Russia seeks to encircle Ukrainian troops in twin cities straddling a river as Zelenskyy warns Moscow is seeking to destroy eastern Donbass region in fighting that just entered its fourth month.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says that the situation in the eastern Donbass region “is extremely bad”.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says that the situation in the eastern Donbass region “is extremely bad”. (AP)

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Ukraine wants rocket launchers sent quickly

Ukraine’s foreign minister says the urgency of his country’s weapons needs can be summed up in two abbreviations: MLRS — multiple launch rocket systems, and ASAP — as soon as possible.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos that the situation in the eastern Donbass region “is extremely bad”. The rocket systems could help Ukrainian forces try to recapture places such as the southern city of Kherson from Russian forces. 

“If we do not get an MLRS ASAP, the situation in Donbass will get even worse than it is now,” he added. 

Russia passport plan 'flagrant violation' of Ukraine sovereignty

Moscow's plan to make it easier for Ukrainians living in Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine to receive Russian citizenship violates international law, Kiev has said, accusing the Kremlin of "criminal" behaviour.

"The illegal issuing of passports... is a flagrant violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as norms and principles of international humanitarian law," the Ukrainian foreign ministry said.

The ministry said the initiative was further evidence of Moscow's "criminal" goals, namely the integration of regions held by Moscow's army "into Russia's legal, political and economic field."

US says Russia passport plan aims to 'subjugate' Ukrainians

The United States has denounced a Russian plan to fast-track citizenship in areas of Ukraine as a new effort to subdue people under its control.

State Department spokesman Ned Price voiced concern that the plan was part of "Russia's attempt to subjugate the people of Ukraine -- to impose their will by force."

"That is something that we would forcefully reject," Price told reporters.

Putin visits ‘hero’ soldiers wounded in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has met soldiers wounded in Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine and hailed them as "heroes", in the first such visit since he sent troops into the pro-Western country.

After meeting the wounded men, Putin said at a televised meeting with government officials: "These are people who are risking their health and lives for the sake of the people and children of Donbass, for the sake of Russia. They are all heroes."

Switzerland to aid Ukraine with asset seizure

The Swiss government has said it will initiate proceedings to confiscate more than $104 million in assets of a close associate of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

The government said the assets of Yanukovych associate Yuriy Ivanyushchenko and family members were frozen in Switzerland following the ouster of Yanukovych in 2014.

A Swiss federal court will determine whether the assets can be confiscated and, if it agrees, they will be returned to Ukraine.

There’s a cost-of-living crisis as prices of fuel, food and other commodities soar, IMF’s first deputy managing director said.
There’s a cost-of-living crisis as prices of fuel, food and other commodities soar, IMF’s first deputy managing director said. (AP)

Russian offensive sets back global economic recovery

Russia’s attack against Ukraine has been a major setback to the global economic recovery, financial officials at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos said.

Gita Gopinath, IMF’s first deputy managing director, said on a panel about global growth that “a confluence of shocks” are hitting the world. She says there’s a cost-of-living crisis as prices of fuel, food and other commodities soar. 

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde says the conflict in Ukraine has revealed that the problems are especially acute in Europe.

Moscow says Mariupol port reopened after demining

Russia said that the port of the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol has reopened after Moscow's troops took control of the city on the Azov Sea.

Defence ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov told a press briefing that the port has "started functioning normally" after demining.

The strategic port city in southeast Ukraine fell to Moscow recently after a devastating siege.

Ukraine: Russia trying blackmail with Black Sea blockade offer

Russia is trying to "blackmail" the international community by raising the possibility of an offer to unblock Black Sea ports in return for a relaxation of sanctions, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said.

The Interfax news agency earlier cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko as saying Moscow is ready to provide a humanitarian corridor for vessels carrying food to leave Ukraine, in return for the lifting of some sanctions.

Ukraine's Black Sea ports have been blocked since Russia sent thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24 and more than 20 million tonnes of grain are stuck in silos in the country. 

