Ukraine live briefing: Russian defense minister meets with Belarusian president; Kremlin decries price cap on oil

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk on Saturday, a publicized meeting that underscores their nations’ military alliance and preparedness for a potential escalation in the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Lukashenko called Russia’s and Belarus’s forces “a single army” that is ready to “fight to either the last Ukrainian or the last Pole,” Belarusian state-news outlet Belta reported Saturday. Belarus has hosted Russian military members and supported their attacks in Ukraine since the early days of the war.

Meanwhile, Moscow on Saturday denounced an international price cap imposed on Russian oil, describing it as a “dangerous and illegitimate instrument.” The Group of Seven nations and Australia agreed a day earlier to cap the price they pay for Russian oil at $60 per barrel, although it is not clear whether the move will seriously hit Moscow’s finances in the near term, since the cap is close to current prices.

The cap was good news but did not go far enough and would be better lowered to $30 per barrel “to destroy the enemy’s economy quicker,” Ukrainian presidential aide Andriy Yermak said Saturday. In his nightly address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the limit a “weak position,” considering Russia has already “caused huge losses to all countries of the world by deliberately destabilizing the energy market.”

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

4. From our correspondents

After Kherson, Ukraine’s military ponders new push south and east: After recent battlefield success, Ukraine may be shifting its attention to the Zaporizhzhia region and its southern front line less than 100 miles north of the Azov Sea, where Ukrainians are eager to sever a “land bridge” connecting mainland Russia to Crimea — which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, write Samantha Schmidt and Serhii Korolchuk for The Post.

The Kremlin is also gearing up for a fight and building up more fortified defensive positions on the muddy and flat fields in the area. “Everyone is talking about Zaporizhzhia. Everyone,” said military analyst Konrad Muzyka.

Kyiv is also intent on liberating nearby cities such as Melitopol and Enerhodar, where the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is located.

Source: WP