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UKRAINE WRAP | EU unity on Russian sanctions 'starting to crumble', German minister says

29 May 2022 - 06:06 By TIMESLIVE
A Ukrainian serviceman inspects the area from a building damaged by a Russian military strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in the town of Marinka, in Donetsk region, Ukraine May 28, 2022.
A Ukrainian serviceman inspects the area from a building damaged by a Russian military strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in the town of Marinka, in Donetsk region, Ukraine May 28, 2022.
Image: REUTERS/Anna Kudriavtseva

May 29 2022 - 20:00

All critical infrastructure in Ukraine's Sievierodonetsk destroyed - president

Russian shelling has destroyed all of the critical infrastructure in the Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday, describing the taking of the city as Russia's "principal aim" right now.

"As a result of Russian strikes on Sievierodonetsk, all the city's critical infrastructure is destroyed... More than two-thirds of the city’s housing stock is destroyed," Zelenskiy said in a televised speech.

"Taking Sievierodonetsk is the principal aim of the occupying contingents," he added.

Reuters 

May 29 2022 - 18:01

Erdogan says won't let 'terrorism-supporting' countries enter NATO

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said talks with Finland and Sweden about their joining NATO were not at the “expected level” and Ankara cannot say yes to “terrorism-supporting” countries, state broadcaster TRT Haber reported on Sunday.

Turkey has objected to Sweden and Finland joining the Western defence alliance, holding up a deal that would allow for a historic enlargement following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Erdogan's latest comments indicated his opposition continued.

“For as long as Tayyip Erdogan is the head of the Republic of Turkey, we definitely cannot say 'yes' to countries which support terrorism entering NATO,” he was cited as telling reporters on his return from a trip to Azerbaijan on Saturday.

May 29 2022 - 18:00

EU unity on Russian sanctions 'starting to crumble', German minister says

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck on Sunday expressed fears that the European Union's unity was "starting to crumble" ahead of a summit to discuss an oil embargo against Russia and plans to cut dependence on Russian energy.

EU leaders will meet on Monday and Tuesday to discuss a new sanctions package against Russia, which could also include an oil embargo, and a programme aiming to speed up ending dependence on fossil fuels, including Russian gas.

"After Russia's attack on Ukraine, we saw what can happen when Europe stands united. With a view to the summit tomorrow, let's hope it continues like this. But it is already starting to crumble and crumble again," Habeck told a news conference.

On Friday, European countries scrambled to reach a deal to embargo seaborne deliveries of Russian oil but allow deliveries by pipeline, a compromise to win over Hungary and unblock new sanctions against Moscow.

Habeck called for Germany to speak with one voice at the summit instead of abstaining from votes due to differences of opinion within the country's ruling coalition. He called for similar unity from other EU states.

"Europe is still a huge economic area with incredible economic power. And when it stands united, it can use that power," Habeck said at the opening of the German Hannover Messe trade fair.

Reuters 

May 29 2022 - 17:00

Several explosions heard in Ukraine's Kharkiv after Zelenskiy visit

 Several explosions were heard in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Sunday hours after a visit by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who was making his first trip outside of the Kyiv region since the start of Russia's invasion, a Reuters journalist said.

A large plume of dark smoke could be seen rising northeast of the city centre.

Kharkiv has been subjected to Russian shelling in recent days after several weeks of relative quiet. 

Reuters 

May 29 2022 - 16:36

Poland gives 18 howitzers to Ukraine - public radio

Poland has given Ukraine 18 AHS Krab self-propelled howitzers, Polish public radio reported on Sunday citing a government source, as Kyiv seeks to repel an intense Russian assault in the Donbas region in the east.

Faced with heavy shelling in its eastern provinces, Ukraine has called on the West to provide it with more longer-range weapons in order to turn the tide in the war.

The AHS Krab has a maximum firing range of 40 kilometres.

The Radio Information Agency (IAR), which supplies news to Polish public radio, reported that Poland had also trained about 100 Ukrainian artillerymen to operate the howitzers.

A Polish government spokesman and the Ukrainian Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ukraine has started receiving Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark and self-propelled howitzers from the United States, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Saturday.

Reuters 

May 29 2022 - 15:30

Serbia's Vucic says agreed 3-year gas supply contract with Putin

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Sunday he had agreed a three-year gas supply contract in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"I can not speak about the price now, all details will be agreed with Gazprom," Vucic told reporters.

Serbia's 10-year gas supply contract with Gazprom expires on May 31.Vucic also said that he had discussed with Putin expansion of gas storage space in the Balkan country. 

Reuters 

May 29 2022 - 15:11

Ukraine's Zelenskiy visits frontlines in first visit outside Kyiv region

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited Ukrainian troops on the front lines in Ukraine's northeastern Kharkiv region on Sunday, the President's office announced.

The visit marks his first official appearance outside kyiv region since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February. 24.

"You risk your lives for us all and for our country," the President's office website cited him as saying to the soldiers, adding that he handed out commendations and gifts.

