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UKRAINE WRAP | Germany considering whether to supply IRIS-T air defence system to Ukraine - source

13 May 2022 - 06:15 By TimesLIVE
A satellite image of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 12 2022.
A satellite image of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 12 2022.
Image: Satellite image 2022 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS

May 13 2022 - 20:10

Ukraine to import 420,000 T of fuel in May as Russia strikes depots

Ukraine has signed contracts to import 300,000 tonnes of diesel and 120,000 tonnes of petrol to cover consumption in May as Russia targets Ukrainian fuel infrastructure, First Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Svyrydenko said on Friday.

Russia has destroyed 27 fuel depots and the Kremenchuk oil refinery in central Ukraine since it launched its Feb. 24 invasion, the government official said at a government meeting.

-Reuters

May 13 2022 - 18:12

Russian court fines Radio Liberty nearly $200,000 over 'fakes' -Interfax

 A Moscow court has fined U.S.-backed broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) 12.8 million roubles ($196,621) for not deleting what Russia calls "fake" content about its operation in Ukraine, Interfax news agency reported on Friday.

Russia's communications watchdog blocked websites of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and some other foreign media in early March.

-Reuters

May 13 2022 - 15:05

Russia advises against travel to UK because of "unfriendly" visa stance

Russia said on Friday it was recommending its citizens not to travel to Britain, complaining that authorities there were making it "virtually impossible" for Russians to obtain visas.

The Russian Foreign Ministry alleged Russian applications were being delayed because Britain was giving higher priority to Ukrainian refugees. It said Russians were also unable to pay on the British website via Mastercard and Visa, which have both suspended their operations in Russia.

"Taking into account the extremely unfriendly course of the UK towards our country, in order to avoid financial losses and other possible problems, we recommend that Russian citizens refrain, if possible, from travelling to the UK and trying to obtain British visas," it said.

"Until the situation normalises, we will act in the same way with respect to the British."

The British actions were "a politically motivated infringement of the rights of Russian citizens", the ministry said.

The British interior ministry, the Home Office, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tensions between Moscow and London have ratcheted up in recent weeks, with Britain announcing fresh sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin's financial network on Friday over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday he did not see how there could be a normalisation of relations with Putin following the invasion.

Reuters 

May 13 2022 - 14:25

Germany considering whether to supply IRIS-T air defence system to Ukraine - source

Germany is considering supplying IRIS-T SLM medium range surface-to-air defence systems to Ukraine, a security source said on Friday.

German daily Bild had reported earlier that the German cabinet's security council was discussing the matter, and that IRIS-T SLM systems, made by privately held German weapons maker Diehl Defense, could be deployed in Ukraine from November.

Ukraine's pleas for heavy weapons have intensified since Moscow earlier this month turned its fiercest firepower on the country's east and south, after failing to take the capital Kyiv.

Germany last week said it would deliver seven self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, in a further reversal of a longtime policy not to send heavy weapons to war zones due to the country's Nazi past.

According to Bild, Ukraine is interested in receiving 10 IRIS-T SLM systems, which could be manufactured over the next three to four years. The paper said that the system can launch missiles over a distance of 40 kilometres (25 miles) to take down fighter jets, helicopters or missiles.

Training for Ukrainian soldiers could start as soon as the German government has approved the plan, Bild said.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a "special military operation" to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and the West say the fascist allegation is baseless and that the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.

Reuters 

May 13 2022 - 13:41

Barclays warns of hit to currency, eurozone GDP if Russia turns off gas taps

Analysts at Barclays have warned of a 5 percentage point hit to eurozone GDP and a dive below dollar parity for the euro if Russia closes its gas taps as part of the escalating war in Ukraine. 

Worries are mounting in Europe that Moscow could sharply reduce the amount of gas it supplies or stop it altogether as tensions rise and sanctions intensify over its assault on Ukraine.

The Kremlin has already cut off supplies to Bulgaria and Poland and this week sanctioned Gazprom’s European subsidiaries, including Gazprom Germania, prompting German economy minister Robert Habeck to warn of no more gas from Russia.

May 13 2022 - 13:25

Ukraine's president reiterates readiness to talk to Putin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has reiterated an offer to hold direct talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and said Russia's withdrawal from Ukraine should be the starting point for any discussions."

As president, I am ready to talk to Putin, but only to him. Without any of his intermediaries. And in the framework of dialogue, not ultimatums," he told Italy's RAI 1 television in an interview shown in Ukraine on Friday.

Ukraine and Russia have not held face-to-face peace talks since March 29.

Russian chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky was quoted by Interfax news agency on Monday as saying peace talks were being held remotely.

Putin told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz by telephone on Friday that progress in negotiations over an end to the conflict had been "essentially blocked by Kyiv," the Kremlin said. Kyiv blames Moscow for the lack of progress.

In his fullest public comments for weeks on the prospects of peace talks, Zelenskiy said Ukraine would not compromise over its territorial integrity.

He ruled out suggestions - which he attributed to Paris - that Ukraine should make concessions for the sake of securing a peace agreement that would allow Putin to save face.

"Get out of this territory that you have occupied since February 24," he said. "This is the first clear step to talking about anything."

Russian forces have taken control of the southern city of Mariupol but are struggling to make headway in Ukraine's north and east after abandoning a push towards Kyiv.

Russia also controls the Crimea peninsula, which it seized and annexed in 2014, and Russia-backed separatists have declared "people's republics" in areas they control in two provinces in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

Zelenskiy said Kyiv had offered to keep Crimea out of talks for now if it complicated efforts to end the war or made talks between him and Putin more complicated. But he added: "We will never recognise Crimea as part of the Russian Federation."

Reuters 

May 13 2022 - 13:00

Ukraine asks G7 to seize Russia assets to rebuild country

Ukraine asked the G7 countries on Friday to seize Russia's assets and hand them to Kyiv to help rebuild the country, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said, adding that he hoped Hungary would agree with EU partners an oil embargo on Moscow.

"Canada has already done this and I have a feeling that others will reach that point sooner rather than later. We are talking about hundreds of billions of dollars. Russia must pay," he told reporters on the sidelines of a G7 foreign ministers meeting in northern Germany. 

Reuters 

May 13 2022 - 12:45

Putin and Scholz discuss 'blocked' Ukraine peace talks - Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz discussed Ukraine in a telephone call on Friday, the Kremlin said.Putin told Scholz that progress in negotiations over an end to the conflict had been "essentially blocked by Kyiv", but that the two sides were continuing talks on various levels. 

Reuters 

May 13 2022 - 12:35

UK says new sanctions hit Putin's network including ex-wife and cousins

Britain said on Friday it had imposed its latest round of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin's financial network, including his ex-wife and cousins.

"We are exposing and targeting the shady network propping up Putin's luxury lifestyle and tightening the vice on his inner circle," foreign minister Liz Truss said in a statement."

We will keep going with sanctions on all those aiding and abetting Putin's aggression until Ukraine prevails."

Britain, in concert with Western allies, has imposed sanctions on hundreds of wealthy Russian individuals as well as strategically important industrial and financial firms in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Among the 12 new names added to the British sanctions list were Putin's ex-wife Lyudmila Ocheretnaya and several of his relatives holding executive positions at major Russian firms like Gazprom. They face asset freezes and travel bans.

The government said those sanctioned supported Putin in exchange for wealth, high-profile jobs and influence over Russian affairs.

Reuters 

May 13 2022 - 11:45

Kremlin: report of possible gas cuts for Finland 'most likely a hoax'

A report in a Finnish newspaper that Russia may cut gas supplies to Finland as soon as Friday seems to be fake, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said."Most likely, this is another newspaper hoax," he told a conference call, adding that Gazprom remained a reliable gas supplier.

Newspaper Iltalehti reported on Thursday, citing unnamed sources, that Finnish politicians had been warned that Russia could halt gas supplies to its neighbour on Friday.

Reuters 

May 13 2022 - 11:33

German finmin says favours using Russian assets to rebuild Ukraine - Spiegel

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said he would be in favour of financing post-war reconstruction of Ukraine with seized Russian state assets, according to an interview published by Germany weekly Der Spiegel on Friday.

"In the case of Russian state's assets, my sense of justice speaks in favour," Lindner told Der Spiegel, but said that clarification of the legal basis for such a move was still needed."

In the case of private assets, it would be a case of expropriation. The hurdles in our constitutional state are high," he said.

The finance ministers of the Group of Seven industrialised nations (G7) are due to discuss the financing of Ukraine's reconstruction at a meeting in Germany next week.

Reuters 

May 13 2022 - 10:01

Food security, Moldova in focus at G7 foreign minister meeting

Foreign ministers from the G7 group of rich nations will discuss how to alleviate food security concerns when they meet in Germany on Friday as fears mount that the war between Russia and Ukraine could further destabilise Moldova.

The annual meeting running until Saturday brings together top diplomats from Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, France, Japan the US and the European Union, to the Baltic Sea resort of Weissenhaus.

