Russia raises age limit for military service Selenskyj complains of a lack of unity in the West Gerhard Schröder renounces his position on the supervisory board at Gazprom The developments in the Ukraine war in the stern ticker.
Day 91 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine: With massive artillery and air strikes, Russian troops have driven out the Ukrainian defenders from several towns in the east of the country in the past few days, and the Ukrainian front is beginning to falter. For Moscow, the complete conquest of the Ukrainian administrative regions of Donetsk and Luhansk is an important war goal. In Luhansk, this goal has almost been achieved.
6:57 p.m .: Putin orders higher pay for Russian soldiers
Three months after the war began, Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin ordered higher military pay for Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine. According to the Interfax agency, Putin justified the decision by saying that the salaries of the military stationed abroad are linked to the development of the foreign exchange market and that the US dollar is currently weak compared to the Russian ruble. How much more pay there should be exactly was initially unclear.
In addition to their military pay, the Ukrainian soldiers who are involved in active combat operations against the Russian troops receive a special bonus from President Volodymyr Zelenskyj of 100,000 hryvnia (around 3,150 euros) per month or 3,000 hryvnia per day. For the month of June, 64.5 billion hryvnia – more than two billion euros – are to be paid out, said Defense Minister Oleksiy Resnikov. Such a sum was spent in 2021 throughout the year.
6:29 p.m .: According to a report, G7 countries could save more gas by 2025 than Russia exports
According to a study, the G7 countries could save more gas by 2025 than Russia exports. As the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” reported with reference to the study commissioned by Greenpeace by the German Institute for Economic Research, the seven major industrialized countries could reduce their gas requirements by 18 percent by 2025. That would correspond to 264 billion cubic meters of gas – and would therefore be more than the 250 billion cubic meters that Russia exports to the countries by pipeline or as liquefied natural gas. The G7 countries could therefore save more gas than Russia exports. According to the study, the greatest savings potential lies in buildings.
5:52 p.m .: Moscow is calling for the lifting of sanctions to solve the grain crisis
In view of the food crisis caused by its war against Ukraine, Russia continues to insist on easing western sanctions – but is ready to talk. According to the Interfax agency, Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko called for the punitive measures imposed on Russia’s export industry and the financial sector to be lifted. In addition, Ukraine must demine all ports, he demanded. Russia would then be ready to secure a “humanitarian passage”. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba dismissed Russia’s demands as “blackmail”. “Yes, we feel for everyone in the world who is affected by the massive consequences of the Russian blockade,” he said in Davos at the World Economic Forum.
5:11 p.m .: Russian border region of Belgorod accuses Ukraine of shelling again
The governor of the Russian border region of Belgorod has accused Ukraine of renewed shelling. A young man was injured in the village of Zhuravlyovka, Vyacheslav Gladkov wrote in the Telegram news service. In view of the tense situation, the entire village had actually been evacuated a few weeks ago, the governor continued. It was initially unclear why the young man was still there.
4:52 p.m .: Putin visits injured Russian soldiers in Ukraine for the first time
Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited soldiers injured during a military operation in Ukraine for the first time. During his visit, the head of state chatted with several soldiers about their hometowns and their family situation, which was shown on Russian television. The soldiers stood upright next to their beds, their injuries not visible.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also took part in the visit three months after the start of Russia’s offensive against the neighboring country. Russia rarely provides information on the number of victims in the Ukraine conflict. The last figures were published on March 25th. At that time, the army put the number of soldiers killed at 1,351 and those injured at 3,825.
3:27 p.m .: People in southern Ukrainian areas can quickly apply for Russian passports
In a simplified procedure, residents of the Zaporizhia and Cherson regions in southern Ukraine should be able to apply for Russian passports. Russia’s head of state Vladimir Putin signed a corresponding decree. The newly appointed pro-Russian authorities in the regions have already expressed their wish for the regions to be annexed to Russia. Applicants do not have to have lived in Russia, have sufficient financial resources or pass a Russian language test.
3:20 p.m .: Russia wants to settle foreign debts in rubles
According to Moscow, Russia will now settle its foreign debt in rubles. Future payments would be “made in the Russian national currency,” the Ministry of Finance said on the Telegram service. The reason for this is that the USA had deleted a corresponding exemption for debt settlement. That makes it “impossible to continue paying off the national debt in dollars.” The US Treasury Department had previously announced that a sanctions waiver that allowed Russia to pay off its foreign debt in dollars ended on Wednesday night (local time).
