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Ukraine news – live: Zelenksy says Kyiv won’t give up land for peace

·37-min read
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Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said he will not give up his country’s land in return for an end to the war with Russia.

Negotiations for a peace deal cannot resume until Russia demonstrates it is willing to move its troops and equipment back “to the position before 24 February” when Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion, Mr Zelensky said in a video address to the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Earlier, Russia said it is ready to provide a humanitarian corridor for vessels carrying food to leave Ukraine, the Interfax news agency reported, citing comments by foreign minister Andrei Rudenko on Wednesday.

It comes amid fears of global food shortages as Putin’s troops’ blockade Black Sea ports in Ukraine’s south.

Key Points

  • Ukraine won’t give up land for peace, Zelensky says

  • Russia claims it will end food blockade amid global supply fears

  • Soros: Civilisation may not survive this war

  • Russia encircling Donbas cities

  • Zelensky says he will negotiate with Putin only

  • Mariupol basement hides 200 corpses

  • Russian attack in Donbas ‘largest on European soil since WWII', says Ukraine

Swiss government to confiscate 100 million francs from associate of former Ukrainian president

16:11 , Tom Batchelor

The Swiss government on Wednesday said it would initiate proceedings to confiscate more than 100 million francs ($104 million) in assets of a close associate of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Switzerland’s governing Federal Council said it is providing support to Ukraine as Kyiv is facing “certain difficulties” in its efforts to confiscate the money, which have been compounded by the current war.

But it said the move is unrelated to sanctions imposed on Russia this year.

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

Putin visits injured troops ‘for first time since war started'

15:42 , Tom Batchelor

Vladimir Putin has visited injured soldiers for the first time in the three-month war, according to reports.

The Russian president was seen in a brief clip apparently speaking to troops at an unidentified hospital.

ICYMI: Russia ‘ready to let Ukraine export food’ as crisis warnings mount

15:40 , Matt Mathers

Russia is ready to provide a humanitarian corridor for vessels carrying food to leave Ukraine, Moscow’s deputy foreign minister Andrei Rudenko said on Wednesday as concerns grow over a global food shortage due to the war.

My collague Liam James reports:

Russia ‘ready to let Ukraine export food’ as crisis warnings mount

Russia drives to cut off key towns in Ukraine's east

15:12 , Matt Mathers

Russia launched a fresh assault before dawn on Wednesday on the easternmost Ukrainian-held city in the battlefield Donbas region, threatening to close off the last main escape route for civilians trapped in the path of the advance.

After failing to seize Kyiv or Ukraine's second city Kharkiv, Russia is trying to take full control of the Donbas, comprised of two eastern provinces Moscow claims on behalf of separatists.

Russia has poured thousands of troops into the region, attacking from three sides in the hope of encircling Ukrainian forces holding out in the city of Sievierodonetsk on the east bank of the Siverskiy Donets River and its twin Lysychansk on the west bank. Their fall would leave the whole of Luhansk region under Russian control, a key Kremlin war aim.

"All the remaining strength of the Russian army is now concentrated on this region," President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a late night address.

Ukraine won’t give up land for peace, says Zelensky

14:45 , Matt Mathers

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said he will not give up his country’s land in return for an end to the war with Russia.

Negotiations for a peace deal cannot resume until Russia demonstrates it is willing to move its troops and equipment back “to the position before 24 February” when Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion, Mr Zelensky said in a video address to the World Economic Forum in Davos.

My colleague Liam James reports:

Ukraine won’t give up land for peace, says Zelensky

Britain calls on Russia to let Ukraine export its grain

14:30 , Matt Mathers

Britain's defence secretary Ben Wallace on Wednesday 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, such as Turkey, to escort the Ukraine grain shipments.

Ukraine says it is fighting to keep control of key supply route in Donbas

13:48 , Matt Mathers

Ukraine is battling to remain in control of a key highway to the front-line city of Sievierodonetsk, the country's defence ministry said on Wednesday.

Defence ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said in a briefing that alternative routes existed to supply Ukrainian units in Sievierodonetsk, which is enveloped on three sided by Russian forces.

Motuzyanyk said that Russia's aim was to fully surround Ukrainian units in the city, as well as in nearby Lysychansk.

Ukraine says Russia must withdraw to pre-war position before talks can happen

13:30 , Matt Mathers

Ukraine's president has said Russia must pull back to its pre-war positions as a first step before diplomatic talks, a negotiating line that Moscow is unlikely to agree to anytime soon.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said he currently sees no willingness on the part of Russia to resume earnest negotiations on ending the three-month war.

