Additional air defense systems are being sent to Ukraine, US official says
From CNN's Jim Sciutto
As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky prepares to ask Congress for further military aid to his country, the US and its NATO allies are already sending several surface-to-air missiles systems to Ukraine to aid in its defense.
According to a senior US official, these additional systems include the Soviet-era SA-8, SA-10, SA-12 and SA-14 mobile air defense systems.
These systems have a lower altitude range than the S-300 system, which Ukraine has requested. However, they have a range higher than the Stinger shoulder-fired missiles previously supplied to Ukraine, giving them the capability to hit cruise missiles.
The systems have been sourced from NATO partner nations and are “on the way,” according to this senior US official. It is not clear at this time how these systems will be backfilled to the providing country.
8:16 a.m. ET, March 16, 2022
Lavrov says there is hope for compromise in Ukraine-Russia talks
From CNN's Sarah Dean
The talks between Russia and Ukraine are difficult, but there is hope for reaching a compromise, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday.
“The negotiations are difficult for obvious reasons, but nonetheless there is a certain hope for reaching a compromise,” Lavrov said in a televised interview to Russian media outlet RBK broadcast live by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Lavrov also said negotiations are underway on humanitarian issues, on the situation on the ground in terms of hostilities, and on political settlement.
8:27 a.m. ET, March 16, 2022
Surrender suggestions are a "childish provocation," Zelensky says
From CNN's Andrew Carey
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has dismissed suggestions he is ready to surrender as a “childish provocation,” after a fake banner appeared on a Ukrainian newscast saying the president was calling on his people to lay down their weapons.
“I can only ask the Russian military to give up arms and return home,” Zelensky said in a video statement, adding, “we are home already, we are defending our land, our children. We are not going to give up any arms until our victory.”
According to Ukrainian government officials, the fake banner appeared on the Ukraine 24 news channel after a Russian hack.
8:20 a.m. ET, March 16, 2022
Top official rejects "neutrality" model for Ukraine without security guarantees
From Tim Lister and Julia Kesa in Lviv
A senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the country's government rejects the idea floated by Russia that Ukraine should adopt a Swedish or Austrian model of neutrality.
Mykhailo Podolyak said that Ukraine was now in a state of war with Russia, and the security model "can only be Ukrainian" with "legally verified security guarantees. And no other models or options."
"What does that mean?" he continued. "First, absolute security guarantees, which would mean that the signatories of guarantees do not stand aside in the event of an attack on Ukraine, as it is today." Instead, they would "take an active part on the side of Ukraine in the conflict and provide us with an immediate supply of the necessary weapons."
The Kremlin said Wednesday “demilitarization” of Ukraine could be a compromise for Russia, suggesting a Swedish or Austrian model of a state.
"This is an option currently discussed and which could really be seen a compromise," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in a regular conference call with journalists.
The head of the Russian delegation in talks with Ukraine, Vladimir Medinsky, earlier spoke about an Austrian or Swedish version of a neutral state in Ukraine with refusal to deploy foreign bases or enter the bloc, but at the same time with the presence of its own armed forces.
Podolyak said: "Ukraine has never been a militaristic state that attacks or plans to attack its neighbors ...That is why today Ukraine wants to have a really strong pool of allies with clearly defined security guarantees."
He also repeated the demand for a no-fly zone over Ukraine that would include both aircraft and missiles.
CNN's Sarah Dean contributed reporting to this post.
7:40 a.m. ET, March 16, 2022
Japan to revoke Russia's "most favored nation" status over Ukraine invasion
From CNN's Emiko Jozuka in Tokyo
Japan will revoke Russia’s "most favored nation" (MFN) trade status in response to its invasion of Ukraine, the country's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a news conference on Wednesday.
As a member of the World Trade Organization, Russia is treated as a MFN, which gives it equal access to all the WTO members' markets and guarantees equal tariffs.
Japan's latest move follows President Joe Biden's announcement Friday that the US, along with G7 nations and the European Union, intended to revoke Russia’s MFN status.
During the news conference, Kishida called the Russian invasion of Ukraine a "historic atrocity" and said that Japan would continue to work closely with G7 nations to strengthen financial sanctions against Russia.
