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Ukraine seeks urgent talks in Mariupol | #cybersecurity | #cyberattack | #hacking | #aihp

Group of Seven finance ministers and central bankers condemned Russia’s “unjustifiable” war in Ukraine and will work to isolate the country from the global economy, according to a G-7 statement released by Japan’s finance ministry. They are also closely co-ordinating with partners to increase costs of war for Russia, according to the statement.

Russia Exploring Cyberattacks, Advisory Says

Evolving intelligence indicates the Russian government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks, while some cybercrime groups are looking to aid Moscow, security agencies from the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK said in a joint advisory.

“This activity may occur as a response to the unprecedented economic costs imposed on Russia as well as materiel support provided by the US and US allies and partners,” the advisory said, adding the cybersecurity agencies behind the joint assessment are urging “critical infrastructure network defenders to prepare for and mitigate potential cyber threats.”

Indonesia Defends Putin Attending G-20

Indonesia’s ambassador to Australia defended his country’s decision to invite Vladimir Putin to the November Group of 20 meeting in Bali, saying it was important to pursue the group’s economic agenda.

In an interview with Australia’s Nine newspapers, Ambassador Siswo Pramono said Putin was still invited when Australia hosted the event in Brisbane in 2014 despite the recent annexation of Crimea. Current Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other G-20 leaders have said it would not be appropriate for Putin to attend due to the invasion of his neighbour.

Ukraine Seeks Urgent Talks in Mariupol

Ukraine’s government is ready to hold a special round of talks “without any conditions” in Mariupol with Russian officials to discuss saving the lives of fighters and civilians trapped in the city,  Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter. 

Ukrainian forces in the port, which has been subject to some of the most intense bombardment of the conflict, have warned they may be unable to hold out much longer.

Sanctioned Russian Banks Can’t Issue UnionPay Cards: RBC

Russian banks under sanctions won’t be able to issue UnionPay cards because the Chinese payments provider is concerned about the risk of secondary sanctions, RBC reported, citing five sources from major sanctioned banks. Employees at one of them, Sberbank, were told about the decision at a private meeting, RBC reported. 

Some Nato Allies Want to Prolong War, Turkey Says

Some Nato members want the war in Ukraine to continue to weaken Russia, without much concern for the affect on Ukraine itself, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview with CNN Turk television. 

Cavusoglu also discussed Ukraine’s requests for external powers act as guarantors of the country’s security in any peace agreement. Turkey isn’t opposed in principle to offering security guarantees, but doesn’t favour commitments along the lines of Nato’s Article 5, in which alliance members pledge to defend each other from attack, he said. 

U.S. Targets Russia Crypto Miner BitRiver in New Sanctions

The U.S. Treasury sanctioned cryptocurrency miner BitRiver — the first time it has targeted such a company — as well as dozens of other entities and individuals it said were involved in helping Russia evade sanctions linked to its invasion of Ukraine. 

Along with BitRiver, which was founded in Russia in 2017, Treasury penalised 10 of the company’s subsidiaries. It also sanctioned Russian commercial bank Transkapitalbank and a global network of more than 40 individuals and entities led by Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev.

Sanctions Move Russian Bank to Sell Subsidiary

Russia’s Alfa-Bank sold its Kazakh subsidiary to Kazakhstan’s Bank CenterCredit, Interfax reported, to remove the subsidiary from sanctions imposed by the US and other countries. The bank’s Kazakh arm had introduced temporary restrictions due to sanctions.

Alfa-bank bank is owned by its founder, Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, who is sanctioned in the UK and in the European Union.

Ukraine Supports UN Proposal for Easter Truce

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that a “humanitarian truce” proposed by the UN over the upcoming Orthodox Easter holiday would help allow for the evacuation of thousands of civilians, including from heavily hit Mariupol. 

Luhansk has not received clear signals on any four-day truce, Serhiy Haiday, the governor of the eastern region, said in televised remarks, but is prepared to use it for maximal evacuation and to fill up humanitarian aid stockpiles.

