Ukrainian and Russian officials have traded accusations over the stagnation of peace negotiations. Occupied Kherson, which has already taken on the ruble, edges closer to joining Russia. DW has the latest.
- Ukrainian and Russian officials say peace negotiations have stagnated
- Russian Deputy Prime Minister visits Kherson and alludes to the region joining Russia
- EU to unveil plan to move away from Russian foreign fuels
- Finland and Sweden submit NATO membership applications
This article was last updated at 1055 UTC/GMT
Russia expels 34 French diplomats
The Russian Foreign Ministry says it is expelling 34 French diplomats in a retaliatory move.
A Russian diplomatic source said the French diplomats had been given two weeks to leave the country.
The announcement comes in response to France kicking out 35 Russians with diplomatic status in April.
That was part of a wider set of expulsions that saw more than 300 Russians in European capitals sent home.
Later that month France’s foreign ministry declared six Russian agents posing as diplomats as “personae non-gratae.” An investigation by domestic intelligence concluded they were working against French national interest.
Russia’s RIA Novosti state news agency also cited the foreign ministry as saying that it had told 24 Italian diplomats to leave the country, also in a retaliatory move.
Ukraine calls for Azovstal fighters to be exchanged
Ukrainian military officials say they still hope fighters extracted from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol could be exchanged for Russian prisoners of war.
However, Russian lawmakers plan to take up a resolution that would prevent the exchange of Azov Regiment fighters on Wednesday.
The soldiers held out for months inside the Azovstal steelworks plant while Mariupol was under siege.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, nearly 1,000 Ukrainian holed up at the works have surrendered this week — many of whom are wounded.
They are reported to have been taken to a reopened former penal colony in Russian-controlled territory.
It’s unclear how many fighters still remain at the sprawling site which became the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance within Mariupol.
Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar has said negotiations for the troops’ release are ongoing with some fighters still believed to be inside the mill.
Donetsk separatist leader Denis Pushilin has said a court will decide the fate of the Ukrainian fighters, a local media outlet reported.
G7 ministers meet to discuss finance for Ukraine
The finance ministers of the Group of Seven leading economies are meeting in Germany to discuss short-term aid to stabilize the Ukrainian national budget.
It’s believed that the country needs some €5 billion of assistance for an initial period of three months.
The consultations beginning on Wednesday near the western city of Bonn are to be attended by central bank governors and some experts. A joint declaration is planned for Friday.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday said the European Union was likely to make significant financial contributions to keep Ukraine going. Yellen added that she hoped other G7 members like Britain, Canada and Japan would also step up.
Yellen, who was in Brussels on Tuesday, said the US has made a strong commitment to funding Ukraine and that it was clear that the EU was “very serious about wanting to provide the necessary aid as well.”
US Treasury officials have also said they plan to propose the idea of European countries imposing tariffs on Russian oil — as a faster alternative to an outright ban on it — at the meeting.
EU officials are now considering a phased embargo on Russian oil, but there are concerns from eastern European countries about supply. A tariff mechanism would be designed to keep Russian oil on the market but limit the amount of revenue that can flow to Moscow from exports, the Treasury officials said.
Finland and Sweden formally submit NATO bids
Finland and Sweden have formally submitted their bids to join NATO , despite Turkey’s threat to block the addition of the Nordic nations.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he had received application letters from the two Nordic countries’ ambassadors.
“I warmly welcome the requests by Finland and Sweden to join NATO. You are our closest partners,” Stoltenberg told reporters.
Finland — which has a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) border with Russia — and its neighbor Sweden have been disturbed by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The two countries’ accession would end decades of military neutrality to join the alliance as a defense against feared aggression from Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday warned that the expansion of NATO might trigger a response. However, the main obstacle to Finland and Sweden’s membership comes from within the alliance.
Turkey claims that both Sweden and Finland have provided a refuge for terrorist groups and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insists Ankara will not approve the expansion.
Any bid to join NATO must be approved unanimously by all 30 members of the alliance.
US sets up conflict monitor on Ukraine
The United States has set up a new monitoring body to build legal cases against Russia for crimes committed during its war against Ukraine.
The State Department says it aims to contribute to eventual prosecutions in the domestic courts of Ukraine and those of third-party countries, plus US courts and other tribunals. The monitor would also provide information refuting Russian disinformation campaigns.
Annoucing the creation of the Conflict Observatory, State Department spokesman Ned Price said it would “ensure that crimes committed by Russia’s forces are documented and perpetrators are held accountable.”
“The program will capture, analyze, and make publicly available open-source information and evidence of atrocities, human rights abuses, and harm to civilian infrastructure, including Ukraine’s cultural heritage,” he said.
Reports will be posted on ConflictObservatory.org. Price said the observatory was a collaboration that would involve scientists and the private sector.
First war crimes trial against Russian soldier in Kyiv
The first war crimes trial against a Russian soldier since the start of the invasion is set to start on Wednesday.
A Russian soldier will appear at Kyiv’s Solomyansky district court from 2 p.m. local time (1100 GMT) accused of killing a 62-year-old civilian in northeastern Ukraine on February 28. He faces a possible life sentence.
“He understands what he is being accused of,” his lawyer Viktor Ovsiannikov told the AFP news agency. “This is the first such case in Ukraine with such an indictment. There is no relevant legal practice or verdicts on such cases. We will sort it out.”
Ukrainian authorities said the suspect is cooperating with investigators.
Prosecutors say the suspect was commanding a unit in a tank division when his convoy came under attack. According to prosecutors, he and four other soldiers stole a car and as they were traveling near the northeastern village of Shupakhivka, they encountered a 62-year-old man on a bicycle.
“One of the soldiers ordered the accused to kill the civilian so that he would not denounce them,” the prosecutor’s office said. The suspect then shot the man from the window of the vehicle, prosecutors say.
The trial is likely to be followed by other cases. Two Russian soldiers are due to go on trial on Thursday for allegedly firing rockets at civilian infrastructure in the Kharkiv region.
On Tuesday, the office of the Ukrainian chief prosecutor tweeted that it had registered 11,846 cases of “crimes of aggression and war crimes” and 5,644 “crimes against national security” involving 623 suspects.
Peace negotiations have stagnated — Ukrainian, Russian officials
Ukrainian and Russian officials have said that negotiations between the two countries have stagnated.
Moscow has accused Ukraine of hardening its stance. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko that Kyiv has “practically withdrawn from the negotiation process.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Western countries want to use Ukraine to their strategic advantage. He argued that no peace deal can be made if negotiators focus on the West’s concerns rather than the immediate situation in Ukraine.
“We always say that we are ready for negotiations … but we were given no other choice,” Lavrov said.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said that talks are “on hold” as Russia is not willing to accept it “will not achieve any goals.”
“Russia does not demonstrate a key understanding of today’s processes in the world,” Podolyak said, according to Ukrainian media. “And its extremely negative role.”
Russia’s Lavrov says NATO accession for Finland, Sweden makes ‘no big difference’
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Finland and Sweden joining NATO would not make “much difference.”
“Finland and Sweden, as well as other neutral countries, have been participating in NATO military exercises for many years,” Lavrov said.
“NATO takes their territory into account when planning military advances to the East. So in this sense there is probably not much difference. Let’s see how their territory is used in practice in the North Atlantic alliance.”
Russian deputy PM visits Kherson region
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin has visited the Ukraine’s southern Kherson region.
RIA Novosti reported that Khusnullin said that the region would take a “worthy place in our Russian family.” Kherson is under Russian occupation.
On May 1, Moscow introduced the Russian ruble as official currency in the region.
A few days ago, the Russian-installed local government in Kherson said it plans to appeal to Moscow for the right to become part of the Russian Federation.
EU to unveil plan to end reliance on Russian fossil fuels
The European Commission will unveil a €210 billion plan ($222 billion) to end Europe’s reliance on Russian fossil fuels by 2027 and accelerate the shift to green energy.
Russia supplies 40% of the EU’s gas and 27% of its imported oil.
According to draft documents cited by Reuters, Brussels plans to import more non-Russian gas, implement a faster rollout of renewable energy and make efforts to save energy.
Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Tuesday
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a surprise video address at the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival. The former actor turned statesman asked for the cinema world’s solidarity with his people in the face of the Russian invasion.
The International Criminal Court sent war crimes investigators to Ukraine in what it called the largest deployment of its kind in the ICC’s history.
Eight people were killed and 12 wounded in a Russian airstrike on the village of Desna in the northern Ukrainian region of Chernihiv, the regional emergency service said.
Finland’s parliament overwhelmingly approved a proposal to join NATO.
Ukraine’s military said it was working to evacuate all remaining troops from the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Turkish concerns over Finland and Sweden’s possible membership in the alliance need to be addressed.
The western Ukrainian city of Lviv was reportedly hit by at least eight explosions.
Catch up on yesterday’s events by clicking here
si,rc/jsi (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)
Source: DW News