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LIVE UPDATES: US President Biden Signs $40 Billion Military Aid Bill for Ukraine

The Russian defence ministry has confirmed that the Azovstal plant had been fully seized, including its vast underground facilities, and that the last remaining militants have left the compound. This means that Mariupol, the second-largest city in the Donetsk People's Republic, has been completely liberated from the radicals.
Ukrainian radicals, besieged at Azovstal since 21 April, previously surrendered to the Russian and Donbass forces, leaving the Mariupol plant. In total, almost 2,500 troops have laid down their weapons at the facility over the past week, according to the MoD.
In February, Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine, after the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics (DPR and LPR) asked Moscow for military assistance amid intensifying attacks by Kiev's forces.
President Vladimir Putin stated that the op aimed to stop the eight-year-long war being waged by Ukraine in Donbass, noting that Kiev's activity amounted to genocide. He also stressed that Russia's goal is the "demilitarisation and denazification" of Ukraine.
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00:19 GMT 22.05.2022
A Polish Mi-24 helicopter gunship flies over US soldiers as troops from Poland, USA, France and Sweden take part in the DEFENDER-Europe 22 military exercise, in Nowogrod, Poland on May 19, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.05.2022
US May Reportedly Keep Over 100,000 Troops in Europe Amid Tensions Over Ukraine Crisis
23:08 GMT 21.05.2022
Donetsk People’s Republic Setting New Hryvnia-Ruble Exchange Rate Starting Monday
The Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) will set an exchange rate, according to which one Ukrainian hryvnia will be equivalent to two Russian rubles, the DPR authorities inform.

The changes will come into force on Monday, May 23, according to a decree published on the website of DPR leader Denis Pushilin.

The authorities of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) also issued a decree on Saturday, saying that the exchange rate of the ruble against the hryvnia will be set at two Russian rubles for one Ukrainian hryvnia, starting May 23.

Last month, the Ukrainian National Bank (NBU) said that inflation in Ukraine may exceed 20 percent by the end of this year due to Russia’s special military operation in the country. NBU and the Ukrainian government have taken measures to deter an increase in prices, including temporarily fixing the hryvnia exchange rate.
20:50 GMT 21.05.2022
Serbian President Vows to Resist Sanctions on Russia for as Long as Possible
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic says the National Security Council will avoid aligning with sanctions on Russia as long as it can amid the opposition's calls to side with the West.

"Our duty is to our country. We must stick to the decisions written down by the National Security Council as close as we can and for as long as we can," he told TV Pink on Saturday.

Serbia voted with the majority of the UN Human Rights Council last month to suspend Russia from the group over Ukraine. In return, the European Union exempted Serbia from its sanctions on Russian oil and gas imports.

Vucic told TV Pink that his administration had partially backed EU sanctions on Belarus. He said it endorsed nine of the 25 measures brought forth by the Council of the European Union on April 8.
20:31 GMT 21.05.2022
Donetsk Fighters Searching Azovstal Steel Works for Ukrainian Troops
The leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic said on Saturday that his fighters were combing the underground maze of the Azovstal steel works for possible hideouts, a day after Russia announced its capture.

"We do not rule out that someone could still be hiding there… We’ve been looking through every room, every corner. I have no doubt that we will find whoever may still be there," Denis Pushilin said on Russian television.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday that the steel plant in the southeastern port city of Mariupol had been liberated from Ukrainian troops, ending a monthlong standoff. A total 2,439 servicemen have been captured since May 16.

Pushilin said six Ukrainian personnel died in a failed attempt to detonate huge ammo depots on the steel works' grounds after the majority of their fellow troops gave in. Four others were seriously wounded.
20:08 GMT 21.05.2022
Russian Military Evacuated 18,873 Ukrainians From Eastern Regions Over Past Day
The Russian military brought 18,873 Ukrainians trapped in Lugansk and Donetsk regions to safety in the past day, including 2,282 minors, a senior Russian defense official said on Saturday.

"A total of 1,396,798 people, including 234,762 children have been evacuated since the start of the special military operation," Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev told a news briefing.

Russian bomb squads cleared more than 76 hectares of unexploded ordnance in the eastern regions in the past day, destroying 1,659 explosive devices.

