Ukraine's Zelenskyy vows to defend his country's territory while President Putin issues order to fast track Russian citizenship for residents of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, as fighting stretches to its 92nd day.

Russian President Vladimir Putin described as
Russian President Vladimir Putin described as "unfounded" accusations that Moscow was to blame for the problems with food supplies on the global market. (AP)

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Russia ready to help overcome food crisis if West lifts sanctions: Putin

Moscow is ready to make a "significant contribution" to averting a looming food crisis if the West lifts sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin has said in a telephone call with Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

"Vladimir Putin emphasises that the Russian Federation is ready to make a significant contribution to overcoming the food crisis through the export of grain and fertiliser, subject to the lifting of politically motivated restrictions by the West," the Kremlin said in a statement following the call.

It added that Putin also spoke about the "steps taken to ensure safety of navigation, including the daily opening of humanitarian corridors for the exit of civilian ships from the ports of the Azov and Black Sea, which is impeded by the Ukrainian side". Putin also described as "unfounded" accusations that Russia was to blame for the problems with food supplies on the global market.

Military situation in East Ukraine is very bad - Ukrainian foreign minister

The military situation in eastern Ukraine is even worse than people say it is and the country needs heavy weapons now to effectively fight Russia, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said.

Kuleba, taking part in a live question and answer session with Twitter users, also said peace talks with Russia were not really taking place.

The military situation in eastern region is even worse than people say it is and Ukraine needs heavy weapons now to effectively fight Russia.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba

Russia says arms supplies to Ukraine could lead to unacceptable escalation - Tass

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned the West that supplying weapons to Ukraine capable of hitting Russian territory would be "a serious step towards unacceptable escalation", Tass news agency has said. 

Lavrov told the RT Arabic channel that he hoped sane people in the West would understand this, adding "There are still a few left there", RIA quoted him as saying.

Finland's prime minister visits Ukraine

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin has become the latest European leader to visit Ukraine.

Marin met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kiev.

Finnish public broadcaster YLE says she also visited the towns of Bucha and Irpin where Russian soldiers are alleged to have killed civilians. Zelenskyy thanked Marin for Finland’s weapons deliveries and its support for sanctions against Russia.

Russia's Ukraine resolution flops at WHO assembly

The World Health Assembly has called on Russia to immediately cease its attacks on hospitals and other healthcare facilities in Ukraine, urging it to respect and protect medical staff and humanitarian personnel engaged exclusively in medical duties.

More than 50 nations, including the US, EU countries, and Japan, sponsored a resolution by Ukraine that "urges the Russian Federation to immediately cease any attacks on hospitals and other healthcare facilities."

The vote in favour of the Ukraine resolution was 88 with 12 against. Those opposing the motion include China and North Korea, while 53 countries abstained, mostly from Africa and western Asia. Thirty countries were absent from the voting.

Lukashenko orders new military command for south of Belarus, bordering Ukraine

Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko has ordered the creation of a new military command for the south of country, bordering Ukraine.

"A new front has opened and we can't fail to pay attention to it," Lukashenko, wearing military uniform, told a televised meeting of defence officials. He said the new command had been proposed last year but needed to be set up immediately.

"Even before creating it, we are obliged today - quickly, on the run, to work out the defence of our southern borders," Lukashenko said.

Ukraine says fighting in east at 'maximum intensity'

Ukraine has said that fighting in the eastern Donbass region of the country has reached its fiercest level yet, as Russian forces pushed deeper into the industrial region.

"The fighting has reached its maximum intensity", Ukraine's Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Malyar told a press briefing. "Enemy forces are storming the positions of our troops simultaneously in several directions. We have an extremely difficult and long stage of fighting ahead of us", she added.

They are closing in around several key urban hubs, particularly Severodonetsk and Lysychansk that stand on route to Ukraine's eastern administrative centre in Kramatorsk. "The situation remains difficult and shows signs of further aggravation," Malyar said.

Putin says West will fail in isolating Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the West will fail in its attempts to isolate Russia and face growing economic problems.

Speaking via video link to members of the Eurasian Economic Forum, Putin said Russia wasn’t going to shut itself off from international cooperation. The forum includes several ex-Soviet nations.

Putin said that trying to isolate Russia is “impossible, utterly unrealistic in the modern world” and “those who try to do it primarily hurt themselves.”

Russian shelling kills four in Kharkiv: Ukraine

Four people have been killed in fresh Russian shelling of Ukraine's second city Kharkiv, a regional official has said, where many people have returned after Russia's attempts to capture the city were repelled.

"The occupiers are again shelling the regional centre," the governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleg Sinegubov, said on Telegram.

"According to preliminary information, seven people were injured. Unfortunately, four were killed. We ask residents of Kharkiv and surroundings to be in shelters," he said.

Russia tells Ukraine to accept real situation

The Kremlin has said it expects Ukraine to recognise the existing situation and accept Moscow’s demands.

Asked if Russia expects Ukraine to make territorial concessions, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that “Moscow expects the acceptance of its demands and the understanding of the real situation that exists de-facto.”

Speaking in a conference call with reporters, Peskov said that “Kiev must acknowledge the de-facto situation and just have a sober assessment of it.”

Russia-Ukraine conflict raises financial stability risks

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has raised financial stability risks, the European Central Bank (ECB) has warned.

As financial stability conditions deteriorate, energy and commodity price shocks, amplified by Russia’s operation in Ukraine, increase risks to post-pandemic growth, inflation and financial conditions in the euro area and globally, according to the ECB’s Financial Stability Review report.

