UKRAINE WRAP | Russian shelling kills 10 civilians in Ukraine's Sievierodonetsk - regional governor
May 16 2022 - 20:08
EU has not yet found agreement on oil embargo against Russia, Borrell says
The European Union has not yet found agreement on a sixth package of sanctions against Russia, its top diplomat Josep Borrell said after a meeting of the bloc's foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday.
"Unhappily, it has not been possible to reach an agreement today," Borrell told reporters.
He said foreign ministers had decided, however, to provide an additional 500 million euros for arms purchases in support of Kyiv, taking the total sum of money the EU has earmarked for that purpose to 2 billion euros.
May 16 2022 - 18:53
Russian shelling kills 10 civilians in Ukraine's Sievierodonetsk - regional governor
At least 10 civilians were killed by Russian shelling of the city of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine on Monday, regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said.
Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, had said earlier on Monday that heavy shelling had caused fires in residential areas.
May 16 2022 - 17:03
Ukraine's president says he discussed need for financial support with IMF's Georgieva
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Monday he had discussed the need for financial support for Ukraine's economy with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.
"The IMF is our important partner. We look forward to further fruitful joint work in maintaining financial stability of Ukraine," Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter.
May 16 2022 - 16:55
Russian troops pushed to within 3-4 km of Russian border near Kharkiv: US official
Ukrainian forces have pushed back Russian troops near the country's second-largest city of Kharkiv to within 3-4km of the Russian border, a senior US defence official said on Monday.
May 16 2022 - 15:36
Nordic neighbours vow to help Finland and Sweden in case of attack
Norway, Denmark and Iceland in a joint statement on Monday said they stand ready to support Nato applicants Finland and Sweden in case the two Nordic nations were to come under attack.
"Together with Denmark and Iceland, Norway stands ready to assist its Nordic neighbours by all means necessary should they be the victim of aggression on their territory before obtaining Nato membership," said Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere.
May 16 2022 - 15:42
Latvian minister resigns after commemoration of Soviet wartime victory
Latvia's interior minister resigned on Monday under pressure from the ruling coalition which criticised the police for failing to ban the country's Russian speakers from commemorating earlier this month the Soviet Union's victory in World War 2.
Latvia and its neighbours, Estonia and Lithuania, say Moscow used its victory over Nazi Germany to forcefully incorporate the Baltic region into the Soviet Union.
Latvian police on May 10 used force to disperse hundreds of mostly Russian speakers at an obelisk in the capital Riga, for disobeying a recent law prohibiting gatherings at monuments glorifying the Soviet victory.
The minister, Marija Golubeva, told reporters she no longer has the support of the prime minister after a coalition partner threatened to quit in protest of the decision by police to allow the mostly peaceful gatherings at the obelisk on May 9, when Russia commemorates the World War 2 victory, and on May 10.
"What does it say about Latvian resilience if an insignificant gathering of a few hundred people standing for two hours can shake the government?" Golubeva said in defiance.
Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins, who did not comment on Golubeva's resignation, earlier said the gatherings disrespected Latvia's statehood, and the memory of the victims of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the BNS news wire reported.
The Latvian parliament on March 31 banned public events within 200m of Soviet war memorials, in a move to disrupt May 9 celebrations at the Riga obelisk, which traditionally attracted tens of thousands of mostly Russian speakers each year to events attended by Russia's ambassador but shunned by Latvia's top leadership.
In the Baltic republic of 1.9-million, 24.5% are ethnic Russians, according to official figures. In Riga, the number is as high as 36%. In defiance, thousands of Russian-speakers showed up throughout May 9 to lay flowers at the obelisk under a heavy police presence. Many returned on May 10 to restock the flowers, after a widely circulated video showed municipal workers using a tractor to dump them into the garbage. Russian pro-war symbols such as the letter "Z," banned in Latvia, were worn by some attendees on May 10, and Russian military songs were played from parked vehicles nearby, before police moved in, Latvian news outlet Delfi reported.
Riga's city council on Friday voted to remove the obelisk, in a move supported by the parliament and prime minister. No timeline for the removal was set.
May 16 2022 - 15:38
Swedish government takes formal decision to apply for Nato membership
Sweden's Social Democrat minority government on Monday took the formal decision to apply for Nato membership, following in the footsteps of its neighbour Finland in a move that will redraw the geopolitical map of northern Europe.
"There is a broad majority in Sweden's parliament for joining Nato," Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said following a debate on security policy in parliament. "The best thing for Sweden and the Swedish population is to join Nato."
Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which it calls a "special operation", has highlighted Sweden and Finland's vulnerabilities despite their close cooperation with Nato in recent years.
May 16 2022 - 15:34
Russia says agreement reached to evacuate wounded Ukrainian soldiers from Azovstal — agencies
Russia's defence ministry said on Monday that an agreement had been reached to transport wounded Ukrainian soldiers out of the besieged Azovstal steel works in Mariupol to a medical facility in the Russian-controlled town of Novoazovsk, Russian news agencies reported. They said a humanitarian corridor had been opened for that purpose.
May 16 2022 - 14:35
Ukraine says it has repelled Russian incursion in Sumy region
Ukrainian border guards repelled an incursion by a Russian sabotage and reconnaissance group in the northeastern region of Sumy on Monday, the governor of the Sumy region said. Dmytro Zhyvytsky wrote on the Telegram messaging app that the Russian group entered Ukrainian territory under the cover of mortar shells, grenades and machine gun fire but retreated after the border guards fought back.
Reuters could not independently verify Zhyvytsky's account.
Russian forces crossed into the Sumy region shortly after Moscow invaded Ukraine on February 24. Ukrainian forces retook control of the region on April 8 and have been bracing for further attacks.
Separately, a spokesperson for Ukraine's border guards said in televised comments that the danger posed by Russian shelling in the Chernihiv and Sumy regions remained but that the border was under control in both places.
Andriy Demchenko said efforts were being made to strengthen defences at the borders with Belarus and Moldova's breakaway region of Transdniestria since Ukraine could not rule out that Russia would try to attack from there. Since May 10 the border service had noted that more Ukrainians were returning home than leaving the country, he added.
May 16 2022 - 13:55
Protesters block Greek tanker with Russian cargo from entering UK port
Greenpeace protesters have blocked the entry of a Greek tanker into a southern English port due to its Russian fuel cargo with police making arrests, the green group said on Monday.
The UK and EU have separately banned Russian-flagged vessels from their ports, with exemptions, after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in what the Kremlin describes as a "special military operation". The UK has said it will phase out imports of Russian oil by the end of the year, which has meant that foreign flagged vessels carrying Russian cargoes are still able to call at ports for the time being.
Greenpeace said 12 activists occupied a jetty on Sunday evening in Navigator Terminals' Thames site in Essex, where the Greek-flagged Andromeda oil products tanker was expected to discharge its cargo."
Ministers have kicked a ban on Russian oil imports to the end of the year despite strong public support for it," said Georgia Whitaker, oil and gas campaigner with Greenpeace UK.
Essex Police said on Monday that officers had been called to the Navigators Terminal late on Sunday evening. "So far eight people have been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass and we’re working with our partners to bring a number of others to safety," it said in a statement.
"Policing is not anti-protest, but we must intervene where there is a risk to life or where there is a suspicion laws are being broken," it added without providing further comment.
In recent weeks, a number of ships carrying Russian cargoes have changed course after protests in both UK and EU ports. Refinitiv ship tracking data showed the Andromeda had previously called at the Russian port of Primorsk and was almost fully laden. The vessel was anchored off the Essex coast on Monday and reported the Isle of Grain in nearby Kent as its next destination, ship tracking data showed.
A spokesperson for Navigator Terminals referred comment to Essex Police. The tanker's Athens-based manager, Tsakos Columbia Shipmanagement, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
May 16 2022 - 13:05
McDonald’s to exit Russia, taking hit of up to $1.4bn
McDonald’s Corp. said it will pull out of Russia after more than 30 years of operation in the country, stepping up the corporate response to the invasion of Ukraine.
The departure carries huge symbolic as well as economic weight because the fast-food chain was one of the first Western brands to set up shop in Russia when it opened a branch in Pushkin Square, Moscow, in 1990, just before the fall of the Soviet Union.
Companies in the business of selling food and other essentials, or with large store networks in Russia, were initially more reluctant than others to pull out of the country entirely after the war in Ukraine began. The company has initiated a sale process after temporarily closing its restaurants, the company said in a statement Monday. McDonald’s said it will take a write-off of $1.2bn to $1.4bn (R19.5bn-R22.75bn) for the move.
The fast-food chain said the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and the resulting unpredictable operating environment meant it was no longer tenable to operate in Russia, “nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values.” McDonald’s is pursuing a sale of its entire portfolio of restaurants to a local buyer and will “de-arch” the outlets, removing the McDonald’s name, logo, branding and menu, though the company will retain its trademarks in Russia. The company didn’t name a potential buyer.
McDonald’s had said in March that it was temporarily halting business in Russia, where it employs 62,000 people. The decision then came after days of criticism on social media. The company said it will continue to pay local staff while it seeks a buyer.
May 16 2022 - 12:50
Russia will not 'simply put up with' Nato's Nordic expansion
Russia said on Monday that the West should have no illusions that Moscow will simply put up with the Nordic expansion of the US-led Nato military alliance to include Sweden and Finland, casting the move as a mistake that would stoke military tension.
Vladimir Putin, Russia's paramount leader since the last day of 1999, has repeatedly cited the post-Soviet enlargement of the Nato alliance eastwards towards Russia's borders as a reason for the invasion of Ukraine. The war, though, has fomented one of the biggest changes to Europe's security architecture for decades: once unthinkable moves by Sweden and Finland, which shares a 1,300km border with Russia, to join the military alliance.
"They should have no illusions that we will simply put up with it - and nor should Brussels, Washington and other Nato capitals," Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by the state RIA news agency.
Ryabkov, who led talks with the US on a doomed Russian proposal to halt Nato's eastward expansion, said the decisions by Helsinki and Stockholm to join the alliance were a mistake.
"The general level of military tension will rise, predictability in this sphere will decrease. It is a shame that common sense is being sacrificed to some phantom provision about what should be done in this unfolding situation," Ryabkov said.
Russia has given few clues about what it will do in response to the Nordic enlargement of Nato, saying merely that there would be a "military-technical response". One of Putin's closest allies said last month that Russia could deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad if Finland and Sweden joined Nato.
The accession of Finland and Sweden into Nato — founded in 1949 to provide European security against the Soviet Union — would be one of the biggest strategic consequences of Russia's invasion of Ukraine to date.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said such an enlargement of Nato would not strengthen the security of Europe.
May 16 2022 - 10:30
Renault hands Lada maker to Russia with option to take back
Renault SA agreed to transfer its €2.2bn (roughly R37.45bn) Russian business to state entities for a symbolic sum in what amounts to a nationalisation triggered by the war in Ukraine.
The French carmaker’s majority stake in carmaker AvtoVaz – maker of the top-selling Lada brand – will go to a state-run automobile research institute known as NAMI, while the Moscow City government will take over an assembly plant near the Russian capital, according to a statement on Monday.
The automaker has the option to buy back its stake in AvtoVaz for the next six years. While a spokesperson declined to give the sale price for the assets – previously reported as one rouble 925c) – she confirmed the sum is symbolic.
May 16 2022 - 05:30
WATCH | Burning munitions cascade down on Ukrainian steel plant
White, brightly burning munitions were shown cascading down on the Azovstal steel works in the Ukrainian port of Mariupol in what a British military expert said looked like either an attack with phosphorus or incendiary weapons.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said "delicate" negotiations were proceeding on rescuing Ukrainian servicemen holed up beneath the vast complex.
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