAS CALLED BELARUS’S LUKASHENKO TO ORGANISE MINSK TALKS WITH UKRAINE
  • KREMLIN SAYS PUTIN HAS AGREED TO ORGANISE NEGOTIATIONS AFTER ZELENSKIY SAID HE WAS READY TO DISCUSS UKRAINIAN NEUTRALITY

The ruble and Russian stocks, as well as US and European stocks, extended gains after Putin aide Dmitry Peskov conveyed the offer of talks in Minsk, the capital of Russian ally Belarus. The Kremlin also notes that while the Ukraine initially proposed talks in Warsaw instead, it then broke off contact.

Separately, the Kremlin said that Ukrainian nationalists have deployed missile systems in residential areas in big cities, a move which  the Kremlin dubbed as “very dangerous.”

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow will only talk if Ukraine’s army surrenders. “We’re ready for negotiations at any time, as soon as the Ukrainian armed forces respond to our president’s call, stop resistance and lay down their weapons,” Lavrov said in the Russian capital.

While Zelenskiy also called for negotiations with Putin, there was no indication of Ukraine acceding to Russian demands to surrender. Nor was there any sign of a halt to the fighting. Sirens warned Kyiv residents to take shelter from early morning as Ukraine’s armed forces said their units were engaging Russian armor to the north.

Zelenskiy said that Russian aircraft were attacking residential areas of the capital. Mayor Vitali Klitschko said it had “entered the defense phase,” with shots and explosions heard across the city. “The enemy is already in Kyiv,” he said.

As noted earlier, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Putin in a call earlier on Friday that he supported negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, according to China Central Television. It cited Putin as saying that he was ready to conduct high-level talks.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed Zelenskiy and his government as “puppets.” Putin has said that he wants to replace Ukraine’s leadership, calling it a “junta.” Despite the talks offer, the assault on Ukraine is ongoing to secure the “de-militarization” of the country, Zakharova said.

In an address, Zelenskiy said that Ukraine was not afraid “to talk about neutral status,” but went on to demand security guarantees and say that the country’s fate depended on its army. Earlier, he said that his intelligence services had identified him as Russia’s top target, but that he is staying in Kyiv and his family will remain in the country. “They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state,” he said.  In a video call last night, the Ukraine president told EU leaders that “This might be the last time you see me alive” Axios reported adding that “they are coming for me, but I am staying” (of course, the former leader of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani also told everyone he was staying right up until he disappeared).

The Ukraine president appeared rather irritated at Italy’s Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, slamming the fact the the former ECB head fact apparently undermined or criticized the fact that Zelensky did not show up at the call they agreed to have this morning. According to reports, Draghi had successfully secured a carve out for Italian luxury goods from the EU’s package of economic sanctions against Nato, which an EU diplomat reportedly said ‘Apparently selling Gucci loafers to oligarchs is more of a priority than hitting back at Putin.”

As a reminder, Italy was one of the nations (along with Germany, Hungary and Cyrpus) that refused to agree to kick Russia out of SWIFT.

* * *

Earlier:

Russia said it was willing to hold talks with Kyiv even as its forces pressed their military advantage to close in on Ukraine’s capital and its embattled leadership.

With the war in its second day, the Kremlin said that President Vladimir Putinwas ready to authorize negotiations with Ukraine on possible “neutral status” for the country. The ruble and Russian stocks extended gains after Putin aide Dmitry Peskov conveyed the offer of talks in Minsk, the capital of Russian ally Belarus.

US equity futures are spiking on reports from Interfax that Russia is ready to send a delegation to Minsk for Ukraine talks.

“As you know, today the President of Ukraine Zelensky announced his readiness to discuss the neutral status of Ukraine”: Interfax reports Dmitry Peskov, Russian press secretary, said earlier today.

“Initially, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the purpose of the operation was to help the LNR and the DNR, including through the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine. And this, in fact, is an integral component of the neutral status”

“In this context, in response to Zelensky’s proposal, Vladimir Putin is ready to send a Russian delegation to Minsk at the level of representatives of the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the presidential administration for negotiations with the Ukrainian delegation”

US equity futures reacted instantly…

This move has erased all of the week’s (post-Putin) losses for the Nasdaq…

The Ruble is rallying, almost erasing all of the losses from the last two days…

Reactions in other markets (crude, gold, bonds) are all muted for now.





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