Russia-Ukraine crisis live updates | G7 countries to provide $19.8 billion for Ukraine aid package

Soldiers of the National Guard of Ukraine attend a training in tactical medicine, as the Russian invasion in Ukraine continues, in the Transcarpathian region, Ukraine, May 19, 2022.

Soldiers of the National Guard of Ukraine attend a training in tactical medicine, as the Russian invasion in Ukraine continues, in the Transcarpathian region, Ukraine, May 19, 2022. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Russia's Defence Ministry said on May 19 that 1,730 Ukrainian soldiers had surrendered this week at the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine's port city of Mariupol.

Ukraine welcomes the U.S. Senate's confirmation of Bridget Brink as Washington's Ambassador to Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's chief of staff said on Thursday.

One person died and others were injured in southwestern Russia after an attack in a village on the border with Ukraine, the Governor of Kursk region said on Thursday.

The United States has re-opened its embassy in Ukraine three months after shuttering it and withdrawing American diplomats from Kyiv ahead of Russia's invasion in February.

Read more news on the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis here.

Here are the latest updates:

Germany

G7 countries to provide $19.8 billion for Ukraine aid package

The Group of Seven leading economies and global financial institutions are providing $19.8 billion in aid to bolster Ukraine’s public finances, Germany’s finance minister said on May 20.

Christian Lindner told reporters that $9.5 billion of the total was mobilised at meetings of the G7 finance ministers in Koenigswinter, Germany, this week. He said the goal is to ensure that Ukraine’s financial situation does not affect its ability to defend itself from Russia’s invasion.

“We agreed on concrete actions to deepen multilateral economic cooperation and underlined our commitment to our united response to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and to our unwavering support to Ukraine,” a G7 statement reads.

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WARSAW

Poland, Portugal trying to bring Ukraine into EU

Poland and Portugal are trying to figure out ways of bringing Ukraine into the European Union even if some countries in the bloc balk at granting it speedy access.

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced the effort after talks on Friday in Warsaw with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa.

Mr. Morawiecki said that “if some EU nations protest vehemently, together with Portugal we want to work out an appropriate package that would be attractive for Ukraine and will show that Ukraine‘s place is in the EU”.

Germany, for example, has spoken out against a swift EU membership path for Ukraine, which currently fighting a ferocious war against Russia‘s invasion. All 27 EU members need to approve an enlargement to include Ukraine. - AP

ANTWERP

Cargo vessel set to ship U.S. medical, defence supplies towards Ukraine

A cargo ship set to deliver military supplies to Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion.

A cargo ship set to deliver military supplies to Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion. | Photo Credit: AP

The U.S. is spanning a sea bridge over the Atlantic to support Ukraine with crucial equipment in its war against Russia, a senior official said, as a huge cargo ship at the Belgian port of Antwerp got ready to set sail for Germany.

Carol Petsonk, the United States’ Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs, was shown around the loading dock of the vehicles carrier “Arc Integrity” where the military gear was tied with straps to the floor .- Reuters

KYIV

Ukraine says it repels Russian attack as war grinds in east

Ukrainian authorities said their troops repelled a Russian attack in the east, as Moscow struggled to gain ground in the region that is now the focus of the war even as it intensified its campaign there.

Battered by their months-long siege of the vital port city of Mariupol, Russian troops need time to regroup, Britain’s Defence Ministry said in an assessment — but they may not get it.

The city and the steelworks where Ukrainian fighters have held off the Russian assault for weeks have become a symbol of Ukraine‘s stoic resistance and surprising ability to stymie a much larger force.- AP

MOSCOW

U.S. Embassy welcomes plan to name Moscow square ‘Defenders of Donbas’

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow said that it was surprised but not offended by a proposal to name a nearby intersection “Defenders of Donbas Square”, suggesting disingenuously that it was to honour Ukrainian soldiers fighting Russian aggression.

The Moscow city assembly said on Wednesday that its members were considering naming the intersection after soldiers fighting against alleged “Nazism” in the largely Russian-speaking Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. - Reuters

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HELSINKI

Russia to halt gas flows to Finland, says Gasum

Russia‘s Gazprom has informed Finland that it will halt flows of natural gas from Saturday morning, Finnish state-owned gas wholesaler Gasum said on Friday.

Gasum has refused to pay Gazprom Export in roubles as Russia has requested European countries to do.

