Russia hikes rates, introduces capital controls to defend against sanctions – Reuters

Cars are parked in front of Russia's Central Bank headquarters in Moscow, Russia March 29, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Feb 28 (Reuters) – Russia's central bank more than doubled its key policy rate on Monday and introduced some capital controls as the country faced deepening economic isolation, but its governor said sanctions had stopped it selling foreign currency to prop up the rouble.
The admission that restrictions had effectively tied the Bank of Russia’s hands underscores the ferocity of the backlash to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and Western allies' success in restricting its ability to deploy some $640 billion of foreign exchange and gold reserves.
"The central bank today increased its key rate to 20% as new sanctions triggered a significant deviation of the rouble rate and limited the central bank's options to use its gold and foreign exchange reserves," Governor Elvira Nabiullina told a news conference.
"We had to increase rates to compensate citizens for increased inflationary risks."
Western sanctions had earlier sent the rouble tumbling nearly 30% to record lows. It clawed back some ground after the central bank raised its main interest rate to 20%, the highest level this century, from 9.5%. read more
The Bank of Russia sold $1 billion on foreign exchange markets on Thursday, Nabiullina said, but did not intervene on Monday.
That suggests the rouble was supported by other unnamed market participants.
Russia's central bank also said that stocks and derivatives trading on the Moscow exchange will remain closed for a second day on Tuesday. Russian stock markets and derivatives markets were closed on Monday to gird against further losses. read more
On Monday, the central bank and the finance ministry ordered exporting companies, which include some of the world's biggest energy producers from Gazprom to Rosneft, to sell 80% of their forex revenues on the market, as the central bank's own ability to intervene on currency markets was curbed.
Dmitry Polevoy, head of investment at Locko Invest, estimated that Russian exporters could offer $44 billion-$48 billion per month to support the rouble provided oil prices stayed around current levels and there were no sanctions on energy exports.
"This looks sufficient to stabilise the market in the next couple of weeks," he said.
Sanctions targeting Russia's energy sector remain on the table, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday.
The central bank temporarily banned Russian brokers from selling securities held by foreigners, although it did not specify assets for which the ban applies. It also said it would resume buying gold on the domestic market. read more
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a ban on foreign exchange loans and bank transfers by Russian residents to outside of Russia from March 1, the Kremlin said on Monday, in retaliation for economic sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West.
The United States and Britain banned their citizens or entities from transacting with the central bank, Russia's National Wealth Fund or the Russian finance ministry. read more
Switzerland said it would adopt European Union sanctions against Russians involved in the invasion of Ukraine and freeze their assets, in a major departure from the neutral country's traditions. read more
"If Russia continues on its current path, it is quite easy to see how the latest sanctions could be just the first steps in a severe and enduring severing of Russia’s financial and economic ties with the rest of the world," wrote Oliver Allen of Capital Economics in a report.
Russia's major banks have also been excluded from the SWIFT messaging network that facilitates trillions of dollars' worth of financial transactions worldwide, making it hard for lenders and companies to make and receive payments. read more
Nabiullina said Russia had an internal replacement for SWIFT to which foreign counterparties would be able to connect, but did not give details.
She said the banking sector faces "a structural deficit of liquidity" because of high demand for cash, and that the central bank was ready to support it.
"The central bank will be flexible to use any tools needed … banks have enough coverage to raise funding from the central bank," Nabiullina said.
Russians had queued outside ATMs on Sunday, worried the sanctions could trigger cash shortages and disrupt payments.
All banks would fulfill their obligations and funds in their accounts are safe, Nabiullina said, although the central bank was recommending that banks restructure some clients' loans.
The European arm of Sberbank (SBER.MM), Russia's biggest lender, was set to fail, the European Central Bank warned on Monday, after a run on its deposits sparked by the backlash from Russia's invasion of Ukraine. read more
Nabiullina said further monetary policy decisions would be driven by the central banks' assessment of external risks, adding that it would be flexible in its decisions given the "non-standard situation" faced by the financial system and economy.
The rouble finished trading down around 14% to the U.S. dollar.
The Institute of International Finance (IIF), a trade group representing large banks, warned on Monday that Russia was extremely likely to default on its external debts and its economy will suffer a double digit contraction this year after the fresh reprisal measures by the West.
The central bank and finance ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the IIF assessment.
An order that Russian brokerages reject sell orders for Russian securities from foreign clients could complicate plans by the sovereign wealth funds of Norway and Australia to wind down exposure to Russian-listed companies. read more
It was also unclear how energy major BP Plc , Russia's biggest foreign investor, would follow through on a decision to abandon its stake in state oil company Rosneft (ROSN.MM) at a cost of up to $25 billion. read more
JPMorgan Asset Management suspended its JPM Emerging Europe Equity fund on Monday, a source familiar with the matter said, and Denmark's Danske Invest said it had suspended trading in equity funds with a significant exposure to Russian shares. read more
Global bank HSBC and the world's biggest aircraft leasing firm, AerCap, are among other Western firms looking to exit Russia over its actions in Ukraine, which Moscow characterises as a "special operation." read more
UK-listed depositary shares of Russian companies plummeted, including those of gas giant Gazprom and Sberbank .
“We are witnessing prices for Russian ADRs that we haven't seen for literally decades,” said Michael Kart, a partner at investment firm VLG Capital. “This is certainly the most devastating hit ever taken by the Russian securities market."
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Most of Ontario's COVID-19 restrictions are lifting on March 1. Here's what you need to know – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

