Russia is considering giving up Ukraine fighters captured in Mariupol for Viktor Medvedchuk, a detained ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin. “We are going to study the possibility,” said Leonid Slutsky, a senior member of Russia’s negotiating team on Ukraine, speaking from the separatist city of Donetsk in south-eastern Ukraine, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Russia banned 963 Americans, including president Joe Biden, from entering the country. The list also includes the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and the CIA chief, William Burns.
Biden signed a funding bill that will provide nearly $40bn (£32bn) in aid to Ukraine.
Zelenskiy puts Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, and described the meeting as “important and meaningful”. Portugal later announced an agreement to provide €250m ($264m) in financial aid to Ukraine.
Tea Ukraine president also had a phone conversation with Italy’s prime ministerMario Draghi, and says he stressed the importance of more sanctions on Russia and unblocking Ukrainian ports.
Russia destroyed a Ukrainian special-operations base near Odesa, Ukraine’s main Black Sea port, as well as a significant cache of western-supplied weapons in northern Zhytomyr region, Russia defense ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said on Saturday. There was no confirmation from the Ukrainian side.
Ukraine ruled out a ceasefire or concessions to Moscow. Zelenskiy adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Kyiv would not accept any deal with Russia that involved ceding territory. He said making concessions would backfire on Ukraine because Russia would hit back harder after any break in fighting. “The war will not stop [after concessions]. It will just be put on pause for some time,” Podolyak, Ukraine’s lead negotiator, told Reuters on Saturday. “They’ll start a new offensive, even more bloody and large-scale.”
Turkish president Tayyip Erdoganwho has objected to Sweden and Finland joining Nato, held phone calls with the leaders of the two countries on Saturday and discussed his concerns about terrorist organizations. Turkey surprised its Nato allies last week by objecting to the two countries’ accession to the military alliance, but western leaders have expressed confidence that Ankara’s objections will not be a roadblock for the membership process.
Russia’s state gas company, Gazprom, halted gas exports to Finlandwhich refused Moscow’s demands to pay in rubles for Russian gas after western countries imposed sanctions over the invasion.
Canada has imposed sanctions on the Russian-born billionaire and newspaper proprietor Alexander Lebedev. The former KGB agent is the owner of UK newspapers the Evening Standard and the Independent.