British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing
US announces $800m more aid to Ukraine lAs Zelensky pleads with Biden to close Ukrainian skies, increase sanctionslRussia says any Putin-Zelensky meeting should be to seal deal
lUkraine to observe daily minute of silence for war’s victims
By Victoria Ojeme with agency reports
The British High Commission yesterday issued a statement refuting claims that the United Kingdom has suspended student, work and family visas for Nigerian applicants.
In a statement signed by the Press & Public Affairs Officer, Ndidiamaka Eze, the high commission clarified that it was due to the crisis in Ukraine that it decided to temporarily suspend its priority visa service.
The statement read: “Following the statement issued by the British High Commission in Nigeria on March 15 ‘temporary suspension of priority visas for student work and family applications”, we are aware of reporting circulating in the Nigerian media and online that the UK has suspended student, work and family visas for Nigerian applicants.
“This is not true. It is still possible to apply for any category of UK visa in the usual way on gov.uk and via our Visa Applications Centres, VAC, in Nigeria.
“Our VACs remain open and customers are welcome to apply for a standard visa of any category in the usual manner, this includes student, family, work and visit visas.
“However, due to a re-prioritisation of resources in response to the humanitarian crisis arising from the invasion of Ukraine, the UK has temporarily suspended its priority visa service.
“As our 15 March statement, made clear, this temporary suspension only applies to the UKVI’s expedited, added-value ‘Priority’ and ‘Super Priority’ visa services.
“This suspension is to enable the UK’s global visa operation to prioritise applications for the new Ukraine Family Scheme.
‘’This decision to suspend priority visa services is also clearly stated on UKVI’s guidance page, which sets out the latest decision waiting times for visa applicants outside the UK.
“On behalf of UKVI, the British High Commission in Nigeria would like to apologise for any inconvenience this development has caused.
“The British High Commission in Nigeria will issue an updated statement the moment ‘Priority’ and ‘Super Priority’ visa services resume.”
US announces $800m more aid to Ukraine
U.S President Joe Biden announced $800 million in additional security assistance to Ukraine during remarks from the White House on Wednesday. This brings the total to $1 billion in aid announced in just the last week.
“The world is united in our support for Ukraine and our determination to make (Russian President Vladimir) Putin pay a very heavy price,” Biden said as he made the announcement.
“America is leading this effort, together with our allies and partners, providing an enormous level of security and humanitarian assistance that we’re adding to today and we’re going to continue to do more in the days and weeks ahead.”
The package of military assistance will include anti-tank missiles and more of the defensive weapons that the US has already been providing, including Javelin anti-tank and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, officials familiar with the plans said. The assistance, however, will stop short of the no-fly zone or fighter jets that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said are necessary to sustain Ukraine’s fight against Russia.
“These are direct transfers of equipment from our Department of Defense to the Ukrainian military to help them as they fight against this invasion. I thank the Congress for appropriating these funds,” Biden said.
“This new package, on its own, is going to provide unprecedented assistance to Ukraine. It includes; 800 anti-aircraft systems to make sure the Ukrainian military can continue to stop the plans and helicopters that have been attacking their people and to defend their Ukrainian airspace,” Biden continued.
Zelensky pleads with US to close Ukrainian skies, increase sanctions
The Ukrainian leader addressing the US Congress says it is “the darkest time” for his country and asked again for a no-fly zone over Ukraine to halt Russian bombings that have killed over 100 children.
“Is this too much to ask?” Zelensky said, but also proposed alternatives, asking for more defence systems, that all Russian politicians “still in their offices” be sanctioned, to close US ports to all Russian ships.
Russia says any Putin-Zelensky meeting should be to seal deal
Russia has said there are no obstacles to a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and Zelensky, but that such a meeting would only take place to seal a specific agreement.
“There are no obstacles to the organisation of such a meeting with the understanding that it would not be just for its own sake; it would have to seal concrete agreements which are currently being worked out by the two delegations,” Lavrov told reporters.
Ukraine dismissed Russian neutrality proposals, refused to surrender and vowed prosecution of “war crimes.”
Ukraine to observe daily minute of silence for war’s victims
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has ordered a daily minute of silence to remember the soldiers and civilians who have died in Russia’s attack on the country.
“Every morning at 9.00 a.m. we will remember the Ukrainians who gave their lives,” Zelensky said in a video posted on social media yesterday.
Zelensky also called for Russia to be internationally outlawed as a terrorist state.
“The Russian state has turned into an open terrorist and it is not embarrassed by this.
“Kidnapping of mayors and lawmakers in Russian-occupied territories, as well as the case of a hospital in the port city of Mariupol where the Russian military is said to be holding about 400 employees,” he said.