Katherine DeClerq, CTV News Toronto Multi-Platform Writer
Nearly all of Ontario’s major COVID-19 restrictions will lift this week, bringing the province the closest it’s been to pre-pandemic life.
Since Premier Doug Ford announced a state of emergency in March 2020, the province has been in and out of lockdown. The latest round of public health measures went into effect just after the Christmas holidays, shuttering restaurants and gyms yet again while severely restricting social gathering limits.
The province began reopening just over a month ago, allowing gyms and indoor dining to resume at 50 per cent capacity.
Each part of the province’s three-step plan was supposed to be separated by at least 21 days in order for the province to monitor public health trends. However, the province announced an expedited timeline in early February, a move that would see Ontario almost fully reopened fourteen days earlier.
Ontario moved to the second phase of the plan on Feb. 17, which saw social gathering limits increase to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
Capacity limits in settings where proof of vaccination is required were also lifted.
Venues that host sporting events or concerts were allowed 50 per cent seating capacity while indoor weddings, funerals or other religious services were capped at however many people could fit with physical distancing.
The next round of public health measures are expected to be lifted Tuesday.
The biggest change coming this week will be the lifting of Ontario’s proof of vaccination requirement for indoor non-essential settings. This means that businesses will no longer be required to ask patrons for proof of at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to allow entry.
Businesses can, however, choose to keep the mandate active. Some owners have told CTV News Toronto they will be requiring proof of vaccination in order to ensure the safety of their staff and for the peace of mind it brings their customers.
Vaccine requirements in industries such as long-term care and health care will remain in place for now.
Capacity limits in all other indoor public settings will also be lifted as of March 1.
Masking will remain in place; however officials have hinted the policy could be lifted sometime in March.
Ontario’s chief medical officer of health previously said the mask mandate will likely be lifted “simultaneously” across most sectors when the time comes.
Officials have also suggested that other policies may be tweaked or eliminated in the coming weeks, such as those around mandatory isolation or vaccine requirements in some workplaces.
While the lifting of these public health measures may come as a relief to many Ontario residents, at least one expert is warning that caution is still required.
Dr. Peter Jüni, the scientific director of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Table, told CTV News Toronto’s Life Unmasked team that it may be necessary to put some of these measures back into place.
“The point here is, this will not be the end of the pandemic. And I know people don’t want to hear that,” he said. “We just need to be aware of that, that’s the reality. This will not immediately become endemic.”
A shopper passes a store’s display welcoming back patrons at the Bayshore Shopping Centre mall in Ottawa, on its first day open as part of Stage 2 of Ontario’s plan to lift lockdowns implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on Friday, June 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
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Russians queue for cash as West targets banks over Ukraine – CTV News

Reuters Staff
MOSCOW/LONDON — Russians waited in long queues outside ATMs on Sunday, worried that new Western sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine will trigger cash shortages and disrupt payments.
Moves to block some Russian banks from the SWIFT global payments system and freeze the Bank of Russia’s reserves are expected to deal a severe economic blow, although Russian authorities and lenders sought to assuage fears.
"Since Thursday, everyone has been running from ATM to ATM to get cash. Some are lucky, others not so much," St. Petersburg resident, Pyotr, who declined to give his last name, said.
Russians waited in long lines amid concerns bank cards may cease to function, or that banks would limit cash withdrawals.
While the SWIFT move will hinder Russian banks from communicating with international peers, analysts say limiting the use of more than US$630 billion in international reserves could prove even costlier for Russia.
Sergey Aleksashenko, a former deputy chairman of the Russian central bank who now lives in the United States, said that Russia’s national wealth fund would effectively disappear.
"(President Vladimir) Putin and (former Finance Minister Alexei) Kudrin built it up for years, thinking about a major war," he said. "War has come, and there is no money."
Russian banks sought on Sunday to calm fears over money supplies and online payment systems.
Meanwhile, rates offered for foreign exchange shot up. The rouble closed on Friday at 83 to the U.S. dollar, but some lenders were offering rates of above 100 on Sunday.
Russia’s biggest lender, Sberbank SBER.MM, said it was not seeing any interruptions in customer transactions through its own and partner payment systems. State development bank VEB said external restrictions would not stop it supporting projects within Russia.
Otkritie, bailed out by the central bank in 2017, said new restrictions would not have a significant impact beyond use of its bank cards abroad.
The central bank, however, advised people to carry their bank cards with them, saying that mobile payment systems may not work at all with terminals or online shops operated by one of the five banks under the harshest sanctions.
Moscow resident Sergei said he would need to order a new card and remember how to live as he had five years previously when he stopped using cash.
"I’m used to living in the 21st century, without carrying plastic cards around. Everything is installed on my smartphone," he said. "I’m definitely against it."
Senior Russian lawmaker Andrei Klimov was cited by RIA as saying: "Russia’s exit from SWIFT poses no threat to our domestic settlements, stimulates the rouble as an international currency and at the same time reduces the possibility for the West’s destructive control of our settlement operations."
But some warned of catastrophic economic damage now that the West has announced it is freezing the central bank’s reserves.
"The most important thing is that the West is freezing the Central Bank’s reserves," former Russian prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov wrote on Twitter. "There is nothing to support the rouble with. They will turn on the printing press. Hyperinflation and catastrophe for the economy is not far away."
The Russian central bank did not respond on Sunday to requests for comment on the asset freeze.
Roman Borisovich, a former Moscow investment banker, said markets would be "messy" on Monday.
"(The Russian authorities) will put controls in place for sure. They can’t defend the rouble but they will probably halt trading and fix the rouble at an artificial rate like they used to do. There will be a black market," he said.
The central bank said its repo auction on Monday would have no limit.
In Moscow, one resident, Tatiana, said she did not expect to suffer too much because she does not earn much and, despite the inevitable fallout, believed Russians would get by.
"We are people who have overcome lots of ups and downs over the years," she said. "We will also overcome this because it is for a good cause. I salute everything Putin does."
People stand in line to withdraw money from an ATM in Sberbank in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
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Full coverage at
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Ontario lifts vaccine passport and new rules for travellers arriving in Canada: Five stories to watch in Ottawa this week – CTV Edmonton

