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Zelenskiy reportedly asks Biden to name Russia a state sponsor of terrorism – live | Joe Biden

14.04

Ukraine’s Zelenskiy asks Biden to name Russia a state sponsor of terrorism – report

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has made a direct request to Joe Biden that the US designates Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, the Washington Post reports.

This would be a rare and radical sanction, but Zelenskiy has been firm in putting pressure on the west to assist in Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion, and this is no exception as his country endures atrocities from its northern neighbor.

He asked the US president in a recent phone call, but the question has not previously been reported, the Post adds, citing unnamed sources, who apparently indicated that “Biden did not commit to specific actions during the call.”

That was then: Last September, Joe Biden (R) met with Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy in the Oval Office.
That was then: Last September, Joe Biden (R) met with Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy in the Oval Office. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The Post reports that “even during the Cold War, Washington refrained from designating the Soviet Union in this manner despite Moscow’s support for groups considered terrorist actors throughout the 1970s and 1980s.”

Justification for the designation would have to be arrived at by secretary of state Antony Blinken.

The designation is normally applied to nations that “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism,” according to a State Department fact sheet cited by the Post, which adds that there are four countries on the department’s list right now: North Korea, Cuba, Iran and Syria.

British prime minister Boris Johnson and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv last weekend.
British prime minister Boris Johnson and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv last weekend. Photograph: Ukraine Government/PA

15.21

Ramon Antonio Vargas

The Democrat with likely the best shot at defeating Chuck Grassley, the veteran Republican senator from Iowa, in November is back on the ballot for the 7 June primary.

A decision Friday from the Iowa Supreme Court enables Abby Finkenauer to compete for the Democratic nomination against other party hopefuls, though all are considered long shots in the contest against Grassley.

Two Republicans challenged Finkenauer’s candidacy paperwork, saying signatures from at least two counties were missing a required date.

A decision from a panel of three state elected officials later found Finkenauer’s campaign staff had substantially complied with the relevant law. But subsequently, state judge Scott Beattie – appointed to the bench by Iowa’s Republican governor, Kim Reynolds – overturned that decision and disqualified Finkenauer from the ballot.

Beattie’s ruling set the stage for Iowa’s high court to weigh in, and the outcome there favored Finkenauer.

The GOP’s attempts to undermine ballot access and our election process were pathetic and desperate.

Today they lost.

With a unanimous decision by the Iowa Supreme Court, we’re still in this fight and we WILL beat Chuck Grassley in November.

It’s a good day for our democracy.

— Abby Finkenauer (@Abby4Iowa) April 15, 2022

“The GOP’s attempts to undermine ballot access and our election process were pathetic and desperate,” Finkenauer said in a statement posted on Twitter. “Today they lost.”

Finkenauer’s statement added, “We’re still in this fight, and we will beat Chuck Grassley in November. It’s a good day for our democracy.”

Finkenauer made a name for herself when in 2018, at age 29, she became the second youngest person ever elected to the US House of Representatives. She served one two-year term beginning in 2019.

Since then, Finkenauer has outraised other Democrats hoping to run head-to-head against Grassley in the midterms, including Mike Franken, a retired admiral, and Glenn Hurst, a doctor and city councilmember. Grassley, despite being 88 years old, is eyeing an eighth term in the Senate, having first been elected in 1980.

Finkenauer’s party during the midterms will try to maintain, if not widen, a single vote-edge in the 50-50 Senate, where vice-president Kamala Harris can serve as a tiebreaker.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report

15.05

Julian Borger

Julian Borger

Russia sent a formal warning to the US not to send more arms to Ukraine or it could face “unpredictable consequences”, it has been reported.

According to the Washington Post, Moscow sent a diplomatic note, a démarche, warning that US and Nato deliveries of the “most sensitive” weapons systems to Ukraine were “adding fuel” to the conflict there and could bring “unpredictable consequences”.
A spokesperson said the state department did not confirm any diplomatic correspondence as a matter of course, and made clear that the US would continue to send arms to Ukraine.

“What we can confirm is that, along with allies and partners, we are providing Ukraine with billions of dollars worth of security assistance, which our Ukrainian partners are using to extraordinary effect to defend their country against Russia’s unprovoked aggression and horrific acts of violence,” the spokesperson said.

The US is preparing to send the latest $800m (£610m) tranche of military aid to Ukraine, bringing to $2.6bn the total since the start of the war. The Biden administration has also made clear that it was sending increasingly heavy and sophisticated equipment, including helicopters, aerial and marine drones, and long-range 155mm howitzers, while training Ukrainian soldiers in their use.

14.49

Joan E Greve

The White House has just announced that Joe Biden will travel to Oregon and Washington state next week, marking the latest in a series of trips across the country for the US president.

Next Thursday, Biden will travel to Portland, Oregon to “discuss how the unprecedented investments in his Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are Building a Better America,” according to the White House’s announcement.

And next Friday, which happens to be Earth Day, Biden will travel to Seattle, Washington, to “discuss his Administration’s efforts to continue bringing down costs for American families and growing our clean energy economy,” per the White House.

The announcement of the trip comes days after the US labor department reported that inflation hit a 40-year high in March, with prices increasing by 8.5% over the year.

14.04

Ukraine’s Zelenskiy asks Biden to name Russia a state sponsor of terrorism – report

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has made a direct request to Joe Biden that the US designates Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, the Washington Post reports.

This would be a rare and radical sanction, but Zelenskiy has been firm in putting pressure on the west to assist in Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion, and this is no exception as his country endures atrocities from its northern neighbor.

He asked the US president in a recent phone call, but the question has not previously been reported, the Post adds, citing unnamed sources, who apparently indicated that “Biden did not commit to specific actions during the call.”

That was then: Last September, Joe Biden (R) met with Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy in the Oval Office.
That was then: Last September, Joe Biden (R) met with Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy in the Oval Office. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The Post reports that “even during the Cold War, Washington refrained from designating the Soviet Union in this manner despite Moscow’s support for groups considered terrorist actors throughout the 1970s and 1980s.”

Justification for the designation would have to be arrived at by secretary of state Antony Blinken.

The designation is normally applied to nations that “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism,” according to a State Department fact sheet cited by the Post, which adds that there are four countries on the department’s list right now: North Korea, Cuba, Iran and Syria.

British prime minister Boris Johnson and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv last weekend.
British prime minister Boris Johnson and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv last weekend. Photograph: Ukraine Government/PA

13.36

Moskva hit by ‘at least one’ Ukrainian missile – senior US official

A senior US defense official says Washington believes the Russian guided-missile cruiser Moskva that sank yesterday in the northern Black Sea was struck by at least one Ukrainian anti-ship missile, as claimed by the Kyiv government, The Associated Press writes.

As it was: Russian Navy’s guided missile cruiser Moskva (Moscow) behind a wave breaker and an embankment, as it sails back into a harbour after tracking NATO warships in the Black Sea, in the port of Sevastopol, Crimea, November 16, 2021.
As it was: Russian Navy’s guided missile cruiser Moskva (Moscow) behind a wave breaker and an embankment, as it sails back into a harbour after tracking NATO warships in the Black Sea, in the port of Sevastopol, Crimea, November 16, 2021. Photograph: Alexey Pavlishak/Reuters

Pentagon officials had previously said they could not confirm the Ukrainian claim, but they also did not refute it.

The senior US defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an intelligence assessment, said the Moskva was hit Wednesday by at least one, and probably two, Neptune missiles, creating the large fire aboard the vessel.

The official offered no further details beyond saying the US believes the Russians suffered some number of casualties aboard the ship.

The Guardian’s global, round-the-clock live blog about the war itself is reporting that Kyiv believes the ship’s captain was killed in the initial explosion on board.

The Moskva was one of only three such warships in its class in the Russian navy and was considered the pride of the Black Sea fleet.

Russia claimed the ship was crippled by an ammunition fire on board and was towing it south from near the Ukrainian strategic port of Odesa towards Sevastopol, Crimea, when it sunk later yesterday in heavy seas.

13.11

More on the podcast interview by Biden pollster John Anzalone for Politico, where he turns his attention to some truths about Democratic “messaging”.

“Republicans do a much better job of branding Democrats [than] Democrats do Republicans… We don’t do a good job of branding. But, goddamn, man, you know, critical race theory, which literally just one day popped up in the American lexicon and — it’s not taught in any public school in America — now it becomes an issue. They’re really good at branding.”

Here’s the Guardian’s David Smith on the mischaracterization and misuse by right-wingers of the valuable academic topic of critical race theory.

Meanwhile, Anzalone on the wealthy says that in his experience, Americans don’t generally have a problem with being prosperous (even astronomically wealthy), what people are very upset about is those people often barely paying any income tax.

And why, as a party, we don’t elevate that in our messaging is beyond me,” he said, noting: “We’re scared of our own shadow on taxes.”

Anzalone asserts that the Democrats have the ability to maintain control of the Senate. They currently are split evenly with the Republicans but have the wafer-thin majority because of vice president Kamala Harris’s decisive vote as president of the senate.

Though the narrowness of that control has greatly hampered Joe Biden getting his agenda through Congress, where bills on many vital topics are stalled because of the 60-vote filibuster rule and the need for total Democrat unanimity to change the rule.

Will it comfort or dishearten Democrats to be reminded that IF they get a shellacking in the midterms and lose control of Congress, Anzalone reminds them that Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama “went through this. And they got-re-elected.”

12.51

Now some US domestic political news, on the topic of the Democrats and the forthcoming midterm elections this November.

On the campaign trail: Joe Biden takes a picture in the crowd while campaigning for Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe at a rally in Arlington, Virginia, U.S. October 26, 2021. McAuliffe lost to the Republican.
On the campaign trail: Joe Biden takes a picture in the crowd while campaigning for Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe at a rally in Arlington, Virginia, U.S. October 26, 2021. McAuliffe lost to the Republican. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

John Anzalone, Joe Biden’s election campaign pollster, is warning in an interview with Politico that in 2022 he’s witnessing:

The worst political environment that I’ve lived through in 30 years of being a political consultant.

It’s a ripping review of the political landscape for Joe Biden’s party right now, during Anzalone’s interview for Politico’s Deep Dive podcast, recorded in Las Vegas.

No one’s going to sit there as a Democratic consultant and try to bullshit you that this is anything but a really sour environment for Democrats. So we better look at the strategic ways that we can compete, right? Just compete to not get our asses kicked,” he told Ryan Lizza.

Anzalone also said, of the environment for the Dems this cycle:

I think what we’re missing right now is that voters are very much in, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ [mode]. … And they don’t feel Democrats can get their shit together and get things done. And so, you know, if we’re able to do something — a skinny [Build Back Better] or whatever on health insurance costs, prescription drug costs, elderly care, child care — that’s a big deal, because it will give Democrats … a competitive advantage on what they’re doing for working families. And it’ll cut through the inflation narrative, the Ukraine narrative, the Afghan narrative, the border narrative, etc. And right now, we don’t see that and we don’t have that.”

More on other aspects of this fascinating dissection in a minute.

Here’s what Anzalone had to say on Twitter yesterday about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, btw.

12.05

Russia’s war in Ukraine could last all year, says Blinken – report

The US believes that the war in Ukraine that Russia has been perpetrating since February 24 could last for the rest of 2022, secretary of state Antony Blinken has reportedly told some allies, CNN reports.

Of course it is very hard for any official or military chief to forecast how long the brutal conflict will go on or whether it will escalate or weaken, but two European officials have indicated to the cable news outlet that US and European officials are increasingly pessimistic about its duration.

Some unnamed officials said they believe Russian president Vladimir Putin will not agree to a diplomatic solution unless first faced with military defeat.

Given the size of Russia and its military, compared with Ukraine, the concept of Russia being defeated militarily by its smaller, sovereign neighbor seemed impossible in the opening days of the war and, while still a long shot, seems less unlikely more than a month in.

Despite declining to supply Ukraine with what it deems offensive weapons, lest Europe and NATO be drawn into battle with Russia, potentially sparking a third World War, leaders have warned, western nations have supplied and are increasing defensive weapons for Ukraine.

