GENEVA — The World Trade Organization is predicting that trade in goods will grow much less than previously expected this year, saying prospects for the global economy have darkened since the onset of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The Geneva-based WTO on Tuesday pointed to multiple uncertainties in its forecast over the next two years because Russian and Ukrainian exports of items like food, oil and fertilizers are under threat from the war. It also cited the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic –- notably from lockdowns in China.
Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala described a “double whammy” from the conflict and the coronavirus. She said the war has caused “immense human suffering” in the region and its effect has rippled around the world, notably in poorer countries.
The WTO said its projections for world trade take into account factors like the impact of the war, sanctions on Russia, and lower demand around the world from lower business and consumer confidence. It said world merchandise trade volume is expected to grow 3% this year, down from a forecast of 4.7% before the war began.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
— Mayor: 10,000 dead in Ukraine’s Mariupol and toll could rise
— ‘It’s not the end’: The children who survived Bucha’s horror
— Russian war worsens fertilizer crunch, risking food supplies
— Czechs provide free shooting training for local Ukrainians
— Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage
MOSCOW — The Russian military says it has hit Ukrainian arsenals with long-range cruise missiles.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Tuesday that the military used air- and sea-launched missiles to destroy an ammunition depot and a reinforced hangar for warplanes at Starokostiantyniv in the Khmelnytskyi region.
Konashenkov said that another strike destroyed a Ukrainian ammunition depot in Havrylivka, near Kyiv.
NICOSIA, Cyprus — The head of Cyprus’ Orthodox Christian Church is “unreservedly” condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying there’s “no justification” for Russian President Vladimir Putin to “destroy a country, to raze it to kill.”
Archbishop Chrysostomos II told state broadcaster CyBC Tuesday that the invasion is “an unacceptable situation” and that Putin’s actions have “no logic.” The archbishop said he’s distraught that people are being killed and questioned whether the Russian leader is “in his right mind.”
The archbishop added that he’d be the “first to go and bless a defensive war,” but the “egotism, if not the stupidity” of the Russian leadership “knows no bounds.”
Chrysostomos also questioned Putin’s embrace of Orthodox Christianity, including the sincerity of his travels to the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was baptized.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian police say they have launched a war crimes investigation after a 64-year-old man was killed by a mine left behind in an area from which Russian forces recently retreated.
Police said the unidentified local man was driving Monday near the village of Krasne in northern Ukraine and had pulled over his car to greet acquaintances when he struck an anti-tank mine left at the side of the road.
Ukrainian authorities have issued repeated warnings of mines and explosive traps left in areas where Russian troops have been operating.
BERLIN — German authorities say that over 330,000 refugees from Ukraine are known to have entered Germany so far.
The Interior Ministry said Tuesday that German federal police have recorded 335,578 people entering since Russia’s invasion started on Feb. 24. Those who have arrived are overwhelmingly women and children.
The true number of refugees in Germany could be higher, however, since there are no strict controls on the country’s eastern border and Ukrainian citizens can stay up to 90 days in the European Union without a visa. Officials say an unknown number also have moved on to other European countries.
The U.N. refugee agency on Tuesday put the total number of people who have fled Ukraine at more than 4.6 million, over 2.6 million of whom fled at least initially to Poland.
MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin says the Russian military action in Ukraine aims to ensure Russia’s security and is vowing that its goals will be achieved.
Speaking Tuesday on a visit to the Vostochny space launch facility in Russia’s Far East, Putin charged that Ukraine was turned into an “anti-Russian bridgehead” where “sprouts of nationalism and neo-Nazism were being cultivated.” Ukraine and its Western allies have dismissed such claims as a cover for aggression.
Putin reaffirmed his claim that the Russian “special military operation” was aimed to protect people in areas in eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed rebels. He also said that the campaign was also aimed to “ensure Russia’s own security.”
Putin argued that “we had no other choice” and said that “there is no doubt that we will achieve our goals.”
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin says that his country can’t be isolated.
Speaking on a visit to the Vostochny space launch facility in Russia’s Far East, Putin said Tuesday that Russia has no intention to isolate itself and added that foreign powers wouldn’t succeed in isolating it.
He said that “it’s certainly impossible to isolate anyone in the world of today, especially such a huge country as Russia.”
Putin added that “we will work with those of our partners who want to cooperate.”