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Josh Pringle CTV News Ottawa Digital Multi-Skilled Journalist
@PringleJosh Contact
Ontario lifts the COVID-19 vaccine passport requirements and a city committee prepares for year three of e-scooters on Ottawa streets. looks at five stories to watch this week.
Ontario will take the next step in easing public health measures this week, lifting capacity limits in all indoor public settings and scrapping the vaccine passport.
Effective Tuesday, capacity limits will be lifted in all remaining indoor public settings, including sports arenas, concert venues and theatres.  Remaining capacity limits for religious services, rites and ceremonies will be lifted.
Ontario will also lift the proof of vaccination requirements for all settings on Tuesday. Businesses and other settings may choose to continue to require the proof of vaccination to enter.
In Ottawa, the Bytowne Cinema, the Canadian Museum of Nature and the National Arts Centre will continue to require proof of vaccination to enter the buildings.
In Quebec, the government will lift a series of restrictions in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday. Bars and casinos can reopen at half capacity and restaurants, bars and casinos can stay open until 1 a.m. There will be no more capacity limits for auditoriums and arenas that have a capacity of 10,000 people or fewer.
Vaccine passport vaccine certificate
Full vaccinated travellers will no longer need to take a pre-arrival PCR test to arrive in Canada.
Starting Monday, the federal government says travellers can opt for a cheaper rapid antigen test approved by the country they are coming from, taken 24 hours before their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border.
Currently, all travellers – regardless of vaccination status – must provide proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours of their scheduled flight or land entry into Canada.
Travellers may still be selected for random testing upon arrival but will no longer have to quarantine while awaiting their test results.
Ottawa airport
Canadians will be keeping an eye on the situation in Ukraine this week, and the federal government’s response to the invasion.
Ukrainian armed forces have managed to withstand many Russian attacks this weekend, despite being outmanned and outgunned.
On Sunday, Ottawa residents gathered outside the Russian Embassy in Sandy Hill to denounce Russia’s military actions in Ukraine and show support for the Ukrainian people.
Canada has closed its airspace to Russian aircraft and imposed a number of sanctions on the country, targeting President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov specifically. 
Conservative leader Candice Bergen is calling on the federal government to expel Russia’s ambassador to Canada and recall Canada’s ambassador in Moscow. The Opposition also wants Canada to implement visa-free travel from Ukraine to Canada.
Embassy of Ukraine
As streets continue to reopen and the secured area shrinks following the "Freedom Convoy" demonstration, Ottawa police say their investigation will continue for the days and weeks to come.
As of Feb. 21, 191 people had been arrested and 122 people charged in connection to the demonstration. On Sunday, police announced a 48-year-old man from Grenville, Que. is facing charges of mischief and counselling to commit mischief in connection with the demonstration.
The secured zone remains in place in the area of Bronson Avenue, Laurier Avenue, Wellington Street and the Rideau Canal.
Acting Deputy Chief Trish Ferguson said last week that police are now in an "observation" phase of the operation, to make sure no new protests pop up in the city.
"A strong, elevated police presence will remain in place for as long as is required and can be increased when needed," Ferguson said.
Anti mandate protest Parliament Hill Feb 26 2022
E-scooters, summer patios and an east end Transitway through the Greenbelt are on the agenda at Ottawa City Hall this week.
Ottawa’s transportation committee will meet on Wednesday.
A report on the third year of the E-Scooter pilot project recommends reducing the number of e-scooters allowed in the city to 900, with two vendors operating the system instead of three.  The e-scooters will be required to emit a standardized noise to alert pedestrians and come with improved geofencing technology to prevent riding on the sidewalk and parking in no-parking zones.
Another change will see companies have only 15 minutes to retrieve a misplaced scooter.
Councillors will also vote on proposed changes to allow restaurant and café patios on streets and sidewalks again this summer.  The city will allow patios on the right-of-way to stay open until 2 a.m.
And the transportation committee will vote on the design of the Brian Coburn/Cumberland Transitway Extension. The proposal for the road/Transitway through the Greenbelt would cost $128 million for the roadway and $178 million for the Transitway. Staff note the NCC does not support the option, because it does not "conform to the NCC’s Greenbelt Master Plan policies."
E-scooters in Ottawa
Ottawa Board of Health meeting 5 p.m.
Ottawa Finance and Economic Development Committee meeting 9:30 a.m.
Ottawa Carleton District School Board meeting
Ottawa Senators at Tampa Bay Lightning 7 p.m. (TSN 5 and TSN 1200)
Ottawa Transportation Committee meeting 9:30 a.m.
Ottawa Senators at Florida Panthers 7 p.m. (TSN 5 and TSN 1200)
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Bell, Rogers to remove Russian state media outlet RT, heritage minister says – Global News