The Ukrainian resistance to Russia has far exceeded expectations, seemingly warding off the invasion of the capital Kyiv, but of course there has been appalling destruction and barbaric Russian attacks on civilians and Putin is now amassing his troops afresh for an escalated assault on the eastern Donbas region and the Crimean peninsula.

Blinken, a senior State Department official said:

Has discussed with his counterparts our concern that the conflict could be protracted, but all of his engagements have revolved around how best to bring it to a halt as quickly as possible,” CNN reported.

State department spokesman Ned Price was just on CNN doing a live interview and has not contradicted the Blinken report’s conclusion.

“It is possible” says @StateDeptSpox when @KateBolduan asks if the US believes the Ukraine war will last through the end of the yr. Blinken told European allies the US believes the Russian war in Ukraine could last through the end of 2022, our story: https://t.co/ygfM2OHhmM

— Kylie Atwood (@kylieatwood) April 15, 2022

And, in relation to the Washington Post’s report today on that diplomatic memo from Moscow to Washington telling the US to stop arming Ukraine, there’s this.

“The Russians have said some things privately they have said some things publicly, nothing will dissuade us from the strategy that we’ve embarked on,” says @StateDeptSpox on CNN, when asked about the diplomatic msg from Russia telling the US to essentially stop arming Ukraine.

— Kylie Atwood (@kylieatwood) April 15, 2022

11.30

US secretary of state Antony Blinken and secretary of homeland security Alejandro Mayorkas will travel to Panama next week for a ministerial conference on migration with the government there, the state department said on Friday, and Reuters reports.

In the trip scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, Blinken will meet with Panama president Laurentino Cortizo Cohen, foreign minister Erika Mouynes, multilateral development banks, international financial institutions, international organizations, and NGOs, the state department said.

They and their delegations will discuss economic recovery, migration, protection for refugees, asylum seekers, anti-corruption efforts, and support for civil society, it said.

In October, the presidents of Panama, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic had asked for US assistance in stemming the flow of thousands of migrants crossing the dangerous jungles that divide Panama and Colombia as they make their way towards the US.

Migrants, mostly Haitians, arriving by boat in Acandi in Colombia to cross into Panama ready to continue north, on September 23, 2021.
Migrants, mostly Haitians, arriving by boat in Acandi in Colombia to cross into Panama ready to continue north, on September 23, 2021. Photograph: Luisa González/Reuters

A record number of unauthorized migrants had entered Panama in 2021 from Colombia, according to government data provided to Reuters towards the end of last year, as a rise in the number of Haitians entered the Central American country, heading towards the US.

Alejandro Mayorkas earlier this week.
Alejandro Mayorkas earlier this week. Photograph: Rebecca Blackwell/AP
10.52

Vice president Kamala Harris will be greeting Tanzanian president Samia Suluhu Hassan any minute now at the White House for a bilateral meeting.

We’ll bring you any news from that and certainly some images. There is no press conference scheduled from the meeting with the African leader, but remarks sometimes filter out from pool reporters gathering to witness the opening moments.

Meanwhile, Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff are hosting a Seder dinner at the vice president’s official residence in Washington.

They “will become the first known second family to host a Passover Seder at the vice president’s residence, a White House official says, a continuation of their efforts to celebrate Emhoff’s Jewish faith,” CNN’s Jasmine Wright writes and this blogger first read in Politico.

Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff arrive at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama as she prepares to ceremonially crosses the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma to commemorate the 57th anniversary of Bloody Sunday - 06 Mar 2022.
Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff arrive at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama as she prepares to ceremonially crosses the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma to commemorate the 57th anniversary of Bloody Sunday – 06 Mar 2022. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock
10.18

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has followed up on Joe Biden’s remarks on Thursday indicating that he is “ready” to go to Ukraine if the opportunity presents itself, after reports emerged that the US was considering sending a “high-ranking” official.

Biden is not hopping a plane to Kyiv any time soon it seems.

Psaki spoke on Thursday night at a live taping of the progressive “Pod Save America” podcast in Washington, DC, Politico reports in its handy daily email newsletter.

He’s ready for anything — the man likes fast cars and aviators,” Psaki said, referring to Biden’s signature style of sunglasses. “He’s ready to go to Ukraine – we are not sending the president to Ukraine.”

When Biden was in Poland last month, he gave all the signs that he wanted to visit Ukraine and hinted he might go, but it did not happen and it appeared that it was too dangerous at that time.

That was before Russian forces withdrew from their advance on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

Since the withdrawal, a number of European leaders have visiting Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv including, last weekend, British prime minister Boris Johnson, with images whirling around the world of him walking the streets with Zelenskiy after a meeting and press conference.

Blinken briefly crossed onto Ukrainian soil in early March, while visiting the Polish border, but it was essentially an entirely symbolic gesture of solidarity.

Joe Biden puts on his sunglasses as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks during an event on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, April 8, 2022, celebrating the confirmation of Jackson as the first Black woman to reach the Supreme Court.
Joe Biden puts on his sunglasses as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks during an event on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, April 8, 2022, celebrating the confirmation of Jackson as the first Black woman to reach the Supreme Court. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

Here is Psaki in her normal professional public setting.

Psaki speaks to reporters during the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House earlier this week.
Psaki speaks to reporters during the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House earlier this week. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

10.04

United States warned by Russia to stop arming Ukraine

Amid Russia’s ongoing attack on Ukraine and fresh US pledges to send more weapons to the embattled Ukrainians, Moscow has sent what is being termed a formal diplomatic note to Washington warning that more American military aid is “adding fuel” to the bitter war, the Washington Post reports, pointing out that the outlet has seen the relevant memo.

We call on the United States and its allies to stop the irresponsible militarization of Ukraine, which implies unpredictable consequences for regional and international security,” the diplomatic memo said.

Russia warned that American supplies and other NATO deliveries of what Moscow called the “most sensitive” weapons systems were “adding fuel” to the situation in Ukraine and could bring “unpredictable consequences.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin chairing a videoconference meeting today (Friday) of his security leaders in Moscow.
Russian president Vladimir Putin chairing a videoconference meeting today (Friday) of his security leaders in Moscow. Photograph: Mikhail Klimentyev/AP

On Wednesday, US president Joe Biden committed another $800m in assistance to Ukraine, after speaking by phone with the country’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

The package will include artillery systems, such as howitzer guns, artillery rounds, and armored personnel carriers, the White House announced, in addition to helicopters, coastal defense drones and more anti-tank and anti-aircraft defensive weapons, “tailored to the wider assault we expect Russia to launch in eastern Ukraine,” Biden said in a statement.

The US is also facilitating other long-range systems to be supplied by allies.

The diplomatic note from Moscow is understood to have been sent on Tuesday of this week. The additional military aid brought the total provided by the US to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion to $3.2 billion, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said and the Washington Post further reported.

The memo is titled: “On Russia’s concerns in the context of massive supplies of weapons and military equipment to the Kiev regime.”

It was written in Russian with a translation provided and arrived at the US State Department via Russia’s US embassy.

You can read the rest of the Post’s article here.

09.30

Putin warns Biden to stop arming Ukraine

Good morning, US politics live blog readers, it’s Friday morning in Washington, DC, and Congress is on recess but there’s plenty going on in the nation’s capital.

Here’s what’s rumbling so far:

  • Russia is warning the US to stop its escalation of military supplies to Ukraine as it continues efforts to repel Russia’s invasion of its southern neighbor. There’s been a “formal diplomatic note” from Moscow. The Washington Post has seen it.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a podcast that, while Joe Biden may be “ready” to go to Ukraine (as he mentioned yesterday to reporters waiting near Air Force One) “we are not sending the president to Ukraine”.
  • Bill Browder, a prominent critic of Vladimir Putin, is having a round table in Washington and his new book concludes on the Russian leader and his wealthy oligarchs: “This is an organized crime story.”
  • Top Donald Trump anti-immigration right-winger Stephen Miller had a long and contentious interaction with the special House of Representatives committee investigating the Trump-fueled insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
  • Various prominent Democratic operatives are warning that voters are concerned that their party can’t/won’t get its act together before the mid-term elections this November but are also saying that Trump’s endorsing wingnuts is going to do them a favor.

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