Zelenskiy Calls Russian Attacks on Mariupol ‘Terrorism’

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called Russia’s actions towards Mariupol “terrorism.” In an interview with French TV, he said that 95% of the coastal city has been destroyed. 

He said Ukrainians aren’t able to leave the city to safety via proposed humanitarian corridors. An evacuation effort failed Wednesday amid continued Russian shelling.

Poland Asks US to Speed Up Weapons Delivery

Poland asked the US to accelerate the delivery of military hardware including Abrams tanks and Patriot missile systems, Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said after meeting at the Pentagon with his US counterpart, Lloyd Austin. Poland seeks to purchase more equipment such as helicopters and drones and plans to file a letter of request to US producers in a “short time,” Blaszczak said.

UN’s Guterres Seeks Meetings with Putin, Zelenskiy

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivered a letter to Russia’s mission requesting a meeting with Putin, according to the UN chief’s office. Separately, he delivered a similar letter to the Ukrainian mission asking for a meeting with Zelenskiy, as he seeks to mediate between the warring sides.

Guterres, who has mostly tried not to alienate any of the world’s top powers, took an unusually strong stance against Russia’s invasion at the start of the war. His position was praised by Western leaders but may have alienated Putin, depriving him of a mediator’s role in the conflict.

Yellen Leads G-20 Walkout as Russian Officials Speak

Multiple finance chiefs and central bank governors including U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko walked out of a Group of 20 meeting in Washington when Russia’s representative started speaking, people familiar with the situation said.

Some officials who were virtual participants also turned their cameras off when Russia’s representative spoke, the people said, declining to be identified.

Lavrov Discusses Mariupol With Turkish Counterpart

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the situation in Mariupol by phone with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, according to a statement on the website of Russia’s Foreign Ministry. 

Russia repeated that its negotiations with Ukraine “depend entirely on Kyiv’s readiness to take into account our legitimate demands,” the statement said.

Russia Tests Ballistic Missile Amid Putin Praise

Russia’s Defense Ministry released video of a Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile being test-fired from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the northern Arkhangelsk region, Tass said. The ministry previously showed videos of the missile in 2018.

“This unique weapon will strengthen the military potential of our armed forces, will reliably guarantee Russia’s security against outside threats and force those who in the heat of frenzied aggressive rhetoric try to menace our country to think again,” Putin said on state TV.

IMF Urges Nations to Help on Ukraine Financing

The International Monetary Fund called on nations to provide grants and donations to fill a $5 billion monthly financing need for Ukraine, while signalling that more of the institution’s own lending will need to wait for when there is more stability.

The IMF last month approved a $1.4 billion emergency loan for Ukraine — the maximum it can provide with few conditions based on the fund’s rules. Ukraine cancelled an existing loan that had $2.2 billion left to disburse but was subject to reforms such as tackling corruption.

Russia Ruled in Potential Default By Derivatives Panel

The Credit Derivatives Determinations Committee said a “potential failure-to-pay event” occurred for credit-default swaps when Russia made two dollar-bond payments in rubles after foreign banks declined to process US currency transfers. The nation could still avert a default if it pays bondholders in dollars before a 30-day grace period ends.

Biden Expected to Send Ukraine $800 Million More in Arms

The money will come from the president’s drawdown authority to send stockpiles of weapons to a US ally in an emergency, according to people familiar with the matter. Its contents are expected to be similar to the last package of aid, according to the people. That package included artillery systems, armoured personnel carriers and the transfer of additional helicopters.

Ukraine Won’t Give up Territory, Kuleba Says

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told Bulgaria’s BNT TV that Ukraine would not cede on territory in any negotiations with Russia. “We won’t allow the Russian army to stay in the territories that have been occupied since Feb. 24, these are absolute red lines,” Kuleba said via a translator.

