UKRAINE WRAP | UN again trying to evacuate civilians from Ukraine's Mariupol

05 May 2022 - 06:15 By TimesLIVE
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The Fearless Girl Statue by artist Kristen Visbal stands draped in the flag of Ukraine, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, after a demonstration outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York City, U.S., May 4, 2022.
The Fearless Girl Statue by artist Kristen Visbal stands draped in the flag of Ukraine, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, after a demonstration outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York City, U.S., May 4, 2022.
Image: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

May 05 2022 - 10:07

UN again trying to evacuate civilians from Ukraine's Mariupol

A third operation is under way to evacuate civilians from the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol and the besieged Azovstal steel plant, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the UN Security Council on Thursday.

The United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have so far helped nearly 500 civilians flee the area during two operations in the past week. Guterres declined to give details on the new operation "to avoid undermining possible success."

"I hope that the continued coordination with Moscow and Kyiv will lead to more humanitarian pauses to allow civilians safe passage from the fighting and aid to reach those in critical need," he told the 15-member Security Council. "We must continue to do all we can to get people out of these hellscapes."


May 05 2022 - 19:31

German foreign minister will visit Ukraine shortly, chancellor says

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock will visit Ukraine shortly, after the two countries mended a diplomatic rift over Kyiv's refusal to receive German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Steinmeier held "good talks" earlier on Thursday, Scholz told a news conference.

The German head of state had planned to visit the Ukrainian capital in mid-April but Kyiv refused to welcome him, amid disquiet over his past support of rapprochement with Russia.

Kyiv's refusal caused a scandal in Germany and prompted Scholz to say he would not visit the war-torn country before the German president had done so.


May 05 2022 - 13:24

Ukraine has 'crucial' need of multiple launch rocket systems, chief commander says

The chief commander of Ukraine's armed forces said on Thursday his country needed multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) to defend against Russian cruise missiles.

General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said after briefing U.S. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the military situation in Ukraine that Russia had resumed cruise missile strikes."

Therefore, the issue of providing Ukraine with multiple launch missile systems such as M142 HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) and M270 MLRS is crucial," he said.


May 05 2022 - 13:08

No Ukrainian counter-offensive expected before mid-June, presidential adviser says

Ukraine is unlikely to launch a counter-offensive in its war with Russia before mid-June, when it hopes to have received more weapons from its allies, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Thursday.

Political adviser Oleksiy Arestovych also said he did not expect Russia's offensive in Ukraine to produce any "significant results" by May 9, when Russia celebrates victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two.

He said fighting continued at the Azovstal steel works where Ukrainian fighters and some civilians are holed up in the city of Mariupol but gave no details.


May 05 2022 - 13:00

Russia expels Danish diplomats in retaliatory move

Russia's foreign ministry on Thursday said it had declared seven employees of the Danish embassy in Moscow 'persona non grata' in response to a similar move by Copenhagen last month, with Moscow also objecting to Denmark's military assistance to Ukraine.

The ministry said Denmark's openly anti-Russian policy was seriously damaging bilateral relations and that Russia reserved the right to take additional steps in response.

Denmark's foreign ministry confirmed in an emailed statement it had been informed that four diplomats and three other employees at its embassy in Moscow would be expelled.

"It is a completely unjustified and deeply problematic decision, which underlines that Russia no longer wants real dialogue and diplomacy," Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said.

In line with steps taken by other European Union countries, Denmark a month ago expelled 15 Russian employees at the embassy in Copenhagen, following reports of mass graves being found and of civilian killings in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

Kofod said on Thursday that the 15 expelled employees had been Russian intelligence agents and not diplomats.

Moscow, which called Denmark's expulsion last month "unjustified", has claimed that images of executed civilians in Bucha were fake products of Ukrainian and Western propaganda aimed at discrediting Russia.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a "special operation" to disarm its neighbour and protect its Russian-speaking population from fascists. Kyiv and the West say the fascist allegation is a baseless pretext for an unprovoked act of aggression.


May 05 2022 - 12:45

Japan to use nuclear to cut dependence on Russian energy -PM Kishida

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday that it would use nuclear reactors to help reduce its own and other countries' dependence on Russian energy.

Japan has become more reliant on Russian gas since shutting down nuclear reactors after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in which an earthquake and tsunami triggered a meltdown, devastating its north-eastern region.

But facing elections in July and rising energy prices that are squeezing voters' budgets, Kishida said nuclear would be part of the country's future energy policy.

He said Japan would address the "vulnerability of our own energy self-sufficiency" by broadening where it buys energy from, promoting renewables and using nuclear power to diversify its sources of generation.

"We will utilise nuclear reactors with safety assurances to contribute to worldwide reduction of dependence on Russian energy," Kishida told an audience in London's financial district.

"Restarting just one existing nuclear reactor would have the same effect as supplying 1 million tonnes of new LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) per year to the global market."

More than a decade after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl, nuclear power remains a difficult issue in Japan, where only a handful of its 30-odd plants are currently operating.

But a majority of the public and businesses want the government to restart nuclear reactors to address energy security, with the Ukraine crisis and higher energy costs having added momentum to that shift in opinion.

Kishida addressed the City of London with the pro-investment messages: "Japan is a buy".

He said 150 trillion yen ($1.16 trillion) in investment would be raised in the next decade to meet its goals of carbon neutrality by 2050 and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 46% by 2030.

He outlined a roadmap to 2030 focused on maximising use of "pro-growth carbon pricing" and promotion of long-term projects. 


May 05 2022 - 12:26

Ukraine wants complete energy embargo on Russia - senior parliamentarian

Ukraine hopes the European Union will impose an embargo on Russian natural gas and oil and wants Ukraine and Europe to "completely abandon Russian energy resources", a senior member of the Ukrainian parliament said on Thursday.

Andriy Gerus, who heads parliament's Committee on Energy and Public Utilities, said he expected fuel supplies in Ukraine to improve in mid-May and that Ukraine had a surplus of coal. He expected Kyiv would have to start importing natural gas again over the summer to fill storage facilities for the next heating season.

"As soon as European countries stop buying Russian gas, we will gladly stop transiting it to Europe," he told an online briefing.

"We support the (EU) embargo on both oil and oil products, as well as on gas and coal, and we hope that we will come to this with time, that Ukraine and Europe will completely abandon Russian energy resources."


May 05 2022 - 12:20  

Kremlin denies Russian troops have entered Ukraine's Azovstal plant

The Kremlin denied that Russian troops were storming the Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine's southern port city of Mariupol, where Ukrainian fighters and civilians are trapped, and said humanitarian corridors were operating there on Thursday.

Asked if a claim by a senior Ukrainian official that Russian troops had broken into the plant's territory was true, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov referred reporters to President Vladimir Putin's previous order not to storm the plant.

Putin called off plans for an assault on the plant last month, telling his defence minister to seal it off instead.


May 05 2022 - 12:02

Russian negotiator accuses Kyiv of 'rolling back' on agreements -TASS

A Russian lawmaker taking part in talks with Ukraine said negotiations were difficult and accused representatives from Kyiv of "rolling back" on existing agreements, TASS news agency reported on Thursday."

I am one of the four negotiators from the Russian side, however, it is difficult to negotiate. Ukrainian counterparts come to an agreement, and then roll back", TASS cited negotiator Leonid Slutsky as saying.


May 05 2022 - 11:10

Europe aims to phase out Russian crude in six months 

The Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, the European Commission proposed a ban on Russian oil imports, so far this is Europe's toughest move to isolate Russia. In the immediate aftermath, oil prices jumped on Wednesday.

May 05 2022 - 10:55

‘Finland and Sweden in NATO is a no brainer’ 

“If Putin can basically slaughter his Slavic brothers and sisters in Ukraine, why couldn’t he do it in Finland and Sweden?”

May 05 2022 - 10:45

The cost of the Ukraine war on Africa

"In my recent visits to KZN and the Eastern Cape I’ve seen and heard for myself how the rising food prices have taken a profound toll on vulnerable households." - John Steenhuisen, DA Leader The war will have a long-lasting impact on global prices. 

May 05 2022 - 10:30

ArcelorMittal Sees Global Steel Demand Drop on Ukraine War

ArcelorMittal SA expects global steel consumption to contract this year as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine slows the economic rebound from the pandemic. Demand for steel -- a key barometer for global economic growth -- will fall by as much as 1% this year, the company said in a statement Thursday.

ArcelorMittal said before the war that it saw consumption steady or growing slightly in 2022.

“We are now anticipating apparent steel consumption to contract slightly this year compared with 2021,” Chief Executive Officer Aditya Mittal said in the statement. “Nevertheless, it is clear that the longer-term fundamental outlook for steel is positive.”

The gloomier outlook for steel consumption comes after the International Monetary Fund slashed its world growth forecast last month. Consumption in Ukraine and Russia will drop significantly, while demand in Europe will also be hit. Chinese demand will contract by the bottom end of the company’s previous forecast as Covid-19 lockdowns curb economic output.

