- 15 May 2023 - 19:59(19:59 GMT)
Ukrainian security agency says it suspects tycoon Firtash of embezzlement
Ukraine’s state security agency has served businessman Dmytro Firtash and top managers of companies he controls with “notices of suspicion” of embezzlement, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said in a statement.
The SBU said that, acting with the Economic Security Bureau (BEB), it had uncovered the alleged theft of up to $485m between 2016 and 2022 as part of a “large-scale scheme” involving Ukraine’s gas transit system.
“Effectively we are talking about the embezzlement of money from ordinary Ukrainians who paid their utility bills,” the statement said.
A statement issued by Firtash’s company, Group DF, “firmly and categorically” rejected all the allegations as without legal foundation and “part of an ongoing campaign of corrupt pressure directed at its business operations”.
It said the company and its legal advisers “will vigorously defend the interests of its businesses, personnel, and the shareholder in both Ukrainian and international courts.”
The statement said Group DF had suffered losses linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and “will continue to support the defence effort against the Russian aggression”.
- 15 May 2023 - 19:09(19:09 GMT)
Macron says France to train Ukrainian fighter pilots
France’s Emmanuel Macron has said that his country has “opened the door” to training Ukrainian fighter pilots.
“We have opened the door to training pilots, and this with several other European countries who are also ready. I think discussions are under way with the Americans,” he said in a televised interview with the TF1 broadcaster.
- 15 May 2023 - 18:11(18:11 GMT)
South Africa’s army chief visits Moscow for bilateral talks
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has said that its army chief, Lawrence Mbatha, is attending a bilateral meeting in Moscow, where he will visit Russian military academies and hold talks with officials.
“It must be noted that South Africa has military-to-military bilateral relations with various countries in the continent and beyond,” the SANDF said in a statement, adding that the meeting in Russia was planned well in advance.
Earlier, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the country’s non-aligned position did not favour Russia over other states and reiterated its call for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine.
- 15 May 2023 - 17:22(17:22 GMT)
Russia approves sale of Volkswagen plant to domestic dealership
A Russian government commission has approved the sale of Volkswagen’s main factory in Russia to a domestic car dealership, Trade and Industry Minister Denis Manturov told the TASS news agency.
The plant, in the Kaluga region south of Moscow, will be sold to the Avilon dealership, previously the official dealer for Volkswagen cars in Russia. The paperwork for the deal is currently being completed, TASS cited Manturov as saying in an interview.
Volkswagen suspended production of cars in Russia shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine last February.
The TASS report did not specify the terms of the sale.
- 15 May 2023 - 16:45(16:45 GMT)
US sees more indications of Russia, Iran defence cooperation: White House
The United States is seeing more indications that Russia and Iran are expanding an unprecedented defence partnership that will help Moscow prolong its war in Ukraine as well as pose a threat to Iran’s neighbours, the White House has said.
As part of the cooperation, Iran is providing Russia with one-way attack drones, including more than 400 since August, US national security adviser John Kirby said at a news briefing.
- 15 May 2023 - 16:40(16:40 GMT)
WHO to shut specalised Moscow office
The World Health Organization’s European office decided to close a specialised WHO office in Moscow and move its functions to Denmark, the health body has said.
The move, which was decided during a virtual session, follows calls from members last year to shut the office over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The session was also convened after a group of 30 member states requested a special session in a letter in April, which noted that the “immediate and long-term health impacts in Ukraine and beyond” caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “continue to be a matter of utmost concern”.
The WHO’s European region comprises 53 countries, including several in central Asia.
A majority of member states agreed to the decision, which means the closure of the health body’s “Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases”, in Moscow, with its functions to be relocated to the regional office in Denmark “no later than” January 1, 2024.
- 15 May 2023 - 15:40(15:40 GMT)
EU’s von der Leyen and Michel hope China will play a positive role in ending the war
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council chief Charles Michel hope China will play a stronger and positive role in ending the war.
Their comments come before Chinese envoy Li Hui begins his visit to Ukraine and Russia later this week.
“We sincerely hope China will play a positive role to convince Russia to end the aggression. If Russia would decide to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity this would immediately the end of the war,” Michel said at a briefing in Brussels.
“I think it is very good that finally after 14 months, President Xi called President Zelenskyy. Before my trip to China, Zelenskyy asked me to raise the issue. It’s good that President Xi spoke to Pres Zelenskyy because, without any doubt, President Xi has influence on President Putin,” von der Leyen said.
