Russia, China dismiss U.S. claims over Ukraine 

March 15, 2022 - 17:0

TEHRAN- The Kremlin says Russian forces can take full control of major Ukrainian cities and it has sufficient military clout to fulfill all of its aims in Ukraine without any assistance from China.

Responding to questions about claims made by U.S. officials who claim Moscow had asked Beijing for military equipment, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said "No. Russia possesses its own independent potential to continue the operation. As we said, it is going according to plan and will be completed on time and in full."

Peskov added, "the defense ministry of the Russian Federation while ensuring the maximum safety of the civilian population, does not exclude the possibility of taking major population centers under full control.”

He has dismissed remarks by the United States and European Union that President Vladimir Putin was somehow disappointed with the progress of what the Kremlin says is a special military operation, saying the statements amounted to a provocation; aimed at prompting Russian forces to storm cities.

The United States, Peskov said, had shown its complete disregard for human life with the bombing of Yugoslavia and its capital Belgrade in 1999, as well as its wars in West Asia including the invasion of Afghanistan.

"We don't need advice from such strategists," Peskov noted. "All the plans of the Russian leadership will be achieved on time and in full."

Peskov said Putin had at the start of the operation explicitly asked the defense ministry to avoid storming major cities such as Kyiv because he believes some Ukrainian units would use civilians as human shields.

The Kremlin spokesman says some Ukrainian cities are already surrounded by Russian forces.

China has also rejected Washington’s claims over any alleged military support for Moscow.

In a meeting with Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan raised concerns about China's alliance with Russia warning of the isolation and penalties Beijing will face if it supports Moscow’s military operation.

The U.S. administration has offered no evidence to back up its accusations of China's willingness to provide any aid to Russia.

China's official Xinhua news agency cited Yang as saying that Beijing was committed to promoting negotiations to resolve the Ukraine conflict.

"China firmly opposes any words and deeds that spread false information and distort and smear China's position," Yang said, in an apparent oblique reference to Washington's claims about support for Russia. 

The meeting between Yang and Sullivan which had long been planned was not timed to events in Ukraine and covered other issues including North Korea and tense bilateral relations.

Before the talks, U.S. officials had said Sullivan planned to warn of the isolation China could face globally if it supported Russia.

Last week the U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Chinese companies defying U.S. restrictions on exports to Russia may be cut off from American equipment and software they need to make their products.

China is the world's-largest exporter, the European Union's largest trading partner, and the top foreign supplier of goods to the United States. Any pressure on Chinese trade could have economic effects on the United States and its allies.

Last week Chinese President Xi Jinping called for "maximum restraint" and expressed concern about the impact of Western sanctions on the global economy.

The U.S. and its allies have imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia and banned its energy imports while providing billions of dollars of military assistance to Ukraine.

The European Union has approved a fourth wave of sanctions over Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.

France, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, said in a statement that the bloc approved a package targeting "individuals and entities involved in the conflict with Ukraine” along with sectors of the Russian economy.

Paris confirmed the fourth set of sanctions against Russia will target its iron, steel, and energy industries, along with luxury goods exports to Moscow.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had previously stated the EU was working to suspend Russia’s membership rights of leading multilateral institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The EU has adopted tough measures targeting the Russian Presidency, Russia's financial system, and other Russian individuals. 

Last week, the bloc agreed to slap further sanctions on 160 individuals and added new restrictions on the export of maritime navigation and radio communication technology.

This comes as the International Monetary Fund has warned Ukraine's economy could collapse, contracting by as much as 35 percent if the conflict drags on, and the fighting could also jeopardize global food security.

In an analysis of Ukraine’s economy in the wake of Russia's military operations the IMF said "there is massive uncertainty around the baseline," but at a minimum the country would see "output falling 10 percent this year assuming a prompt resolution of the war.”

Kyiv and Moscow have shown greater will to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis with multiple rounds of negotiations. 

A senior member of Ukraine's negotiating team announced the talks had paused on Monday and will continue on Tuesday.

Mykhailo Podolyak explained that “a technical pause has been taken in the negotiations until [Tuesday]. For additional work in the working subgroups and clarification of individual definitions. Negotiations continue.”

Turkey and Germany have appealed for a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine to open humanitarian corridors for civilian evacuations.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met in the Turkish capital Ankara with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is hoping to facilitate a solution through direct talks with Moscow. 

The meeting was the first between the leaders since Scholz replaced Angela Merkel.

"We are in agreement on the issue of reaching a ceasefire as soon as possible," Scholz told a joint news conference.

Erdogan says Turkey and Germany shared "common views and concerns" over Russia's military operation, stressing "we will continue our relentless efforts for a long-lasting ceasefire.”

Ankara is seeking to play a mediating role and has direct links to the two warring sides. Turkey has so far avoided implementing Western sanctions targeting the Russian economy.

"We need to preserve our friendship with (Volodymyr) Zelensky and (Vladimir) Putin," the Turkish President said.

The UN human rights office (OHCHR) says it had confirmed the deaths of at least 636 civilians in Ukraine until March 13, including 46 children.

The actual toll is believed to be likely higher, it said since there have been delays receiving and corroborating reports from places with intense clashes such as the cities of Kharkiv and Mariupol.

OHCHR is said to have 50 staff monitors in the country.

Russia says an attack by Kyiv's forces on the separatist stronghold of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine had left 23 people dead, with the military accusing Kyiv of committing a "war crime".

Meanwhile, UN chief Antonio Guterres has warned that the world must act to prevent a crippling effect on poorer countries who will feel the impact from the Ukraine conflict. 

The secretary-general told reporters in New York that the war risks sparking far-reaching consequences for the global food supply that will have a devastating impact on the poorest.

"This war goes far beyond Ukraine. It is also an assault on the world's most vulnerable people and countries," Guterres said.

Guterres has warned that the world's 45 least developed countries import at least one-third of their wheat from Ukraine or Russia.

They include Burkina Faso, Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.

"We must do everything possible to avert a hurricane of hunger and a meltdown of the global food system," Guterres implored, calling for an immediate ceasefire.

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