Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an order on May 25 to fast track Russian citizenship for residents of parts of southern Ukraine largely held by his forces, while lawmakers in Moscow passed a bill to strengthen the stretched Russian army.
Mr. Putin’s decree applying to the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions could allow Russia to strengthen its hold on territory that lies between eastern Ukraine, where Moscow-backed separatists occupy some areas, and the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized in 2014.
The Russian army is engaged in an intense battle for Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, known as the Donbas.
Ukraine health emergency sparks rival resolutions at WHO assembly
A proposal to condemn the regional health emergency triggered by Russia‘s aggression in Ukraine will come before a World Health Organization (WHO) assembly on Thursday, prompting a rival resolution from Moscow that makes no mention of its own role in the crisis.
The original proposal backed by the United States and more than 40 other countries condemns Russia‘s actions but stops short of immediately suspending its voting rights at the U.N. health agency. - Reuters
Zelensky rebukes West as Russia closes in on key Ukraine city
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has issued a bitter rebuke to the West for not doing enough to help Kyiv win the war, as fierce battles rage in the country’s east and Russian troops draw ever closer to encircling a key industrial city.
Calling for help “without limits”, specifically shipments of heavy weaponry, Mr. Zelensky also blasted recent suggestions a negotiated peace could include territorial concessions. - AFP
Ukraine says Russia shells more than 40 towns in Donbas push
Russian forces shelled more than 40 towns in Ukraine‘s eastern Donbas region, Ukraine‘s military said, threatening to shut off the last main escape route for civilians trapped in the path of their invasion, now in its fourth month.
After failing to seize Ukraine‘s capital Kyiv or its second city Kharkiv, Russia is trying to take full control of the Donbas, comprised of two eastern provinces Moscow claims on behalf of separatists. - Reuters
Oil firms on tight supply though EU ban on Russian oil still uncertain
Oil prices rose on May 26, extending a cautious rally this week on signs of tight supply while the European Union (EU) wrangles with Hungary over plans to ban imports from Russia, the world’s second-largest crude exporter, after it invaded Ukraine.
A bigger-than-expected drawdown in U.S. crude inventories in the week to May 20, following soaring exports, buoyed the market on Wednesday. Analysts said the inventory draw and the prospect of an EU embargo on Russian oil, in retaliation for what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine, were pushing prices higher. - Reuters
Talk to Ukraine about ports, not us, says Russia ahead of U.N. talks in Moscow
A senior U.N. official is due to visit Moscow in the coming days to discuss reviving fertilizer exports, Russia‘s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Wednesday, stressing that the talks were not linked to a resumption of Ukrainian grain shipments.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Ukrainian grain shipments from its Black Sea ports have stalled and more than 20 million tonnes of grain are stuck in silos, while Moscow says the chilling effect of Western sanctions imposed on Russia over the war have disrupted its fertilizer and grain exports. - Reuters
Ukraine President rebuffs calls to cede land
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday strongly rebuffed those in the West who have suggested Ukraine cede control of areas occupied by Russian forces for the sake of reaching a peace agreement.
Those “great geopoliticians” who suggest this are disregarding the interests of ordinary Ukrainians – “the millions of those who actually live on the territory that they propose exchanging for an illusion of peace,” he said late on Wednesday in his nightly video address to the nation. “We always have to think of the people and remember that values are not just words.” - AP