Selenskyj calls diplomacy the only chance to end the war Ex-NATO chief Rasmussen calls for “German leadership” Russia turns off Finland’s gas tap Developments in the Ukraine war in the stern ticker.

Day 88 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine: After the complete conquest of the strategically important port city of Mariupol by Russia, Kyiv fears a further advance of the troops of President Vladimir Putin. From the Donbass, the military governor of the Luhansk region reports massive fighting, especially around the city of Sievjerodonetsk.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made it clear that only negotiations can end the conflict. The war will be “bloody, there will be fierce fighting, but it will only end definitively through diplomacy,” the head of state told the Ukrainian television channel ICTV.

The news about the war in Ukraine from Saturday, May 21:

3.20 p.m .: Russia tightens entry bans against the USA and Canada

Russia is expanding its entry bans on Americans and Canadians. The Kremlin published a list of a total of 963 US citizens who are now banned from entering the country. It was previously known that President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, as well as hundreds of members of the US House of Representatives, were affected. From Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Trudeau, and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland’s husband, Graham Bowley, are now on the list.

The move is in response to Canada and the United States putting two adult daughters of Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin on their sanctions list. Your assets in Canada have been frozen and you will no longer be able to do business there. Putin’s daughter Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova is a technical manager whose work supports the Kremlin and the defense industry, Washington said in early April. Her sister Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova runs state-funded programs that the Kremlin is funding with billions for genetic research and that Putin personally monitors.

2:22 p.m .: Scholz asks Schröder to resign other posts

After resigning from the supervisory board of the Russian energy group Rosneft, Chancellor Olaf Scholz called on former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to stop further work for companies in the country. “We take note that it is now happening to one person and the others must follow suit,” said the SPD politician on the fringes of his party’s state delegate conference in Hildesheim. According to Scholz, Schröder stands alone with his attitude.

Rosneft announced on Friday that Schröder would not extend his term as head of the supervisory board. Schröder is also nominated for the supervisory board of the Russian energy company Gazprom and works as a leading lobbyist for the Gazprom subsidiaries Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2. The Gazprom general meeting is scheduled for June 30th.

1:40 p.m .: The Russian border region of Kursk accuses Ukraine of renewed shelling

The Russian border region of Kursk now accuses Ukraine of daily shelling. Today the Glushkovo region was attacked, writes Governor Roman Starowoit on Telegram. He does not comment on possible victims. In the past few days, Starovoit had already blamed the Ukrainians for the destruction in towns near the border. A person is said to have died in the village of Tjotkino on Thursday. Ukraine has not commented on the allegations. Russia, which itself launched the war of aggression against Ukraine on February 24, has been complaining about Ukrainian attacks on its own territory for weeks.

1:20 p.m.: Biden signs $40 billion aid package for Ukraine

US President Joe Biden has signed the new $40 billion aid package for Ukraine. After the approval of the US Congress, all that was missing was the President’s signature – which he now did during his visit to South Korea, as the White House reports. The money is intended to finance US support for Ukraine for the next five months.

Among other things, the package provides six billion dollars for armored vehicles and air defense systems for the Ukrainian armed forces. In addition, nine billion dollars are planned for weapons for the US armed forces after they have sent numerous armaments to Ukraine. Nine billion dollars are earmarked for maintaining government functions in Ukraine. In addition, the United States is also providing additional funds for humanitarian aid.

12.45 p.m .: More than three and a half million Ukrainians fled to Poland

Since the start of the Russian attack on Ukraine, more than 3.5 million people have fled to neighboring Poland. This was announced by the Polish border guard on Twitter. Recently, however, the number of people returning to Ukraine was greater than the number of people newly arriving in Poland. Yesterday alone, 23,700 people from Ukraine crossed the Polish border, and on the same day 28,400 people crossed the border in the opposite direction.

According to the United Nations, more than 6.4 million people have fled abroad since the beginning of the war. In addition, there are still more than eight million people in Ukraine who have lost their homes and been displaced. Before the war began, around 44 million people lived in Ukraine.

12:37 p.m .: Ukraine registers numerous Russian attacks

Ukraine reports a large number of Russian attacks in the country and points to the risk of air strikes from neighboring Belarus. According to the General Staff situation report, the focus of the fighting is further east in Ukraine. There, eleven enemy attacks were fended off and, among other things, eight tanks were destroyed. The artillery shelling of Ukrainian positions is also said to be continuing. Ukraine also sees itself threatened by Russia’s ally Belarus, which is not officially a participant in the war.