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Bell and Rogers will be removing Russian state media outlet RT from their networks with Rogers broadcasting the Ukrainian flag in its place, according to Canada’s Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez.
Rogers said on Twitter that Russia Today will “no longer be available” on their channel lineup effective Monday. Bell has already removed the outlet, according to Rodriguez.
“I commend Bell for removing RT,” Rodriguez tweeted Sunday evening.
“RT is the propaganda arm of Putin’s regime that spreads disinformation. It has no place here.”
I commend Bell for removing RT. Russia has been conducting warfare in Ukraine since 2014 and information warfare across the world. RT is the propaganda arm of Putin’s regime that spreads disinformation. It has no place here. I’ll have more to say very soon. #cdnpoli
— Pablo Rodriguez (@pablorodriguez) February 28, 2022

Read more: Ukraine slows Russian invasion under looming threat of nuclear attack
RT’s removal comes after the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josef Borrell, said earlier Sunday that RT and Sputnik — another Russian state-owned media outlet — will both be banned in the EU for spreading disinformation.
Canada has joined a number of other western allies in placing sanctions on Russia for invading Ukraine, including personal sanctions on President Vladimir Putin. Canada also announced Sunday that it would close its air space to Russian aircraft.
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Russian forces appear to shift to siege warfare in Ukraine, says U.S. defense official – The Globe and Mail

An Ukrainian Territorial Defence fighter takes the automatic grenade launcher from a destroyed Russian infantry mobility vehicle GAZ Tigr after the fight in Kharkiv on Feb. 27.SERGEY BOBOK/AFP/Getty Images
Russia, frustrated by early battlefield setbacks in Ukraine, could be shifting its strategy to siege warfare just as President Vladimir Putin raises the risk of a catastrophic miscalculation by putting nuclear forces on heightened alert, a senior U.S. defense official said on Sunday.
Putin gave the order to his nuclear forces as Washington assesses that Russian troops have made limited progress in their four-day-old invasion due to stiff Ukrainian resistance and planning failures that have left some units without fuel or other supplies, U.S. officials said.
As missiles rained down on Ukrainian cities, hundreds of thousands of civilians, mainly women and children, were fleeing the Russian assault into neighbouring countries.
The United States assesses that Russia has fired more than 350 missiles at Ukrainian targets so far, some hitting civilian infrastructure, the senior U.S. defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Still, it had so far mainly focused on military targets.
Why is Russia invading Ukraine? What Putin’s troops have done so far in Kyiv, Donbas and beyond
Russia’s Vladimir Putin puts nuclear forces on highest-level alert amid strong resistance to invasion of Ukraine
Citing a Russian offensive on the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, north of Kyiv, the official cited early indications that Russia might be adopting siege tactics.
“It appears that they are adopting a siege mentality, which any student of military tactics and strategy will tell you, when you adopt siege tactics, it increases the likelihood of collateral damage,” the official said.
So far, the Russian offensive cannot claim any major victories. Russian has not taken any Ukrainian city, does not control Ukraine’s airspace, and its troops remained roughly 30 km (19 miles) from Kyiv’s city centre for a second day, the official said.
Images on social media showed some Russian military vehicles in Ukraine, including battle tanks, that had apparently been abandoned after running out of fuel, raising questions about logistical failures.
“They simply don’t have a lot of experience moving on another nation state at this level of complexity and size,” the official said.
The official said it was unclear whether it was a failure in planning or execution, but added that Russian forces were likely to adapt and overcome the challenges.
Russia has still not moved into Ukraine about a third of the troops that Putin had arrayed around its borders, the official said. But it has rapidly increased the number of forces Moscow has sent into Ukraine in recent days.
The Pentagon learned of the heightened Russian alert for its nuclear forces from Putin’s televised announcement, the senior U.S. defense official said, instead of from American intelligence sources.
Just after Putin spoke, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the top U.S. commander for Europe, General Tod Wolters, held a pre-scheduled meeting at 8:30 a.m. (1330 GMT) at which they discussed the Russian president’s decision.
Although Washington was still gathering information, Putin’s move was troubling, the official said.
“It’s clearly, essentially, putting in play forces that, if there’s a miscalculation, could make things much, much more dangerous,” the official said.
Asked whether the United States would continue to provide military assistance to Ukraine following Putin’s announcement, the official said: “That support is going to go forward.”
Mick Mulroy, a former senior Pentagon official and retired CIA paramilitary officer, said he believed Putin’s decision to elevate the alert of his nuclear forces was a reaction to battlefield losses.
“Russia placing its nuclear forces on alert is incredibly reckless and a clear indication that Putin realizes his military is not performing as expected in Ukraine,” Murloy said.
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Russia's Ukraine attack forces Beijing into diplomatic dance; India offers help – National Post