- 15 May 2023 - 15:16(15:16 GMT)
Russia says its air force intercepted French and German patrol flights entering its airspace
Russia’s defence ministry says it scrambled to stop French and German air patrol from entering its airspace over the Baltic Sea.
“A Russian Su-27 fighter from the air defence forces of the Baltic Fleet on duty escorted the R-3C Orion aircraft of the German Navy and Atlantic-2 aircraft of the French Navy over the Baltic Sea, preventing them from violating the state border of Russia,” according to a report by Russian state news agency TASS, citing the Kremlin’s defence ministry.
- 15 May 2023 - 14:51(14:51 GMT)
Russian embassy in UK mocks Zelenskyy’s visit
Russia’s embassy in the UK has reacted to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to the country on social media.
In a tweet, the embassy said, “Zelensky’s in town. Time for British taxpayers to make another generous contribution.”
Zelenskyy was in Britain for a meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, seeking to ramp up more military aid for Ukraine.
Zelensky’s in town. Time for British taxpayers to make another generous contribution. pic.twitter.com/G3SceSmvcg
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) May 15, 2023
- 15 May 2023 - 14:33(14:33 GMT)
UN aid chief says efforts to extend Black Sea grain deal will continue
UN aid chief Martin Griffiths says talks to extend the Black Sea grain export deal will continue in the coming days.
The deal between Russia and Ukraine, which allows Ukrainian ships to continue transporting grain from the country’s Black Sea ports, is set to expire on May 18.
“Continuation of the Black Sea initiative is critically important as is recommitment by the parties to its smooth and efficient operation,” Griffiths told a UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine.
- 15 May 2023 - 14:19(14:19 GMT)
Putin simplifies citizenship process for foreigners fighting for Russia in Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree that will simplify the process for foreigners fighting for Russia in Ukraine to gain Russian citizenship.
According to the Kremlin’s legal information portal, during the period of Russia’s “special military operation”, the spouses, children and parents of these foreigners serving in Russia’s armed forces may apply for this new simplified citizenship scheme.
- 15 May 2023 - 13:38(13:38 GMT)
Ukraine says two people killed by Russian shelling in Kharkiv province
Two people have been killed in Russian shelling in the northern Ukrainian settlement of Dvorichna, Kharkiv Governor Oleg Sinegubov says.
“The enemy again shelled the front-line village of Dvorichna in the Kupyan district. Unfortunately, there are casualties among the civilian population,” he said in a statement on Telegram.
He added that a 65-year-old woman and a man were the two civilians killed and a 52-year-old civilian who was injured by shrapnel was being treated in hospital.
- 15 May 2023 - 12:58(12:58 GMT)
Acting interior minister of Luhansk injured in explosion: Russian state media
Igor Kornet, the acting interior minister of the Russian-occupied part of Ukraine’s Luhansk province, has been injured in an explosion in the city of Luhansk, according to Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti.
The explosion took place in a barbershop, it said.
- 15 May 2023 - 12:30(12:30 GMT)
Some nations not criticising Russia because of West’s double standards: Scholz
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says some nations like India, Vietnam and South Africa have refrained from criticising Russia for its actions in Ukraine because they feel that international principles are not applied equally.
“When I talk to leaders from those countries, many assure me that they are not questioning the underlying principles of our international order. What they are struggling with is the unequal application of those principles,” he said during a speech at the Global Solutions World Policy Forum in Berlin.
“What they expect is representation on equal terms and an end to Western double standards,” he added.
- 15 May 2023 - 12:11(12:11 GMT)
Russia says its air defence intercepted UK’s long-range cruise missile
Russia’s defence ministry says its air force intercepted UK’s Storm Shadow long-range cruise missile for the “first time”.
During a briefing, the ministry also said Russian air defence forces had shot down 10 HIMARS MLRS shells.
After a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed that the UK will be supplying Ukraine with hundreds of air defence missiles including hundreds of new long-range attack drones.
Earlier, Kremlin spokesperson Dimitry Peskov told reporters that Russia takes “an extremely negative view” of the UK’s decision.
- 15 May 2023 - 11:40(11:40 GMT)
Zelenskyy hails military support from UK, France and Germany
Zelenskyy says the military aid pledged by the United Kingdom, France and Germany is “important and powerful” for Ukraine’s counteroffensive actions.
“I am very pleased with the achievements and agreements,” he said.
His comments come after a series of bilateral meetings with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in London, French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin.
