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President condemns condemns Russia for ‘carnage’ in Ukraine and says Nato ‘more united than ever’ – follow all the days’s politics news.
Biden laments Russian ‘carnage’ and says Nato ‘would respond’ if Putin used chemical weapons
The US president is holding a press conference in Brussels now after his meeting with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) colleagues.
Joe Biden lamented that “it is one month since Russia began its carnage in Ukraine.” But he said that Russian president Vladimir Putin “was banking on Nato being split, he did not think we could sustain this cohesion. Nato has never, never been more united than we are today.”
Biden was then asked by an Associated Press reporter who was called upon if he had military intelligence to suggest that Russia will use a chemical weapon in Ukraine. And if it did, would Nato forces respond?
The president said he could not talk about military intelligence.
And he then added on Putin and chemical weapons: “We would respond if he uses it. The nature of our response would depend on the nature of the use.”
He did not expand on that. The press Q&A is taking place now.
‘Brilliant’ Jackson ‘unquestionably belongs’ on supreme court – Schumer
On the final day of the Senate judiciary committee’s hearings on Jackson’s nomination, majority leader Chuck Schumer shared more praise for Jackson.
“Judge Jackson has erased any doubt that she is brilliant, she is beloved, and she belongs, unquestionably belongs, on the United States Supreme Court,” said Schumer, while also highlighting the next steps for Jackson’s nomination.
“There’s not a shred of doubt in my mind that she merits confirmation to the US Supreme court,” said Schumer.
Schumer also spoke on accusations Jackson faced during the hearings, including several Republican senators claiming that Jackson has shown leniency during sentencing of child sexual abuse crimes, but noted that Jackson “remained poised, thoughtful, and strong in her answers.”
ABA representatives testifying also addressed concerns raised by some senators over Jackson’s sentencing record, finding that there was “no evidence” to support claims that Jackson was lenient on child sexual abuse cases.
Ann Claire Williams, chair of the ABA’s federal judiciary committee, said that concerns about Jackson’s sentencing record on child sexual abuse cases “never came up” amid the 250 interviews with lawyers and judges.
“None of them felt that she demonstrated bias in any way,” seconded Joseph Drayton, the ABA’s lead evaluator for Jackson.
Drayton, who also emphasized the confidential interview process that those sharing experiences with Jackson go through, said he found “no evidence” of previously made claims that Jackson showed bias during sentencing.
Additional testimony came from American Bar Association (ABA) leaders who were tasked with interviewing members on their experiences with Jackson.
ABA representatives found that of the 250 judges and lawyers who had first-hand knowledge of Jackson, no one had criticism to share on the Supreme court nominee.
“It is surprising that unanimously the bar appreciates judge Jackson and sees that she has high competency, integrity, and temperament,” said one ABA representative who testified in front of the committee.
Representatives found that those interviewed used terms like “brilliant,” “beyond reproach,” “impeccable” and “A-plus” to describe Jackson.
Witnesses and outside experts are now testifying to the Senate judiciary committee about the confirmation of Supreme Court justice nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Testifying against Jackson’s nomination is Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall who seemingly dodged repeated questions on whether Joe Biden was the “duly elected and lawfully serving” president of the US.
Repeatedly going back and forth, Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island asks Marshall: “Is [Biden] the duly elected and lawfully serving president of the US of America?”
Marshall replies: “He is the president of our country.”
After Whitehouse repeats his question, he asks Marshall if Marshall is purposefully omitting “duly elected and lawfully serving” from his response.
“I’m answering the question. He is the president of the US,” says Marshall.
Today so far
I’m going to hand the US politics blog over to my Guardian colleagues now. Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Joe Biden is in Brussels, Belgium, for meetings with allied leaders to discuss the war in Ukraine. The US president participated in a “extraordinary” summit of Nato leaders and a meeting with G7 members. Biden said the Nato summit showed the alliance is “as strong and united as it has ever been” in the face of Russia’s military assault on Ukraine.
- The US and its allies announced new sanctions on more than 400 Russian elites and institutions. Among those sanctioned were Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma, and 328 of its members. “They personally gain from the Kremlin’s policies, and they should share in the pain,” Biden said of those sanctioned.
