This photo shows a view of the city of Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb 24, 2022. (EMILIO MORENATTI / AP)
WASHINGTON / KYIV – Kyiv is willing to seize Russian assets to finance Ukraine's post-conflict recovery, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Thursday.
"The funds of the Russian government and oligarchs will be one of the main sources for filling the Fund for the Reconstruction of our country," Shmyhal wrote on Telegram.
Russia has over $600 billion worth of foreign currency reserves held in dollars, gold and other currencies, with about half of them believed to be frozen by the restrictions imposed by Western governments on its central bank
Ukraine is in talks with the countries of the Group of Seven over the seizure of Russia's assets, Shmyhal said, adding that Canada has already prepared legislation for such actions.
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Earlier, Shmyhal said that his cabinet has set up a recovery fund for Ukraine's long-term reconstruction and estimated that the country's full-scale recovery will cost around $600 billion.
Russia has over $600 billion worth of foreign currency reserves held in dollars, gold and other currencies, with about half of them believed to be frozen by the restrictions imposed by Western governments on its central bank.
The head of Russia's central bank has said it was preparing to take legal action to challenge the freeze.
Ukrainian Preident Volodymyr Zelensky (right) and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres give a joint press conference following their talks in Kyiv on April 28, 2022.
(SERGEI SUPINSKY / AFP)
Zelensky, Guterres discuss evacuation from Mariupol
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday discussed the evacuation of people from the besieged city of Mariupol, the presidential press service reported.
Ukraine is ready for urgent talks to evacuate people from Mariupol and hopes that the participation of the UN secretary-general in this mission would help the evacuation efforts, Zelensky told reporters after the meeting.
We will continue to call for a complete ceasefire, as well as for immediate practical measures to save lives and minimize human suffering.
Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General
"We see that despite the words of the Russian President (Vladimir Putin) about the alleged cessation of hostilities in Mariupol, the territory of the Azovstal plant is under barbaric bombing by the Russian army," Zelensky said.
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He also called on the UN chief to make efforts to stop the "deportation" of Ukrainian citizens to Russia and return home Ukrainians from Russia.
For his part, Guterres said that he is doing his best to save people in Mariupol.
"We will continue to call for a complete ceasefire, as well as for immediate practical measures to save lives and minimize human suffering," the UN chief said.
He stressed the need for effective humanitarian corridors from Mariupol and local cessation of hostilities.
Guterres arrived in Ukraine on Wednesday to talk with Zelensky, after visiting Moscow on Tuesday.
Mariupol, a key Azov Sea port city in eastern Ukraine, saw one of the worst violence in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on April 5, 2022.
(MANDEL NGAN / AFP)
Biden requests $33b from Congress in aid to Ukraine
US President Joe Biden on Thursday requested that Congress appropriate $33 billion to help Ukraine defend itself from the ongoing military operation by Russia.
Delivering remarks from the White House, Biden elaborated on how the newly proposed supplemental funding will be used. Of the $33-billion sum, according to a fact sheet by the White House, $20.4 billion will be military and security assistance to Kyiv, $8.5 billion will be spent in economic assistance for the Ukrainian government and people, and $3 billion will be allocated for additional humanitarian assistance and food security funding, and targeted funding to address economic disruptions caused by the war.
Biden also proposed legislation to hold Russian oligarchs accountable for their alleged role in supporting the military operation
"It's critical this funding gets approved and approved as quickly as possible," the president said.
Biden also proposed legislation to hold Russian oligarchs accountable for their alleged role in supporting the military operation. One of the aims of the proposed legislation is to improve the United States' ability to use forfeited oligarch funds to remediate harms caused to Ukraine by Russia's military operation, according to a separate fact sheet by the White House detailing the proposal.
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In an effort to assuage speculations over the possible use of nuclear weapons as the hostility between Russia and Western powers shows no sign of abating, Biden said "no one should be making idle comments about the use of nuclear weapons or the possibility of the need to use them."
He criticized Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for making "irresponsible" remarks earlier this week on the prospect of a nuclear conflict.
Lavrov told Russian media in an interview broadcast on Russian TV on Monday that preventing nuclear war is Moscow's "key position on which we base everything. The risks now are considerable." He added: "I would not want to elevate those risks artificially. Many would like that. The danger is serious, real. And we must not underestimate it."