"At the beginning, there was an impression that we can move ahead, that there would be a certain result or some outcome of those talks. But it all has stalled," Mr Zelenskyy said through an interpreter via video link to attendees at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

He expressed a willingness to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin directly, but stressed that Moscow needs to make clear its willingness to engage in serious talks.

"They should demonstrate at least something like steps withdrawing their troops and equipment to the position before the 24th of February," the day Russia's invasion began, he said. "That would be a correct step, first step in negotiations."

Swedish says talks with Turkey will clarify misunderstandings

13:00 , Matt Mathers

Swedish diplomats will discuss Turkey's demands during meetings in Ankara on Wednesday aimed at resolving Turkish reservations over Sweden and Finland's applications for NATO membership, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said.

"We will naturally go through and discuss the list and sort out a number of things that have been unclear in reporting in the media and statements from other places," Andersson said.

"Clearly, it's about where we send our financial aid, for example, and that we sell weapons. We don't send money to terrorist organizations, obviously - or weapons either."

Delegations from Sweden and Finland in Turkey for Nato talks

12:39 , Matt Mathers

Delegations from Sweden and Finland are scheduled to hold talks in Ankara with senior officials in an effort to overcome Turkey’s objections to their historic bids to join the Nato alliance.

Susan Frazer reports:

Delegations from Sweden and Finland in Turkey for Nato talks

Ukraine shares meme of ‘suicide’ drone attacking Russian tank

12:12 , Matt Mathers

Ukrainian armed forces have shared a video of a so-called “kamikaze” or suicide drone neutralising a Russian tank, catching the soldiers drinking alcohol on it off guard.

My colleague Shweta Sharma reports:

Ukraine shares meme of ‘suicide’ drone attacking Russian tank

EU cracks widen over Ukraine as Italy, Hungary urge truce

11:36 , Matt Mathers

Italy and Hungary have urged the EU to call explicitly for a ceasefire in Ukraine and peace talks with Russia, putting themselves at odds with other member states determined to take a hard line with Moscow ahead of a summit next week.

A draft concluding statement for the May 30-31 summit, seen by Reuters and dated May 19, describes the European Union as "unwavering in its commitment to help Ukraine exercise its inherent right of self-defence against the Russian aggression." It does not mention peace talks.

At a meeting of EU envoys on Friday, Italy's ambassador proposed changes to the text saying it should refer to peace talks and set out an immediate ceasefire as one of the EU's first goals, according to people who attended the meeting.

That proposal was backed by Hungary and Cyprus, which are among the states most critical of a new package of EU sanctions against Russia that has been blocked for weeks because of internal divisions.

Hungary opposes a planned oil embargo, while Cyprus has concerns about a proposed ban on property sales to Russian citizens.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in a speech at the Davos forum on Tuesday, took a hawkish stand on Russia and made no mention of peace talks.

"Ukraine must win this war, and (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's aggression must be a strategic failure," she said.

Russia launches new assault on eastern Ukraine towns

11:03 , Matt Mathers

Russian forces launched offensives on towns in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, with constant mortar bombardment destroying several houses and killing civilians, Ukrainian officials said, as Russia focuses its attack on the industrial Donbas region.

After failing to seize Kyiv or Ukraine's second city Kharkiv, Russia is trying to take the rest of the separatist-claimed Donbas' two provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk, and trap Ukrainian forces in a pocket on the main eastern front.

In the easternmost part of the Ukrainian-held Donbas pocket, the city of Sievierodonetsk on the east bank of the Siverskiy Donets River and its twin Lysychansk, on the west bank, have become a pivotal battlefield. Russian forces were advancing from three directions to encircle them.

President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said the Russians launched an offensive on Sievierodonetsk early on Wednesday and the town was under constant fire from mortars.

Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said six civilians were killed and at least eight wounded, most near bomb shelters, in Sievierodonetsk.

"At the moment, with the support of artillery, the Russian occupiers are attacking Sievierodonetsk," Gaidai said.

Ukraine's military said it had repelled nine Russian attacks on Tuesday in the Donbas where Moscow's troops had killed at least 14 civilians, using aircraft, rocket launchers, artillery, tanks, mortars and missiles.

Estonian PM says must avoid a bad peace for Ukraine

10:34 , Matt Mathers

Ukraine has to be able to negotiate with Russia from a position of strength so that Moscow is not encouraged to take further aggressive action, Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas said on Wednesday.

"We must avoid a bad peace, a badly negotiated peace for Ukraine would mean a bad peace for us all," she said in a speech in Stockholm.

"It is much more dangerous giving in to Putin, than provoking him. All these seemingly small concessions to the aggressor lead to big wars. We have done this mistake already three times: Georgia, Crimea and Donbas."

Lithuania to transfer 20 armoured personal carriers to Ukraine

09:50 , Matt Mathers

Lithuania will transfer 20 M113 armoured personnel carriers to Ukraine, as well as military trucks and de-mining vehicles, Defence Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The coordinated help from us and the allies is the deciding factor for the Ukrainian victory", defence minister Arvydas Anusauskas said in a statement.

The vehicles are worth a total of 15.5 million euros, said the ministry. Previously, Lithuania has provided military support to Ukraine worth 100 million euros, it added.

Russian defence ministry: Mariupol port operating normally

09:35 , Matt Mathers

Russia's defence ministry said on Wednesday that the port of Mariupol, the Ukrainian city which was taken by Russia after a three-month siege, is operating normally.

The ministry said that Russia is in touch with the United Nations, and that Moscow "does not rule out the possibility of global talks to unblock Ukraine's ports."

Ukraine’s Zelensky offers condolences over Texas school shooting

09:05 , Matt Mathers

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday offered his condolences to the relatives of the victims of the Texas school shooting, the worst school massacre in the United States for nearly a decade.

"I would like to express my condolences to all of the relatives and family members of the children who were killed in the awful shooting in a Texas elementary school," Zelensky said as he addressed an event on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos via video link.

"As far as I know, 21 people were killed, including 19 children. This is terrible, to have victims of shooters in peaceful time," he added.

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

08:51 , Matt Mathers

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

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.

Zelensky says he will speak to Putin only

08:26 , Liam James

Volodymyr Zelensky said he was only willing to talk directly to Vladimir Putin and not via intermediators.

He said if the Russian President “understands reality” there was the possibility of finding a diplomatic way out of the conflict.

The Ukrainian president, speaking to an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, also said Ukraine would fight until it recovered all of its territory. He has repeatedly ruled out granting Russia permanent control of land seized in its invasion.

Months of talks between Ukrainian and Russian negotiators have yielded little progress bar agreements on humanitarian corridors – agreements often ignored by Russia.

Russia encircling Donbas cities

07:54 , Liam James

Russian forces sought to encircle Ukrainian troops in twin eastern cities along a river in the southeastern Donbas region.

The easternmost part of the pocket of the Donbas held by Ukraine, the city of Sievierodonetsk on the east bank of the Siverskiy Donets River and its twin Lysychansk, on the west bank, have become a pivotal battlefield.

Reuters and Ukrainian officials reported that Russian forces were advancing from three directions to encircle them.

“The enemy has focused its efforts on carrying out an offensive in order to encircle Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk,” said Serhiy Gaidai, governor of Luhansk province, where the two cities are among the last territory held by Ukraine.

Russia is attempting to seize the separatist-claimed provinces of the Donbas, Donetsk and Luhansk, and trap Ukrainian forces in a pocket on the main eastern front.

Ukraine‘s military said it had repelled nine Russian attacks on Tuesday in the Donbas where Moscow’s troops had killed at least 14 civilians, using aircraft, rocket launchers, artillery, tanks, mortars and missiles.

M&S to leave Russia

07:37 , Liam James

Retail giant Marks & Spencer (M&S) said it will exit its Russian franchise business – a Turkish-run operation with 48 shops and 1,200 employees.

In March, the company stopped shipments to the stores after Russia invaded Ukraine but has now said it will “fully exit our Russian franchise” at a forecast cost of £31m.

A spokesperson said profits for the new financial year will start at a lower level due to the impact of its withdrawal from Russia and the end of the business rates holiday granted to businesses at the height of the pandemic.

M&S joins McDonalds, Starbucks and Netflix in pulling out of Russia, while dozens of other companies have suspended operations in the country.

Significant supplies of Ukrainian grain unable to be exported, claims UK

06:38 , Arpan Rai

Russia’s invasion has placed indirect pressure on prices of grain globally, the British defence ministry said on Wednesday.

“There has been no significant merchant shipping activity in or out of Odesa since the start of the war. Russia’s subsequent naval blockade of key Black Sea ports has deterred the commercial shipping industry from operating in the area,” the MoD said in its latest intelligence update.

Officials said that Ukraine’s “overland export mechanisms are highly unlikely to substitute for the shortfall in shipping capacity caused by the Russian blockade”.

As a result, significant supplies of Ukrainian grain remain in storage unable to be exported, they said.

