Russia In New 'Red Line': Western Countries Supplying Weapons To Ukraine Will "Bear Responsibility"


Update(1449ET)
: Already Putin has previously been on record as saying Western actions such sanctioning a sitting head of state or targeting the central bank would be viewed as an "act of war". But now another red line has been drawn, following more and more European governments - most notably Germany - ditching their policies of neutrality when it comes to shipping their weapons into foreign conflicts:

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SAYS THOSE SUPPLYING LETHAL WEAPONS TO UKRAINE WILL BEAR RESPONSIBILITY SHOULD THESE WEAPONS BE USED DURING RUSSIA'S MILITARY OPERATION - IFAX

More than likely, US and UK-supplied weapons, particularly anti-tank missile systems as well as possibly Stingers, are already being used by Ukraine forces against Russian tanks and armored vehicles. Unverified footage circulating widely online suggests as much at this early stage.

But it appears Russia's military is taking steps - or at least threatening action - against any external supply lines coming from NATO countries in support of Ukrainian forces. This clearly has the potential to quickly spiral into direct military conflict with the US and West...

Meanwhile, President Biden has sought to 'assure' the US public...

BIDEN SAYS AMERICANS SHOULD NOT BE WORRIED ABOUT NUCLEAR WAR

****


Update(1200ET)
: In what can be called the first positive development coming on day five of this war, the Russian and Ukrainian sides left the multiple-hour long meeting along the Belarus border agreeing to continue another round of talks in "the coming days" - Bloomberg reports citing Interfax.

"Russian and Ukrainian sides have agreed to continue another round of talks in the coming days, Interfax reports, citing Russian official Vladimir Medinsky."

The next round of talks is expected to take place on the Polish-Belarus border. This after Ukraine's government was reportedly adamant in saying it's "not ready to surrender or capitulate" to Russia, in a separate statement made to the press, and reported by CNBC. The development also comes after Zelensky signed an application for Ukrainian membership to the European Union.

And now with Switzerland closing its airspace to Russian flight traffic, there's a near total European blockade of airspace outside Russia...

* * * 

Update(11:15am ET): President Putin on Monday signed a decree implementing 'countermeasures' as retaliation for EU-wide and US severe sanctions against the Russian economy. Russian residence are effectively barred from transferring foreign currency to their accounts, also including deposits in foreign banks, according to Interfax.

The decree entitled "On the application of special economic measures against the United States and countries that have joined them," is now law, according to a Kremlin statement. "Exporters must sell 80 percent of foreign exchange earnings credited from 1 January 2022," the Kremlin press service stated of the new measure.

"For residents participating in foreign economic activity to carry out the mandatory sale of foreign currency in the amount of 80 percent of the amount of foreign currency credited starting from 1 January 2022 to their accounts in authorized banks on the basis of foreign trade contracts concluded with non-residents and providing for the transfer of goods to non-residents, the provision of services to non-residents, performance of work for non-residents, transfer to non-residents of the results of intellectual activity, including exclusive rights to them, no later than three working days from the date this decree comes into force," the decree reads according to a Russian media translation.

Kremlin press photo

Bloomberg details further:

  • The steps, which take effect March 1, also include restrictions on companies buying back their own stock, according to the text of the decree published Monday.
  • The U.S. and its allies have imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia’s biggest banks, including the central bank, and limits on billionaires and top officials including Putin himself for the invasion of Ukraine.
  • The moves triggered a sharp drop in the ruble and forced the central bank to take emergency steps to stabilize the market.

Putin said of the new measures and of the Ukraine war more broadly that "a settlement is possible only if Russia’s legitimate security interests are unconditionally taken into account."