Kuleba met government officials and lawmakers in Sofia, seeking military aid. Bulgaria has so far refused to provide arms to Ukraine as the pro-Russian Socialists in the ruling coalition have threatened to leave the government if that happened.

Germany Rejects Ruble Payments for Gas

Companies buying Russian natural gas should not have to set up ruble accounts to pay for it, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said, pushing back against a demand made last month by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Contracts are contracts,” Lindner said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Washington. EU lawyers drafted a preliminary finding that the mechanism Putin wants would violate EU sanctions, raising the prospect of a de facto embargo on Russian gas.

US, China Defense Officials Hold Rare Phone Call

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Defense Minister Wei Fenghe about the conflict in Ukraine and, more broadly, defence ties and regional security issues, according to a US statement. It was the first time they’d chatted since the Biden administration took office, AP reported.

A Chinese statement confirmed the Ukraine discussion, without providing details. In the statement China said it also urged the US to stop military provocations at sea and refrain from using Ukraine to “smear” China.

Austin will host Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak at the Pentagon on Wednesday.

Ukrainian Army Is Counterattacking in Kharkiv Region

Ukraine’s military is mounting a counterattack in the northeastern Kharkiv region, liberating some towns even as Russian forces attempt to advance in the area, Presidential spokesperson Oleksiy Arestovych said in a televised briefing.

Russian troops were storming the towns of Popasna and Rubizhen in the Luhansk region and “attempted to launch a quiet offensive” in the Zaporizhzhia region, he said. The battle continues at the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol, Arestovych said.

Ukraine Studies Russia’s Latest Proposal in Talks

Ukraine is studying Russia’s latest proposal in peace talks, a senior official said, without indicating whether or when progress might be expected. 

The documents submitted by Russia came in response to drafts that Ukraine offered at the last round of in-person talks on March 29 in Istanbul, according to presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak. Since then, with talks continuing via video link, top officials from both sides have said the negotiations were at a dead end.

UN Says 5 Million Ukrainians Have Fled Abroad

More than 5 million people have fled Ukraine, the United Nations refugee agency said. Among its neighbours Poland has accepted more than 2.8 million people, Romania 757,047, Hungary 471,080, Moldova 426,964 and Slovakia 342,813. Russia took in 549,805 people and Belarus 23,759, the UNHCR said.

Russia Offers Oil in a Rush, Hinting at Trade affect

Russia’s state oil-producing giant Rosneft PJSC surprised traders in Europe and Asia with offers to sell large amounts of crude quickly, as well as setting out significant changes to the payment process for some cargoes.

The move is another sign of disruption to some of the firm’s operations following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There has been a growing pressure in Europe to ban Russian oil imports, creating a potential impetus to get purchases finalised before any such step is taken.

Nato-Linked Center to Hold ‘Live-Fire’ Cyber Drills

The world’s largest “live-fire” security exercise will involve 2,000 people from 32 countries, according to Jaak Tarien, director of the Nato co-operative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia. Some 8,000 real attacks will be carried out this week on computers simulating military, civilian and financial IT networks. 

The exercise is intended to boost the skills of cybersecurity experts defending national IT systems and critical infrastructure under real-time attacks amid Russia’s war against Ukraine. 

Turkey Nears LNG Loan in Shift From Russian Natural Gas

Turkey and Deutsche Bank AG are in the final stages of talks for a pioneering 1 billion-euro loan to finance liquefied natural gas purchases that will reduce the country’s reliance on Russian imports.

State-owned pipeline operator Botas will use the money to buy LNG from US producers and from traders in Europe, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. 

Germany to Provide Rockets, Artillery Training

Germany will provide Ukraine with ammunition and training for heavy artillery to help fend off Russian forces, according to a senior government official.

The training and ammunition are for the PzH 2000, a self-propelled, rapid-fire artillery system, which the Netherlands is sending to Ukraine, said the official. The training could be provided in Poland or Germany, but not in Ukraine because of ongoing attacks from Russia, the official said.

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