Russia-Ukraine crisis live updates | EU leaders ban most Russian oil, as Moscow advances in Donbas

A woman walks in front of a building destroyed by a strike in the city of Lysytsansk in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on May 30, 2022, on the 96th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

A woman walks in front of a building destroyed by a strike in the city of Lysytsansk in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on May 30, 2022, on the 96th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. | Photo Credit: AFP

European Union leaders agreed on May 30 to embargo most Russian oil imports into the bloc by year-end as part of new sanctions on Moscow worked out at a summit focused on helping Ukraine with a long-delayed package of new financial support.

Russian and Ukrainian troops traded blows in fierce close-quarter combat on May 29 in an eastern Ukrainian city as Moscow’s soldiers, supported by intense shelling, attempted to gain a strategic foothold to conquer the region. Ukraine’s leader also made a rare frontline visit to Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, to assess the strength of the national defense.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is suggesting that there are no plans for the U.S. to send long-range rocket systems to Ukraine, amid reports that the move is being considered. Mr. Biden told reporters outside the White House on May 30 that “we are not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that can strike into Russia.”

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

Ukraine

Russians control part of east Ukraine city Severodonetsk: Governor

Russian forces have taken partial control of the east Ukraine city of Severodonetsk, the Ukrainian official in charge of the region said on May 31, as Moscow’s army pushed deeper into the Donbas region.

“The situation is extremely complicated. Part of Severodonetsk is controlled by the Russians,” Lugansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said in a statement on social media, adding that despite the Russian advance, Ukrainian forces “still remain in the city”. - AFP

Smoke rises in the city of Severodonetsk during heavy fighting between Ukrainian and Russian troops in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on May 30, 2022, on the 96th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Smoke rises in the city of Severodonetsk during heavy fighting between Ukrainian and Russian troops in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on May 30, 2022, on the 96th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. | Photo Credit: AFP

Russia

Russia’s Gazprom suspends gas supplies to Netherlands

Russia‘s Gazprom said on May 31 it had halted gas supplies to the Netherlands after Dutch energy firm GasTerra refused to pay in rubles following the Russian military offensive in Ukraine. “Gazprom has completely stopped gas supplies to GasTerra due to non-payment in rubles,” the Russian gas giant said in a statement.

Moscow has demanded that clients from “unfriendly countries” — including EU member states — pay for its gas in rubles, a way to sidestep Western financial sanctions against its central bank over the Ukraine conflict. - AFP

U.K.

U.K. says Russia making slow inroads into Ukraine’s Luhansk region

British military intelligence said on May 31 that Russia was advancing slowly into Ukraine’s Luhansk Oblast, adding that the massing of its forces in a small area raised risks for others elsewhere. “Progress has been slow but gains are being held. Routes into the pocket likely remain under Ukrainian control,” Britain’s Ministry of Defence said in a Twitter update.

“Russia has achieved greater local successes than earlier in the campaign by massing forces and fires in a relatively small area. This forces Russia to accept risk elsewhere in occupied territory.” Russian troops were slowly advancing towards the city centre in Sievierodonetsk, the governor of Luhansk region said earlier in the day. - Reuters

Mariupol

First ship leaves Mariupol since Russia took the city: Separatist leader

A ship has left the Ukrainian port of Mariupol for the first time since Russia took the city and is headed east to Russia, Interfax quoted the Russian-backed separatist leader of the Ukrainian breakaway region of Donetsk as saying on May 31.

A spokesperson for the port said last week that the ship would be loading 2,700 tonnes of metal in Mariupol before travelling east to the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. Ukraine said the shipment of metal to Russia from Mariupol amounted to looting. - Reuters

The Hindu explains

The status of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Three months after Russia started the invasion of Ukraine, its troops are making slow but steady advances in the eastern Donbas region. Russia has faced stiff resistance from the Ukrainian troops from day one and the crisis has snowballed into a larger security contest between Moscow and the West, which has pumped money and weapons to Ukraine. With no peace talks on the table and neither side showing any signs of compromise, the war is likely to grind on for many more weeks, if not months.

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Ukraine

Ukraine takes political path to qualifying for World Cup

When Ukraine’s unusual path through World Cup qualifying resumes this week, it serves as a rejection of the idea that sports and politics must not mix. While Russia was thrown out of qualifying over its war in Ukraine, the Ukrainian national team was given several months extra to prepare for the European playoff matches.

Now if Ukraine wins two games this week, a team made up of players who mostly have not played a competitive game for six months because of the war at home will be at the World Cup in Qatar in November.

