Ukraine: Scholz warns war could last a ‘really long time’ — live updates

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  • Russia can wage war for a “really long time,” says German Chancellor Olaf Scholz
  • Ukraine recovery meeting to open in Switzerland
  • The UK will host a conference next year focused on helping Ukraine recover

The article was last updated 05:55 UTC/GMT 

UK estimates Ukraine grain export to drop by two-thirds

The UK Ministry of Defense says the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to have a devastating impact on Ukraine’s agricultural sector.

It says the war has affected supply chains for seed and fertilizer that Ukrainian farmers need.

The ministry also said the Russian blockade of Odesa was preventing the export of food. It said Ukraine’s grain exports in 2022 unlikely to be more than 35% of the total last year.

Meanwhile, after the last remaining major population center in the Luhansk region — Lysychansk — fell under Russian control, the UK ministry said Russia’s focus would likely switch to Donetsk. A large portion of that part of Donbas remains under the control of Ukrainian forces.

“The fight for the Donbas has been grinding and attritional and this is highly unlikely to change in the coming weeks,” the ministry said.

Ukraine says G20 summit attendance depends on whether Russia goes

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his participation in November’s G20 summit in Indonesia depends on whether Russia will attend the gathering.

“Our participation depends on the Russian Federation, whether it will be there,” Zelenskyy was quoted as saying by the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the summit’s host, issued an invitation to Zelenskyy during his visit to Kyiv last week.

“I told the Indonesian president that we are grateful for the invitation, but we have a security situation,” Zelenskyy said, adding that he doubted many leaders would attend the summit if the Russian president planned to be there.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already signaled his intention to attend the G20 summit. But it remains unclear whether he plans to attend the event virtually or in person.

Ukraine recovery meeting to open in Lugano

Leaders from dozens of countries, international organizations and the private sector are meeting in Switzerland to discuss a recovery plan for Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address the gathering virtually.

The two-day conference had been planned well before Russia launched its full-scale invasion on February 24. It had originally been slated to discuss reforms in Ukraine, but after the war began the focus was shifted to reconstruction.

Rebuilding Ukraine once the war ends is expected to cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

The effort will require “colossal investments,” Zelenskyy said at the weekend.

Kyiv School of Economics has estimated the damage done so far to buildings and infrastructure at nearly $104 billion (€100 billion).

It estimated that at least 45 million square meters of housing, 256 enterprises, 656 medical institutions, and 1,177 educational institutions had been damaged, destroyed or seized, while Ukraine’s economy had already suffered losses of up to $600 billion.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Switzerland Artem Rybchenko said ahead of the conference that it would help create “the roadmap” to his country’s recovery.

Scholz: Russia can wage war for a ‘really long time’

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine was made “one year before it started or possibly earlier,” adding that he believes Moscow will be “able to continue with the war for a really long time.”

During an interview with CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” Scholz also defended Berlin’s delays in delivering weapons to Ukraine.

He said the wait was due to the need to train Ukrainian soldiers in Germany.

“We will always see that Germany is one of the countries that is doing the most, because what we are sending now is the most sophisticated technology you can use,” Scholz said.

He also admitted that it had been a mistake by European countries to become so dependent on Russian energy. 

“We should have invested all over Europe in infrastructure that gives us the ability to change the supply, from one day to the other,” he said. “This is the lesson that has been learned… be prepared for a situation like this.”

UK to host Ukraine recovery conference

The UK will host a conference next year focused on helping Ukraine recover from the damage caused by the Russian invasion, the Foreign Office said.

This year’s Ukraine Recovery Conference is taking place in Switzerland from Monday.

The meeting brings together representatives from Ukraine and other nations as well as international organizations and civil society groups.

“We have led on support for Ukraine during the war and will continue to lead in supporting the Ukrainian Government’s Reconstruction and Development Plan,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.

The Foreign Office said Britain had been asked by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to champion the recovery of Kyiv and the surrounding region.

Infographic on Russian military advances into Ukraine

Russia has claimed gains in its military offensive in eastern Ukraine

Recap of Sunday’s events

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed that his forces have withdrawn from Lysychansk, the last holdout city in the eastern Luhansk region. 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Berlin was discussing with allies what security guarantees can be given to Kyiv when the war is over.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke out against urging Ukraine to negotiate an end to the war. Moscow has accused Western nations of preventing peace negotiations, thus dragging out the conflict.

During talks with Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese pledged further military support, including armored vehicles and drones.

Turkish customs authorities detained a Russian cargo ship carrying grain that Ukraine says is stolen.

Several people died when Russian troops shelled Slovyansk in the eastern Donetsk region, which the Ukrainian military described as the “biggest” bombardment in recent times.

Click here for all updates from Sunday.

mm/jsi (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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