2:44 p.m .: Moscow announces examination of prisoner exchange with Ukraine after court processes
According to Russia, it will examine a possible exchange of prisoners with Ukraine as soon as the court sentences against Ukrainian prisoners have been passed. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko says, according to Russian news agencies, an exchange will only be considered after a verdict against “those who have surrendered”. Before that, discussions about an exchange were “premature”.
The last Ukrainian defenders of the strategically important city of Mariupol, who had been holed up in the Azov steelworks for weeks, surrendered last week. Almost 4,000 Ukrainian soldiers were captured in the port city, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. The Ukrainian authorities want to organize an exchange of prisoners of war.
2:22 p.m .: Around 1.2 to 1.5 million Ukraine refugees in Poland
According to current estimates, there are still around 1.2 to 1.5 million war refugees from Ukraine in neighboring Poland. For some of the 3.5 million people who entered the country, Poland was just a transit country on the way to Western Europe, says Blazej Pobozy from the Ministry of the Interior in Warsaw on Radio Olsztyn. Others have returned to their homeland because the Russian war of aggression is currently concentrating on the Donbass and southern Ukraine.
1:59 p.m .: Russia lifts age limit for military service
Russia has abolished the age limit for military service. The Russian parliament voted in favor of a corresponding bill, according to the Duma’s website. In the future, therefore, any volunteer who has not yet reached the statutory retirement age can join the army. For men, this is currently 61.5 years. Until now, only Russian citizens between the ages of 18 and 40 could enlist in the army, while foreigners could enlist between 18 and 30 years.
1:28 p.m .: Baerbock sees criticism of Germany’s Ukraine policy as a positive sign
At a meeting of foreign ministers of the Baltic Sea Council, Federal Foreign Minister Anna Baerbock (Greens) took the criticism of Germany’s course in supporting Ukraine as a positive sign. At a press conference on the fringes of the meeting in Kristiansand, Norway, Baerbock said the criticism shows how close the connection and friendship with the partner countries are. “You can only criticize each other openly if you trust each other,” said Baerbock.
Baerbock held the press conference together with her Norwegian counterpart Ine Marie Eriksen Söreide and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis. The two assessed Germany’s previous role in supporting Ukraine in the defensive war against Russia differently.
12:22 p.m.: Lithuania supplies armored vehicles to Ukraine
Ukraine will receive armored vehicles from Lithuania as military aid for the war against Russia. The Baltic EU and NATO country will hand over 20 M113 armored personnel carriers, 10 military trucks and 10 mine clearance all-terrain vehicles to Kyiv, the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense announced. The value of the equipment is around 15.5 million euros. According to its own statements, Lithuania has given Ukraine military aid worth an estimated around 100 million euros since the Russian attack. Among the weapons supplied were Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons and mortars.
12:16 p.m .: Estonia lifts border controls with Latvia
Estonia has lifted the temporary border controls on its border with neighboring Latvia introduced in March because of the large number of Ukrainian war refugees. Border traffic between the two Baltic EU and NATO countries is now flowing undisturbed again. However, there should also be random checks near the internal border, as the police and border protection authority in Tallinn announced. The decision was preceded by a corresponding decision by the Estonian government.
11:54 a.m .: Barbock: Finland and Sweden will be welcomed into NATO
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has expressed confidence that Sweden and Finland can soon be admitted to NATO, despite objections from Ankara. “We will welcome Finland and Sweden to our alliance,” said the Green politician in Kristiansand, Norway, after meeting her counterparts from Norway and Lithuania at the Baltic Sea Council. Sweden and Finland have long been part of the military alliance without being a formal member, said Baerbock.
11.05 a.m .: Selenskyj complains in Davos of the lack of unity in the West in the Ukraine war
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused western countries of not standing united on Ukraine’s side. “My question is: is there unity in practice? I don’t see it,” said Zelenskyj during a discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Zelenskyy accused Turkey and Hungary in particular of not showing solidarity with his country, which has been defending itself against a Russian war of aggression for three months.
