Thursday, May 30, 2024

Live Update: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 482

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:

Kyiv says EU will train 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers

Ukraine’s defence ministry says the European Union will train 30,000 soldiers this year, as a part of the EU Military Assistance Mission for Ukraine (EUMAM).

“In 2022, at the initial stage, the EU Mission purchased the necessary military property, equipment and ammunition to train Ukrainian servicemen,” the ministry said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app.

“In 2023, training events will take place on the territory of the member states of the European Union,” the ministry added.

German chancellor asked China to use ties with Moscow to end war in Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he called on Beijing to use its influence on Russia to halt Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Now it is important to avoid a frozen conflict,” Scholz stated during a joint press conference with China’s premier Li Qiang on Tuesday in Berlin.

“It is important that China continues not to supply weapons to the aggressor,” Scholz continued, adding that a ban of nuclear weapons was important.

Earlier this year, Western officials flagged concerns that Beijing could be considering bolstering Russia’s military with lethal aid, an allegation refuted by Chinese officials.

Scholz and Li will continue the bilateral government consultations Tuesday afternoon with German Economy Minister Robert Habeck and Zheng Shanjie, China’s chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission at the economic forum.

In 2022, China was Germany’s most important trading partner for the seventh time, according to the Federal Statistical Office.

Kremlin confident in China-Russia relationship following Blinken visit

The Kremlin said that a high stakes meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will not threaten Beijing’s ties with Moscow.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov emphasized the importance of fostering a “predictable relationship” between Beijing and Washington, acknowledging China’s “sovereign right” to engage with other nations.

“The level of strategic partnership with China allows us to be sure that building such relations with other countries will never be directed against our country,” Peskov added.

Blinken traveled to Beijing at the weekend in an attempt to smoothen diplomatic ties between the US and China, which have flared in recent years over geopolitical issues including Xi’s stance on the war in Ukraine.

Earlier this year, Western officials raised concerns that China could be considering providing Russia with lethal military assistance, an accusation denied by Beijing.

Following his two-day visit to Beijing, where he met with top Chinese officials including Xi, Blinken stated that both sides recognized the need to stabilize their bilateral relationship.

Russia says Ukraine plans to strike Crimea with HIMARS and Storm Shadow missiles

Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that Ukraine plans to strike Crimea, with long-range HIMARS artillery and Storm Shadow missiles, according to a report from Russia’s TASS news agency.

“The use of HIMARS and Storm Shadow missiles outside the special operation zone will mean the full involvement of the United States and Great Britain in the conflict,” Shoigu said, adding that Russia will retaliate.

EU to unveil 50 billion aid package to Ukraine

The European Union was set to unveil  an aid package for Ukraine worth 50 billion euros ($55 bln), two officials told Reuters, ahead of a formal announcement.

One of the sources, a senior EU official, said the total included 33 billion euros in macro-financial assistance to help replenish Kyiv’s state coffers as it fights back against Russia.

Russia launches new wave of drone attacks on Kyiv: Ukrainian official

Russia launched “another massive air attack” on Kyiv Tuesday with attack drones, a senior Ukrainian military official said.

Serhiy Popko, the head of Kyiv’s city military administration, said in a statement that the “drones entered the capital in waves” and “from different directions,” prompting the air raid alarm to go off for over three hours.

“About two dozen enemy targets were identified and destroyed by the forces and means of our air defense in the airspace around Kyiv,” Popko added.

Russian shelling damages buildings in Zaporizhzhia city: Ukrainian official

Several buildings were damaged in Zaporizhzhia city and the surrounding suburbs by Russian shelling in the early hours of Tuesday, a local Ukrainian official said.

There were no casualties, according to Yurii Malashko, head of the Zaporizhzhia regional military administration.

Malashko stated that the strikes targeted “communications area, property and equipment belonging to an agricultural and farming enterprise, as well as a popular recreation area.”

These strikes come as Russia appears to be moving personnel and heavy military equipment from other parts of Ukraine to the southern Zaporizhzhia region, according to multiple authorities.

Biden warns of ‘real’ nuclear threat

President Joe Biden has claimed there is a “real” threat that Russia will use tactical nuclear weapons, soon after the Kremlin announced that it had stationed some of its arsenal on the territory of its closest ally.

Speaking to a group of donors in California on Monday, Biden suggested that Russia’s moves in Belarus could be a sign that it is preparing to use its smaller-yield tactical nukes, despite recent comments from the White House acknowledging no “imminent indication” of any such attack.

“When I was out here about two years ago saying I worried about the Colorado river drying up, everybody looked at me like I was crazy,” he said, adding “They looked at me like when I said I worry about [Russian President Vladimir] Putin using tactical nuclear weapons. It’s real.”

The statement came after the president slammed Russia’s deployments as “totally irresponsible” over the weekend. He previously told reporters he felt “extremely negative” about the decision.

Ukraine has not lost any positions, It’s only gained new ones: Zelensky

Ukraine has not lost any of its positions, only gained new ones, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday.

“In some areas our warriors are moving forward, in some areas they are defending their positions and resisting the occupiers’ assaults and intensified attacks,” he stated, adding, “We have no lost positions. Only liberated ones.”