According to media statements: "At the same time, it was noted that the Russian side is open to negotiations with Ukraine and expects that they will lead to the desired results." The security demands include the objectives recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea and the "demilitarization" and "de-Nazification" of Ukraine. And on Monday, there were these further significant developments:

  • U.S. MONITORING RUSSIAN NUCLEAR FORCES AS CLOSELY AS POSSIBLE, HAVEN'T SEEN ANY SPECIFIC MUSCLE MOVEMENTS AS RESULT OF PUTIN'S ALERT ORDER - OFFICIAL SAYS
  • U.S. SAYS "NO REASON TO CHANGE" NUCLEAR ALERT LEVELS AT THIS TIME AFTER PUTIN DIRECTIVE-WHITE HOUSE
  • ZELENSKYY HAS SIGNED AN APPLICATION FOR EU MEMBERSHIP

* * *

Update(9:36am ET)Negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have reportedly lasted almost 3 hours, according to Pravda Ukraine. At the same time the Kremlin announced its Northern and Pacific fleets along with its strategic bombers are all in a state of 'maximum alert' - though it's unclear as yet precisely what this really means. As for the ceasefire meeting in Belarus, Ukraine issuing the following to international press agencies:

UKRAINE IS 'NOT READY TO SURRENDER OR CAPITULATE' TO RUSSIA, FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS - CNBC 

"Ukraine demanded an immediate ceasefire and Russian troop withdrawal on Monday, as a delegation arrived for talks with Russia at the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, per Ukrainian presidency statement," according to a CNN foreign correspondent. The Ukrainian delegation was headed up by Defense Minister Reznikov; however President Zelensky was not present - while the Russian side reportedly included relatively low level officials at the ministerial level. Below: Latest NYT war map...

At this early point it doesn't look like Monday's meeting near the Belarusian border resulted in any breakthroughs, however details are still pending. Meanwhile the below footage provides a glimpse at what the Russian occupation will look like, after Russian forces have reportedly taken two Ukrainian cities, and as fighting continues in the suburbs of Kiev.

China has on Monday issued a strong statement urging a cessation to the conflict and for negotiations toward a ceasefire to continue. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a press briefing Monday:

"We call on all parties to return to the path of diplomatic negotiations and a political settlement as soon as possible. We also suggest undertaking a comprehensive settlement of the Ukraine problem through negotiations and consultations," he said.

"We call on all parties concerned to demonstrate calmness and restraint and to avoid further escalation," he emphasized. This as Russia heightened its nuclear readiness posture once again. While calling it an unnecessary "escalation" - the UK had this to say:

Vladimir Putin putting Russia's nuclear forces on high alert is an attempt to distract people from "what's going wrong in Ukraine", Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said.

Mr Wallace said Mr Putin was engaged in a "battle of rhetoric" by trying to "remind the world" he had a deterrent.

He said Russia was behind schedule on its invasion of Ukraine and Ukrainians were putting up a "very strong fight".

Others in Europe agreed it was a "distraction attempt" - as the BBC notes in its headline. And here's the latest from the Swiss government:

SWISS DEFENCE MINISTER SAYS WE HAVE CONCLUDED USE OF RUSSIAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS RELATIVELY UNLIKELY, POPULATION SHOULD NOT BE AFRAID

* * *

Update(7:52am ET): "We were ready," said a Biden administration official of the series of sanctions and punitive measures it's now hitting Moscow with. The latest in the below breaking news includes extensions of prior US announced actions being taken against Russia:

  • U.S. BANS TRANSACTIONS WITH RUSSIAN CENTRAL BANK
  • SENIOR BIDEN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL SAYS U.S. SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIAN CENTRAL BANK WERE MONTHS IN THE PLANNING, 'WE WERE READY' U.S. OFFICIAL SAYS RUSSIAN CENTRAL BANK HAS BEEN ATTEMPTING TO BRING ASSETS TO RUSSIA, OTHER SAFE HAVENS SINCE SATURDAY'S SANCTIONS ANNOUNCEMENT
  • U.S. OFFICIAL SAYS TODAY'S ACTION TO PROHIBIT TRANSACTIONS WITH RUSSIAN CENTRAL BANK WILL HINDER RUSSIA'S ABILITY TO ACCESS HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS
  • U.S. OFFICIAL SAYS COORDINATED ACTION WILL CAUSE WEAKENING OF RUSSIAN CURRENCY, MAKE FINANCING MORE DIFFICULT
  • U.S. OFFICIAL SAYS ALWAYS SAW RUSSIA'S $630BLN IN RESERVES AS INSURANCE POLICY, ACTION TODAY 'REMOVES THAT INSURANCE POLICY'
  • U.S. OFFICIAL SAYS ACTIONS BY U.S., ALLIES WILL PREVENT RUSSIA FROM USING ITS DOLLARS, EUROS, POUNDS OR YEN TO DEFEND ITS CURRENCY
  • UKRAINIAN MEDIA: UKRAINIAN NEGOTIATING DELEGATION DEMANDED WITHDRAWAL OF RUSSIAN TROOPS FROM UKRAINE, INCLUDING CRIMEA AND DONBASS