Kishida said Tokyo would further expand the scope of asset freezes against Russian oligarchs close to the Putin administration, prevent Russia from using digital currencies to avert sanctions and ban imports of specific products from the country.
Tokyo will also work with G7 nations to prevent Moscow from tapping loans from the International Monetary Fund, Kishida said.
Japan will also collaborate with international aid agencies to deliver food and medicine to Ukrainians, he continued, adding that the country had started accepting evacuees from Ukraine and called on the public's support.
7:31 a.m. ET, March 16, 2022
Kremlin says despite sanctions, Putin is still open to speaking to Biden
From CNN's Sarah Dean
Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn’t spoken to US counterpart Joe Biden since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, but contact between the two leaders can resume if necessary, the Kremlin said Wednesday.
“If necessary, contacts [between Biden and Putin] can resume,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on his regular conference call.
“Imposing sanctions on [top US officials] does not mean stopping contacts,” Peskov added.
On Tuesday, Russia sanctioned top US officials, including Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in response to sanctions from the US.
7:26 a.m. ET, March 16, 2022
Russian rocket hits TV tower in central Ukrainian city, say authorities
A TV tower in the central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia has been hit by Russian rocket fire, knocking out the city’s broadcasting facilities, according to a statement from Ukraine’s state communications service.
There are no reports of any casualties. A CNN team in the area report hearing aircraft and two explosions at around 4 a.m. local time.
It is the latest in a series of communications towers to be hit by Russian forces, including structures in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Vynarivka and most recently in the northwestern city of Rivne.
Authorities in Rivne now say 21 people were killed in the strike that targeted the TV tower there.
Wednesday’s strike is the second significant targeting of Vinnytisa since the war began. Ten days ago, Russian missiles destroyed Vinnytsia’s airport.
7:21 a.m. ET, March 16, 2022
Oil industry faces "what could turn into the biggest supply crisis in decades," IEA warns
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is warning that potential large-scale disruptions to Russian oil production is "threatening to create a global oil supply shock.”
This comes in light of tough sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine and as buyers increasingly avoid Russian oil purchases.
“We estimate that from April, 3 mb/d (million barrels per day) of Russian oil output could be shut in as sanctions take hold and buyers shun exports," the IEA said in its oil market report.
"OPEC+ [the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries] is, for now, sticking to its agreement to increase supply by modest monthly amounts. Only Saudi Arabia and the UAE hold substantial spare capacity that could immediately help to offset a Russian shortfall."
OPEC has been facing calls to ramp up production amid soaring energy prices. In its last meeting, the organization agreed to stick to their current plan of gradually increasing output by just 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) per month. It meets again on March 31.
“Surging commodity prices and international sanctions levied against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine are expected to appreciably depress global economic growth,” the IEA said, which cut its 2022 global oil demand outlook by 1.3 million barrels per day.
It warned that the industry is faced “with what could turn into the biggest supply crisis in decades.”
The implications of a potential loss of Russian oil exports to global markets cannot be understated," the IEA added.
"Russia is the world’s largest oil exporter, shipping 8 mb/d of crude and refined oil products to customers across the globe," it noted.
6:50 a.m. ET, March 16, 2022
Czech crowdfunding campaign raises $30 million for weapons for Ukraine
From CNN's Ivana Kottasová in Lviv
A crowdfunding campaign aiming to raise money for weapons for Ukraine has raised over $30 million from more than 100,000 supporters since it was launched last month, according to the Czech Ministry of Defense.
The campaign is coordinated by the Czech government with the money going to the Embassy of Ukraine in Prague.
The proceeds are being used to buy weapons and other military supplies that Ukraine needs to defend itself from the Russian invasion, according to a statement from the Czech Ministry of Defence.
The Czech government said it has made available $185 million worth of military supplies that can be purchased with the money from the crowdfunding campaign.
“Arms, military equipment and ammunitions urgently needed by the Ukrainian military and the Territorial Defense Force to fill depleted stockpiles are part of the offer," the ministry said.
"Heavy military systems and ammunitions of 'Eastern' design are under consideration for delivery to Ukraine as well."