Latest Ukraine updates: Putin warns West against arming Kyiv
Ukraine news from May 28: The warning came in a call with French and German leaders who urged Putin to hold ‘serious negotiations’ with Zelenskyy.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin cautions German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron against providing Ukraine with heavy weapons in an 80-minute phone call.
- Putin says he’s ready to look at ways to ship grains stuck in Ukraine’s ports, but demands the West lifts sanctions first.
- Scholz and Macron urge Putin to free 2,500 Azovstal fighters.
- Russia’s army claims it has captured the strategic town of Lyman in eastern Ukraine.
The live blog is now closed, thank you for joining us. Here are the updates for Saturday, May 28:
Mayor shows aftermath of shelling in Mykolaiv
The Mayor of the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv has released video footage which showed damage caused by shelling in the residential area of the city.
One woman died and seven people were injured, with two of them in a serious condition, according to Mayor Alexander Senkevich.
Several residents were seen cleaning up damage in the footage – a couple made comments about their damaged homes laced with irony, saying the Russian army had “made it better”, and that they had been “freed” from “everything that we have got in our forty years”.
Correspondent: Putin says Kyiv government not serious about talks
In talks with Scholz and Macron, Putin “also talked about how the discussions have stalled between the two sides as a result of the Kyiv government not being serious and responding to the offers that have been made by the Russian negotiators, the last one being made on April 15,” Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari said from Moscow.
Correspondent: Scholz, Macron satisfied by answers on status of prisoners
Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari reporting from Moscow said that Scholz, Macron and Putin “agreed to keep the line of communications open.
“The French and German leaders also were seemingly satisfied by the answers given by the Russian president about the status of the prisoners, the Ukrainian military personnel that are being held as prisoners of war by the Russian military,” Jabbari said.
Correspondent: Putin says Russia willing to discuss resuming shipments
Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari reporting from Moscow said that Putin told Sholz and Macron that “there are a number of issues with the ships carrying Ukrainian wheat stuck in the Black Sea”.
“The Russians are saying mines have been placed along the routes… by the Ukrainian army,” Jabbari said.
“Putin said that Russia is willing to allow the passage of those ships, roughly around 300 of them, from the main port in Odesa in Ukraine. That is something up for discussion, but of course, that is something that has to be done through the Russian military.”
Pro-Moscow Kherson official sees decision ‘towards next year’ on joining Russia
A senior pro-Russian official in the occupied Ukrainian region of Kherson has told Reuters that nearby fighting could affect the timing of its formal bid to join Russia and a decision was likely “towards next year”.
Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russian-backed Kherson Military-Civilian Administration, also said in a video call that the process might involve a referendum, backtracking on previous comments that none would be needed.
Asked about the timetable for joining Russia, he replied: “It won’t happen by autumn. We’re preparing an administrative system and then towards next year we will see what the situation is like.”
Putin says Moscow looking to ship grain stuck in ports, but demands West to lift sanctions
Putin has told the leaders of France and Germany Moscow is ready to look for ways to ship grain stuck in Ukrainian ports but demanded the West lift sanctions.
Putin said the difficulties in supplying grain to world markets were the result of “erroneous economic and financial policies of Western countries”.
“Russia is ready to help find options for the unhindered export of grain, including the export of Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea ports,” Putin told Macron and Scholz, the Kremlin said.
“An increase in the supply of Russian fertilisers and agricultural products will also help reduce tensions on the global food market, which, of course, will require the removal of the relevant sanctions.”
Exile Khodorkovsky calls on West to supply Ukraine with heavy weapons
Exiled Kremlin critic and ex-oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky has urged the West to supply heavy weapons to Ukraine.
“If the Ukrainians are not supplied with the weapons they are asking for, there will soon be fighting around Kyiv again,” he told Germany’s Bild newspaper.
Khodorkovsky, who is officially resident in London, said Western politicians are afraid of Putin. He criticised them for believing they are not at war with Russia.