Some diplomats in Beijing believe Russian attack came as a surprise to China
Author of the article:
Russia’s attack on Ukraine, which China refuses to condemn or even call an invasion, has sent Beijing into a diplomatic scramble to limit blowback while standing by a partner with which it has grown increasingly close in opposition to the West.

China has repeatedly called for dialog, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi telling senior European officials in a flurry of telephone calls on Friday that China respects countries’ sovereignty, including Ukraine’s, but that Russia’s concerns about NATO’s eastward expansion should be properly addressed.

After one call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, China said Putin was willing to engage in “high-level” dialog with Ukraine and the Kremlin later said Putin was ready to send a delegation to Minsk for talks with representatives of Ukraine.

The diplomatic overture follows an invasion some diplomats in Beijing believe came as a surprise to China, which did not tell its citizens to leave Ukraine ahead of time and which had repeatedly accused the United States of hyping the threat of a Russian attack.

This week Beijing, which bristles at criticism of its stance on Ukraine, would not directly address whether Putin told China he was planning to invade, saying Russia as an independent power did not need China’s consent.

China’s foreign policy is based on non-interference in the affairs of other countries, and it has yet to recognize Russia’s claim to the Crimea region of Ukraine after its 2014 invasion.

“Their first reaction of denying there was an invasion was surprising to us,” said a Western diplomat in Beijing who declined to be identified, given the sensitivity of the matter.

“It is a total contradiction with their long-standing positions on sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-interference.”

Three weeks ago, Putin met Xi hours before the start of the Winter Olympics in Beijing and they signed a wide-ranging strategic partnership aimed at countering U.S. influence and said they would have “no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation.”

The attack on Ukraine, which counts China as its largest trading partner with two-way commerce totalling $19 billion and with which it had cordial diplomatic ties, came days after the Olympics ended.

“My sense is that their initial instinct was to follow the 2014 post-annexation of Crimea playbook which worked quite well for them, where they managed to basically stay out of the fray and fade a little bit into the back,” said Helena Legarda, lead analyst at the Mercator Institute for China Studies, in Germany.

Legarda said there was more geopolitical competition now than in 2014 and more scrutiny of China.

“People are watching a lot more carefully, and that ‘We’re not going to take sides, and we’re going to fade into the background’, is no longer a viable option,” she said.

Beijing’s relations with the United States have been deteriorating for years, and its diplomatic support for Russia could accelerate a decline in ties with western Europe, China’s biggest export market, some analysts say, though others believe China has preserved room for manoeuver.

“We understand Russia, but we also have our own consideration,” said Yang Cheng, a professor at Shanghai International Studies University, one of those to express surprise at Russia’s attack.

“But it wouldn’t be the case whereby our relations with the West will not be impacted at all.”

Late on Friday in New York, China abstained from voting on a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that would have deplored Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

We understand Russia, but we also have our own consideration
The abstention, seen as a win by Western countries, was secured after a two-hour delay for last minute negotiations by the United States and others to secure China’s abstention, diplomats said.

Only last month, Xi marked 30 years of ties with Ukraine, hailing the “deepening political mutual trust” between them. Ukraine is a hub in the Belt and Road Initiative, a sprawling infrastructure and diplomatic undertaking that binds China closer with Europe.

