Tuesday, 14 May, 2024

Live blog: Ukraine to hold first ‘war crimes’ trial of captured Russian

Ukraine says its forces recaptured villages from Russian troops north and northeast of the city of Kharkiv, pressing a counter-offensive that could jeopardise Russia’s main assault – now in its 77th day.

Ukrainian soldiers gesture around their anti-aircraft missile system near Sloviansk, eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian soldiers gesture around their anti-aircraft missile system near Sloviansk, eastern Ukraine. (AFP)

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

First 'war crimes' trial of captured Russian soldier in Ukraine

Ukraine's top prosecutor has disclosed plans for the first "war crimes" trial of a captured Russian soldier, as fighting raged in the east and south and the Kremlin left open the possibility of annexing a corner of the country it seized early in the attack.

Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said her office charged Sergeant Vadin Shyshimarin, 21, in the killing of an unarmed 62-year-old civilian who was gunned down while riding a bicycle in February, four days into the attack.

Shyshimarin, who served with a tank unit, was accused of firing through a car window on the man in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka. Venediktova said the soldier could get up to 15 years in prison.

She did not say when the trial would start. Venediktova's office has said it has been investigating more than 10,700 alleged "war crimes" committed by Russian forces and has identified over 600 suspects.

Ukraine accuses Russia of stealing its grains

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry has accused Russia of stealing the country's grain and trying to sell some of it on global markets.

The ministry said the stealing of Ukrainian grain amounts to looting. It warned countries that purchase Russian grain that some of its shipments could contain the grain stolen from Ukraine, making its buyers possible accomplices.

The ministry cited official estimates indicating that Russia already may have stolen 400,000-500,000 metric tonnes of grain that cost over $100 million. It charged that "practically all ships leaving Sevastopol with a load of grain are carrying the grain stolen from Ukraine."

Ukraine issues appeals over 'medieval ghetto' Mariupol

Ukrainian officials have issued dire warnings about the fate of civilians and the last fighters in Mariupol after weeks of Russian bombardment. Mayor Vadym Boichenko, who has left the city, said Russian troops had turned the city into a "medieval ghetto".

Human rights ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova appealed to the United Nations and Red Cross to help evacuate wounded fighters holed up in the southern port's vast steel works.

"The aggressor does not give the wounded military a chance to survive," she wrote on Telegram. Denisova said doctors were forced to amputate even those with minor injuries due to risk of infections because of the lack of antibiotics and other medical supplies.

Azovstal (steel plant) is on fire again after the bombing. If there is hell on earth, it is there.

Petro Andryushchenko, aide to Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko

Governor: Russian village bordering Ukraine shelled

One person was injured when forces in Ukraine shelled a Russian village close to the border in the Belgorod region, RIA news agency has quoted Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov as saying.

Czech leader allows over 100 citizens to fight in Ukraine

The Czech president has approved a request to allow 103 citizens to fight in Ukraine alongside the army, after the leader reversed his pro-Russia stance with Moscow's offensive.

Milos Zeman was once a close ally of Vladimir Putin, but labelled the Russian leader a "madman" after Moscow attacked Ukraine on February 24.

On Wednesday, he gave the greenlight to Czech fighters who had requested to join the Ukrainian army in Ukraine, despite an existing rule banning Czechs from fighting overseas.

WHO's European countries say Moscow office should be moved

Members of the World Health Organization’s European region have condemned Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, which could result in moving one of the agency’s offices out of Russia and suspending all meetings there until Moscow pulls its troops out of Ukraine.

In a statement after a resolution passed on Tuesday, countries in the WHO’s European region said they were “highly concerned” over the situation in Ukraine that was “triggered by the unprovoked and unjustified military aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine.”

More than 40 countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK, voted in favour of the statement, while Russia, Belarus and Tajikistan voted against it.

Red paint thrown at Polish embassy in Moscow

Unknown assailants have thrown red paint at the Polish embassy in Moscow as Russia demanded a formal apology from Warsaw over what it said was an "egregious" attack on its envoy.

On Monday, the Russian ambassador to Poland was splattered with a red substance by pro-Ukraine activists in Warsaw. And on Wednesday, red paint was thrown at the building housing the Polish embassy in Moscow.

"Mr Ambassador Krzysztof Krajewski confirmed that such an incident occurred," Poland's foreign ministry spokesperson Lukasz Jasina told Polish news agency PAP.

President: Finland joining NATO 'would not be against anyone'

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto has said it "would not be against anyone" if the Nordic country joined NATO, despite Russia warning against the membership.

"Joining NATO would not be against anyone. It is not a zero-sum game", the president said at the signing of a political declaration of mutual assistance with the UK prime minister Boris Johnson.

If Finland was to join NATO, Niinisto said that his response to Russia would be "you caused this, look in the mirror."

UK PM Johnson says NATO does not pose a threat to anyone

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said NATO is a defensive alliance and does not pose a threat to any other country, as Sweden and Finland consider joining the organisation in the wake of Russia's attacks on Ukraine.

"NATO is a defensive alliance. NATO poses no threat to anyone. It is there for the purposes of mutual defence," Johnson said in a joint press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in Helsinki.