And in another major announcement regarding Russian nuclear forces posture, Interfax reveals the following, though it's unclear precisely what the designation means:

RUSSIAN NUCLEAR FORCES PLACED ON ENHANCED COMBAT DUTY IN LINE WITH PUTIN ORDER - INTERFAX QUOTES DEFENCE MINISTRY

* * *

In the fifth day since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, talks have kicked off between a Ukrainian delegation and Kremlin delegation somewhere inside Belarus at a precise location that's being kept secret - though it's somewhere along the border. The Russians have not sent anyone top level from the Foreign Ministry, instead its delegation is reportedly headed by an aide to President Putin and former culture minister named Vladimir Medinsky.

Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei in welcoming the Ukrainian leadership assured the group they are "completely safe" and that it's Belarus' "sacred duty" to ensure it. Initial photos have come out of the meeting, which President Zelensky's office described as having the ultimate aim of achieving an immediate ceasefire and total withdrawal of Russian troops, however unlikely that remains at this moment.

Image source: TASS/Reuters

"Dear friends, the President of Belarus asked me to welcome you and to provide everything for your work, as agreed with President Zelensky and President Putin. You may feel completely safe here. This is our sacred duty," Belarusian FM Makei introduced

"President Lukashenko sincerely hopes that, during today’s talks, it will be possible to find solutions to all the questions of this crisis. All Belarusians are praying for this. Any proposals, in terms of organizing today’s meeting, will be considered and absolutely fulfilled," Makei said. "We look forward to the results."

Zelensky has described the talks as occurring with "no preconditions" while also noting they were unlikely to produce results. Additionally as Bloomberg describes"The low profile of the Russian delegation, at deputy ministerial level, further weighed on expectations of any breakthrough."

The Ukrainian president said Sunday he "doesn’t really believe" there will be a breakthrough with the Russians, but expressed there could be "a chance, however small, to de-escalate the situation" - according to his words carried in regional media. 

Ukraine's delegation arriving to talks by helicopter Monday. Source: BelTA/TASS

Heavy fighting continued Monday as the talks kicked off, particularly in neighborhoods on the outskirts of Kiev, and in the cities of Kharkiv and Chernihiv.

"They are fighting against everyone and everything alive, against kindergartens, against residential buildings and ambulances," Zelenskiy said of the Russians in a Sunday statement, which the Kremlin rejected, saying it is only targeting military sites and movements. 

And as for weekend reports that Kiev had been surrounded, which was widely reported due to statements attributed to the mayor of the capital city, Zelensky's office issued the following statement:  "Russians can only dream about it. Kyiv is completely controlled by the Ukrainian forces, arrivals to Kyiv are available. Yes, in some suburbs the confrontation continues, there were heavy battles. But we will not give up the capital."

Meanwhile on Monday the Vatican has offered "to facilitate" dialogue between Moscow and Kiev toward ending the war, with Vaitcan Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin saying "there is still and always room for negotiation. It is never too late." 

And in another breaking development, the United States as suspended the operations of its embassy in Minsk, Belarus - which also comes after this weekend the State Department began telling US nationals inside Russia to begin planning their departure given widespread European airspace closures around Russia.

(Article by Tyler Durden republished from Zerohedge.com)

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