Ukraine Latest: Poland to Send Soviet-Era Jets; US Drone Video

Ukraine Latest: Poland to Send Soviet-Era Jets; US Drone Video

(Bloomberg) -- Polish President Andrzej Duda said his country will send four MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine in the coming days as the nation moves ahead with deliveries to bolster Kyiv’s air power.

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The US released video footage it said showed Russian jets dumping fuel on a US surveillance drone in international airspace and apparently clipping the aircraft, challenging Moscow’s contention that it had no role in Tuesday’s downing.

Mark Milley, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday that “we do not seek armed conflict with Russia” in the wake of spy drone incident.

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(All times CET)

US Says Video Shows Russia Lied About Drone Crash (1:20 a.m.)

The Biden administration released dramatic footage of an encounter between Russian fighter jets and an American surveillance drone as the US sought to show that Russia was lying with claims that its warplane never hit the pilotless craft.

The 42-second video, filmed from the bottom of the MQ-9 Reaper, shows a jet approach in a clear blue sky, release a plume of fuel then swerve away. The video then cuts to what the US says is a second Russian plane approaching the drone. It releases its fuel, nears the drone, and then the video breaks up. When the video returns, it shows the drone flying with a bent propeller.

The decision to declassify and release the footage was meant to rebut Russia’s claim that its jets never made contact with the drone, which the US said was in international airspace at the time of the encounter.

China, Ukraine Ministers Discuss Ties, Invasion (5:24 p.m.)

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba about bilateral ties and Russia’s invasion, prior to a possible call between the presidents of their countries.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to travel to Russia next week for talks with President Vladimir Putin, and may speak to Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskiy afterward. China in February released proposals aimed at achieving peace in Ukraine, but they were rejected by Kyiv’s allies as favoring Russia.

Latvia Sees Russian Employees at Council of Europe as Unacceptable (4:40 p.m.)

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics told Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejceinovic Buric that it was unacceptable for Russian citizens to continue working for the organization’s institutions given that Russia was excluded, according to an statement from the Baltic nation’s ministry.

Rinkevics met with Buric in Riga, as Latvia will take over the chairmanship of the Council of Europe in May for six months. Latvia and its Baltic neighbors have been among Europe’s harshest critics of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, supplying weapons and aid to help Kyiv.

Poland Detains Foreigners in Probe of Russia-Linked Spy Ring (1:48 p.m.)

Polish authorities detained nine foreign nationals accused of monitoring deliveries of weapons and aid to Ukraine, saying evidence indicated that the suspected operatives were receiving payments from Russian special services.

“The suspects were also preparing for sabotage activities, with the goal of paralyzing the transport of equipment, weapons and assistance for Ukraine,” Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski told reporters.

Russian Economy on Path to Steady Growth, Putin says (1:25 p.m.)

Russia’s economy is on track for “substantial” growth in the second quarter as domestic demand expands despite sanctions, President Vladimir Putin told a televised meeting with top business tycoons.

Inflation will drop close to the 4% target this month, he said, appealing to the executives to step up investments at home, filling niches left by foreign companies’ departures.

Poland to Send Soviet-era Jets to Ukraine (1:19 p.m.)

Poland will gradually transfer to neighboring Ukraine more Soviet-era MiG-29 warplanes, of which it has a dozen or so in its fleet, President Duda said at a press conference in Warsaw. Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak had said earlier that Poland was in talks with Slovakia on transferring such Soviet-era planes to Ukraine as part of a “wider coalition” of countries.

Zelenskiy and his military leadership have sought aircraft since the first days of the war. President Joe Biden’s administration has signaled support for NATO allies that opted to send air power, though the US leader has said delivering F-16 fighter jets isn’t on the cards for now.

Ukraine Keeps Key Rate Unchanged Amid IMF Talks (1 p.m.)

Ukraine’s central bank held borrowing costs steady as the government closes in on a deal with the International Monetary Fund for about $15 billion in financing.

The key policy rate remained at 25%, the level it’s been since the central bank raised the benchmark by 15 percentage points in June to halt a spike in inflation.

US Releases Footage of Russian Fighter Jet/US Drone Intercept (11 a.m.)

The US military’s European Command released footage showing Russian Su-27 jets dumping fuel on a US MQ-9 Reader drone in international airspace and apparently clipping the drone, challenging Moscow’s contention that it had no role in Tuesday’s downing.

The 42-second video of what the US called the “unsafe/unprofessional intercept” was edited for length but the events were “depicted in sequential order,” the US said.

The drone crashed into the Black Sea after the encounter. US defense chief Lloyd Austin spoke with his Russian counterpart about the incident on Wednesday. Russia said its planes didn’t make contact with the drone, which it claimed crashed on its own. Moscow didn’t release official video footage, however.

Military Orders Power Rheinmetall AG Sales (11 a.m.)

Germany’s largest defense contractor expects revenue to jump by as much as 19% this year on accelerating orders of military equipment as the war in Ukraine enters its second year.

“The epochal shift and the war in Europe has also ushered in a new era for Rheinmetall,” Chief Executive Officer Armin Papperger said in a statement. “Many countries have recognized the urgent need to step up their efforts for security.”

Shares in Rheinmetall, which makes parts for the Leopard 2 battle tank, have more than doubled since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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