Selenskyj, who was connected via video, expressly thanked US President Joe Biden for the support of the USA. As a European country, Ukraine needs above all “the support of a united Europe,” said Zelenskyy. “We will have a huge advantage over Russia if we are really united,” he said. Selenskyj expressly criticized Hungary, which refused to agree to an EU-wide oil embargo against Russia. “There is something wrong with Hungary!” he said. The country is “not as united as the rest of the EU” in supporting Ukraine.
The head of state also referred to the resistance of NATO member Turkey to the application of the two Nordic countries Finland and Sweden to join the defense alliance. “Is there unity when Sweden and Finland join NATO? No. So is the West united? No,” said the Ukrainian president.
10:54 a.m .: Russia reports bombing of Ukrainian engine manufacturer
According to their own statements, the Russian armed forces also attacked a Ukrainian engine plant and several train stations during the night’s heavy air raids. “High-precision air and sea-launched missiles destroyed the production halls of the Motor Sich factory, which builds aircraft engines for the Ukrainian armed forces, including unmanned drones,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
According to him, the railway station of the urban settlement of Pokrovske in the Dnipropetrovsk region was also hit by rockets. The aim here was a troop transport of reservists who were on their way to the Donbass region. Several command posts and telecommunications centers in the Bakhmut area and a logistics center in the Soledar area were attacked near the front, Konashenkov said. The Air Force and Army Aviation have meanwhile killed more than 300 Ukrainian soldiers and disabled 46 military vehicles. This information could not be verified independently.
10:26 a.m .: Eastern European countries particularly affected by rising food prices
According to figures from the European statistics agency Eurostat, people in Eastern European countries are particularly hard hit by rising food prices. In Lithuania, the price increase for food in April compared to the previous year was 22.1 percent, as reported by the Federal Statistical Office. Food prices rose by 8.9 percent on average in Europe, while the price increase in Germany was slightly lower at 8.5 percent.
The price increase in Bulgaria was similar to that in Lithuania, at 21 percent, and food prices in Latvia rose by 17.7 percent. Food prices also rose by more than 14 percent in other countries in Eastern Europe, such as Hungary, Estonia, Romania and Slovakia. On the other hand, the lowest price increases were registered in Ireland with 3.6 percent and France with 4.3 percent.
Grain and meat products also rose particularly sharply in Eastern Europe: While the EU average rate of inflation here was ten and 9.1 percent, respectively, people in Bulgaria, Lithuania and Hungary had to pay over 20 percent more for bread in April 2022. In Poland, Bulgaria and Hungary, meat prices rose by more than 15 percent. In Germany, bread rose by almost nine percent in the same period, and meat products by almost twelve percent. The high food prices in Eastern Europe are also more significant because people there spend a larger proportion of their income on food. According to Eurostat data, it is a good 28 percent in Romania and more than 20 percent in Latvia, Slovakia and Bulgaria. In Germany, the proportion is around eleven percent.
10 a.m.: According to the ECB, the war in Ukraine is burdening financial stability in the euro zone
According to the European Central Bank (ECB), the war in Ukraine is having a negative impact on financial stability in the euro area. According to the ECB’s Financial Stability Report, the Russian attack has led to higher energy and commodity prices. This poses a threat to economic growth and inflation. The ECB sees a number of potential future threats. She also refers to the uncertain further course of the war and to the expected normalization of monetary policy. Companies in the euro area that have not yet recovered from the pandemic are particularly threatened by insolvency. Highly indebted companies could also face problems if interest rates rise. According to the ECB, the profit prospects for European banks have clouded over. However, only a few of the financial institutions have direct involvement in Russia.
9.10 a.m .: According to Selenskyj, Ukraine is fighting for the entire territory
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy does not want to give up Ukrainian territory in exchange for peace. “Ukraine will fight until it has its entire territory back,” Zelensky said at an event hosted by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation in Davos. He was digitally connected to the discussion on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.
Zelenskyy also said he is ready for talks if Russia withdraws to the areas it was in before the war began in February. But he will only speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin himself. “I can only speak to the president directly, no intermediaries, no intermediaries,” Zelensky said. For that, Putin has to leave his bubble. Russia is not currently negotiating seriously.
