Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

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Moscow appears ready to sever ties with the West as China pivot continues

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a meeting with Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Secretary General Zhang Ming in Moscow, Russia, May 18, 2022.

Russian Foreign Ministry | Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would “seriously consider” whether to restore relations with the West.

Speaking during a question and answer session at an event in Moscow on Monday evening, Lavrov said
Western countries have embraced “Russophobia” since the Kremlin launched what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24. The West sees it as an aggressive, unprovoked invasion.

“If they want to offer something in terms of resuming relations, we will seriously consider whether we need it or not,” he said, adding that Russia was developing its own import substitution system in view of the sanctions. international laws imposed on the country.

Russia should not in any way “depend on the supply of anything from the West to ensure the development of industries critical to the security, economy and social sphere of our homeland”, added Mr. Lavrov.

His comments, which were posted on the Foreign Ministry’s website, also signaled that Russia’s pivot to China would continue.

“Now that the West is in a dictatorial position, our economic ties with China will develop even faster,” Lavrov said, adding that this also presents an opportunity to develop the Far East and Eastern Siberia from Russia.

—Holly Ellyatt

Russia seeks to encircle Severodonetsk, says UK

Russia has increased the intensity of its operations in Donbass as it seeks to encircle Severodonetsk, Lysychansk and Rubizhne, the British Ministry of Defense said in its latest intelligence update on Tuesday.

“At present, the northern and southern axes of this operation are separated by about 25 km of territory under Ukrainian control,” the ministry noted.

Although there was strong Ukrainian resistance with forces occupying entrenched defensive positions, Russia did however achieve some localized successes, in part due to the concentration of artillery units, the UK noted.

Capturing what the British Army has called the “Severodonetsk pocket” (region) is very important for Russia, as “it would see the whole of Luhansk Oblast placed under Russian occupation”.

Nevertheless, although currently Russia’s main effort, this operation is only part of the Russian campaign to seize Donbass.

“If the Donbass front line moves further west, it will stretch Russian lines of communication and likely see its forces face new logistical resupply difficulties,” the ministry noted.

Holly Ellyatt

Russia fired at 38 towns in Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukraine says

Ukraine said Russian forces struck several towns in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, including civilian infrastructure.

“The occupiers fired on 38 towns in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts,” Ukraine’s Joint Forces Task Force posted on Facebook on Tuesday, “destroying and damaging 62 civilian property, including 53 houses, an agricultural enterprise, a garden of children, a bank branch, a pharmacy and the national police administration building.

As a result of these shellings, at least seven civilians were killed and six others injured, the update notes. CNBC was unable to verify the information.

Russian forces have intensified their assaults in the Donbass region in recent weeks, with heavy fighting around the city of Severodonetsk, located between Donetsk and Luhansk, currently the most contested areas of the war in Ukraine.

A photo taken on May 22, 2022 shows the destroyed bridge connecting the town of Lysychansk with the city of Severodonetsk in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbass, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Aris Messinis | AFP | Getty Images

In another Facebook post, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said that the Russian forces were “exerting intense fire along the entire line of contact and in the depths of the defense of our troops in the operational areas of Donetsk , Slobozhansky and Pivdennobuzhsky”.

“The greatest activity of hostilities” is observed in the operational district of Donetsk, the post noted, namely near Lysychansk and Severodonetsk.

Holly Ellyatt

Kherson accepts both Russian rubles and Ukrainian hryvnias, Russian official says

A man holds up Russian ruble and Ukrainian hryvnia banknotes on March 18, 2014.

Hannibal Hanschke | Image Alliance | Getty Images

Moscow-appointed governor Vladimir Saldo of Kherson region in southern Ukraine said the region will officially accept Russian rubles and Ukrainian hryvnyas, The Associated Press reported.

Saldo also said an office of a Russian bank will open in the area, the AP reported.

Kherson was the first city to fall entirely under Russian control. A Russian official had previously spoken of his intention to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to annex the region and make it join the Russian Federation.

—Chelsea Ong

Turkey urges Sweden to ease security concerns over country’s NATO bid

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech in Turkey November 11, 2017. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Sweden to take ‘concrete steps’ to allay Turkey’s security concerns over Sweden’s bid for the NATO membership, the Associated Press reported.

Turkish Presidency / Yasin Bulbul | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Sweden to take “concrete steps” to allay Turkey’s security concerns over Sweden’s bid for NATO membership, the Associated Press reported.

“We can’t ignore the fact that Sweden imposes sanctions on us in any way,” Erdogan said, according to the AP. “Turkey’s legitimate expectations regarding (an end to) support for terrorism and sanctions must be met.”

Turkey has said it opposes Sweden’s bid to join NATO, saying the country supports the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK – a Kurdish Marxist separatist movement that fights Turkish forces intermittently since the 1980s.

The PKK is classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey, as well as by the United States, Canada, Australia and the European Union.

—Chelsea Ong

World Food Program chief urges billionaires to ‘step up’

UN World Food Program chief tells billionaires it’s ‘time to step up’ as global threat of food insecurity rises with Russia’s war in Ukraine, says he’s seen signs encouraging words from some of the richest people in the world, like Elon Musk and Jeff Bézos.

The agency’s executive director, David Beasley, relied on a social media back-and-forth he had with Musk last year, when the Tesla CEO challenged defenders of the policies to show how a $6 billion donation sought by the UN agency could solve world hunger.

Since then, “Musk has invested $6 billion in a foundation. But everyone thought it was coming to us, but we haven’t received any yet. So I’m hopeful,” Beasley told the Associated Press at the World Economic Forum in Davos. , Switzerland, where some of the world’s biggest elites and billionaires have gathered.

“I don’t know what it’s going to take,” he said of Musk. “We’re trying every angle, you know: Elon, we need your help bro.”

Musk and Bezos did not immediately respond to emails or other messages seeking comment.

— Associated Press

EU likely to reach oil embargo deal with Russia ‘within days’, says German economy minister

The European Union will probably agree to an embargo on Russian oil imports “within days,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck told ZDF television.

Habeck, however, warned that an embargo would not automatically weaken the Kremlin, as higher prices allowed it to rake in more revenue while selling lower volumes of oil.

Therefore, one consideration was no longer paying “any price” for oil, but agreeing to upper limits, he said. For this to work, however, many countries would need to get on board.

—Reuters

‘Never have I been so ashamed of my country’: Russian diplomat resigns over Ukraine invasion

Russian servicemen work to clear the territory of the Azovstal steel plant during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, May 22, 2022.

Alexander Ermoshenko | Reuters

A Russian diplomat has resigned following his country’s invasion of Ukraine, calling it “not only a crime against the Ukrainian people but also, perhaps, the most serious crime against the Russian people”.

“Never have I been so ashamed of my country as on February 24 this year,” wrote Boris Bondarev, adviser to the Russian mission to the United Nations in Geneva, in an email to other diplomats.

“Those who engineered this war want only one thing: to stay in power forever, to live in pompous and tasteless palaces, to sail on yachts comparable in tonnage and cost to the entire Russian Navy, to enjoy unlimited power and total impunity,” Bondarev wrote.

Bondarev wrote that during his 20 years in the Russian Foreign Ministry “the level of lies and lack of professionalism” has increased, but in recent years “has become nothing short of catastrophic”.

“Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not diplomacy. It is warmongering, lies and hatred.”

—Dan Mangan

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