Reuters

May 29 2022 - 14:55

Ukrainan defenders hold out in Donbas city under heavy fire

Ukrainian forces on Sunday resisted a Russian assault on Sievierodonetsk, the largest city they still hold in the Luhansk region of the Donbas, but endured heavy artillery barrages, Ukrainian officials said.

The shelling was so intense it was not possible to assess casualties and damage, Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai said. Dozens of buildings have been destroyed in the past few days. 

"The situation has extremely escalated," Gaidai said.

The Ukrainian government meanwhile urged the West to provide it with more longer-range weapons in order to turn the tide in the war, now in its fourth month.

The battle for Sievierodonetsk, which lies on the eastern side of the Siverskyi Donets River, has become the focus of attention as Russia ekes out slow but solid gains in the Donbas, comprising of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

Russia has concentrated huge firepower on a small area, a contrast to earlier phases of the conflict when its forces were often spread thinly.

Gaidai said Russian forces had dug in at the Myr hotel on Sievierodonetsk's northern edge.

"They cannot advance further into the city and are taking casualties, but we are not able right now to push them out of the hotel," he said on Telegram on Sunday.

Reuters

May 29 2022 - 14:00

Qatar Exports Surge as Demand for Gas Climbs on Ukraine War

Qatar’s exports soared in April as the world’s top liquefied natural gas exporter benefits from a surge in demand after Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Total exports amounted to 43.5 billion riyals ($11.9 billion) compared with 21 billion riyals year ago, according to a statement.

That resulted in a trade surplus of 34.2 billion riyals in the month.

Europe is racing to find alternatives to gas from Russia -- the continent’s biggest supplier -- after the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Imports of liquefied natural gas from Qatar and the US, the world’s largest exporters, are a key part of that solution.

Several senior European Union officials -- including the bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, and Germany’s Economic Minister Robert Habeck -- have traveled to Qatar in the past months to discuss gas supplies.

China was the top destination of Qatar’s exports in April with close to 6.6 billion riyals, followed by India and Japan. 

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

May 29 2022 - 13:00

WATCH | Missle strike hits solar plant in Kharkiv region- station manager

May 29 2022 - 12:00

Russia says destroyed arsenal of Ukrainian army in Kryvyi Rih - TASS

The Russian defence ministry said on Sunday that Russian missiles have destroyed a large arsenal of the Ukrainian army in the city of Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine, state news agency TASS quoted the ministry as saying.

The defence ministry also said Russian anti-aircraft defence systems shot down a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jet in Dnipro region, TASS reported. 

Reuters 

May 29 2022 - 11:00

'Message to the world' - Lithuanians fundraise to buy drone for Ukraine

Hundreds of Lithuanians clubbed together to buy an advanced military drone for Ukraine in its war against Russia, in a show of solidarity with a fellow country formerly under Moscow's rule.

The target of five million euros (R83m) was raised in just three and a half days, largely in small amounts, to fund the purchase of a Byraktar TB2 military drone, according to Laisves TV, the Lithuanian internet broadcaster that launched the drive.

"Before this war started, none of us thought that we would be buying guns. But it's a normal thing now. Something must be done for the world to get better," said Agne Belickaite, 32, who sent 100 euros as soon as the fundraising launched on Wednesday.

"I've been donating to buy guns for Ukraine for a while now. And will do so until the victory," she told Reuters, adding she was motivated in part by fears Russia could attack Lithuania.

The drone has proven effective in recent years against Russian forces and their allies in conflicts in Syria and Libya, and its purchase is being orchestrated by Lithuania's Ministry of Defence, which told Reuters it planned to sign a letter of intent to buy the craft from Turkey next week.

Reuters 

May 29 2022 - 10:00

WATCH | 'I had to help people': Bucha doctors recall life and work under Russian occupation

May 29 2022 - 09:00

Ukraine get missiles, howitzers as Zelenskyy expects good news on arms

Ukraine has started receiving Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark and self-propelled howitzers from the United States, arms that will bolster forces fighting Russia's invasion, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Saturday.

"The coastal defence of our country will not only be strengthened by Harpoon missiles – they will be used by trained Ukrainian teams," Reznikov wrote on his Facebook page.

He said Harpoon shore-to-ship missiles would be operated alongside Ukrainian Neptune missiles to defend the coast, including the southern port of Odesa.

Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odesa regional military administration in southern Ukraine, said in an online post that "so many Harpoons have been handed over to us that we can sink the entire Russian Black Sea Fleet. Why not?"

Last month the Moskva, the flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet, sank after what Ukraine said was an anti-ship missile attack. Moscow says a fire sparked an ammunition blast.

Reuters 

May 29 2022 - 08:00

OPINION | Ramaphosa should know better than to endorse the ‘might is right’ world view

For someone who believes in antique ideologies — from state control of the economy to racial nationalism — Cyril Ramaphosa speaks in very postmodern terms.

Postmodernism is the philosophy that there is no scientific or historical truth; and CR certainly peppered his remarks last week on the war in Ukraine with lashings of this concept.

Ukraine-born author Peter Pomerantsev titled his book on Vladimir Putin’s Russia Nothing is True and Everything is Possible. This is excellent shorthand for Ramaphosa’s remarks at the Union Buildings last week on the occasion of the visit here of German chancellor Olaf Scholz.

May 29 2022 - 07:30

Months after dam destroyed to stop Russian advance, parts of village still flooded

Some 50 homes in the village of Demydiv remain partially submerged months after a dam was destroyed and the area flooded to stop Russian troops from advancing on Ukraine capital Kyiv, regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba said late on Saturday.

The Ukrainian military blew up a dam on the river Irpin in February, sending water surging into the village and thousands of acres around it, flooding houses and fields, but preventing Russian tanks from reaching the capital city.

"At this time, about 50 houses in the village of Demydiv remain flooded," Kuleba wrote in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

"People are understanding of the situation. We, in turn, make every effort to resolve the issue."

The village, whose history goes back a thousand years, had been partially evacuated after the start of the invasion, local media reported, but some residents have returned since Moscow shifted its offensive to east Ukraine.

Over the weekend, Russian forces pummelled eastern towns in what the Kremlin calls its "special operation" to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Kyiv and Western countries dismiss this as a false pretext for a land grab.

Reuters 

May 29 2022 - 07:00

OPINION | Africa must join efforts to bring peace in Ukraine

In his Africa Day message this week, the head of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, lamented that the continent had become “the collateral victim of a distant conflict… between Russia and Ukraine”.

He was referring to the economic hardships visited upon Africans by the war. Concurring, President Cyril Ramaphosa bemoaned the fact that “even those countries that are either bystanders or not part of the conflict are… going to suffer from the sanctions that have been imposed against Russia”.

The word choices by Africa’s top bureaucrat, and by Ramaphosa, were more profound than they might have intended. Collateral damage, of course, refers to unintentional deaths and injuries among civilians.

The lot of such victims is characterised by powerlessness. They have no choice about whether war is declared or whether the destruction and bloodletting are justified, and no say in how long the hostilities will continue.

May 29 2022 - 06:30

Russia advances in east; Ukraine calls for longer-range weapons

Russian forces have stepped up their assault on the Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk after claiming to have captured the nearby rail hub of Lyman, as Kyiv intensified calls for longer-range weapons from the West.

Slow, solid Russian gains in recent days in eastern Ukraine's Donbas, comprising the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, point to a subtle momentum shift in the war, now in its fourth month.

Invading forces appear close to seizing all of the Luhansk region, one of the more modest war goals the Kremlin set after abandoning its assault on the capital, Kyiv, in the face of Ukrainian resistance.

Russia's defence ministry said on Saturday its troops and allied separatist forces were in full control of Lyman, the site of a railway junction west of the Siverskyi Donets River in the Donetsk.

However, Ukraine's deputy defence minister, Hanna Malyar, said the battle for Lyman continued, the ZN.ua website reported.

May 29 2022 - 06:00

What you need to know right now

•  Russian forces have stepped up their assault on the Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk after claiming to have captured the nearby rail hub of Lyman, as Kyiv intensified calls for longer-range weapons from the West.

•  Russia's defence ministry said its forces had taken full control of Lyman, west of Sievierodonetsk but Hanna Malyar, Ukraine's deputy defence minister, said the battle for Lyman continued, media reported.

•  Russia also said it had used missile strikes to destroy Ukrainian command posts in Bakhmut and Soledar. Both towns are on an important road running southwest from Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk.

•  Luhansk's governor, Serhiy Gaidai, said on Friday Russian troops had entered Sievierodonetsk, the largest Donbas city still held by Ukraine.

•  Gaidai said 90% of buildings in Sievierodonetsk were damaged with 14 high-rises destroyed in the latest shelling.

•  Ukraine has started receiving Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark and self-propelled howitzers from the United States, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said.

•  Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he expected good news this week on weapons supplies, without giving details.

•  A senior pro-Russian official in the occupied Ukrainian region of Kherson told Reuters that nearby fighting could affect the timing of its formal bid to join Russia and a decision was likely "towards next year"

• Russian President Vladimir Putin told the leaders of France and Germany in a phone call that Russia was willing to discuss ways to make it possible for Ukraine to resume shipments of grain from Black Sea ports, the Kremlin said.

• British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Zelenskiy that international partners were working intensively to find ways to resume the grain exports from Ukraine to avert a global food crisis.

• A ship has entered the Ukrainian port of Mariupol for the first time since Russia completed its capture of the city to load metal and ship it east to Russia, TASS news agency reported.

• The EU is seeking a deal to ban Russian oil deliveries by sea but not pipeline to win over Hungary. Zelenskiy has accused the EU of dithering.

• French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged Putin to release the 2,500 Ukrainian defenders of the Azovstal steel plant detained by Russian forces, the Elysee palace said. 

• Ukrainian presidential adviser and peace talks negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said any agreement with Russia cannot be trusted and Moscow can only be stopped in its invasion by force.

• The Kremlin blamed Kyiv for stalled talks.

• An EU summit on Monday and Tuesday could see divisions between members who want to take a hard line against Russia and those calling for a ceasefire. 

Reuters 

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