The Ukraine crisis creates uncertainty for China during a year in which it craves stability, with Xi expected to secure an unprecedented third leadership term in the autumn.

“This is a very unfavorable situation that an unprepared China has been dragged into by Russia,” said Wu Qiang, an independent Beijing-based political analyst.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday offered to help in peace efforts in the Ukraine crisis, during a phone call with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Modi expressed his “deep anguish about the loss of life and property due to the ongoing conflict” while reiterating his call for an immediate cessation of violence and a return to dialog, a government statement said.

Modi said India was willing “to contribute in any way towards peace efforts,” while Zelenskyy briefed him about the conflict situation in Ukraine, the statement said.

On Friday, India along with China and United Arab Emirates abstained from voting for a U.N. Security Council resolution to deplore Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, drawing criticism in the West but praise from Moscow with which it has long standing defense ties.

Deep anguish
The Russian Embassy in New Delhi, in a message on Twitter, said it appreciated India’s “independent and balanced” position in the vote. In the past, India depended on Russia’s support and its veto power in the U.N. security council in its dispute over Kashmir with its longtime rival Pakistan.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that it says is not designed to occupy territory.
Modi also raised the issue of the safety of Indian citizens, particularly students, stuck in Ukraine, and asked for help to evacuate them.

India has sent teams to Poland, Hungary and Romania to evacuate Indian citizens, who have been asked to reach countries neighboring Ukraine. An Indian flight carrying about 200 students evacuated from Ukraine via Romania landed in Mumbai on Friday evening.

(Reporting by Martin Quin Pollard and Yew Lun Tian; Editing by Tony Munroe and Clarence Fernandez)

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‘Everything on the table’: Joly says Canada will do more to ‘suffocate’ Russia – Global News

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Canada is considering sending additional weapons to Ukraine and slapping Russia with more sanctions, in an effort to put “maximum pressure” on the Kremlin, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said.
Canada has joined the United States and other NATO allies in imposing a string of wide-ranging economic sanctions against Russia in response to Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which is not a NATO member.
Read more: Russian invasion could be ‘licence’ for other attacks, Canada’s UN ambassador warns
In an interview with The West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson on Sunday, Joly said Canada “will do more” to assist Ukraine, while working with other Western nations to impose pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who along with other senior government officials, has been sanctioned by Canada.
“Our goal … has been really to make sure that we are suffocating the Russian regime,” Joly said, adding that “everything is on the table”.
“We’re looking at many options right now as we speak, but we know that time is of the essence,” she said.
Any further measures against Russia from Canada will be imposed in coordination with its allies so there is “a lot of impact at the same time”, Joly told Stephenson.
In an unprecedented move on Sunday, Canada along with a growing number of European nations shut their airspace to Russian operators due to the Moscow’s incursion.
The U.S., European Union, Canada and United Kingdom decided on Saturday to impose restrictive measures on Russia’s central bank and exclude select banks from the SWIFT messaging network in an effort to cut Moscow off from the international financial system.
Amid weeks of warnings by the West based on its intelligence of an imminent Russian attack on Ukraine, Canada sent $7.8 million worth of lethal equipment and ammunition to Ukraine earlier this month.
Read more: Putin puts nuclear forces on high alert as Ukraine agrees to talks with Russia
Ahead of the start of the invasion this week, the federal government announced on Tuesday it was also sending up to 460 Canadian Armed Forces members, an additional frigate and maritime patrol aircraft to Latvia and the surrounding region to bolster NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe.
Joly said so far, Canada has been successful in sending weapons to Ukraine through Poland and will need to do secure a passage for any form of delivery in the future.
On Thursday, Joly summoned Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine to directly express her condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
When asked on The West Block if Canada was prepared to the expel the Russian envoy, Joly said she did not want to cut off a diplomatic link.
“To understand what’s going on in Russia, we need somebody, we need our ambassador, she said.
“And that’s why right now, I’ve been in close contact with our own ambassador because I think there is light at the end of the tunnel because I think Russians are really getting to understand that it is completely outrageous what Putin is doing right now.”
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