Ukraine latest: Russia has 20% of Ukraine territory, Zelenskyy says
U.S. adds Russian cellist, steelmaker to sanctions list; Kyiv lifts interest rate to 25%
A Ukrainian serviceman rides atop a tank near a front line. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russia occupies one-fifth of the country, with fighting raging from Kharkiv in the northeast to the city of Mykolaiv in the south. © Reuters
May 21, 2022 11:29 JSTUpdated on June 3, 2022 04:27 JST
The Russian invasion of Ukraine that began on Feb. 24 continues, with casualties mounting on both sides.
Ukrainian forces are putting up resistance in the east, where the focus of the war has shifted, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy regularly calls on the world to do more to help. Governments around the globe have imposed heavy sanctions against Moscow but have stopped short of direct intervention for fear of sparking a wider conflict.
Meanwhile, rising geopolitical risk and volatile energy and financial markets are rocking Asia.
For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine war page.
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Entries include material from wire services and other sources.
Note: Nikkei Asia on March 5 decided to temporarily suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code.
Here are the latest developments:
Friday, June 3 (Tokyo time)
3:04 a.m. The U.S. issues new sanctions to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, with targets including several yachts linked to President Vladimir Putin. The State Department imposed sanctions on five Russian oligarchs including Alexey Mordashov and his companies, such as steel producer Severstal and gold miner Nord Gold.
Another target is Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Maria Zakharova.
The Biden administration also added Sergei Roldugin, a cellist and conductor already under European Union sanctions for his links to Putin, to its list of sanctioned individuals, saying Roldugin was “part of a system that manages President Putin’s offshore wealth.” The order freezes Roldugin’s U.S. assets and bars American individuals from dealing with them.
12:40 a.m. Russia currently occupies about 20% of Ukraine’s territory, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says in a video address to Luxembourg’s parliament.
“We have to defend ourselves against almost the entire Russian army. All combat-ready Russian military formations are involved in this aggression,” he said, adding that the front lines of battle stretched across more than 1,000 km.
More sophisticated and powerful weapons from the U.S. and Germany are expected to arrive in Ukraine soon, amid the intense fighting and heavy losses being suffered by both sides.
12:10 a.m. A desperate and cash-strapped Sri Lanka is turning to Russia for cheap oil, while much of the world shuns Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
Trapped in the worst economic crisis in its history, the South Asian country said last weekend that it would pay $72 million for 90,000 tons of Russian crude ordered via a Dubai-based company and docked at Colombo for weeks. Sri Lanka’s first purchase of Russian oil since the outbreak of the war in Europe gave a new lease of life to a refinery in Sapugaskanda, just outside the commercial capital, which had been shut since March.
It also highlighted how the country’s woes have given Russia an opening. Sri Lanka has kicked off discussions with Moscow about directly importing crude oil, although it is unclear where the funds for such shipments would come from. Read more.
Thursday, June 2
11:31 p.m. OPEC and allies have agreed to increase oil production in July and August by 650,000 barrels a day in both months, up from planned increases of around 400,000, after the U.S. presses key producer Saudi Arabia to help ease rising crude prices. Read more.
10:00 p.m. Frozen assets of the Central Bank of Russia should be seized and given to Ukraine, Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins tells Nikkei in an interview.
“Russia is destroying Ukraine, so we need to take Russia’s assets” for reconstruction, Karins says.
“We need to move forward and coordinate, all of Europe, America and Japan,” he says. The issue will likely be on the agenda of the June European Union leaders’ summit and the Group of Seven leaders’ meeting. Read more.
9:32 p.m. Ukraine has raised its main interest rate to a seven-year high of 25%, up from 10%, tightening monetary policy for the first time since the Russian invasion to tackle double-digit inflation and protect its currency the hryvnia as some business activity resumes amid widespread economic damage.
6:28 p.m. Ukraine is working with international partners to create a United Nations-backed mission to restore Black Sea shipping routes and export Ukrainian farm produce, foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko says. Russia has captured some of Ukraine’s biggest seaports and its navy controls major transport routes in the Black Sea, blocking Ukrainian shipments and deepening a global food crisis. “We call on countries whose food security may suffer more from Russian aggression against Ukraine to use their contacts with Moscow to force it to lift the blockade of Ukrainian seaports and end the war,” Nikolenko wrote on Facebook.
3:56 p.m. Oil prices fall as investors cash in on a recent rally ahead of a key producers meeting later in the day, with some speculation that Saudi Arabia may boost oil production in response to urging by the United States. Brent crude was down $2.07, or 1.8%, at $114.22 a barrel at 0649 GMT, having risen 0.6% the previous day. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude dropped $2.21, or 1.9%, to $113.05 a barrel, after a 0.5% rise on Wednesday.
2:50 p.m. Novartis is resuming business in Ukraine after reviewing how safe it was to operate in the country that Russia invaded in February, the Swiss drugmaker says. “After studying current safety protocols in the country, and on advice which we will regularly review, we have begun to resume business operations remotely to help the war-torn country restore some basic critical business processes,” Novartis said on its website in a post dated June 1. “The safety and security of our people remains our No. 1 objective, and we will constantly review the situation and our business operations in Ukraine.”
9:06 a.m. A Russian missile hit rail lines in the western Lviv region, a key conduit for Western weapons and other supplies, officials say. Lviv region Gov. Maksym Kozytskyy said five people were wounded in the strike, adding that more information would be available later in the day. Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the country’s interior minister, said the Russians hit the Beskidy railway tunnel in the Carpathian Mountains in an apparent effort to cut a key railway link and disrupt shipments of weapons and fuel.