“Fighting has already placed indirect pressure on global grain prices. While the threat of Russia’s naval blockade continues to deter access by commercial shipping to Ukrainian ports, the resulting supply shortfalls will further increase the price of many staple products,” the intelligence update read.

Russian shelling kills 12 in Donbas

06:07 , Arpan Rai

At least 12 people were killed in a shelling attack in the Donetsk region, the area’s regional governor said on Tuesday, as Donbas continued to reel under heavy fighting.

The governor of neighbouring Luhansk, Serhii Haidai, said that the separatist region is facing its “most difficult time” in the eight years of conflict.

“The Russians are advancing in all directions at the same time. They brought over an insane number of fighters and equipment,” the governor said.

Stating that Luhansk is becoming “like Mariupol”, Mr Haidai said: “The invaders are killing our cities, destroying everything around.”

Mariupol: 200 corpses found in basement in ruins

05:39 , Arpan Rai

Ukrainian officials have confirmed the discovery of 200 bodies in a basement of an apartment building in Mariupol.

Officials said that the stench enveloped the neighbourhood as the bodies were decomposing in the ruined city’s apartment.

It is not immediately clear when the bodies were discovered but Petro Andyushchenko, an adviser to the mayor, said that the total number of victims found in the basement marks the incident as one of the deadliest known attacks in the conflict.

At least 21,000 people were killed in Mariupol, Ukrainian authorities said as they accused Moscow of secretly cremating the people killed by using mobile cremation equipment and burying the dead in mass graves - which are still being discovered in parts of the country.

Situation in Donbas ‘extremely difficult’ - Zelensky

05:03 , Arpan Rai

Pressing for supply of heavy weapons to Ukraine, president Volodymyr Zelensky said the southeastern region of Donbas is worsening.

“Now the situation in Donbas is extremely difficult. In fact, all the strength the Russian army still has was thrown there to attack. Lyman, Popasna, Severodonetsk, Slovyansk - the occupiers want to destroy everything there,” Mr Zelensky said in a nightly address.

He added: “But in the interceptions of their conversations, we hear that they are well aware that this war does not make sense for Russia and that strategically their army stands no chance.”

Seeking more artillery, Mr Zelensky said: “...but I emphasise again and again: the longer this war lasts, the greater will be the price of protecting freedom not only for Ukraine, but also for the whole free world.”

“Therefore, the supply of heavy weapons to Ukraine - MLRS, tanks, anti-ship and other weapons - is the best investment in maintaining stability in the world and preventing many severe crises that Russia is still planning or has already provoked,” the Ukrainian leader said.

Close to 30,000 Russian soldiers killed in war with Ukraine - Zelensky

04:55 , Arpan Rai

Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of covering up its alleged failures in the war with “lies” on not fighting at full strength as he announced the end of three months of defence in his nightly address.

“Another completely inadequate statement was made from Russia today that they were allegedly “slowing down” the offensive on purpose. Well, after three months of searching for an explanation why they failed to break Ukraine in three days, they came up with nothing better than to claim that they had allegedly planned to do so,” the Ukrainian president said.

He claimed that Russia has lost almost 30,000 Russian soldiers in the war and more than 200 aircraft from its fleet have been downed.

“Thousands of lost Russian tanks, armored vehicles and other equipment. Russian missile ammunition is almost completely used up. And they want to cover it up with lies that they are not fighting at full strength? Miserably. And the time will come when they themselves will admit it,” Mr Zelensky said.

Ukraine invasion may be start of third world war, says billionaire Soros

04:25 , Arpan Rai

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could mark the beginning of a third world war and that “civilisation may not survive it”, billionaire George Soros has said.

“The invasion may have been the beginning of the third world war and our civilisation may not survive it,” Mr Soros said speaking about the ongoing siege in Europe.

He warned that the best way to preserve a free society for western nations was to defeat Vladimir Putin’s soldiers.

“The best and perhaps only way to preserve our civilisation is to defeat Putin as soon as possible. That’s the bottom line,” the 91-year-old financier, who has become a bogeyman for the far right, said at Davos.

He said he thinks Mr Putin now believes the invasion of Ukraine was a mistake and the Russian president - who has been dogged with rumours of ill-health - was preparing to negotiate a ceasefire.

“But the ceasefire is unattainable because he cannot be trusted,” the financier said. “The weaker Putin gets the more unpredictable he becomes.”

Joe Middleton has the full report here:

Ukraine invasion may be start of third world war, says Soros

US says 20 countries promised advanced weapons to Ukraine

03:01 , Tom Batchelor

Nearly four dozen nations have committed to offering new weapons systems and other security assistance to Ukraine as its defence forces continue to push back against Russian troops, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has said.

