US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that the crisis in Ukraine was a global issue which heightened the importance of maintaining international order, territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Biden’s comments delivered at the opening of the “Quad” meeting of Indo-Pacific leaders in Tokyo come a day after he broke with convention and volunteered US military support for Taiwan, the self-governed island claimed by China.
“This is more than just a European issue. It’s a global issue,” Biden said of the Ukraine situation at the Quad meeting of the United States, Japan, India and Australia.
Biden stressed Washington would stand with its allies and push for a free and open Indo-Pacific region. “International law, human rights must always be defended regardless of where they’re violated in the world,” he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told global business leaders in Davos on Monday that the world must increase sanctions against Russia to deter other countries from using “brute force” to achieve their aims.
The European Union will likely agree on an embargo on Russian oil imports “within days”, its biggest member Germany has said, as Moscow said its economic ties with China would grow amid its isolation by the West over the Ukraine conflict.
Many of the EU’s 27 member states are heavily reliant on Russian energy, prompting criticism from Kyiv that the bloc has not moved quickly enough to halt supplies.
Hungary is demanding energy investment before it agrees to an embargo, clashing with EU states pushing for swift approval. The EU has offered up to 2 billion euros ($2.14 billion) to central and eastern nations lacking non-Russian supply.
“We will reach a breakthrough within days,” Germany’s economy minister, Robert Habeck, told broadcaster ZDF.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Kremlin would focus on developing ties with China as economic links with the United States and Europe were cut.
“If they (the West) want to offer something in terms of resuming relations, then we will seriously consider whether we will need it or not,” he said in a speech, according to a transcript on the foreign ministry’s website. “Now that the West has taken a ‘dictator’s position’, our economic ties with China will grow even faster.”
Russia’s three-month long invasion, the biggest attack on a European state since 1945, has seen over 6.5 million people flee abroad, turned entire cities into rubble, and prompted the unprecedented imposition of Western sanctions on Russia.
Zelenskiy on Monday called on Ukraine’s allies to pressure Moscow into a prisoner exchange. “We do not need the Russian servicemen, we only need ours,” Zelenskiy said. “We are ready for an exchange even tomorrow.”
Russia sent thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 for what it calls a “special military operation” to demilitarise its neighbour and root out dangerous nationalists – claims dismissed by Kyiv and Western countries as false pretexts for a land grab.
Having captured the port city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine after a months-long siege, Russian forces now control a largely unbroken swathe of the east and south.
They are trying to encircle Ukrainian forces and fully capture the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces that make up the eastern Donbas region, where Moscow backs separatist forces. A total of 12,500 Russians were trying to seize Luhansk, the region’s governor, Serhiy Gaidai, said on Telegram.
Four people were killed when a residential building was shelled in the city of Sievierodonetsk, Gaidai added. “The intensity of fire on Sievierodonetsk has increased by multiple times, they are simply destroying the city,” he said on TV, adding there were about 15,000 people in the city and the Ukrainian military remains in control of it.
Sievierodonetsk lies in the eastern-most part of a Ukrainian-held pocket of the Donbas and one of the last areas of Luhansk region still outside Russia’s grip.
Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko told local television that shelling was occurring along the front line, with the coal mining town of Avdiivka being hit round the clock.