Italy’s premier pushes for talks to end conflict

Ukraine’s leaders must start shaping their terms for an acceptable peace deal, especially in light of Russia’s surprising failure to win outright, Italy’s premier has said.

When Russia first launched its military campaign against Ukraine, “we thought there was a Goliath and a David,” Mario Draghi told reporters at a news conference in Washington.

But “what seemed like an invincible power has proved” not to be, Draghi said, referring to Russian forces’ inability to overcome the defence mounted by Ukraine’s military, with heavy Western backing. Draghi spoke after meeting with President Joe Biden on Tuesday.

Ukraine's Zelenskyy wants to restore the country's territory

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the confrontation with Russia would have been prevented if his country had been member of Nato beforehand. "If Ukraine had been part of Nato before the war, there would have been no war", he told students via videolink.

Speaking to French university Sciences Po, he also said he wanted to restore the country's territory before an end to the conflict could be envisioned, adding he was still willing to dialogue with Moscow. "Once we recoup all that is ours, we will finish this", he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said the risk of seeing Ukraine become member of Nato warranted Moscow's attack against of its neighbour that started more than two months ago.

Nearly a third of jobs lost in Ukraine since conflict began: UN

Thirty percent of jobs in Ukraine — 4.8 million in total — have been lost since the beginning of the Russian military campaign in February-end, the United Nations has said, with the outlook even worse if the conflict drags on.

"Economic disruptions, combined with heavy internal displacement and flows of refugees, are causing large-scale losses in terms of employment and incomes," the UN's International Labour Organization said.

In its first report on the consequences of Russia's offensive in Ukraine, not only for those countries but for central Asia and the rest of the world, the ILO laid out several scenarios, depending on how the conflict develops.

If hostilities ceased immediately, a rapid recovery could ensue, with the return of 3.4 million jobs, thus reducing employment losses to 8.9 percent…In a scenario of further military escalation, employment losses would increase further to reach seven million, or 43.5 percent

UN’s International Labour Organisation

Wives of Ukrainian soldiers at Azovstal plant ask pope for help

A group of Ukrainian soldiers' wives has met Pope Francis at the Vatican, asking him to intervene to "save the lives" of their loved ones battling Russian forces at the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

"We asked him to come to Ukraine, to talk to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, to tell him 'Let them go'. He just said he would pray for us," Kateryna Prokopenko told reporters. Her husband is a leader of the Azov regiment, a former far-right battalion turned National Guard unit leading the Azovstal defence.

"We hope that this meeting will just give us the chance to save their lives. We are ready for the actions of the pope, from his delegation, our soldiers are ready to be evacuated to a third country," Prokopenko said.

Russian gas transit halt in Ukraine hits Germany pipeline inflow

A halt on Russian gas flowing through a key transit hub in eastern Ukraine has cut inflows via a key pipeline into Germany by a quarter compared to a day ago, official data shows.

Berlin, however, said that overall supplies to Germany were assured, as the drop was being compensated by inflows from Norway and the Netherlands.

Russia summons Poland's ambassador after Warsaw protest

The Polish ambassador to Russia has been summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Moscow, the state-run news agency PAP quoted Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau as saying, after a Warsaw protest targeting Russia's envoy to Poland.

The Russian ambassador to Poland was doused in a red substance on Monday by people protesting against the conflict in Ukraine. But Russia is not considering closing its embassy in Warsaw, embassy representatives have told Reuters.

Russian-backed separatist regions block Facebook, Instagram

The Russian-backed so-called Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LNR) in eastern Ukraine say they have blocked access to Facebook and Instagram, aligning themselves with Russia's policy on the US-based social networks.

"Access to the information resources of the American company Meta, which allows calls for violence against Russian-speaking users on its social networks, has already been blocked," the DNR's communications ministry said in a statement.

In a separate statement, the LNR communications ministry said it had also blocked access to the social networks. Moscow recognised the two separatist regions as independent on February 21.

Pro-Russian authorities in Ukraine's Kherson plan to ask Putin to annex region – TASS

The Russian-occupied region of Kherson in Ukraine plans to ask President Vladimir Putin to incorporate it into Russia, TASS news agency has reported, citing an official from the Russian-controlled administration there.

The deputy head of the Russia-installed administration in Kherson, Kirill Stremousov, told reporters that there are no plans to create a self-proclaimed “Kherson People’s Republic,” akin to the ones in Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. But, he said, there are plans to ask Putin to annex it.

“The city of Kherson is Russia,” Stremousov was quoted as saying by the state RIA Novosti news agency. “There will be no (Kherson People’s Republic) on the territory of the Kherson region, there will be no referendums. It will be a decree based on an appeal from the Kherson regional leadership to the Russian president, and there will be a request to include the region into a proper region of the Russian Federation.”

Kremlin says it's up to people of Ukraine region to decide whether to join Russia

The Kremlin has said it is up to residents living in the Russian-occupied region of Kherson in southern Ukraine to decide whether they want to join Russia, but any such decision must have a clear legal basis.

Russia says hundreds of military targets hit in Ukraine

Russia has said its forces have hit hundreds of military targets in Ukraine overnight.

Speaking at a press briefing in Moscow, Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the air force hit 93 objects of Ukraine's military infrastructure, including three ammunition depots, and 69 areas of concentration of manpower and military equipment.

He added that Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces and artillery struck 407 areas of concentration of manpower and military equipment, 13 command points, four positions of the Osa-AKM air defence missile systems, and 14 ammunition depots, while the Russian air defence systems destroyed nine unmanned aerial vehicles.

Guterres does not see Ukraine peace negotiations any time soon

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said the time will come when there are peace negotiations over Ukraine, but he does not see that time in the immediate future.

Lavrov: Russia has enough energy buyers apart from West

Russia has enough buyers for its energy resources outside of Western countries, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said, as European Union countries try to sharply reduce their reliance on Russian oil and gas.

"Let the West pay more than it used to pay to the Russian Federation, and let it explain to its population why they should become poorer," Lavrov said at a news conference in Muscat after talks with his Omani counterpart.

Russian separatists say there are no civilians left at Azovstal plant -TASS

The leader of Ukraine's Russian-backed breakaway Donetsk People's Republic has said there are no civilians left at the Azovstal steel plant in the occupied Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, TASS news agency has reported.

"According to our information, there are no civilians left there. Consequently, our units' hands are no longer tied," TASS quoted Denis Pushilin, whose separatist forces have taken part in the assault on Mariupol, as saying.

Over 26,000 Russian soldiers killed: Ukraine

Some 26,350 Russian soldiers have so far been killed during the conflict in Ukraine, the Ukrainian military has said.

Ukrainian forces have destroyed 199 Russian aircraft, 160 helicopters, 390 unmanned aerial vehicles, 1,187 tanks, 2,856 armoured vehicles, and 528 artillery systems, according to the Ukrainian General Staff’s latest update.

Russia has also lost 185 multiple rocket launcher systems, 1,997 vehicles and fuel tanks, 87 anti-aircraft systems, 94 cruise missiles, and 12 boats, it added.

Pipeline operator stops gas in 1 Ukraine hub

Ukraine’s natural gas pipeline operator has stopped Russian shipments through a key hub in the east of the country.

The pipeline operator said Russian shipments through its Novopskov hub, in an area controlled by Moscow-backed separatists, would be cut because of interference from “occupying forces,” including the apparent siphoning of gas.

The move was the first time natural gas supply has been affected by the conflict that began in February. It may force Russia to shift flows of its gas through territory controlled by Ukraine to reach its clients in Europe.

Ukrainians make gains near Kharkiv

Kiev has claimed battlefield gains over Russian forces, including the recapture of four villages around the second city of Kharkiv.

In his nightly address, Zelensky said he had "good news" from the northeastern Kharkiv region. "The occupiers are gradually being pushed away," he said. The head of the Kharkiv regional state administration Oleg Synegubov said on Telegram that "fierce battles" were ongoing in the region, and that the city itself was under heavy fire.

"Due to successful offensive operations, our defenders liberated Cherkasy Tyshky, Rusky Tyshky, Rubizhne and Bayrak from the invaders," he said. "Thus, the enemy was driven even further from Kharkiv, and the occupiers had even less opportunity to fire on the regional centre."

Fight continues between Russian, Ukrainian forces at Snake Island – UK

Fighting between Russia and Ukrainian forces has continued on Zmiinyi Island, also known as Snake Island, with Russia repeatedly trying to reinforce its exposed troops.

"If Russia consolidates its position on Zmiinyi Island with strategic air defence and coastal defence cruise missiles, they could dominate the north-western Black Sea," the UK Ministry of Defence tweeted in a regular bulletin.

Russia's resupply vessels have minimum protection in the western Black Sea, following the Russian Navy's retreat to Crimea after the loss of the Moskva, the tweet said.

Ukraine pipeline operator to stop natural gas flow

Ukraine’s natural gas pipeline operator has said it will stop Russian shipments through its Novopskov hub in a part of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed separatists.

It said the hub handles about a third of the Russian gas passing through the country to Western Europe, although Russia’s state-owned natural gas giant Gazprom put the figure at about a quarter.

It said Russia could reroute affected shipments through Ukraine’s other main hub, Sudzha, in a northern part of the country controlled by Ukraine. Gazprom spokesman Sergey Kupriyanov said Ukraine’s rerouting request would be “technologically impossible” and that the company sees no grounds for Ukraine’s decision.

House approves $40B in Ukraine aid, beefing up Biden request

The US lawmakers have emphatically approved a fresh $40 billion Ukraine aid package, beefing up President Joe Biden's initial request and signalling a magnified, bipartisan commitment to thwart Russian President Vladimir Putin's nearly three-month-old offensive.

The measure sailed to passage by a lopsided 368-57 margin, providing $7 billion more than Biden's request from April and dividing the increase evenly between defence and humanitarian programmes.

The bill would give Ukraine military and economic assistance, help regional allies, replenish weapons the Pentagon has shipped overseas and provide $5 billion to address global food shortages caused by the assault's crippling of Ukraine's normally robust production of many crops.

For live updates from Tuesday (May 10), clickhere

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