After the meetings, Germany announced additional military aid for Ukraine worth almost $3bn, including tanks, anti-aircraft systems and ammunition. France said it will send dozens of armoured vehicles and light tanks, including the AMX-10RCs fighting vehicles, to Ukraine in the coming weeks.
The UK government said it will provide hundreds of air defence missiles and unmanned aerial systems, including hundreds of new long-range attack drones with a range of more than 200km (124 miles), to Ukraine.
- 15 May 2023 - 11:23(11:23 GMT)
UK has ‘no plans to send fighter jets’ to Ukraine
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson says the UK has no plans to send fighter jets to Ukraine.
“The Ukrainians made the decision to train their pilots on F-16s and you will know the Royal Air Force don’t use those,” he said after Sunak met Zelenskyy.
Earlier, Zelenskyy said he and Sunak discussed the importance of the West supporting Kyiv further with fighter jets, highlighting that they wanted to “create a coalition of jets”.
- 15 May 2023 - 11:15(11:15 GMT)
G7 prepares to introduce stricter sanctions on Russia: Reuters
The Group of Seven (G7) countries are preparing to impose tougher sanctions against Russia’s energy sector and restrict trade that supports the Kremlin’s military, according to a Reuters news agency report.
The measures are expected to be approved at the G7 summit in Japan this week.
US officials also expect the G7 will tighten existing sanctions by agreeing that for certain categories of Russian goods, all imports will automatically be banned unless those products are on a list of approved items.
- 15 May 2023 - 11:05(11:05 GMT)
NATO chief hopes to help Ukraine reach alliance’s military standards
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says he expects the military alliance to agree on a “multiyear programme” to help Ukraine reach NATO military standards at a summit in Lithuania in July.
Addressing the Copenhagen Democracy Summit organised annually by former NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Stoltenberg said that if NATO members issue bilateral security guarantees to Ukraine, then the alliance would be very close to Article 5 – the section of the NATO treaty on collective defence.
- 15 May 2023 - 10:55(10:55 GMT)
‘We want to create a jets coalition’: Zelenskyy
President Zelenskyy says he discussed Western nations providing Kyiv with fighter jets in his meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
He highlighted that they wanted to “create a jets coalition”.
“I see that in the closest time, you will hear some, I think, very important decisions but we have to work a little bit more on it,” he said after his meeting with Sunak.
- 15 May 2023 - 10:43(10:43 GMT)
Russia will be concerned about air defence: UK
UK’s Ministry of Defence says Russian leaders will be concerned about their air defences after key strategic airbases continue to be compromised.
“On May 3, several uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) struck Russia’s Seshcha Airbase, 150km north of the Ukrainian border. One An-124 heavy transport aircraft of Russia’s Military Transport Aviation (VTA) was likely damaged,” the ministry said in a tweet.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 15 May 2023.
Find out more about Defence Intelligence's use of language: https://t.co/MGwmuNjs6P
🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/Y1CpyDzOTN
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) May 15, 2023
- 15 May 2023 - 10:20(10:20 GMT)
Kremlin disagrees with Macron’s assessment of Russia ‘becoming a vassal to China’
Russia does not agree with French President Emmanuel Macron’s assessment that Russia had “entered a form of subservience with regards to China” after being shunned by the West over the conflict in Ukraine, a Kremlin spokesperson says.
According to an AFP report, Macron said in an interview with the l’Opinion newspaper over the weekend that Russia had “already lost geopolitically” in its war in Ukraine and “is effectively becoming a vassal state of China”.
Peskov countered that Moscow’s ties with Beijing are “those of a strategic partner” and stressed that “it is not about dependency.”
- 15 May 2023 - 10:05(10:05 GMT)
Kremlin says UK’s military aid to Ukraine won’t change conflict’s outcome
Kremlin spokesperson Dimitry Peskov has said Russia takes “an extremely negative” view of the UK’s decision to supply long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles and other military hardware to Ukraine.
He added that the Kremlin does not think this will change the outcome of the war.
Ukraine’s Zelenskyy is in London to meet Prime Minister Sunak to ramp up military support.
Earlier, the British government said in a statement that Sunak “will confirm the further UK provision of hundreds of air defence missiles and further unmanned aerial systems including hundreds of new long-range attack drones with a range of over 200km”.
- 15 May 2023 - 09:41(09:41 GMT)
Russian shelling kills four people in the city of Adviivka: Ukraine
Four people have been killed in a Russian missile attack on a hospital in the eastern Ukrainian city of Adviivka, says Pavlo Kyrylenko, Ukrainian governor of the Donetsk region.
