Monday, May 20, 2024

Live Update: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 165

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:

Ukraine probing almost 26,000 suspected war crimes cases: Prosecutor

Ukraine is investigating almost 26,000 suspected war-crimes cases committed since Russia’s February 24 invasion and has charged 135 people, its chief war crimes prosecutor has told the Reuters news agency.

Of those charged, around 15 are in Ukrainian custody and the remaining 120 remain at large, Yuriy Bilousov, head of the war crimes department of the Prosecutor General’s office, said in an interview in the capital Kyiv.

Thirteen cases have been submitted to courts and seven verdicts have been issued, he added.

Amnesty regrets ‘distress’ caused by report rebuking Ukraine

UK-based rights group Amnesty International has apologised for “distress and anger” caused by a report accusing Ukraine of endangering civilians that infuriated President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and triggered the resignation of Amnesty’s Kyiv office head.

The rights group published the report on Thursday saying the presence of Ukrainian troops in residential areas heightened risks to civilians during Russia’s invasion.

“Amnesty International deeply regrets the distress and anger that our press release on the Ukrainian military’s fighting tactics has caused,” it said in an email to the Reuters news agency.

“Amnesty International’s priority in this and in any conflict is ensuring that civilians are protected. Indeed, this was our sole objective when releasing this latest piece of research. While we fully stand by our findings, we regret the pain caused,” it added.

Zelenskyy calls for tougher international response after shelling of nuclear plant

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for a stronger international response to what he described as Russian “nuclear terror” after shelling at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

During a phone call with European Council President Charles Michel, Zelenskyy called for sanctions to be imposed on the Russian nuclear industry and nuclear fuel, the Ukrainian leader wrote on Twitter.

Ukraine’s state nuclear power company announced earlier that a worker had been wounded when Russian forces shelled the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Saturday evening.

Ships departed from and bound for Ukraine are inspected in Turkey

Authorities from Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, and the United Nations have inspected ships exporting grain from Ukrainian ports.

As part of a recent grain export deal signed by the three countries and the UN, the Liberian-flagged ship Osprey S anchored off the north of Istanbul. The ship is scheduled to depart for the Chornomorsk port of Ukraine.

Also, the Maltese-flagged ship Rojen, carrying 13,000 tonnes of corn from Chornomorsk en route to the United Kingdom, also anchored off Istanbul on Saturday evening before getting inspected on Sunday.

In addition to the two ships, the teams also inspected the Turkish-flagged Polarnet vessel that arrived off the coast of Istanbul with 12,000 tonnes of corn.

Russia’s poor showing in Ukraine ‘likely’ led to dismissals of commanders

UK’s defence ministry says the poor performance of Russia’s armed forces during its invasion of Ukraine has been costly to its military leadership.

In an intelligence update posted on Twitter, the ministry announced it was highly likely that the poor showing resulted “in the dismissal of at least six Russian commanders”.

“The commanders of Russia’s Eastern and Western Military Districts have highly likely lost their commands,” the statement noted.

“These dismissals are compounded by at least 10 Russian generals killed on the battlefield in Ukraine. The cumulative effect on consistency of command is likely contributing to Russian tactical and operational difficulties,” it added.

Second caravan of four ships leave Ukrainian ports

Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov stated that the second caravan of ships with Ukrainian agriculture products sailed from Ukrainian Black Sea ports on Sunday as part of a deal to unblock Ukrainian sea exports.

He tweeted that four bulk carriers – Mustafa Necati, Star Helena, Glory and Riva Wind – were loaded with almost 170,000 tonnes of grain.

The first four ships left Ukraine last week under the frame agreement signed by Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations.

Russia-backed official in Ukraine’s Kherson dies after attack

Vitaly Gura, an official with the Russian occupying authorities in Ukraine’s Kherson region, has died after an assassination attempt, local Moscow-backed authorities confirmed.

Gura, the deputy chief of the Kakhovka district, “died of his injuries”, local official Katerina Gubareva, wrote on Telegram.

He was attacked at home on Saturday morning and was gravely wounded by bullets, a source in the Russian-backed administration told TASS news agency.

Kakhovka is about 80km (50 miles) east of Kherson city.

Zelensky reveals value of Russian assets seized by Ukraine

Ukraine has seized about $765 million worth of Russian assets in the country, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said on his Telegram channel.

“Held a meeting on sanctions policy, confiscation of Russian assets. As government officials reported, assets worth 28 billion hryvnias {about $765 million} have already been forcibly seized,” he stated.

This work continues. More than 900 more facilities belonging to the Russian state are proposed to be confiscated. And if we evaluate the property package not only of the [Russian] state, but also of its residents, we are talking about 36 thousand items to be seized,” he added.

The seized assets will be used to compensate for the damages caused by the current military conflict in the country, according to Zelensky.

UN nuclear agency chief ‘alarmed’ by strikes at Ukraine plant

The head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog says he is “alarmed” by Friday’s shelling at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest such facility.

In a statement, Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), stated the strikes represented “the latest in a long line of increasingly alarming reports” and underlined “the very real risk of a nuclear disaster that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond”.

On Saturday, the plant’s operator announced Friday’s shelling had “seriously damaged” a station containing nitrogen and oxygen and an “auxiliary building”.

Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for the attacks.

First foreign-flagged ship arrives in Ukraine since start of war

A foreign-flagged ship has arrived in Ukraine for the first time since the war started and will be loaded with grain, Ukrainian infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov has stated.

The Barbados-flagged general cargo ship Fulmar S docked in the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk.

“We are doing [everything] possible to ensure that our ports can receive and handle more vessels. In particular, we plan to reach the level of at least three to five vessels per day in two weeks’,” Kubrakov wrote on Facebook.

Ukraine is resuming grain exports after a deal with Russia brokered by Turkish and UN officials.

Ukraine eventually aims to ship out three million tonnes a month from its Black Sea ports, the minister added.

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