Mr Austin announced the new weapons transfers following a meeting of defence ministers for the 24-country Ukraine Contact Group, during which the group received a briefing from Ukraine Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov.

Speaking to reporters at the close of the meeting, Mr Austin said attendees had “gained a sharper and shared sense of Ukraine’s priority requirements and the situation on the battlefield”.

Here is the story:

US says 20 countries promised advanced weapons to Ukraine, including harpoon missiles

‘More activity on Snake Island'

02:01 , Tom Batchelor

Russia facing default on its debts

01:01 , Tom Batchelor

The US is to shut off the last means for Russia to pay its billions in debt back to international investors on Wednesday.

The move makes a Russian default on its debts for the first time since the Bolshevik Revolution all but inevitable.

The US Treasury Department said that it does not plan to renew the license that allowed Russia to keep paying its debtholders 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 expired at midnight on 25 May.

Azov Regiment leader alive in Russian-controlled territory, says wife

Tuesday 24 May 2022 23:55 , Tom Batchelor

Azov Regiment leader Denys Prokopenko is alive in Russian-controlled territory, his wife said on Tuesday after holding a brief telephone conversation.

Kateryna Prokopenko said that her husband asked her how she was, but that the line broke off before he could say anything about himself.

She said the phone call was possible under an agreement between the governments of Ukraine and Russia and thanks to the mediation of the Red Cross, which has been visiting some of the Ukrainian fighters who surrendered.

Earlier this month Russia announced its takeover of Mariupol with the surrender of the fighters holed up at the massive Azovstal steel mill.

Luhansk facing ‘most difficult time’ since 2014 conflict

Tuesday 24 May 2022 23:03 , Tom Batchelor

The Ukrainian governor of the eastern Luhansk region has said the area is facing “the most difficult time” since conflict with Russia-backed separatists began in 2014.

“Now, for the Luhansk region, is the most difficult time in the eight years of the war,” Serhii Haidai wrote on Telegram. “The Russians are advancing in all directions at the same time, they brought over an insane number of fighters and equipment.”

He also accused Moscow’s troops of deploying scorched-earth tactics across the region.

“It’s only getting worse. What the Russians are doing is hard to describe in words. The invaders are killing our cities, destroying everything around. The situation is on the verge of being critical. The free Luhansk region is now like Mariupol,” he added, in a reference to the ruined port city captured by Moscow last week.

Russia slowing offensive to spare civilians, claims Shoigu

Tuesday 24 May 2022 22:30 , Tom Batchelor

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has claimed that Moscow is deliberately slowing its offensive in Ukraine to allow civilians to evacuate.

“Ceasefires are being declared and humanitarian corridors are being created in order to get people out of surrounded settlements,” Mr Shoigu said in televised remarks on day 90 of the war.

“Of course, this slows down the pace of the offensive, but this is done deliberately to avoid casualties among the civilian population,” he told defence ministers of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), a military alliance of Russia and five other former Soviet republics.

Despite Mr Shoigu’s comments on sparing civilians, the United Nations has recorded 3,930 civilian casualties during the conflict.

Ukraine says at least 14 civilians killed in Russian attacks Tuesday in east

Tuesday 24 May 2022 21:05 , Eleanor Sly

Ukraine’s military has said that Russian troops killed at least 14 civilians and injured 15 more on Tuesday during mass attacks in the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions, the focus of Moscow’s latest offensive.

Writing in a Facebook post, it said Russian troops had used aircraft, multiple rocket launchers, artillery, tanks, mortars and missiles in their assault on the two regions, large parts of which are controlled by Russian-speaking separatists.

US says 20 countries promised advanced weapons to Ukraine, including harpoon launcher and missiles

Tuesday 24 May 2022 20:49 , Eleanor Sly

Nearly four dozen nations have committed to offering new weapons systems and other security assistance to Ukraine as its defence forces continue to push back against Russian troops, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has said.

Mr Austin announced the new weapons transfers following a meeting of defence ministers for the 24-country Ukraine Contact Group, during which the group received a briefing from Ukraine Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov.

Speaking to reporters at the close of the meeting, Mr Austin said attendees had “gained a sharper and shared sense of Ukraine’s priority requirements and the situation on the battlefield”.

Read more here:

US says 20 countries promised advanced weapons to Ukraine, including harpoon missiles

Russia wages all-out assault to encircle Ukraine troops in east

Tuesday 24 May 2022 20:30 , Eleanor Sly

Russian forces have encircle Ukrainian troops in twin cities straddling a river in eastern Ukraine, in a battle which may determine the success or failure of Moscow’s main campaign in the east.

