Politico’s Morning Update on Ukraine and Russia

From Politico Playbook by Eugene Daniels:


— Russian Lt. Gen. YAKOV REZANTSEV was killed “in a strike near the southern city of Kherson,” the BBC reports. “A western official said he was the seventh general to die in Ukraine, and the second lieutenant general — the highest rank officer reportedly killed. It is thought that low morale among Russian troops has forced senior officers closer to the front line.”

— This morning, President JOE BIDEN dropped by a meeting in Poland between Secretary of State ANTONY BLINKEN, Secretary of Defense LLOYD AUSTIN and their Ukrainian counterparts.

— In remarks after his bilateral with Polish President ANDRZEJ DUDA, Biden reiterated the U.S.’ “sacred obligation” to Article V of NATO, and said that Ukrainian refugees reminded him of the southern border here at home, according to pooler Aurélia End.

— Near the Ukrainian border in Poland on Friday, Biden met with leaders and refugees, ruing his inability to go into Ukraine itself. He’ll wrap up his trip today with a bilateral meeting in Warsaw and a “major address” on the war. More from CNN

— Ukraine wasn’t satisfied with the West’s big week of summits. “We expected more bravery. We expected some bold decisions,” the chief of staff to president VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY said, per WaPo.

— New U.S. sanctions will hit Russian companies supporting the country’s military and intelligence, WSJ’s Vivian Salama and Ian Talley scooped. The official announcement may come next week, and will focus on “companies that are part of Russia’s procurement networks that produce and buy goods that have both civil and military purposes.”

— Incoming: Russian mercenaries and other troops. The Wagner Group fighters who have reportedly done Russia’s dirty work everywhere from the Central African Republic to Syria are more than tripling their numbers in the eastern Donbas region, the U.S. said, per NYT’s Eric Schmitt. They’re also moving people, “artillery, air defenses and radar” from Libya to join the fight. Meanwhile, the U.S. assessed that Russia is starting to move additional troops from Georgia and elsewhere to Ukraine, per WaPo.

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