Ukraine latest updates: Zelenskyy urges EU to end ‘quarrels’

Ukraine news from May 30: Zelenskyy tells EU internal disputes encourage Moscow to put ‘more pressure’ on the bloc, calls for further sanctions.

Ukrainians stage a demonstration ahead of EU Leaders' Summit
Ukrainians stage a demonstration ahead of EU Leaders' Summit in Brussels, Belgium [Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu]
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urges the EU to end internal “quarrels” that he said only encourages Moscow as he told the bloc to adopt more sanctions against Russia.
  • President Joe Biden says the United States will not supply Ukraine with long-range rocket systems capable of striking targets in Russia.
  • The governor of Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine, says Russian forces have entered the city of Severodonetsk and warns of “fierce” fighting in the area as Moscow presses ahead with its offensive in the Donbas.
  • A French journalist has been killed in Luhansk, Paris confirms. The reporter was allegedly hit by shrapnel amid Russian shelling in the region.

INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what in Ukraine Day 96

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These were the updates on Friday, May 30:

Paris demands probe after French journalist killed in Ukraine

France has called for an investigation after a French journalist was killed in Ukraine when the vehicle he was travelling in, which was being used to evacuate civilians near the city of Sievierodonetsk, was hit by shelling.

“France demands that a probe be carried out as soon as possible and in transparency on the circumstances of this drama,” Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said in a statement.

Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff, 32, the latest journalist killed since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, was on his second reporting trip for French television channel BFM in Ukraine, his employer said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Leclerc-Imhoff was the 32nd media person killed since the start of the Russian invasion.

Yeltsin’s son-in-law quits as Putin adviser: Sources

Valentin Yumashev, the son-in-law of former Russian leader Boris Yeltsin who helped Putin come to power, has quit his role as a Kremlin adviser, two people familiar with Yumashev’s thinking have told Reuters.

Yumashev was an unpaid adviser with limited influence on Putin’s decision-making, but his departure removes one of the last links inside Putin’s administration to Yeltsin’s rule, a period of liberal reforms and Russia’s opening up towards the West.

Lyudmila Telen, first deputy executive director of the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Centre foundation, where Yumashev is a member of the board of trustees, told Reuters that Yumashev had given up his Kremlin adviser role in April. Asked why he left, she said: “It was his initiative.”

EU Parliament backs EU membership for Ukraine with ‘zero ambiguity’

The European Parliament supports Ukraine’s EU membership and urges bloc leaders to move ahead with the integration process, the legislative body’s president has said.

“There is zero ambiguity about the European Parliament’s position that it positively views the next step for Ukraine to become a candidate for the EU,” Roberta Metsola told Anadolu Agency at a news conference following her discussions with the EU leaders at the special summit.

Abramovich completes Chelsea sale to Boehly-Clearlake consortium

Roman Abramovich has completed the sale of Chelsea and related companies to an investment group led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, the Premier League club has said, ending a three-month process to sell the club.

The consortium, which won the bid to acquire the London side earlier this month, received approval from the Premier League and the British government last week for the sale to go ahead. A final agreement was reached on Saturday.

Erdogan tells Zelenskyy he values project to create sea route for agriculture exports

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told Zelenskyy in a call that he has placed value on a project to create a safe sea route for exporting Ukrainian agricultural goods, his office has said.

“Erdogan stated that he especially valued the project to create a secure sea route for exporting Ukrainian agricultural products,” his office said in a statement and added he welcomed, in principle, the idea of making Istanbul a headquarters for an “observation mechanism” between Moscow, Kyiv and the United Nations.

Turkey tells US it wants ‘concrete steps’ from Finland, Sweden for NATO bids

A chief adviser to Turkey’s president told his US counterpart that Turkey wanted “concrete steps” on the existence of what it calls “terrorist organisations” in Finland and Sweden before it would consider their NATO bids, the Turkish presidency has said.

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Ibrahim Kalin, chief foreign policy adviser to President Tayyip Erdogan, spoke to discuss the NATO bids and the war in Ukraine, the Turkish presidency said in a statement.

In a statement, the Turkish presidency said Kalin had told Sullivan in a phone call that nations wanting to join NATO must “internalise the alliance’s values and principles on security and counter-terrorism”.

“It was emphasised that it is imperative for Sweden and Finland to take concrete steps regarding the terrorist organisations that threaten Turkey’s national security,” it added.