“The Russians attacked the city with missiles this morning,” he said in a statement on Telegram. “They hit a hospital.”
Earlier, Kyrylenko had said Russian shelling had intensified across the Donetsk region over the previous day and had injured seven people.
- 15 May 2023 - 09:30(09:30 GMT)
Ukraine says Black Sea grain deal’s future uncertain
Olha Trofimtseva, ambassador-at-large of Ukraine’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs, has told reporters in Kyiv that the Black Sea grain deal‘s future is uncertain, with no further negotiations planned this week.
The deal between Russia and Ukraine, which seeks to ensure that Ukrainian ships can carry grains from the country’s Black Sea ports, is set to expire on May 18.
- 15 May 2023 - 09:20(09:20 GMT)
Wagner chief denies report of being in contact with Ukrainian military
Prigozhin has denied a newspaper report that he offered to reveal Russian troop positions to the Ukrainian military, issuing the denial in an audio message released by his press service.
The Washington Post cited US intelligence documents in reporting that Russia’s Wagner Group chief had offered to give Ukrainian military commanders information about Russian troop positions if Ukraine agreed to withdraw from around Bakhmut.
Kremlin spokesperson Dimitry Peskov said the Post report “looks like a hoax”.
- 15 May 2023 - 09:05(09:05 GMT)
Top Chinese envoy expected to visit Ukraine: Reuters
Top Chinese official Li Hui is expected to visit Ukraine this week, according to a Reuters report.
A Ukrainian government official told Reuters that the Chinese envoy will be in the country on May 16 and 17.
Li Hui, China’s special representative for Eurasian affairs since 2019 and former ambassador to Russia, will also visit Poland, France and Germany as part of his trip, according to China’s foreign ministry.
His multiday trip is “for in-depth communications with different parties for a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis”, according to the foreign ministry.
- 15 May 2023 - 09:05(09:05 GMT)
Wagner chief in contact with Ukraine’s military: Washington Post
In late January, Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was in contact with Ukraine’s military, The Washington Post reports, citing US intelligence documents leaked on the group-chat platform Discord.
According to the report, Prigozhin tried to bribe Ukrainian commanders by offering information about Russian troop positions if Ukrainian forces withdrew from an area around Bakhmut.
- 15 May 2023 - 08:51(08:51 GMT)
Zelenskyy meets UK PM Sunak in London
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made a surprise visit to London to meet British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
The British government said in a statement that Sunak “will confirm the further UK provision of hundreds of air defence missiles and further unmanned aerial systems including hundreds of new long-range attack drones with a range of over 200km”.
France and Germany also pledged more military aid to Ukraine over the weekend.
Welcome back, @ZelenskyyUa 🇬🇧🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/ph57ZoUHpC
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) May 15, 2023
- 15 May 2023 - 08:49(08:49 GMT)
Ukraine’s top military commander claims ‘first success’ in Bakhmut
Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi, Ukraine’s top military commander, says his troops advanced in the direction of Bakhmut, hailing the “first success” of their offensive in defending the front-line city.
“The last few days have shown that we can move forward and destroy the enemy even in such extremely difficult conditions. We are fighting with less resources than the enemy. At the same time, we manage to destroy his plans,” Syrskyi said in a statement on Telegram.
But he cautioned that the win should be perceived as “a partial success” as the military offensive in Bakhmut is still under way.
Over the past few weeks, Ukrainian troops have been preparing for a counteroffensive to defend Bakhmut.
Last week, Moscow acknowledged that its forces had fallen back north of the battlefield city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine updates: Kyiv says Russian shelling kills four in Donetsk
Governor calls on residents of the small city of Avdiivka to evacuate as fast as possible after deadly missile attack.
This blog is now closed, thank you for joining us. These were the updates on the Russia-Ukraine war on Monday, May 15.
- At least four people have been killed in a Russian missile attack in the Donetsk city of Avdiivka, Ukraine says, as a hospital is hit.
- Ukraine’s top military commander hails an advance in Bakhmut as “the first success” of offensive actions in defending the front-line city.
- President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is on a surprise trip to London as he tries to drum up more military support.
- The Wagner Group offered up Russian positions to Ukraine in exchange for a withdrawal around Bakhmut, according to US intelligence reports cited by The Washington Post. The leader of the Russian mercenary group and Russia have dismissed the claim.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies