Russia-Ukraine Update: Ukraine Sets Minimum Goals for Peace Talks; Russian Billionaire Suffered Suspected Poisoning

Ukraine said its minimum goal from talks with Russian negotiators which is set to start on Tuesday in Turkey will be an improvement in the humanitarian situation, according to foreign minister of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba. The maximum goal is a stable cease-fire agreement, he said.

“We are looking forward to the conversation of the two delegations to see if the Russians will come to these talks ready to really agree on something, or just repeat their demands, which were heard from the very beginning,” Kuleba said.

In the latter event, he said, “the sides will disperse in the same way as they arrived.”

Meanwhile, a major cyberattacker against Ukraine’s telecommunications infrastructure has been “neutralized” and service is gradually being restored, said Yurii Shchyhol, head of Ukraine’s State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection.

Ukrtelecom temporarily limited its services to most private users and business clients to prioritize the country’s armed forces.

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich Suffered suspected poisoning

On a separate occasion, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian negotiators suffered a suspected poisoning after meetings in Kyiv at the beginning of the month as part of talks to end the war in Ukraine, according to Bloomberg citing people familiar with the matter.

The Wall Street Journal first reported first reported the alleged poisoning. Roman and Ukrainians at the talks experienced peeling skin, red eyes, loss of eyesight and headaches, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information wasn’t public.

Russia will continue to monitor President Joe Biden’s words against the country

President Joe Biden said his comments in the weekend of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, cannot stay in power reflected his “moral outrage,” and didn’t mean the U.S. had adopted a policy of regime change.

He said he was expressing his own anger about the invasion of Ukraine.

“I was expressing my outrage, he shouldn’t remain in power, just like bad people shouldn’t continue to do bad things,” Biden said Monday at the White House. “But it doesn’t mean we have a fundamental policy to do anything to take Putin down in any way.”

U.S. President Joe Biden’s statements about President Vladimir Putin are “alarming,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call. He added, Russia will continue to monitor the U.S. president’s words.

Energy Talks

In an unanimous voting Group of Seven energy ministers rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demand that natural-gas contracts be paid in rubles.

Putin’s demand represents a “one-sided and clear breach of contracts,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said Monday.

Russia to pay bonds payments due

Russia meanwhile signaled its intention to make coupon and principal payments fro its bond due next month and in April 2041, according to filings with the National Settlement Depository.

Russian stocks fall on first day of all shares trade

Russian equities erased all gains from last week’s trading after trading expanded to all shares in Moscow exchange, while government measures to prevent a deeper selloff remain in place.

According to Bloomberg, the MOEX Russia Index fell 2.2% in a shortened four-hour session.

Gas giant Gazprom PJSC saw the top decliner along with the state lender Sberbank PJSC. Energy companies like Lukoil PJSC dropped as oil retreated. PhosAgro PJSC outperformed.