Bomb hits Russian-occupied Ukraine city of Melitopol

A car bomb exploded in the Russia-controlled Ukrainian city of Melitopol, injuring several people in what Russia’s Investigative Committee and a Ukrainian official have said may have been the work of Ukrainians opposed to Russia.

“On 30 May 2022, an explosion reportedly took place in the centre of Melitopol near a residential building at the time of distribution of humanitarian aid, which was organised by Ukrainian saboteurs,” the Russian investigative committee said on its website.

According to preliminary information, three people were injured as a result, the committee added.

Zelenskyy urges EU to end ‘quarrels’, adopt sanctions

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged the EU to end internal “quarrels” that he said only help Moscow as he told the bloc to adopt more sanctions against Russia.

“All quarrels in Europe must end, internal disputes that only encourage Russia to put more and more pressure on you,” Zelensky told an EU summit in Brussels via video-link. “It is time for you to be not separate, not fragments, but one whole.”

EU summit
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is seen on a screen, left, as addresses from Kyiv during an extraordinary meeting of EU leaders to discuss Ukraine, energy and food security at the Europa building in Brussels [Olivier Matthys/AP Photo]

Russia’s Gazprom to halt gas supplies to Dutch trader GasTerra on May 31

Russia’s Gazprom Export has said it will suspend gas supplies to Dutch gas trader GasTerra on May 31 over failure to pay for gas delivered in April under the rouble-for-gas payments scheme.

It added that the suspension of gas supplies will be enacted until the payments are settled in line with the Russia-proposed scheme.

Ukrainian group says 3,000 Russian troops died in Ukraine

A Ukrainian group that monitors Russian media and social networks said that the Russian army’s death toll in Ukraine has reached 3,000.

The Goryushko group said on the messaging app Telegram that the 3,000th Russian soldier killed in Ukraine was Svyatoslav Nizhegorodov, a captain in the city of Sevastopol in Russia-annexed Crimea. He was reportedly killed on May 8 on the Zmiiny island in the southern Odesa region.

The Ukrainian military claimed that the death toll has exceeded 30,000. while Russia’s most recent number which it released in late March placed the toll at 1,300.

Ukraine fed up with separate models for its EU integration

Ukraine was fed up with “special solutions” and separate models for its integration into the European Union, the country’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said.

“We need a clear legal affirmation that Ukraine is a part of the European integration project, and such an affirmation would be the granting of candidate status,” he said speaking after a meeting with his French counterpart Catherine Colonna in Kyiv.

Dutch gas trader GasTerra says its Gazprom deliveries to end

Dutch company GasTerra says that from Tuesday it will no longer receive gas from Russia’s Gazprom after refusing to agree to Moscow’s demands for payment in roubles.

GasTerra, which buys and trades gas on behalf of the Dutch government, said it had contracted elsewhere for the two billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas it had expected to receive from Gazprom through October.

It added the system that Russia had demanded, which involved the setting up of accounts that would be paid in euros and then swapped for roubles, could violate EU sanctions and also said the payment route presented too many financial and operational risks.

GasTerra is 50 percent owned by Dutch government entities and 25 percent each by oil giants Shell and Exxon.

Putin: Russia ready to facilitate unfettered grains supply from Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has told his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Moscow is ready to facilitate unhindered sea transit of cargoes, including grains from Ukrainian ports, the Kremlin says.

Putin also reiterated during the pair’s telephone call that Russia may export significant volumes of fertilisers and food in case sanctions against Moscow are lifted, according to the readout of the discussion published by the Kremlin.

Resumption of electricity supply may trigger fires in Mariupol: Local official

A Ukrainian official has warned of the potential for fires in damaged buildings as Russian forces resume the power supply to Ukraine’s ruined southeastern city of Mariupol.

The city’s Moscow-appointed mayor, Konstantin Ivashchenko, said on Sunday that the electricity supply will be resumed in the city after Russia claimed complete control of it following months of bombardment.

But Petro Andryushchenko, a local official who fled to Ukrainian-held territory amid Moscow’s offensive, warned that the resumption may spark fires throughout the city because the wiring in thousands of buildings has been damaged by Russian shelling.

“Don’t start electricity before a full check. Don’t endanger yourself, your life and the remnants of your property because of the actions of shoulder-headed occupants,” he wrote using a pejorative term.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Mini map showing Mariupol's location within Ukraine

Macron confirms French journalist killed in Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron has confirmed a French journalist has been killed while working in Ukraine.

“Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff was in Ukraine to show the reality of war. On board a humanitarian bus with civilians forced to flee to escape Russian bombings, he was mortally wounded,” Macron wrote.

Leclerc-Imhoff’s employer French TV channel BFM-TV also confirmed he had been killed.

France’s new foreign minister Catherine Colonna called for an investigation into his death to be carried out “as soon as possible”.

Turkey can help in Russia-Ukraine ‘observation mechanism’, Erdogan tells Putin

Erdogan has told Putin that Ankara is ready to take on a role in an “observation mechanism” between Moscow, Kyiv and the United Nations, if an agreement is reached in that regard.

Erdogan’s office said he had told Putin during the pair’s talks by phone that peace needs to be established as soon as possible and confidence-building steps need to be taken on the conflict.

Russia’s Medvedev calls US announcement on rocket systems ‘rational’

Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev has welcomed Washington’s decision not to send Ukraine rocket systems that could reach into Russia, calling the move “rational”.

Hungary’s Orban says there is still no EU compromise on Russian oil embargo

The EU’s latest proposal for sanctions against Russia that would include a ban on seaborne oil imports would be a good solution but there is no compromise yet on the issue, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said.

Orban told reporters ahead of the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels that Hungary also needed guarantees that it could purchase oil by sea if Russian oil shipments stopped coming via the Druzhba pipeline.

“What is a problem for us, and why we have to fight today, is that if something happens to the Russian oil coming by pipeline… if there is no oil coming, then we should have the right for purchases by sea,” Orban said. “This is the guarantee we need.”

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives for the European Union leaders summit in Brussels
Orban’s Hungary is the main holdout on an EU deal on a Russian oil ban [Johanna Geron/Reuters]

US will not send Ukraine rocket systems that can reach Russia: Biden

The US will not send Ukraine rocket systems that can reach Russia, Biden says.

The US leader’s comments, issued to reporters at the White House, followed reports last week that Washington was preparing to send advanced long-range rocket systems to Kyiv.

Ukrainian officials have sought a longer-range system called the Multiple Launch Rocket System, or MLRS, that can fire a barrage of rockets hundreds of miles away.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has cautioned Western powers against supplying Ukraine with weapons capable of hitting Russian territory, warning such a move would be a “serious step towards unacceptable escalation”.

Read more here.

Ukraine accuses Russia of ‘stealing’ nearly 500,000 tons of wheat

Ukraine’s first deputy minister of agriculture has accused Russian forces of stealing nearly 500,000 tonnes of wheat from occupied areas in Ukraine.

Taras Vysotsky claimed in televised remarks that Moscow had tried to sell the wheat to Egypt and Lebanon, but Cairo and Beirut refused to buy it.

There was no immediate reaction to Vysotsky’s remarks from Moscow, and Al Jazeera could not independently verify his report.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

French journalist killed by shelling in Luhansk: Governor

A French journalist has been killed in Ukraine’s southeastern Luhansk region after an armoured evacuation vehicle was hit by shrapnel from a Russian shell, its governor says.

Serhiy Haidai said in a Telegram post that the shrapnel had pierced the vehicle’s armour, killing the accredited French reporter travelling inside.

He also provided a photograph of a press accreditation identifying the journalist.

Melitopol mayor says two people wounded in city centre explosion

Pro-Russian authorities in the city of Melitopol, in southern Ukraine, say that two civilians have been wounded by an explosion that they blame on Ukraine.

Halyna Danylchenko, who was appointed mayor of Melitopol after its takeover by Russian troops early in the war, said the two individuals affected were local volunteers involved in the delivery of humanitarian assistance to city residents. She said that they were hospitalised.

No one has claimed responsibility for the explosion, which allegedly saw a car loaded with explosives detonate in the city’s centre. Danylchenko said it was a “cynical terror attack by the Kyiv regime” in remarks broadcast by Russian state television.

Some reports suggested the explosion took place near the home of the Russia-installed head of the wider Zaporizhzhia region, Yevgeny Balitsky.

Lithuanians raise $5.4m to buy combat drone for Ukraine

Hundreds of Lithuanians have contributed to a fundraiser to buy an advanced military drone for Ukraine.

The target amount of 5 million euros ($5.4m) was raised in just three and a half days in Lithuania – a country of 2.8 million people – to fund the purchase of a Byraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicle from Turkey.

Read more here.

EU can reach ‘overall’ deal on Russian oil ban: Bulgarian PM

EU member states should be able to reach an agreement on an import ban for Russian oil under certain conditions on Monday, Bulgaria’s prime minister has said, several hours before the start of a summit of EU leaders.

“I think it will pass with certain derogations”, Kiril Petkov said about the bloc’s proposed embargo on Russian oil imports.

“Overall it should pass, depending on some individual characteristics and criteria that member states may have,” he added.

Which countries have the most oil

Moscow has set up ‘filtration camps’ for Ukrainians trying to escape Russia, Ukrainian official claims

Ukrainians deported to Russia from Ukraine and now trying to leave the country to enter the EU are having to go through new “filtration camps”, a Ukrainian official has claimed.

Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, especially men suspected of having served in the military, have reportedly had to go through such “filtration camps” in separatist-held areas of eastern Ukraine before being allegedly forcibly sent to Russia.

But new camps have now started operating near Russia’s border with Estonia, an EU member state, Andryushchenko, an adviser to Mariupol’s mayor, said in a Telegram post.

Andryushchenko, who has fled to Ukrainian-held territory, said Ukrainians who had passed through the new camps in Russia alleged the facilites made those in eastern Ukraine appear like a “child’s game” in comparison.

“Those who are trying to escape from Russia – be vigilant. Use other escape routes, including through Belarus and Georgia,” he warned. There was no immediate reaction to Andryushchenko’s remarks from Moscow, and Al Jazeera could not independently verify his report.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Estonian PM talks down prospect of agreement on Russia sanctions for now

EU member states will probably not reach a full agreement on new sanctions against Russia today, Estonia’s prime minister has said.

“I don’t think we’ll reach an agreement today”, Kaja Kallas said several hours before the start of the meeting. She added it was more likely a deal would be reached at the next summit in June.

Russian woman arrested for ‘bloody’ anti-war demonstration: Protest monitor

A Russian woman who rallied against Moscow’s war in Ukraine was arrested on Monday in Moscow, according to a protest monitoring group.

Opposition activists Natalya Perova and Lyudmila Annenkova donned “blood-stained” white dresses as part of their demonstration against the offensive outside of the Russian foreign ministry building in central Moscow on Sunday, the OVD-Info group said in a Telegram post.

Perova was arrested on Monday, OVD-Info added.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

NATO support for Ukraine ‘unbreakable’: Spanish PM

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says NATO’s support for Ukraine is “unbreakable”.

“Supporting Ukraine with determination is the only way to ensure that the Europe and the world we have built has a certain future,” Sanchez told an event marking Spain’s 40th anniversary as part of the alliance.

The US and other NATO allies have backed Ukraine, which is not a NATO member, with billions of dollars’ worth of weapons supplies during Russia’s offensive.

Kremlin says gas-for-roubles scheme could be applied to Eurobonds

A Russian gas-for-roubles scheme used with foreign purchasers has proved convenient both for buyers and sellers, the Kremlin has said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov’s remarks came after Russia’s finance ministry proposed to apply a similar scheme to foreign holders of Russian Eurobonds.

“The practice of paying for gas [in roubles] has shown its convenience for sellers and buyers. So why not use it [for Eurobonds]?” Peskov said during a conference call with reporters, adding that Moscow remained willing to honour its external debts.

The US pushed Russia closer to the brink of a historic debt default last week by not extending its licence to pay bondholders as Washington ramps up pressure on the Kremlin over its offensive.

Kherson official says grain being sent to Russia

An official installed by Russia in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine says grain from the area is being sent to Russia.

Kirill Stremousov, the deputy head of the Russia-backed administration for the Kherson region, told Russia’s TASS news agency that grain from last year’s harvest was being delivered to Russian buyers.

“There is space for storing [the next crop] although obviously there is a lot of grain here,” Stremousov was quoted as saying. “Now people are partially exporting, having reached agreements with those who are buying from the [Russian] side.”

Russian troops overran most of the Kherson region in the early weeks of the war and have tightened their grip on the area since. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin visited the region earlier this month and suggested it could become part of “our Russian family”.


