Spanish PM to discuss Ukraine with Xi Jinping on visit to China

Pedro Sánchez says he will tell Chinese leader it must be Ukrainians who ‘lay down conditions’ for any peace agreement

Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, will visit China next week to meet President Xi Jinping, where he is expected to stress that it will be up to Ukraine to decide on the foundations of any peace agreement with Russia.

News of Sánchez’s visit emerged on Wednesday evening, as Xi – who is trying to position himself as a mediator in the war between Russia and Ukraine – wrapped up a symbolic, two-day trip to Moscow.

Continue reading...
Former New Zealand soldier killed fighting Russian forces in Ukraine

Kane Te Tai fought with the International Legion and was known for documenting battles and daily life in Ukraine on social media

A former New Zealand soldier who drew an online following with his dispatches from the frontline of the Ukraine war has been killed in fighting there.

The death of Kane Te Tai, 38, was confirmed by New Zealand’s foreign ministry Thursday, citing Ukrainian government sources.

Continue reading...
Despite Xi’s trip to Russia, dialogue between China and Ukraine is still possible

Kyiv remains keen not to anger Beijing given its influence over Moscow, and Zelenskiy is open to a meeting

Hours after Xi Jinping wrapped up a state dinner hosted in a lavish 15th-century palace, where he extolled Beijing’s “positive role” in Vladimir Putin’s invasion, Russia sent a swarm of drones to Ukraine that killed seven people in a town south of Kyiv.

Commenting on the attack, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, wrote: “Every time someone tries to hear the word ‘peace’ in Moscow, another order is given there for such criminal strikes.”

Continue reading...
A tale of two visits: Kishida and Xi tread starkly different paths on Ukraine

One voiced his anger as he saw first firsthand the destruction caused by Russia’s invasion. The other toasted a close friendship with Moscow

On Tuesday, Japan’s prime minister laid a wreath for the dead outside a church in the blasted Ukrainian town of Bucha, while 800km away in Moscow Xi Jinping was treated to an opulent state dinner by Vladimir Putin, underscoring the division in Asia over Russia’s invasion.

The first Japanese leader to visit a country in conflict since the second world war, Kishida toured Bucha, a town that has become synonymous with Russian brutality, and where the mayor has said more than 400 civilians were killed.

Continue reading...
Putin welcomes China’s controversial proposals for peace in Ukraine

But US warns against ‘any tactical move by Russia to freeze the war on its own terms’

Vladimir Putin has welcomed China’s proposals for peace in Ukraine at a joint press conference with Xi Jinping in Moscow – a plan the west has warned would allow the Kremlin to “freeze” its territorial gains in the country.

Speaking at the Kremlin during a joint news conference after the second day of talks with China’s president, Xi Jinping, Putin said Beijing’s peace plan “correlates to the point of view of the Russian Federation” and said that Ukraine’s western allies so far have shown no interest in it.

Continue reading...
Xi invites Putin to China in show of support as Moscow talks continue

Chinese and Russian leaders to discuss Ukraine in formal talks after friendly dinner, while Fumio Kishida meets Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv

Xi Jinping has invited Vladimir Putin to visit China this year in a symbolic show of support after the international criminal court issued an arrest warrant for Russia’s president over accusations of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children.

The Chinese leader extended the invitation during a meeting on Tuesday morning with the Russian prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin, as part of his state visit to Moscow.

Continue reading...
Xi Jinping says China ready to ‘stand guard over world order’ on Moscow visit

Chinese leader expected to position himself as peacemaker as Vladimir Putin welcomes his ‘good old friend’

Xi Jinping said China was ready with Russia “to stand guard over the world order based on international law” as he arrived for a state visit to Moscow that comes days after Vladimir Putin was made the subject of an arrest warrant by the international criminal court.

The Chinese leader is expected to position himself as a potential peacemaker in the Ukraine war during his two-day visit to Russia – his first state visit since Putin’s invasion. For his part, the Russian president will be hoping to project unity in the face of western isolation, as the US condemned Xi for providing “diplomatic cover” for Moscow to continue to commit further crimes in Ukraine.

Continue reading...
US warns world ‘should not be fooled’ by Xi’s ‘peace’ proposal as Chinese leader meets ‘dear friend’ Putin – as it happened

Antony Blinken says China proposals could be ‘stalling tactic’ to help Russian troops in Ukraine as Xi Jinping meets Vladimir Putin in Moscow. This live blog is closed

Associated Press reports that European Union ministers will meet today to try to finalise a plan to supply Ukraine with artillery shells, replenish their own national stocks and ramp up Europe’s defence industry.

The 27-nation bloc’s foreign and defence ministers will discuss the plan at a joint session in Brussels. Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba is due to provide an update of the latest developments in the war and set out his country’s military needs.

