Irish Foreign Minister visits Kyiv for talks

By The Associated Press

PARIS — The French government says it has frozen 33 properties on the French Riviera, Paris and elsewhere belonging to Russian oligarchs targeted by sanctions because of the war in Ukraine.

The Finance Ministry this week published an updated list of Russian-owned properties that have been frozen in France, including a luxury chateau overlooking the Mediterranean at Cap d’Antibes that is believed to have belonged to sanctioned Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.

Together, the 33 properties are valued at over half a billion euros. Unlike seized or confiscated property, frozen property still belongs to its owners and they can continue to live there. But they cannot be sold or rented.

The total value of Russian assets frozen or seized in France is now approaching 24 billion euros, the bulk being nearly 23 billion euros of financial assets frozen for the Russian central bank. In addition to financial assets and property, French authorities also froze or seized three yachts and four transport vessels, and froze six helicopters and three works of art.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIAN-UKRAINE WAR:

– Ukrainian forces say they hit and badly damaged the Russian flagship

– UN says war in Ukraine threatens to devastate many poor countries

— Ukraine’s detention of an oligarch close to Putin angers Moscow

– Polish and Baltic presidents visit Ukraine in show of support

— Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

LVIV, Ukraine — The Russian Defense Ministry said the fire on the cruiser Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, has been brought under control. It indicates that the vessel remains afloat and will be towed to port.

The ministry said in a statement on Thursday that there was no longer any open fire on the vessel and the ammunition explosions had ceased. “The main missile weapons were not damaged,” the statement said.

Ukrainian officials, however, claimed the ship sank, saying it was a “resounding slap in the face” for forces in Moscow. Conflicting accounts could not be reconciled immediately.

Oleksiy Arestovych, adviser to the Ukrainian president’s office, said in a Facebook post that 510 crew members were on board the cruiser Moskva as it sank in the Black Sea following severe damage from a strike Ukrainian missile.

Military analyst Oleg Zhdanov said the damage to the Moskva greatly boosted the morale of Ukrainian forces on the eve of a new wave of Russian offensive in Donbass.

In the early hours of Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry said the ship suffered “serious damage” after its ammunition exploded “following a fire”. The ministry did not attribute the fire to a missile strike.

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LONDON — Ireland’s foreign minister is in Kyiv, the latest in a series of senior European politicians to make the trip to show support for Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion.

The Irish government has announced that Simon Coveney, also Minister of Defence, is meeting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.

Ireland has sent Ukraine 20 million euros ($22 million) in humanitarian aid and 33 million euros ($36 million) in non-lethal military assistance.

He is also a strong supporter of Ukraine’s application for membership of the European Union, and the government has said Coveney will discuss how Ireland can “assist Ukraine in its application for status as a candidate for the EU”.

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BERLIN — German authorities say they seized a huge superyacht in Hamburg after determining it belonged to the sister of Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov.

The Federal Criminal Police Office said on Wednesday that after “extensive investigations” and despite “a cover-up abroad”, it was able to determine that the owner was Gulbakhor Ismailova, Usmanov’s sister.

The Dilbar superyacht was launched in 2016 at a reported cost of over $648 million.

The German police office said German authorities were working in Brussels to ensure European Union sanctions applied to the owner. It indicates that the yacht can no longer be sold, rented or loaded.

The United States and the EU last month announced economic sanctions against Usmanov, a metals magnate, for his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine.

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PRAGUE — Three Czech lawmakers from the upper house of parliament, the Senate, are traveling to kyiv with their Polish counterparts. Led by President Milos Vystrcil, they were invited by Ruslan Stefanchuk, speaker of the unicameral Ukrainian parliament Verkhovna Rada.

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UNITED NATIONS – A UN task force warns in a new report that Russia’s war on Ukraine threatens to devastate the economies of many developing countries which now face even higher food and energy costs and under increasingly difficult financial conditions.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched the report on Wednesday, noting that the war is “fuelling” a food, fuel and financial crisis in the poorest countries already struggling to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. , climate change and lack of access to adequate funding for their economic recovery.

Rebeca Grynspan, secretary-general of the UN trade and development agency which coordinated the task force, said 107 countries were “severely exposed” to at least one dimension of the food, fuel and food crisis. and that 69 countries were seriously exposed to all three. and face “very difficult financial conditions with no budgetary room for maneuver and no external financing to soften the blow”.

The report urges countries to ensure a steady flow of food and energy through open markets, and it calls on international financial institutions to do all they can to provide more liquidity immediately.

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ODESA, Ukraine – In Ukraine’s Odessa region, Governor Maksym Marchenko said forces struck the Russian guided missile cruiser Moskva with two missiles and caused “serious damage.”

Moskva is the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that the ship was damaged on Wednesday, but not that it was hit by Ukraine.

The ministry indicates that ammunition on board exploded following a fire whose causes “were being established”, and that the entire crew of the Moskva was evacuated. The cruiser usually has around 500 people on board.

Odessa is the largest port in Ukraine.

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KYIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was “sincerely grateful” to the United States for the new $800 million in military aid.

In his daily late-night address to the nation, Zelenskyy also said he was grateful for Wednesday’s visit from the presidents of Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

He said these leaders “helped us from day one, those who did not hesitate to arm us, those who did not doubt the advisability of imposing sanctions”.

In his phone conversation with US President Joe Biden, Zelenskyy said he discussed the new arms shipment, even tougher sanctions on Russia and efforts to bring Russian soldiers who have committed war crimes to justice. in Ukraine.

Zelenskyy also said work was continuing to clear tens of thousands of unexploded shells, mines and tripwires left in northern Ukraine by the retreating Russians.

He urged people returning home to those cities to be suspicious of any unfamiliar objects and report them to the police.