Ukrainian counterattack kills 63 in Kryvyi Rih: Official

Ukrainian forces killed 63 Russian soldiers during a counterattack south of the city of Kryvyi Rih, in central Ukraine, according to a local defence official.

The Russian troops were advancing from the occupied Kherson region in southern Ukraine, but the counterattack repelled them and also “destroyed” T-72 tanks, helicopters and the Grad multiple rocket system, Oleksandr Vilkul said in a Telegram post late on Sunday.

Kryvyi Rih is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s hometown.

There was no immediate response to Vilkul’s claim from Moscow, and Al Jazeera could not independently verify his report.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Russia says it struck a shipyard in Mykolaiv

Russia’s defence ministry says its forces have struck a shipbuilding facility in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv.

Russian artillery struck a hangar at the Okean Shipyard, destroying vehicles and other equipment, the ministry said.

There was no immediate response to the ministry’s claim from Moscow, and Al Jazeera could not independently verify the report.

Russia has suffered devastating losses among lower-ranked officers: UK

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence says Moscow appears to have suffered devastating losses among mid- and junior-ranking officers.

“With multiple credible reports of localised 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,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence update.

Brigade and battalion commanders were probably deploying to the most dangerous positions while junior officers have had to lead low-level tactical actions, the ministry added.

Spain backs new sanctions against Russia: Minister

Spain supports a new package of EU sanctions against Moscow but there is no agreement yet as some member states remain heavily dependent on Russian crude imports and are reluctant to block them, Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares has said.

“There are two goals we have when approving a sanction package. One is not allowing [Russian President] TVladimir Putin to finance his war effort with European capital and the other is not allowing Vladimir Putin’s war to destabilise the European Union,” Albares noted in an interview with state broadcaster TVE.

Ukraine says 243 children killed amid war

Ukraine says 243 children have been killed since Russia started its offensive, with another 444 wounded.

The office of the country’s prosecutor general said the figures were not final as work was under way to establish numbers in areas of active hostilities, and in temporarily occupied as well as “liberated territories”.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the figures provided.

African families paying 45% more for wheat due to war: AP

Families across Africa are paying about 45 percent more for wheat flour as Russia’s war in Ukraine blocks exports from the Black Sea, The Associated Press news agency reports.

Some countries like Somalia get more than 90 percent of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine. That has forced many to replace wheat with other grains.

But the prices of other grains are skyrocketing too, on top of an existing hunger crisis in the wider Horn of Africa brought on by persistent drought.

EU’s Borrell hopeful of deal on Russian oil ban

EU members should be able to reach an agreement on a new sanctions package against Russia, including imposing restrictions on Russian oil imports, during talks being held by officials, the bloc’s foreign policy chief has said.

“We need to decide unanimously. There were tough talks yesterday afternoon, as well as this morning,” Josep Borrell told broadcaster France Info.

“I think that this afternoon, we will be able to offer to the heads of the member states an agreement,” he added.

Asked if plans to include a ban to import Russian oil could fail over the resistance from Hungary and other Eastern European states, Borrell said: “No, I don’t think so … there will be an agreement in the end.”

Russian troops moving into Severodonetsk: Governor

Russian troops are moving into the city of Severodonetsk from its outskirts, Luhansk’s governor says.

“Unfortunately we have disappointing news, the enemy is moving into the city,” Haidai told national television, describing the fighting there as “very fierce”.

He added the neighbouring city of Lysychansk was still under Ukrainian control, while the main road into the two cities has been shelled, but not blocked.

“They [Russian army] use the same tactics over and over again. They shell for several hours – for three, four, five hours – in a row and then attack. Those who attack die. Then shelling and attack follow again, and so until they break through somewhere,” Haidai said.

Two civilians were killed and five others wounded amid the shelling, he added.

France’s foreign minister to meet Zelenskyy in Kyiv

French Foreign Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna will meet Ukraine’s president in Kyiv later on Monday to express solidarity and offer more support for the country, the French foreign affairs ministry has said.

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.

No gas or water in Severodonetsk: Governor

The governor of Luhansk has said there is no gas or water in Severodonetsk, and no possibility of restoring these services.

Haidai added that about one million people have been left without water supply in the region.