8.30 a.m .: Hungary declares a state of emergency because of the war in Ukraine
Hungary is extending the Corona emergency that is about to expire. The reason for the successor plan is not the pandemic, but the war in Ukraine, as Hungarian President Viktor Orban announced on Tuesday. The announcement followed the amendment of the Basic Law in Parliament. According to this, the government is now able to declare a state of emergency in the event of an armed conflict or a humanitarian catastrophe in a neighboring country. In such situations, the government is allowed to rule by decree and suspend certain laws. This gives the Hungarian leadership “the opportunity to react immediately and protect Hungary and the Hungarian families with all possible means,” said Orban.
In 2020, the Hungarian government announced a state of emergency for the first time. Criticism came from home and abroad. The state of emergency officially expires on May 31st.
5.03 a.m .: US billionaire Soros warns of the end of “civilization” in the Ukraine war
US billionaire George Soros has warned of the end of “civilization” because of the Ukraine war. The Russian “invasion may have been the start of World War III, and our civilization may not survive it,” Soros said Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We must mobilize all our resources to bring the war to an early end.” “The best and maybe only way to preserve our civilization is to defeat Putin as soon as possible,” he said. He praised US and European support for Ukraine. At the same time he was harsh on Germany.
Europe’s dependence on Russian energy supplies is “largely due to the mercantilist policies of former Chancellor Angela Merkel,” he said. “I think Putin was very clever in blackmailing Europe by threatening to turn off the gas supply,” Soros added. He is the enemy of many populists in Eastern Europe, especially Hungary, Turkey and Russia. The billionaire is a Jew of Hungarian origin who, with his foundations, supports, among other things, movements that are directed against authoritarian governments.
5.25 a.m .: Ukraine reports rockets on Zaporizhia, concentration of troops in Donbass
According to the authorities, the city of Zaporizhia in eastern Ukraine was hit by several rockets early on Wednesday morning. “Today, May 25, at 05:13, Russian forces fired four ballistic missiles at Zaporizhia,” the oblast administration announced on its Telegram channel. One of the missiles was intercepted by air defenses. The rescue workers are on site to get an idea of the situation, the damage and possible victims of the attack.
Meanwhile, the military experts at the US war research institute Institute for the Study of War (ISW) report in their latest analysis of Ukraine that the Russian military is concentrating forces from different directions in the heavily contested Luhansk region. The reserves needed for an offensive would be withdrawn from the areas around Kharkiv, Izyum, Donetsk and Zaporizhia. In the last week, the Russian troops in the Luhansk region managed to gain more territory than in the whole of May, the analysts said.
4.45 a.m .: Oligarch assets worth 10 billion euros frozen in the EU
In the course of the Ukraine war, Russian oligarchs lost access to luxury yachts, real estate and other assets worth almost 10 billion euros. According to information from the German Press Agency, this is based on figures from the EU Commission. On April 8, the value was still 6.7 billion euros. The EU Commission wants to present a legislative proposal this Wednesday that should make it possible to confiscate frozen Russian money. This money could then be used to rebuild Ukraine.
Since the beginning of the Ukraine war, the EU has put a number of Russian oligarchs on the sanctions list because they are accused of supporting the war. A good month later, the first balance was drawn: the EU states had frozen assets of 29.5 billion euros by then – 6.7 billion euros came from the assets of oligarchs. Added to this were the frozen assets of the Russian central bank.
1.04 a.m .: Ukrainian interior minister assumes 20,000 suspected war crimes
In the three months of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, around 20,000 suspected war crimes have been reported, according to Kiev sources. Police investigators alone registered 13,500 such acts, Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyj said on Ukrainian television on Tuesday. “We work with foreign prosecutors, joint investigative teams and experts, but most of the work is done by Ukrainian law enforcement officials.” Their evidence will later be sent to international bodies to bring suspected Russian war criminals to justice, the minister said. In a first trial, the Ukrainian judiciary sentenced a young Russian soldier to life imprisonment as a war criminal.
12:24 a.m .: Gerhard Schröder is giving up his position on the board of directors at Gazprom
Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) has given up a position on the supervisory board of the Russian energy company Gazprom. Schröder announced on Tuesday on the online platform LinkedIn that he had “abandoned the nomination for Gazprom’s supervisory board a long time ago”. He added: “I have also communicated this to the company.” As a result of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, the ex-chancellor had come under massive pressure because of his activities for Russian energy companies. Schröder had long been nominated for a post on Gazprom’s supervisory board, which he was originally scheduled to take up in June. Gazprom confirmed Schröder’s nomination on Tuesday, causing a stir.