- The US will accept up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees who have fled their country because of the war. The White House also announced it will provide more than $1bn in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, helping its citizens access food, medical care and psychological treatment.
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Moscow’s stock market rallied after share trading resumed for the first time since the Ukraine invasion began nearly a month ago, although the US dismissed Thursday’s limited reopening as a “charade”.
The market initially rose by more than 11% when a limited, shortened trading session got under way on the Moscow Exchange. But the rally lost some momentum, with the Moex index of blue-chip shares ending the day 4.4% higher, on its first session since 25 February.
The US was scathing about Moscow’s attempt to restart equities trading.
“What we’re seeing is a charade, a Potemkin market opening,” said Daleep Singh, the US deputy national security advisor for international economics, referring to fake villages supposedly created for the Russian empress Catherine the Great to give the illusion of prosperity.
“After keeping its markets closed for nearly a month, Russia announced it will only allow 15% of listed shares to trade, foreigners are prohibited from selling their shares, and short selling in general has been banned. Meanwhile, Russia has made clear they are going to pour government resources into artificially propping up the shares of companies that are trading,” he said.
“This is not a real market and not a sustainable model – which only underscores Russia’s isolation from the global financial system.”
Read the Guardian’s full report:
The White House said the Russian economy may shrink by as much as 15% as a result of the sanctions imposed by the US and its allies in response to the war in Ukraine.
“To put that into perspective, that would be three times as much as the GDP declined after Russia’s debt default in 1998,” a senior administration official said on a press call today.
The official pointed to an analysis from the Institute for International Finance, which showed the sharp downtown in Russia’s GDP will wipe out the past 15 years of the country’s economic gains.
“If you consider the depreciation of the ruble already and the projected shrinking of its economy, it’s now looking at an economy half of the size that it was before this invasion. So it would fall out of the top 20 economies by ranking,” the official said.
The US and its allies unveiled a new set of sanctions today, targeting members of the Duma, Russian elites and some state-backed entities.
Joe Biden met with the Japanese prime minister, Fumio Kishida on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Brussels, Belgium, today to discuss North Korea’s latest missile launch.
“The two Leaders discussed DPRK’s launch of a long-range ballistic missile, which both Leaders strongly condemned, stressed the need for diplomacy, and agreed to continue working together to hold the DPRK accountable,” a White House official told the press pool.
“President Biden conveyed to Prime Minister Kishida our rock solid commitment to the security of Japan and the Republic of Korea, thanked Prime Minister Kishida for Japan’s robust response to Putin’s war of choice in Ukraine, and agreed on the need for continued unity going forward.”
Experts believe North Korea launched its largest intercontinental ballistic missile to date, marking Kim Jong-un’s first use of the missile system since 2017.
The Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, will extend his term by one year in response to the war in Ukraine.
“Honoured by the decision of #NATO Heads of State and Government to extend my term as Secretary General until 30 September 2023,” Stoltenberg said on Twitter.
“As we face the biggest security crisis in a generation, we stand united to keep our Alliance strong and our people safe.”
Stoltenberg’s term was initially set to end on October 1, and he had been expected to become a central bank governor in his native Norway later this year, Reuters reports.
Joe Biden met with Stoltenberg in Brussels, Belgium, earlier today to discuss the war in Ukraine, and the US president applauded the announcement that his term had been extended.
“NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has done a remarkable job leading and strengthening our Alliance — particularly during this critical moment for international security,” Biden said in a tweet. “I welcome the extension of his tenure and look forward to working closely together in the year ahead.
The Guardian’s Virginia Harrison, Daniel Boffey and Julian Borger report:
The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has called for citizens worldwide to take to the streets “in the name of peace” and hold global protests against Russia’s bloody war, one month after the invasion began.
Zelenskiy’s appeal came as world leaders prepared to hold a series of emergency summits in Europe that aim to ratchet up pressure on the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to end the war.
In a late-night television address from the emptied streets of his nation’s besieged capital, Kyiv, a defiant but visibly tired Zelenskiy said on Thursday Ukraine was “waiting for meaningful steps” from the three gatherings – Nato, EU and European Council – and listed some so-far unheeded requests, such as a no-fly zone, aircraft, and tanks.
Zelenskiy said, “Our firm position will be represented at these three summits. At these three summits we will see: Who is a friend, who is a partner, and who betrayed us for money.”
Read the Guardian’s full report:
The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said the new sanctions on members of the Russian Duma would punish lawmakers who have “supported the Kremlin’s violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
“President Putin’s war continues to inflict horror and widespread suffering on the people of Ukraine,” Blinken said in a statement.
“At the same time, in Russia, the State Duma continues to use its legislative power to target domestic dissenters and political opponents, disrupt the free flow of information, and restrict the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the citizens of Russia.”
Blinken said the new sanctions on the Duma members, as well as other Russian elites and state-backed entities, will “complement the ongoing efforts of our allies and partners to hold to account enablers of this unconscionable war of choice against Ukraine and its people”.
“With our partners and allies, the United States aims to strike the heart of Russia’s ability to engage in warfare and carry out aggression against other countries, including Ukraine,” Blinken said.
“We will continue to impose costs until Putin ends this unprovoked war against Ukraine.”
Nato is ‘as strong and united as it has ever been,’ Biden says after summit
Joe Biden said that today’s “extraordinary” Nato summit on the war in Ukraine showed that the alliance is “as strong and united as it has ever been”.
“NATO leaders met today on the one-month anniversary of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine to reiterate our strong support for the Ukrainian people, our determination to hold Russia accountable for its brutal war, and our commitment to strengthening the NATO Alliance,” Biden said in a statement.
“We had the privilege of hearing directly from President Zelenskyy, and we will continue to support him and his government with significant, and increasing, amounts of security assistance to fight Russian aggression and uphold their right to self-defense.”
Biden is in Brussels, Belgium, today for meetings with allied leaders to discuss providing humanitarian and defense assistance to Ukraine. Biden applauded his European counterparts for their efforts to give military aid to Ukraine to push back against Russia’s brutal airstrikes.
“Between now and the NATO summit in June, we will develop plans for additional forces and capabilities to strengthen NATO’s defenses,” Biden said.
The president added that the US and its allies would work together “to ensure NATO is ready to meet any challenge in the new and more dangerous security environment”.
Joe Biden said the new sanctions on more than 400 Russian individuals and entities would further the west’s goal of making Vladimir Putin’s allies suffer financial consequences for the war in Ukraine.
“They personally gain from the Kremlin’s policies, and they should share in the pain,” the US president said on Twitter.
The US and its allies have imposed sanctions on Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma, and 328 of its members.
New sanctions were also announced for Herman Gref, the head of Sberbank, Russia’s largest financial institution. Gref has served as an advisor to Vladimir Putin for decades.
The Russian oligarch and billionaire Gennady Timchenko was also targeted by the new sanctions, as were his companies and family members.
Finally, the US and its allies have imposed sanctions on 17 board members of Sovcombank and 48 Russian defense state-owned enterprises.
“We are targeting, and will continue to target, the suppliers of Russia’s war effort and, in turn, their supply chain,” the White House said in its press release.
US announces $1bn in Ukraine humanitarian assistance and new sanctions on Russia
The White House has announced plans to provide more than $1bn in new funding for humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, and the US and its allies have also imposed new sanctions on Russia.
According to a White House statement, the US will provide funds to help struggling Ukrainians access food, medical care and psychological treatment. The US will also launch the European Democratic Resilience Initiative, which will deliver at least $320 million to Ukraine to “support societal resilience and defend human rights”.
The US similarly confirmed plans to accept up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees who have fled the country to escape the war. More than 3 million people have already fled Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the US and its allies announced new sanctions on more than 400 Russian individuals and entities, including the Duma and 328 of its members.
G7 leaders and the European Union are also launching an initiative to target sanction evasion among Russian individuals and businesses. The countries are additionally taking steps to prevent Russia from using international reserves, including gold, to prop up the country’s economy and currency.
Joe Biden is in Brussels, Belgium, today to meet with European leaders, and some of those discussions will likely focus on these new measures. Stay tuned.
The Biden administration confirmed reports that it will accept up to 100,000 Ukrainians who have fled their home country because of Russia’s military assault.
