Saturday, May 18, 2024

Live Update: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 425

Russia, wary of NATO’s eastward expansion, began a military campaign in Ukraine in February 2022 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:

Wagner boss says forces will kill POWs

Head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, stated that his mercenary forces fighting in Bakhmut would kill Ukrainian soldiers and take no more prisoners.

Prigozhin was reacting to a Wagner-affiliated Telegram channel posting a recording of what it said were two Ukrainians deciding to shoot a Russian prisoner of war.

“We will kill everyone on the battlefield. Take no more prisoners of war!” Prigozhin said in an audio recording on Sunday.

He admitted that under international law, his group was obliged to “take care, treat, not hurt,” any prisoner of war.

China respects status of independent states: Beijing

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said China respects the status of the independent sovereign nations after Beijing’s envoy to Paris sparked a diplomatic storm.

“The Chinese side respects the status of the member states as sovereign states after the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Mao stated, adding that China was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with those countries.

China respects the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries and upholds the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, Mao said.

“The Soviet Union was a federal state, and externally as a whole, it had the status of being a subject of international law, so conversely, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the various republics have the status of sovereign states,” she added.

EU’s top diplomat expresses confidence in ammunition deal

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has expressed confidence that the bloc will finalise a plan soon to buy ammunition for Ukraine.

“Yes, still there is some disagreement, but I am sure everybody will understand that we are in a situation of extreme urgency,” Borrell told reporters as he arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.

“I am sure that in the following days we will reach [an agreement],” he added.

Last week, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba expressed frustration at the slow pace and said on Twitter, “For Ukraine, the cost of inaction is measured in human lives.”

Baltic countries summon Chinese envoys

EU members Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have summoned Chinese envoys over remarks by Beijing’s ambassador in Paris, who questioned the sovereignty of ex-Soviet nations.

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis stated the diplomats would be asked to explain if the “Chinese position has changed on independence and to remind them that we’re not post-Soviet countries, but we’re the countries that were illegally occupied by Soviet Union.”

Chinese Ambassador Lu Shaye said in an interview aired on French television on Friday that “these ex-USSR countries don’t have actual status in international law because there is no international agreement to materialise their sovereign status”.

EU leaders will discuss bloc’s stance towards China

EU leaders will discuss the bloc’s stance towards China and its future relations with the country during their next summit in June, EU Council President Charles Michel stated on Monday.

“EU-China policy will be on the agenda of our European council in June,” Reuters reports Michel said in a post on Twitter.

“Foreign affairs ministers will prepare this discussion under the leadership of the High representative Josep Borrell,” he added.

Several EU foreign affairs ministers, speaking before a joint meeting on Monday, expressed their dismay over recent remarks by China’s ambassador to France, who questioned the sovereignty of former Soviet states such as Ukraine, and EU member states Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

China’s foreign ministry has since attempted to clarify that the country’s official position is that it respects the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries.

Russia claims drone attack on Crimean port repelled

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet repelled a drone attack on the Crimean port of Sevastopol in the early hours of Monday, the Moscow-installed governor of the city has said on the Telegram messaging app.

“According to the latest information: one surface drone was destroyed … the second one exploded on its own,” governor Mikhail Razvozhaev wrote, adding, “Now the city is quiet but all forces and services remain on alert.”

No damage was reported, according to Razvozhaev.

Sevastopol, along with the rest of the Crimean peninsula, was declared annexed by Russia in 2014 but is internationally recognised as part of Ukraine.

There was no immediate reaction from Ukraine. Kyiv almost never publicly claims responsibility for attacks inside Russia and on Russian-controlled territory in Ukraine.

Explosions were last heard in Sevastopol in February, according to Ukrainian media, when Razvozhaev stated Russian air defences had shot down a drone over the Balaklava Thermal Power Plant.

Crimea and Sevastopol, home to the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, have been the sire of regular explosions since August.

In October, a blast crippled the heavily guarded Kerch bridge connecting Crimea to the Russian mainland, a key logistics link for Russian troops in southern Ukraine.

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