A Donetsk People's Republic militia serviceman speak on a communication device prior to fire with a multiple rocket launcher from its position not far from Panteleimonivka, in Russian-occupied territory, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, May 28, 2022
A Donetsk People’s Republic militia serviceman speaks on a communication device near Panteleimonivka, in Russian-occupied territory, eastern Ukraine, May 28, 2022 [Alexei Alexandrov/AP Photo]

Moscow looking to withdraw from Russia-US organisations: TASS

Moscow is reviewing the terms of its agreements with the US “in the fields of scientific and educational cooperation” with a view to terminate or suspend them, state news agency TASS has reported newspaper Izvestia as saying.

According to TASS, Russia’s first deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, Svetlana Zhurova, told Izvestia that the committee will consider all international treaties and analyse whether Russia’s participation in various joint organisations is feasible.

Izvestia did not specify the kinds of scientific and educational organisations the committee was looking into.

But Sergei Tsekov, a member of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs, told Izvestia Russia is extremely likely to withdraw from other organisations, such as the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Having shipped artillery shells to Ukraine, Canada asks Seoul for more

Canada has asked South Korea to supply it with artillery rounds, Seoul has said, apparently to “backfill” supplies that Ottawa has sent to Ukraine, upping pressure on South Korea to provide – at least indirectly – lethal aid in the war, Reuters reports.

A spokesperson for South Korea’s ministry of defence confirmed that Ottawa had made the request, but would not elaborate further saying “no official proceedings are under way related to the request,” according to Reuters.

Canada has provided Ukraine with M777 towed howitzers, which fire 155-millimetre shells. South Korea is a major manufacturer of 155mm ammunition, with its K9 self-propelled howitzer dominating the international market.

Seoul has provided humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and has shipped non-lethal items including bulletproof helmets and medical kits but has said it has no plans to provide the embattled country with lethal aid.

Ukraine opens criminal proceedings into Russia’s Saturday Donetsk attacks

Ukraine’s prosecutor’s office in the Donetsk region has opened five criminal proceedings into Russia’s use of heavy artillery on May 28 against the town of Toretsk, and villages in the Bakhmut and Pokrovsky districts, Interfax reports.

The prosecutor’s office says three people were considerably injured in the attacks.

Images show Russian ship, with allegedly stolen Ukrainian grain, in Syria: CNN

New satellite imagery shows that a Russian ship carrying grain allegedly stolen from Ukrainian farms has arrived in the Syrian port of Latakia, CNN reports.

The images are provided by Maxar Technologies and show the carrier Matros Pozynich at Latakia on May 27.

According to CNN, the Pozynich is one of three ships that have been loading grain in the Crimean port of Sevastopol since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It was last seen in Sevastopol on May 19 and then tracked along the Turkish coast.

CNN has previously reported that convoys of trucks have been seen carrying grain from farms and silos in southern Ukraine into Crimea. Ukrainian authorities estimated earlier this month that Russian forces in occupied areas had seized more than 400,000 tonnes of grain.

Few key decisions likely in upcoming EU meeting

Draft conclusions of Monday’s upcoming meeting of EU leaders, seen by the Reuters news agency, show that while the EU will be generous with verbal support for the government in Kyiv, there will be little in terms of new decisions on any of the main topics.

EU leaders will meet on Monday to declare continued support for Ukraine to help it fend off Russia’s assault, but the talks will be overshadowed by their failure to agree on a new sanctions package against Moscow.

Reuters reports that the most tangible of decisions will be the leaders’ political backing for a 9 billion euro ($9.6bn) package of EU loans, with a small grants component to cover part of the interest, so that Ukraine can keep its government going and pay wages for about two months.

But even there, the decision will be only made later, after the European Commission makes a proposal on how to raise the money, Reuters reports.

Russian forces damaged 2,229 high-rise buildings in Kharkiv region: Governor

The governor of the Kharkiv region says Russian forces damaged 2,229 high-rise buildings, of which 225 have been destroyed.

In the city of Kharkiv itself, the northern and eastern districts suffered the most damage and destruction, Oleh Synyehubov told Zelenskyy during the president’s visit to Kharkiv, adding that 30 percent of the housing stock was either damaged or destroyed in these areas.

Russian forces fired on 46 communities in Donetsk and Luhansk Sunday: Army

Russian forces fired on 46 communities in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on Sunday, killing at least three civilians, wounding two others, and destroying or damaging 62 civilian buildings.

In a Facebook post, Ukrainian forces in the Donbas said they had been on the defensive all day on Sunday.