“The situation on the [eastern] front is extremely difficult because the fate of this country is perhaps being decided [there] right now,” Ukrainian Defence Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told a televised briefing.

McDonald’s golden arches pulled down from Moscow restaurant as company leaves Russia

Tuesday 24 May 2022 20:10 , Eleanor Sly

The internationally famous golden arches of McDonald’s were pulled down from a restaurant close to Moscow after the fast-food chain said it is pulling out of Russia.

Stores in hundreds of locations across the country were closed down in March following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, in a move that cost the business around $55 million per month.

An existing McDonald’s licensee, Alexander Govor, who operates 25 restaurants in Siberia, has bought 850 Russian restaurants and has agreed to operate them under a new name, according to AP.

Watch more here:

EU accuses Russia of using food supplies as a weapon

Tuesday 24 May 2022 19:49 , Tom Batchelor

Russia is using food supplies as a weapon with global repercussions, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the annual World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, she said “global cooperation” was the “antidote to Russia’s blackmail”.

“In Russian-occupied Ukraine, the Kremlin’s army is confiscating grain stocks and machinery (...) And Russian warships in the Black Sea are blockading Ukrainian ships full of wheat and sunflower seeds,” Ms von der Leyen added.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

UK criticises ‘Putin’s despicable blockade of Odesa'

Tuesday 24 May 2022 19:40 , Tom Batchelor

The UK and allies are working to help Ukraine export vital food supplies but there are “no current plans” for Royal Navy warships to help break Russia’s blockade.

The government said it was working “intensively” with partners to find ways to allow grain exports to resume, but it played down the prospect of Royal Navy warships risking a clash with Russia to break Vladimir Putin’s blockade.

A UK government spokesman said: “Putin’s despicable blockade of Odesa is preventing food getting to people who need it.

“We will continue to work intensively with international partners to find ways to resume the export of grain from Ukraine.

“However, there are no current plans to deploy UK warships to the Black Sea.”

Ukraine war could be start of WW3, says Soros

Tuesday 24 May 2022 19:11 , Tom Batchelor

Billionaire financier George Soros said on Tuesday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may be the beginning of World War Three, adding that the best way to preserve free civilisation was for the West to defeat Vladimir Putin’s forces.

“The invasion may have been the beginning of the Third World War and our civilisation may not survive it,” Mr Soros told Davos, according to a text of his speech released by his office.

“The best and perhaps only way to preserve our civilization is to defeat Putin as soon as possible. That’s the bottom line.”

Russian MPs pass bill aimed at curbing ’unfriendly’ foreign media

Tuesday 24 May 2022 18:55 , Tom Batchelor

Russia’s parliament has passed a bill giving prosecutors powers to shut foreign media outlets in Moscow if a Western country has been “unfriendly” to Russian media, following the closure of some Russian state news outlets in the West.

The bill, passed in the first reading by the lower house of parliament, or Duma, also prohibits the distribution of articles or other materials from media that have been closed by the prosecutor’s office.

It needs to undergo two more readings, be reviewed by the upper house of parliament, and signed by President Vladimir Putin to become law.

The journalists of a media organisation deemed to be an offender under the bill would have their foreign ministry accreditation withdrawn - meaning they could not work in Russia.

The new bill adds to the challenges facing foreign media after Russia in March adopted a law which penalized what it termed spreading “fake” news about its army.

British warships could be sent to protect freighters carrying Ukrainian grain

Tuesday 24 May 2022 18:39 , Tom Batchelor

The Royal Navy could be sent to the Black Sea unders plans to create a “protective corridor” to allow ships carrying Ukrainian grain to leave the country.

The UK is in talks with allies including Lithuania about the formation of an “alliance of the willing” to help lift the Russian blockade of Ukraine’s ports. It is thought that Egypt and other countries reliant on Ukrainian produce could also help.

If this proved possible, the waters near the Ukrainian coast would need to be de-mined before exports could resume.

Read the full report here:

British warships could be sent to protect Ukrainian grain exports

Canada purchases 20,000 artillery rounds for Ukraine

Tuesday 24 May 2022 18:24 , Tom Batchelor

Canada has purchased 20,000 artillery rounds of Nato standard ammunition for Ukraine to support it in its defense against Russia’s invasion, Defence Minister Anita Anand said on Tuesday.

The ammunition was bought from the United States for about C$98m (£61m) and would soon be delivered to Ukraine.

The US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, on Monday said that some 20 countries had announced new security assistance packages for Ukraine during a virtual meeting with allies aimed at coordinating arms for Kyiv.

Russia launches all-out assault to encircle Ukraine troops in east

Tuesday 24 May 2022 18:11 , Tom Batchelor

Russian forces were launching an all-out assault to encircle Ukrainian troops in twin cities straddling a river in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, a battle which could determine the success or failure of Moscow’s main campaign in the east.

The easternmost part of the Ukrainian-held Donbas pocket, the city of Sievierodonetsk on the east bank of the Siverskiy Donets river and its twin Lysychansk on the west bank, have become the pivotal battlefield there, with Russian forces advancing from three directions to encircle them.

Here is the story:

Russia launches all-out assault to encircle Ukraine troops in east

‘Dark hour in our shared history’ - Biden

Tuesday 24 May 2022 17:53 , Tom Batchelor

Joe Biden has told fellow Indo-Pacific leaders at a four-country summit that the Ukraine war was “a dark hour in our shared history”.

The US president urged the group to make a greater effort to stop Vladimir Putin’s aggression.

“This is more than just a European issue. It’s a global issue,” Mr Biden said as the “Quad” summit with Japan, Australia and India got under way on Tuesday.

While the president did not directly call out any countries, his message appeared to be pointed, at least in part, at Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was sat nearby.

“We’re navigating a dark hour in our shared history,” he said. “The Russian brutal and unprovoked war against Ukraine has triggered a humanitarian catastrophe and innocent civilians have been killed in the streets and millions of refugees are internally displaced as well as in exile.”

“The world has to deal with it, and we are,” he added.

Battles fought in eastern Ukraine ‘could determine country’s fate'

Tuesday 24 May 2022 17:44 , Tom Batchelor

Battles being fought in eastern Ukraine could determine the country’s fate, Ukrainian Defence Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk has warned.

Three months after invading Ukraine, Russian forces are trying to encircle Ukrainian troops in twin cities straddling the Siverskyi Donets River in eastern Ukraine. Mr Motuzyanyk said Russian forces had not given up attempts to cross the river.

“Now we are observing the most active phase of the full-scale aggression which Russia unfolded against our country,” he told a televised briefing.

“The situation on the (eastern) front is extremely difficult, because the fate of this country is perhaps being decided (there) right now.”

Germany rejects suggestion it is reneging on promise to provide Poland with tanks

Tuesday 24 May 2022 17:16 , Tom Batchelor

Germany has rejected suggestions that it is reneging on a promise to provide Poland with tanks to make up for those that Warsaw has delivered to Ukraine.

Polish President Andrzej Duda told German broadcaster Welt that he was “very disappointed” Berlin had not fulfilled its promise on the delivery of Leopard tanks to Poland.

Speaking after a meeting with her Polish counterpart in Berlin on Tuesday, Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the issue had been discussed in order to resolve “misunderstandings.”

She said Germany could not supply heavy weapons “at the press of a button” as there were numerous questions to consider, not least what arms are actually available.

Poland’s Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said his country regretted that the situation with regard to arms deliveries to Ukraine was “not as dynamic” as hoped, but acknowledged that “the devil lies in the detail” on the issue.

Russian military campaign in most active phase, Ukraine says

Tuesday 24 May 2022 17:00 , Chiara Giordano

Russia's military campaign in Ukraine has entered its most active phase, Ukrainian Defence Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk has said.

Three months after invading Ukraine, Russian forces are trying to encircle Ukrainian troops in twin cities straddling the Siverskyi Donets River in eastern Ukraine. Motuzyanyk said Russian forces had not given up attempts to cross the river.

Why Ukraine’s ports are so important for global food prices

Tuesday 24 May 2022 16:50 , Chiara Giordano

Without free access to places like Odesa, critical global supply lines – and the ability of households to access sufficient and affordable food – will be crippled for several years, writes Laura Wellesley

Analysis: Why Ukraine’s ports are so important for global food prices

Two hundred rotting corpses found in Mariupol basement as war rages in east

Tuesday 24 May 2022 16:35 , Chiara Giordano

Workers digging through the rubble of an apartment building in Mariupol found 200 bodies in the basement, Ukrainian authorities have said – a grim reminder of the horrors still coming to light in the ruined city that has seen some of the worst suffering of the three-month-old war.

The bodies were decomposing and a stench permeated the neighbourhood, said Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the mayor. It’s not clear when they were discovered.

Elena Becatoros has more details:

Workers find 200 rotting corpses in Mariupol basement

Russia says it has completed demining of Azov Sea port of Mariupol

Tuesday 24 May 2022 16:20 , Chiara Giordano

Russian forces have completed removing mines in the Azov Sea port of Mariupol, the defence ministry has said.

