Home News Ukraine live briefing: G-20 foreign ministers meet; Battle for Bakhmut intensifies

Ukraine live briefing: G-20 foreign ministers meet; Battle for Bakhmut intensifies


The war in Ukraine is due to dominate conversations at the Group of 20 summit in India, where foreign ministers from the world’s most powerful economies, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, are gathering on Wednesday. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is also due to attend the summit this week.

In Ukraine, the besieged city of Bakhmut is facing the “most difficult situation” in the country as battle for control of the symbolic city in the east intensifies, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said. Russia has deployed mercenaries from the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group in a bid to break through the city’s defenses, according to Ukrainian military officials.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Key developments

  • Blinken has warned that China will face sanctions if it supplies lethal support to Russia. China has vehemently denied any such plans, and in recent days has been positioning itself as a potential peacemaker in the conflict.
  • Blinken made the remarks during a stopover in Kazakhstan on his way to the G-20 meeting. He met there with officials from a handful of former Soviet nations in central Asia that have kept close ties to Russia. Blinken said he was “conscious of the spillover consequences of Russia’s aggression” and was working to lessen the blow of international sanctions against Russia on the region.
  • Finland’s Parliament is expected to vote Wednesday on accelerating the country’s accession to NATO, a step that would bring it closer to joining the trans-Atlantic military alliance. An earlier vote to approve joining NATO passed swiftly, 188 votes to 8. The move to speed up its accession could lead Finland to join the alliance before Sweden; the tightknit pair often coordinate on security and had planned to join NATO together, but Turkey has dragged its feet on approving Sweden’s bid over concerns around Stockholm’s approach to groups Ankara considers to be terrorists.
  • Hungary’s president urged lawmakers to urgently move to allow Finland and Sweden to join NATO. All 30 NATO members must agree to admit new states to the alliance, but legislation to approve the accessions of Finland and Sweden has stalled in Hungary’s legislative body, with some lawmakers accusing the Nordic nations of insulting Hungary in recent years, the Associated Press reported. Hungary’s president, Katalin Novak, said Wednesday that “the accession of Sweden and Finland is justified,” urging the National Assembly to “make a wise decision as soon as possible.”
  • Ukrainians are celebrating March 1, which is observed as the first day of spring there, noting that they have survived a winter of war. Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said that on Wednesday: “Putin suffered another major defeat. Despite the cold, darkness, and missile strikes, Ukraine persevered and defeated his winter terror.”

Global impact

  • Finland is building a fence along its border with Russia to address the “changed security environment.” The border fence is set to span nearly 125 miles of its more than 800-mile-long border with Russia, according to Finland’s Border Guard, which announced the move Tuesday. It noted that while Russia currently controls outbound traffic into Finland, “Finland cannot rely on the effectiveness of Russian border control.”
  • Alexander Lukashenko, the Kremlin-friendly president of Belarus, is continuing his state visit to China on Wednesday. The two sides are expected to sign agreements deepening cooperation on trade, education and technology.

Battleground updates

  • Ukraine’s military said early Wednesday they had repelled 85 attacks in Bakhmut and nearby towns in the area in the past day. “The intensity of fighting is only increasing,” Zelensky said in his nightly address.
  • Water will begin flowing from Russia’s Rostov region to residents of occupied areas of Ukraine’s Donbas in April, following the construction of a new pipeline, Russian state-owned TV station Zvezda reported Wednesday. The site was visited by top defense officials, as the Kremlin attempts to put a positive spin on the invasion, which is facing increasing opposition in Russia as it enters its second year.
  • Russian authorities blamed Ukraine for a drone strike that caused a fire at an oil refinery inside Russia, not far from the Ukrainian border. No casualties were reported, but a rush of drone sightings, including near Moscow, had authorities on high alert Tuesday.

From our correspondents

Congress presses Pentagon on Biden’s reluctance to give Ukraine F-16s: Amid growing pressure from Ukrainian officials and others, a top U.S. defense official has told lawmakers that supplying warplanes to Kyiv is not the wisest use of U.S. funds at this stage in the war, reports Dan Lamothe.

I do think this conversation will continue,” Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, explained to members of the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. “It’s just hard for me to tell any member of Congress, of the American public, that the best use of that dollar spent right now is on F-16s,” Kahl said.