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Ukraine news – live: Arm other ‘vulnerable states’ at risk of Russia attack, UK urges

·60-min read
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Ukraine's neighbour Moldova should be "equipped to Nato standard" to guard it against possible Russian aggression, UK foreign secretary Liz Truss said.

There is a need to ensure that Ukraine is “permanently able to defend itself”, and this also applies to other “vulnerable states” such as Moldova, which is not a Nato member – she added.

Russia “absolutely” poses a security threat to Moldova, she said, as Vladimir Putin “has been clear about his ambitions to create a greater Russia.”She told The Telegraph: “What we’re working on at the moment is a joint commission with Ukraine and Poland on upgrading Ukrainian defences to Nato standard.”

When asked whether she wants to see the West provide weaponry and intelligence to Moldova, Ms Truss said: “I would want to see Moldova equipped to Nato standard. This is a discussion we’re having with our allies.”

Key Points

  • Moscow claims to take full control of Mariupol after three-month siege

  • Situation in Ukraine’s Donbas is ‘hell’, says Zelensky

  • Russia using food as weapon in Ukraine - Antony Blinken

  • Putin is surrounded by doctors and takes breaks during meetings for treatment, claims ex-British spy

Zelensky ‘convinced’ diplomacy will end invasion of Ukraine

14:30 , Lamiat Sabin

Volodymyr Zelensky said he is “convinced” that Ukraine will see an end to the Russian invasion via diplomacy.

The Ukrainian president said, in a televised interview alongside his wife Olena on the third anniversary of his inauguration, said that this is the only way that the “bloody” war will end.

He said: “The victory will be difficult, it will be bloody and in battle, but its end will be in diplomacy. I am very convinced of this.

“There are things that we can’t bring to an end without sitting at the negotiation table. That’s how it is because we would like to get everything back, and Russia doesn’t want to give back anything.”

He said many Ukrainian pilots had died while transporting medication, food and water to the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol before the evacuation of Ukrainian troops started earlier this week.

Mr Zelensky said: “Many of our pilots died heroically, knowing that flying to Azovstal was almost impossible ... to bring medication, produce and water, and to evacuate the wounded.

“All of this was happening, details of which nobody could comment on officially.”

‘At least 1.3m Ukrainians forcibly deported to Russia’

14:15 , Lamiat Sabin

More than 1.3 million people – including almost a quarter of a million children – have been deported to Russian territory, according to a Ukrainian official.

This includes 17,306 people in the last 24 hours alone, Ukrainian parliament human rights commissioner Liudmyla Denisova announced on Telegram.

She said: “As of the morning of May 21, Russia has deported 1,377,925 people to its territory, including 232,480 children. Over the last day – 17,306, including 2,213 children.”

More than 32,000 people have been taken to a filtration camp in the village of Bezimenne, in the Novoazovsk district in southern Ukraine – close to the border with Russia – Ms Denisova said.

Location of Novoazovsk (Google Maps)
Location of Novoazovsk (Google Maps)

She said: “It is impossible to determine how many of them ended up in torture chambers in the temporarily occupied territories due to ‘disloyalty’ to the Russian invaders and a ‘special operation.’”

Ms Denisova said that Russia’s claims that the Ukrainians have voluntarily resettled in Russian territory are false and that Ukraine has strong evidence of people being forcibly held at filtration camps before being taken to Russia.

Russia bans almost 1,000 Americans, including Biden

13:33 , Lamiat Sabin

Russia said today it was banning entry to 963 Americans including US president Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and CIA chief William Burns.

President Joe Biden [C] and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken [R] (EPA)
President Joe Biden [C] and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken [R] (EPA)

Biden signs bill to send $40bn aid to Ukraine

13:00 , Lamiat Sabin

US president Joe Biden today signed a bill to provide nearly $40 billion (£32bn) in aid for Ukraine as part of efforts to boost military support over Russia’s invasion, the White House said.

Joe Biden and South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol (AP)
Joe Biden and South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol (AP)

Mr Biden, who is in Seoul for his first summit with new South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol, also signed a bill aimed at improving access to baby formula, the White House said.

Russia ‘putting millions at risk of hunger by blocking exports’

12:30 , Lamiat Sabin

Global hunger is at risk of getting worse as Russia is “blocking” shipments of Ukrainian crops that are exported to developing countries, Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said.

He tweeted: “Russia puts millions of people at risk of hunger by blocking our ports. Together with partners, Ukraine has established two alternative land routes to deliver food exports and save Africa and other regions from hunger.

“Russia must end its blockade to allow full and free export.”

Meanwhile, the UN’s World Food Programme warned that the blocking of exports “is worsening an already catastrophic global hunger crisis” that has been exacerbated by rising food and oil prices.

Millions of tonnes of corn and wheat are “trapped” in silos because ports – such as the one in Odesa – are not in operation during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it said.

West’s weapon delivery to Ukraine ‘destroyed’ - Russia says

12:00 , Lamiat Sabin

The Russian military said today that it had destroyed a major arms consignment delivered to Ukraine by the West.

The attack allegedly happened in Ukraine’s Zhytomyr region, west of Kyiv.

Russian armed forces launched Kalibr cruise missiles from the sea toward the consignment, Interfax news agency reported.

Archive photo of a Kalibr long-range cruise missile being fired at a Russian training ground (Russian Defence Ministry/EPA)
Archive photo of a Kalibr long-range cruise missile being fired at a Russian training ground (Russian Defence Ministry/EPA)

Russia lost 28,850 troops so far, says Ukraine’s army

11:30 , Lamiat Sabin

About 28,850 Russian troops have died during the invasion of Ukraine, according to the Ukrainian armed forces.

Also – 1,278 tanks, 3,116 armoured combat vehicles, 596 artillery systems, 462 drones, 204 aircraft, 169 helicopters, and 13 ships have been destroyed, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said.

Three more die in Donetsk – with region’s death toll at 400

11:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Three civilians were killed yesterday in Donetsk, according to Pavlo Kyrylenko – the head of the local administration.

About 400 people are known to have been killed in the region of eastern Ukraine that – along with Luhansk – had been declared independent by Russia ahead of the invasion on 24 February.

Mr Kyrylenko said: “On 20 May, the Russians killed 3 more civilians in the Donetsk region. All three of them [were killed] in the Lyman amalgamated territorial community: in Lyman, Novoselivka and Sosnove.

“In total, we have verified information about 400 Russian civilians killed in Donetsk Oblast since the beginning of the full-scale invasion.”

Five people were also injured due to shelling in the region on Friday, he said.

Russian troops ‘paying people 10,000 rubles each for data’

10:30 , Lamiat Sabin

Russian invaders are reportedly paying pensioners and public sector workers money in exchange for their personal data.

The troops are giving 10,000 rubles (about £130) to people in the seized city of Melitopol, in the Zaporizhzhia region.

File photo of Russian troops in Zaporizhzhia (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)
File photo of Russian troops in Zaporizhzhia (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

The soldiers have reportedly claimed that this is so pensioners and workers can be financially supported.

This is according to the local military administration on Telegram, which said personal data is also being bought in the urban settlement of Mykhailivka.

“However, it is yet unclear what the personal data collection is really being collected for in all these cases,” the Zaporizhzhia Oblast Military Administration stated.

Family killed and injured in Severodonetsk school basement

10:00 , Lamiat Sabin

In Severodonetsk in southeastern Ukraine, two people died when Russian troops fired at a school where residents of the city had been hiding since the beginning of the invasion.

This is according to Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, who said the attack happened on Friday amid Russia’s increasing efforts to destroy and seize the region.

The two dead and three others that were wounded are reportedly members of the same family.

On Friday night, a man and a woman were killed near their home in Severodonetsk and two women were killed by Russian shelling in nearby cities Lysychansk and Pryvillia – he said.

Trade delegates walkout of meeting in protest against Russia

09:30 , Lamiat Sabin

Five countries’ representatives walked out of an Asia-Pacific trade ministers meeting in Bangkok today to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, officials said – according to Reuters.

The walkout at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting involved representatives from the US, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and Australia.

They exited the room while the Russian representative was making a speech at the opening of the two-day meeting of the group of 21 economies.

