Live Updates: Separatist leader floats vote to join Russia | Business, finance and technology

A separatist leader in eastern Ukraine has said his region wants to hold a vote on joining Russia.

Leonid Pasechnik, the leader of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, said on Sunday it could hold a referendum “as soon as possible” asking voters whether they support the region’s integration with Russia.

Russia has backed separatist rebels in Luhansk and neighboring regions of Donetsk since an insurgency erupted there in 2014 shortly after Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula. Moscow recognized its independence on February 21, then cited its appeal for military assistance to launch the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

During talks with Ukraine, Moscow urged it to recognize Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea and the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Pasechnik’s statement could herald a change in the Russian position.

KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIAN-UKRAINE WAR:

BERLIN – The German president is hosting a “solidarity concert” with Ukraine featuring musicians from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.

The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra played pieces by Ukrainian, Russian and Polish composers at President Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s Bellevue Palace in Berlin. Steinmeier – who addressed the event via video because he tested positive for coronavirus last week – described it on Sunday as a “signal for freedom and peace”.

Steinmeier said, “Let us be alert to widespread animosities and not succumb to the pseudo-historical nationalist delusion of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. Let’s not let Putin’s hatred become hatred between people…in our own society either.

However, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany tweeted that he had turned down an invitation. Andriy Melnyk wrote that “ONLY RUSSIAN SOLISTS (!)” performed, “no Ukrainians”. He added: “An affront. Sorry, I’m staying away.

JERUSALEM — Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the United States is not trying to overthrow Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite its harsh condemnations of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Blinken spoke a day after President Joe Biden said of Putin during a speech in Warsaw: “For the love of God, this man can’t stay in power.”

At a press conference in Jerusalem, Blinken said Biden’s view was that “Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone. else”.

He said the United States had repeatedly said that “we don’t have a regime change strategy in Russia, or anywhere else for that matter.”

“In this case, as in all cases, it is up to the people of the country in question to decide. It’s up to the Russian people to decide,” Blinken said.

BERLIN – The German president is hosting a “solidarity concert” with Ukraine featuring musicians from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.

The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra played pieces by Ukrainian, Russian and Polish composers at President Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s Bellevue Palace in Berlin. Steinmeier described it on Sunday as a “signal for freedom and peace.”

Steinmeier said, “Let us be alert to widespread animosities and not succumb to the pseudo-historical nationalist delusion of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. Let’s not let Putin’s hatred become hatred between people…in our own society either.

However, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany tweeted that he had turned down an invitation. Andriy Melnyk wrote that “ONLY RUSSIAN SOLISTS (!)” performed, “no Ukrainians”. He added: “An affront. Sorry, I’m staying away.

KYIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has again urged the West to provide Ukraine with fighter jets and air defense missiles.

Speaking in a video address early Sunday, Zelenskyy said “our partners have it all, and it’s just gathering dust. And in fact, it is necessary not only for the freedom of Ukraine, but for the freedom of Europe.

Zelenskyy warned that the Baltic states, Poland and Slovakia could possibly face a Russian attack “simply because they will have kept in their hangars only 1% of all NATO combat aircraft and 1% of all NATO tanks. Only 1%! We don’t ask for more and we’ve been waiting for this for 31 days!”

He said that “our partners must step up their aid to Ukraine”.

The president said that “Ukraine cannot shoot down Russian missiles with shotguns and machine guns which have been the bulk of the supplies. And we cannot unlock Mariupol without the necessary number of tanks, other armored vehicles and warplanes. All defenders of Ukraine know this.

He added that the United States and “all European politicians” know this too.

DOHA, Qatar — The head of the International Monetary Fund is warning that global economic pressure caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine could stoke civil unrest in the Middle East and beyond.

Speaking at the Doha Forum in Qatar on Sunday, Kristalina Georgieva said Russia’s invasion and subsequent sanctions against Moscow have forced the world’s poorest to bear the worst of the crisis as they face the worst of the crisis. struggling with inflated food costs and scarcer jobs.

Georgieva hinted that the current situation was reminiscent of the build-up to the 2011 uprisings known as the Arab Spring, when soaring bread prices fueled anti-government protests across the Middle East.

“When prices go up and the poor cannot feed their families, they will be homeless,” she said. “One thing we know about trouble in a place is that they travel, they don’t stay there.”

Georgieva called for greater global cooperation to fill gaps in raw material and energy supplies.

“Please work together,” she said. “Oil producers, gas producers and food producers are now in a position to help reduce this uncertainty.”

She cited Ukraine’s importance as a top wheat exporter in calling for a speedy resolution to the war.

“The sooner the tanks are out, the sooner the tractors will come,” she said. “We need the harvest in Ukraine by July to help stabilize food prices.”

NEW YORK — The Russian military says it hit Ukrainian military installations with long-range missiles.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement on Sunday that the air-launched cruise missiles hit a fuel depot and defense factory in Lviv near the border with Poland a day earlier.

Konashenkov said another strike with sea-launched missiles destroyed an air defense missile depot in Plesetske, just west of the Ukrainian capital of kyiv.

ODESA, Ukraine – The Black Sea port of Odessa is exploiting its beaches and racing to defend its cultural heritage from a feared Mariupol-like fate amid growing concern that the strategic city could be next as Russia attempts to strip Ukraine of its coastline.

The multicultural gem, dear to Ukrainian and even Russian hearts, would be an extremely strategic victory for Russia. It is the country’s largest port, crucial for grain and other exports, and the headquarters of the Ukrainian Navy.

The bombardment from the sea last weekend has raised fears that the city is in the crosshairs of Russia.

Locals say Russian President Vladimir Putin would be mad to take Odessa with the heavy-handed approach that has left other Ukrainian cities in ruins. Once a golden powerhouse of the Russian Empire, Odessa features one of Europe’s finest opera houses and Potemkin’s famous steps between city and sea, featured in the Soviet filmmaker’s silent film masterpiece Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 “The Battleship Potemkin”.

LONDON — The Russian military appears to be trying to surround Ukrainian forces fighting in breakaway regions in the east of the country, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said.

Russian forces are advancing south from the area around Kharkiv and north from Mariupol, the ministry said in an intelligence briefing released Sunday morning.

The battlefields in northern Ukraine remain “largely static” with Ukrainian counterattacks hampering Russian efforts to reorganize their forces, the ministry said.

In an earlier briefing released overnight, the ministry said Russia was continuing to strike targets across Ukraine, many in densely populated areas, the ministry said.

Russia relies on “remote” missiles launched from its own territory to reduce aircraft exposure to Ukrainian anti-aircraft fire, the ministry said. But he said limited stocks of these weapons would force Russia to “revert to less sophisticated missiles or accept more risk to their aircraft”.

LVIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has angrily warned Moscow that he is sowing deep hatred for Russia among his people, as constant artillery barrages and aerial bombardments reduce cities to rubble, killing civilians and pushing others into shelters, leaving them to scrounge for food and water to survive.

“You are doing everything so that our people themselves leave the Russian language, because from now on the Russian language will be associated only with you, with your explosions and murders, with your crimes,” Zelenskyy said in an impassioned video address on Saturday evening. .

KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine’s nuclear watchdog says a nuclear research facility in Kharkiv has again been bombed by Russia and the fighting makes it impossible to assess the damage.

The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate said the neutron source experimental facility at the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology came under fire on Saturday.

Ukrainian authorities previously reported that Russian shelling damaged buildings at the Kharkiv facility, but there was no release of radiation. The newly built neutron source facility is intended for research and production of radioisotopes for medical and industrial needs. The International Atomic Energy Agency said the nuclear materials at the facility are still subcritical and the inventory of radioactive materials is very low, reducing the chances of radiation release.

Kharkiv has been besieged by Russian forces since the start of the invasion and has come under repeated bombardment of its residential buildings and critical infrastructure.

Ukraine’s nuclear facilities were threatened by the Russian invasion.

LVIV, Ukraine – The governor of the Lviv region said a man suspected of spying was arrested at the site of one of two rocket attacks that rocked the city on Saturday.

Maksym Kozytskyy said police found the man recorded a rocket flying towards the target and hitting it. Police also found photos of checkpoints in the area on his phone, which Kozytskyy said had been sent to two Russian phone numbers.

Rockets hit an oil storage facility and an unspecified industrial facility, injuring at least five people. A thick plume of smoke and towering flames could be seen in the outskirts of Lviv hours after the attacks.