Continue reading...
‘Good old friend’: Putin offers praise for Xi ahead of first trip to Russia since Ukraine invasion

Russian president lauds Xi ahead of meeting, while Beijing calls for a ‘rational way’ out of the crisis

Vladimir Putin has praised “good old friend” Xi Jinping in a newspaper article published in China on the eve of a state visit by the Chinese president that will reaffirm the leaders’ strong ties and provide Moscow with an opportunity to emphasise that it has not been isolated by the global community.

The two leaders, who are believed to share a strong personal relationship, will meet one-on-one on Monday, followed by an informal lunch, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said.

Continue reading...
Covid has not affected people’s happiness around world, study reveals

World Happiness Report finds higher levels of benevolence in all global regions than before the pandemic

It claimed 6.7 million lives, locked down entire countries and triggered a global economic slump, but Covid-19 has not affected humankind’s happiness, an international study has found.

Interviews with more than 100,000 people across 137 countries found significantly higher levels of benevolence in all global regions than before the pandemic. And when asked to evaluate their lives on a scale of one to 10, people on average gave scores just as high in the 2020-22 Covid years as in 2017-19.

Continue reading...
Xi Jinping to visit Russia in show of support for Vladimir Putin

China says president will meet Russian leader next week with aim of deepening partnership

China’s president is to visit Russia next week in an apparent show of support for Vladimir Putin, the Chinese foreign ministry has said.

The Kremlin also announced the visit, scheduled for 20-22 March, saying it would take place “at the invitation of Vladimir Putin”.

Continue reading...
Russia-Ukraine war: Putin’s ‘travel options extremely limited’ after international criminal court warrant – as it happened

Russian president accused of ‘unlawful deportation’ of children ‘from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation’

The state-owned Russian news agency RIA is reporting that Russia’s defence secretary, Sergei Shoigu, has presented state awards to the pilots of the Su-27 planes involved in the drone incident over the Black Sea for “preventing the violation of the borders of the special operation area by the American MQ-9 Reaper drone”.

More details soon …

Continue reading...
Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway review – Rani Mukerji goes dowdy in mama-drama ordeal

Adaptation of a nightmare true story about a woman whose children were removed by the Norwegian state gets passionate too late

This epic Hindi-language testament to tenacious maternal love has been neatly timed for release over the UK Mother’s Day weekend, although it’s based on a true story which began over a decade earlier. Sagarika Chakraborty had already been living in Norway for four years when, in 2011, her two young children were taken by the state for no apparent reason. Rani Mukerji stars as this latter-day Mother India, renamed Debika Chatterjee for the film. It’s a dowdy role for the usually glamorous Bollywood star, but then any averagely vivacious human being would stand out against this grey Norway of municipal buildings and expressionless bureaucrats.

Why were Debika’s children taken away? The official list of charges – co-sleeping, hand-feeding, applying kohl – amount, on the face of it, to simple cultural differences, not child abuse. According to Debika’s husband (Anirban Bhattacharya) though, it’s all her fault: she’s too emotional, too dramatic, too unwilling to integrate. As the film progresses, Debika is increasingly alone in her battle against a mighty foreign state. It’s not just Mrs Chatterjee v Norway, but Mrs Chatterjee v The In-Laws, Mrs Chatterjee v The Mean Mums and Mrs Chatterjee v The Entire, Legally-Enshrined Patriarchy.

Continue reading...
From the US to Africa: how China sees the world as Xi’s third term begins

Geopolitical relations China’s president will have to navigate as country reopens after three years of isolation

As Xi Jinping starts his third term as China’s president, high on his agenda will be strengthening the country’s position on the world stage. After three years of isolation as Beijing tried to impose a harsh zero-Covid policy, China is reopening to the outside world.

But much has changed since China closed its borders in 2020. Its economy has been hobbled, its ally Russia has started a war in Europe and relations with the US are at an all-time low. Here are the geopolitical relationships that Xi will have to navigate as he attempts to assert Beijing’s vision.

Continue reading...
‘Russia has lost its soft power’: how war in Ukraine destabilises old Soviet allies

Protests in Georgia last week were just the latest indication of how Putin’s disastrous invasion has damaged relations with former Eastern bloc nations

• Russia-Ukraine war – latest updates

As Georgian protesters marched on the country’s parliament against a new “foreign agents” law this week, they bore signs that said “No to Russian law!”, and others decrying the spirit of autocracy and imperialism that is now firmly associated with Moscow’s influence in the region.

By all appearances, the law they opposed was a local initiative to allow the ruling Georgian Dream party to crack down on civil society and win forthcoming elections. But that party’s perceived closeness to Moscow and the similarities to a notorious Russian law against “foreign agents” were a popular rallying cry for Georgians who joined the protests.

Continue reading...