Russia Ukraine War Crisis: The European Union’s leader on Wednesday called on the 27-nation bloc to ban oil imports from Russia in the sixth package of sanctions targeting Moscow for its war in Ukraine. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also proposed that Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, and two other major banks be disconnected from the SWIFT international banking payment system. The proposals need to be unanimously approved to take effect and are likely to be the subject of fierce debate.
Meanwhile, attacks and shelling intensified in Donetsk and Luhansk, with the most difficult area being Popasna, where it was impossible to organise evacuations, regional governor Serhiy Haida said.
Scores of evacuees who did manage to leave Mariupol under United Nations and Red Cross auspices over the weekend reached the relative safety of Ukraine-controlled Zaporizhzhia after cowering for weeks under the sprawling Azovstal steel plant. Mariupol is a major target for Russia as it seeks to cut Ukraine off from the Black Sea and connect Russian-controlled territory in the south and east. (Here we explained why Mariupol matters to Russia)
Dutch PM Mark Rutte said on Wednesday that the Netherlands is assessing whether it can join among others Germany, Belgium and the UK to supply more heavy weapons to Ukraine.
Rutte said this after a phone call with Ukranian President Volodimir Zelenskyy during which he praised Ukraine’s steadfastness in the battle against Russia for the Donbas region. “The Netherlands will continue to support Ukraine’s fight to defend democracy and sovereignty, in the short and long term,” he wrote on Twitter. (Reuters)
📞: Just spoke with President @ZelenskyyUa and praised Ukraine’s steadfastness in the battle for Donbas. The Netherlands will continue to support Ukraine’s fight to defend democracy and sovereignty, in the short and long term. (1/2)
US President Joe Biden on Wednesday said he would speak with other leaders from the Group of Seven advanced economies this week about potential additional sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine.
“With regard to additional sanctions, we’re always open to additional sanctions,” Biden told reporters. “I’ll be speaking with the members of the G7 this week about what we’re going to do or not do.” (Reuters)
India and the Nordic countries on Wednesday discussed the destabilising effect of the conflict in Ukraine and its broader regional and global implications as they agreed to remain closely engaged on the issue. The issue figured prominently at the second India-Nordic summit attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterparts from Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
A joint statement said the prime ministers expressed their serious concern about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
“They unequivocally condemned civilian deaths in Ukraine. They reiterated the need for an immediate cessation of hostilities,” it said. It also said the prime ministers emphasised that the contemporary global order has been built on the UN Charter, international law and respect for sovereignty and the territorial integrity of states. (PTI)
Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged Ukraine on Wednesday to help unblock an embarrassing diplomatic impasse, after the German president was stopped from visiting Kyiv amid disquiet over his past support of rapprochement with Russia. Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany has called Scholz an “offended liver sausage” for refusing to visit the country before President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is welcomed there.
“It is a problem for the German government and for the German people that the president was asked not to come,” Scholz told reporters following talks with his cabinet. “Ukraine must also play its part,” he said, without elaborating how.
The row has put an awkward twist on relations at a time when Germany’s opposition to Russia’s invasion is crucial to Ukraine, given its weight in the European Union and the bloc’s deliberations on sanctions against Moscow. (Reuters)
Ukraine’s defence ministry said on Wednesday that Russia was attempting to increase the tempo of its offensive in the east of the country. Defence Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk gave few details but said Moscow had conducted nearly 50 air strikes on Tuesday alone.
He also said Russian artillery fire and air strikes were continuing periodically on the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol where the last Ukrainian defenders of the southern port city are holed up. “Russia’s military command is attempting to increase the tempo of its offensive operation in eastern Ukraine,” Motuzyanyk told a briefing.
He said Russian strategic bombers had fired 18 rockets from airspace above the Caspian Sea at targets in Ukraine “with the aim of damaging our country’s transport infrastructure.” The ministry’s account of the military situation across Ukraine could not immediately be verified. (Reuters)
Slovakia wants a three-year transition period for it to phase in the European Union’s proposed oil embargo on Russia, Economy Minister Richard Sulik said on Wednesday.
Slovakia, highly reliant on Russian crude supplies, supported the EU’s sanctions, Sulik said, but was still seeking an exemption to give it time to secure alternative oil supplies.
The European Commission’s proposed measures include phasing out supplies of Russian crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of 2022. (Reuters)
Conflict, extreme weather and economic shocks increased the number of people facing a severe lack of food by a fifth to 193 million last year and the Ukraine war means the outlook will worsen without urgent action, a U.N. agency said on Tuesday.
The Global Network Against Food Crises, set up by the United Nations and the European Union, said in its annual report that the number of people facing acute food insecurity and requiring urgent, life-saving food assistance had nearly doubled in the six years since 2016 when it began tracking it.
“The outlook moving forward is not good. If more is not done to support rural communities, the scale of the devastation in terms of hunger and lost livelihoods will be appalling,” the GNAFC report said.
“Urgent humanitarian action is needed on a massive scale to prevent that from happening.” Defined as any lack of food that threatens lives, livelihoods or both, acute food insecurity at crisis levels or worse grew by 40 million people, or 20%, last year. (Reuters)
Moldova sees no imminent threat of unrest spilling over from the war in Ukraine despite “provocations” by pro-Russian separatists in recent days, but has been making contingency plans for “pessimistic” scenarios, President Maia Sandu said on Wednesday.
Fears have grown in the past week that Moldova could be drawn into the conflict in neighbouring Ukraine, after pro-Russian separatists in a breakaway region reported a number of attacks and explosions there, which they blamed on Kyiv.
Sandu and her pro-Western government have blamed incidents in the breakaway region on “pro-war” separatist factions. She has also denounced comments by a Russian general that one of Moscow’s war aims was to seize Ukrainian territory to link up with the separatists in Moldova. Kyiv has accused Moscow of trying to drag Moldova into the war. The Kremlin has expressed “concern” over the situation in Moldova’s separatist region, where Russia has stationed hundreds of troops since the fall of the Soviet Union. (Reuters)
Kyiv will be ready if Belarus’s armed forces join Russia’s war effort in Ukraine, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian State Border Service said on Wednesday. Belarus, a close ally of Russia, said its military had begun large-scale drills on Wednesday to test their combat readiness and that they posed no threat to its neighbours.
“We do not rule out that the Russian Federation could at some point use the territory of Belarus, the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus, against Ukraine,” said Andriy Demchenko, spokesperson for Ukraine’s State Border Service.
“Therefore, we are ready,” he said, adding that the border with Belarus had been strengthened since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Russia launched the invasion after holding joint drills with Belarus which had allowed it to move more forces closer to the border with Ukraine. (Reuters)
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday the Russian military would consider Nato transport carrying weapons in Ukraine as targets to be destroyed, RIA news agency quoted him as saying.
Shoigu also said that the Ukrainian fighters holed up in the sprawling Azovstal plant in Mariupol were kept under secure blockade after President Vladimir Putin ordered that they be hermetically sealed off. (Reuters)
A Russian submarine in the Black sea had fired two Kalibr cruise missiles at targets in Ukraine, Russia’s defence ministry said on Wednesday.
“The crew of the Black Sea Fleet submarine launched two Kalibr cruise missiles from the Black Sea at designated ground targets in the territory of Ukraine,” it said. Russia first reported using submarine strikes against Ukrainian target late last month. (Reuters)
Twenty-six people were killed in a collision in the Rivne region of western Ukraine involving a bus, a minibus and a fuel truck that exploded after the crash, the interior ministry said on Wednesday.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs has confirmed that 26 people died in a highway accident in the Rivne region.
The bus had been heading to Poland, the ministry said on Facebook. It did not say whether it was carrying any people fleeing the war in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.
The dead from Tuesday’s collision included 24 passengers and the drivers of both the bus and the minibus. Twelve others were hurt including the driver of the fuel truck, the ministry said. (Reuters)
Russia’s defence ministry said on Wednesday that it had disabled six railway stations in Ukraine used to supply Ukrainian forces with foreign weapons.
The ministry also said it had hit 40 Ukrainian military targets, including four ammunition depots. There was no immediate reaction from Kyiv. (Reuters)
The European Union’s leader on Wednesday called on the 27-nation bloc to ban oil imports from Russia in the sixth package of sanctions targeting Moscow for its war in Ukraine. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also proposed that Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, and two other major banks be disconnected from the SWIFT international banking payment system.
Today we are presenting the sixth package of sanctions.
First, we are listing high-ranking military officers and other individuals who committed war crimes in Bucha.
We know who you are.
And you will be held accountable. pic.twitter.com/WO2S8ly0qw
Von der Leyen, addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, called on the EU’s member nations to phase out imports of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year. “We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion, in a way that allows us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes and minimizes the impact on global markets,” von der Leyen said.
Soon we will celebrate Europe Day.
A day to reflect on our Union.
But also on the future of the EU.
Which today, is also written in Ukraine. https://t.co/pxhdYDTvfj
The proposals need to be unanimously approved to take effect and are likely to be the subject of fierce debate. Von der Leyen conceded that getting all 27 member countries — some of them landlocked and highly dependent on Russia for energy supplies — to agree on oil sanctions “will not be easy.” (AP)
US President Joe Biden spoke in an Alabama factory that built the Javelin missiles Ukrainian soldiers used against Russian tanks. Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain addressed members of Ukraine’s parliament, extolling their “finest hour.” President Emmanuel Macron of France pressed Russia’s Vladimir Putin by phone to end his “devastating aggression.” Germany helped Finland and Sweden — Russia’s Nordic neighbours once wary of provoking Putin — inch closer to joining Nato.
On Tuesday, the leaders of the West sought to capitalise on Russia’s apparent lack of battlefield momentum to show Ukraine support and strengthen its resolve — and its arsenal. (Read more)
The British military believes Russia will make a push to try to seize the cities of Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine. The British made the comment Wednesday in a daily briefing it posts on Twitter about the war.
The British said: “Despite struggling to break through Ukrainian defences and build momentum, Russia highly likely intends to proceed beyond Izium to capture the cities of Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk.” It added: “Capturing these locations would consolidate Russian military control of the northeastern Donbas and provide a staging point for their efforts to cut off Ukrainian forces in the region.”
Russia has deployed 22 battalion tactical groups near Ukraine’s eastern city of Izium in an effort to advance along the northern axis of the Donbas region, Britain said on Wednesday.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 04 May 2022
Find out more about the UK government’s response: https://t.co/IvoOTjNz8D
In an update on Twitter, British military intelligence said it was highly likely that Russia intended to move beyond Izium to capture the cities of Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk. (Reuters)
The armed forces of Belarus began sudden large-scale drills on Wednesday to test their combat readiness, the defence ministry of Ukraine’s neighbour said.
The Armed Forces of Belarus have declared a Snap Combat-Readiness Check on all Military Reaction Forces across the Country beginning today, the Belarusian Defense Ministry has said that these Drills do not pose a threat to the Countries Neighbors or the European Community. pic.twitter.com/tEIOhWjm7p
“It is planned that the (combat readiness) test will involve the movement of significant numbers of military vehicles, which can slow down traffic on public roads,” the Belarusian ministry said in a statement. Against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the ministry said the exercise posed no threat to its neighbours or the European community in general. (Reuters)
When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy autographed a baseball for an American collector in 2019, he likely had no idea it would one day be used to help his nation during a time of need.
Zelensky’s autographed baseball up for auction, proceeds help Ukraine https://t.co/pvgCZ6MwMf pic.twitter.com/XSVXfVe5Ff
The official Rawlings Major League baseball is being sold by Randy Kaplan, a renowned collector of balls signed by world leaders, with a portion of the proceeds going to war relief efforts in Ukraine, auctioneer RR Auction of Boston said Tuesday.
The ball was expected to sell for at least $15,000 but the leading bid as of Tuesday had already exceeded that amount, an RR spokesperson said. (AP)
Shakhtar Donetsk is heading directly to the next Champions League group stage after Villarreal was eliminated in the semifinals on Tuesday.
Amid so much turmoil in Ukrainian football, the upgrade should guarantee tens of millions of euros (dollars) in Champions League prize money next season for Shakhtar, which has been touring Europe playing charity games in exile from Russia’s invasion. Shakhtar led the Ukraine Premier League standings when the season was abandoned last month with no official title to be awarded. (Read more)
Without naming Russia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday said “there will be no winning party in this war, everyone will suffer”. The Prime Minister, who is in Germany, said, “Recent geopolitical events also showed how fragile world peace and stability is, and how interconnected all countries are. From the very beginning of the Ukrainian crisis, we called for an immediate ceasefire, insisting that dialogue is the only way to resolve the dispute. We believe that there will be no winning party in this war, everyone will suffer. That is why we are in favour of peace.”
“Oil prices are skyrocketing due to the turmoil triggered by the Ukraine conflict; there is also shortage of food grains and fertilizers in the world. This has burdened every family in the world, but its impact on developing and poor countries will be even more serious. India is deeply concerned by the humanitarian impact of this conflict. We have sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine on our behalf. We are also trying to help other friendly countries through food exports, oil supplies and economic assistance,” he added.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who visited Kyiv over the weekend, declared support for Ukraine’s fight against Russia. “America stands with Ukraine. We stand with Ukraine until victory is won. And we stand with NATO,” she said. Pelosi is the highest-ranking US official to have visited the country since the war began. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had previously visited Ukraine.