Members of the Social Liberal Party celebrate the initial results of the referendum about the Denmark’s participation in the EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy on June 1. (Ritzau Scanpix/Claus Bech via Reuters)
7:00 a.m. Denmark will join the European Union’s defense policy after a referendum on Wednesday, final results show, signaling the latest shift among Nordic countries to deepen defense ties in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Denmark is the only EU member that is not part of the bloc’s defense and security policy. Final results show almost 67% of voters were in favor of removing an opt-out to the EU’s so-called Common Security and Defense Policy. By joining the policy, Denmark would be able to take part in joint military operations, such as those in Somalia, Mali and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to cooperate on the acquisition of joint military capabilities.
6:15 a.m. Ukraine’s national soccer team scores a 3-1 win over Scotland in a vital World Cup playoff game, bringing a moment of joy to the country. The victory, in their first game since the war began, keeps Ukraine in the running to reach the finals. Ukraine will now face Wales on Sunday with the winner advancing to the finals. “Thank you guys! Two hours of happiness, something we have become unaccustomed to,” President Zelenskyy says in an online post.
5:00 a.m. The Biden administration plans to sell drones to Ukraine that can be equipped with missiles for combat use, Reuters reports, citing people familiar with the matter.
1:10 a.m. Russia’s failure to pay nearly $1.9 million in interest on a sovereign bond constitutes a “credit event,” a panel of investors says, as the country teeters on the edge of a formal default. A “credit event” would allow investors to collect a payout on default insurance known as credit default swaps. Read more.
Wednesday, June 1
11:00 p.m. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says the supply of U.S. advanced rocket launchers to Ukraine raises the risks of a “third country” being dragged into the conflict. Lavrov responded to a reporter’s question in Saudi Arabia about American plans to provide Ukraine with advanced rocket systems that can strike with precision at long-range Russian targets.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov: Moscow views U.S. military aid to Ukraine “extremely negatively.” © Reuters
4:42 p.m. Russia harshly criticizes a U.S. decision to supply advanced rocket systems and munitions to Ukraine, saying that it would increase the risk of a direct confrontation. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told state news agency RIA Novosti that Moscow views U.S. military aid to Ukraine “extremely negatively.” Ryabkov singled out U.S. plans to supply Kyiv with its High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), a multiple rocket launcher system that Washington said it would supply to Ukraine as part of its latest military aid package.
3:16 p.m. Russian manufacturing activity expanded in May after three months of contraction and price pressures eased notably, but sanctions continued to dent client demand, a survey shows. The S&P Global Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 50.8 from 48.2 the previous month, climbing above the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction for the first time since January. “Slower declines in output, new orders, employment and stocks of purchases all helped to boost the seasonally adjusted PMI,” S&P Global, which compiles the index, said. “Longer lead times, ordinarily a sign of improving demand conditions but driven by sanctions and logistics delays here, also contributed positively to the latest index reading.” Despite the increase in the main PMI index, actual manufacturing output continued to fall in May, S&P Global said.
2:37 p.m. Swiss financial market supervisor FINMA extended through August a ban on the Swiss arm of Russia’s largest lender from making payments and transactions, as well as other measures designed to protect creditors. FINMA imposed the measures on Sberbank (Switzerland) AG on March 4 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “The measures will remain in place until 2 August 2022 owing to heightened international sanctions and the continuing risks for the bank’s liquidity situation,” FINMA said in a statement.
The U.S. has decided to supply a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System to Ukraine. © Reuters
10:27 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden has agreed to provide Ukraine with advanced rocket systems that can strike with precision at long-range Russian targets as part of a $700 million weapons package expected to be unveiled on Wednesday.
6:26 a.m. Russia has taken control of most of the eastern industrial city of Sievierodonetsk, a bombed-out wasteland whose capture Moscow has made the principal objective of its invasion, said the governor of the province of Luhansk, Serhiy Gaidai.
Russia’s all-out assault on the city has been met by tough resistance from Ukrainian forces. Russian-backed separatists in Luhansk acknowledged that capturing the city was taking longer than hoped, despite one of the biggest ground attacks of the three-month-long war.
After failing to capture the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and being driven out of northern Ukraine, a Russian victory in Sievierodonetsk and in Lysychansk, on the other side of the Siverskyi Donets River, would bring full control of Luhansk, one of two eastern provinces that Moscow claims on behalf of separatists.
3:06 a.m. Washington is prepared to give “comfort letters” to shipping and insurance companies to facilitate exports of Russian grain and fertilizer, says Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She notes that Russian grain and fertilizer are not under U.S. sanctions but that “companies are a little nervous, and we’re prepared to give them comfort letters if that will help to encourage them.”
3:00 a.m. In a widening of Russia’s restrictions on the flow of natural gas to Europe, Gazprom will turn off supplies to Shell Energy in Germany after the latter refused to pay in rubles.
Gazprom’s move represents the first formal cut in gas supplies to Germany by Russia, the Financial Times reports.
2:55 a.m. A United Nations official had “constructive discussions” on smoothing the way for Russian grain and fertilizer exports to global markets, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric says.
Rebeca Grynspan, the secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, was in Moscow for the talks. Her discussions “focused on facilitating Russian grain and fertilizers to global markets with the key aim of addressing the growing global food insecurity, and Sudan just being one example that we flagged today,” Dujarric says.
Grynspan “is in Washington today to meet with U.S. officials,” he adds.
12:45 a.m. Accusing Russia of playing “hunger games” by blocking Ukrainian food exports, Ukraine’s foreign minister tweets that work is underway on “an international UN-led operation with navies of partners ensuring a safe trade route with no security risks.”
Kuleba does not elaborate on what this operation would entail.
12:00 a.m. Russia’s economy will shrink less sharply that expected this year, a Reuters poll shows, with the average forecast among 18 analysts polled in late May pointing to a 7.6% contraction. A similar poll in late April predicted a contraction of 8.4%.
Tuesday, May 31
9:52 p.m. A Ukrainian court sentences two captured Russian soldiers to 11 and a half years in jail for shelling a town in eastern Ukraine, the second war crimes verdict since the start of Russia’s invasion in February.