“It is highly regrettable that natural gas supplies under our supply contract will now be halted,” Gasum CEO Mika Wiljanen said in a statement. - Reuters

KYIV

Russian soldier in Ukraine war crimes trial says he did not want to kill

Russian Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin stands in court during a hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Russian Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin stands in court during a hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine. | Photo Credit: AP

A 21-year-old Russian soldier told a court he had not wanted to kill an unarmed civilian and that he sincerely repented, as he delivered his final words at the first war crimes trial arising from Russia‘s February 24 invasion.

Vadim Shishimarin, a tank commander, pleaded guilty to killing Oleksandr Shelipov, a 62-year-old civilian, in the northeast Ukrainian village of Chupakhivka on February 28.

“I sincerely repent. I was nervous at the time, I did not want to kill... that’s how it happened,” Mr. Shishimarin said.

Mr. Shishimarin is accused of firing several shots with an assault rifle at a civilian’s head from a car after being ordered to do so. - Reuters

MOSCOW

Russia claims ‘nearing’ full control of Ukraine breakaway region of Lugansk

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Moscow was nearing full control of the separatist region of Lugansk in eastern Ukraine.

“The liberation of the Lugansk People’s Republic is nearing completion,” Shoigu said at a meeting in remarks carried by Russian news agencies. He also said that 1,908 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the port city of Mariupol, which is under Moscow’s control. - AFP

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MOSCOW

Russia taking ‘counter measures’ in response to Finland and Sweden joining NATO

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Finland and Sweden joining NATO has led to an increase in military threats near the border and that Moscow is taking “adequate countermeasures”, the Interfax news agency reported.

RIA news agency quoted Shoigu as saying Russia would respond by forming 12 new units in its western military district. - Reuters

BEIJING

China’s coking coal imports from Russia hit record high in April

China’s coking coal imports from Russia surged to a record in April, as buyers took advantage of a large discount against other supplies.

The world’s biggest coal consumer brought in 1.71 million tonnes of metallurgical coal from Russia last month, more than double the 761,287 tonnes in the same period in 2021, data from the General Administration of Customs showed. - Reuters

ROME

Pro-Russian hackers attack institutional websites in Italy: Police

Pro-Russian hackers have attacked the websites of several Italian institutions and government ministries, the police said on Friday.

At 0800 GMT it was still not possible to access the websites of the Italian foreign ministry and its national magistrates association.

The attack was launched at around 2000 GMT on Thursday by the hacker group "Killnet," Italian cyber-security group Yarix said in a statement.

A similar attack took place on May 11, and last weekend police said they had thwarted a cyber-assault on the latter stages of the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin which ended on Saturday with the victory of Ukraine's entry. - Reuters

LONDON

Russian parliament to consider allowing over-40s to sign up for military

In a sign of Russia's urgent need to bolster its war effort in Ukraine, parliament said on Friday it would consider a bill to allow Russians over 40 and foreigners over 30 to sign up for the military.

The website of the State Duma, parliament's lower house, said the move would enable the military to utilise the skills of older professionals.

Previously only Russians aged 18-40 and foreigners aged 18-30 could enter into a first contract with the military. - Reuters

ZURICH

Zurich Insurance pulls out of Russia

Zurich Insurance said Friday it was selling its business in Russia to 11 members of the local team, joining a foreign corporate exodus from the country following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"Under its new owners, the business will operate independently under a different brand, while Zurich will no longer conduct business operations in Russia," the Swiss insurer said in a statement. - AFP

CHENNAI

Ukraine GM Ponomariov applies for visa again, organisers knock on MEA doors

The Maharashtra Open organisers have approached the Ministry of External Affairs to get visa clearance for Ukrainian chess Grand Master and three-time world champion Ruslan Ponomariov, whose application has been rejected once.

According to Organising Secretary Niranjan Godbole, the Ukrainian GM has applied for the visa again so that he can compete in the tournament, set to be held in Pune from May 31 to June 8.

While it is not yet clear what led to rejection of Ponomariov's visa application although several Russian sports persons have been barred from competing in events due to Russia-Ukraine war. - PTI

KYIV

12 killed in Russian attacks in Severodonetsk

Russian forces attacked the cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk in Ukraine’s eastern region of Luhansk, the region’s governor said Friday.

Serhiy Haidai said in a Telegram messaging app post on Friday that 12 people were killed in Severodonetsk as a result of the assault, and more than 60 houses were destroyed across the region.

He added that the attack on Severodonetsk “was unsuccessful - the Russians suffered personnel losses and retreated.” His remarks could not be independently verified. - AP

KYIV

Britain: Russian troops likely to redeploy from Mariupol

With the number of defenders left holed up in a Mariupol steel factory dwindling, Russian commanders will be coming under increasing pressure to reallocate troops from the strategic southern port city to bolster their offensive in eastern Ukraine, Britain's Defense Ministry said Friday.

