Ukraine Daily Summary Thursday, 26 May 2022

Russia loads cruise missiles onto submarines in Crimea --Russia's naval blockade of Black Sea ports to further increase price of staple products worldwide -- Russia used 60% of its stockpiles of high-precision weapons -- Belarusian PM confirms his country is supplying weapons to Russia -- Russia takes dead soldiers, equipment from sunken Moskva cruiser -- and more

Ukraine Daily

Thursday, 28 May 2022

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Russia’s war against Ukraine


Dozens of activists from across Europe affiliated with the Stop Bloody Energy initiative held a rally in Davos against international businesses and energy companies that continue to operate within Russia on May 25, 2022. (Stop Bloody Energy/Nadiia Pototska)

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UK Defense Ministry: Russia’s naval blockade of Black Sea ports to further increase price of staple products worldwide. According to an intelligence update by the U.K. Defense Ministry, there hasn’t been major merchant shipping activity in and out of Odesa since Russia’s full-scale invasion began, placing indirect pressure on global grain prices. A significant amount of Ukrainian grains are reportedly unable to be exported and remain in storage.

Putin signs decree allowing Russian passports to be given for residents of Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree allowing Ukrainian residents of temporarily occupied Zaporizhzhia Oblast and Kherson Oblast to obtain Russian passports under a simplified procedure. In April 2019, Russia imposed the same law forcing residents of occupied parts of Donbas to receive Russian citizenship. Petro Andriushchenko, an advisor to the Mariupol mayor, said Russia is issuing passports to residents in Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast, signifying the “de-facto annexation” of the city.

Ukraine’s Intelligence: Russia uses 60% of its stockpiles of high-precision weapons. Vadym Skibitsky, a representative of the Defense Ministry’s Intelligence Directorate, told Radio Free Europe’s Krym Realii that Russia is not able to quickly replenish its reserves.

Belarusian PM confirms his country is supplying weapons to Russia. Roman Golovchenko said that Belarusian weapons were in demand not only domestically but also in Russia and the two countries have set up joint programs to navigate the provision of weapons despite Western sanctions.

Podolyak: Ukraine rules out territorial concessions, signing another Minsk Agreement. Presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said that agreeing to give up territories is impossible and would only backfire, as Russia would use the pause in fighting to prepare for further offensives. “It will lead to a larger, more bloody war,” he said.

Luhansk Oblast Governor: Entire region without gas. Serhiy Haidai said that Russian forces fired on the last gas distribution point in the region, injuring an employee. There is also no centralized water supply and residents are still cut off from electricity, according to the Haidai.

Reuters: UK rejects Russia’s offer to unblock Ukrainian ports in exchange for lifting sanctions. U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said, “I call on Russia to do the right thing in the spirit of humanity and let the grain of Ukraine out, stop stealing the grain for its own means.” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called Moscow’s proposal “blackmail,” adding that politicians who may think of accepting it should first visit the graves of Ukrainian children that have been killed. On May 25, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko had called for “the removal of sanctions imposed on Russian exports and financial transactions.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry says it’s too early to discuss exchanging Azovstal defenders. Kremlin-controlled media Ria Novosti reported, citing Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko, that a possible exchange will be considered once the Ukrainian soldiers evacuated from Mariupol to Russian-controlled territory are “appropriately convicted and sentenced.” Other Russian media earlier reported that Azovstal defenders would be tried by a tribunal in Mariupol. Ukraine initially said that they would be exchanged for Russian POWs.

Ukraine’s Intelligence: Russia takes dead soldiers, equipment from sunken Moskva cruiser. Vadym Skibitsky, representative of the Defense Ministry’s Intelligence Directorate, told Radio Free Europe’s Krym Realii that Russia conducted a “rescue operation” that lasted at least two weeks to hide the number of dead sailors and to prevent Ukraine from seizing equipment.

Ukraine’s Military: Russia attempts to advance towards Bakhmut, Lyman in Donetsk Oblast. According to the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, Russian forces have “focused their main efforts in the Bakhmut direction” and are also trying to advance towards the city of Lyman, Donetsk Oblast. Russian forces are attacking Lyman and Komyshuvakha, as well as Sievierodonetsk and Novozvanivka in Luhansk Oblast, with artillery and airstrikes, the General Staff said.

Zelensky supports petition to introduce visas for Russians. A total of 26,742 votes have been collected for the petition, with 25,000 being the required minimum. Despite Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, it has formally kept visa-free travel with Russia until now.

Shmyhal: Russia’s war destroys, damages over 200 factories, large enterprises in Ukraine. Ukraine will also need to restore 12 airports, over 1,000 educational institutions, and almost 300 bridges and overpasses that have been damaged, destroyed, or seized as a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine, according to Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

Despite constant heavy shelling, Sievierodonetsk still accessible. Oleksandr Striuk, head of the Sievierodonetsk city military administration, said despite Russia’s constant attacks, the city is not besieged and has enough Ukrainian troops to hold back Russian forces. Striuk said power and communications systems are down and while the roads remain dangerous, “you can get to the city.” He also said there were casualties due to Russia’s attacks on May 25, including two volunteers who died while evacuating.

Russia loads cruise missiles onto submarines in Crimea. According to Ukrainian media outlet Krym Realii, two Varshavyanka class submarines (NATO reporting name Kilo) moored at the pier in the southern bay of Russian-occupied Sevastopol are being loaded with Kalibr cruise missiles.

Zelensky: ‘The world wasn’t ready for Ukrainian bravery.’ “For the bravery of all our people who are not inferior to Russia and continue to defend our state,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said during his nightly address. In reference to doubts early on in the war about whether Ukraine would be able to withstand Russia’s full-scale war, Zelensky said many “simply did not want to take Ukraine into account. There was no habit of taking Ukraine into account, although there is a habit of taking Russia into account, even when there is no objective reason to.”

ISW: Russia preparing for Battle of Sievierodonetsk. The Institute for the Study of War said in its May 25 assessment that the intensity of Russian artillery and air attack, combined with the massing of Russian forces from elsewhere suggests Russia may start its offensive on Sievierodonetsk prior to cutting off Ukrainian ground lines of communication. Russia “may need to conduct a ground offensive on Sievierodonetsk in the upcoming days to maintain their pace after committing a significant portion of personnel, artillery, aviation, and logistics to the front,” the ISW wrote.

The human cost of Russia’s war

Russia’s war killed 4 civilians, injured 12 in Donetsk Oblast on May 25. According to Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko, two people were killed in Lyman, and two more in the villages of Sydorove and Bеrestove.

Russia attacks Zaporizhzhia with 4 missiles, 1 killed. Several explosions were reported by eyewitnesses in Zaporizhzhia early on May 25. The air raid alert in the city went off at around 3:20 a.m. local time and explosions were reportedly heard after 5 a.m. The Zaporizhzhia regional military administration confirmed that at 5:13 a.m. Russian forces fired four missiles at the city, one of which Ukraine’s air defense managed to destroy. One person was killed, and three more were injured in the attack.

Prosecutor General’s Office: Russia’s war has killed at least 238 children, injured 433. The figures are expected to be higher since they do not include child casualties in the areas where hostilities are ongoing and in the occupied areas, the Prosecutor General’s Office said.

Ukraine’s Military: Russia has lost 29,450 troops in Ukraine since Feb. 24. The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported on May 25 that Russia had also lost 1,305 tanks, 3,213 armored fighting vehicles, 2,218 vehicles and fuel tanks, 606 artillery pieces, 201 multiple launch rocket systems, 93 surface-to-air missiles, 170 helicopters, 206 airplanes, 491 drones, and 13 boats.

International response

Media: NATO members informally agree not to supply Ukraine with aircraft, tanks. Citing its sources in NATO, the German Press Agency reported that alliance members have informally agreed not to supply the weapons to Ukraine, fearing Russia could see the delivery of Western tanks and combat aircraft as entering the war and take retaliatory measures, German newspaper Die Zeit reported.

Lithuania to deliver dozens of military vehicles to Ukraine. Lithuania’s National Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas said that his country would send 20 M113 armored vehicles, 10 military trucks, and 10 SUVs, which can be used for demining operations. “Lithuania stands together with Ukraine,” Anušauskas said.

Michel: EU disputes over Russian oil ban will be resolved by May 30. European Council President Charles Michel said he’s confident that disputes over a proposed embargo on Russian oil will be decided by the next Council meeting. However, he said it will require “a lot of dialogue.” The EU proposed a gradual ban on Russian oil in the sixth package of sanctions over Russia’s full—scale invasion of Ukraine, but Hungary has effectively blocked the plan so far, saying it would threaten its energy security.

Axios: Israel turns down US request to approve missile supplies to Ukraine. Israel has rejected a U.S. request to allow Germany to send Spike anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, Axios reported on May 25, citing U.S. and Israeli officials. Spike missiles are produced in Germany with Israeli technology under an Israeli license. Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in Feb., Israel has taken a neutral stance and refused to supply weapons to Ukraine.

EU, UK, US set up advisory group to help Ukraine investigate Russia’s atrocities. The Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group (ACA) will support Ukraine’s Prosecutor’s General Office’s war crimes units in their investigation and prosecution of war-related crimes, according to the U.K. government. “The ACA will reinforce current EU, US and UK efforts to further accountability for atrocity crimes in the context of Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine,” the U.K. government said.

Nike will not renew franchise agreement with Russian retailer. The company said in a statement that “due to operational challenges in Russia, Nike has made the decision not to renew or enter into any new business commitments,” Russian business daily Vedomosti reported. Earlier in March, Nike said it would temporarily close its Nike-owned and operated stores in Russia but some locations managed by its Russian retailer, Up & Run, remained open.

In other news

Kalush Orchestra to auction off Eurovision trophy to raise money for Ukraine’s military. Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra, which won this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, announced the auction on May 25. The group’s lead vocalist, Oleh Psiuk, will also sell his signature pink bucket hat. The auction will end on May 28 at 7 p.m. local time.

Akhmetov to sue Russia over destruction of his assets. Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man, said in an interview with Ukrainian media outlet NV, that he will file a lawsuit against Russia, demanding “proper compensation for all losses and lost business.” According to Akhmetov, the losses of his Azovstal and Ilyich steel plants in Mariupol due to Russia’s war range from $17 billion to $20 billion.

Progress reported in talks on NATO accession by Finland, Sweden. The Turkish president’s spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said that Turkey has “seen a positive attitude towards lifting of embargo regarding defense industry products” during talks with delegations from NATO applicants Finland and Sweden on May 25. Sweden and Finland had banned arms exports to Turkey after its offensive against the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria in 2019. They applied for NATO membership earlier in May, but Turkey objected to their applications.

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