More than 21,500 tonnes of humanitarian assistance has been delivered to those in need in Ukraine since early March, Mizintsev estimated. The aid included essentials, food, medicine and medical equipment.
19:00 GMT 21.05.2022
Russian MoD: Ukrainian Troops Pull Artillery to Schools, Refuse to Evacuate Civilians
A senior Russian defense official accused Ukrainian troops in control of parts of the eastern Donetsk region of pulling heavy artillery and military hardware to schools and nurseries.
Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said on Saturday that Ukrainian forces had not allowed evacuations from the cities of Bakhmut, Chasiv Yar and Novoekonomichne and apparently planned to use civilians as "human shields."
"Ukrainian armed forces have holed up in Bakhmut’s School No 2, Chasiv Yar’s Vocational School No 22, and in Novoekonomichne’s Solnyshko kindergarten and School No 1. They are storing military equipment and rocket launchers on the grounds," Mizintsev said.
The Russian military has located Ukrainian military equipment in a nursery and a shipbuilding college in Mykolaiv in the Donetsk region and an arms depot in a school in the central city of Dnipro.
Mizintsev also said that Ukrainian troops had bombed residential areas in the village of Mykolaivka in Luhansk region, killing and wounding civilians. He said Ukrainian media workers and reporters from the New York Times had photographed the aftermath of the strikes and would likely blame them on Russia.
18:45 GMT 21.05.2022
Poland Reportedly Transfers Large Number of Spare Parts, Weapons for MiG-29 to Ukraine
Poland has sent to Ukraine a large number of spare parts and weapons for MiG-29 fighter jets to help restore the country's air combat capabilities, Polish news portal Onet reported.
Initially, the talks were focused on the transfer of MiG-29 fighter jets from Poland to Ukraine. However, an agreement at the NATO level was not reached.
According to Onet, instead of MiG-29 fighters, Poland handed over to Ukraine a large number of spare parts and weapons for these aircraft. Due to these deliveries, Ukrainian aviation could restore combat capabilities of some of its aircraft, the report says.
15:25 GMT 21.05.2022
Zelensky Says Ukraine Has 700,000 Troops
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday estimated the national armed forces at 700,000.
"We have 700,000 people today, and you can see the result of the efforts made by the 700,000 who are fighting," Zelenskyy told the Ukraina 24 television channel.
He said Ukraine had fewer than 300,000 military personnel, including 120,000 combat-ready troops before Russia launched the military operation in February. He signed a decree in early 2022 to increase their number by at least 100,000.
13:41 GMT 21.05.2022
Ukraine Holding Hostage 21 Turkish Vessels in Odessa, Reports Suggest
Ukrainian armed forces have blocked 21 Turkish vessels in the Black Sea port of Odessa to prevent a full-fledged Russian assault, a Turkish daily reported on Saturday.
An unknown number of foreign-flagged merchant ships have been stranded in the besieged port as Ukrainian and Russian troops grapple for its control, the leftist Aydinlik paper said.
Russia said it would guarantee a safe exit from the port for all civilian vessels but Ukraine has not given the greenlight, citing the presence of loose naval mines.
The Turkish daily suggested that Ukrainians have been using Turkish vessels to shield themselves from Russian strikes.
Turkey refused to cut ties with Russia after it launched a security operation in Ukraine and any damage to Turkish assets in Ukraine could strain that relationship.
11:38 GMT 21.05.2022
Russia Slaps Entry Ban on 963 American Citizens
Moscow has banned 963 US individuals, including US President Joe Biden, his relatives, and other officials and managers, from entering Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.
"Russia is publishing the list of American citizens, who are permanently barred from entering the Russian Federation, as countermeasures to the constant imposition of sanctions against Russia by the US and in response to inquiries about individuals included in our national stop list," the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry noted that the list includes individuals, who "foment Russophobia and those who serve them," noting that it does not include common American citizens "who have always been respected by us".
The list is published on the ministry's website.
"Washington's hostile actions, which boomerang on the US itself, will be furtehr met with an appropriate response," the ministry said, adding that "the Russian counter-sanctions have been forced and are aimed at pressuring the ruling American regime, which is trying to push the rest of the world into neo-colonial 'rules-based world order,' to change its behavior by recognizing the new geopolitical realities".
The ministry reiterated that Russia does not seek confrontation and is open to dialogue in the spirit of mutual respect.
11:04 GMT 21.05.2022
Russia Imposes Sanctions on Canadian PM's Wife Sophie Trudeau
Moscow has banned Canadian Prime Minister's wife Sophie Trudeau, Canadian air force commander Eric Jean Kenny and 24 other people, including officials and top managers, from entering Russia, the country's foreign ministry said on Saturday.

"In response to further sanctions against Russia announced by the Canadian authorities, which affected not only the country's leadership, military and business circles, but in some cases the closest relatives of those who have been added to the 'black list,' entry into Russia is permanently closed for a similar category of Canadian citizens," the ministry said in a statement.

The list of 26 individuals, among others, includes Canadian Maritime Forces Pacific Commander Rear-Admiral Angus Ian Topshee and Army Commander Lt.-Gen. Jocelyn (Joe) Paul.

"New countermeasures will soon follow in response to the hostile actions of Canadian Justin Trudeau's regime, who uses a militant Russophobia to good advantage. The additions to the Russian 'stop list' will be announced publicly," the ministry said.

10:36 GMT 21.05.2022
US President Biden Signs $40 Billion Military Aid Bill for Ukraine
US President Joe Biden signed a bill to provide $40 billion in aid to Ukraine, the White House said on Saturday.
On Thursday, the US Senate passed a record $40 billion Ukraine aid bill in an 86-to-11 vote. The House of Representatives passed the legislation earlier in May in a 368-57 vote. The bill will provide Ukraine with over $20 billion in military aid, 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 provides "supplemental emergency appropriations for fiscal year 2022 to Federal agencies to respond to the situation in, and for assistance to, Ukraine," according to the White House.
09:00 GMT 21.05.2022
Gazprom Pumps 45.9Mln Cubic Meters of Gas for Transit Through Ukraine's Sudzha Station

"Gazprom supplies Russian gas for transit through the territory of Ukraine in the amount confirmed by the Ukrainian side through the Sudzha station - 45.9 million cubic meters as of May 21. The application for the Sokhranivka station was rejected", Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told journalists.

08:28 GMT 21.05.2022
MoD: Russia Uses Kalibr Missiles to Destroy Big Batch of Weapons Delivered to Ukraine From EU and US
06:50 GMT 21.05.2022
Greek Citizens Slam New REPowerEU Plan as Ill-Timed Due to Rising Energy Prices
Wind Power - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.05.2022
Greek Citizens Slam New REPowerEU Plan as Ill-Timed Due to Rising Energy Prices
06:09 GMT 21.05.2022
Russia's Gazprom Completely Halts Gas Deliveries to Finland's Gasum Due to Non-Payment

"Gazprom has completely stopped supplying gas to Gasum (Finland) due to non-payment in rubles," the company said in a statement, adding that it has yet to receive payments for gas delivered in April.

The company also noted that it has delivered some 1.49 billion cubic meters in gas supplies in 2021, which amounted to two-thirds of the total gas consumption in Finland.
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