Mines have been removed from the territory of the port and nearby waters, the ministry added in a statement. Russia said it had established full control of Mariupol last week after Ukrainian fighters surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steelworks where they had held out for many weeks.

Mariupol and St Petersburg to become sister cities, says Russian governor

Tuesday 24 May 2022 16:05 , Chiara Giordano

St Petersburg and the captured Ukrainian port of Mariupol will become sister cities, a Russian governor has said.

Alexander Beglov, who runs the St Petersburg government, announced that his administration was “ready” to help rebuild the city which Russian troops have spent three months flattening with projectiles. The two places are “linked by a common history and future”, he claimed.

Rory Sullivan has the full story:

Mariupol and St Petersburg to become sister cities, says Russia

Eighty-two percent of Ukrainians oppose territorial concessions

Tuesday 24 May 2022 15:50 , Chiara Giordano

Eighty-two percent of Ukrainians believe Ukraine should not sign away any of its territories as part of a peace deal with Russia under any circumstances, according to a new survey by one of the country's top pollsters.

In the poll conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, 82 per cent of respondents said they did not support territorial concessions, even if it prolonged the war and increased the threat to Ukraine's independence.

Ten per cent of the 2,000 people surveyed found it acceptable for Ukraine to concede territory to achieve peace, while eight percent were undecided. According to the poll, 77 per cent of Ukrainians living in Russian-occupied territory opposed any land concessions.

Hungary's Orban says EU summit should not discuss oil sanctions next week

Tuesday 24 May 2022 15:37 , Chiara Giordano

The EU's proposed new sanctions including an oil embargo against Russia should not be discussed at next week's summit of EU leaders, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban wrote to the president of the European Council in a letter.

In the letter, dated 23 May and obtained by Reuters, Orban said it was unlikely a solution could be found by then, and that Hungary was not in a position to agree to the proposed EU sanctions until all outstanding issues are resolved.

Some ministers’ statements on Ukraine crisis ‘unhelpful’, says former Nato commander

Tuesday 24 May 2022 15:09 , Chiara Giordano

A former Nato commander has told MPs some statements by cabinet ministers on the Ukraine crisis could be "unhelpful".

Sir James Everard, former deputy supreme allied commander Europe, was appearing before the House of Commons Defence Committee.

Asked by Labour MP Derek Twigg how Nato regarded comments by the Defence Secretary and Foreign Secretary calling for Russia to be pushed out of the whole of Ukraine, Sir James said: "The alliance view would be that it will be between Russia and Ukraine to determine the end state of this crisis and actually the fewer people that make statements that shape that is unhelpful."

He added: "Inevitably certain statements can be unhelpful but actually there's huge admiration for what the British and other nations did before the event."

Sir James said there might be a recognition that such statements were "stirring the loins and all that sort of stuff".

UK condemns Putin’s ‘despicable’ Black Sea blockade but no plans to deploy Royal Navy warships

Tuesday 24 May 2022 14:43 , Chiara Giordano

The UK and allies are working to help Ukraine export vital food supplies but there are "no current plans" for Royal Navy warships to help break Russia's blockade.

The government said it was working "intensively" with partners to find ways to allow grain exports to resume.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken has also discussed the situation in talks with his Ukrainian counterpart amid fears the Black Sea blockade is causing a global food crisis.

The idea of a "protective corridor" from Odesa was raised by Lithuania's foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis with foreign secretary Liz Truss, The Times reported, with the potential for a "coalition of the willing" to provide ships.

But the UK government played down the prospect of Royal Navy warships risking a clash with Russia to break Vladimir Putin's blockade.

A UK government spokesman said: "Putin's despicable blockade of Odesa is preventing food getting to people who need it.

"We will continue to work intensively with international partners to find ways to resume the export of grain from Ukraine.

"However, there are no current plans to deploy UK warships to the Black Sea."

Russian attack in Donbas ‘largest one on European soil since WWII’, says Ukraine’s foreign minister

Tuesday 24 May 2022 14:28 , Chiara Giordano

Ukraine’s foreign minister has said the Russian offensive in the eastern Donbas region is “the largest one on European soil since WWII” and it is “too early” to conclude whether Kyiv alread has all the weapons it needs to defend itself.

Dmytro Kuleba tweeted: “Too early to conclude that Ukraine already has all the arms it needs.

“Russian offensive in the Donbas is a ruthless battle, the largest one on European soil since WWII.

“I urge partners to speed up deliveries of weapons and ammunition, especially MLRS, long-range artillery, APCs.”

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