Russian shelling also continued across several regions such as in Novy Buh in Mykolaiv and Sumy. The city council in Novy Buh in the Mykolaiv region in southern Ukraine said on its Telegram channel that a Russian missile attack had caused considerable damage in the city centre.

Russia still occupies one-third of Kharkiv region: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy has said that one-third of the Kharkiv region is still under Russian occupation, but that Ukraine will “definitely liberate the entire territory”.

In his nighttime address, the president also described the destruction in the region’s capital city of Kharkiv, which he visited on Sunday.

“Black, burnt-out, half-ruined apartment buildings face east and north with their windows – from where Russian artillery was firing. From where Russian combat aircraft arrived,” he said.

“They face Russia. And in them now, like in a mirror, the Russian state can see itself. See how much it lost during these 95 days of full-scale war against Ukraine,” Zelenskyy added.

Debris cover the room of an apartment damaged during shelling in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, May 21, 2022
Debris cover the room of an apartment damaged during shelling in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, May 21, 2022 [Bernat Armangue/AP]

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra raises $900,000 for army by auctioning Eurovision trophy

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra, which won the Eurovision Song Contest earlier this month, raised $900,000 for the country’s military by selling the contest’s trophy.

The group won Eurovision with their entry “Stefania”, surfing a wave of public support to claim an emotional victory that was welcomed by the country’s president.

On Sunday they sold the crystal microphone they were awarded in a Facebook auction led by Ukrainian TV presenter Serhiy Prytula.

The funds raised will be used to purchase for the armed forces the PD-2 unmanned aerial system, which includes three aircraft and a ground control station, Prytula said at the auction.

Serbia secures gas supply deal with Putin

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic has announced that he has secured an “extremely favourable” three-year natural gas supply deal with Russia, amid efforts by the EU to phase out Russian energy supplies.

“What I can tell you is that we have agreed on the main elements that are very favourable for Serbia,” the Serbian president said after clinching the deal during a telephone conversation with Putin.

For more, read here

No EU deal on Russian oil embargo yet; more talks on Monday

The EU governments have failed to reach an agreement on an embargo on Russian oil, but will continue negotiations on Monday morning, an EU official told Reuters.

The proposal under discussion now among EU countries assumes a ban on Russian oil delivered to the EU by sea by the end of the year, but foresees an exemption for oil delivered by the Russian Druzhba pipeline, which supplies Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech republic.

Top Kharkiv official fired over city’s defence: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy says he fired Kharkiv’s security services chief for “not working on the defence of the city” since the start of Russia’s invasion.

“I came, figured out and fired the head of the Security Service of Ukraine of the (Kharkiv) region for the fact that he did not work on the defence of the city from the first days of the full-scale war, but thought only about himself,” Zelenskyy said in his daily national address.

He spoke after visiting the country’s war-ridden east for the first time since Russia’s invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy looks on as he visits the war-hit Kharkiv region. Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the situation in the east as "indescribably difficult."
President Zelenskyy looks on as he visits the war-hit Kharkiv region. He described the situation in the east as ‘indescribably difficult’ [Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP]

All critical infrastructure in Severodonetsk is destroyed: Zelenskyy

Russian forces stormed Severodonetsk after trying unsuccessfully to encircle the strategic city, Ukrainian officials said, creating a situation that Zelenskyy described as “indescribably difficult”. He said a relentless Russian artillery barrage had destroyed the town’s critical infrastructure and damaged 90 percent of its buildings.

“Capturing Severodonetsk is a principal task for the occupation force… We do all we can to hold this advance,” Zelenskyy said, adding that the Russians don’t care about casualties.

The deteriorating conditions raised fears that Severodonetsk could become the next Mariupol, which spent nearly three months under Russian siege before the last Ukrainian fighters surrendered.

Ukraine’s Donbas ‘unconditional priority’ for Moscow: Lavrov

The “liberation” of Ukraine’s Donbas is an “unconditional priority” for Moscow, while other Ukrainian territories should decide their future on their own, the RIA news agency has cited Russia’s foreign minister as saying.

“The liberation of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, recognised by the Russian Federation as independent states, is an unconditional priority,” Lavrov said in an interview with French TV channel TF1, according to RIA.

For the rest of the territories in Ukraine, “the people should decide their future in these areas,” he said.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war.

See all updates from Saturday, May 28 here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies