- Sputnik International, 1920, 25.02.2022
Situation in Ukraine
On 24 February, Russia launched a special military operation amid Kiev's ongoing shelling of the DPR and LPR. President Vladimir Putin stated that the op is meant to protect the people of Donbass, and its goal is the complete demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine.
View of the metallurgical plant Azovstal in Mariupol. - Sputnik International

LIVE UPDATES: Russian Defence Ministry Says Took Full Control Over Azovstal Territory in Mariupol

In February, Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine after the Donetsk and Lugansk People's republics asked for help to fend off intensifying attacks by Ukrainian troops. Russia's Defence Ministry said the operation is intended solely to dismantle Ukraine's military infrastructure and to demilitarise and de-Nazify the country.
Russian armed forces and Donetsk and Lugansk People's republics militias continue to make advances in their special military operation, pressing Ukrainian forces back from Donbass.
A total of 1,730 Ukrainian militants from the Azov neo-Nazi battalion, who had been holed up in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol for the past several weeks, have surrendered over the past days, the Russian defence ministry said.
Earlier, the Russian Defence Ministry said that an agreement has been reached with the Ukrainian military at Azovstal to transfer the wounded troops from the steel plant to a medical facility in the Donetsk People's Republic.
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02:59 GMT 21.05.2022
British Secretary for Foreign Affairs Elizabeth Truss (L) walks to bilateral talks with her Japanese counterpart at the meeting of the G7 foreign ministers at the Weissenhдuser Strand in Wangels, Northern Germany on May 12, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.05.2022
NATO & UK Mulling Pumping Up Moldova With Bloc's Standard Weapons, Same as Ukraine
01:11 GMT 21.05.2022
Moody’s Downgrades Ukraine’s Ratings to Caa3
Moody's rating agency has downgraded Ukraine's foreign and domestic currency long-term issuer ratings and foreign currency senior unsecured debt ratings from Caa2 to Caa3, with a negative outlook.

"The downgrade of the ratings to Caa3 is driven by the increased risks to Ukraine's debt sustainability from a more protracted military conflict, which increases the likelihood of a debt restructuring and losses being imposed on private-sector creditors," Moody’s said on Friday. "Moody's has also changed the outlook to negative from ratings under review."

The rating agency said that it expects the Russian special operation in Ukraine to be more protracted than initially assumed and forecasts that Ukraine’s real GDP will contract by around 35 percent this year.

"At the Caa3 rating level, Moody's expects a recovery in the event of default of typically in the order of 65-80%," the rating agency said, specifying that "the recovery by investors in the event of default could be lower than 65-80%, which would be consistent with a rating below Caa3."

Moody's estimates that Ukraine’s financing needs this year will stand at around $50 billion (35 percent of 2022 GDP) and government debt will rise to around 90 percent of GDP from around 49 percent at the end of 2021.
00:14 GMT 21.05.2022
Rome, Berlin Allow Their Businesses to Open Ruble Accounts to Buy Russian Gas - Reports
Companies in Germany and Italy were told that they can open ruble accounts to purchase Russian gas without violating sanctions imposed against Russia, Reuters reports citing sources.

Two sources said on Friday that German gas importers were told by Berlin (which had coordinated on the issue with the EU) that they can open ruble accounts, although payments should not be made to Gazprombank in the Russian currency.

A senior government source told Reuters that Rome had also coordinated with the European Commission on how to buy Russian gas legally and that the discussions with the EU took place before the Italian energy company Eni announced that it had started proceedings to open a ruble and a euro account with Gazprombank.

EU diplomats told Reuters that it appears that the EU guidelines on purchasing Russian gas were intentionally vague in order to allow business to operate as usual.

Earlier this month, European Commission Chief Spokesman Eric Mamer said that the EU had not changed its recommendations regarding payments for Russian gas, which must be made in the currency specified in the contract.
18:45 GMT 20.05.2022
State Department Says Not Time for Engagement Between US, Russian Officials
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Friday that now is not the appropriate time for diplomatic talks between senior State Department officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and their Russian counterparts.
"It is our assessment it is not the time at the moment for a high-level call between Secretary Blinken, or other seniors at the [State Department], precisely because we have seen no indication just yet that the Russians are serious about engaging in a constructive dialogue that could help to advance the prospects for the diminution of the violence or ultimately putting this conflict to an end," Price said during a conference call with reporters.
Moscow requested certain security guarantees from the United States regarding NATO's eastward expansion prior to the Ukraine conflict, however, the Biden administration rejected it.
18:44 GMT 20.05.2022
Azovstal Plant Fully Liberated, Russian Defence Ministry Says
The Russian military has fully seized Mariupol’s Azovstal plant, including its underground facilities, Russian Defenсe Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said on Friday.
"The territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant in Mariupol, where a group of Ukrainian militants from Nazi formation Azov was blocked since April 21 this year, has been completely liberated," Konashenkov told a briefing, adding that the Russian military is also in control of "the underground facilities of the plant where militants were hiding."
The spokesman added that 2,439 Azov fighters and Ukrainian soldiers have laid down their weapons and surrendered since May 16.
"Today, on May 20, the last group of 531 militants surrendered," Konashenkov said, adding that Defenсe Minister Sergei Shoigu has briefed President Vladimir Putin about the end of the operation at Azovstal.
18:35 GMT 20.05.2022
Pentagon Denies Ukrainian Reporting That US Plans to Destroy Russia's Black Sea Fleet
The Pentagon on Friday denied Ukrainian reports that the United States is planning to destroy Russia's Black Sea Fleet.
"I can tell you definitely that that’s not true," spokesman John Kirby told a briefing.
Earlier in the day, Ukrainian ministry of internal affairs adviser Anton Gerashchenko said that the US is "preparing a plan to destroy the Black Sea Fleet." He added that deliveries of anti-ship weapons, including Harpoon and Naval Strike Missile with a range of 250-300 km, are being discussed.
Gerashchenko said that Ukrainians' alleged effective fight against Russian warships convinced the Unite States to prepare a plan to unblock Ukrainian ports.
18:33 GMT 20.05.2022
US Defense Secretary Austin to Speak With Ukraine's Reznikov Today
Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin will speak with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov later today, spokesman John Kirby said on Friday.
"Later this afternoon the Secretary will have a chance to speak again with the Ukrainian minister of defense, Oleksii Reznikov, to discuss Ukraine's military requirements in advance of the US hosted first iteration and the second meeting of the Ukrainian defense contact group," Kirby said. "That will be held on Monday, it's gonna be held virtually. The secretary will participate from the Pentagon,"
16:50 GMT 20.05.2022
UN Says Guterres Met With Italian Foreign Minister to Discuss Ukraine Peace Plan
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has held a meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio this week but there are no further comments at present on the proposed road map for peace, United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Friday.
"The Secretary-General did meet this week with the Foreign Minister but we have no further comment at this time," Dujarric said.
16:00 GMT 20.05.2022
Oil Market Adjustment Caused by US Sanctions Contributed to Price Spike - Biden's Adviser
Global oil market adjustments caused by US sanctions against Russia contributed to the spike in energy prices, White House Economic Adviser Cecilia Rouse said on Friday.
"As we put sanctions on the Russian banks, etc., oil markets have adjusted, we know that the price of oil has really skyrocketed and it has had some consequences for the supply of oil in terms of our refinery capacity and that is largely the reason why we've seen the spike in oil prices over the last two to three months," Rouse said during a virtual panel discussion with think-tank Center for American Progress.
16:00 GMT 20.05.2022
Zelensky’s Aide: Ukraine Needs More High-Precision Rockets, Drone Systems
Ukraine still needs heavy military equipment, high-precision rockets, drone systems, air defense munition and other weaponry to counter Russia’s special military operation, head of the Ukrainian presidential office Andriy Yermak said on Friday.
"We still need heavy military equipment, heavy arms. We need high precision rockets and missiles, drone systems, some of air defense munition and ammunition and many other things," Yermak said during a virtual conversation organized by the Atlantic Council.
13:48 GMT 20.05.2022
Belarus Not Going to Be Part of Armed Conflict in Ukraine - Prime Minister
Belarusian Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko said on Friday that Belarus is not going to be a part of the Ukraine conflict.

"Belarus is not a party to the conflict, although the collective West is trying in every possible way to label us as either an aggressor or a co-aggressor … You have to somehow justify the pressure on the country. But Belarus is not a party to the conflict and does not intend to participate militarily in its solution," Golovchenko told Al Arabiya.

The prime minister added that Belarus is taking measures to defend its sovereignty amid deliveries of weapons to Ukraine and NATO activity near Belarusian borders.
13:43 GMT 20.05.2022
Ukraine Will Receive First 15 Gepard Anti-Aircraft Weapons From Germany in July, Reports Say
Fifteen Gepard air-defence tanks will be delivered to Ukraine from Germany in July, the dpa news agency reported on Friday.

According to dpa, the dates were agreed upon during a conversation between defence ministers of the two countries.
13:37 GMT 20.05.2022
Canada Sanctions 14 Russians, Bans Trade in Luxury Goods With Russia
Canada has imposed new Russia sanctions on 14 individuals and banned exports and imports of luxury goods from and to Russia, the Canadian government said on Friday.

"These new measures impose restrictions on 14 individuals including Russian oligarchs, their family members, and close associates of the Putin regime. These individuals have directly enabled Vladimir Putin’s senseless war in Ukraine and bear responsibility for the pain and suffering of the people of Ukraine," the statement said.

The restrictions also concern trade in luxury goods.

"As of today, the Government of Canada is banning the export of targeted luxury goods to Russia, including alcoholic beverages, tobacco, some textile products and sportswear, footwear, luxury clothing and accessories, jewelry, kitchenware, and art. Canada is also banning the importation of targeted luxury goods from Russia, including alcoholic beverages, seafood, fish and non-industrial diamonds. Together, these categories represented $75.7 million worth of goods in 2021," it said.
13:37 GMT 20.05.2022
EU to Unveil Plan for Dealing With ‘Geopolitical Consequences’ of Ukraine Conflict in June
The European Union will present a plan in June that will propose measures for tackling "geopolitical consequences" of the conflict in Ukraine, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said on Friday.

"We have to present a plan in order to deal with the geopolitical consequences of this war and we will do it in the next Foreign Affairs Council in June," Borrell told a press conference after the EU Foreign Affairs Council.

Borrell said he was sure that the European Council would also deal with the issue at the next meeting.
13:15 GMT 20.05.2022
Ukraine Needs to Decide on Conditions for Ceasefire With Russia - Borrell on Italy’s Plan on Conflict Resolution
Ukraine needs to determine the conditions for a ceasefire with Russia, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Thursday when commenting on Italy’s conflict resolution plan.

“I believe that the conditions for a ceasefire should be determined by Ukraine,” Borrell said after the EU Foreign Affairs Council.
13:06 GMT 20.05.2022
Canada to Provide New C$250 Million Loan to Ukraine - Deputy PM Freeland
The government of Canada will provide 250 million Canadian dollars ($195 million) in a new loan to Ukraine, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said.

"I'm announcing today that Canada will provide a new loan of C$250 million to Ukraine. Aid will be provided through the IMF-administered accounts. That's a facility that Canada played a leading role in establishing," Freeland said.

The total amount of Canada’s financial support to Ukraine has reached 1.7 billion Canadian dollars, Freeland added.

"That is separate from any in addition to our military support, our international assistance, humanitarian support and our support for refugees and immigration," she noted.
13:00 GMT 20.05.2022
Embargo on Russian Oil Not Discussed at G7 Finance Chiefs Meeting on Friday - Berlin
The finance ministers of the G7 countries have not discussed the issue of an embargo on Russian oil on Friday, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said.

"This, the issue of an embargo, was not a subject [of discussions] ... We, in any case, the German side firmly adheres to the goal of achieving independence from Russian energy imports as soon as possible," Lindner told a briefing, adding that Berlin is "actively working" to stop oil supplies from Russia, then raw materials and gas.

Commenting on the possible use of the frozen Russian state reserves in favour of Ukraine, the minister said that this is an option that should be further discussed.

The official stressed that the matter concerns "state assets, not private property" of Russian citizens, since private property "is subject to special protection."

"Yes, in connection with Ukraine, we discussed the continuation of sanctions, raised the issue of confiscation of Russian assets," he added.
11:40 GMT 20.05.2022
G7 Intends to Provide $19Bln Aid Package to Ukraine - German Finance Minister
German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said on Friday that G7 countries will provide another 18 billion euros ($19 billion) of aid to Ukraine to ensure that the Ukrainian government can fully meet the country's three-month needs.

"It appears that it will be more than 18 billion we can raise to support Ukraine in this crucial historical moment. And I think it's a very good signal that the G7 nations are standing shoulder to shoulder to Ukraine because they are not only defending themselves, they are defending our values," Lindner told Bloomberg TV on the sidelines of a meeting of G7 finance ministers and central bank governors near the German city of Bonn.

When asked about the source of the money, Lindner said that funding will be borne by G7 nations, with the US Congress already agreeing to allocate $7.5 billion. In combination with the other funds as well as those coming from unspecified "EU programs," this aid package will enable the Ukrainian government to cover the country's expenses for three months, the minister noted.

"For the foreseeable future of three next months, there should not be any concern of seeing Ukraine government to finance their state's needs," Lindner said, adding that at the moment G7 has guaranteed "the liquidity of Ukraine."

On Thursday, the US Senate passed a record $40 billion Ukraine aid bill in an 86-to-11 vote. The legislation authorizes roughly $20 billion for the Defense Department to spend on security assistance for Ukraine, including the provision of military equipment. The bill would also provide almost $9 billion in economic assistance, over $4 billion in humanitarian aid, and another $4 billion in foreign military financing through the State Department. The bill has yet to be signed by US President Joe Biden.
11:34 GMT 20.05.2022
Erdogan Says Plans to Hold Phone Conversation With Finnish Side on NATO Accession Saturday
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced plans to hold a phone conversation with the Finnish side over Helsinki's bid to join NATO on Saturday.

"Today, I had talks with Prime Minister of the Netherlands [Mark Rutte]. Tomorrow, there will be negotiations with the UK, Finland," Erdogan told reporters.

The leader added that Ankara will continue "telephone diplomacy" with NATO members, but the position on the membership of Sweden and Finland is "clear."
10:07 GMT 20.05.2022
Military Threats Growing Near Russia's Western Borders, Shoigu Says
The situation in the western strategic direction is characterized by an increase in military threats near the Russian borders, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

"The situation in the western strategic direction is characterized by an increase in military threats near Russian borders. Over the past eight years, the intensity of US strategic bomber flights in Europe has increased 15-fold (to 45 per year from just three). The visits to the Baltic Sea by US ships with controlled rocket weapons also became systematical," Shoigu said at a meeting of the Russian Defence Ministry.

This year alone, near the Kaliningrad region, US ships with guided weapons "performed tasks six times with access to the proposed cruise missile launch areas, 24 such events have been detected by the objective control system since 2016," the minister specified.

He added that at the same time the United States and NATO were increasing the scale of operational and combat training near the borders of Russia.

"Currently, a series of exercises 'Defender of Europe' with the participation of up to 40,000 military personnel from 30 countries of the bloc is being carried out. The main feature of the manoeuvres is the transfer of a full-fledged division from the United States to the European continent, as well as the deployment of a group of troops in three strategic directions: the Arctic, western and southwestern," Shoigu said.

He recalled that our closest neighbours — Finland and Sweden — had applied for NATO membership.

"Thus, tension continues to grow in the zone of responsibility of the Western Military District," the minister concluded.
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