New York: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russia is unwilling to negotiate an end to the war because it still feels strong.
Zelenskyy told U.S. corporate leaders Wednesday that for Russia to join in negotiations “is simply not possible now because Russia can still feel its power.” Speaking via a video link through a translator, he added: “We need to weaken Russia and the world is supposed to do it.” Zelenskyy said Ukraine is doing its part on the battlefield and called for even tougher sanctions to weaken Russia economically. He told the business leaders: “We need to switch Russia off the global financial system completely.” He also said Ukraine is willing to negotiate with Russia to end the war – but “not at the expense of our independence.”
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR: – AP Exclusive: Ukraine recovers bodies from steel-plant siege – Ukraine’s leader says Russia is trying to capture a key southeastern city – US general says US, allies will keep sending significant’ aid to Ukraine – UN: Climate shocks and Ukraine war fuel multiple global food crises ___ OTHER DEVELOPMENTS: UNITED NATIONS – A U.N. report says the war in Ukraine is increasing the suffering of millions of people by escalating food and energy prices, coming on top of ills from a growing financial crisis, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.
The report by the U.N. Global Crisis Response Group released Wednesday says the war “has exacerbated a global cost-of-living crisis unseen in at least a generation” and is undermining the U.N. goal of ending extreme poverty around the world by 2030.
The group was appointed by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to assess the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Guterres says the report makes clear that “the war’s impact on food security, energy and finance is systemic, severe and speeding up.”
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations is pursuing a deal that would allow grain exports from Ukraine through the Black Sea and unimpeded access to world markets for Russian food and fertilizers.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told U.N. correspondents on Wednesday that without the deal hundreds of millions of people in developing countries face the threat of an unprecedented wave of hunger, three months after Russia invaded its smaller neighbor.
Guterres said, “Ukraine’s food production and the food and fertilizer produced by Russia must be brought into world markets, despite the war.” Senior officials have been working closely with contacts in Moscow, Kyiv, Ankara, Brussels and Washington for the past 10 days, Guterres said. He said he didn’t want to jeopardize the chances of success by revealing details.
“This is one of those moments when silent diplomacy is necessary, and the welfare of millions of people around the world could depend on it,” he said.
Rebeca Grynspan, secretary-general of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, said the “discussions have been constructive.” ___ KYIV, Ukraine – American businessman and philanthropist Howard Buffett says he wants to help rebuild Ukraine’s infrastructure, remove landmines and improve nutrition at schools.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with Buffett in Kyiv on Wednesday. Zelenskyy said on social media that one project discussed would restore the water distribution system in the Black Sea city of Odesa. Another would support Ukrainians who have been displaced from their homes.
Buffett, the son of billionaire Warren Buffett, serves on several corporate boards and is active in many foundations and charities. In 2017, he was also sworn in as interim sheriff of Macon County, Illinois. Buffett recalled that role as he gave the president a gift Wednesday.
“You are the top law man here in Ukraine, so I’m giving you my old sheriff badge from when I was sheriff,” Buffett said. “That’s for you. So, no one can question, you’re number one, you’re always number one.” ___ KYIV, Ukraine – Workers are removing bodies from the ruins of high-rise buildings in the devastated Ukrainian port city of Mariupol and transporting them in an “endless caravan of death,” a mayoral aide said Wednesday.
Petro Andryushchenko said on the Telegram app that in a search of about two-fifths of the buildings they have found from 50 to 100 bodies in each. They are taking the bodies to morgues and landfills.
Ukrainian authorities estimate at least 21,000 civilians were killed and hundreds of buildings destroyed during a weekslong Russian siege of Mariupol. Reports have surfaced of mass graves holding thousands of bodies.
Russia claimed full control of Mariupol last month.
The city has endured some of the war’s worst suffering and became a worldwide symbol of defiance after hundreds of Ukrainian fighters held out for months at a steel plant despite relentless bombardment.
___ WASHINGTON – Hard hit by sanctions since the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s economy will shrink by 15% this year and another 3% in 2023, wiping out 15 years of economic gains, according to the Institute of International Finance, a global banking trade group.
The resilience of the ruble – Russia’s currency – has partially shielded its economy from the full impact of sanctions. Propping up the ruble are strong oil and natural gas sales and the Russian central bank, which has raised interest rates and imposed capital controls to keep money from fleeing the country.