The biggest European steelmaker still posted a healthy first-quarter profit, with earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $5.08 billion, beating analyst expectations. ArcelorMittal rose as much as 5% in Amsterdam trading, the biggest intraday gain in more than six weeks. The shares were 3.6% higher as of 9:14 a.m. local time, paring this year’s drop to 1.1%.

Record steel prices have helped insulate the sector from the surging cost of energy and raw materials. Steel shipments fell 2.7% in the first quarter, largely due to the impact of the war in Ukraine, the company said. It has “temporarily suspended” a pellet plant project in the country.

ArcelorMittal said it’s doubling its share buyback to $2 billion this year.


May 05 2022 - 10:00

Swiss Re sets aside $283m in special reserves on Ukraine

Swiss Re beefed up its reserves on concern over the fallout of insurance claims related to the war in Ukraine.

The Zurich-based re-insurer booked $283 million in reserves in relation to the war during the first quarter.

Its statement comes a day after Germany’s Hannover Re said it may need to take additional provisions in the low triple-digit million-euro range, also citing Russia’s invasion. 

“While the situation remains highly uncertain and we do not believe we have an outsized exposure, we decided to take a proactive and cautious approach to establishing reserves for potential impacts from the war,” Swiss Re Chief Executive Office Christian Mumenthaler said in a statement. 

The reserves are being allocated across various business lines, including aviation and marine insurance. 

The Swiss company also reported a higher-than-expected loss of $248 million in the three months due to increasing market volatility and the Covid-19 pandemic.

The bulk of the loss, $230 million, was reported in Life & Health Reinsurance. 


May 05 2022 - 09:50

Russia killed over 600 Ukrainian fighters in artillery strikes - defence ministry

Russia said on Thursday that its artillery struck multiple Ukrainian positions and strongholds overnight, killing 600 fighters.

The defence ministry also said its missiles destroyed aviation equipment at the Kanatovo airfield in Ukraine's central Kirovohrad region and a large ammunition depot in the southern city of Mykolaiv. 


May 05 2022 - 09:33

Two Russian villages shelled by Ukraine, governor says

Two villages in Russia's Belgorod region bordering Ukraine have been shelled by Ukraine, Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Thursday, adding that there were no civilian casualties.

"There is shelling from the Ukrainian side on Zhuravlyovka and Nekhoteevka," he said. 


May 05 2022 - 08:47

French energy minister expects EU consensus on stopping Russian oil imports by end of week

The French environment and energy minister, Barbara Pompili, on Thursday said she was confident European Union member states will reach a consensus on how to end Russian oil imports by the end of this week.

"Some countries are more dependent on Russian oil than others, and so we must try to find solutions so that they can come on board these sanction," she told France Info radio. "But I think we should be able to do it."


May 05 2022 - 07:20

Displaced Ukrainians crowd for aid in Dnipro

Ukrainians displaced from their homes, now sheltering in the central city Dnipro, stood in long queues outside a church to receive bags of food aid as Russia turned its fire power on eastern and southern Ukraine.

May 05 2022 - 07:00

EU ratchets up the stakes as sanctions turn the target to Russian oil

The EU plans to ban Russian crude oil over the next six months and refined fuels by the end of the year as part of a sixth round of sanctions to increase pressure on Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine.

“This will be a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined,” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said in remarks to the European parliament. “We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion, in a way that allows us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes and minimises the impact on global markets.”

Hungary and Slovakia, which are heavily reliant on Russian energy and had opposed a sudden cut-off of oil, will be granted a longer time frame — until the end of 2023 — to enforce the sanctions, according to people familiar with the matter. 

May 05 2022 - 06:30

EDITORIAL | In the theatre of politics, Steenhuisen chose the action role

Reactions to DA leader John Steenhuisen’s visit to war-torn Ukraine have been predictably specious, rooted as they are in the populism and anti-intellectualism that fuel social media.

The bout of whataboutism has touched on Steenhuisen’s alleged lack of similar interest in African conflicts, the fact that Ukrainians have made the mistake of being white and claims that the DA should be more concerned about domestic injustices.

Steenhuisen hasn’t helped his cause by casting himself in the heroic role already being filled by dozens of brave news crews — “We owe it to the people of Ukraine to tell the unfiltered truth about what is taking place here” — but in light of the government’s official limp-wristedness on Russia’s invasion of its neighbour, it is hardly surprising he has scented the opportunity for advantage.

May 05 2022 - 06:00

Wall Street's 'Fearless Girl' protests Russia

A small group of protesters draped the 'Fearless Girl' statue, which faces the New York Stock Exchange, in a Ukrainian flag in a protest against Russia.

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