LVIV – U.S. President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the Ukraine crisis is a global problem that has increased the importance of maintaining international order, territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Biden’s remarks came at the opening ceremony of a “quad” meeting of Indo-Pacific leaders in Tokyo when he broke the convention and came a day after voluntary U.S. military support for China’s self-proclaimed island of Taiwan.
“It’s not just a European problem. This is a global issue, “said Biden, referring to the situation in Ukraine at a quad meeting between the United States, Japan, India and Australia.
Biden stressed that Washington would stand with its allies and push for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
“International law, wherever human rights are violated in the world, must always be protected,” he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told world business leaders in Davos on Monday that sanctions against Russia should be increased to prevent other countries from using “brutal force” to achieve their goals.
The European Union is likely to agree on a ban on Russian oil imports “within days”, its biggest member Germany says, as Moscow says the Ukraine conflict will boost its economic ties with China amid Western isolation.
Many of the 27 member states of the European Union, highly dependent on Russian power, have criticized Kiev for not moving fast enough to cut off supplies to the bloc.
Hungary is demanding energy investment before agreeing to a embargo, with EU states struggling to push for speedy approval. The EU has offered up to 2 billion euros ($ 2.14 billion) in non-Russian supplies to Central and Eastern countries.
“We will make progress in a few days,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck told broadcaster ZDF.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that the Kremlin will focus on developing relations with China because economic ties with the United States and Europe have been severed.
“If they (the West) want to offer something in terms of resuming relations, we will seriously consider whether we will need it,” he said in a statement, according to a transcript on the State Department’s website.
“Now that the West has taken a ‘dictatorial position’, our economic relations with China will grow even faster.”
Russia’s three-month-long invasion, the largest attack on a European state since 1945, has seen more than 6.5 million people flee abroad, devastate entire cities and prompted unprecedented Western sanctions on Russia.
Zelensky on Monday called on Moscow’s allies to put pressure on Moscow in exchange for prisoners.
“We don’t need Russian troops, we just need them,” Zelensky said. “We are ready for an exchange tomorrow as well.”
Russia sent thousands of troops to Ukraine on February 24, calling it a “special military operation” to disarm its neighbor and eradicate dangerous nationalists – claims Kyiv and the West have rejected as a false pretext for land grabbing.
After capturing the port city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine after a month-long siege, Russian forces now control a large part of the east and south.
They are trying to encircle Ukrainian forces and completely occupy the provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk, which comprise the eastern Donbass region, where Moscow supports separatist forces.
A total of 12,500 Russians were trying to occupy Luhansk, the region’s governor Serhiy Gaidai said in a telegram.
Four people were killed in a shooting at a residential building in the town of Sivirodonetsk, Gaidai added.
“The fires in Sievierodonetsk have multiplied, they are just destroying the city,” he said on TV, adding that there were about 15,000 people in the town and that the Ukrainian military was in control.
Sievierodonetsk is located east-most of the pocket of the Ukrainian-occupied Donbass and one of the last regions of the Luhansk region is still outside Russian occupation.
Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kirilenko told local television that shelling was taking place along the front line, hitting the coal-mining town of Avdivka 24 hours a day.
On Monday, Russian forces opened fire on 38 communities in Donetsk and Luhansk, killing seven and wounding six, according to Ukraine’s Joint Forces Task Force Military Command.
Reuters was not able to immediately verify the information.
Zelensky described Ukraine’s worst military casualties since a single attack in the war, saying 87 people were killed last week when Russian forces hit a barracks at a training base in the north.
Denmark’s commitment to send Harpoon anti-ship missiles and a launcher to Ukraine, the United States announced on Monday, is the first sign since the Russian invasion that Kyiv will receive US-made weapons that will significantly expand its striking range.
Harpoons made by Boeing could be used to push the Russian navy away from Ukraine’s Black Sea port, so that exports of grain and other agricultural products could resume.
In the first of many war crimes trials since the attack, a Kiev court has sentenced a young Russian tank commander to life in prison for killing an unarmed civilian.
Ukraine, according to its prosecutor general’s website, is investigating more than 13,000 Russian war crimes suspects.
Russia denies targeting civilians or engaging in war crimes.
In a cemetery outside Mariupol, traversing long rows of fresh graves and temporary wooden crosses, Natalya Voloshina, who lost her 28-year-old son in the battle for the city, said there was no one left to pay tribute to the memory of many of Mariupol’s dead. .
“Who will bury them? Who will put a plaque?” He asked.
“They have no family.” (1 = 0.9363 euros)
(Reporting by Alexander Kozukhar of Lviv, Pavel Politicuk of Kiev and Natalia Zenets and Reuters reporters in Mariupol; by Costas Petas and Himani Sarkar; editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Michael Perry)