Alexander Bobikin and Alexander Ivanov, described as an artillery driver and a gunner, acknowledged being part of an artillery unit that fired at targets in the Kharkiv region with Grad missiles from Russia’s Belgorod region. The shelling destroyed critical infrastructure and houses but caused no casualties. They were captured after crossing the border and continuing the shelling.
Rolls of steel are stacked aboard the RM 3 cargo ship at the Port of Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 30. Authorities in Kyiv described the shipment as looting. © Reuters
4:30 p.m. A ship has left the Ukrainian port of Mariupol for the first time since Russia took the city and is headed east to Russia with a load of metal, the Russian-backed separatist leader of the Ukrainian breakaway region of Donetsk says. Ukraine says the shipment of metal to Russia from Mariupol, whose capture gave Moscow an overland bridge linking mainland Russia and pro-Russian separatist territory to annexed-Crimea, amounts to looting. “Today 2,500 tons of hot-rolled sheets left the port of Mariupol,” Denis Pushilin, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, wrote on the Telegram messaging app. “The ship [is] headed for [the Russian city of] Rostov.”
3:00 p.m. The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has changed the host of its annual meeting this fall from Russia to the AIIB headquarters in Beijing. The meeting will be conducted online. It is believed that the decision was swayed by international public opinion, including the economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The seventh annual meeting is scheduled for Oct. 26-27. Read more.
European Union moves to restrict imports of Russian oil pushed futures prices higher on May 31, amid market fears of tighter supplies ahead of the peak driving season in the U.S. and Europe. © Reuters
1:37 p.m. Oil prices extend gains after the European Union agreed to slash oil imports from Russia, fueling worries of a tighter market already strained for supply amid rising demand ahead of the peak U.S. and European summer driving season. Brent crude for July, which expires on Tuesday, rose $1.13 to a fresh two-month peak of $122.80 a barrel at 0359 GMT. The more active August contract rose $1.34 to $118.94. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were trading at $118.25 a barrel, up $3.18 from Friday’s close.
11:03 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the Russian blockade of Ukrainian seaports prevents Kyiv from exporting 22 million tons of grain. In his nightly address, Zelenskyy said the result is the threat of famine in countries dependent on the grain and could create a new migration crisis. He charges that “this is something the Russian leadership clearly seeks.”
9:14 a.m. European Union leaders agree to embargo most Russian oil imports into the bloc by year-end as part of new sanctions on Moscow worked out at a summit focused on helping Ukraine with a long-delayed package of new financial support. The embargo covers Russian oil brought in by sea, allowing a temporary exemption for imports delivered by pipeline, a move that was crucial to bring landlocked Hungary on board. The agreement covers more than two-thirds of oil imports from Russia, EU Council President Charles Michel says. Ursula Von der Leyen, the head of the EU’s executive branch, said the punitive move will “effectively cut around 90% of oil imports from Russia to the EU by the end of the year.”
1:49 a.m. Starting today GasTerra will no longer receive gas from Russia’s Gazprom due to its refusal to agree to Moscow’s demands for payment in rubles, the two companies say. GasTerra, which buys and trades gas on behalf of the Dutch government, said it had contracted elsewhere for the 2 billion cu. meters of gas it had expected to receive from Gazprom through October. The company is 50% owned by Dutch government entities and 25% each by Shell and Exxon. “We understand GasTerra’s decision not to agree to Gazprom’s unilaterally imposed payment conditions,” Dutch Energy Minister Rob Jetten wrote on Twitter. “This decision will have no consequences for the physical delivery of gas to Dutch households.”
12:36 a.m. The U.S. will not send Ukraine rocket systems that can reach into Russia, President Joe Biden says, as Kyiv pushes for longer-range weapons including the Multiple Launch Rocket System, or MLRS, which can fire a barrage of rockets hundreds of miles away.
Biden did not rule out providing any specific weapons system, but instead appeared to be placing conditions on how they could be used. Biden and his team are working on a new package of military equipment expected to be announced in the coming days.
Monday, May 30
4:05 p.m. Russia appears to have suffered devastating losses of mid- and junior-ranking officers in its invasion of Ukraine, raising the prospect of weaker military effectiveness in the future, Britain’s defense ministry says. Brigade and battalion commanders have likely been deployed to the most dangerous positions while junior officers have led low-level tactical actions, the ministry says.
“With multiple credible reports of localized mutinies amongst Russia’s forces in Ukraine, a lack of experienced and credible platoon and company commanders is likely to result (in) a further decrease in morale and continued poor discipline,” it says.
Barley is loaded into a ship at a Ukrainian agricultural exporter’s shipment terminal in the southern Ukrainian city of Nikolaev. © Reuters
3:00 p.m. The Russian-controlled Ukrainian region of Kherson has begun exporting grain that was harvested last year to Russia, the TASS news agency cited a senior local official as saying. “We have space to store (the new crop) although we have a lot of grain here. People are now partially taking it out, having agreed with those who buy it from the Russian side,” said Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Military-Civilian Administration.
2:41 p.m. French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv later on Monday to express France’s solidarity with Ukraine and offer more support for the country, the French foreign affairs ministry says. Colonna’s trip to Ukraine comes amid criticism from some diplomats and political analysts that France is not doing enough to support Ukraine in its fight with Russia.
A resident takes in all that’s left of Bakhmut, a town in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, on May 29, 2022. © Reuters
7:00 a.m. Russian forces intensified their attacks with barrages of heavy artillery to capture a key Ukrainian city in the southeastern region of Donbas, whose full takeover Moscow’s top diplomat said was now an “unconditional priority.” Constant Russian shelling has destroyed all of the critical infrastructure in Sievierodonetsk, the largest city Ukraine still controls in Luhansk, one of the regions in Donbas, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says, pledging to do everything to hold off the advance. “Some 90% of buildings are damaged. More than two-thirds of the city’s housing stock has been completely destroyed. There is no telecommunication,” he said in a televised speech. “Capturing Sievierodonetsk is a fundamental task for the occupiers … We do all we can to hold this advance,” he added.
Sunday, May 29
11:30 p.m. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said talks with Finland and Sweden about their joining NATO were not at the “expected level” and Ankara cannot say yes to “terrorism-supporting” countries, state broadcaster TRT Haber reported on Sunday. Turkey has objected to Sweden and Finland joining the Western defense alliance, holding up a deal that would allow for a historic enlargement following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “For as long as Tayyip Erdogan is the head of the Republic of Turkey, we definitely cannot say ‘yes’ to countries which support terrorism entering NATO,” he was cited as telling reporters on his return from a trip to Azerbaijan on Saturday.
People wait to buy kerosene at a fuel station in Colombo on May 18. © Reuters
1:19 a.m. Sri Lanka agrees to buy 90,000 tons of Russian oil docked at Colombo’s port for weeks for $72 million, the energy minister says, as the nation works to restart its only refinery and address a crippling energy crisis.
“I have reached out to multiple countries, including Russia, for support to import crude and other petroleum products,” Reuters quotes Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera as saying.
Saturday, May 28
8:30 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin tells French and German leaders that Russia was willing to discuss ways to make it possible for Ukraine to resume shipments of grain from Black Sea ports, the Kremlin says. Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies, while Russia is also a main global fertilizer exporter and Ukraine is a major exporter of corn and sunflower oil.
“For its part, Russia is ready to help find options for the unhindered export of grain, including the export of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports,” the Kremlin says.
4:15 p.m. Russian forces intensify their assault on the Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk after claiming to have captured the nearby rail hub of Lyman, pressing their offensive in the eastern Donbas.
Russian gains in recent days indicate a shift in momentum in the war, now in its fourth month. The invading forces appear close to seizing all of the Luhansk region of Donbas, a main Kremlin war goal, despite Ukrainian resistance.
Friday, May 27
9:00 p.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he will participate remotely in the Group of 20 economies’ summit to be held in November in Bali, Indonesia.
In an online speech hosted by the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia, the wartime leader urges pro-Russian elements to not blame Ukraine for wanting to join NATO.
Zelenskyy does not mention Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s decision to also invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to the summit. But he asks “politicians, diplomats of the world’s biggest economies” to “join forces” to stop Russia’s aggression, “rather than supporting the Russian Federation and its businesses, rather than continuing trading with them.” Read more.
Jokowi held a call with Zelenskyy in late April, and the Ukrainian leader said then that he appreciated the president’s invitation to the event. Indonesia holds the rotating presidency of the G-20 this year.
7:00 p.m. Sweden intends to increase defense spending to at least 2% of its gross domestic product by 2028, Swedish Finance Minister Mikael Damberg said in a May 25 interview with Nikkei. The country currently spends about 1.3% of its GDP on defense.
Sweden has applied to join NATO, which requests that member states spend at least 2% of GDP on defense. Sweden will increase its spending to that level over the next six years. Read more.
3:00 p.m. At Nikkei’s Future of Asia conference, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad warns of the risk of escalation following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I am afraid that wars have a habit of beginning small and then grow into world wars,” he says on Day 2 of the event in Tokyo. Read more.
The superyacht Amadea docked in Fiji on April 15. The U.S. has won the latest round of a legal battle to seize the $325 million Russian-owned vessel. © Reuters
2:11 p.m. The U.S. has won the latest round of a legal battle to seize a $325 million Russian-owned superyacht in Fiji, with the case now appearing to be heading to the Pacific nation’s top court. The case highlights the thorny legal ground the U.S. finds itself on as it tries to seize assets of Russian oligarchs around the world. Those intentions are welcomed by many governments and citizens who oppose the war in Ukraine, but some actions are raising questions about how far U.S. jurisdiction extends. Fiji’s Court of Appeal on Friday dismissed an appeal by Feizal Haniff, who represents the company that legally owns the superyacht Amadea.
7:06 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy complains about divisions inside the European Union over more sanctions against Russia and asks why some nations were being allowed to block the plan. The EU is discussing a sixth round of punitive measures, including an embargo on Russian oil imports. Such a move requires unanimity but Hungary opposes the idea for now on the grounds its economy would suffer too much. “How many more weeks will the European Union try to agree on a sixth package?” Zelenskyy said in a late night address, noting that Russia was receiving a billion euros a day from the 27-nation bloc for energy supplies.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in a late-night call on May 27, complained about delays in European Union efforts to implement a fresh round of economic sanctions against Russia. © Reuters
4:00 a.m. The new owner of McDonald’s restaurants in Russia, Alexander Govor, plans to start rebranding them next month, Russian media report. “We can confirm that we’re striving to open for our guests on June 12,” Interfax and Tass quote a statement from the chain’s press service as saying. “We’ll present the updated brand separately in the near future,” the statement adds.
3:40 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi hold a phone call on developments in the Ukraine war and on efforts to ease the ongoing food crisis, Rome says in a statement. Moscow says of the call, “Vladimir Putin emphasized that the Russian Federation is ready to make a significant contribution to overcoming the food crisis through the export of grain and fertilizers, provided that politically motivated restrictions from the West are lifted.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has disrupted grain and flour production, including at this mill in the Chernihiv region. © Reuters
1:20 a.m. The U.S. remains focused on the long-term threat China poses to the international order, even as the war in Ukraine draws global attention, Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in a speech laying out the Biden administration’s policy toward Beijing. “Even as President Putin’s war continues, we will remain focused on the most serious long-term challenge to the international order, and that’s posed by [China],” says Blinken at the Asia Society Policy Institute in Washington. “China’s the only country with both the intent to reshape the international order and increasingly the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to do it,” he adds. Read more.
