Russia's chances of conquering Ukraine 'close to zero' says expert

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On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron called on Asia-Pacific countries to join the “growing consensus” against the war in Ukraine, stressing that the war was also “their problem”. “Help us send this message to Russia: stop the war, respect the international order, come back to the table,” he pleaded.

“France’s number one priority is to contribute to peace in Ukraine and try to have a global dynamic to put pressure on Russia,” he told the APEC economic leaders’ summit.

The Russian strikes on civilian infrastructure (especially electricity) “are acts constituting war crimes,” said Anne-Claire Legendre, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on France Info, echoing Mr Macron’s comments.

“These are serious violations of international humanitarian law,” she insisted.

“This is of particular concern to us,” Anne-Claire Legendre told France Info about the accusations of torture in Kherson. “We have teams in Ukraine to help the investigators” in this city if they request it, she added.

The leaders also addressed North Korea as it fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that landed near Japanese territorial waters.

The missile test was a stark reminder of persisting risks of conflict in the region and beyond, on top of frictions between the big powers that threaten to unravel the global order.

US Vice President Kamala Harris and the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia and New Zealand convened an emergency meeting on the missile launch.

“This conduct by North Korea most recently is a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions. It destabilises security in the region, and unnecessarily raises tensions,” Harris said in remarks as the meeting started.

“We strongly condemn these actions and we again call for North Korea to stop further unlawful, destabilizing acts,” she said.

North Korea is under United Nations sanctions for past weapons tests but has not faced new sanctions this year because US attempts were opposed by China and Russia in the Security Council.

A Thai government spokesperson said leaders also expressed concern about the missile launch in closed-door meetings of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum on Friday

The 21-member APEC’s long-term mission is promoting closer economic ties but its summits often are sidetracked by other more urgent issues.

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APEC leaders appeared likely to issue a joint declaration condemning the war in Ukraine after their foreign ministers agreed on a statement that “deplores in the strongest terms” the invasion by Moscow.

The statement followed a similar approach as that adopted at a summit of the Group of 20 leading economies earlier this week, where leaders endorsed a statement saying that “most” — not all — had agreed and that there were differing opinions. Russia’s foreign minister attended the G20.

The strategy is a shift from the past, when rules requiring a consensus prevented such gatherings from issuing declarations on such divisive issues. None of the earlier APEC preparatory meetings this year issued statements due to disagreements over whether to mention the conflict in Ukraine.

Both at APEC in Thailand and at the G20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia, officials appear to have chosen to agree to disagree. In Bali, China and India, after months of refusing to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine, did not block the release of a statement that harshly criticised Moscow.

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“Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy –- constraining growth, increasing inflation, disrupting supply chains, heightening energy and food insecurity, and elevating financial stability risks,” said the statement issued Friday. “There were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions.”

It noted that APEC ”is not the forum to resolve security issues,” but acknowledged “security issues can have significant consequences for the global economy.”

It’s a message that has been voiced by many during this week heavy in summitry.

“Geopolitical tensions are detracting from peace and stability and undermining the rules-based international order, which we all agree are essential,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told the opening session of the two-day APEC leaders meeting, which ends Saturday.

At the meeting, leaders appealed for an end to Russia’s war on Ukraine and considered strategies for nursing along economic recoveries from the coronavirus pandemic while contending with food and energy crises, the need to cut the carbon emissions that cause climate change and other urgent tasks.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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