“Since late 2021, rising inflationary pressures have threatened to slow the momentum of the recovery in 2022. Upside risks to euro area inflation and downside risks to growth rose sharply following the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war,” it said.

Russia reports destroying Ukraine targets

The Russian military said it has destroyed a large Ukrainian unit with equipment at a railway station in the east.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Major General Igor Konashenkov has said that the Russian warplanes hit the railway station in Pokrovsk when an assault brigade that arrived to reinforce the Ukrainian forces in the region was unloading there.

Konashenkov also said that the Russian military destroyed Ukraine’s electronic intelligence center in Dniprovske in the southern Mykolaiv region, killing 11 Ukrainian soldiers and 15 foreign experts. His claims couldn’t be independently confirmed.

Russia has suffered substantial losses: British military

Britain’s military said Russia has suffered substantial losses among its elite units because of “complacency” among commanders and failure to anticipate strong Ukrainian resistance.

The UK Ministry of Defence says the airborne VDV has been involved in “several notable tactical failures” since the February 24 attack, including the attempt to capture and hold Hostomel Airfield near Kiev early in the offensive and failed attempts to cross the Siverskyi Donets River in eastern Ukraine.

In its daily intelligence update, the defence ministry said the VDV had been sent on missions “better suited to heavier armoured infantry and has sustained heavy casualties during the campaign.

Kremlin says West is to blame Ukraine grain export problems

The Kremlin has rejected US and European Union claims that Russia had blocked grain exports from Ukraine and accused the West of creating such a situation by imposing sanctions.

"We categorically do not accept these accusations. On the contrary, we blame Western countries of taking actions that have led to this," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in a conference call with reporters.

Moscow called for the West to remove the sanctions which it says are blocking grain exports from Ukraine.

Putin will not dictate Ukraine peace terms: Scholz

Russia will not win its war in Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin must not dictate the terms of any peace agreement, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said.

"Putin must not win his war, and I am convinced he will not win," Scholz said in a speech at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos.

Although some have suggested that Ukraine should negotiate with Putin and consider ceding territory, Scholz rejected the idea of letting Putin dictate the terms of an agreement.

Donbass separatist leader calls for accelerated Russian operation

The leader of Russian-backed separatists in the breakaway Donetsk region has called for the military operation in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine to be accelerated, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Denis Pushilin, head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), said Kiev had blocked water supplies to key cities in the north of the region and called for military action to be stepped up.

Separatist republics hold 8,000 Ukrainian POWs 

Ukrainian prisoners of war held in the Russian-backed self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics number about 8,000, Luhansk official Rodion Miroshnik has been quoted by TASS news agency as saying.

"There are a lot of prisoners. Of course, there are more of them on the territory of Donetsk People's Republic, but we also have enough and now the total number is somewhere in the region of 8,000. That's a lot, and literally hundreds are being added every day," Miroshnik said.

The report has not been verified.

Ukraine health emergency sparks rival resolutions at WHO

A proposal to condemn the regional health emergency triggered by Russia's aggression in Ukraine will come before a World Health Organization (WHO) assembly, prompting a rival resolution from Moscow that makes no mention of its own role in the crisis.

The original proposal backed by the United States and more than 40 other countries, condemns Russia's actions but stops short of immediately suspending its voting rights at the UN health agency.

If the Western-led initiative passes nearly unanimously, observers say it would send a powerful political message that is rare in the multilateral system.

Russian forces shell 40 towns in eastern Ukraine

Russian forces have shelled more than 40 towns in Ukraine's eastern Donbass region, Ukraine's military said, threatening to shut off the last main escape route for civilians trapped in the path of their offensive, now in its fourth month.

Russia has poured thousands of troops into the Donbass region - comprised of two eastern provinces Moscow claims on behalf of separatists - attacking from three sides in an attempt to encircle Ukrainian forces holding out in the city of Sievierodonetsk and its twin Lysychansk.

"The occupiers shelled more than 40 towns in Donetsk and Luhansk region, destroying or damaging 47 civilian sites, including 38 homes and a school. As a result of this shelling five civilians died and 12 were wounded," the Joint Task Force of Ukraine's armed forces said on Facebook. 

Mass graves for civilians killed: Luhansk governor

Police in Lysychansk are collecting bodies of people killed in order to bury them in mass graves, Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said. Some 150 people have been buried in a mass grave in one Lysychansk district, he added.

Families of people buried in mass graves will be able to carry out a reburial after the war and police are issuing documents enabling Ukrainians to secure death certificates for loved ones, Gaidai said.

A missile blasted a crater in a railway track and damaged nearby buildings in Pokrovsk, a Ukrainian-held Donbass city that has become a major hub for supplies and evacuations.

In Kramatorsk, nearer the front line, streets were largely deserted, while in Sloviansk further west, many residents took advantage of what Ukraine said was a break in the Russian assault to leave.

Ukraine's Zelenskyy rebuffs calls to cede land 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has strongly rebuffed those in the West who have suggested Ukraine cede control of areas occupied by Russian forces for the sake of reaching a peace agreement.

Those "great geopoliticians" who suggest this are disregarding the interests of ordinary Ukrainians – "the millions of those who actually live on the territory that they propose exchanging for an illusion of peace," he said in his nightly video address to the nation. "We always have to think of the people and remember that values are not just words.”

Zelenskyy compared those who argue for giving Russia a piece of Ukraine to those who in 1938 ceded territory to Hitler in hopes of preventing World War II. The interests of Ukraine should not be outweighed by "the interests of those in a hurry to meet the dictator again," he said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

For live updates from Wednesday (May 25), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies