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UKRAINE WRAP | The odour of capitalism rising up from the Ukraine war is unbearable

23 May 2022 - 06:15 By TimesLIVE
A view shows burned cars in a residential area near Azovstal Iron and Steel Works, during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine May 22, 2022.
A view shows burned cars in a residential area near Azovstal Iron and Steel Works, during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine May 22, 2022.
Image: REUTERS/Pavel Klimov

May 23 2022 - 14:08

Ukraine says 87 killed in strike on barracks, worst military loss of war

Kyiv acknowledged its worst military losses from a single attack of the Ukraine war on Monday, saying 87 people had been killed last week when Russian forces struck a barracks housing troops at a training base in the north.

The announcement that scores had been killed in a single strike demonstrated Russia's ability to inflict huge losses on Ukraine, even far from the front. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy disclosed the toll during a speech on Monday by video link to business leaders in Davos, Switzerland.

Ukraine had previously said at least eight people were killed in the May 17 attack, while giving few details. The toll was more than double the number killed in a similar attack on a Ukrainian training base in Yaraviv in the west in March.

May 23 2022 - 13:27

Putin says transition to rouble payments will strengthen currency

Transitioning to rouble payments for foreign firms buying Russian exports will strengthen Russia's currency, President Vladimir Putin said on Monday.

Speaking at a televised meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Putin also said the measures that the Russian government has taken to support the economy have had a positive effect. 

Reuters

May 23 2022 - 13:20

Germany announces currency conversion scheme for Ukrainian refugees

Refugees who have fled the war in Ukraine can change their Ukrainian hryvnia into euros in Germany starting Tuesday, according to a statement from the Finance Ministry in Berlin and German banks.

The ministry agreed to the exchange programme together with the central banks of Germany and Ukraine as well as the German Banking Industry Committee, the joint statement said.

The agreed exchange volume has been initially set at 1.5 billion hryvnia ($50.78 million) and the scheme is to stay in place for at least three months, it added.

Under the agreement, refugees can exchange up to 10,000 hryvnia into euros at participating German banks at current exchange rates. The conversion, which can be made in several instalments, is to be free of charge.

Banknotes in denominations of 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 hryvnia from the currently valid series of the National Bank of Ukraine will be accepted, according to the statement.

Reuters

May 23 2022 - 12:58

Russia's Avtovaz names ex-transport minister as CEO after Renault exit

Russia's top carmaker Avtovaz said on Monday it had appointed former transport minister Maxim Sokolov as its new president and CEO after its main shareholder Renault withdrew from the Russian market.

Renault struck a deal to sell its majority stake in Avtovaz to a Russian science institute, reportedly for the symbolic sum of just one rouble, with a six-year option to buy it back.

Sokolov, who served as Russia's transport minister from 2012-2018, is replacing Nicolas Maure, who began his tenure in May 2021. The board's decision to appoint Sokolov came into effect on Monday.

"The most important goal for us is the rapid development of the supplier base, first of all domestic suppliers," Sokolov said in a statement.

Sales of Avtovaz's Lada cars slumped in April by 78% and the carmaker has paused production until May 27 due to a lack of parts and weak demand.

More than 400 companies have withdrawn from Russia since it sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, leaving behind assets worth billions of dollars.

Russia calls its actions a special operation to degrade its southern neighbour's military capabilities and root out people it calls dangerous nationalists.

The West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia and provided Ukraine with military support in response. 

Reuters 

May 23 2022 - 12:18

More than 6.5 million people have fled Ukraine - UN agency

More than 6.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion in late February, the UN refugee agency said.

Since Russia's invasion on Feb. 24, 6,538,998 refugees have left Ukraine, with the majority of them entering Poland. 

Reuters 

May 23 2022 - 12:15

UK's Johnson talks Ukraine, trade deal with new Australian counterpart

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed with his newly-elected Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese that the Ukrainian war must not encourage other countries to undermine global stability, Johnson's spokesperson said on Monday.

"The leaders agreed that it was important that the war in Ukraine did not embolden other countries to undermine global stability," the spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the two leaders hoped to be able to meet in person soon."

On trade, both leaders agreed the Free Trade Agreement was incredibly important to both countries going forward."

Reuters 

May 23 2022 - 12:11

Ukraine court jails Russian soldier for life in war crimes trial

A Ukrainian court sentenced a Russian soldier to life in prison on Monday for killing an unarmed civilian in the first war crimes trial arising from Russia's Feb. 24 invasion.

Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old tank commander, had pleaded guilty to killing 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov in the northeastern Ukrainian village of Chupakhivka on Feb. 28 after being ordered to shoot him.

Judge Serhiy Agafonov said Shishimarin, carrying out a "criminal order" by a soldier of higher rank, had fired several shots at the victim's head from an automatic weapon.

Shishimarin, wearing a blue and grey hooded sweatshirt, watched proceedings silently from a reinforced glass box in the courtroom and showed no emotion as the verdict was read out.

The trial has huge symbolic significance for Ukraine, which has accused Russia of atrocities and brutality against civilians during the invasion and said it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes.

Russia has denied targeting civilians or involvement in war crimes.

The Kremlin did not immediately comment on the verdict. It has previously said that it has no information about the trial and that the absence of a diplomatic mission in Ukraine limits its ability to provide assistance. 

Reuters 

May 23 2022 - 12:00

Russia says it will resume talks when Ukraine is 'constructive' -RIA

Russia will be ready to return to negotiations with Ukraine "as soon as Kyiv shows a constructive position", RIA cited Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko as saying.

Speaking on the subject of Russia exchanging prisoners from the Azovstal steelworks, RIA reported that Rudenko did not rule out that discussions are taking place.

Reuters  

May 23 2022 - 11:49

Kremlin says West triggered a global food crisis with sanctions

The Kremlin said on Monday that the West had triggered a global food crisis by imposing the severest sanctions in modern history on Russia over the war in Ukraine.

President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said, agreed with the United Nations assessment that the world faced a food crisis that could cause famine.

"Russia has always been a rather reliable grain exporter," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "We are not the source of the problem."

Reuters 

May 23 2022 - 10:15

Azovstal fighters to face trial in breakaway region -Ifax cites separatist leader

The leader of Ukraine's breakaway Donetsk People's Republic on Monday said the fighters who surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol will a face trial in the separatist region, Interfax news agency reported.

"The prisoners from Azovstal are being held on the territory of the Donetsk People's Republic," Interfax quoted Denis Pushilin as saying. "Organising an international tribunal on the republic's territory is also planned.

"The report did not specify what charges the fighters would face.

Reuters 

May 23 2022 - 10:02

Ukraine grain exports could reach 1.5m tonnes in May - analyst

Ukraine's grain exports could reach 1.5 million tonnes in May compared with around 1 million tonnes in April, Roman Slaston, Director General of the Ukrainian Agrarian Business Club Association, said on Monday.

He told a briefing that the near-term aim was to increase the volume to 3 million tonnes per month. He put the rise in exports down to the establishment of alternative routes to export grain after Russia blocked Ukraine's main sea ports. 

Reuters 

May 23 2022 - 09:34

Poland to terminate agreement with Russia regarding Yamal gas pipeline, says minister

Poland has decided to terminate an intergovernmental agreement with Russia regarding the Yamal gas pipeline, Polish Climate Minister Anna Moskwa said on Twitter on Monday.

"Russia's aggression against Ukraine has confirmed the accuracy of the Polish government's determination to become completely independent from Russian gas.

We always knew that Gazprom was not a reliable partner," Moskwa said. 

Reuters 

May 23 2022 - 08:00

Russian soldiers start clearing mines from Ukraine's Azovstal

Russian soldiers cleared mines and debris on the industrial grounds of the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol on Sunday after hundreds of Ukrainian forces holed up in the vast plant for weeks were ordered to stand down.

Soldiers walked through the compound and swung mine detectors over roads littered with debris, while others checked under objects for the explosive devices, video footage showed.

"The task is huge, the enemy planted their own landmines, we had also planted anti-personnel mines while blocking the enemy. So we've got some two weeks of work ahead of us," said a Russian soldier who only gave his nom de guerre Babai.

Russia on Friday said the last Ukrainian fighters defending Azovstal had surrendered. Ukraine has not confirmed that development, but a commander of one of the units in the factory said in a video that the troops had been ordered to stand down.

The fighters who barricaded themselves into the tunnels have given themselves up to Russian and pro-Russian forces .The end of fighting in Mariupol, the biggest city Russia has captured since its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a rare victory after a series of setbacks in nearly three months of combat.

Sunday's operation at Azovstal saw mines detonated in controlled explosions and debris cleared from the steelworks' roads using military bulldozers.

Drone footage showed the steelworks' buildings left in ruins, many charred, many partially collapsed and some just a pile of debris.

"Over the last two days, over a 100 explosives have been destroyed. The work continues," Babai said.

Full control of Mariupol gives Russia command of a land route linking the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow seized in 2014, with mainland Russia and parts of eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russia separatists.

Moscow calls its actions 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 23 2022 - 07:30

Russia says it destroyed unit of US-made weapons in Ukraine - RIA

Russia's defence ministry said its forces destroyed a Ukrainian unit of U.S.-produced M777 howitzers, a type of artillery weapon, RIA news agency reported on Monday. Reuters could not independently verify the report. 

Reuters 

May 23 2022 - 06:45

Ukraine rules out territorial concessions, as Russia steps up attacks

Ukraine ruled out a ceasefire or any territorial concessions to Russia, and Poland's president said any loss of Ukrainian territory would be a “huge blow” to the entire West as he warned against appeasing Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Air raid sirens blared across Ukraine on Monday morning, sounding the daily alarm ahead of anticipated attacks by Russian forces in the east and south of the country.

Russia has stepped up its pounding of the Donbas and Mykolaiv regions with air strikes and artillery fire, in what Ukraine has described as a “scorched-earth” strategy to win control of the eastern front.

May 23 2022 - 06:20

US, 6 others say they support APEC after Russian invasion protest

Representatives of seven nations, including those who walked out of an Asia-Pacific trade ministers meeting in Bangkok to protest Russia's invasion of Ukraine, said on Sunday they support the organization and host nation Thailand.

Representatives of the United States, Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and New Zealand said in a joint statement that they had "grave concerns" over the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

"Reaffirming the importance of the rules-based international order that underpins an open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific region, we strongly urge Russia to immediately cease its use of force and completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from Ukraine," the nations said.

Representatives from Canada, New Zealand, Japan and Australia joined the Americans, led by U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, in walking out of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting on Saturday.

The walkout took place while Russian Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikov was delivering remarks at the opening of the two-day meeting of the group of 21 economies.

The delegations from five countries that staged the protest returned to the meeting after Reshetnikov finished speaking, a Thai official said. 

Reuters 

May 23 2022 - 06:10

Ukraine rules out territorial concessions, as Russia steps up attacks

Ukraine ruled out a ceasefire or any territorial concessions to Russia, and Poland's president said any loss of Ukrainian territory would be a "huge blow" to the entire West as he warned against appeasing Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Air raid sirens blared across Ukraine on Monday morning, sounding the daily alarm ahead of anticipated attacks by Russian forces in the east and south of the country.

Russia has stepped up its pounding of the Donbas and Mykolaiv regions with air strikes and artillery fire, in what Ukraine has described as a "scorched-earth" strategy to win control of the eastern front.

May 23 2022 - 06:00

PALI LEHOHLA | The odour of capitalism rising up from the Ukraine war is unbearable

The odour from a shoe whose owner stepped in a cesspit cannot be removed by incessant swiping on the grass or mat. As the owner steps back into the bus the smell will make the trip an unbearable eternity for everyone. The shoe should be washed with soap and left to dry for days or thrown away.

The Russian-Ukraine war teeters the world towards a precipice and this provokes questions. Some secondary and consequential to primary ones. In the realm of the secondary, is Russia’s war on Ukraine raising interest rates or is it about supply shortages and value chain disruptions? Among the primary — is the war about the territorial integrity of the two countries and ethnicity?

Is it a fight about superpower status between the US and erstwhile mighty Russia? Is it about rebalancing the multilateral system?

Or, worse, is it about the appetite for testing the power of nuclear weapons on a grand scale? Or, better, is it about the progression towards the ultimate collapse of the capitalist economic system which has remained the prime mover since the two world wars and the Cold War?

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