More than 1,700 defenders of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol have surrendered since Monday, Russian authorities said, in what appeared to be the final stage in the nearly three-month siege of the now-pulverized port city. - AP

KYIV

Ukraine says it gets $530 mln in U.S., UK grants from World Bank fund

Ukraine has received roughly $530 million in U.S. and British grants from a fund set up by the World Bank for donations to the Kyiv government in the wake of Russia's invasion, the finance ministry said.

The U.S. donated around $500 million and Britain 24 million pounds ($30 million) and the money had now arrived in the state budget, the finance ministry statement late on Thursday said.

"These funds will be directed to providing urgent social, humanitarian and health spending, as well as supporting internally displaced people," the statement said. - Reuters

KYIV

Ukrainian troops surrendering at Mariupol registered as POWs

The fate of hundreds of Ukrainian fighters who surrendered after holding out against punishing attacks on Mariupol’s steel factory hung in the balance Thursday, amid international fears that the Russians may take reprisals against the prisoners.

The International Committee of the Red Cross gathered personal information from hundreds of the soldiers — name, date of birth, closest relative — and registered them as prisoners of war, as part of its role in ensuring the humane treatment of POWs under the Geneva Conventions.

Amnesty International said in a tweet that the Ukrainian soldiers are now prisoners of war and as such “must not be subjected to any form of torture or ill-treatment.” - AP

WASHINGTON

U.S. Congress approves $40 bn for Ukraine

U.S. Congress approved a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine on Thursday, the latest tranche of U.S. assistance under President Joe Biden's promise of unwavering support for Kyiv in its fight against Russia's invasion.

The vote was an unusually bipartisan move for harshly divided Washington. - AFP

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WASHINGTON

Ready to discuss Turkey’s concerns: Finnish President Niinisto

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said his country was open to discussing Turkey’s concerns on its application to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), as U.S. President Joe Biden hosted Mr. Niinistö and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson at the White House following their countries’ application to join the western military alliance. The two countries formally applied to join the organisation in Brussels on Wednesday, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24.

“As NATO allies, we will commit to Turkey’s security, just as Turkey will commit to our security. We take terrorism seriously,” Mr. Niinistö said, during remarks at a gathering with Mr. Biden and Ms. Andersson in the White House Rose Garden.

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NEW DELHI

Mitigate knock-on effects of Ukraine war on developing countries: Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Thursday shed light on the commodities shock that the Ukraine crisis has unleashed and argued in favour of the interest of the developing world. Addressing the BRICS foreign ministers-level meeting, Mr. Jaishankar sought "credible commitment of resources" by the developed economies in mitigating the threat of climate crisis.

"Knock-on effects of the Ukraine conflict have led to sharp increases in the costs of energy, food and commodities. This must be mitigated for the sake of the developing world," said Mr. Jaishankar in his speech. The senior Minister's comment highlighted the disruption that the commodities market is dealing with since the beginning of the war in Ukraine on February 24.

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BAGHDAD

George Bush’s gaffe on ‘brutal’ invasion of Ukraine draws Iraqi ire

An embarrassing slip of the tongue by former U.S. president George W. Bush may have drawn laughter from his American audience, but it raised the ire of Iraqis.

In a speech on May 18 evening in Dallas about Russia's war on Ukraine, Mr. Bush called the invasion of Iraq, which he himself ordered, "unjustified and brutal" — before quickly correcting himself.

"The decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq, I mean of Ukraine," he said in a speech, drawing laughter from the audience. - AFP

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KYIV/ISTANBUL

Joe Biden welcomes Finland, Sweden to join NATO; Turkey says 'no'

U.S. President Joe Biden met the leaders of Sweden and Finland on May 19 to discuss their NATO membership bids, while Ukraine said no military option was left to rescue the soldiers still inside a steel plant besieged by Russian forces.

Moscow's troops have been accused of widespread atrocities against civilians during their devastating campaign, and Ukraine began its first war crimes trial of the conflict on May 18 with a Russian soldier pleading guilty.

The brutality of the invasion that began on February 24 shook Sweden and Finland, and the neighbours — after decades of military non-alignment — decided to seek NATO membership despite warnings from the Kremlin. - AFP

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Printable version | May 21, 2022 9:09:17 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/russia-ukraine-crisis-live-updates-us-congress-approves-40-bn-for-ukraine/article65438453.ece