Russia-Ukraine update: Apple pulls RT and Sputnik apps; NATO will meet on Friday; EU backs Ukraine entry into bloc

Russia-Ukraine update: Apple pulls RT and Sputnik apps; NATO will meet on Friday; EU backs Ukraine entry into bloc
A blast is seen in the TV tower, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine March 1, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The backstory:

  • Russia invaded and annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine (a former Soviet state) back in 2014, which caused it to be kicked out of the international military alliance, The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • Over the last few months, Russia has been amassing large numbers of troops at the Russian-Ukrainian border, worrying people that Russia was looking to invade again, eight years after the first invasion.
  • Russia denied any intention to invade and said that the troops were for self-defense. Meanwhile, they sent some demands to the West, including banning Ukraine from ever entering NATO.
  • The United States responded by writing to Russia, saying that they wouldn’t ban Ukraine but would find ways to work with Russia where appropriate.
  • On February 21, in a televised address, Russian President Putin recognized two Russian-backed separatist regions in Ukraine and then ordered the Russian army into the area to “keep the peace.”
  • Putin described the country as an essential part of Russia’s history and added that he was confident that the Russian public would support his decision.
  • Since Russia’s move, the US, the United Kingdom and the European Union have all announced increasingly intense sanctions against the country, Ukraine has gone into a state of emergency and Russia has imposed some measures to prop up its falling currency.
  • Ukraine declared a state of emergency on February 24 for 30 days. This announcement came after several government websites were experiencing a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack.
  • Russia and Ukraine officials met earlier this week at the Belarusian border to discuss the conflict. Although no ceasefire has yet been reached, Mikhail Podolyak, adviser to the head of the office of the President of Ukraine, said, “The parties identified a number of priority topics on which certain decisions were outlined."

The development:

Russia Ukraine
A view shows the area near the regional administration building, which city officials said was hit by a missile attack, in central Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022. REUTERS/Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy
  • Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, whose country has also been on the receiving end of sanctions, has said that it has no intention of joining the war. But, Ukraine has said that there are a few hundred Belarusian tanks at its border.
  • Russia has imposed measures, such as forcing its exporters to buy the Russian ruble and prohibiting residents from transferring money abroad. And, now, the Russia’s central bank has banned coupon payments to foreign owners of ruble bonds. This is as the EU agrees to ban seven Russian banks from The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT).
  • YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok have all banned the state-funded Russian media channels, RT and Sputnik, in Europe.
  • Apple Inc. has stopped exporting its products to Russia. It has also pulled the apps of RT and Sputnik news.
  • Russia has said that it will continue its operation in Ukraine until it meets its goals. This is while there are increased reports of civilian casualties and civilian infrastructure damage. Meanwhile, Ukraine has raised US$277 million in war bonds to help its defense and economy during this time.
  • When it comes to oil, two key things happened. First, according to people familiar with the matter, The International Energy Agency (IEA) will deploy 60 million barrels from oil stockpiles around the world. Also, Putin and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed spoke by telephone about the Russia-Ukraine crisis and supporting the global energy market. The 23-nation Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+) alliance are meeting on Wednesday.
  • Prince Mohammed said that Russia has a right to protect its national security. State-run Emirates News Agency (WAM) also reported that Sheikh Mohammed stressed the need for a “peaceful solution that guarantees the interests and national security of all parties.”
  • NATO foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting over Ukraine on Friday.
  • Ukraine has again asked the EU to grant it immediate entry into the bloc, with EU members supporting the move. But, the actual process is expected to take quite some time.
  • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called the situation in Ukraine a “war,” adding that China was “extremely concerned” about the harm to civilians and that both sides should work hard to reach a “political settlement.” The comments came after a call between Wang Yi and Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba.
  • An estimated 677,000 people have fled Ukraine, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on Tuesday. This number is expected to increase to 4 million.

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