Saturday, May 18, 2024

Live Update: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 430

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:

Ukrainian city under ‘intense artillery fire’, power cut

Russian occupational authorities in southern Ukraine said on Saturday that Ukrainian forces were subjecting the city of Novaya Kakhovka to “intense artillery fire” that had cut off electricity.

“Novaya Kakhovka and settlements around the district are under very intense artillery fire from the armed forces of Ukraine,” the city’s Russian-installed authorities said on Telegram.

It added that the shelling left the city “without power.”

On lethal aid to Ukraine, South Korean leader says Seoul considering its options

South Korea’s president, Yoon Suk-yeol, has said it is necessary to ensure Russia’s invasion of Ukraine does not succeed and that Seoul is considering its options when it comes to providing lethal aid to Kyiv.

Reuters reported that Yoon stated that the Russian invasion was a violation of international law and the rights of Ukrainians.

“We should prove that such attempts will never reach success, to block further attempts being made in the future,” he continued.

Yoon made the comments in a speech at Harvard University’s Kennedy School on the fifth day of a state visit to mark the 70th anniversary of the US-South Korean alliance.

Yoon was asked about the possibility of South Korea providing lethal aid to Ukraine and replied: “We are closely monitoring the situation that’s going on the battlefield in Ukraine and will take proper measures in order to uphold the international norms and international law.”

“Right now we are closely monitoring the situation and we are considering various options,” he stressed.

Crimean fuel tank on fire after suspected drone attack

A fuel tank was ablaze in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol in what appeared to be a drone strike, the governor said on Saturday.

Reuters reported that the Moscow-installed governor, Mikhail Razvozhaev, wrote on the Telegram messaging app: “According to preliminary information, the fire was caused by a drone hit.”

Sevastopol, on the Crimean peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, has come under repeated air attacks since Russia’s full-fledged invasion of its neighbour in February 2022. Russian officials have blamed the attacks on Ukraine.

Latest Russian missile attacks underline need for modern aircraft: Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky offered condolences to the families of more than 20 Ukrainians killed in Russian missile strikes on Friday, almost all of them victims of a cruise missile that struck an apartment building in the city of Uman.

“Our Air Force managed to shoot down most of the Russian missiles – 21 out of 23. If not for this, the terrorist state would have managed to claim many more casualties, more lives,” Zelensky said.

He added Ukraine could “save people only with weapons. Air defense, modern aircraft, without which there is no fully effective air defense.”

UN condemns deadly air raids across Ukraine

The UN has condemned a wave of deadly air raids across Ukraine.

UN acting Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine Matthew Hollingsworth said that the indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas must stop.

“It is an important reminder that civilians and civilian infrastructure are protected under international and humanitarian law, and they must never be targeted,” UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

Death toll climbs to at least 23 after Russian missile strikes apartment building in Uman: Ukraine

The death toll from a Russian missile strike on an apartment building in Uman has increased to at least 23, according to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry. The death toll includes four children, officials said.

The strike in Uman, which is located in the central Cherkasy region, injured at least 18 other people, Ukrainian officials stated earlier Friday.

There were 46 apartments inside one of the buildings that were hit, of which 27 were completely destroyed, according to Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Ihor Klymenko.

East of Uman, a woman and her 2-year-old child were killed in a strike in Dnipro, authorities added.

Ukraine calls for F-16 fighter jet training in meeting with European FMs

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba reiterated the country’s call for F-16 fighter jet training from allies in a meeting with foreign ministers from eight countries.

Kuleba, during a joint news conference at the summit in Odesa, asked allies “to make every effort to speed up the decision to start training Ukrainian pilots on such aircraft.”

Getting military training on how to maneuver the aircraft could be the first step in the country gaining access to the jets, Kuleba said.

“We have to get Russia out of the sky,” the foreign minister told reporters.

“To do this, we need not only air defense systems, which our friends have already provided us with, but also combat aircraft. We need combat aircraft to cover our brigades that will carry out a counteroffensive. We need combat aircraft to protect the Black Sea and our coastal areas,” he added.

Foreign ministers from Latvia, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and Finland attended the joint meeting.

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, emphasized the need for advanced military equipment and pointed to the death toll in Friday’s strike in Uman, which killed at least 22 people, including three children.

“Every day that the decision to supply Ukraine with modern combat aircraft is delayed means delaying the end of the war,” he said in a tweet.

Ukraine has long lobbied for the US and other Western allies to send the country F-16s to help stunt Russia’s invasion, but the fighter jets are sophisticated and can take months to learn how to fly.

The US and other Western allies have been skeptical of providing the jets to Ukraine. Russia has extensive anti-aircraft systems that could easily shoot the planes down, and some officials warn providing such equipment could be seen as provoking Russia.

Zelensky says grain import ban by several EU nations is destructive and “gives dangerous hope to Kremlin”

President Volodymyr Zelensky discussed what he called the “destructive” impact of bans on the import of Ukrainian grain by several European countries. The bans were enacted on the grounds that the imports were undercutting the other nations’ domestic prices.

He said Friday he had discussed the issue with the President of the EU Council, Charles Michel.

“I emphasize that this not only violates the existing Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union but also gives dangerous hope to the Kremlin. The hope that in our common European home, someone’s wrong decisions can prevail over common interests,” he said.

Zelensky added: “It is necessary to find a normal, constructive way out of this situation in the European spirit.”

Ukraine receives $1.25bn grant from US: Report

According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Finance, Kyiv has received a $1.25bn grant from the US, The Kyiv Independent has reported.

According to the ministry, “the money will be used for paying pensions and salaries to Ukrainian emergency and healthcare workers, and social payments, including payments for internally displaced persons,” it reported.

Russia says extension of deal for Ukrainian grain exports unlikely

Despite receiving a letter from the top UN official promoting an extension of a deal that would allow the continued exports of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea, the Russian government believes an extension is unlikely.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov acknowledged that Putin had received the letter from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, but said no progress for the Russian side had been made.

Russian fertiliser manufacturers, for example, continue to have problems exporting their goods. Russia complains that the sanctions imposed in the wake of the war in Ukraine are hampering deliveries.

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