In addition, ships of the Russian Navy are on the move in the Black and Azov Seas for combat operations and reconnaissance, according to the staff in Kyiv. The military complains that the Russian occupiers are also using terror on the ground against the Ukrainian civilian population. For example, they prevented people from fleeing from the Cherson region they occupied to the territory controlled by Ukraine. The opening of humanitarian corridors is also blocked so that no food and medicine can be brought into the area. Older people, the sick and children are trapped there.

11:30 a.m.: Russia reports destruction of “large” load of western weapons

Russia says it has destroyed a shipment of Western weapons in north-western Ukraine. The Russian army has destroyed a “large batch of weapons and military equipment near the Malyn train station in the Shotoymr region” with “high-precision long-range sea-based weapons” of the Kalibr type,” the Defense Ministry in Moscow announced. Ukraine received the delivery from the “United States and European countries”.

According to the ministry, the western arms shipments were destined for Ukrainian troops in the Donbass region, which has been partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014. The fiercest fighting in Ukraine is currently taking place in the Donbass. Among other things, Ukraine will receive artillery weapons, anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank weapons from the West. The government in Kyiv has been asking for more support for weeks.

11.11 a.m .: Selenskyj names diplomacy as the only way to end the war

According to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the war in Ukraine can ultimately only be ended through diplomacy. The war will be “bloody, there will be fierce fighting, but it will only end with diplomacy,” said the head of state on the Ukrainian television channel ICTV. “There are things that we can only achieve at the negotiating table.” The results of the negotiations must be “just” for Ukraine. According to Zelensky, there should be a document on security guarantees for Ukraine, signed “by the friends and partners of Ukraine, without Russia.” At the same time there should be “a bilateral discussion with Russia”.

Since Russia’s attack on Ukraine at the end of February, Ukrainian and Russian negotiators had initially met regularly for negotiations or discussed a settlement of the war via video conference. However, according to Russian news agencies, the last meeting of the chief negotiators of both countries took place on April 22, a month ago.

10:30 a.m.: Italy is preparing a plan for the peace process

According to its foreign minister, Italy has developed a plan for a peace solution in the Ukraine war. “We now need a diplomatic counter-offensive,” explains Luigi Di Maio in the newspaper “La Stampa”. Currently, only individual states are trying to mediate. Now they want to get all relevant international organizations to cooperate. A first goal is to achieve local pauses in fighting, followed by a ceasefire, work on neutrality and finally a peace agreement.

The plan was developed by diplomats and the Italian government and presented to the negotiators of the seven most important industrialized nations (G7), said Di Maio. He also spoke to UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The UN, EU and OSCE should involve other countries such as Turkey and India as the main working group.

10:07 a.m .: Kyiv fears a Russian advance after the fall of Mariupol

Ukraine fears a further advance by Russian troops after they have completely taken the port city of Mariupol. The military governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Hajdaj, reports massive fighting in the Donbass. “The Russians are wiping out Sievjerodonetsk like Mariupol. Fighting is going on in the city’s suburbs” and there are aerial bombardments, Hajdaj describes on Telegram the situation in the eastern Ukrainian city, which has been under fire for days. Russia wants to reduce the area to rubble and ashes. At the same time, the governor rejects Moscow’s claim that the Luhansk region is about to be completely taken over as “nonsense”.

According to the General Staff in Kyiv, the Russian armed forces are still trying to gain complete control over the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in order to secure a land corridor to the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. From the Russian point of view, the capture of Mariupol is considered an important partial success.

9.40 a.m .: Barley calls for an EU oil embargo against Russia even without Hungary

The Vice-President of the European Parliament, Katarina Barley, calls for the planned EU oil embargo against Russia to be decided without Hungary. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban wants to “lead the EU through the ring by the ring of the nose,” says the SPD politician on Deutschlandfunk. She does not see that Orban would agree to the new EU sanctions package, which also includes the planned oil embargo, without anything in return. Barley accuses Orban of using the dispute over the oil embargo for his “political games” to channel additional money into his country. The right-wing populist prime minister is primarily concerned with letting money flow into the channels of his “family and clans”. An “openly corrupt system” exists in Hungary.

In return for agreeing to the oil embargo proposed by the EU Commission, Hungary had demanded billions in aid from the EU. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto spoke in a video message published on Facebook this week of investments of 15 to 18 billion euros needed for his country’s move away from Russian oil.

7.15 a.m .: Russia turns off the gas tap in Finland

As announced, Russia has stopped its gas supplies to Finland. “Natural gas deliveries to Finland under the Gasum supply contract have been suspended,” announced the Finnish state-owned energy company Gasum. Gas is now obtained from other sources via the Balticconnector pipeline, which connects Finland and Estonia. The Russian energy giant Gazprom announced the delivery stop yesterday, referring to the dispute over ruble payments. Gasum then emphasized that this would not lead to supply problems in Finland. The Finns had rejected Moscow’s demand to pay bills for gas deliveries in rubles.

The gas supply stop comes a few days after Finland’s official NATO application. The country, which had been neutral for decades, decided to take this step in view of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

5.20 a.m .: Ex-NATO boss Rasmussen calls for “German leadership”

Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen criticizes the German government’s cautious course in the face of the Ukraine war. Germany is “too hesitant to deliver heavy weapons and impose sanctions,” said Rasmussen in the “Handelsblatt”. “Of course, Germany is highly dependent on Russian gas imports, but I think a clear stance from the federal government would change the entire dynamic in Ukraine. We need German leadership.”

The Dane, who was Prime Minister of his country from 2001 to 2009 and Secretary General of the transatlantic military alliance from 2009 to 2014, calls on the Europeans to stop imports of oil and gas from Russia immediately. “Certainly an energy embargo will come at a price. But compared to the cost of a protracted war, that price would be small,” argued Rasmussen.

1.05 a.m .: Military historians accuse Scholz of showing fear to Putin

Military historian Sönke Neitzel criticizes Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s (SPD) warnings about an escalation of the Russian war in Ukraine as “unwise in terms of foreign policy, even risky”. “Scholz is showing Putin his fear,” the Potsdam professor of military history told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. “That promotes the image of a weak West. That’s exactly what made Putin dare to go to war in the first place.”

According to Neitzel, the war will last “many more years”. Scholz’ call for a ceasefire is “understandable, but wishful thinking”. Neither side is so weak militarily that they have to negotiate to avert total defeat. Moscow’s troops are currently digging in in southern Ukraine along the land bridge to Crimea and doing everything in eastern Ukraine to capture and then hold the Donbass regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. In order to shift the frontline, Ukraine must establish a superiority of at least 3:1 and gain air superiority to cut Russian supply lines. “I don’t trust the Ukrainian military to do that,” said Neitzel. “In a few weeks I expect it to slow down, then the front lines will be clear.”

12:22 a.m .: Russia classifies Kasparov and Khodorkovsky as “foreign agents”.

Moscow has put former world chess champion Garry Kasparov and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky on its list of “foreign agents.” The 59-year-old Kasparov and the 58-year-old ex-tycoon Khodorkovsky also had their activities financed by “sources” in Ukraine, the Russian Ministry of Justice justifies the step in an updated version of its list of “foreign agents”. They are subject to numerous restrictions and requirements, including having to state their “foreign agent” status in all their publications.

Kasparov has long been a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has lived in the US for almost a decade. Khodorkovsky was one of the most powerful businessmen in Russia in the 1990s before his run-in with the Kremlin after Putin took office in 2000. He spent the time between 2003 and 2013 in Russian custody, after which he went into exile.

0.10. Watch: Selenskyj calls for funds for compensation

Because of the massive destruction in his country, in his nightly video address, President Zelenskyy mentions a fund for compensation payments to countries that Russia has damaged through attacks. That could be regulated in a “multilateral agreement”. Zelenskyy proposes freezing or confiscating Russian capital and property abroad and transferring it to this new fund. “That would be fair.” According to Ukrainian estimates, war damage in Ukraine already totals hundreds of billions of euros.

0.02 a.m .: Russia reports complete capture of Azov Steelworks and Mariupol

According to Russian information, all fighters in the besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol have now surrendered. According to the Ministry of Defense in Moscow, the industrial zone and the city are now completely under Russian control. A total of 2,439 Ukrainian soldiers have been taken prisoner by the Russians since May 16. The commander of the Azov regiment was taken away in a special armored vehicle.

Earlier on Friday, the last Ukrainian fighters in the industrial complex said they had received an order from Kyiv to stop defending Mariupol. The Ukrainian military leadership gave the order “to save the lives of the soldiers in our garrison,” Azov commander Denys Prokopenko said in a video message. In a TV interview recorded before the Russian announcement of the capture, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made the West partly responsible for the development. He has repeatedly called on Western heads of state and government to supply his country with “appropriate weapons” “so that we can reach Mariupol to liberate these people.” The steel mill was the last piece of the strategically important city in south-eastern Ukraine that had not yet been completely under Russian control.