“In particular, we are working to expand and develop new programs with a focus on welcoming Ukrainians who have family members in the United States,” the White House statement says.
“The United States and the European Union are also coordinating closely to ensure that these efforts, and other forms of humanitarian admission or transfers, are complementary and provide much-needed support to Ukraine’s neighbors.”
More than 3 million people from Ukraine have fled to neighboring countries, while another 6 million have been displaced within Ukraine itself. Joe Biden is meeting with European leaders in Brussels, Belgium, today to discuss, among other things, providing assistance to countries accepting refugees.
The US is also committing $11bn over the next five years to address global food security threats that may arise from the war in Ukraine.
“Russia’s war of aggression threatens to disrupt the supply of critical agricultural commodities from the Black Sea region, jeopardizing global food security, particularly for vulnerable populations in the Middle East and Africa,” the White House said in its press release about humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.
The efforts to bolster food security will include “increasing the productivity of smallholder farmers, including women, through access to improved agricultural technologies and inputs, financing, and markets; strengthening agricultural market systems by building a vibrant local private sector; and improving people’s access to higher quality diets and safer food for improved nutrition,” per the press release.
US to accept up to 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing war
The Guardian’s Chris Michael and agencies report:
The United States plans to accept up to 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion, two sources familiar with the forthcoming announcement said.
It was not immediately clear how the effort would work, including travel and immigration logistics.
Not all of the accepted Ukrainians will come through the US refugee program, one Biden administration official told Reuters. Others will come on family-based visas or another process known as “humanitarian parole”, which thousands of Afghans used to enter the US last year after the chaotic US withdrawal.
The national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told reporters onboard Air Force One as it travelled to Brussels that Europe’s refugee crisis was a priority for Joe Biden to address on his trip this week.
“Here Europe has really stepped up in a huge way and it’s the United States that will be coming with additional commitment on both humanitarian assistance and refugees tomorrow,” Sullivan said on Wednesday.
On 24 February, shortly before dawn broke in Moscow, Vladimir Putin made the latest in a series of televised addresses. His previous appearances had contained increasingly ominous tirades about Ukraine. Now here was the culmination: the declaration of what the Russian president euphemistically called a “special military operation”.
The goal, said Putin, was the “demilitarisation and denazification” of Ukraine.
Minutes later, missiles were launched towards Kyiv, Kharkiv and many other Ukrainian cities. For the Ukrainians who woke up to sound of the impacts, and then for millions across the world who woke up to the news of Putin’s decision, the first reaction was shock.
Even those Ukrainians in government who had spent the past weeks rehearsing what to do in the event of a Russian attack were stunned when the invasion became reality.
“I had 10 minutes of panic when I was running around the house and I had no idea what to do. Then I pulled myself together and went to work,” said Natalia Balasynovych, the mayor of Vasylkiv, a town outside Kyiv hosting an airbase that was hit in the first hours of the war.
Before long, makeshift checkpoints were being put up across the country, volunteers flocked to sign up for territorial defence units, and even some pensioners got to work making molotov cocktails. At the same time, millions of people, mostly women and children, fled to the west of Ukraine, or crossed borders into neighbouring countries.
Read the Guardian’s full report:
Biden meets with allied leaders in Brussels to discuss war in Ukraine
Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.
Joe Biden is in Brussels, Belgium, today meeting with allied leaders and other European leaders to discuss the devastating war in Ukraine.
The US president sat down with the Nato Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, earlier today and will soon meet with G7 leaders and the European Council president, Charles Michel.
The White House said of Biden’s meeting with Stoltenberg, “They discussed the unity and strength of the alliance and Nato’s ongoing efforts to deter and defend against any aggression, and they welcomed the support of Allies for the government and people of Ukraine.”
Biden’s meetings in Brussels come as the world marks one month since the start of Russia’s military assault on Ukraine. In the weeks since, 10 million people have been forced to flee their homes in Ukraine, with about 3.6 million leaving for neighboring countries. Thousands have been killed, although the exact death toll is difficult to calculate amid the chaos of war.
Biden and his counterparts must now grapple with how to address a refugee crisis and a severely damaged country, as the war has come to a bloody standstill.
The blog will have more updates from Biden’s trip coming up. Stay tuned.