Russian rockets hit eastern Ukrainian town of Pokrovsk

The Russian rocket strikes came early in the morning in the eastern Ukrainian town of Pokrovsk, shaking buildings, jolting people out of bed and sending chunks of concrete and jagged pieces of metal flying through the air.

One of the two rockets left a crater at least three meters deep, remnants of the projectile still smoldering as nearby residents picked through the debris of their homes, trying to salvage whatever they could. 

Four civilians were wounded, said Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk military administration. 

A row of low terraced houses nearby Pokrovsk suffered significant damage, with roofing tiles blown off, door frames ripped from the walls and pieces of brick, concrete and asphalt scattered on the ground.
A row of low terraced houses nearby Pokrovsk suffered significant damage, with roofing tiles blown off, door frames ripped from the walls and pieces of brick, concrete and asphalt scattered on the ground. (AP)

Putin fast-tracks Russian citizenship for residents of southern Ukraine

President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree simplifying a procedure to obtain a Russian passport for residents of the southern Ukrainian regions of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.

The southern region of Kherson is under the full control of Russian troops, while the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia is partially controlled by Moscow. Moscow and pro-Moscow officials have said both regions could become part of Russia.

The official order came on the heels of a 2019 decree that allowed the same fast-track procedure for residents of the so-called Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, eastern Ukraine's breakaway regions.

Ukraine conflict hampers Baltic security ‘long-term’: regional body

Russia's attack against Ukraine will have a "long-term negative impact" on security around the Baltic Sea, a regional grouping of countries have said.

Foreign ministers of countries in the Council of the Baltic Sea States - Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland and Sweden- made the joint statement at their first meeting in nine years, held without Russia, which was suspended from the council on March 3 and withdrew on May 17.

The organisation last met in 2013 as meetings were suspended after Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Britain calls on Russia to let Ukraine export its grain

Britain's Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has called on Russia to let Ukraine export its grain to help countries where grain scarcity could trigger hunger.

Russia must "do the right thing", Wallace told reporters in Madrid where he met with his counterpart Margarita Robles.

He rejected the idea to lift sanctions against Russia in return for grain release and welcomed the suggestion to make Black Sea nations to escort the Ukraine grain shipments. 

Italian peace plan for Ukraine a 'fantasy', Russia says

Russia has said that an Italian peace plan for Ukraine is a "fantasy".

"You can't supply Ukraine with weapons with one hand and come up with plans for a peaceful resolution of the situation with the other," Russia's foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said, referring to the Italian initiative.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio gave the broad outlines of the plan last week and said that he had discussed it with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres during a visit to New York.

Ukraine's Zelenskyy says will only talk directly to Russia's Putin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that he was only willing to talk directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin and not via intermediators.

He added that if the Russian President "understands reality" there was the possibility of finding a diplomatic way out of the conflict.

Zelenskyy, speaking to an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, also said that Ukraine would fight until it recovered all of its territory.

Ukraine: Russian shelling kills six civilians

A regional governor in eastern Ukraine has said that at least six civilians have been killed by the latest Russian shelling.

Luhansk region Governor Serhiy Haidai said that another eight people were wounded in the shelling of the town of Sievierodonetsk over the previous 24 hours.

Sievierodonetsk is at the epicenter of fighting in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland of Donbass, where the Russian forces have been pressing their offensive despite stiff Ukrainian resistance. Haidai accused the Russians of deliberately targeting shelters where civilians were hiding.

US to end Russia's ability to pay international investors

The US will close the last avenue for Russia to pay its billions in debt back to international investors, making a Russian default on its debts for the first time since the Bolshevik Revolution all but inevitable.

The Treasury Department said in a notification that it does not plan to renew the license that allowed Russia to keep paying its debt holders through American banks.

Since the first rounds of sanctions, the Treasury Department has given banks a license to process any dollar-denominated bond payments from Russia. That window expires at midnight May 25.

