The Ukrainian roundup

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May 23 (Reuters) – Ukraine said on Monday it had held off the latest assault on an eastern city that has become the main target of Moscow’s offensive since Russian forces finally seized Mariupol last week. 

FIGHTING

* A Ukrainian court sentenced a Russian soldier to life in prison on Monday for killing an unarmed civilian in the first war crimes trial arising from Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.

*Russia’s defence ministry on Monday said it had fired four Kalibr missiles from a submarine in the Black Sea to destroy the military equipment of a Ukrainian mountain assault brigade, the TASS news agency reported.

* Eighty-seven people were killed in a Russian air strike on the village of Desna last Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said during a speech to global business leaders at Davos. Ukrainian authorities last week said that eight people were killed. 

* Russia pounded dozens of targets in eastern Ukraine with airstrikes and artillery as ground forces attempted to encircle the Donbas city of Sievierodonetsk, the Russian Defence Ministry said.

*The Kremlin said on Monday that Russian soldiers would have to be alert to “terrorist attacks” after the Russian-appointed mayor of the occupied city of Enerhodar in southern Ukraine was injured in an explosion on Sunday.”Our soldiers must be alert and take measures to prevent such terrorist attacks,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

DIPLOMACY

* Zelenskiy told a meeting of global business leaders at Davos that the world faced a turning point and had to ratchet up sanctions against Russia as a warning to other countries considering using brute force 

* Ukraine and Poland agreed to establish a joint border customs control and work on a shared railway company to ease the movement of people and increase Ukraine’s export potential.

*Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Monday that he was concerned about what he called moves by the West to “dismember” Ukraine, and accused Poland of seeking to seize the Western part of the country.At a televised meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said Kyiv would eventually have to ask for help in preventing the seizure of western Ukraine.He offered no evidence for his assertions.

*Russia will be ready to return to negotiations with Ukraine “as soon as Kyiv shows a constructive position”, RIA cited Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko as saying.Speaking on the subject of Russia exchanging prisoners from the Azovstal steelworks, RIA reported that Rudenko did not rule out that discussions are taking place.

ECONOMY

* The Kremlin said on Monday that the West had triggered a global food crisis by imposing the severest sanctions in modern history on Russia over the war in Ukraine.

* Ukraine’s grain exports could reach 1.5 million tonnes in May compared with around 1 million tonnes in April, Roman Slaston, Director General of the Ukrainian Agrarian Business Club Association, said on Monday.

* Poland decided to terminate an intergovernmental agreement with Russia on the Yamal gas pipeline, Polish Climate Minister Anna Moskwa said. 

* Russia would normally have its own “house” at the World Economic Forum in Davos as a showcase for business leaders and investors. This year the space on the dressed-up main street has been transformed by Ukrainian artists into a “Russian War Crimes House”. Russia has denied allegations of war crimes in the conflict. 

*Refugees who have fled the war in Ukraine can change their Ukrainian hryvnia into euros in Germany starting Tuesday, according to a statement from the Finance Ministry in Berlin and German banks.The ministry agreed to the exchange programme together with the central banks of Germany and Ukraine as well as the German Banking Industry Committee, the joint statement said.The agreed exchange volume has been initially set at 1.5 billion hryvnia ($50.78 million) and the scheme is to stay in place for at least three months, it added.

Photo – Ukrainian MOD

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