Ukraine’s players and coach Oleksandr Petrakov have the blessing of President Volodymyr Zelensky to leave their homeland for the game at Scotland on June 1, when they will represent Ukraine’s yellow-and-blue colours and anthem in a vivid display of national identity on an international stage. - AP

Ukraine

Zelensky says Russia hopes for famine crisis

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says the Russian blockade of Ukrainian seaports prevents Kyiv from exporting 22 million tons of grain. In his nightly address on May 30, Mr. Zelensky said the result is the threat of famine in countries dependent on the grain and could create a new migration crisis. He charges that “this is something the Russian leadership clearly seeks.”

Mr. Zelensky accused Moscow of “deliberately creating this problem so that the whole of Europe struggles and so that Ukraine doesn’t earn billions of dollars from its exports.” He called Russia’s claims that sanctions don’t allow it to export more of its food “cynical” and a lie. - AP

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office on May 29, 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, awards a servicewoman as he visits the war-hit Kharkiv region. Mr. Zelensky described the situation in the east as “indescribably difficult.” The “Russian army is trying to squeeze at least some result” by concentrating its attacks there, he said in a video address.

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office on May 29, 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, awards a servicewoman as he visits the war-hit Kharkiv region. Mr. Zelensky described the situation in the east as “indescribably difficult.” The “Russian army is trying to squeeze at least some result” by concentrating its attacks there, he said in a video address. | Photo Credit: AP

Ukraine

Assault on Sievierodonetsk taking longer than Russian forces hoped: Report

Russian forces have seized control of about a third of the Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk, but their assault was taking longer than they had hoped, according to a Moscow-backed separatist leader quoted in a TASS news agency report.

Russian shelling has reduced much of Sievierodonetsk to ruins and Russian troops have entered the city’s southeastern and northeastern fringes, but the Ukrainian defence has slowed the wider Russian campaign across the Donbas region.

“We can say already that a third of Sievierodonetsk is already under our control,” TASS quoted Leonid Pasechnik, the leader of the Luhansk People’s Republic, as saying in a report on May 31 morning. - Reuters

EU

EU leaders agree to ban 90% of Russian oil by year-end

European Union leaders agreed on May 30 to embargo most Russian oil imports into the bloc by year-end as part of new sanctions on Moscow worked out at a summit focused on helping Ukraine with a long-delayed package of new financial support.

The embargo covers Russian oil brought in by sea, allowing a temporary exemption for imports delivered by pipeline, a move that was crucial to bring landlocked Hungary on board a decision that required consensus.

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Ukraine

French journalist covering evacuation operation killed in Ukraine

A 32-year-old French journalist was killed Monday in eastern Ukraine, fatally hit by shell shrapnel while covering a Ukrainian evacuation operation, according to the French news broadcaster that he worked for.

BFM TV said its journalist Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff was killed as he was “covering a humanitarian operation in an armoured vehicle” near Sievierodonetsk, a key city in the Donbas region that is being hotly contested by Russian and Ukrainian forces. He had worked for six years for the French television channel.

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Russia

Russia floats new foreign debt payment system similar to gas supplies

Russia said on May 30 it may use an arrangement similar to that used for payments for its gas supplies to pay its dollar-denominated foreign debts.

The  Vedomosti business daily quoted Finance Minister Anton Siluanov as saying that Russia will offer the holders of its Eurobond obligations to accept a payment system bypassing Western financial infrastructure.

Russia previously has offered the customers receiving its natural gas to establish an account in dollars or euros at Russia’s third-largest bank, Gazprombank, then a second account in rubles. The importer would pay the gas bill in euros or dollars and direct the bank to exchange the money for rubles.

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U.K.

Russia suffers devastating losses among lower-ranked officers: United Kingdom

Russia appears to have suffered devastating losses amongst mid- and junior-ranking officers in its conflict with Ukraine, raising the prospect of weaker military effectiveness in future, Britain’s Defence Ministry said on May 30.

Brigade and battalion commanders were probably deploying to the most dangerous positions while junior officers have had to lead low-level tactical actions, the Ministry said on Twitter in its latest Defence Intelligence update.

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U.S.A

U.S. will not send to Ukraine rockets that can strike Russia: Biden

President Joe Biden is suggesting that there are no plans for the U.S. to send long-range rocket systems to Ukraine, amid reports that the move is being considered. Mr. Biden told reporters outside the White House on Monday that “we are not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that can strike into Russia.”

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said it was a “reasonable” decision. He said “otherwise, if our cities come under attack, the Russian armed forces would fulfil (their) threat and strike the centres where such criminal decisions are made.”

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Printable version | May 31, 2022 2:12:21 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/russia-ukraine-crisis-live-updates-zelensky-says-russia-hopes-for-famine-crisis/article65478430.ece