Sweden, Finland delegations in Türkiye for NATO talks

Delegations from Sweden and Finland are scheduled to hold talks in Ankara with senior Turkish officials, aiming to overcome Türkiye’s objections to their historic bids to join NATO.

Sweden and Finland submitted their written applications to join the alliance last week in a move that marks one of the biggest geopolitical ramifications of Russia’s attack against Ukraine - and which could rewrite Europe’s security map.

Türkiye has said it opposes the two Nordic countries’ membership in the military alliance.

If they hope that the Russian Federation will seize on any Western plan, then they haven't understood much.

Maria Zakharova, Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman

Moscow says sanctions need to be lifted to avoid food crisis

International sanctions imposed on Moscow over its military campaign in Ukraine need to be lifted to avoid a global food crisis, a Russian deputy foreign minister has said. 

"Solving the food problem requires a comprehensive approach, including the removal of sanctions that have been imposed on Russian exports and financial transactions," Andrey Rudenko said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies.

"It also requires Ukraine to de-mine all ports where ships are docked and Russia is ready to provide the necessary humanitarian passage," Rudenko added.

Russia to set up corridor for ships carrying food to leave Ukraine

Russia is ready to provide a humanitarian corridor for vessels carrying food to leave Ukraine, the Interfax news agency has cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko as saying.

Russia will discuss the possibility of holding a prisoner exchange with Ukraine once prisoners who surrendered have been convicted, Rudenko also said. Russian and separatist officials have said some of those who surrendered should be put on trial for war crimes.

He added it was premature to establish a Russian military base in the Russian-controlled area of Ukraine's Kherson region. 

Ukraine: 200 bodies found in basement in Mariupol's ruins 

Workers digging through the rubble of an apartment building in Mariupol found 200 bodies in the basement, Ukrainian authorities have said, as more horrors come to light in the ruined city that has seen some of the worst suffering of the 3-month-old conflict.

The bodies were decomposing and the stench hung over the neighbourhood, said Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the mayor. He did not say when they were discovered, but the sheer number of victims makes it one of the deadliest known attacks.

Heavy fighting, meanwhile, was reported in the Donbass, the eastern industrial heartland that Moscow’s forces are intent on seizing.

Russia fires at Ukrainian border guards: Ukrainian military

The Ukrainian military said Russia has fired at Ukrainian border guards in the northeastern Sumy region in the latest of a series of alleged cross-border attacks over the past few weeks.

Military officials say observers Tuesday night recorded seven shots from Russian territory toward the village of Boyaro-Lezhachi, most likely mortar fire.

The Ukrainian Operational Command North said on its Facebook post that eight other shots were heard Tuesday afternoon near a neighbouring village. There were no reports of any deaths.

Zelenskyy: Situation in Donbass is very difficult

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Russia is using everything at its disposal in the fight for four cities in the eastern Donbass region.

"The situation in the Donbass now is very difficult," Zelenskyy said in his address to the nation. "Practically the full might of the Russian army, whatever they have left, is being thrown at the offensive there. Liman, Popasna, Sievierodonetsk, Slaviansk – the occupiers want to destroy everything there."

Zelenskyy said the Ukrainian army is fighting back, but "it will take time and a lot more effort by our people to overcome their advantage in the amount of equipment and weapons." He told Ukrainians they should be proud of having held off Russia for three months in an offensive that many in Russia and the West expected to last three days.

Russian parliament okays foreign companies bill

The Russian parliament has given preliminary approval to a bill that would allow the government to appoint new management of foreign companies that pulled out of Russia after its assault on Ukraine.

According to the state news agency Tass, the new law would transfer control over companies that left Russia not for economic reasons but because of "anti-Russian sentiment in Europe and the US. Tass said foreign owners would still be able to resume operations in Russia or sell their shares.

Many foreign companies have suspended operations in Russia. Others have walked away entirely, despite their huge investments.

For live updates from Tuesday (May 24), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies