Saturday, August 13, 2022

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 58

Russia, wary of NATO’s eastward expansion, began a military campaign in Ukraine on February 24 after the Western-leaning Kiev government turned a deaf ear to Moscow’s calls for its neighbor to maintain its neutrality. In the middle of the mayhem, Moscow and Kiev are trying to hammer out a peaceful solution to the conflict. Follow the latest about the Russia-Ukraine conflict here:

1,084 dead civilians identified in Kyiv region: Police

Ukrainian police have identified 1,084 civilians killed by Russian forces outside Kyiv, the capital’s police chief claimed.

Between 50 and 70 percent of the examined bodies were shot to death with machine guns, sniper and assault rifles, Andriy Nebitov said in televised remarks.

He added that some 300 bodies found in mass graves, basements and wells remain unidentified.

Russian forces had occupied suburban areas north of Kyiv for weeks. Survivors, Ukrainian officials and military accused them of deliberate killings of civilians.


Russia: Mariupol residents can finally move freely without hiding from shelling by Neo-Nazis

Mariupol resident are finally able to move freely along the streets and stop hiding from shelling by Ukrainian neo-Nazis, as the situation in the city has returned to normal, Major General Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Defence Ministry, said during a Friday briefing.

“Humanitarian aid is being delivered: food, water and basic necessities. The authorities of the Donetsk People’s Republic are organising the clearing of the streets from rubble and the removal of the destroyed Ukrainian military equipment”, added Konashenkov.

Konashenkov stated that the remaining Azov Nazis, along with foreign mercenaries from the United States and Europe, have been blockaded at the Azovstal steel plant.


Romania considering sending MiG-21 fighter jets to Ukraine: Parliament

“Depending on the developments in Ukraine, Romania may do so [deliver MiG-21s to Kiev],” Marcel Ciolacu, the president of the lower house of the Romanian parliament, told Romania TV, responding to a relevant question.

The Romanian legislation must first be changed to allow this type of delivery, Ciolacu said, adding that the decision would be made public were it to be made.

The lawmaker pointed out that Romania and Ukraine share a 650-kilometer (404 miles) border, and Bucharest is closely monitoring the situation in the neighboring country. Ciolacu noted that the country’s preparedness for any eventualities “does not mean that Romania will directly step into the conflict”.


Heads of Russian, Ukrainian delegations had several conversations on Friday

Several long conversations between the heads of the Russian and Ukrainian delegations took place on Friday, a source in the Russian negotiating team told TASS.

“There were several long conversations between the heads of the delegations today,” the source said, without revealing details of the conversations.

The head of the Russian delegation, presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky, later confirmed several conversations on Friday with the head of the Ukrainian delegation, David Arakhamia.

“I confirm,” he wrote in his Telegram channel.


France to send self-propelled artillery system to Ukraine

France is sending French-made CAESAR self-propelled howitzers — long-range weapons — to Ukraine by the end of the month, the Elysée Palace confirmed Friday.

In an interview with French media outlet Ouest-France on Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron said the country was “delivering substantial equipment, from MILAN to CAESAR and several types of weapons.”

“I think we have to continue on this path. Always with a red line, which is not to enter into co-belligerence,” the French president added.

About 40 Ukrainian military service members will arrive in France to get trained on the military equipment, according to the Elysée.

MILAN anti-tank weapons systems have already been delivered, the Elysée announced.

The CAESAR is a truck-mounted artillery system with a self-propelled gun developed by Nexter Systems.

According to the company, CAESAR units have been deployed by the French army since 2009 in various countries, including “Afghanistan, Lebanon, Mali and the Sahel, Iraq, and East Asia.”

“France continues to support Ukraine militarily,” the French defense ministry said Friday, adding, “The President of the Republic has decided to deliver several CAESAR artillery guns and thousands of shells. We stand with the Ukrainian people.”


Netherlands says it is “firmly committed” to ending Russian energy imports by end of 2022

The Netherlands is “firmly committed” to ending the import of Russian oil and gas by the end of the year, Dutch Minister for Climate and Energy Policy Rob Jetten said Friday.

The Dutch government will subsidize energy companies to fill its Bergermeer gas storage facility to 70% capacity by the end of the year, spokesperson for the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy Pieter ten Bruggencate told CNN Friday.

Subsidies were necessary as an incentive to import gas at current price levels, ten Bruggencate stated, adding that the Netherlands would make an estimated 623,000,000 euros (about $672,000,000) available.

The state-owned energy firm Energie Beheer Nederland would top up the remaining capacity should the subsidy program not prove sufficient, ten Bruggencate continued.


Russia “finalises to regroup” its forces in Ukraine: Intelligence

A top intelligence official in Ukraine stated that Moscow is “finalising to regroup its forces” for an offensive in Ukraine’s east.

All Russian units withdrawn to Moscow-friendly Belarus from the northern Ukrainian regions of Chernihiv and Sumy and from around Kyiv are currently deployed to eastern Ukraine, Vadim Skribitsky of the defence ministry’s main intelligence department said in televised remarks.

“In all directions, the enemy is trying to identify the most vulnerable places of Ukraine’s armed forces in order to begin the wide-scale offensive and to boost its success, mostly in the Donetsk region,” he added.

The unusually chilly weather in mid-April and frequent rains that made farmland impassable for Russian tanks and armoured vehicles stall the offensive, analysts say.


Mariupol mayor: Russians “filter” Ukrainian men

The mayor of the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol that has almost completely been taken over by Russian forces said that local men are  “filtered” to be jailed, forced to enlist or hide the evidence of Russia’s atrocities.

“Men are divided into three categories. The first ones, state employees and municipal workers, are thrown in jails where they are tortured,” Vadym Boychenko stated in televised remarks on Friday.

Other men are coerced to join separatist or Russian military units, and the rest are herded to bury thousands of people killed by Russian shelling and to remove the debris of destroyed buildings, he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Thursday that his forces “liberated” most of Mariupol after almost two months of shelling that killed thousands of civilians.


Lavrov: Peace talks between Russia & Ukraine stalling

The peace talks between Russia and Ukraine are stalling as Moscow has not received any response from Kiev regarding Russia’s recent diplomatic proposals, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.

“When President [Volodymyr] Zelensky was asked to comment on yet another version of the Russian proposals, he said he had not received anything,” Lavrov explained.

“The extent to which he is in control of the situation is not up to me to judge, but it’s just a clear characteristic of where the process that we call ‘negotiations’ is now,” he added.

Earlier in the week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted that Zelensky’s claim that he had not received any proposals raised eyebrows in Moscow. According to the Kremlin, the Russian side had sent to Ukraine a draft document with “clear, elaborated wording.”

Regarding the negotiations on security guarantees for Ukraine, Lavrov said that Moscow was not holding talks with anyone on this subject. However, the minister noted that Russia does not oppose Ukraine’s choice of guarantor countries.

Zelensky earlier mentioned that Ukraine sent its proposals to the guarantor countries, which include the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Turkey and Germany.

Lavrov suggested that judging by the statements coming from President Zelensky and his advisers, Ukraine is not interested in negotiations with Russia.

The top Russian official also added that Moscow will not tolerate ultimatums from Ukraine, in response to Zelensky’s statement about the termination of negotiations with Russia in the event of the elimination of Ukrainian forces at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol.


Putin: Kiev prevents Ukrainian troops besieged at Azovstal Plant from surrendering

Russian President Vladimir Putin has told the President of the European Council Charles Michel that Kiev is preventing the besieged Ukrainian forces at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol from surrendering.

The Kremlin press service announced Putin held a “protracted” telephone conversation with Michel on Friday, during which the Russian president noted that he ordered the assault on the industrial zone of the Azovstal plant cancelled for humanitarian reasons.

“All servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as militants of the national battalions and foreign mercenaries, who lay down their arms, are guaranteed life, decent treatment in accordance with international law and provision of qualified medical care. But the Kiev regime does not allow this opportunity to be seized”, the Kremlin press service emphasised.

During his conversation with Michel, the Russian president “spoke about the measures related to protection of civilian population, the daily opening of humanitarian corridors and the announcement of ceasefires to provide a safe evacuation of civilians from the combat zone”, according to the press service.

It added that Putin also “had drawn attention to the irresponsible statements by EU representatives about the need to resolve the situation in Ukraine by military means, as well as to the bloc ignoring the numerous war crimes commit by the Ukrainian security forces”.

The Russian president also noted that “Brussels could influence the Kiev authorities in order to force them to stop conducting massive shelling of Donbass settlements and other gross violations of international humanitarian law”.


Ukraine denounces Russia’s southern plan as ‘imperialism’

Ukraine’s Defence Ministry denounced plans announced by Russia to take full control of Donbas and southern Ukraine as “imperialism”.

“They stopped hiding it,” the ministry said on Twitter.

It added Russia had “acknowledged that the goal of the ‘second phase’ of the war is not victory over the mythical Nazis, but simply the occupation of eastern and southern Ukraine. Imperialism as it is.”


Johnson: It’s a “realistic possibility” Russia may win war in Ukraine

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday that Russia has a “realistic possibility” of winning the war in Ukraine, calling the situation there “unpredictable” at the moment.

Speaking to reporters in New Delhi, Johnson stated Russian President Vladimir Putin has a “huge army,” but added: “He has a very difficult political position because he’s made a catastrophic blunder. The only option he now has really is to try to continue to use his appalling, grinding approach led by artillery, trying to grind the Ukrainians down. He’s very close to securing a land bridge in Mariupol now. The situation is, I’m afraid, unpredictable at this stage. We just have to be realistic about that.”

Johnson noted Britain is now looking to send “backfill” equipment to countries such as Poland, which may send “heavier weaponry” to support Ukraine’s resistance.

“We’re looking at sending tanks to Poland to help as they send some of their T-72s to Ukraine,” Johnson announced, adding that Britain is looking at other options such as “anti-ship defenses.”

Johnson indicated there may be no swift end to the conflict in Ukraine because of the stiff resistance to Russia’s invasion.

Asked if he agreed with defence intelligence assessments that fighting could drag on until the end of next year, he told reporters: “The sad thing is that is a realistic possibility.”


Scholz: Avoiding direct military confrontation with Russia should be NATO’s top priority

NATO must avoid a direct military confrontation with Russia that could lead to a third world war, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview with Germany’s Der Spiegel, when he was asked to comment on why Germany has not delivered heavy weapons to Ukraine.

”There is no rule book for this situation that states at what point we are considered a party to the war in Ukraine,” Scholz stated in the interview, which was published Friday, when asked why he thought delivering tanks to Ukraine could lead to nuclear war.

“That’s why it is all the more important that we consider each step very carefully and coordinate closely with one another,” Scholz continued, adding that avoiding “an escalation towards NATO is a top priority for me.”

“There must be no nuclear war,” Scholz said.

“That’s why I don’t focus on polls or let myself be irritated by shrill calls. The consequences of an error would be dramatic,” he added.

Scholz is facing growing criticism from within Germany and abroad for his government’s alleged reluctance to deliver heavy weapons, such as tanks and howitzers, to Ukraine as Russia’s invasion has entered a new and potentially decisive phase.

In the interview, Scholz warned he does not ”think it is justified for Germany and NATO to become warring parties in Ukraine.”

Scholz also said he does not believe an embargo on Russian gas would end the war in Ukraine.

“I absolutely do not see how a gas embargo would end the war. If [Russian President Vladimir] Putin were open to economic arguments, he would never have begun this crazy war,” he added.

“Secondly, you act as if this was about money. But it’s about avoiding a dramatic economic crisis and the loss of millions of jobs and factories that would never again open their doors,” he stated.

The German chancellor and his government have also come under fire for not weaning off Russian energy immediately.

Scholz said in early April that his country is doing all it can to achieve this goal “very soon.” Scholz added the most important goal in the current situation is a ceasefire and that Russian troops must withdraw. ”There must be a peace agreement that enables Ukraine to defend itself in future,” he continued.


Germany promises more aid for Ukraine as minister rules out “ceasefire at any price”

Germany will provide a further 37 million euros ($40.12 million) aid to Ukraine for reconstruction, the country’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development said Friday.

The announcement came as the country’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock stated that an early end to the war is unlikely.

There cannot be a ceasefire at any price,” Baerbock noted at a joint press conference in Vilnius with her Lithuanian counterpart Gabrielius Landsbergis.

Baerbock went on to say that a “dictatorial peace” with the Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be accepted.

Stephanie von Ehrlich, a spokeswoman of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development told CNN the 37 million euros would go towards different initiatives:

  • Some 22.5 million euros into the reconstruction of the power grid
  • 14.4 million euros into rebuilding houses for displaced Ukrainian
  • 2 million euros into medical equipment

“My ministry has reallocated funds for this via an emergency program,” German Development Minister Svenja Schulze said in a written statement obtained by CNN.

Schulze said the reconstruction of Ukraine will require the solidarity of the international community. “The World Bank was once founded to rebuild Europe after World War II. In the future, it can play an important role in helping Ukraine rebuild,” she added.


UN cites growing evidence of war crimes in Ukraine

The UN human rights office (OHCHR) sounded the alarm about growing evidence of war crimes in Ukraine, urging both Moscow and Kyiv to order combatants to respect international law.

“Russian armed forces have indiscriminately shelled and bombed populated areas, killing civilians and wrecking hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure, actions that may amount to war crimes,” the OHCHR announced.

It also documented what appeared to be the use of weapons with indiscriminate effects, causing civilian casualties, by Ukrainian armed forces in the east of the country.


Macron, Scholz Warn Europe May Face Consequences of Russian Gas Embargo Next Winter

French President Emmanuel Macron has warned that Europe might face consequences next winter if it imposes an embargo on Russian gas.

“We will not see the consequences of this [sanctions against Russian energy resources] in the spring and summer of 2022 [as gas storages have been replenished], but next winter, we will feel them if there is no more Russian gas,” Macron said in an interview with the Ouest-France daily.

A similar sentiment was voiced by German Chancellor Scholz in his interview with Der Spiegel.

“I absolutely do not see how a gas embargo would end the war. If [Russian President Vladimir] Putin were open to economic arguments, he would never have begun this crazy war,” he stated, defending his decision not to end German imports of Russian gas.

The chancellor also added that the issue is not about money but rather about “avoiding a dramatic economic crisis and the loss of millions of jobs and factories that would never again open their doors.”


Russia prepared to stop firing to allow evacuation of Azovstal plant

Russia is prepared to stop firing to allow fighters at the Azovstal steel works in Ukraine’s port city of Mariupol to leave the plant, along with any civilians that are still there, RIA cited the defence ministry as saying.

The ministry added claims by Ukraine and some western countries that Russia was preventing civilians from leaving the city were “groundless”, the TASS news agency reported.


Australia imposes sanctions on Putin’s daughters

The Australian government has imposed sanctions against 147 Russian individuals over the situation in Ukraine, the Australian Department of Home Affairs said in a letter distributed on Friday.

Australia’s individual sanctions target 144 members of the Federation Council (upper house) of the Russian Federal Assembly, as well as Maria Vorontsova and Katerina Tikhonova, who the document claims are the “daughters of Russian President” Vladimir Putin, and Ekaterina Vinokurova, mentioned in the document as a “daughter of Russian Foreign Minister” Sergey Lavrov, the department added.

Australia “will continue to increase costs on Russia…, targeting those who bear responsibility for Russia’s … aggression in Ukraine or hold levers of influence in the country,” Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said, adding that the total number of sanctioned Russians was already close to 750.


Kremlin rejects US claims of Ukrainian military still holding Mariupol

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday rejected claims by the US Department of State that the Ukrainian military was still holding the port city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine and advised reporters to rely on the Russian Defense Ministry’s data.

“There is not a grain of truth in these statements. We suggest relying on the data provided by the Defense Ministry yesterday and reported by Defense Minister [Sergey] Shoigu at a meeting with President [Vladimir] Putin,” the Kremlin press secretary told reporters, responding to a request to comment on statements by spokesperson of the US Department of State Ned Price who claimed that Shoigu’s report to the Russian president on control of Mariupol was misinformation.

Shoigu reported to President of Russia Vladimir Putin on Thursday that the Russian troops and the forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) had liberated the city of Mariupol. As Shoigu specified, the remaining Ukrainian nationalist forces were holed up in the Azovstal steel complex. He added that Russia had prepared evacuation corridors for civilians who could be staying on the factory’s premises and declared a ceasefire but no one exited the steel plant.


Russia says it plans to take full control of Donbas and Southern Ukraine

Russia plans to take full control of Donbas and Southern Ukraine as part of the second phase of the military operation, the deputy commander of Russia’s central military district said, the Interfax news agency reported.

Commander Rustam Minnekayev was also cited as saying that Russia planned to forge a land corridor between Crimea and Donbas.


Russian losses exceed 21,000: Ukraine’s military

Russia has lost some 21,200 soldiers since war started, Ukraine’s military claims.

Ukrainian forces also destroyed 838 tanks, 2,162 armored vehicles, 176 planes and 153 helicopters, the General Staff of Armed Forces said on Facebook, adding that such figures are being verified due to ongoing hostilities.

Russia has rarely acknowledged casualties among its soldiers. The Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov admitted “significant losses” in early April, while the Russian ministry of defence said in late March that 1,351 soldiers have been killed in combat. It has provided no update on military casualties since then.


No humanitarian corridors on Friday

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced no humanitarian corridors will be open across Ukraine on Friday “due to the danger on the routes today”.

“I appeal to everyone who is waiting for the evacuation: be patient, please hold on!” she wrote on Facebook.


Blockade of Azovstal likely a strategy to free up Russian troops: UK

President Vladimir Putin’s decision to blockade the Azovstal steel plant “likely indicates a desire to contain Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol and free up Russian forces to be deployed elsewhere in Ukraine,” the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence reports.

In its latest intelligent briefing, the ministry says that storming the plant would “likely incur significant Russian casualties” and Russia is still suffering from its losses earlier in the war.

Heavy shelling and fighting continues in eastern Donbas “as Russia seeks to advance further towards settlements including Krasnyy Lyman, Buhayivka, Barvinkove, Lyman and Popasna as part of their plans for the region”, the ministry adds.


Some EU members say will veto any collective ban on Russian oil

The European Union currently has no plans of introducing a collective ban on Russian oil supplies, because several EU members threatened to veto this initiative, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell told the LENA news alliance in an interview.

“It will be very hard [to reach consent on embargoing Russian oil deliveries or raising tariffs], because some member states have already announced they would veto any collective decision,” Le Figaro quoted him as saying in its Friday edition.

According to the paper, in the wake of a ban on Russian coal supplies, some European countries, including Poland and France, press for a full embargo on fuel from Russia. At the same time, Germany, Austria and Hungary are against it.


Moscow claims Kiev readies provocation near Nikolayev to accuse Russian troops of looting

Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev, head of Russia’s National Defense Management Center, said Kiev is preparing a staged video in the village of Voskresenskoye of the Nikolayev Region to accuse Russian troops of looting.

“According to reliable information that’s become available, the Kiev regime prepared in advance another sophisticated provocation in the settlement of Voskresenskoye of the Nikolayev Region in order to discredit the Russian armed forces before the world community,” he said.

Mizintsev stated that at the direction of the commanders of the armed forces of Ukraine, information and psychological operations specialists conducted a staged filming of “acts of looting” allegedly committed by Russian servicemen against civilians. The footage shows militants of the 191st battalion of the 123rd territorial defense brigade dressed in Russian uniforms and using cars with the sign “Z” robbing houses and making photos and videos of their actions with mobile phones, he added.

“We are warning the so-called civilized West in advance that this next fake news by the Kiev authorities ‘about the atrocities of the Russians’ is planned to be released in the near future through the ‘unbiased and ‘independent’ Western media with the full approval of your handlers in Kiev,” Mizintsev continued.

According to the defense official, these provocations by the Kiev regime again demonstrate complete disregard for the fate of civilians in Ukraine.


Russian troops trying to mobilise residents of occupied regions for war: Zelensky

Ukraine’s president says Russian forces are preparing residents of semi-occupied regions to take up arms against Kyiv.

“They are accumulating forces, driving new battalion tactical groups to our land. They are even trying to start the so-called mobilisation in the occupied regions of Ukraine,” Volodymyr Zelensky said.

He also warned residents in the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to be careful about the information they provide to Russian forces, especially passport data.

“This is not to help you,” he said. “This is aimed to falsify the so-called referendum on your land, if an order comes from Moscow to stage such a show,” he added.

Ukraine has suggested Russia may be preparing for a referendum in Kherson, similar to its Crimean referendum in 2014, to allege the Russian speaking population is in favour of leaving Ukraine to be a part of Russia.

Zelenskyy has also stated Russia rejected a proposal for a truce over the Orthodox Christian Easter period this weekend, but added he still harboured hopes for peace.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had earlier this week appealed for a four-day truce during the Holy Week to allow for civilian evacuations and the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The Orthodox Easter service starts late on Saturday into Sunday morning.


UN confirms 2,345 civilian deaths in Ukraine

The United Nations human rights body has confirmed 5,264 civilian casualties in Ukraine from the start of Russia’s invasion on February 24, until midnight April 20 local time.

The latest figures from the UN High Commissioner (OHCHR) show 2,345 people have been killed and 2,919 injured.

“Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes,” the OHCHR noted.


Russian forces advancing towards Rubizhne: Ukrainian army

The Russian military has concentrated up to 25 battalion tactical groups, we well as several airborne forces, in the strategic area of Izyum, which links with the Donbas, the Ukrainian army reports in its latest update.

From there, they aim to launch an offensive in the direction of the settlement of Zavody, in the Kharkiv region, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said.

The army added Russian forces intensified their attacks along the entire line of combat in the Donetsk region and the town of Tavriya, in the Kherson region, and are advancing towards the city of Rubizhne.

A planned humanitarian corridor from occupied villages in the Kherson region to Dnipropetrovsk did not go ahead due to constant shelling from Russian forces, Ukraine’s army has said.

“The invaders did not follow the agreements, did not cease the shelling and detained the evacuation column at the checkpoint. The vehicles were forced to return and could not take people out of the occupied villages of Kherson region,” the south operational command of the armed forces added.


US helping collect evidence of possible war crimes in Ukraine: Attorney general

The United States has been in contact with Ukraine’s prosecutor and is assisting with the preservation and collection of evidence of war crimes committed by Russia, US Attorney General Merrick Garland has stated.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) launched an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine in early March.


Mariupol mayor says lives of city’s trapped residents are in Putin’s hands

President Vladimir Putin alone can decide the fate of the 100,000 civilians still trapped in Ukraine’s war-torn Mariupol, Mayor Vadym Boychenko has told the Reuters news agency.

Boychenko said satellite images of a mass grave site were proof that Russian forces were burying bodies to try to hide the death toll.

“It’s important to understand that the lives that are still there, they are in the hands of just one person – Vladimir Putin. And all the deaths that will happen after now will be on his hands too,” Boychenko added.

The mayor of the besieged city of Mariupol has compared the crimes there to the massacres carried out by Nazi Germany in Babyn Yar during the second world war.

Boychenko said Mariupol is the scene of “the biggest war crime of the 21st century.”

“This is the new Babyn Yar. Back in the day, Hitler was killing Jews, Roma and Slavs. And now Putin is exterminating Ukrainians. He has already killed tens of thousands of civilians in Mariupol. And this requires a strong reaction from the entire civilized world,” Boychenko added.


Zelensky: Ukraine needs $7bn a month to make up for economic losses

Ukraine needs $7bn a month to function amid the devastating “economic losses” inflicted by Russia, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said.

That is an increase from Kyiv’s previous estimate of $5bn in monthly needs, and Zelenskyy told the leaders of the IMF and World Bank via video link, the “Russian military are aimed at destroying all objects in Ukraine that can serve as an economic base for life. That includes railroad stations, food warehouses, oil, refineries.”


Ukrainian troops begin training in UK as Johnson steps up support

A small number of Ukrainian troops are being trained in the United Kingdom, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said, as the UK steps up its military support to Ukraine.

The troops began training with armoured patrol vehicles donated by the UK this month, the spokesperson stated, adding, “It is only sensible that they get requisite training to make best use of it.”

“We are always conscious of anything perceived to be escalatory but clearly what is escalatory is the actions of Vladimir Putin’s regime,” the spokesperson continued.

The UK is providing Ukraine with 120 armoured patrol vehicles, including the Mastiff, which can be used as a reconnaissance or patrol vehicle.


US understands Ukrainian forces still holding ground in Mariupol

The United States understands that Ukrainian forces still hold ground in Mariupol and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim to have liberated the city is disinformation, the US Department of State has announced.

“We understand that Ukraine’s forces continue to hold their ground and there is every reason to believe that President Putin and his defense minister’s show for the media that we saw in recent hours is even yet more disinformation from their well-worn playbook,” Department of State spokesman Ned Price told a news briefing.


Top Ukrainian official says troops facing very difficult battle

A senior Ukrainian defence official has stated the nation’s military was facing “a very difficult battle” against a larger and better-equipped Russian force, the Interfax Ukraine news agency said.

It also cited Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar as telling national television that it took time to buy and arrange for the delivery of weapons, adding “we must be patient”.


Ukraine official: Russia captured 42 villages in Donetsk region

Russian forces captured 42 villages in the eastern Donetsk region on Thursday, but Ukraine might take them back, an aide to the chief of staff to Volodymyr Zelensky has told national television.

“Today 42 villages were added to the list of those that have been occupied. This is at the expense of the Donetsk region,” the aide, Olena Symonenko, said, adding that “this happened today and might be that our forces will win them back tomorrow.”


World Bank estimates $60bn in physical damage in Ukraine

The World Bank has estimated that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused $60bn in damage to buildings and infrastructure across Ukraine so far.

World Bank President David Malpass told a conference on Ukraine’s financial assistance needs that the early estimate of “narrow” damage costs does not include the growing economic costs of the war.

“Of course the war is still ongoing, so those costs are rising,” Malpass noted.


US again warns China against backing Russia in war

US Secretary of State Spokesperson Ned Price has warned China against supporting Russia in its military offensive but said Washington does not believe Beijing has provided any weapons to Moscow.

“We offered an assessment a couple of weeks ago that we had not seen any such support on the part of the PRC [People’s Republic of China]. That remains the case today,” Price told reporters.

“We’ve made clear that any country that seeks to undermine our sanctions regime or seeks to provide support to Russia’s war effort in Ukraine would face consequences,” he added.


OAS suspends Russia as permanent observer

The Organization of American States (OAS) has adopted a resolution suspending Russia as a permanent observer to the inter-governmental institution over the invasion of Ukraine.

The move comes as pressure is growing to exclude Russia from various international organisations in response to the war.


Russia blames West for shaking up global food prices

Russia and Ukraine squared off at the UN on Thursday over whether Russia’s war is to blame for rising food prices and hunger around the world, the Associated Press reports.

“As long as Russia persists in its efforts to invade Ukraine, the threat of hunger will be looming over many countries,” Ukrainian Counsellor Natalia Mudrenko said at an informal UN Security Council meeting to discuss conflict and hunger.

Russian Deputy Ambassador Dmitry Chumakov argued that sanctions, trade wars, the coronavirus pandemic and Western economic policies were shaking up the global food, energy and financial markets.

The two countries account for nearly one-third of global wheat and barley exports and millions of people in the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia depend on them for affordable bread and noodles. Ukraine is also a major corn supplier and the biggest exporter of sunflower oil.

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