This is a “very stupid attitude,” according to Khodorkovsky, who said that from Putin’s point of view Western politicians and countries are already at war with Russia.
Putin cautions Scholz, Macron against sending heavy weapons to Kiev
Putin has cautioned German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron against providing Ukraine with heavy weapons in an 80-minute phone call.
Deliveries of more powerful weapons posed the risk of further destabilising the situation and exacerbating the humanitarian crisis, Putin said, according to a Kremlin statement issued after the call.
Scholz and Macron called for an end to the conflict, German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said. “The chancellor and the president demanded an immediate ceasefire, direct talks with the Ukrainian president and a diplomatic solution to the conflict,” Hebestreit said.
Spain adding missiles, troops to NATO Latvia mission: Report
Spain is sending a battery of surface-to-air missiles and around 100 troops to the NATO forward presence mission in Latvia, joining some 500 compatriots already present in the Baltic state, El Pais has reported.
The Spanish defence ministry “plans to deploy in Latvia a battery of surface-to-air NASAMS,” or Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System, El Pais said as NATO beefs up its presence in the Baltic region in the face of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.
“Our commitment to NATO is total,” Defence Minister Margarita Robles told Spanish television in addressing the report. “We have troops at the moment in Latvia and also in Lithuania, we have our ships in the Mediterranean.”
Macron, Scholz urge Putin to free 2,500 Azovstal fighters
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have asked Putin to release 2,500 Ukrainian fighters who were holed up inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol and who were taken prisoner by Russia.
“The president of the Republic and the German chancellor asked for the release of some 2,500 defenders of Azovstal made prisoners of war by the Russian forces,” the French presidency said after a telephone call between the three leaders.
Scholz, Macron ask Putin for ‘serious direct negotiations’ with Zelenskyy
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron have asked Putin to hold “direct serious negotiations” with Zelenskyy.
During an 80-minute conversation with the Russian president, the two EU leaders “insisted on an immediate ceasefire and a withdrawal of Russian troops,” the German chancellor’s office said.
Macron and Scholz urged Putin to have “serious direct negotiations with the Ukrainian president and [find] a diplomatic solution to the conflict.”
OPINION: Can the African Union be a neutral arbiter of peace in Ukraine?
On May 22, speaking at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Dakar, Senegal’s President Macky Sall said he would visit Moscow and Kyiv in the coming weeks in his capacity as chairman of the African Union, which he said wanted “peace through dialogue between the two sides”.
“We do not want to be aligned on this conflict, very clearly, we want peace,” Sall explained. “Even though we condemn the invasion, we’re working for a de-escalation, we’re working for a ceasefire, for dialogue … that is the African position.”
But is the continental body genuinely “neutral” over Ukraine? Can it really foster peace by starting a dialogue between the warring parties from the position of a non-aligned entity?
Read more here.
G7 working to resume grain exports: UK PM Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told Zelenskyy that international partners were working intensively to find ways to resume the export of grain from Ukraine to avert a global food crisis.
“He said that the UK would work with G7 partners to push for urgent progress,” a British readout of the call said, on the export of grain.
“The leaders agreed next steps and the imperative for Russia to relax its blockade and allow safe shipping lanes.”
Ukraine ex-President Poroshenko says blocked from leaving country
Former Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko has claimed he was barred from leaving the country, accusing the government of breaking a so-called political ceasefire in place since Russia invaded.
After Russia invaded, Ukraine’s parliament banned several pro-Russian parties and allowed others to operate under a so-called political ceasefire, a tacit understanding that all parties would put aside domestic political disagreements to unite against the war.
However, Poroshenko’s office said he “was refused to cross the border of Ukraine”, accusing the government of violating the agreement.
Lyman could be used as ‘launching pad’: AJ correspondent
Al Jazeera’s correspondent Zein Basravi reporting from Kyiv says Russia’s plan to remobilise its forces to the east and the south seems to be working amid Russian claims it had taken full control of the city of Lyman.
“Lyman … is not a very big place. It’s a village town, about 20,000 people in total lived there before the invasion … but it does represent a strategic location,” Basravi added.
“If Lyman, as the Russians say, has fallen to their full control, then what they could do is use Lyman as a staging ground to move further south and east to encircle troops that are currently fighting for Severodonetsk, potentially cutting off 8,000 plus Ukrainian forces from making a tactical retreat.”
Ukraine receives Harpoon missiles and howitzers: Defence minister
Kyiv has started receiving Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark and self-propelled howitzers from the United States, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov announced, saying the arms would bolster forces fighting Russia’s invasion.
“The coastal defence of our country will not only be strengthened by Harpoon missiles – they will be used by trained Ukrainian teams,” Reznikov wrote on his Facebook page.
He said Harpoon shore-to-ship missiles would be operated alongside Ukrainian Neptune missiles in the defence of the country’s coast including the southern port of Odesa.
Russia carries out hypersonic missile test
Russian forces have announced the latest successful test of their Zircon hypersonic cruise missile.
The missile was fired from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate stationed in the Barents Sea and “successfully hit” a target stationed 1,000km (625 miles) away in the White Sea in the Arctic, the defence ministry said.
The ministry added the test was undertaken as part of ongoing “testing of new weapons”.
Ship arrives in Mariupol to take metal to Russia: TASS
A ship has entered the Ukrainian port of Mariupol for the first time since Russia completed its capture of the city to load metal and ship it east to Russia, TASS news agency reported.
A spokesperson for the port told TASS that the vessel would be loading 2,700 tonnes of metal before travelling 160km (100 miles) east to the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on Monday.
The spokesperson did not say where the metal being shipped had been produced. Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman Lyudmyla Denisova said the shipment amounted to “looting” by Russia.
“Following the theft of Ukrainian grain, the occupiers resorted to exporting metal products from Mariupol.”
Russian army claims capture of Lyman
Russia’s army in a statement has claimed that it captured the strategic town of Lyman in eastern Ukraine.
“Following the joint actions of the units of the militia of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Russian armed forces, the town of Lyman has been entirely liberated from Ukrainian nationalists,” the defence ministry said in a statement, confirming an announcement a day earlier by pro-Moscow separatists.
Final deal struck for sale to Boehly-led consortium: Chelsea
English Premier League club has said a “final and definitive agreement” had been struck to sell the club to a consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and backed by Clearlake Capital.
“It is expected that the transaction will be completed on Monday,” Chelsea said in a statement. “The Club will update further at that time.”
Former owner Roman Abramovich is subject to sanctions by the British government and had put the London club up for sale in early March following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
PODCAST: EU looks to Middle East to replace Russian gas imports
Russia’s war on Ukraine is forcing the European Union to look for alternatives to Russian gas imports which amount to about 40 percent of consumption every year. Qatar and other Middle Eastern countries can play a crucial role.
Any agreement with Russia ‘isn’t worth a broken penny’: Ukraine
Ukrainian presidential adviser and peace talks negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak has said any agreement with Russia cannot be trusted and Moscow can only be stopped in its invasion by force.
“Any agreement with Russia isn’t worth a broken penny,” Podolyak wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
“Is it possible to negotiate with a country that always lies cynically and propagandistically?”
Demining Ukraine could take five years: AJ correspondent
Al Jazeera’s Zein Basravi, reporting from the northern city of Bucha, says Russia has left so many unexploded ordnance and landmines in Ukraine that experts estimate it could take “as much as five years” to clear the areas retaken by the Ukrainian government.
“There continue to be losses of life and property from the things that they [Russian forces] have left behind. In fact, every single national park and forested area in Bucha is currently off-limits because of the threat of mines that might be there as well,” Basravi added.
“The slow pace of this work means that it is taking longer for people to return to their homes in towns and cities that have been retaken by the Ukrainian government.”
Some 10,000 Russian soldiers in Luhansk region: Governor
Serhiy Haidai has said there are some 10,000 Russian soldiers in the eastern region.
“These are the [units] that are permanently in Luhansk region, that are trying to assault and are attempting to make gains in any direction they can,” Haidai said on Ukrainian television.
Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 94
Read here the key events so far on Saturday, May 28.
Russia-affiliated churches in Ukraine criticise Moscow-based leader
The leaders of the Orthodox churches in Ukraine that were affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church have adopted measures declaring the church’s full independence while criticising the Russian church’s leader for his support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The council of the Moscow-connected body, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, on Friday said it “condemns the war as a violation of God’s commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill!’ … and expresses disagreement with the position of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia regarding the war in Ukraine”.
Russia has not surrounded Severodonetsk: Governor
The governor of the Luhansk region has denied Russian claims that their forces have surrounded the eastern city of Severodonetsk but said Ukrainian soldiers may have to retreat.
Serhiy Haidai wrote on Telegram on Friday that the Russians have seized a hotel and bus station.
“The Russians will not be able to capture Luhansk region in the coming days, as analysts predict. We will have enough forces and means to defend ourselves,” Haidai wrote.
He added that it is possible that “not to be surrounded, we will have to leave”. A critical supply and evacuation path, the Lysychansk-Bakhmut highway, is constantly under fire, but supplies and people are still passing on it, Haidai said.
Russian legislator calls for forces’ withdrawal: AP
The Associated Press news agency is reporting that a Communist Party legislative deputy in Russia’s Far East has demanded an end to the war in Ukraine and the withdrawal of its armed forces.
“We understand that if our country doesn’t stop the military operation, we’ll have more orphans in our country,” Leonid Vasyukevich said at a meeting of the Primorsk regional Legislative Assembly in the Pacific port of Vladivostok on Friday, according to AP. Russia has called the war a “special military operation”.
His comments, which he addressed to President Vladimir Putin, were shown in a video posted on a Telegram channel originating from the region, the agency said. Another deputy followed to support Vasyukevich’s views but the legislative assembly’s chairman issued a statement afterwards calling the remarks a “political provocation” not supported by the majority of legislators.
‘Donbas will be Ukrainian’: Zelenskyy
The Ukrainian president has struck a determined tone in his regular nightly video address amid reports that Russia had captured Lyman and was pounding the city of Severodonetsk.
Ukraine was protecting its land “as much as our current defence resources allow,” he said.
“If the occupiers think that Lyman or Severodonetsk will be theirs, they are wrong,” Zelenskyy said. “Donbas will be Ukrainian.”
Lithuanians come together to buy drones for Ukraine
Lithuanians have raised some 3 million euros ($3.2m) in just three days – out of the 5 million euros ($5.3m) needed – to buy an advanced military drone for Ukraine.
Laisves TV, a Lithuanian internet broadcaster that launched the drive, says hundreds of people have donated small amounts.
Ukraine has bought more than 20 Bayraktar TB2 armed drones in recent years and ordered 16 more on January 27. That batch was delivered in early March.
“This is the first case in history when ordinary people raise money to buy something like a Bayraktar. It is unprecedented, it is unbelievable,” Beshta Petro, Ukraine’s ambassador to Lithuania, told Laisves TV, according to the Reuters news agency.
Russian forces could struggle in Severodonetsk urban battle: ISW
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has released its latest assessment on the fighting in Ukraine.
It says Russia’s direct attacks on Severodonetsk began even before the city had been completely encircled, which could make it difficult for the military to advance quickly in the town.
“Russian forces have performed poorly in operations in built-up urban terrain throughout the war to date,” the think-tank said.
It also observed an increase in the activity of Ukrainian partisan forces in the south that have been occupied by Russian troops.
#Russian forces began direct assaults on built-up areas of #Severodonetsk without having fully encircled the city and will likely struggle to take ground in the city itself.
Read the full report from @TheStudyofWar and @criticalthreats:https://t.co/WDRQxi65ff pic.twitter.com/aQoLdHZxjY
— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) May 28, 2022
Satellite images show Russian manoeuvres, devastation
New satellite images have been released giving an insight into what’s happening in eastern Ukraine, and the scale of the devastation.
US Army confirms buying more Stingers to help replenish stocks
The US Army has said it has awarded a contract worth $625m to Raytheon Technologies Corp for anti-aircraft Stinger missiles to replenish stocks sent to Ukraine.
The shoulder-fired, anti-aircraft Stinger missiles made by Raytheon were in hot demand in Ukraine, where they have successfully stopped Russian assaults from the air, and in neighbouring European countries that fear they may also need to beat back Russian forces.
US troops have limited use for the current supply of Stingers, but the US needs to maintain its supply on hand while it develops the next generation of a “man-portable air defence system”.
Washington has shipped about 1,400 Stingers to Kyiv since February,
Putin has achieved ‘exactly zero’ of his objectives: US official
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby has said Putin has “achieved exactly zero” of his objectives in Ukraine, despite intensifying fighting in the east.
“Our assessment is that the Russians continue to make some incremental gains in the Donbas. Not great magnitude – not leaps and bounds. They are facing and continue to face a stiff Ukrainian resistance,” Kirby told reporters during a news conference.
“We are almost 100 days into this, and Mr Putin has achieved exactly zero of his strategic objectives,” he said.
NATO talks with Sweden, Finland ‘will continue’: Turkish official
A senior Turkish official has told Reuters that talks with Sweden and Finland over the two countries’ efforts to join NATO are “not an easy process” but will continue.
Ankara has raised concerns over their recent bids to join the US-led alliance, accusing Sweden and Finland of harbouring “terrorists” while also criticising Stockholm for suspending weapons sales to Ankara in 2019 over its involvement in the war in Syria.
Swedish and Finnish diplomats met in Turkey on Wednesday to try to bridge their differences.
The Turkish official told Reuters that Sweden and Finland must take “difficult” steps to win Ankara’s support. “Further negotiations will continue. But a date doesn’t seem very close,” the official said.
Biden says Putin trying to erase Ukrainian culture and identity
US President Joe Biden has accused his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin of seeking to “wipe out” Ukrainian culture and identity.
“Not only is he trying to take over Ukraine, he’s literally trying to wipe out the culture and identity of the Ukrainian people,” Biden said in a speech at a US Naval Academy graduation ceremony.
He said Russian forces are “attacking schools, nurseries, hospitals, museums with no other purpose than to eliminate a culture” and added that the war is “a direct assault on the fundamental tenets of rule-based international order”.
ICC prosecutor urges Russia to cooperate with war crimes probe
The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor has urged Russia to cooperate with the court’s investigation into alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
Prosecutor Karim A A Khan said Russia, which is not a member of the Hague-based court, had declined to work with the ICC on Ukraine but added that his “door is open” if it wants to help.
“The invitation is there. My door is open, and I will also keep knocking on the door of the Russian Federation,” Khan said in an interview with the AFP news agency.
“If there are allegations that the Russian Federation have, if there’s information that they have, if they are conducting their own investigations or prosecutions or have information that’s relevant – share it with us.”
Russia expects $14.4bn in additional oil and gas revenue this year
Russia expects to receive $14.4bn (one trillion rubles) in additional oil and gas revenues this year, the country’s finance minister has said, adding that part of the windfall will be spent on the Russian offensive in Ukraine.
Anton Siluanov said in remarks broadcast on state television that Moscow planned to spend the additional revenue this year rather than put it aside.
He said the funds will be spent on “additional payments” to pensioners and families with children and conducting a “special operation” in Ukraine, the term Russia uses to refer to its ongoing invasion. “There are resources for this,” Siluanov added.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.
Read all the updates from Friday, May 27 here.