Talks are set to be dominated by Ukraine and how to manage the consequences of a conflict that could drag on for months, if not longer.

The Ukrainian and Moldovan foreign ministers are also attending on Friday with the West's most industrialised nations set to reaffirm their support for the two countries.

May 13 2022 - 09:32

US citizen’s tearful reunion after Ukraine rescue

A US citizen who says he was held captive and beaten by Russian forces in Ukraine before being rescued by a private volunteer group spoke of his relief at reaching safety in Poland, describing his ordeal as a war crime.

May 13 2022 - 08:45

US cyber chief sees more attacks in Russian Ukraine playbook

White House Cyber Director Chris Inglis said on Friday he expects Russia’s use of disruptive cyber attacks to continue so long as there is war in Ukraine.

Speaking during an interview with Bloomberg TV, he said that the enduring war has shown Russia is “not perhaps as competent as they might have imagined, both in the physical world and the cyber world.”

“For as long as Russia persists in this egregious behaviour, I think that cyber will be in their playbook, and so I would think that this would continue apace.”

May 13 2022 - 08:01

Estonian premier Kallas narrowly avoids government collapse

Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas, a Baltic leader who has been an outspoken antagonist of Vladimir Putin, narrowly avoided a government collapse after she challenged her coalition partner to call a confidence vote. 

Juri Ratas, a former premier who leads the junior partner in Kallas’s alliance, had introduced a 300m euros (about R4.99bn) family benefits package without the consent of Kallas’s Reform Party. The prime minister accused Ratas of issuing an “ultimatum” and demanded he put the matter to a parliamentary vote that could bring down the government. 

“Be a man about it, hold a vote of no confidence against me,” Kallas told reporters in Tallinn on Thursday, accusing Ratas and his Centre Party of trying to manoeuvre its way into a new coalition. 

May 13 2022 - 07:45

Russian soldiers caught on camera killing Ukrainian civilians - BBC News

When Leonid Pliats and his boss were shot in the back by Russian soldiers, the killing was captured on CCTV cameras in clear and terrible detail.

The footage, which was obtained by the BBC, is now being investigated by Ukrainian prosecutors as a suspected war crime. "My dad was not a military man... he was a pensioner," Leonid's daughter said.

May 13 2022 - 07:26

EXCLUSIVE | War forces Ukraine to divert $8.3bn to military spending, tax revenue drops — Minister

Ukraine has been forced to spend 245.1bn hryvnia (about $8.3bn or R33bn) on its war with Russia instead of development, the country’s finance minister said on Thursday, providing a glimpse into the huge economic cost of Moscow’s February 24 invasion.

The figure, which has not been disclosed by Ukraine’s government before, lays bare the economic maelstrom Ukraine is navigating as its soldiers try to keep Russia’s renewed offensive at bay in the country’s east.

The spending — drawn from some funds initially budgeted for development — went on everything from buying and repairing weapons to emergency support for internally displaced people, said finance minister Serhiy Marchenko. There are 2.7-million officially registered IDPs, according to data from the social policy ministry, although the real figure is many times higher.

May 13 2022 - 06:20

US lawmakers ask tech companies to archive evidence of potential Russian war crimes, NBC reports

Four Democratic lawmakers have sent letters to the CEOs of YouTube, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook-owner Meta asking them to archive content that could be used as evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine, NBC reported on Thursday.

The letters were signed by the leaders of the House Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees, Carolyn Maloney and Gregory Meeks, and two subcommittee chairman, NBC reported.

Reuters

May 13 2022 - 06:10

Russian carmaker Avtovaz will halt production next week for five days -union

Top Russian carmaker Avtovaz is poised to stop production next week for five days due to lack of components, ASM trade union said.Avtovaz, which is controlled by Renault and produces the Lada and Renault car brands, declined comment. The union said production will be halted on May 16-20.

The company has said it would impose a four-day working week for three months from June, in a sign that Western sanctions following Russia's military operation of Ukraine were making it hard for companies to operate.

Renault has suspended its Moscow factory and was reviewing its options regarding its stake in Avtovaz. 

Reuters

May 13 2022 - 06:00

Ukraine invasion: Moscow now warns Finland over NATO bid 

Finland's desire to join the NATO military alliance has not gone down well with Moscow. In the latest, it has warned Finland that the country would face consequences for NATO membership without any delay, the threat by Moscow comes at a time when Ukraine has claimed to have damaged a Russian navy in the Black Sea.


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