Zelenskyy rejects Kissinger plan to concede parts of Ukraine to Russia
Henry Kissinger urged Ukraine to concede occupied territory, telling the West not to pursue a defeat of Russia to facilitate an end to the conflict.
Damien Henderson, Associated Press
European Union leaders reached a deal late Monday on a sixth sanction package that would include a partial oil embargo against Russia after resolving an objection from Hungary.
During a marathon meeting in Brussels, the EU members agreed to an embargo that covers Russian oil transported by sea, allowing a temporary exemption for imports delivered by pipeline.
EU Council President Charles Michel said on Twitter that the deal covers more than two-thirds of oil imports from Russia, “cutting a huge source of financing for its war machine. Maximum pressure on Russia to end the war.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who had sounded skeptical a deal would be achieved at the two-day summit, said the new sanctions will “effectively cut around 90% of oil imports from Russia to the EU by the end of the year.” EU nations get about 25% of their oil from Russia and have been scrambling to find other options.
Their leaders reached a compromise after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged them to end “internal arguments that only prompt Russia to put more and more pressure on the whole of Europe.”
The package had stalled in recent days as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban repeatedly claimed his nation’s economy would shatter without oil from Russia, which supplies 60% of Hungary’s oil. All 27 EU countries must agree for the package to win approval. As a landlocked nation, Hungary is not impacted by the ban on oil brought in by tanker.
►The new package of sanctions EU members agreed to late Monday includes barring Sberbank, Russia’s biggest bank, from the SWIFT global system for financial transfers.
►Kalush Orchestra, the Ukrainian band that won the Eurovision Song Contest, raised more than $1.2 million for the war effort by auctioning off its trophy and the pink hat won by its lead singer. Some of the money will pay for drones for the Ukraine army.
►Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Russian President Vladimir Putin he’s ready to resume a role in ending the war, including taking part in a possible “observation mechanism” between Ukraine, Russia and the U.N. Negotiations in Istanbul held in March failed to make headway.
►French journalist Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff was killed Monday in Ukraine while trying to show the “reality of the war,” French President Emmanuel Macron announced. Macron said Leclerc-Imhoff was on a humanitarian bus alongside civilians forced to flee to escape Russian bombs near Sievierodonetsk, a key city in the Donbas region.
►Russian state gas giant Gazprom said Monday it will cut off supplies to the Dutch trader GasTerra starting Tuesday for failing to pay for deliveries in rubles, as Russian President Vladimir Putin now requires. GasTerra, based in the northern Dutch city of Groningen, said it anticipated the move and bought gas from other providers.
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President Joe Biden said Tuesday his administration would send advanced, long-range rocket systems to Ukraine to combat Russian forces, even as he vowed the U.S. has no intention of trying to oust Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In perhaps the clearest statement yet of America’s role in the war, Biden promised more advanced weaponry and financial assistance for Ukraine and deeper isolation for Russia. But in a New York Times op-ed, Biden also spelled out what the U.S. will not do.
“As much as I disagree with Mr. Putin, and find his actions an outrage, the United States will not try to bring about his ouster in Moscow,” the president wrote. “We do not seek a war between NATO and Russia.”
The op-ed landed as the White House agreed to send precision-strike, long-range weapons systems to Ukraine – something the country’s leaders have been pleading for amid Russia’s escalating attacks in the eastern part of the country. Those weapons would be part of a new $700 million security package that will be formally announced on Wednesday.
— Rebecca Morin
More than 30 million people in different regions of Africa — the Horn in the east and the Sahel across the north — are facing severe hunger because of drought and other agricultural challenges.
The war in Ukraine has made the situation even more precarious as the price of staples, like wheat and cooking oil, has skyrocketed. Russia and Ukraine have stopped wheat exports through the Black Sea since Moscow launched its invasion on Feb. 24.
Those two countries accounted for 44% of African nations’ wheat imports between 2018 and 2020, according to U.N. figures. The African Development Bank is reporting a 45% increase in wheat prices on the continent, making a large number of products — including bread and couscous — more expensive, even unaffordable for some.
“Acute hunger is soaring to unprecedented levels and the global situation just keeps on getting worse,” David Beasley, executive director of the U.N.’s World Food Program, said earlier this month. “Conflict, the climate crisis, COVID-19 and surging food and fuel costs have created a perfect storm — and now we’ve got the war in Ukraine piling catastrophe on top of catastrophe.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country has been unable to export 22 million tons of grain because the Russians are blockading its ports, and he charged that the resulting threat of famine in nations dependent on wheat is part of Vladimir Putin’s plan to get sanctions relief. The food crisis could turn into a migration crisis, Zelenskyy said.
“This is something the Russian leadership clearly seeks,” Zelenskyy said during his nightly video address, adding that Moscow was “deliberately creating this problem so that the whole of Europe struggles and so that Ukraine doesn’t earn billions of dollars from its exports.”
Russia has likely suffered devastating losses among its mid and junior ranking officers, the British Defense Ministry said in it latest assessment of the war. The assessment says brigade and battalion commanders probably deploy forward into harm’s way because they are held to an uncompromising level of responsibility for their units’ performance. The loss of a large proportion of the younger generation of professional officers will likely “exacerbate its ongoing problems” in modernizing command and control.
“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,” the assessment says.
The National Hockey League postseason features Russians starring to big applause in arenas across the U.S. and Canada, even as Russians in sports from soccer to tennis have been banned. A total of 56 Russians skated in the NHL during the regular season, roughly 5% of the total number of players, and 29 have taken part in the playoffs, just under 8%. Russian players have said little about Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.
“Everybody’s doing the best they can under incredibly trying circumstances,” Commissioner Gary Bettman told The Associated Press. “Our players play for their NHL teams, no matter where they’re from.” Read more here.
Contributing: The Associated Press