Russia trying to destroy Severodonetsk city, says local offical

09:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Russia has apparently launched a major attack to seize the last remaining Ukrainian-held territory in Luhansk.

Luhansk, in southeastern Ukraine, is one of two provinces – together with Donetsk – that Moscow proclaims as independent states.

Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, said in a social media post early this morning that Russia was trying to destroy the city of Severodonetsk and that there has been fighting on the outskirts of the city.

Severodonetsk in Ukraine (Google Maps)
Severodonetsk in Ukraine (Google Maps)

“Shelling continues from morning to the evening and also throughout the night,” he said in a video post on the Telegram messaging app.

He added: “The enemy’s plans are to surround the region or set fire to it, as they did in Popasna. This is the difficult fate of the Luhansk region – to prevent the Russians from moving further.”

Capturing Luhansk and Donetsk provinces would allow Moscow to claim victory after announcing last month that this has been its current objective. Russia changed its plan after it had failed to capture Kyiv.

“This will be the critical next few weeks of the conflict,” said Mathieu Boulegue, an expert at London’s Chatham House think tank. “And it depends on how effective they are at conquering Severodonetsk and the lands across it.”

Moldova should be armed to ‘Nato standard’, says Liz Truss

08:38 , Lamiat Sabin

Ukraine‘s neighbour Moldova should be “equipped to Nato standard” to guard it against possible Russian aggression, UK foreign secretary Liz Truss said.

There is a need to ensure that Ukraine is “permanently able to defend itself”, and this also applies to other “vulnerable states” such as Moldova, which is not a Nato member – she added.

Russia “absolutely” poses a security threat to Moldova, she said, as Vladimir Putin “has been clear about his ambitions to create a greater Russia.”

Read the full story here by Emily Atkinson

Moldova should be armed ‘to Nato standard’ to guard against Russia, says Truss

Russia ‘could be experiencing shortage of drones’ – MoD

08:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Russia is likely experiencing a shortage of appropriate reconnaissance Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

The drones are used to identify targets to be struck by combat jets or artillery.

The Ministry of Defence in London (Tim Ireland/PA)
The Ministry of Defence in London (Tim Ireland/PA)

The shortage is exacerbated by limitations in its domestic manufacturing capacity resulting from worldwide sanctions imposed in response to its invasion of Ukraine, the MoD’s report said.

If Russia continues to lose UAVs at current rate, Russian forces’ ability to garner intelligence and conduct surveillance reconnaissance will be further degraded, it adds.

Finland cut-off from Russian gas supply, Gazprom confirms

07:30 , Lamiat Sabin

Russia’s Gazprom has confirmed that it had cut-off gas exports to neighbouring Finland.

Earlier, Finnish system operator Gasgrid Finland said: “Gas imports through Imatra entry point have been stopped.”

Lakhta Centre, the headquarters of Russian gas monopoly Gazprom in St. Petersburg (Dmitri Lovetsky/AP)
Lakhta Centre, the headquarters of Russian gas monopoly Gazprom in St. Petersburg (Dmitri Lovetsky/AP)

It came after Gazprom Export has demanded that European countries pay for Russian gas supplies in roubles because of sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine – which Finland has refused to do so.

Moody's cuts Ukraine's debt rating

06:49 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Moody’s on Friday downgraded Ukraine’s foreign currency sovereign credit rating to “Caa3” from “Caa2”.

The ratings agency cited increased risks to the government’s “debt sustainability” following Russia’s invasion.

“While Ukraine is benefiting from large commitments of international financial support, helping to mitigate immediate liquidity risks, the resulting significant rise in government debt is likely to prove unsustainable over the medium term,” it said in a statement.

It added that it expects the war in Ukraine to be more prolonged than initially assumed and forecasts that the country’s real gross domestic product (GDP) would shrink by about 35 per cent in 2022.

Russia halts gas flow to Finland

06:22 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Russia’s state energy giant Gazprom has stopped exporting natural gas to Finland.

“Gas imports through Imatra entry point have been stopped,” Gasgrid Finland said in a statement.

The Finnish gas system operator said that the latest escalation comes amid an energy payments dispute with Western nations.

Moscow said it took the decision because Finland had refused to pay for gas in roubles, something the Putin regime demanded after western sanctions were imposed.

Read more:

Russia to cut natural gas supplies to Finland days after it applied to join Nato

Cannes: Woman protests against sexual violence in Ukraine

06:00 , Sravasti Dasgupta

A woman ran onto the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday to protest against sexual violence in Ukraine.

She stripped off her coat to reveal the words “stop raping us” painted on her body, along with the colours of the Ukrainian flag.

Ukrainian authorities have noted that sexual violence has been reported in several parts of the country during the Russian invasion, which began on 24 February.

Read more:

Ukraine protestor removed from Cannes by security after stripping on the red carpet

Inside the recaptured Ukrainian village still under attack from retreating Russian forces

05:30 , Emily Atkinson

The first mortar rounds are outgoing, aimed at Russian forces beyond a ridge. But the ones that follow are incoming, heading for Ukrainian positions, and land near the troops in their base, writes Kim Sengupta - The Independent’s defence and security editor.

The exchanges take place at Ruska Lozova, a village set in a landscape of woodland, valleys, streams and fields, which was officially liberated at the end of last month by Ukrainian troops, driving away the Russian forces that had laid siege to nearby Kharkiv.

It is just six miles north of the city, and the presence of Russian forces here, with tanks, artillery and air support, is an illustration of the fragmented front line here in the northeast of Ukraine.

His dispatch can be read in full here:

Inside the recaptured village still under attack from Russian forces

36 Russian soldiers dead in last 24 hours, Ukraine says

05:17 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Ukraine’s Operational Command said that Russia has lost at least 36 soldiers, three T-72 tanks, a Grad missile launcher, and a number of vehicles along Ukraine’s southern frontlines over the past 24 hours.

40 countries of Ukraine contact group to meet on 23 May

05:05 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said that 40 countries of Ukraine Contact Group will meet again on 23 May.

The group, led by US secretary of defence Lloyd Austin, will discuss further support for Ukraine.

Mr Austin will speak with Ukraine’s defence minister Oleksii Reznikov ahead of the virtual meeting.

The group first convened at Germany’s Ramstein Air Base last month.

Kasparov and Khodorkovsky added to Russia's 'foreign agents' list

04:55 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov and former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky have been added to the Russian Justice Ministry’s list of individuals acting as foreign agents, according to the ministry’s website.

Both men are prominent critics of the Russian government.

Russia alleged that Ukraine is a source of financing for Khodorkovsky, while it claimed Kasparov’s funds have been sourced from both Kyiv and the Human Rights Foundation.

(FILE) Garry Kasparov: A former world chess champion, became an outspoken critic of Putin’s Russia (AP)
(FILE) Garry Kasparov: A former world chess champion, became an outspoken critic of Putin’s Russia (AP)

Watch: Footage captures major blast in Ukraine's Kharkiv region

04:30 , Emily Atkinson

Russian soldier in Ukraine war crimes trial says he did not want to kill

03:30 , Emily Atkinson

In case you missed it...

A 21-year-old Russian soldier told a court on Friday he had not wanted to kill an unarmed civilian and that he sincerely repented, as he delivered his final words at the first war crimes trial arising from Russia’s invasion.

Vadim Shishimarin, a tank commander, has pleaded guilty to killing Oleksandr Shelipov, a 62-year-old civilian, in the northeast Ukrainian village of Chupakhivka on 28 February.

“I sincerely repent. I was nervous at the time, I did not want to kill... that’s how it happened,” Shishimarin said.

Shishimarin is accused of firing several shots with an assault rifle at a civilian’s head from a car after being ordered to do so.

Defence lawyer Viktor Ovsiannikov told the court that Shishimarin had only fired the rounds after twice refusing to carry out the order to shoot and that only one out of three-to-four rounds hit the target.

Russia considers allowing over-40s to fight Ukraine war

02:30 , Emily Atkinson

Russia’s parliament could allow people over 40 to join the military, as it struggles to make territorial gains in eastern Ukraine, writes Rory Sullivan.

Russia considers allowing over-40s to fight Ukraine war

Watch: Putin takes breaks during meetings for treatment, claims ex-British spy

01:30 , Emily Atkinson

Zelensky says Russia should pay for destruction in Ukraine

Saturday 21 May 2022 00:40 , Emily Atkinson

President Volodymyr Zelensky has demanded that Russia be held financially responsible for the damage inflicted on Ukraine by its forces.

Speaking during his nightly video address, Zelensky said Moscow should be made to pay for every home, school, hospital and business it destroys.

He said a legal mechanism should be created through which everyone who suffered from Russia‘s actions would be able to receive compensation.

“That would be fair,” Zelensky said. “And Russia would feel the true weight of every missile, every bomb, every shell that it has fired at us.”

Watch: Protestor removed from Cannes red carpet

Saturday 21 May 2022 00:00 , Emily Atkinson

Protester crashes Cannes carpet at George Miller premiere

Friday 20 May 2022 23:40 , Emily Atkinson

A woman who stripped off her clothes to reveal a message against rape written on her body crashed the Cannes Film Festival red carpet premiere of George Miller‘s “Three Thousand Years of Longing” on Friday.

The unidentified woman tore off her clothes during the film’s red carpet procession to reveal the message “Stop raping us” written across her torso next to the blue and yellow colors of the Ukraine flag. Red was also painted on her legs and groin.

While she yelled “Don’t rape us!” security quickly encircled her and took her off the red carpet.

Protester crashes Cannes carpet at George Miller premiere

Zelensky reveals how supplies were delivered to Azovstal defenders

Friday 20 May 2022 23:21 , Emily Atkinson

President Volodymyr Zelensky has revealed that Ukrainian pilots had taken part in treacherous missions to deliver supplies to the defenders holed up in the Azovstal steel mill.

He said the operation could not be reported sooner as no safe corridor had been established.

Zelensky said the pilots risked Russian anti-aircraft fire to fly medicine, food and water to the sprawling plant on helicopters, suffering a large amount of casualties.

In an interview published on the third anniversary of his inauguration as president on Friday, he said the effort also included retrieval of bodies and picking up the wounded.“They are absolutely heroic people, who knew that it would be difficult, knew that to fly would be almost impossible,” Zelensky said.

US to arm Ukraine with anti-ship missiles

Friday 20 May 2022 22:38 , Emily Atkinson

In case you missed it...

US officials are considering arming the Ukrainian military with advanced anti-ship missiles, the Reuters agency has reported.

Citing Biden administration officials, the report says the White House could offer Kyiv Boeing Harpoon and Naval Strike missiles with which to target the Russian Black Fleet, which is currently blockading Ukrainian ports.

UK defence officials have said that around 20 Russian Navy vessels, including submarines, are active in the region.

Officials are said to believe the arms could help force Russian ships away from Ukrainian territory and allow shipments of grain and other agricultural products to resume.

But the missiles, which cost around $15m (£12m) per round and have a range of 300km, are mainly sea-based missiles, meaning Ukraine could face difficulty firing them from shore.

Friday 20 May 2022 22:22 , Emily Atkinson

Here are some of the latest images of the southern port city of Mariupol, which was today claimed by Russia to be in its full control:

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Moscow says last group of Azovstal soldiers has surrendered

Friday 20 May 2022 21:58 , Emily Atkinson

Russia‘s defence ministry on Friday said the last group of Ukrainian forces holed up in Mariupol’s Azovstal steel works had surrendered, marking an end to a weeks-long attack that left the city in ruins.

“The territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant... has been completely liberated,” the ministry said in a statement.

It said the group that had surrendered comprised 531 people.

“The underground facilities of the enterprise, where the militants were hiding, came under the full control of the Russian armed forces,” said the Russian statement, adding that a total of 2,439 defenders had surrendered in the past few days.

Russia adds Kasparov and Khodorkovsky to 'foreign agents' list

Friday 20 May 2022 21:39 , Emily Atkinson

Ex-world chess champion Garry Kasparov and former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, two prominent critics of the Kremlin, have been added to the list of individuals acting as foreign agents, according to the website for Russia’s jutsice ministry.

Watch: Sajid Javid says UK support for Ukraine is 'unwavering' as 5.8 million items of aid sent

Friday 20 May 2022 21:21 , Emily Atkinson

Moscow claims to take full control of Mariupol after three-month siege

Friday 20 May 2022 21:03 , Emily Atkinson

Russia has claimed to have taken full control of the sprawling Azovstal steelworks in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol - the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance.

Moscow’s announcement would mark the end of a three-month siege which has seen the once-bustling hub razed to the ground, leaving more than 20,000 people feared dead.

Reporting to Russian president Vladimir Putin on Friday, defence minister Sergei Shoigu said that the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol has been “completely liberated” from Ukrainian defenders.

An aerial view of damaged residential buildings and the Azovstal steel plant in the background in the port city of Mariupol (AFP via Getty Images)
An aerial view of damaged residential buildings and the Azovstal steel plant in the background in the port city of Mariupol (AFP via Getty Images)

AP adds:Russia‘s state news agency RIA Novosti quoted the ministry as saying that a total of 2,439 Ukrainian fighters who had been holed up at Azovstal have laid down their arms and surrendered since May 16, including 531 on Friday.

There was no immediate confirmation from Ukraine that Mariupol has fallen completely to the Russians.

Wimbledon stripped of ATP ranking points after Russian and Belarusian player ban

Friday 20 May 2022 20:50 , Emily Atkinson

Wimbledon has been stripped of ranking points for male players for this year’s tournament by the ATP, following their decision to ban players from Russia or Belarus from competing at SW19.

In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian players have been banned by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) from all UK grass-court events, which includes the third grand slam of the year.

And in a statement, the ATP - who run the men’s world ranking system and weekly tennis tour - intimated they had been left with no decision but to announce that players will not recieve ranking points for competing at Wimbledon.

Luke Baker has more:

Wimbledon stripped of ATP ranking points after Russian and Belarusian player ban

No indication of Russia using lasers in Ukraine, Pentagon says

Friday 20 May 2022 20:30 , Emily Atkinson

The Pentagon has said there were no indications that Russia had used laser weaponry in Ukraine, following claims by Moscow that it was fielding a new generation of powerful lasers there to strike enemy drones.

“We don’t have any indication of the use of lasers, at least weaponized lasers, in Ukraine. Nothing to confirm on that,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

Watch: Footage captures moment missile strike blasts cultural centre in Lozova

Friday 20 May 2022 20:10 , Emily Atkinson

Kyiv shares images of Lozova blast

Friday 20 May 2022 19:50 , Emily Atkinson

Ukraine’s State Emergency Service has released a number of chilling images of the damage caused by the missile strike against the House of Culture in Lozova, Kharkiv.

One local health official, Viktor Zabashta, told Interfax: “No-one has died yet.”

Russia has not yet issued any comment on the strike.

 (via REUTERS)
(via REUTERS)
 (via REUTERS)
(via REUTERS)

Missile strike on Kharkiv cultural centre ‘evil’, Zelensky says

Friday 20 May 2022 19:37 , Emily Atkinson

Ukraine’s president has hit out at a video of a missile strike launched on a cultural centre in the Kharkiv region, which he described as “absolute evil, absolute stupidity.”

Volodymyr Zelensky shared the startling CCTV footage of the blast as it collided with the House of Culture in Lozova on his Telegram channel.

He has accused Russia of launching the attack on the eastern city.

Zelensky said that seven people, including an 11-year-old, were injured.

“The occupiers have identified culture, education and humanity as their enemies,” he said, adding: “What is in the heads of people who choose such targets?”

Alarm over global food supplies has hit ‘level 10’, says UN official

Friday 20 May 2022 19:22 , Emily Atkinson

The US ambassador to the UN has warned that her alarm over dwindling global food supplies has hit “level 10.”

Speaking of her concern over Russia’s bloackading of vital Ukrainian ports, Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the BBC’s Newshour programme: “I can tell you on a scale of one to 10, I’m probably at the 10 level of alarm. This crisis has exacerbated what is already a serious food insecurity issue.”

“The Ukraine war and Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, its blockade of the ports, blocking Ukrainian wheat from getting to the market, has exacerbated this situation and made it even more dire and the impact is being felt across the world.”

‘Ukraine will defeat the darkness,’ says adviser to Zelensky

Friday 20 May 2022 19:08 , Emily Atkinson

A top adviser to president Volodymyr Zelensky has said the country’s authorities will do “everthing” it can not to let down the Ukrainian people.

Posting to Twitter on Friday, Mykhailo Podolyak said: “Every day I receive dozens of messages from people who‘ve lost their loved ones, their home.

“From those whose relatives have been captured or deported to Russia. Ukraine will defeat the darkness, but pays a terrible price. We’ll do everything not to let our people down.”

Luhansk faces continuing Russian bombardment, says governor

Friday 20 May 2022 18:50 , Emily Atkinson

Lysychansk and Severodonetsk in Ukraine’s eastern region of Luhansk is facing continued Russian bombardment in Moscow’s bid to isolate the area from the rest of Ukraine, the region’s governor said.

Serhiy Haidai told The Associated Press that Russia’s forces were focused on the Lysychansk-Bakhmut highway, which he said is the only road for evacuating people and delivering humanitarian supplies.

Contacting the agency via email, he said:“The road is extremely important because it’s the only connection to other regions of the country.

“The Russians are trying to cut us off from it, to encircle the Luhansk region.”Haidai said Putin’s troops are constantly shelling the road from multiple directions, but Ukrainian armored transports are still able to get through.

Families of Azovstal fighters fear defenders are moving ‘from one hell to another hell'

Friday 20 May 2022 18:33 , Emily Atkinson

The loved ones of the Ukrainian fighters who defended the Azovstal steelworks have said they are worries about the fate of their family members after they were ordered to stand down.

Speaking at a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey, Natalia Zarytska, wife to one of the Mariupol fighters who had surrendered, said she had not had contact with her husband other than a 10-minute message exchange via Telegram two days ago.

 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

She said: “So my husband messaged me two days ago and the situation is really hard and horrible and my husband is on the way from one hell to another hell, from Azovstal steel plant to a prison, to captivity.”

Zarytska also said she believes that her husband is still alive and that one day he will return home.

The group, comprising three wives and a mother of Azovstal fighters, have been in Turkey this week to ask the country to help secure the safety of the fighters at the steel plant.

Donbas under fire in pictures

Friday 20 May 2022 18:15 , Emily Atkinson

 (AP)
(AP)
 (AP)
(AP)
 (via REUTERS)
(via REUTERS)
 (AP)
(AP)
 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

US could offer Ukraine advanced anti-ship missiles to break through Russian naval blockade

Friday 20 May 2022 17:58 , Emily Atkinson

The White House is looking to aid Ukraine with advanced anti-ship missiles against Russia’s naval blockade either via direct shipment or with help from a European ally that can facilitate the transfer, officials said on Thursday.

The warships being considered include Boeing’s Harpoon and Kongsberg and Raytheon’s Naval Strike Missile, in a move that could bring Washington in increased conflict with Moscow.

The move is a response to a shopping list provided by Kyiv, that included a request for missiles to end the Russian navy’s control of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports so it can resume the trade of grains and other agricultural produce.

Arpan Rai reports:

US could offer Ukraine advanced anti-ship missiles to break through Russian blockade

Undisclosed number of Ukrainian soldiers remain at Azovstal steel plant

Friday 20 May 2022 17:40 , Emily Atkinson

The number of Ukrainian soldiers still holed up at Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks remains unclear, but Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu said more than 1,900 had surrendered in recent days.

According to Denis Prokopenko, commander of the Azov Regiment, which had led the defence of the plant, the bodies of soliders who died, who he referred to as “fallen heroes”, are still being held in the plant.

He said: “I hope soon relatives and the whole of Ukraine will be able to bury the fighters with honours.”

He also said that the defenders of Mariupol have received an order to “cease the defence of the city”. The intention is to “save the lives and health of the servicemen of the garrison”, he said.

 (via REUTERS)
(via REUTERS)

Italy submits peace plan for Ukraine to UN

Friday 20 May 2022 17:21 , Emily Atkinson

Italy has submitted a peace plan for Ukraine to UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, the country’s foreign minister has said.

Speaking during a Council of Europe meeting in Turin, Italy, Luigi Di Maio said that the plan submitted calls for local ceasefires to evacuate civilians along humanitarian corridors, and creating the conditions for a general cease-fire leading “to a long-lasting peace.”

In Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he was aware of the plan, adding the European Union is “putting all our efforts into trying to bring this conflict to an end.”

Borrell said it’s up to Ukraine to decide the terms of any negotiations.

He said that he hopes that “when the time comes for negotiations to take place, Ukraine will be able to negotiate from a position of strength.”

Russia to cut natural gas supplies to Finland days after Helsinki applied to join Nato

Friday 20 May 2022 17:03 , Emily Atkinson

Russia will stop exporting natural gas to Finland from Saturday, just two days after Helsinki applied for Nato membership in response to security concerns triggered by the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Gazprom, the Russian state energy giant, confirmed the move to the Finnish company Gasum on Friday.

It is expected that Russia will cut supplies around 4am on Saturday morning.

Here’s Rory Sullivan with the full story:

Russia to cut natural gas supplies to Finland days after it applied to join Nato

Russia suffers fresh blow from new Canadian sanctions

Friday 20 May 2022 16:46 , Emily Atkinson

We have a few more details to top-up our earlier post on the new wave of Canadian sanctions imposed today on Russia.

According to an official statement, the new measures would put restrictions on 14 individuals including Russian oligarchs, their family members, and close associates of president Vladimir Putin.

An import ban will also target Russian goods including alcoholic beverages, seafood, and non-industrial diamonds, while an export ban will target luxury goods such as footwear, luxury clothing and jewelry.

Putin promises to bolster Russia’s cyber security

Friday 20 May 2022 16:26 , Emily Atkinson

Russia’s president has claimed that the frequency of cyberattacks on the country by what he called foreign “state structures” had increased several times over.

It follows a flurry of reports that the websites of various state-owned companies and news websites had suffered sporadic hacking attempts in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Targeted attempts are being made to disable the internet resources of Russia‘s critical information infrastructure,” president Vladimir Putin said, adding that media and financial institutions were among those that had been targeted.

 (EPA)
(EPA)

He said: “Serious attacks have been launched against the official sites of government agencies. Attempts to illegally penetrate the corporate networks of leading Russian companies are much more frequent as well.”

He told members of the security council that Moscow must bolster its cyber defences by reducing the use of foreign software and hardware.

He continued: “Restrictions on foreign IT, software and products have become one of the tools of sanctions pressure on Russia.

“A number of Western suppliers have unilaterally stopped technical support of their equipment in Russia.”

German ex-Chancellor Schröder leaves Rosneft board

Friday 20 May 2022 15:59 , Thomas Kingsley

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder will leave the board of directors of Russian state-owned oil giant Rosneft, the company has announced.

Rosneft said Schröder and Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline firm CEO Matthias Warnig informed the company that it was "impossible to extend their powers on the board of directors".

"We are sympathetic to their decisions and thank them for their continued support," Rosneft said in the statement.

On Thursday, Mr Schröder was stripped of some of his official perks in Germany - including his taxpayer-funded office - over his continued involvement in the Russian energy industry.

Schröder, who was chancellor between 1998 and 2005, chairs the boards of Russian state oil firm Rosneft and the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline firm. He is due to join the supervisory board of Russian gas giant Gazprom in June.

Gerhard Schröder (L) talks with Vladimir Putin (R) in Berlin on 8 September, 2005 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Gerhard Schröder (L) talks with Vladimir Putin (R) in Berlin on 8 September, 2005 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

US could offer Ukraine advanced anti-ship missiles to break through Russian naval blockade

Friday 20 May 2022 15:20 , Thomas Kingsley

The White House is looking to aid Ukraine with advanced anti-ship missiles against Russia’s naval blockade either via direct shipment or with help from a European ally that can facilitate the transfer, officials said on Thursday.

The warships being considered include Boeing’s Harpoon and Kongsberg and Raytheon’s Naval Strike Missile, in a move that could bring Washington in increased conflict with Moscow.

The move is a response to a shopping list provided by Kyiv, that included a request for missiles to end the Russian navy’s control of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports so it can resume the trade of grains and other agricultural produce.

Read the full story below:

US could offer Ukraine advanced anti-ship missiles to break through Russian blockade

US targets a second Abramovich plane over sanctions violations

Friday 20 May 2022 15:00 , Thomas Kingsley

US authorities on Friday moved to ground additional aircraft believed to be in violation of sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, including a second airplane owned by businessman Roman Abramovich.

The Commerce Department said a 787 Dreamliner owned by Abramovich had likely violated US export controls, after having identified in March a first aircraft owned by the Russian businessman suspected to be in violation of restrictions.

It also said that it was issuing an order denying export privileges to Rossiya Airlines due to ongoing export violations, the fifth Russian airline to which it has done so.

The Commerce Department warned that providing any service to aircraft subject to its Export Administration Regulations (EAR) that may have violated those controls requires US government authorization.

Failure to do so could result in "substantial jail time, fines, loss of export privileges, or other restrictions," the Commerce Department said.

"By preventing these aircraft from receiving any service, including from abroad, international flights from Belarus or Russia on these aircraft are effectively grounded," the department said.

The department "is further updating the tail numbers of planes already on the list that have flown into Russia and/or Belarus in apparent violation of the EAR."

Roman Abramovich, pictured, will sell Chelsea having led the Blues to 21 trophies in his 19 years at the helm (Adam Davy/PA) (PA Wire)
Roman Abramovich, pictured, will sell Chelsea having led the Blues to 21 trophies in his 19 years at the helm (Adam Davy/PA) (PA Wire)

Canada imposes fresh sanctions on Russian oligarchs

Friday 20 May 2022 14:45 , Thomas Kingsley

Canada imposes additional sanctions on Russian oligarchs in response to Vladimir Putin’s continued aggression on Ukraine.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

‘I did not want to kill’ Russian soldier pleads guilty to killing an unarmed Ukrainian civilian

Friday 20 May 2022 14:29 , Thomas Kingsley

A 21-year-old Russian soldier has told a court he had not wanted to kill an unarmed Ukrainian civilian and that he had “sincerely repented”, at the conflict’s first war crimes trial.

Vadim Shishimarin, a tank commander, pleaded guilty to killing Oleksandr Shelipov, a 62-year-old civilian, in the northeast Ukrainian village of Chupakhivka on 28 Feb.

“I sincerely repent. I was nervous at the time, I did not want to kill... that’s how it happened,” Mr Shishimarin said.

Read the full report below:

‘I did not want to kill,’ Russian soldier tells Ukraine war crimes trial

Putin’s daughter flew to Germany 50 times in two years

Friday 20 May 2022 14:14 , Thomas Kingsley

One of Vladimir Putin’s daughters flew from Moscow to Munich more than 50 times between 2017 and 2019, an investigation has found.

The disclosure about Katerina Tikhonova’s numerous visits to the Bavarian city comes just two months after her father criticised Russians who spend too much time in the west.

In a tirade made shortly after the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian president claimed this group “mentally exist there, and not here”, adding that they could be a potential “fifth column”.

Read the full story here

Turkey’s Erdogan to speak to Finland as Nato application row simmers

Friday 20 May 2022 13:59 , Thomas Kingsley

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he will speak to Finland on Saturday, while maintaining his opposition to Finnish and Swedish Nato membership bids over their history of hosting members of groups Ankara deems terrorists.

Finland and Sweden formally applied to join Nato on Wednesday, following Russia's 24 February invasion of Ukraine.

Me Erdogan said he had discussed the issue with the Dutch prime minister on Friday and would also speak to Britain on Saturday. He did not specify the people he would speak to in Finland and Britain.

"Of course we will continue all these discussions for the sake of not interrupting diplomacy," Mr Erdogan told reporters.

Full story: Putin is surrounded by doctors and takes breaks during meetings for treatment, claims ex-British spy

Friday 20 May 2022 13:41 , Thomas Kingsley

We shared the video clip earlier in the day of ex-British spy Christopher Steele claiming that president Vladimir Putin is “increasingly ill” and is “constantly accompanied” by a team of doctors.

Mr Steele, who wrote a dossier on Donald Trump and Moscow's alleged interference in the 2016 US elections, had earlier stated that the Russian leader was “quite seriously ill”, although the “exact details” of what ailed him are not known.

The latest remarks come amid mounting speculation on the Russian president’s allegedly deteriorating health and rumours that he is suffering from cancer.

“He’s constantly accompanied around the place by a team of doctors,” the former spy told LBC radio.

Read the full story below:

Putin takes breaks during meetings for treatment, claims ex-British spy

New Twitter policy aims to pierce fog of war misinformation

Friday 20 May 2022 13:30 , Thomas Kingsley

Twitter has unveiled a new crisis misinformation policy, making permeant the temporary measures it announced during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – but may fly in the face of Elon Musk’s ideology, who is set to purchase the company.

“Conversation moves quickly during periods of crisis, and content from accounts with wide reach are most likely to rack up views and engagement. To reduce potential harm, as soon as we have evidence that a claim may be misleading, we won’t amplify or recommend content that is covered by this policy across Twitter – including in the Home timeline, Search, and Explore”, Twitter’s Yoel Roth, its head of safety and integrity, wrote in a blog post.

“In addition, we will prioritize adding warning notices to highly visible Tweets and Tweets from high profile accounts, such as state-affiliated media accounts, verified, official government accounts.”

Read the full story below:

Twitter sets new misinformation policy ahead of Elon Musk’s ‘free speech’ takeover

Don't forget other crises amid Ukraine focus, UNHCR chief warns

Friday 20 May 2022 13:10 , Thomas Kingsley

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees warned on Friday that countries focused on helping Ukraine should not ignore crises elsewhere, which were likely to worsen due to the war.

Filippo Grandi said the "colossal crisis" in Ukraine would raise the number of displaced people globally well above the 84 million it reached in late 2021, with some 6 million refugees from Ukraine and 8 million people displaced inside the country.

"Unfortunately the global displacement crisis is increasing. I think an important message... is that there is not just Ukraine and we should not forget the rest," Grandi said before joining a meeting of EU development ministers in Brussels.

"First of all because Ukraine has an impact on many other fragile situations, making them more fragile, food security, energy crisis, price increases, instability and then this in turn can cause more displacement," he said.

Afghanistan (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Afghanistan (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

UN cutting refugee rations in Africa's Sahel amid 'alarming' food insecurity

Friday 20 May 2022 12:50 , Thomas Kingsley

Food rations for refugees and displaced people are being cut by up to half in parts of the Sahel due to a massive funding shortfall with millions set to go hungry as prices rise and climate shocks hit yields, UN agencies said on Friday.

The UN humanitarian office (OCHA) estimates that some 18 million people face severe food insecurity in the next three months across the arid belt that stretching across Africa beneath the Sahara. Its $3.8 billion appeal for the region is less than 12 per cent funded, OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke said.

"The situation has reached alarming levels in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger, where people will experience emergency levels of food insecurity during the lean season between June and August," he told a media briefing, saying that the levels of food insecurity were the worst since 2014.

In Burkina Faso, rations are currently at 75 per cent in areas that are hard-to-reach and the most food insecure, and 50 per cent at other sites, the World Food Programme said.

German farm owner saves fuel money with horse-drawn carriage

Friday 20 May 2022 12:30 , Thomas Kingsley

Stephanie Kirchner's journey to work has got longer but, she says, cheaper: she has left her SUV at home and switched to real horse power.

Stud farm owner and horse trainer Kirchner, 33, says she decided “it can't go on like this” after fuel prices jumped following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “Since I also suspected hay harvesting and everything else will become much, much more expensive, we said, ‘we have to save a little money,’” she says.

So she has switched to traveling the roughly 6 kilometers (3 1/2 miles) from her home in western Germany by horse-drawn carriage. That turns a one-way trip from 10-15 minutes to as much as an hour.

Read the full report below:

German farm owner saves fuel money with horse-drawn carriage

Inside the recaptured Ukrainian village still under attack from retreating Russian forces

Friday 20 May 2022 12:15 , Thomas Kingsley

The first mortar rounds are outgoing, aimed at Russian forces beyond a ridge. But the ones that follow are incoming, heading for Ukrainian positions, and land near the troops in their base.

The exchanges take place at Ruska Lozova — a village set in a landscape of woodlands, valleys, streams and fields that had been officially liberated at the end of last month by Ukrainian troops, driving away Russian forces that had laid siege to nearby Kharkiv.

It is just six miles north of the city. and the presence of Russian forces here with tanks, artillery and air support is an illustration of a fragmented frontline here in the northeast of Ukraine.

Read the full piece from our defence and security editor, Kim Sengupta, in Kharkiv:

Inside the recaptured village still under attack from Russian forces

Watch: Captured Ukrainian paramedic smuggles harrowing bodycam footage out of Mariupol in tampon

Friday 20 May 2022 12:00 , Thomas Kingsley

A Ukrainian medic smuggled harrowing footage of her time in Mariupol out of the city in a tampon, before going missing.

Yuliia Paievska, known as Taira, recorded 256 gigabytes of body camera video, documenting her team’s frantic efforts to bring people back from the brink of death.

She managed to share the harrowing footage with an AP team leaving the war-torn city in a rare humanitarian convoy.

The next day, on 16 March, Taira and her driver were captured by Russian soldiers, in one of many forced disappearances in areas of Ukraine now held by Russia.

Watch the clip in the video below:

Captured Ukrainian paramedic smuggles harrowing footage out of Mariupol in tampon

Putin is surrounded by doctors and takes breaks during meetings for treatment, claims ex-British spy

Friday 20 May 2022 11:45 , Thomas Kingsley

Vladimir Putin is “increasingly ill” and is “constantly accompanied” by a team of doctors, former British spy Christopher Steele has claimed.

Mr Steele, who wrote a dossier on Donald Trump and Moscow's alleged interference in the 2016 US elections, had earlier stated that the Russian leader was “quite seriously ill”, although the “exact details” of what ailed him are not known.

The latest remarks come amid mounting speculation on the Russian president’s allegedly deteriorating health and rumours that he is suffering from cancer.

Read the full story below:

Putin takes breaks during meetings for treatment, claims ex-British spy

Russian soldier in Ukraine war crimes trial says he did not want to kill

Friday 20 May 2022 11:30 , Thomas Kingsley

A 21-year-old Russian soldier told a court on Friday he had not wanted to kill an unarmed civilian and that he sincerely repented, as he delivered his final words at the first war crimes trial arising from Russia's Feb. 24 invasion.

Vadim Shishimarin, a tank commander, has pleaded guilty to killing Oleksandr Shelipov, a 62-year-old civilian, in the northeast Ukrainian village of Chupakhivka on 28 February.

"I sincerely repent. I was nervous at the time, I did not want to kill... that's how it happened," Shishimarin said.

Shishimarin is accused of firing several shots with an assault rifle at a civilian's head from a car after being ordered to do so.

Defence lawyer Viktor Ovsiannikov told the court that Shishimarin had only fired the rounds after twice refusing to carry out the order to shoot and that only one out of three-to-four rounds hit the target.

Russia Ukraine War (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Russia Ukraine War (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Russia taking ‘countermeasures’ in response to Finland and Sweden joining Nato

Friday 20 May 2022 11:15 , Thomas Kingsley

Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu said that Finland and Sweden joining Nato has led to an increase in military threats near the border and that Moscow is taking "adequate countermeasures", Russian news agency Interfax reported on Friday.

RIA news agency quoted Mr Shoigu as saying Russia would respond by forming 12 new units in its western military district.

Finland and Sweden formally applied to join the western defence alliance Nato on Wednesday.

 (AP)
(AP)

Pro-Russian hackers attack institutional websites in Italy, police says

Friday 20 May 2022 11:00 , Thomas Kingsley

Pro-Russian hackers have attacked the websites of several Italian institutions and government ministries, the police said on Friday.

At 8am it was still not possible to access the websites of the Italian foreign ministry and its national magistrates association. The attack was launched at around 8pm GMT on Thursday by the hacker group "Killnet," Italian cyber-security group Yarix said in a statement.

A similar attack took place on 11 May, and last weekend police said they had thwarted a cyber-assault on the latter stages of the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin which ended on Saturday with the victory of Ukraine's entry.

The police attributed both attacks to the Killnet group and its affiliate Legion.

Russia routinely denies it carries out offensive cyber operations.

Watch: Russian senator says the Kremlin is struggling because Ukraine army includes 'Russian soldiers'

Friday 20 May 2022 10:45 , Thomas Kingsley

Video ‘shows moment before civilians executed’ in new war crimes evidence

Friday 20 May 2022 10:30 , Thomas Kingsley

A New York Times investigation has revealed new evidence of alleged war crimes by Russian forces in Bucha - a town just outside of Kyiv.

In two videos, Russian paratroopers can be seen marching a group of men at gunpoint along a street as the captives can be seen hunched over, holding the belt of the person in front of them while having their hands over their heads.

The videos were reportedly filmed on 4 March by a security camera and a witness in a nearby property.

The first Russian soldier this week pled guilty to war crimes while the Kremlin continues to deny wrongdoing.

Russian parliament to consider allowing over-40s to sign up for military

Friday 20 May 2022 10:15 , Thomas Kingsley

Russia's lower house of parliament will consider allowing Russians over 40 and foreigners over 30 to sign up for the military, the State Duma website said on Friday.

“For the use of high-precision weapons, the operation of weapons and military equipment, highly professional specialists are needed. Experience shows that they become such by the age of 40-45," the Duma website said.

A Terminator-2 tank support fighting vehicle (front) drives during the joint Russian-Belarusian military exercises Zapad-2017 (AFP via Getty Images)
A Terminator-2 tank support fighting vehicle (front) drives during the joint Russian-Belarusian military exercises Zapad-2017 (AFP via Getty Images)

Friday 20 May 2022 10:00 , Thomas Kingsley

Russian senator Frants Klintsevich has suggested that Russia is struggling in its “special military operation” because Ukraine’s army is “one of the strongest and best trained” as its “comprised of Russian soldiers and officers with exactly our mentality.”

Speaking on Russian state TV, Mr Klintsevich said the war was like no other the Kremlin has fought in the past because of Ukraine’s military make-up.

Pictured: A young woman embraces her husband after losing both legs in a Lviv blast

Friday 20 May 2022 09:45 , Thomas Kingsley

Oksana Balandina, 23, is carried by her husband Viktor at a public hospital in Lviv, Ukraine, Friday, 13 May, 2022.

Ms Balandina lost both legs and 4 fingers on her left arm when a shell sticking in the ground near her house exploded on 27 March. “There was explosion. Just after that I felt my legs like falling into emptiness. I was trying to look around and saw that there were no legs anymore - only bones, flesh and blood”.

 (AP)
(AP)

Pictured: Azovstal fighters sit on a bus after surrendering to Russian military

Friday 20 May 2022 09:30 , Thomas Kingsley

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (AP)
(AP)
 (AP)
(AP)
 (AP)
(AP)

Watch: Putin takes breaks during meetings for treatment, claims ex-British spy

Friday 20 May 2022 09:15 , Thomas Kingsley

UK accuses Russia of making food a weapon in the war

Friday 20 May 2022 09:00 , Thomas Kingsley

Russia is “making food a weapon” in the war in Ukraine, the UK’s foreign office has claimed following calls for Vladimir Putin to open up blocked ports in the country.

“Countries around the world are suffering as a result,” the foreign office wrote on Twitter.

“Russia must immediately end its blockade of Ukrainian ports which is obstructing the flow of essential goods.”

India warns wheat could go way of Covid vaccines with richer countries hoarding most supplies

Friday 20 May 2022 08:45 , Thomas Kingsley

India has warned against hoarding of food grains by richer countries, making a comparison to the shortage of Covid vaccines faced by developing countries.

