Russia-Ukraine updates: Biden, Scholz praise Western cooperation
The live blog is now closed, thank you for joining us. Here are the updates for March 3:
- In a meeting with US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has stressed the importance of maintaining Western support for Ukraine.
- The US annouces a new military aid package worth $400 million for Ukraine which includes for the first time tactical bridges to move tanks.
- Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary force, says his fighters surrounded the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut and that Kyiv’s troops had only one road left.
- Ukrainian authorities unearth people who were hastily buried in makeshift graves during Russia’s brief occupation of villages and towns near Kyiv, to identify victims and investigate alleged war crimes.
- Russia says it will take measures to prevent new border incursions, a day after accusing Ukraine-backed nationalists of killing two people in a cross-border raid.
Biden thanks Germany for Ukraine aid
Biden has hailed Germany’s military and political support for Ukraine, telling Scholz that Berlin’s assistance made a “world of difference” in the war.
“You stepped up to provide critical military support, and I would argue that beyond the military support, the moral support you gave Ukrainians has been profound,” Biden told his German counterpart.
The US president also praised Germany for increasing its defence spending and diversifying its energy supplies away from dependence on Russian oil and gas.
“As NATO allies, we’re making the alliance stronger and more capable,” Biden said.
Scholz stresses support for Ukraine at White House meeting
In a meeting with US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has stressed the importance of maintaining Western support for Ukraine.
“This is a very, very important year because of the dangerous threat to peace that comes from Russia invading Ukraine,” he said.
The German leader lauded the transatlantic cooperation between the US and Europe in providing the “necessary support” for Kyiv.
“I think it is very important that we give the message that we will continue to do so as long as it takes and as long as it is necessary,” Scholz said.
US attorney general makes unannounced trip to Ukraine, US official says
US Attorney General Merrick Garland has made an unannounced visit to Lviv, Ukraine at the invitation of the Ukrainian prosecutor general, a Department of Justice official said.
“The attorney general held several meetings and reaffirmed our determination to hold Russia accountable for crimes committed in its unjust and unprovoked invasion against its sovereign neighbour,” the official said.
US military aid package to include tactical bridges for first time
For the first time, tactical bridges to move tanks and armoured vehicles will be included in a military aid package announced by the US.
The bridges could be used by Ukrainian troops who have been training in “combined arms manoeuvre” warfare, which is the coordinated use of artillery shelling, alongside tank and armoured vehicle attack movements, to retake territory seized by Russian forces.
The additional ammunition is being sent to help boost stocks in anticipation of a coming offensive.
“Assault bridging is essential for combined arms operations. It allows armoured vehicles to cross narrow rivers and ditches that would otherwise cause a whole force to slow down,” Jack Watling, a senior research fellow for Land Warfare at the London-based Royal United Services Institute, told Reuters.
“Importantly, assault bridges are only critical for offensive operations showing that the US is preparing Ukraine to continue retaking its territory,” Watling added.
US announces $400m in additional military aid to Ukraine
The US has announced another round of military aid for Ukraine, a package of ammunition and other support valued at $400m.
The package will be funded using Presidential Drawdown Authority, which authorises the president to transfer articles and services from US stocks without congressional approval during an emergency, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in announcing the aid.
“This military assistance package includes more ammunition for US-provided HIMARS and howitzers, which Ukraine is using so effectively to defend itself, as well as ammunition for Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, Armored Vehicle Launched Bridges, demolitions munitions and equipment, and other maintenance, training, and support,” he said.
EU official cites ‘red line’ if China gives Russia weapons
It would be an absolute “red line” if China provided weapons to Russia, a senior European Union official has said, adding that the EU would respond with sanctions.
The comments echo remarks by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday warning Beijing against providing such aid to Moscow as it continues to fight in Ukraine.
Russia’s Andrey Kelin: Ukraine invasion can be called ‘civil war’
The Russian embassy in London is the site of regular protests against the yearlong invasion of Ukraine.
Russia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom has accused NATO powers of turning Ukraine into a Western-backed fortress to oppose Russian influence in Eastern Europe, saying the possible supply of long-range weapons to Kyiv risks forcing Russia to push deeper into Ukraine.
In the depths of the biggest confrontation involving Russia since the Cold War, how and when will this war end?
Andrey Kelin, the Russian ambassador to the UK, talks to Al Jazeera.
Ukraine sentences Russian pilot for Kharkiv tower blast
A Ukrainian court sentenced a Russian pilot to 12 years in prison for war crimes for dropping eight bombs weighing 2.5 tonnes around a television tower in Kharkiv last year, prosecutors said.
Ukrainian anti-aircraft guns shot down the pilot, and the Ukrainian National Guard captured him.
Several captured Russian soldiers have already been sentenced to lengthy prison terms for war crimes.
The latest prison sentence comes as officials, including Zelenskyy, gather in Lviv later on Friday for an international conference to discuss war crimes investigations and the international tribunal Ukraine wants.
What does history show about the end of the war?
The war in Ukraine is firmly in its second year with no clear end in sight after initially intended to last a matter of days.
Margaret Macmillan, a war historian and emeritus professor at the University of Oxford, said the war is something “we didn’t think we’d see” again, referring to the wars in Iraq and Serbia.
But as the conflict drags along, many historians and experts predict the end of the war will result in both sides being unwilling to admit defeat and resulting in a frozen conflict.
Save the Children calls for long-term protections for Ukrainian refugees
The international aid group Save the Children has called for long-term protection of Ukrainian children and their families beyond 2025.
At the start of the war, the European Union activated the Temporary Protection Directive to give Ukrainian refugees temporary residency and access to housing and essential services in EU member states.
But NGOs have said the plan, which can last one to three years, should extend beyond that as the war continues.
Ylva Sperling, Europe director at Save the Children, said: “Governments across Europe need to begin investing in options to help families from Ukraine to stay legally beyond 2025.
“Though the vast majority of refugees long to go home, the war in Ukraine shows no signs of abating. Ensuring they can stay legally in Europe for the years to come will give children a sense of security, stability and belonging in their host countries.”