G20 urged to adopt West's sanctions on Russia over Ukraine

Britain says the war could continue for another year

A Ukrainian soldier rides in a tank near the frontline town of Vuhledar. Reuters
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Western sanctions on Russia should be adopted by a wider circle of the G20 countries, the group was told on Thursday.

Britain, meanwhile, said Russia's assault on Ukraine may well continue for another year, on the eve of the war's anniversary.

The G7 nations — the US, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan — announced they would raise financial aid to Ukraine to $39 billion this year.

But they said in a joint statement that others should adopt sanctions that some G20 members — which include India, China, South Africa and Russia itself — have not.

The sanctions "must be applied not only by the G7 countries but also by the G20 countries", Italy's Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti said.

"Otherwise, Russia circumvents the sanctions system and the effects risk falling short of our expectations."

In a stunt to mark the anniversary, a protest group painted Ukraine's blue-and-yellow colours on a road outside Russia's embassy in London.

The UK's Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Russian President Vladimir Putin had shown “complete disregard” for the lives of his soldiers during the first year of the invasion.

“When someone has crossed the line and thinks it is OK to do that to your own people, running effectively a meat grinder for an army, I think he is not going to stop,” Mr Wallace told LBC radio.

Mr Wallace estimated that 188,000 Russians had been killed or injured “as a result of this catastrophic miscalculation and aggression by President Putin”.

Asked whether the world would see the war still raging in another 12 months, he said: “I think we will."

Protest group covers road outside Russian embassy in London in paint - in pictures

Talks on new western sanctions on Russia were set to resume on Thursday as the EU's 27 members negotiate a 10th package.

It would widen export bans on Russia to stop it from buying electronics, engine parts and construction equipment that could be used by the military.

The UN General Assembly will consider a call for peace — by more than 50 countries — urging Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine.

It comes amid differing views around the world on whether a swift end to the war would be preferable to a Russian defeat.

“A peace plan is on the table in New York: it is the Charter of the United Nations,” said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock as she travelled to the US.

“What the international community is demanding could not be simpler: an end to Russian attacks, protection of civilians, respecting territorial integrity by withdrawing Russian troops, accountability for crimes that have been committed.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to call off his invasion, Britain's Defence Secretary said. AFP

Mr Putin and US President Joe Biden have used rival speeches in the week of the anniversary to push their narrative of the conflict.

While Mr Biden framed the war as a struggle for democracy and the rule of law, Mr Putin said Russia was defending itself against a hostile West.

Mr Wallace said on Thursday that the fighting in Ukraine was “not a Nato conflict” and that Nato pilots would not fly their fighter jets into Ukraine.

But he said it was possible that some allies could donate their aircraft to Ukraine's air force.

“There is already talk, I think, of an eastern European country supplying MiG-29s,” he said, referring to a type of Soviet-designed aircraft.

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was the latest visitor to Kyiv on Thursday, a day after the country said it would send six German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

“We will stand with Ukraine and its people until peace returns to Europe,” said Mr Sanchez, who followed Mr Biden and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in visiting Kyiv in the week of the anniversary.

Bucha, Ukraine - April 2022 and February 2023

Britain blamed the year of fighting for driving up food and fuel prices in Yemen as it announced £60 million ($72.3 million) in new humanitarian aid on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's ambassador to Britain, Vadym Prystaiko, said his country was confident of the UK's continued support, regardless of political developments in London.

Britain has changed prime ministers twice since the war broke out, and an election expected in 2024 could bring another change of government.

Mr Prystaiko told the PA news agency that Ukrainians admired former prime minister Boris Johnson but understood that governments come and go.

Ukrainians “appreciate what has been done by the whole UK”, he said. “They do understand, they are not naive and they will appreciate whoever comes, the Conservatives, Labour.

“We might also change our system, that is the beauty of democracy, we’re OK with that.”

One year of the Russia-Ukraine war — in pictures

Updated: February 23, 2023, 2:59 PM