Putin’s visit to Vostochny marked his first known trip outside Moscow since Russian launched military action in Ukraine on Feb. 24. Putin toured space facilities together with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
VILNIUS, Lithuania — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged the European Union to step up economic sanctions against Russia, arguing that the Russian political and military leadership feels it can continue the invasion of Ukraine because of signals from some European nations.
Zelenskyy told lawmakers in Lithuania, a former Soviet republic that is now an EU and NATO member, that “they know they will go unpunished as Europe still prefers continued cooperation, trade, business as usual.”
He said via an interpreter that he urges sanctions on all Russian banks and called for Europe to “get rid of their oil,”
In the latest of a series of addresses by video link to parliaments in Europe and beyond, Zelenskyy said that “Europe must win this war. And we will win it together.” The 141-seat Seimas assembly was decorated with the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian and the yellow-green-red Lithuanian flags.
HELSINKI — Telecoms network and 5G technology supplier Nokia says it will exit the Russian market due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Espoo, Finland-based company said Tuesday “it has been clear for Nokia since the early days of the invasion of Ukraine that continuing our presence in Russia would not be possible.”
Nokia said it has suspended deliveries, stopped new business and moved research and development activities out of Russia in the past weeks.
The company said that Russia accounted for less than 2% of Nokia’s sales in 2021, and the exit decision will have no impact on its financial outlook this year.
It said that “as we exit, we will aim to provide the necessary support to maintain the networks and are applying for the relevant licenses to enable this support in compliance with current sanctions.”
A spokesman for Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine has denied using chemical weapons to uproot Ukrainian troops in the port city of Mariupol.
Eduard Basurin was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying Tuesday that the separatist forces “haven’t used any chemical weapons in Mariupol.”
Basurin’s assertion followed his statement Monday on Russian state TV that the separatists will use “chemical troops” against Ukrainian soldiers holed up at reinforced positions at a giant steel factory in Mariupol “to smoke them out of there.”
A Ukrainian unit defending Mariupol claimed without providing evidence that a drone had dropped a poisonous substance on its positions. It indicated there were no serious injuries.
TOKYO — Japan’s Cabinet has approved additional sanctions against Moscow. They include as a freeze on assets of nearly 400 individuals including Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two daughters, as well as a ban on new investments and vodka imports.
The new sanctions approved Tuesday include a freeze on assets of 398 Russian individuals, who also include Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s wife and daughter. Japan has now frozen assets of more than 500 Russian individuals and organizations.
Japan’s new measures also include freezing the assets of major banks Sberbank and Alfa Bank, as well as 28 other Russian organizations such as those linked to military businesses. The measure for the banks will take effect on May 12.
Japan will ban new investment and Russian imports including vodka, wine, lumber and auto parts beginning next week.
Tuesday’s approval covers part of a list of sanctions announced last Friday by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who also proposed phasing out Russian coal and other fossil fuel imports.
LONDON — A senior British official says “all possible options are on the table” for the West’s response if Russian forces use chemical weapons in Ukraine.
Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said Tuesday that neither the U.K. nor the Ukrainian governments had confirmed reports that a chemical weapon may have been used in the besieged city of Mariupol.
Heappey told Sky News that “there are weapons that simply should not be used, and if they are used people will be held to account.”
He said: “I think it’s useful to maintain some ambiguity … over exactly what the response would be, but let’s be clear, if they are used at all then President Putin should know that all possible options are on the table in terms of how the West might respond.”
Britain’s defense ministry says Russia continues to redeploy its forces for a push on eastern Ukraine, and fighting is expected to intensify there over the next two to three weeks. It says Russian forces are withdrawing from Belarus in order to redeploy in support of operations in eastern Ukraine.
KIAMBU COUNTY, Kenya — Russia’s war in Ukraine has pushed up fertilizer prices that were already high, made scarce supplies even harder to find and pinched farmers, especially those in the developing world.
Higher fertilizer prices are making the world’s food supply more expensive and less abundant, as farmers skimp on nutrients for their crops and get lower yields.
While the ripples will be felt by grocery shoppers in wealthy countries, the squeeze on food supplies will land hardest on families in poorer countries. The fertilizer crunch threatens to further limit worldwide food supplies, already constrained by the disruption of crucial grain shipments from Russia and Ukraine.
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