The remarks come after questions were raised over a decision on 13 May by India, the world’s second-largest producer of wheat, to restrict exports of the grain as global prices spiral.

The country’s decision comes amid a blistering heatwave that has impacted its crop production. It has defended its decision saying the aim was to ensure food security.

Our reporter, Stuti Mishra, has the full story below:

India warns wheat could go way of Covid vaccines with rich countries hoarding

US to arm Ukraine with anti-ship missiles

Friday 20 May 2022 08:18 , Thomas Kingsley

US officials are considering arming the Ukrainian military with advanced anti-ship missiles, the Reuters agency has reported.

Citing Biden administration officials, the report says the White House could offer Kyiv Boeing Harpoon and Naval Strike missiles with which to target the Russian Black Fleet, which is currently blockading Ukrainian ports.

UK defence officials have said that around 20 Russian Navy vessels, including submarines, are active in the region.

Officials are said to believe the arms could help force Russian ships away from Ukrainian territory and allow shipments of grain and other agricultural products to resume.

But the missiles, which cost around $15m (£12m) per round and have a range of 300km, are mainly sea-based missiles, meaning Ukraine could face difficulty firing them from shore.

Germany could receive gasfrom Qatar as early as 2024, sheikh tells Handelsblatt

Friday 20 May 2022 07:53 , Thomas Kingsley

Qatar hopes to start sending liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Germany in 2024, the Gulf state's deputy prime minister told the German daily Handelsblatt on Friday.

"We want to have our U.S. Golden Pass liquefied natural gas plant in Texas, in which Qatar Energy holds a 70% stake, ready to deliver to Germany as early as 2024," Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, who is also the Qatari foreign minister, was quoted as saying.

Later Friday, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is scheduled to hold talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin.

German plans to set up LNG terminals are picking up speed as the country scrambles to wean itself off cheaper gas imports piped from Russia in response to Moscow's attack on Ukraine

ICYMI: Russian soldier in Ukraine war crime trial pleads for forgiveness from victim’s widow

Friday 20 May 2022 07:31 , Thomas Kingsley

A Russian soldier facing the first war crimes trial since the start of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has pleaded for his victim’s widow to forgive him.

During his testimony at a court in Kyiv, Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin, 21, told the court that he was ordered by two officers to shoot Ukrainian civilian Oleksandr Shelipov.

He claimed that he had initially disobeyed the order, but that he shot the 62-year-old because one of the officers insisted that Mr Shelipov, who was speaking on his mobile phone at the time, could pass on their exact location to Ukrainian fighters.

Read the full story below:

Russian soldier in Ukraine war crime trial pleads for forgiveness from victim’s widow

Russian shelling in Ukraine’s Luhansk kills 13, regional governor says

Friday 20 May 2022 07:16 , Thomas Kingsley

Russian shelling in Ukraine's eastern region of Luhansk has killed 13 civilians over the past 24 hours, the regional governor, Serhiy Gaidai, said on Friday.

Twelve were killed in the town of Sievierodonesk, where a Russian assault has been unsuccessful, he said. The town and the city of Lysychansk are in an area where Russian troops have launched an offensive.

After capturing Mariupol, Russia to focus on Donbas - British MoD

Friday 20 May 2022 06:40 , Arpan Rai

Russia will need to re-equip and refurbish its troops in Mariupol before deploying them in Donbas where it could look to reinforce operations, the British defence ministry said on Friday.

Once Russia has secured Mariupol, it is likely they will move their forces to reinforce operations in the Donbas, the ministry claimed.

“Staunch Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol since the start of the war means Russian forces in the area must be re-equipped and refurbished before they can be redeployed effectively. This can be a lengthy process when done thoroughly,” it said in its latest intelligence update.

However, Russian commanders are “under pressure to demonstrably achieve operational objectives”, the defence ministry said.

“This means that Russia will probably redistribute their forces swiftly without adequate preparation, which risks further force attrition,” it claimed.

According to the ministry officials, as many as 1,700 Ukrainian soldiers are likely to have surrendered from the Mariupol Azovstal steel factory.

An unknown number of Ukrainian forces remain inside the factory, the ministry said.

Kherson to join Russia soon, says Moscow-appointed governor

Friday 20 May 2022 06:18 , Arpan Rai

The South Ukrainian city Kherson will soon become a part of Russia, the region’s self-proclaimed governor said.

The announcement was made at a first meeting in the city with the occupying forces backed by Russian collaborators, reported The Kyiv Independent.

Governor Volodymyr Saldo said: “We see the Russian Federation as our own country,” stating that the new budget for Kherson has been approved in Russian rubles.

Mariupol troops registered as POWs

Friday 20 May 2022 05:52 , Arpan Rai

Hundreds of Ukrainians fighters from the Mariupol steel factory have been now registered as prisoners of war, officials said.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, personal details of hundreds of soldiers — name, date of birth, closest relative — have been recorded. They will be treated as prisoners and will be subjected to humane treatment of POWs under the Geneva Conventions.

The soldiers “must not be subjected to any form of torture or ill-treatment”, Amnesty International said.

Russian officials said that more than 1,700 defenders of the Azovstal steel plant have surrendered to Moscow since Monday, marking the end stage of the siege in the port city.

Troops who defended Mariupol steel mill registered as POWs

Nato military leaders say 42,000 troops and 120 jets on high alert

Friday 20 May 2022 05:26 , Arpan Rai

Top Nato military leaders commended the Ukrainian response along with the alliance’s assistance and said that the coalition’s resolve and unity is “as great as it’s ever been”.

Air Force general Tod D Wolters, commander of European Command and the Nato supreme allied commander Europe said that in the last 84 days, “our focus is to support so that Ukraine can prevail.”

“With respect to the defence of the alliance, we’ve responded in all domains, in all regions, to shield all allies. We’ve deployed elements of the Nato Response Force to strengthen our forward defence,” Mr Wolters said on Thursday.

He added that there are now eight battle groups under Nato command deployed along the eastern flank. “There are now over 42,000 troops and 120 jets on high alert, with more than 20 ships ready to respond. Our land domain has seen a 10-fold increase, the air domain a 50 percent increase of fighters patrolling the skies,” the commander said.

More than 100,000 service members from the US are in Europe to “ensure deterrence works, and the alliance has re-started training Ukrainian service members”.

“The bottom line: Nato resolve and unity is as great as it’s ever been. The performance of our Ukrainian partners facing this aggression has been very, very impressive,” he said.

Russian soldier in Ukraine war crime trial pleads for forgiveness from victim’s widow

Friday 20 May 2022 04:55 , Arpan Rai

A captured Russian soldier who is being tried for the first ever war crimes trial in Ukraine has asked his victim’s widow to forgive him during the court proceedings in Kyiv.

Vadim Shishimarin said he was ordered by two officers to shoot a 62-year-old civilian in Ukraine’s Sumy and he had initially refused the orders.

He asked the victim’s widow Kateryna Shelipova – who was present at the trial – to forgive him.

“I realise that you can’t forgive me, but I’m pleading with you for forgiveness,” he said.

Ms Shelipova said her husband – a pensioner and grandfather of two – had gone out to see a Russian tank that had been blown up. She added that she was “arguing with him, saying it was not safe to go out”.

Read the full story here:

Russian soldier in Ukraine war crime trial pleads for forgiveness from victim’s widow

Russia using food as weapon in Ukraine - Antony Blinken

Friday 20 May 2022 04:42 , Arpan Rai

Russia has weaponised food in Ukraine by holding the produce and supplies “hostage” not just for Ukrainians but for millions around the world, US secretary of state Antony Blinken said on Thursday.

“The Russian government seems to think that using food as a weapon will help accomplish what its invasion has not - to break the spirit of the Ukrainian people,” Mr Blinken said in his address to the United Nations Security Council.

He added that the food supply for “millions of Ukrainians and millions more around the world has quite literally been held hostage”.

Marred by war for nearly three months now, the war in Ukraine has led to skyrocketing of prices of grains especially wheat, cooking oils, fuels and fertilisers. The UN officials and experts have sounded an alert for a looming food crisis.

Officials in Moscow snubbed the remarks by Mr Blinken and said that Russians were “not idiots” and would not export food while being subject to tough sanctions.

Situation in Ukraine’s Donbas is ‘hell’, says Zelensky

Friday 20 May 2022 04:27 , Arpan Rai

Russian attacks pounding Ukraine’s industrial region Donbas have turned the area into hell, president Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday in his nightly address.

“The occupiers are trying to exert even more pressure. It is hell there - and that is not an exaggeration,” the Ukrainian president said.

“(There are) constant strikes on the Odesa region, on the cities of central Ukraine. The Donbas is completely destroyed,” Mr Zelensky said.

He added: “The brutal and absolutely pointless bombing of Severodonetsk... 12 dead and dozens wounded in just one day. The bombing and shelling of other cities, the air and missile strikes of the Russian army - all this is not just hostilities during the war.”

After failing to capture the capital city Kyiv, Russian soldiers have turned their focus to Donbas — which includes separatist territories of Donetsk and Luhansk on which Russia claims hold.

Russian troops have used massed artillery, air strikes and armour to gain as much territory as possible in Donbas.

EU considering using oligarchs’ assets to rebuild Ukraine

Friday 20 May 2022 03:00 , Lamiat Sabin

The European Union is looking into ways of using the frozen assets of Russian oligarchs to fund the reconstruction of Ukraine after the war, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said.

Ursula von der Leyen (AFP via Getty Images)
Ursula von der Leyen (AFP via Getty Images)

“Our lawyers are working intensively on finding possible ways of using frozen assets of the oligarchs for the rebuilding of Ukraine. I think Russia should also make its contribution,” she told ZDF television.

Donbas region ‘completely destroyed,’ says Zelensky

Friday 20 May 2022 02:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Russian forces had “completely destroyed” the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, said Volodymyr Zelensky.

“In the Donbas, the occupiers are trying to exert even more pressure. It is hell there – and that is not an exaggeration,” the Ukrainian president said in a late-night video address to Ukrainians.

Final stage of the war expected to be ‘bloodiest’ - Zelensky

Friday 20 May 2022 01:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Volodymyr Zelensky said he cannot yet call on Ukrainian refugees to return home as he fears that the final stage of the Russian invasion will be the most bloody.

Volodymyr Zelensky during a speech to students on 19 May 2022 (The Presidential Office of Ukraine)
Volodymyr Zelensky during a speech to students on 19 May 2022 (The Presidential Office of Ukraine)

During a speech to students, the Ukrainian president said: “The final stage is the most difficult, the bloodiest, it really is.

“We can’t disengage ourselves and say, ‘that’s it, the war is over.’ I will tell you frankly that in Kyiv, since the end of the occupation of Kyiv Oblast, there is the feeling, that’s it, there is no war. Until the moment when the missiles don’t fly.”

He added: “I can’t shout ‘come home’ today to all those who are abroad, because the war is not over.”

Five Ukrainian civilians killed in Donetsk region - local official

Friday 20 May 2022 00:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Five civilians were killed and six were injured as a result of Russian military activity in the Donetsk region today, Ukraine reported.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the administration of the Donetsk region, wrote on Facebook: “On 19 May, the Russians killed 5 civilians in the Donetsk region: 2 people in Bakhmut, 1 person in Krasnohorivka, 1 person in Avdiivka and 1 person in Khrestyshche.”

“Six more people were injured.”

It’s not currently possible to determine the exact number of victims in Mariupol and Volnovakha, Mr Kyrylenko said.

Putin’s daughter ‘flew to Germany 50 times in two years’

Thursday 19 May 2022 23:00 , Lamiat Sabin

One of Vladimir Putin’s daughters has flown from Moscow to Munich more than 50 times between 2017 and 2019, according to an investigation by Russian and German media.

Katerina Tikhonova – a scientist and former acrobatic dancer – had travelled on chartered flights with full state support and in the company of employees of Putin’s own presidential security service, a joint investigation by independent Russian media outlet iStories and German magazine Der Spiegel suggests.

Katerina Tikhonova, daughter of Russian president Vladimir Putin (Jakub Dabrowski/Reuters)
Katerina Tikhonova, daughter of Russian president Vladimir Putin (Jakub Dabrowski/Reuters)

The leaked cache of documents also includes the passports of a then two-year-old girl, which suggests Putin has a previously-unknown granddaughter.

Also found was the passport of Igor Zelensky, the former director of the Munich state ballet, according to a report by the Guardian, who is suspected to be Ms Tikhonova’s partner and the father of her child.

In case you missed it: George Bush’s Freudian slip-up

Thursday 19 May 2022 22:30 , Lamiat Sabin

George W Bush described the invasion of Iraq – which he led as commander in chief – as “brutal” and “wholly unjustified” before correcting himself to say he meant to refer to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The former US president said during a speech at his presidential centre in Texas: “The result is an absence of checks and balances in Russia, and the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq – I mean of Ukraine.”

“Iraq, too,” he added.

The 75-year-old resorted to blaming his mistake on his age, while commentators described it as a Freudian slip.

His decision to launch a US invasion of Iraq in 2003 was on the basis of alleged weapons of mass destruction that have never been proven to exist.

Read the full report here by Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Bush accidentally condemns ‘brutal’ Iraq invasion in Ukraine speech gaffe

Watch: Biden welcomes Sweden and Finland’s Nato bids

Thursday 19 May 2022 22:00 , Lamiat Sabin

US president Joe Biden has supported applications by Sweden and Finland to join Nato.

He rejected Turkey’s opposition to their bids to join the military alliance, insisting the two countries “meet every Nato requirement and then some”.

Mr Biden appeared in the White House Rose Garden with Swedish PM Magdalena Andersson and Finnish president Sauli Niinisto.

Number of Ukraine’s fighters still in Azovstal unknown

Thursday 19 May 2022 21:30 , Lamiat Sabin

It’s unknown how many Ukrainian fighters remain inside the steelworks in Mariupol while an evacuation process is ongoing.

Russia’s defence ministry said 771 fighters from the Azov Regiment of the Ukrainian armed forces had surrendered in the past day.

This brings the total of those who had given themselves up since Monday to 1,730.

Ukrainian officials declined to comment, saying it could endanger rescue efforts.

The Azov Battalion of the Ukrainian armed forces has had neo-nazis within its ranks – leading Russia to claim that its invasion was an attempt to “de-nazify” Ukraine.

Here’s more on the evacuation story by Emily Atkinson

Hundreds more fighters surrender in Mariupol, Russia says

Egypt thanked for rejecting Russia shipment Ukraine’s grain

Thursday 19 May 2022 21:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has thanked Egypt for rejecting a Russian ship loaded with grain which he said had been stolen from Ukraine.

On Sunday, Egypt’s supply minister said that a ship had been turned away on the grounds that it did not have the proper paperwork. Ukraine’s embassy in Cairo alleged the ship was carrying grain from Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine.

Mr Kuleba tweeted: “Spoke with my Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry. Grateful to Egypt for turning away a Russian ship loaded with grain stolen in Ukraine.”

Ukraine and Egypt had agreed to coordinate efforts to make Russia unblock Ukraine’s food exports, he added.

Mr Kuleba also held talks with Cote d’Ivoire foreign minister Kandia Camara about the importance of unblocking Ukrainian food exports to “avert hunger and rising prices in Africa.”

It comes after UK PM Boris Johnson and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky spoke on the phone today about ways to export Ukrainian grains.

A Downing Street spokesperson said after the call: “They looked at options to open up critical sea and land supply routes for Ukrainian grain stocks, and committed to direct their teams to work urgently on the next steps.”

Kyiv official welcomes US Senate’s approval of $40bn aid

Thursday 19 May 2022 20:30 , Lamiat Sabin

A top aide to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the US Senate after it approved nearly $40 billion (about £32bn) in aid, saying this would help ensure the defeat of Russia.

Mr Zelensky’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak said in an online post minutes after the vote: “We are moving towards victory confidently and strategically. We thank our allies.”

He also tweeted: “Thanks US Senate for the historic decision to provide $40 billion aid package to Ukraine. Together, we'll win.”

The Senate voted 86-11 in favour of the package of military, economic and humanitarian aid.

Click here to read the full blog on The Independent's website

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