Zelensky noted “a significant political decision by the UK regarding sanctions” was made Monday.

He said the UK will “maintain sanctions against Russia until the aggressor compensates for all the damage” done to the Ukrainian people.

“And it is very important that the assets of the aggressor state and all those associated with it […] are used to compensate for the damage caused by the Russian war and terror,” the president added.

Ukraine’s health ministry says water in regions affected by dam collapse remains highly contaminated

Ukraine’s health ministry said water in the regions affected by the Nova Kakhovka dam collapse remains highly contaminated.

“In reservoirs of the Kherson, Odesa and Mykolaiv regions, individual indicators significantly exceed the established hygiene and sanitary standards,” said a health ministry statement released on Monday.

The Odesa region is “under the greatest danger” at the moment, the statement read.

About 40 surface water monitoring points have been set up along the river channel in the flood zone and along the seacoast in Odesa, Mykolaiv, and Kherson regions, according to the statement,. The most dangerous pollutants in the water were salmonella, rotavirus, worm eggs, and E. coli.

The Ministry of Health urged the residents against swimming and fishing in the waters of Odesa, Mykolaiv, and Kherson regions.

Russia and Ukraine continue to blame each other for the dam collapse. Russia cited security concerns for declining the United Nation’s help in the Russian-occupied flooded areas.

Vladimir Saldo, Russian-appointed governor of the Kherson region, said Monday that 8,100 people have been evacuated from the region since the start of the rescue operation — including 583 children and 290 people with low mobility. Saldo also said medical assistance and monetary compensation were being given out in affected areas.

Oleksandr Prokudin, head of the Kherson region military administration in the Ukrainian-controlled areas, said the situation on the left bank of the Kherson region — currently occupied by Russians — was “critical” and said the Russians failed in the evacuation efforts.

“People are trapped in the water. Officially, 11 people died of drowning in Oleshky alone. However, this figure is underestimated, as Russia is trying to hide the fact that civilians died,” he added.

Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for international support to help rescue victims of the dam collapse in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine and accused Russia of not providing “any real help to the people in the flooded areas.”

Ukraine meets two of seven conditions to launch EU membership talks

A European Union report will this week say that Ukraine has met two out of seven conditions to start membership negotiations, two EU sources said, with the bloc’s executive set to highlight progress made despite the ongoing conflict.

In a highly symbolic move, the EU granted Ukraine formal membership candidate status a year ago – four months after Russia waged war.

But the EU set seven conditions – including on judicial reform and curbing endemic corruption – to launch accession negotiations.

One of the officials said the conditions met are related to judicial reform and media law, and added that the focus in the report was on the positives.

“There is progress. The report will be moderately positive,” said the person, who spoke under condition of anonymity, adding, “It’s not about embellishing reality, but recognising progress. There have been prominent anti-corruption cases to name, for example.”

Russia requests UNSC meeting on collective west’s weapons supplies to Ukraine

Russia has requested a meeting of the UN Security Council on the weapons supplies by the collective West to Ukraine, First Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dmitriy Polyanskiy stated on Monday.

“Today, we requested a meeting over the supplies of Western weapons to Ukraine and the consequences to the diplomatic efforts,” Polyanskiy wrote on his Telegram channel.

The Russian diplomat added there will be interesting witnesses on the issue during the meeting.

‘Hot battles continue’ in the east: Ukraine

Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar stated that the situation in the east of the country is “difficult” as “hot battles continue”.

“The enemy has raised its forces and is conducting an active offensive in the Lyman and Kupiansk directions, trying to seize the initiative from us. High activity of enemy shelling is recorded. Hot battles continue,” Maliar said on Telegram.

“The enemy does not abandon his plans to reach the borders of [the] Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Currently, this is the enemy’s main offensive line,” she added.

Earlier on Monday, Maliar claimed Ukraine had recaptured eight settlements since Kyiv began its counteroffensive two weeks ago.

NATO arsenals ‘empty’: Secretary General

NATO needs a “more robust” industry in order to refill the stocks of weaponry and ammunition emptied by a year of supplying Kiev, the bloc’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday, at an industrial conference in Germany.

The US-led military bloc “must continue to support Ukraine” as it has done since 2014, Stoltenberg insisted at the Day of Industry in Berlin, hosted by the Federation of German Industries (BDI).

“We also need a more robust defense industry,” the secretary general argued, adding, “Our weapons and ammunition stocks are depleted and need to be replenished. Not just in Germany, but in many countries across NATO.”

He stated that he met with representatives of the military industry last week and discussed how best to ramp up production and streamline supply chains, adding that this was “key to sustain our support for Ukraine”.

Stoltenberg also repeated his argument that only a Ukrainian victory on the battlefield can result in a just and lasting peace. Kiev’s forces had attempted a large-scale offensive on the Southern front over the past week, with heavy losses in manpower, as well as in weaponry provided by the West.

The US and its allies have sent over $100 billion worth of weapons, equipment and ammunition to Kiev in the last year, after the conflict escalated. They insist this does not actually make them a party to the hostilities with Russia.

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