Thursday, May 26
8:15 p.m. China should not take any cues from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to attempt further advances in the disputed South China Sea, Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob says in an exclusive interview. “We hope China doesn’t take advantage of what is happening between Russia and Ukraine,” Ismail Sabri tells Nikkei in his first interview with international media since he became prime minister last August. “Not only China but all other major powers should not take advantage in the South China Sea.” Read more.
7:00 p.m. Turkey is in negotiations with Russia and Ukraine to open a corridor via the Bosporus for grain exports from Ukraine, a senior Turkish official told Reuters. Ukraine’s Black Sea ports have been blocked since Russia invaded in February and more than 20 million tons of grain are stuck in silos there.
“Turkey is negotiating with both Russia and Ukraine for the export of grains from Ukraine,” the official said, requesting anonymity because the talks were confidential.
The Kremlin rejects U.S. and European Union claims that Russia had blocked grain exports from Ukraine, and accused the West of creating such a situation by imposing sanctions.
“We categorically do not accept these accusations. On the contrary, we blame Western countries of taking actions that have led to this,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in a conference call with reporters. Moscow calls for the West to remove the sanctions which it says are blocking grain exports from Ukraine.
5:00 p.m. Russia’s central bank lowers its key interest rate to 11% and says it sees room for more cuts this year, as inflation slows from more than 20-year highs and the economy is about to contract. It announced the move at an extraordinary meeting after cutting the key rate to 14% in April, weeks after an emergency rate increase to 20% triggered by Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. The central bank said it “holds open the prospect of key rate reduction at its upcoming meetings.”
3:11 p.m. The leader of Russian-backed separatists in the breakaway Donetsk region calls for the military operation in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine to be accelerated, Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti news agency reports. Denis Pushilin, head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, said Kyiv had blocked water supplies to key cities in the north of the region and called for military action to be stepped up.
A police officer walks next to a school building damaged by a Russian military strike in the settlement of Kostiantynivka in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on May 22. © Reuters
12:30 p.m. Russian forces shelled more than 40 towns in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, Ukraine’s military says, threatening to shut off the last main escape route for civilians trapped in the path of the invasion, now in its fourth month. After failing to seize Ukraine’s capital Kyiv or its second city Kharkiv, Russia is trying to take full control of the Donbas, comprised of two eastern provinces Moscow claims on behalf of separatists. “The occupiers shelled more than 40 towns in Donetsk and Luhansk region, destroying or damaging 47 civilian sites, including 38 homes and a school. As a result of this shelling five civilians died and 12 were wounded,” the Joint Task Force of Ukraine’s armed forces said on Facebook.
10:03 a.m. South Korea’s central bank continues to tighten policy in the face of soaring inflation, raising its key interest rate by 25 basis points to 1.75% on Thursday. The Bank of Korea’s second straight hike came in the first meeting under new Gov. Rhee Chang-yong, the International Monetary Fund’s former Asia-Pacific director who took the helm of the bank last month.
Local residents gather outside their heavily damaged house after a Russian strike in Pokrovsk, eastern Ukraine on May 25. © AP
9:14 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued an order to fast track Russian citizenship for residents of parts of southern Ukraine largely held by his forces, while lawmakers in Moscow passed a bill to strengthen the stretched Russian army. Putin’s decree applying to the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions could allow Russia to strengthen its hold on territory that lies between eastern Ukraine, where Moscow-backed separatists occupy some areas, and the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized in 2014.
4:16 a.m. World Bank President David Malpass suggests that Russia’s war in Ukraine and its impact on food and energy prices — as well as the availability of fertilizer — could trigger a global recession. “As we look at the global GDP … it’s hard right now to see how we avoid a recession,” Malpass says at an event in Washington hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The Ukraine war’s impact on food and energy prices poses a risk to the global economy, the head of the World Bank says. © Reuters
12:40 a.m. The head of Russia’s lower parliamentary house has slammed Japan as an “unfriendly nation” that is benefiting from its interests in the Sakhalin-2 energy project.
Vyacheslav Volodin, the chairman of the State Duma, singles out Japan, the U.K. and the Netherlands for receiving “huge profits” from the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project in Russia’s Far East, according to an article on the Duma’s website.
He insists stakes in the project held by companies in those countries should be sold to Russia’s state-owned energy company Gazprom or to enterprises from friendly nations.
Japanese resources traders Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corp. own 12.5% and 10% of Sakhalin-2, respectively. Gazprom owns about 50% while U.K.-based Shell controls roughly 27.5%. Read more.
An tanker loaded with liquefied natural gas from Russia’s Sakhalin-2 project arrives at a Japanese terminal. © Kyodo
Wednesday, May 25
11:00 p.m. Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki has apologized for introducing himself as “Zelenskyy” at a panel discussion, in what he called an ill-advised “joke.”
“I had absolutely no intention of belittling the situation in Ukraine,” Tamaki tells reporters, explaining that he had been talking about the Ukrainian president before the start of his remarks.
9:55 p.m. While the conflict in Ukraine has hit the brakes on M&A activity and private equity fundraising for now, there are still positives to be found, according to Carlyle Group CEO Kewsong Lee.
“The best CEOs and the companies in the industries around the world are starting to try to think through what are the opportunities that are being created. That’s the mindset that Carlyle has,” says Lee, who talked with Nikkei about the promise he sees in the energy sector and in Asia. Read more
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on May 23. © Reuters
3:42 p.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Wednesday that he was only willing to talk directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin, not intermediaries. He added that if Putin “understands reality,” there is a possibility of finding a diplomatic way out of the conflict.
Zelenskyy, speaking to an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, also said that Ukraine would fight until it recovered all of its territory. He said Moscow should withdraw its troops back to the lines in place before Russia began its invasion on Feb. 24. “That might be a first step towards talks,” he said, adding that Russia has been playing for time in its talks with Ukraine.
12:15 p.m. Australian tennis player Daria Saville says she can no longer return to Russia, the country of her birth, after protesting the military intervention in Ukraine. Saville wore yellow and blue, the colors of Ukraine, at the Paris Open in March and urged President Vladimir Putin to stop the war and the Russian army to return home in a post on social media.
“Already I can’t really go back to Russia, no,” she told Australian media at the French Open. “I definitely do support the Ukrainian players. … Imagine not having a home.” Saville, whose parents live in Moscow, represented Russia in tennis until emigrating to Australia seven years ago.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently said Washington was unlikely to extend the license letting Russia avert default on its government debt. © AP
5:36 a.m. The United States will not extend a key waiver set to expire on Wednesday that allows Russia to pay U.S. bondholders, which could push Moscow closer to the brink of default as Washington ramps up pressure on the country following its invasion of Ukraine.
The U.S. Treasury Department will not extend a license, set to expire at 12:01 a.m. EDT (04:01 GMT), allowing Russia to make payments on its sovereign debt to U.S. persons. The waiver had allowed Moscow to keep paying interest and principal and avert default on its government debt. Russia has almost $2 billion worth of payments on its international bonds falling due up to the end of the year.
12:45 a.m. The U.S. Department of Energy announces a sale of up to 40.1 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, part of President Joe Biden’s plan to release more oil into the market in an attempt to bring down gasoline and diesel prices.
Tuesday, May 24
10:30 p.m. In unprecedentedly strong language, the leaders of the Quad expressed opposition to coercive, provocative or unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo in the Indo-Pacific.
The joint statement, issued after the leaders of Japan, Australia, India and the U.S. met for a summit in Tokyo on Tuesday, did not mention China by name, but the finger-pointing was clear.
But the leaders were less clear when it came to Russia. The joint statement avoided blaming Russia directly for the war in Ukraine and only described the situation there as a “tragic crisis.” Read more.
9:26 p.m. The Chinese and Russian air forces conduct a joint patrol over the Sea of Japan, East China Sea and the Western Pacific, China’s Defense Ministry says. The patrol, the first since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was part of an annual military exercise, the ministry says. Moscow says Tuesday’s patrol involved Russian Tu-95 and Chinese Xian H-6 strategic bombers. Japanese and South Korean air force planes shadowed the Russian and Chinese jets for part of the exercise, Russia says.
5:44 p.m. The United States is confident Finland and Sweden will be able to resolve Turkey’s concerns as they seek NATO membership, Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks says. We are “confident that Finland and Sweden will be able to resolve those [concerns] with the Turks directly,” Hicks said while speaking alongside her Norwegian counterpart in Oslo.
5:33 p.m. Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny lambastes President Vladimir Putin in a live court hearing, casting him as a madman who started a “stupid war” in Ukraine based on lies. “This is a stupid war which your Putin started,” Navalny told an appeals court in Moscow via video link from a corrective penal colony. “This war was built on lies. … One madman has got his claws into Ukraine, and I do not know what he wants to do with it — this crazy thief.”
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, left, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley on May 23 in Washington. Milley has opened the door to U.S. troops returning to Ukraine to play noncombat roles. © AP
12:30 p.m. Nearly 50 defense leaders from around the world met on Monday and agreed to send more advanced weapons to Ukraine, including a Harpoon launcher and missiles to protect its coast, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin tells reporters. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, added that a “low level” discussion is underway on how the U.S. might need to adjust its training of Ukrainian forces and on whether some U.S. troops should be based in Ukraine. The U.S. withdrew its few troops in Ukraine before the war and has no plans to send in combat forces. Milley’s comments opened the possibility troops could return for embassy security or other noncombat roles.
12:00 p.m. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says the Indo-Pacific region should avoid acts of aggression similar to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, opening a Quad nations meeting in Tokyo. At the outset of the summit attended by U.S. President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and new Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Kishida said, “There is great significance in demonstrating the four countries’ solidarity and our strong commitment to the shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
11:19 a.m. A veteran Russian diplomat to the U.N. Office at Geneva says he handed in his resignation before sending out a scathing letter to foreign colleagues inveighing against the “aggressive war unleashed” by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine. Boris Bondarev, 41, confirmed his resignation in a letter delivered Monday morning after a diplomatic official passed on his English-language statement to The Associated Press. “For twenty years of my diplomatic career I have seen different turns of our foreign policy, but never have I been so ashamed of my country as on Feb. 24 of this year,” he wrote, alluding to the date of Russia’s invasion.
Russian Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin listens to his translator during a court hearing in Kyiv. The court sentenced the 21-year-old soldier to life in prison on Monday for killing a Ukrainian civilian, in the first war crimes trial held since Russia’s invasion. © AP
9:21 a.m. A captured Russian soldier who pleaded guilty to killing a civilian was sentenced by a Ukrainian court Monday to life in prison — the maximum — amid signs the Kremlin may, in turn, put on trial some of the fighters who surrendered at Mariupol’s steelworks. In the first of what could be a multitude of war crimes trials held by Ukraine, Russian Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin, 21, was sentenced for the killing of a 62-year-old man who was shot in the head in a village in the northeastern Sumy region in the opening days of the war.
Shishimarin, a member of a tank unit, had claimed he was following orders, and he apologized to the man’s widow in court. His Ukraine-appointed defense attorney, Victor Ovsyanikov, argued his client had been unprepared for the “violent military confrontation” and mass casualties that Russian troops encountered when they invaded. He said he would appeal.
9:00 a.m. The European Union will likely agree an embargo on Russian oil imports “within days,” according to its biggest member Germany. Many of the EU’s 27 member states are heavily reliant on Russian energy, and Hungary stuck to its demands on Monday for energy investment before it agrees to such an embargo. “We will reach a breakthrough within days,” Germany’s Economy Minister Robert Habeck told broadcaster ZDF.
Monday, May 23
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy delivered a virtual address to delegates at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on May 23. © Reuters
7:30 p.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tells a meeting of global business leaders in Davos that the world is at a critical juncture, and must ratchet up sanctions against Russia as a warning to countries contemplating the use of brute force.
“History is at a turning point… This is really the moment when it is decided whether brute force will rule the world,” Zelenskyy tells the conference, Reuters reports.
1:45 p.m. Japan, the U.S. and five other countries condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a statement after Asia-Pacific trade ministers failed to agree on a stance on Russia at a meeting held in Bangkok over the weekend, the Japanese Foreign Ministry says. Accusing Moscow of an “unprovoked war of aggression,” the statement said the seven countries “strongly urge Russia to immediately cease its use of force and completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from Ukraine.” The seven nations — which also include Australia, Canada, Chile, South Korea and New Zealand — also expressed “grave concern” about the impact of the Russian actions on food and energy security.
12:50 p.m. Ukraine has ruled out a cease-fire or any territorial concessions to Russia. Moscow has stepped up its pounding of the Donbas and Mykolaiv regions with airstrikes and artillery fire, in what Ukraine has described as a “scorched earth” strategy to win control of the eastern front. “The war must end with the complete restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” Andriy Yermak, Ukraine’s presidential chief of staff said in a Twitter post on Sunday.
10:03 a.m. More than 100 million people have been driven from their homes around the world, the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) says, citing new data about those escaping violence, conflict, persecution and human rights violations. The war in Ukraine has been one of the factors propelling millions of people to flee, the UNHCR said, adding that protracted conflict in places like Ethiopia and Democratic Republic of Congo were other factors behind the high numbers.
Cargo ships are docked at the now blockaded port of Odesa in 2016. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resolved to ensure Ukraine is able to export to the rest of the world. © Reuters
6:00 a.m. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have discussed Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s shipping port Odesa, a Downing Street spokesperson says. Johnson resolved to redouble efforts to provide vital food and humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine and ensure the country was able to export to the rest of the world, the spokesperson added.
5:42 a.m. Ukraine’s parliament has banned the symbols “Z” and “V,” used by Russia’s military to promote its war in Ukraine, but agreeing to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s call to allow their use for educational or historic purposes. Yaroslav Zheleznyak, an opposition member, announced the decision on the Telegram messaging app, saying 313 deputies had voted in favor in the 423-member Verkhovna Rada assembly.
Sunday, May 22
11:13 p.m. Polish citizens in Ukraine will be granted the same rights that Ukrainian refugees in Poland are receiving, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says during a visit to Kyiv by his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda. Poland has granted the right to live and work and claim social security payments to over 3 million Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
11:01 p.m. Only Ukraine has the right to decide its future, Polish President Andrzej Duda tells lawmakers in Kyiv, as he becomes the first foreign leader to give a speech in person to the Ukrainian parliament since Russia’s invasion. Duda also says he will not rest until Ukraine becomes a European Union member.
“Worrying voices have appeared, saying that Ukraine should give in to Putin’s demands,” Duda says. “Only Ukraine has the right to decide about its future … nothing about you without you.”
10:05 p.m. The Russian-appointed head of the occupied Ukrainian town next to Europe’s largest nuclear plant was injured in an explosion on Sunday, a Ukrainian official and a Russian news agency say. Andrei Shevchuk, appointed mayor of Enerhodar following the Russian army’s occupation of the town, was in intensive care following the attack.
Many residents work at the two power plants next to the town, one of which is the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the largest nuclear power station in Europe. Reuters was unable to independently confirm the attack.
5:15 a.m. Ukraine rules out agreeing to a cease-fire with Russia and says Kyiv would not accept any deal with Moscow that involved ceding territory. Admitting Kyiv’s stance was becoming more uncompromising, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak says making concessions would backfire because Russia would hit back harder after any break in fighting. “The war will not stop” after any concessions, he tells Reuters. “It will just be put on pause for some time.”
Podolyak describes as “very strange” calls in the West for an urgent cease-fire that would involve Russian forces remaining in territory they have occupied in Ukraine’s south and east. Russian “forces must leave the country and after that the resumption of the peace process will be possible,” he says.
12:12 a.m. While in South Korea, U.S. President Joe Biden signs a bill to provide nearly $40 billion in aid for Ukraine, the White House says.
Saturday, May 21
Russia’s Gazprom has halted gas exports to neighboring Finland, the Finnish gas system operator says. © Reuters
11:35 p.m. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who has objected to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, holds phone calls with the leaders of the two countries and discusses his concerns about terrorist organizations. The two Nordic countries are seeking to join the alliance over concerns of Moscow’s aggression as Russia wages a war with Ukraine.
Turkey says Sweden and Finland harbor people linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group and followers of Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt. Erdogan tells Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson that Ankara expected concrete steps to address its concerns, Reuters reports.
During his call with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Erdogan says failing to deal with terrorist organizations that posed a threat to a NATO ally would not suit the spirit of alliance.
4:12 p.m. Representatives of five economies, including Japan and the U.S., walked out of a meeting by trade ministers from the Asia-Pacific region on Saturday, the opening day of a two-day conference in Bangkok, in protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Japanese officials say. Ministers from Japan, the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand exited the room when Maksim Reshetnikov, Russia’s economic development minister, started delivering his remarks during a morning session.
2:00 p.m. Russia’s Gazprom has halted gas exports to neighboring Finland, the Finnish gas system operator says, the latest escalation of an energy payments dispute with Western nations. Gazprom Export has demanded that European countries pay for Russian gas supplies in rubles because of sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, but Finland refuses to do so. “Gas imports through [the] Imatra entry point have been stopped,” Gasgrid Finland said in a statement. Imatra is the entry point for Russian gas into Finland.
Firefighters tackle a blaze at an oil refinery following a missile attack near the port city of Odesa in April. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is now calling for a formal deal with the country’s allies to secure Russian compensation for damage caused during the war. © Reuters
8:00 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has proposed a formal deal with the country’s allies to secure Russian compensation for the damage its forces have caused during the war. Zelenskyy, who says Russia is trying to destroy as much of Ukraine’s infrastructure as it can, said such a deal would show nations planning aggressive acts that they would have to pay for their actions.
“We invite partner countries to sign a multilateral agreement and create a mechanism ensuring that everybody who suffered from Russian actions can receive compensation for all losses incurred,” he said in a video address. Under such a deal, Russian funds and property in signatory nations would be confiscated, and would then be directed to a special compensation fund, he said.
7:15 a.m. Russia claims to have captured Mariupol in what would be its biggest victory yet in its war with Ukraine, after a nearly three-month siege that reduced much of the strategic port city to a smoking ruin, with over 20,000 civilians feared dead. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to President Vladimir Putin the “complete liberation” of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol — the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance — and the city as a whole, spokesman Igor Konashenkov said. There was no immediate confirmation from Ukraine.
4:00 a.m. Wimbledon is stripped of its ranking points by the ATP and WTA tours over its decision to exclude players from Russia and Belarus at the 2022 Championships due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The governing bodies of tennis have banned Russia and Belarus from international team competitions but let players from the two countries compete as neutrals.
Separately, 51 Ukrainian athletes have died since Russia’s invasion began, the International Olympic Committee reported at a meeting in Switzerland. They include a promising female gymnast in her teens.
2:30 a.m. Ukraine wants Japan to impose a total import ban on Russian oil and gas, and to more fully participate in the squeezing of funds that might otherwise flow into Moscow’s war chest
Ukrainian Finance Minister Sergii Marchenko also says Ukraine expects Japan and other developed nations to direct frozen Russian assets to the effort to rebuild his country.
“We need a full oil and gas embargo,” Marchenko says in an interview with Nikkei. “Russia receives money [from oil and gas exports] and can spend this money on military aggression toward Ukraine.” Read more.
12:20 a.m. Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has resigned as chairman of the board of Russian state-owned oil group Rosneft, the latest development in the controversy over his close relationship with Moscow.
Former German intelligence officer Matthias Warnig has also stepped down from the board, German and other media report, citing a statement from Rosneft.
Friday, May 20
10:24 p.m. Russia’s Gazprom will halt flows of natural gas to Finland starting Saturday, after Finnish state-owned gas wholesaler Gasum refused to pay its Russian supplier in rubles.
Gasum, which had warned Wednesday that Russian supplies could be cut, says it will continue to supply gas to Finnish customers from other sources through the Balticconnector pipeline linking Finland with Estonia. Most supply contracts are denominated in euros or dollars, but Gazprom Export has demanded that European countries pay in rubles because of sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Natural gas accounts for only a small part of Finland’s household energy use but a larger share of industrial power.
Pro-Russian troops in Mariupol on May 19, 2022, after Ukrainian soldiers finally surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steel mill. © Reuters
5:31 p.m. In a sign of Russia’s urgent need to bolster its war effort in Ukraine, its parliament says it will consider a bill to allow Russians over the age of 40 and foreigners over 30 to sign up for the military. The website of the State Duma, parliament’s lower house, said the move would enable the military to utilize the skills of older professionals. “For the use of high-precision weapons, the operation of weapons and military equipment, highly professional specialists are needed. Experience shows that they become such by the age of 40-45,” it said. Previously only Russians aged 18 to 40 and foreigners aged 18 to 30 could enter into a first contract with the military.
2:30 p.m. Russian shelling in Ukraine’s eastern region of Luhansk has killed 13 civilians over the past 24 hours, the regional governor, Serhiy Gaidai, says. Twelve were killed in the town of Sievierodonesk, where a Russian assault has been unsuccessful, he said. The town and the city of Lysychansk are in an area where Russian troops have launched an offensive.
2:26 p.m. Russia is likely to reinforce operations in the industrial Donbas region once they secure the city of Mariupol, British military intelligence says. As many as 1,700 soldiers are likely to have surrendered at the Azovstal steel factory in Mariupol, the report added. Moscow also said on Thursday that 1,730 Ukrainian fighters had surrendered from the steel factory so far, including 771 in the past 24 hours.
9:01 a.m. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken accuses Russia of using food as a weapon in Ukraine by holding “hostage” supplies for not just Ukrainians, but also millions around the world. Addressing the United Nations Security Council, Blinken appealed to Russia to stop blockading Ukrainian ports. “The Russian government seems to think that using food as a weapon will help accomplish what its invasion has not — to break the spirit of the Ukrainian people,” he said. “The food supply for millions of Ukrainians and millions more around the world has quite literally been held hostage.”
5:56 a.m. The U.S. Senate approves roughly $40 billion in new assistance for Ukraine — the largest American aid package yet for the country — by a lopsided 86-11 vote, clearing the way for President Joe Biden to sign it into law. All of the “no” votes come from Republicans.
1:08 a.m. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto pledges to commit to Turkey’s security if his country joins NATO and says Finland is willing to discuss all of Ankara’s concerns over its membership “in an open and constructive manner.”
“Finland has always had broad and good bilateral relations to Turkey,” Niinisto said at the White House, where U.S. President Joe Biden was hosting the leaders of Finland and Sweden following their formal applications for NATO membership. “As NATO allies, we will commit to Turkey’s security, just as Turkey will commit to our security. We take terrorism seriously. We condemn terrorism in all its forms, and we are actively engaged in combating it.”
Discussions to address Turkey’s concerns have already taken place and will continue in the coming days, Niinisto said.
12:55 a.m. McDonald’s says it has agreed to sell its restaurant portfolio in Russia for an undisclosed sum to Alexander Govor, who since 2015 has been a licensee and operated 25 restaurants in Siberia.
The world’s largest burger chain owns about 84% of its nearly 850 restaurants in Russia.
The announcement comes days after McDonald’s said it would leave the country, while retaining its trademarks, in light of the Ukraine war. In March, the company had decided to temporarily close all its restaurants in Russia and pause all operations there.