Ukrainian Parliament President insists on EU candidate status Von der Leyen: Food part of the Kremlin “terrorist arsenal” Continued heavy fighting for Sjewerodonetsk The developments in the stern ticker.
Day 105 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine: Fierce fighting continues in the east of the country. Despite their perceived superiority, Russian troops have not yet achieved a breakthrough, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
But Russia also wants to cement its position in southern Ukraine. In the areas occupied by Russian troops, the new rulers are apparently planning to join Russia. Preparations for a referendum have begun, says the pro-Russian governor in the city of Melitopol, Halyna Danylchenko.
The question remains as to what will happen to the grain blocked by the Kremlin. Experts and politicians warn of a global food crisis. Among other things, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov wants to meet his Turkish colleague Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara. It should also be about the release of Ukrainian grain deliveries.
2:05 p.m .: Putin’s traditional television audience is postponed
The traditional TV public question session “The Direct Line” by Russian President Vladimir Putin will not take place in June this year, as has often been the case before. Preparations for the event were underway, but there is no specific date yet, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, according to the Interfax agency. However, he ruled out hosting in June.
“The Direct Line” is an hour-long live broadcast in which Russian citizens can describe their personal concerns to the head of the Kremlin. The TV marathon gives Putin the opportunity to present himself to the population as a caring father of the country. It was unclear whether the delay was related to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, in which observers say the Russian army is making much worse progress than planned.
2 p.m.: Lavrov in Ankara – assigning blame instead of solving the grain crisis
In the dispute over the blockade of Ukrainian grain in Black Sea ports, Russia has denied any responsibility. During a visit to Turkey, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blamed Ukraine for this. Ukraine has so far refused to clear its ports or otherwise allow cargo ships to pass through, said Lavrov after a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara. The meeting did not bring any concrete results, such as the establishment of a security corridor.
“We are ready to ensure the safety of ships leaving Ukrainian ports,” Lavrov said. Lavrov, however, has downplayed global concerns about hunger crises. The problem with the export of Ukrainian grain is classified by the West as a “universal catastrophe”, although the Ukrainian share in the world production of wheat and other grains is less than one percent.
1:02 p.m .: Ukrainian parliament speaker pushes for EU candidate status
The Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, has described the possibility of his country becoming a candidate for EU membership as an incentive for further reforms. The 46-year-old campaigned in the European Parliament in Strasbourg for Ukraine to be granted the prospect of EU membership and not to take away the hopes of Ukrainians. According to the parliamentary translation, Stefantschuk said he could assure the MPs that this message would be an incentive for his country to press ahead with further reforms quickly. It is important that Ukraine get this stimulus from the EU summit on June 23-24.
12.41 p.m .: Ukraine rejects mine clearance in front of the port of Odessa
For fear of Russian attacks, Ukraine says it is not prepared to clear the port of Odessa from mines to enable grain exports. “As soon as mines are cleared from the entrance to the port of Odessa, the Russian fleet will be there,” said spokesman for the Odessa regional administration Serhiy Brachuk in a video message on the online service Telegram. Once the mines have been removed, Russia will “want to attack” Odessa, and it “dreams of” parachuting soldiers there.
12.20 p.m .: Scholz talks to Selenskyj about further support for Ukraine
Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj about further German support for Ukraine. In a phone call, it was also about how grain exports from Ukraine could be made possible by sea, said government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.
The Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports has halted these exports, leading to rising food prices and exacerbating the food crisis in many poor countries, particularly in Africa. Scholz also briefed Zelenskyy on his phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin two weeks ago.
12:09 p.m .: Russia agrees to security guarantees for grain exports from Ukraine
According to its own statements, Russia is ready to provide security guarantees for ships loaded with grain from Ukrainian ports. This could happen “in cooperation with our Turkish colleagues,” explained Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a press conference in Ankara after meeting his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Cavusoglu had invited Lavrov to negotiate export opportunities for grain, which is currently blocked in the country’s Black Sea ports because of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
The Turkish Foreign Minister declares that Russia’s demand for the lifting of sanctions against Russian agricultural products is “legitimate”. “If we have to open up the world market for Ukrainian grain, then we see the removal of obstacles to Russian exports as a legitimate demand,” said the Turkish foreign minister at the press conference with Lavrov in Ankara.
11:09 a.m .: Luxembourg freezes 4.3 billion euros in Russian assets
Luxembourg has frozen almost 4.3 billion euros in assets as a result of EU sanctions following the Russian attack on Ukraine. These are bank deposits and securities, as the finance minister of the EU country, Yuriko Backes, announced on Wednesday. With 125 international banks, Luxembourg is one of the most important international financial centres.
10:52 a.m .: Von der Leyen calls food “part of the Kremlin’s arsenal of terror”
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen blames Russia’s head of state Vladimir Putin for impending famine in the world because of the war in Ukraine. “Food has now become part of the Kremlin’s arsenal of terror,” says the German politician in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. “This is a cold, callous and calculated siege by Putin against some of the world’s most vulnerable countries and people.”
This year alone, about 275 million people are likely to be at least at high risk of food insecurity, von der Leyen said. These numbers could quickly spiral further out of control given the prevailing inflation. “This food crisis is being fueled by Putin’s war of aggression.” The President of the European Commission also accused Russia of bombing grain storage facilities in Ukraine.
10:37 a.m .: Ukraine: More than 23 million tons of grain and oilseed blocked
Because of the blockade of Black Sea ports by Russia, Ukraine says it cannot export more than 23 million tons of grain and oilseeds. This was announced by Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal on his Telegram channel. Despite the Russian war of aggression, which has been going on for more than three months, 75 percent of the previous year’s areas have been cultivated. The Ministry of Agriculture is now working on setting up mobile silos to increase storage capacity by 10 to 15 million tons.
The fall in Ukrainian agricultural exports has led to rising food prices in many countries.
10:27 a.m.: Heavy fighting continues in the Ukrainian city of Sievjerodonetsk
Heavy fighting for the strategically important city of Sievjerodonetsk continues unabated in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian side reports that their positions are being shelled by Russian troops around the clock. The governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Hajday, says on television: “Mortars, artillery, tanks, air strikes, everything is going there right now.” At the same time, he assured: “No one will give up anything – even if our soldiers are forced to retreat to better fortified positions.”
Because of the heavy attacks, the railway line between Bakhmut and Lysychansk is no longer used by Ukraine, says the governor. The supplies for the neighboring cities of Lysychansk and Sievjerodonetsk are now being brought there by other routes.
10.12 a.m .: Ireland’s head of government supports Ukraine’s application for EU membership
Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin encourages Ukraine in its efforts to join the European Union. “I strongly support Ukraine’s application for membership,” said the Irishman in the Strasbourg European Parliament. “I hope that the June European Council will be able to send a clear and positive message to the Ukrainian people.”
Kyiv applied to join the EU shortly after the start of the Russian war against Ukraine. The EU Commission intends to give its recommendation on whether the country should be granted candidate status before the EU summit on June 23-24. The EU states would then have to decide unanimously on how to proceed.
9.56 a.m .: Norway delivers 22 self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine
Norway has delivered 22 M109 self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, as well as ammunition and spare parts. The development of the war makes it necessary to send heavier weapons to the country attacked by Russia, says Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram in Oslo. A self-propelled howitzer is a heavy artillery system with a cannon on a tracked vehicle, similar to a tank.
For security reasons, the delivery was not announced in advance, says the minister. The training of the Ukrainian soldiers on weapons took place in Germany. According to this information, Norway itself replaced the weapon systems with new equipment from South Korea.
6.32 a.m .: Battle for Sievjerodonetsk is similar to Ukrainian statements as a “Mission Impossible”
Ukraine has rejected Russian claims that Russian troops are largely in control of the strategically important eastern Ukrainian city of Sieverodonetsk. “They don’t control the city,” the governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Gaiday, told Telegram on Tuesday. However, he admitted that it is “very difficult to hold Sieverodonetsk” and even spoke of a “mission impossible”.
Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had previously said Russian forces had full control of the city’s residential areas. However, the Russian army continues to try to conquer the industrial area and the surrounding settlements.
5:53 a.m.: Separatists begin trial of foreign fighters in Ukraine
According to their own statements, the separatists in the Donbass region have started the trial of three foreigners from the ranks of the Ukrainian army. The Supreme Court of the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic has brought charges against two Britons and a Moroccan for mercenary activity, the Russian state news agency Ria Novosti reported on Tuesday evening, citing a video provided by the court. The public prosecutor had previously stated that the death penalty could be imposed on the accused.
The video shows the three men behind bars being questioned by a translator as to whether they had been made aware of the charges and whether they had any objections to the start of the trial. The defendants therefore gave their consent to the start of negotiations.
Many volunteers from abroad are also fighting on the Ukrainian side. Kyiv itself called them for help. In Moscow, however, these volunteers are referred to as mercenaries.
5.07 a.m.: Apparently more than 1000 captured Ukrainian fighters brought to Russia
More than 1000 Ukrainian prisoners of war from the conquered Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol have now been brought to Russia. The Russian law enforcement authorities are currently dealing with them, the Russian state agency TASS reported on Wednesday night, citing security circles. Among them could be more than 100 foreign “mercenaries”. In total, more than 2,400 Ukrainian fighters surrendered at the plant.
5 a.m.: Zelenskyj sees no Russian breakthrough in the east
Fierce fighting in eastern Ukraine continues. Despite their superiority, Russian troops have not yet achieved a breakthrough, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. “The situation at the front has not undergone any significant changes in the last 24 hours,” said Zelenskyj in his evening video message on Tuesday.
Selenskyj named the cities of Sievjerodonetsk, Lysychansk and Popasna as focal points. “It can be felt that the occupiers did not believe that the resistance would be so strong,” said the president.
According to Governor Oleh Synyehubov, at least three people were killed and six others injured by Russian shelling in the eastern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv. Another person was killed in attacks in the evening, it said.
3.37 a.m .: According to the Zelenskyi information system on war crimes, Ukraine starts
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced a new war crimes information system. In the coming week, a “book of torturers” is to be launched, in which confirmed information about war criminals and criminals in the Russian armed forces will be collected, Zelenskyy said in his evening video message on Tuesday. “I have repeatedly emphasized that they will all be held accountable. And we are taking this step by step,” said the President.
The information collected is about “specific facts about specific people who have committed specific violent crimes against Ukrainians,” Zelenskyy said. It’s about not only holding the direct perpetrators, such as the soldiers, accountable, but also the commanders who made the crimes possible – “in Bucha, in Mariupol, in all our cities”. They should all be held accountable, Zelenskyy said.
2.01 a.m .: “Prices for consumers will continue to rise,” says farmer president
According to Farmers’ President Joachim Rukwied, the Ukraine war has “massive effects on German agriculture” – especially with regard to the costs of operating resources. This also has consequences for consumers, says Rukwied in an interview with the “Passauer Neue Presse”. “Energy prices have doubled, the price of fertilizers, especially nitrogen fertilizers, has quadrupled on average, and fodder costs more,” explains the farmer president. However, the higher costs on the producer side have “not all been priced in,” says Rukwied. “This means that, in our opinion, consumer prices will continue to rise.”
12:07 a.m .: World Bank supports Ukraine with another 1.49 billion US dollars
The World Bank is providing additional $1.49 billion (€1.4 billion) in funding to Ukraine. The government could use it to pay wages for state employees, the World Bank said on Tuesday. The organization provides “further support to Ukraine in view of the ongoing war,” according to World Bank chief David Malpass. It was initially unclear whether the new funds were aid money or a loan.
The World Bank said the new funding brought the organization’s support to Ukraine to around $4 billion. According to estimates by the World Bank, the Ukrainian economy is likely to shrink by about half this year as a result of the Russian war of aggression.