Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

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Serbian Vucic says he concluded a 3-year gas supply contract with Putin

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he agreed to a three-year gas supply contract during a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I can’t talk about the price now, all the details will be agreed with Gazprom,” Vucic told reporters.

Serbia’s 10-year gas supply contract with Gazprom expires on May 31.

Vucic also said he had discussed with Putin the expansion of gas storage space in the Balkan country.

Reuters

Ukraine says EU has sent member states revised oil sanctions proposal against Russia

The head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Andriy Yermak, said the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, had sent member states a revised proposal for sanctions against the Kremlin, including a ban on the shipping of Russian oil.

The EU also offered to exclude the Druzhba pipeline from the proposed Russian oil embargo due to Hungary’s stance, Yermak said via Telegram.

A spokesperson for the European Commission declined to comment when contacted by CNBC.

Hungary has proven to be a stumbling block for the bloc’s latest round of punitive measures against Moscow. Sanctions require the unanimous support of EU member states.

—Sam Meredith

Ukrainian forces say 7 Russian attacks in Donetsk and Lugansk have been repelled in the past 24 hours

Pro-Russian separatist forces are seen in Donetsk Oblast in eastern Ukraine on May 28, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukraine’s armed forces said in an operational update that seven Russian attacks have been repelled in Donetsk and Lugansk in the past 24 hours.

In a Facebook post, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces also accused Russian authorities in Crimea of ​​ordering hospitals to refuse civilian patients in order to free up beds for Russian troops.

“The enemy continues to suffer losses. In particular sanitary, which requires the creation of additional opportunities for medical care. So, in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the occupation administration ordered to stop to accept civilians in order to evacuate the beds of the wounded. Donor blood is collected intensively,” the Ukrainian armed forces said in a statement.

“For 24 hours, seven [Russian] enemy attacks were repelled in Donetsk and Luhansk only, one tank and six enemy vehicles were destroyed. Air defense units destroyed Orlan-10 drones. [Russian] the enemy has casualties in other areas,” they added.

—Sam Meredith

Russia is ready to leverage global food security for its own political purpose, says UK

Russia has demonstrated its readiness to leverage global food security for its own political purpose, then present itself as the reasonable actor and blame the West for the failure, according to the latest update information from the UK Ministry of Defence.

“On May 25, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said that Russia was ready to provide a humanitarian corridor for ships carrying food through the Black Sea in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. also asked Ukraine to clear the area around the port of Odessa to allow the passage of ships,” the ministry said via Twitter.

“Rudenko’s request for Ukraine to clear mines follows a fundamental tenet of modern Russian messaging strategy: introducing alternative, even unconvincing, narratives to complicate public understanding. In this instance, Ukraine deployed no sea ​​mines only due to the continued credible threat of Russian amphibious assaults from the Black Sea.

—Sam Meredith

Putin inflicts ‘untold suffering’ on Ukrainians in bid to capture Severodonetsk, think tank says

The Institute for the Study of War, an American think tank, said Russia’s assault on Ukraine became a “desperate and bloody offensive” to capture the eastern city of Severodonetsk while defending significant but limited gains in the south and east.

In their latest Daily War Assessment, ISW analysts said Russian President Vladimir Putin is “inflicting untold suffering on Ukrainians and exacting horrendous sacrifices from his own people in an effort to seize a city ​​that does not deserve the award, even for him.”

“The Ukrainian army is facing the most serious challenge it has faced since the isolation of the Azovstal plant in Mariupol and could well suffer a significant tactical defeat in the coming days if Severodonetsk falls, although a Such an outcome is by no means certain, and the Russian attacks may well stagnate again,” the ISW analysts said.

The Russian Embassy in London was not immediately available for comment.

—Sam Meredith

Zelenskyy says conditions in Donbass are ‘indescribably harsh’

Zelenskyy thanked Ukrainian forces for resisting Russia’s onslaught in the Donbass.

Fabrice Cofrini | AFP | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the situation in the Donbass region was “indescribably difficult” as Russian forces continue to target the area, and thanked Ukrainian forces for resisting Russia’s onslaught.

Donbass refers to two regions in eastern Ukraine, Luhansk and Donetsk, a major strategic, political and economic target for the Kremlin.

“The situation is very complicated. Especially in the Donbass and Kharkiv regions where the Russian army is trying to achieve at least some result,” Zelenskyy said.

“Key areas of the fighting on the front line are still Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Bakhmut, Popasna and other towns where the Russian offensive is concentrated. But our defenses are holding up. It’s indescribably difficult there. And I am grateful to everyone who stood up to this onslaught of the occupiers,” he added.

—Sam Meredith

Russia bombs eastern cities in attempt to surround Ukrainian forces

This photograph shows a railway carriage and sleepers on fire after a shelling near Lyman railway station in Lyman, eastern Ukraine on April 28, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Yasuyoshi Chiba | AFP | Getty Images

Russian forces stepped up their assault on the Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk on Saturday after claiming to have captured the nearby Lyman rail hub, as Kyiv stepped up calls for longer-range weapons from the West to help it fight back in the Donbas region.

The slow and solid Russian gains in recent days point to a subtle shift in dynamics in the war, which is now in its fourth month. The invading forces appear poised to seize the entire Lugansk region of the Donbass, one of the more modest war targets the Kremlin set after abandoning its assault on Kyiv in the face of the Ukrainian resistance.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday that its troops and allied separatist forces now fully control Lyman, the site of a railway junction west of the Siverskyi Donets River in the Donetsk region neighboring Luhansk.

However, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said the battle for Lyman continues, the ZN.ua website reported.

Sievierodonetsk, about 60 km (40 miles) from Lyman on the east bank of the river and the largest city in the Donbass still held by Ukraine, has come under heavy Russian assault.

“Sievierodonetsk is constantly under enemy fire,” Ukrainian police said on social media on Saturday.

Russian artillery was also shelling the Lysychansk-Bakhmut road, which Russia must use to close a pincer movement and encircle the Ukrainian forces.

“There was significant destruction in Lysychansk,” police said.

Reuters

Putin says Kyiv is to blame for blocking appeal talks with Macron, Scholz

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron attend a news conference ahead of a Weimar Triangle meeting to discuss the ongoing Ukraine crisis, in Berlin, Germany, February 8, 2022.

Hannibal Hanschke | Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The group discussed the stalled negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, with the Kremlin claiming that Kyiv was responsible for the current standoff. Putin “confirmed the Russian side‘s openness to resuming dialogue,” Russia said in a statement after the 80-minute call.

Scholz and Macron called on Putin “to enter into serious direct negotiations with the Ukrainian president and to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict”, according to a statement from the German federal government.

Putin also said the West delivering weapons to Ukraine could risk “further destabilization of the situation and aggravation of the humanitarian crisis”.

—Jessica Bursztynsky

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