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UKRAINE WRAP | Kremlin says captured Americans in Ukraine should bear responsibility 'for crimes' - RIA

20 June 2022 - 05:30 By TimesLIVE
A priest shovels during a funeral for Ukrainian serviceman Mykhailo Tereshchenko, who was killed in a fight during Russia's invasion in the Donbas region, in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 14 2022.
A priest shovels during a funeral for Ukrainian serviceman Mykhailo Tereshchenko, who was killed in a fight during Russia's invasion in the Donbas region, in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 14 2022.
Image: REUTERS/Marko Djurica

June 20 2022 - 20:54

Ukraine president says Africa 'hostage' in war with Russia

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Monday that Africa was a "hostage" in the war with Russia, which had contributed to rising food prices on the continent.

African countries are acutely affected by the growing crisis, which has sent prices of grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertiliser soaring.

Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies, while Russia is also a key global fertiliser exporter and Ukraine is a major exporter of corn and sunflower oil.

June 20 2022 - 20:38

Kremlin says captured Americans in Ukraine should bear responsibility 'for crimes' - RIA

The Kremlin said on Monday that Americans captured in Ukraine were "mercenaries" engaged in illegal activities and should take responsibility for their "crimes", RIA news agency reported.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was also quoted as saying that the detained men were not covered by the Geneva convention as they were not regular troops. They had shot at at Russian servicemen and put their lives in danger.

-Reuters

June 20 2022 - 18:34

Biden says not likely to go to Ukraine in coming Europe trip

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Monday he is not likely to visit Ukraine when he travels to Europe later this month for summits with Washington's allies.

Speaking to reporters, Biden also said he believes it is very likely that Ukraine will become a member of the European Union.

EU leaders later this week are expected to give their blessing to Ukraine becoming an official candidate to join, a decision that will be marked as a triumph in Kyiv as it fights Russia's invasion.

-Reuters

June 20 2022 - 15:44

Hungary offers possible route for Ukraine grain exports, minister says

Hungary has offered its territory as a possible route for Ukrainian grain exports due to the disruption of usual routes via the Black Sea caused by Russia's invasion, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday.

Szijjarto, who made the proposal at a meeting of EU foreign ministers, also said he expected no disruption in Russian gas supplies to Hungary.

-Reuters

June 20 2022 - 14:37

WATCH | Russian oil exports to China soar to record

June 20 2022 - 14:33

Explosions heard in Ukrainian city of Odesa — regional authorities

Explosions rocked the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa on Monday, a spokesperson for the regional administration said. The spokesperson said he could provide no details of the explosions, which were heard after air raid sirens blared. — Reuters

June 20 2022 - 14:32

Destroyed Russian tanks to be paraded in Europe by Ukraine

Ukraine is planning to tour an exhibition of destroyed Russian military vehicles across Europe, as it strives to maintain public attention on the conflict.

“We’ll help to ensure that Russian tanks are in Europe, but as scrap,” defence minister Oleksii Reznikov told Polish broadcaster Polsat in an interview. Ukraine plans to start the exhibition in Warsaw before moving on to Berlin, Paris, Madrid and Lisbon.

Ukraine claims Russia lost some 1,477 tanks and 3,588 armored vehicles since the invasion began in February. Some of the missiles, burnt Russian tanks and other military vehicles are currently being displayed in downtown Kyiv.

Russia doesn’t disclose data on its tank losses in Ukraine. Its forces have destroyed 3,696 Ukrainian tanks and other armoured military vehicles since the start of the war, defence ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said in a televised statement Monday. 

Bloomberg

June 20 2022 - 13:14

Russia's Medvedev suggests US should beg for nuclear arms talks

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday there was no point having any nuclear arms reduction talks with the US and that Moscow should wait until the Americans begged for negotiations.

Russia and the US, by far the world's biggest nuclear powers, have negotiated a series of major strategic nuclear arms reduction treaties since Ronald Reagan came to power in 1981. But Russia's invasion of Ukraine has triggered the most serious disruption in relations between Russia and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when many people feared the world was on the brink of nuclear war.

Medvedev, while president from 2008 to 2012, signed New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) in 2010 with Barack Obama in Prague which was extended in February 2021 for five years until 2026.

"Now everything is a dead zone. We don't have any relations with the United States now. They are at zero on the Kelvin scale," Medvedev said on Telegram of discussions about a new strategic nuclear arms reduction treaty.

"There is no need to negotiate with them [on nuclear disarmament] yet. This is bad for Russia," said Medvedev, who currently serves as deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council. "Let them run or crawl back themselves and ask for it."

Reuters

June 20 2022 - 12:36

WATCH | Putin declares 'end of unipolar world' in combative speech

June 20 2022 - 12:10

Europe may shift back to coal as Russia turns down gas flows

Europe's biggest Russian gas buyers were racing to find alternative fuel supplies and even looking at burning more coal to cope with reduced gas flows from Russia on Monday that threaten an energy crisis in winter if stores are not refilled.

Italy's Eni said it had been informed by Russia's Gazprom that it would receive only part of its request for gas supplies on Monday, pushing the country closer to declaring a state of alert that will spark gas saving measures.

Germany, which has also faced lower Russian gas flows, announced on Sunday its latest plan to increase gas storage levels and said it could restart coal-fired power plants that it had aimed to phase out.

"That is painful, but it is a sheer necessity in this situation to reduce gas consumption," said economy minister Robert Habeck, a member of the Green party that has pushed for a faster exit from coal, which produces more greenhouse gases. "But if we don't do it, then we run the risk that the storage facilities will not be full enough at the end of the year towards the winter season. And then we are blackmailable on a political level."

Russia repeated on Monday that Europe only had itself to blame for the gas crisis, after the West imposed sanctions in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, a gas transit route to Europe, as well as a major wheat exporter.

The energy crisis adds to the headache for European policy makers already fretting about surging inflation in household energy bills and food prices.

Reuters

June 20 2022 - 12:07

Russia says Lithuania transit ban to Kaliningrad 'unprecedented', vows response

The Kremlin on Monday called Lithuania's decision to ban the transit of some goods to Russia's Kaliningrad region "unprecedented" and vowed to respond.

Lithuanian authorities banned the transit of goods which are sanctioned by the EU across its territory, which includes the only rail route between mainland Russia and the Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic Sea. Banned goods include coal, metals, construction materials and advanced technology.

In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Lithuania's move was "illegal" and said Moscow would announce its response in the coming days. 

Reuters

June 20 2022 - 11:24

WATCH | Residents leave heavily shelled Lysychansk

June 20 2022 - 10:37

Germany working with Poland, Romania on freeing stuck Ukrainian grain

Germany supports Poland and Romania in adapting their railways to enable the export of millions of tonnes of grain stuck in Ukraine due to a Russian sea blockade, German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said on Monday.

"The railway tracks need to be modernized, we need the right cargo wagons - the German government is working on this with many other actors," she said as she arrived for a meeting with her European Union counterparts in Luxembourg.

"It is clear that, in the end, we will certainly not be able to get out all grain but if we even just manage to free part of it, on various routes, then this will help as we are facing this global challenge."

Reuters

June 20 2022 - 10:25

Ukrainian refugee influx could ease euro zone labour shortage: ECB

The influx of Ukrainian refugees into the European Union could gradually ease labour shortages in the euro zone as some of those fleeing the war are likely to settle permanently, the European Central Bank said on Monday.

Around 7-million people, mostly women and children, have fled Ukraine so far since Russia launched its invasion on February 24, and more are leaving each day, with many hoping to find durable employment opportunities in the 27-nation EU.

"Under all of the assumptions detailed thus far, back-of-an-envelope calculations point to a median increase of between 0.2% and 0.8% in the euro area labour force in the medium term," the ECB said in an Economic Bulletin article. "This corresponds to an increase of between 0.3 and 1.3-million in the size of the euro area labour force as a result of the Ukrainian refugee crisis."

With unemployment at a record low, the euro zone has been struggling with increasing labour shortages and the influx of refugees could "slightly ease" labour market tightness, the ECB said. Still, getting people to work may prove difficult due to administrative barriers, the ECB added.

"Barriers to the labour market and other frictions remain significant impediments to refugees, making it difficult for them to integrate into host countries’ labour markets, especially in the short term."

Reuters

June 20 2022 - 10:23

Belarus resuming verification activities under arms control treaties

Belarus' defence ministry said on Monday that the country was resuming verification activities under existing international arms control treaties after a two-year hiatus prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement, the defence ministry said it had sent notification to participating states of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that it intended to resume verification checks on a reciprocal basis.

Belarus, a close ally of Russia, stopped allowing arms inspections in 2020 because of the pandemic. Amid heightened tensions between Europe and Minsk, particularly over Belarus's role in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, OSCE members have called on Minsk to readmit inspectors to check its arms stocks.Belarus said last week a number of other countries, including neighbouring Poland, a Nato ally, had still not resumed arms inspections through the OSCE.

The Belarusian embassy in Vienna, which represents Minsk at the OSCE, accused Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine of politicising the issue and of refusing to discuss arms controls issues, the state-run Belta news agency reported.

On Monday the defence ministry said Minsk was ready to allow arms inspectors into the country but only on a reciprocal basis, if its officials were allowed to inspect other nations' stocks. 

Reuters

June 20 2022 - 09:49

WATCH | Bakhmut residents try to carry on with normal life

June 20 2022 - 09:38

Russia's blockade of Ukrainian grain exports is a war crime: EU diplomat

Russia's blockade of the export of millions of tonnes of Ukrainian grain is a war crime, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday.

"We call on Russia to deblockade the [Ukrainian] ports ... It is inconceivable, one cannot imagine that millions of tonnes of wheat remain blocked in Ukraine while in the rest of the world people are suffering hunger," he told reporters.

"This is a real war crime, so I cannot imagine that this will last much longer," he said on arriving to a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg. 

Reuters

June 20 2022 - 09:34

Russian attacks expected to intensify with EU summit this week

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy predicted Russia will escalate its attacks this week as European Union leaders consider whether to back Kyiv's bid to join the bloc and Moscow presses its campaign to win control of the country's east.

"Obviously, this week we should expect from Russia an intensification of its hostile activities," Zelenskyy said in his Sunday nightly video address. "We are preparing. We are ready."

Ukraine applied to join the EU four days after Russian troops poured across its border in February. The EU's executive, the European Commission, on Friday recommended that Ukraine receive candidate status.Leaders of the 27-nation union will consider the question at a summit on Thursday and Friday and are expected to endorse Ukraine's application despite misgivings from some member states. The process could take many years to complete.

The EU's embrace of Ukraine would interfere with one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's stated goals when he ordered his troops into Ukraine: to keep Moscow's southern neighbour outside of the West's sphere of influence.

Putin on Friday said Moscow had "nothing against" Ukraine's EU membership, but a Kremlin spokesperson said Russia was closely following Kyiv's bid especially in light of increased defence cooperation among member countries.

Reuters

June 20 2022 - 09:23

So much for all the promises. Coal is back in fashion

When the COP26 climate talks concluded in November, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared the world had reached a point of no return in phasing out coal. At the same time, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba warned Europe that Russia was amassing forces near its border.

Those seemingly unrelated proclamations in Glasgow and Kyiv have become entwined seven months later, as Russia’s war on Ukraine forces countries to make up for limited gas supplies. The UK now aims to keep a reserve of coal-fired plants available this winter rather than shutting almost all of them over the next three months as planned.

Efforts to get rid of dirty power are being slowed as the war hits European economies, with soaring gas and electricity prices stoking inflation and raising the spectre of recession. While peers such as Germany are also rethinking coal ahead of this winter, the change of tack by the UK in particular highlights how energy security has turned into the top political priority in such a short time for a government that was so zealous at COP26.

June 20 2022 - 09:20

August. That’s when global food crisis will start to bite, say Ukraine farmers

At Oleksandr Peretiatko’s farm in central Ukraine, the harvest is just days away. In normal times the crops would be sent to ports on the Black Sea for export around the world. 

This year Peretiatko’s freshly cut grain will be stuffed instead into huge polymer silo bags snaking across the 5,000 hectares of farmland because there’s nowhere else to put it. 

From a dramatic loss of export revenue to mine-riddled fields and exploding machinery, Russia’s invasion has taken a huge toll on Ukraine’s agriculture sector. Now, with ports closed despite international efforts to reach a deal, harvests are getting under way with silos still loaded with last year’s crops. 

June 20 2022 - 07:55

Ukraine to restrict Russian books, music in latest cultural break from Moscow

Ukraine’s parliament on Sunday voted through two laws which will place severe restrictions on Russian books and music as Kyiv seeks to break many remaining cultural ties between the two countries following Moscow’s invasion.

One law will forbid the printing of books by Russian citizens, unless they renounce their Russian passport and take Ukrainian citizenship. The ban will only apply to those who held Russian citizenship after the 1991 collapse of Soviet rule.

It will also ban the commercial import of books printed in Russia, Belarus, and occupied Ukrainian territory, while also requiring special permission for the import of books in Russian from any other country.

June 20 2022 - 05:30

Nato warns of long Ukraine war as battles in the east grind on

The war in Ukraine could last for years, the head of Nato said on Sunday, calling for steadfast support from Ukraine's allies as Russian forces battle for territory in the country's east.

Secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said supplying state-of-the-art weaponry to Ukrainian troops would boost the chance of freeing its eastern region of Donbas from Russian control, Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported.

After failing to take the capital Kyiv early on in the war, Russian forces have focused efforts on trying to take complete control of the Donbas, parts of which were already held by Russian-backed separatists before the February 24 invasion.

"We must prepare for the fact that it could take years. We must not let up in supporting Ukraine," Stoltenberg was quoted as saying.

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