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Friday, May 13, 2022

Russia Ukraine War News Highlights: Finland to apply for Nato membership; Russia says it hit two ammunition depots in Ukraine’s Chernihiv

Ukraine War Today News, Ukraine Russia Updates, World War 3 News Highlights: Finland and Sweden are expected to be granted Nato membership quickly.

By: Express Web Desk |
Updated: May 13, 2022 9:10:06 am
Russia Ukraine War, Ukraine War Live, Russia Victory DayRussia Ukraine War News Live: Children gather at a playground during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine May 11, 2022. (Reuters)

Russia Ukraine War Highlights: Finland must apply to join the Nato military alliance “without delay”, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Thursday, a major policy shift triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, Russia said on Thursday its forces hit two ammunition depots in the Chernihiv region of Ukraine.

Finland and Sweden are expected to be granted membership quickly, paving the way for increased troop presence in the Nordic region during the one-year ratification period. In the wider Nordic region, Norway, Denmark and the three Baltic states are already Nato members, and the addition of Finland and Sweden would likely anger Moscow, which says Nato enlargement is a direct threat to its own security.

In other news, Moscow has imposed sanctions on the owner of the Polish part of the Yamal pipeline that carries Russian gas to Europe, as well as the former German unit of the Russian gas producer Gazprom, whose subsidiaries service Europe’s gas consumption. Energy prices rose as the European Union weighs a possible embargo on Russian crude.

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09:08 (IST)13 May 2022
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22:21 (IST)12 May 2022
Spain finds yacht and other assets of 15 sanctioned Russian oligarchs

The Spanish authorities have identified assets, including houses, companies and at least one luxury yacht, belonging to 15 Russian oligarchs on the EU sanctions list, an official overseeing property registries told Reuters on Thursday.

Mariano García Fresno, the head of the General Council of Notaries' money laundering prevention unit, said the unit had detected activity after the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine as the oligarchs sought to transfer their stakes in some companies to relatives or associates to avoid detection.

"They were already starting to move these holdings, especially in Spanish companies, or holdings or shares in foreign companies," García Fresno said.

"We have located some 15 people from that (EU sanctions) list and another 105 people linked to them or family members (...) There are people who are less well known on the list, but some of them were among the best known." Every week since Russia invaded Ukraine, the European Union has introduced new sanctions on Moscow, adding hundreds of top politicians, businessmen and military staff to its blacklist. (Reuters)

22:04 (IST)12 May 2022
G7 ministers to discuss how to end Ukrainian grain blockade: German foreign minister

The foreign ministers of the Group of Seven industrialised nations (G7) will discuss how to end a blockade of Ukrainian grain to enable it to be exported to the world, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Thursday.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. (Reuters)

"There are 25 million tons of grain currently blocked in the Ukrainian port of Odesa, which means food for millions of people in the world that is urgently needed, above all in African countries and in the Middle East," Baerbock said.

The war in Ukraine has sent global prices for grain, cooking oils, fuel and fertilizer soaring, with United Nations agencies warning that the price hikes will worsen a food crisis in Africa. (Reuters)

21:26 (IST)12 May 2022
EU plan aims to help get wheat from Ukraine to the world

The European Commission proposed helping Ukraine export its wheat and other grains by rail, road and river to get around a Russian blockade of Black Sea ports, which is preventing those critical supplies from reaching parts of the world at risk of food insecurity.

The European Union's executive arm said the plan aims to establish alternative routes and ease congestion between borders that also should facilitate getting humanitarian aid and other goods into the war-torn country.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has provoked disruptions of global food supplies, with both countries two of the world's biggest exporters of wheat, barley and sunflower oil. The blockade of Ukrainian ports has been particularly harmful, having accounted for 90% of grain and oilseed exports before the war, the commission said. (Reuters)

20:42 (IST)12 May 2022
Europe's gas supply crisis grows after Russia imposes sanctions

Pressure on Europe to secure alternative gas supplies increased on Thursday as Moscow imposed sanctions on European subsidiaries of state-owned Gazprom a day after Ukraine stopped a major gas transit route, pushing prices higher. Russia imposed sanctions late Wednesday mainly on Gazprom's European subsidiaries including Gazprom Germania, an energy trading, storage and transmission business that Germany placed under trusteeship last month to secure supplies.

Germany's top power producer, RWE, expects Berlin to soon clarify whether payments for Russian gas can be made under Moscow's proposed scheme. (File)

It also placed sanctions on the owner of the Polish part of the Yamal-Europe pipeline that carries Russian gas to Europe. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said there can be no relations with the companies affected nor can they take part in supplying Russian gas.

The affected entities, listed on a Russian government website, are largely based in countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, most of them members of the European Union. Germany, Russia's top client in Europe, said some subsidiaries of Gazprom Germania were receiving no gas because of the sanctions, but are seeking alternatives. (Reuters)

20:14 (IST)12 May 2022
Number of refugees fleeing Ukraine war exceeds 6 million: UN

The number of people who have fled Ukraine to escape Russia's invasion has passed 6 million in Europe's worst refugee crisis since the end of World War Two, UN refugee agency said on Thursday.

Russia's invasion, which started on Feb. 24, has triggered a massive displacement of people, including more than 8 million Ukrainians within the country. UN data showed that 6.03 million had fled Ukraine as of Wednesday. Most have crossed to the European Union through border points in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.  (Reuters)

19:44 (IST)12 May 2022
German Chancellor Schloz welcomes Finland's move towards NATO membership

Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz on Thursday welcomed the Finnish move towards NATO membership, in view of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Schloz in a tweet said, "I welcome Finland's decision to support the country's accession to NATO without delay. In a phone call with the President Sauli Niinistö, I assured the full support to the Finnish federal government."

19:05 (IST)12 May 2022
Antony Blinken heads to Europe for NATO, trade meetings

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Germany on Saturday for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers on their response to the war in Ukraine, the State Department said on Thursday. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock last month invited the ministers to an unofficial meeting in Berlin. The meeting comes as Finland, worried by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, moves to join NATO.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (File)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said any accession process would be "smooth and swift" and that Finland would be warmly welcomed. On Sunday, May 15, Blinken will travel to Paris with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo for the second ministers' meeting of the US-EU Trade and Technology Council. (Reuters)

18:33 (IST)12 May 2022
Gazprom says it will no longer ship gas via Yamal pipeline through Poland

Russian energy giant Gazprom said on Thursday it would no longer be able to export gas through Poland via the Yamal-Europe pipeline after Moscow imposed sanctions against the firm that owns the Polish section of the pipeline.

"A ban on transactions and payments to entities under sanctions has been implemented," Gazprom said in a statement. "For Gazprom this means a ban on the use of a gas pipeline owned by EuRoPol GAZ to transport Russian gas through Poland." (Reuters)

17:28 (IST)12 May 2022
Putin says large Russian grain harvest to support higher exports

Russia, one of the world's largest wheat exporters, will increase wheat exports this year due to a potentially record harvest, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday. Russia competes with the European Union and Ukraine for supplies of wheat to the Middle East and Africa. It continues to export despite difficulties with logistics and payments caused by Western sanctions on Moscow over what Russia terms its "special military operation" in Ukraine.

Russia currently expects to harvest 130 million tonnes of grain in 2022, including 87 million tonnes of wheat, Putin told a meeting of top economic officials in Moscow.

Russia produced a record grain crop 133.5 million tonnes in 2020, including 85.9 million tonnes of wheat. The crop was smaller in 2021. "If this happens, which we are counting on, it could be an all-time record [for the wheat crop] in Russian history," Putin said. He did not provide an export estimate. (Reuters)

16:47 (IST)12 May 2022
UN considers investigation into possible Russian war crimes in Ukraine

The United Nations Human Rights Council will decide on Thursday whether to launch an investigation into alleged abuses by Russian troops in the Kyiv area that Ukraine says amount to war crimes.

A resolution brought by Ukraine and supported by more than 50 other countries would mandate a newly-formed Commission of Inquiry to investigate events in the regions around Kyiv that were temporarily held by Russian troops. It would prepare a report by early next year.

"The areas...which have been under Russian occupation in late February and March have experienced the most gruesome human rights violations on the European continent in decades," Emine Dzhaparova, Ukraine's First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, told the council. A spokesman for the Russian mission to the United Nations in Geneva did not provide an immediate comment on the possibility of a war crimes investigation. (Reuters)

15:42 (IST)12 May 2022
Kremlin says Finland joining NATO is definite threat to Russia

The Kremlin said on Thursday that Finland's move to join NATO was "definitely" a threat to Russia and that the expansion of the military bloc would not make Europe or the world more stable. Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the steps taken by Finland to join NATO were a cause for regret and a reason to impose a symmetrical response.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. (File)

Finland's president and prime minister said earlier on Thursday their country must apply to join the NATO military alliance "without delay." Asked whether this presented a threat to Russia, Peskov said: "Definitely. NATO expansion does not make our continent more stable and secure." He said Finland had joined "unfriendly steps" against Russia.

Asked what form Russia's response would take, he replied: "Everything will depend on how this (NATO) expansion process of NATO expansion plays out, the extent to which military infrastructure moves closer to our borders." (Reuters)

15:21 (IST)12 May 2022
Kremlin says no business possible with entities on its gas sanctions list

Russian sanctions imposed on the former German unit of Russian gas producer Gazprom and a number of other entities mean no relations are possible between them and the Russian state gas company, Kremlin said on Thursday. Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman, declined further comments. (Reuters)

15:04 (IST)12 May 2022
EU says gas supply not at risk from Ukraine transit issue, blames Moscow

Ukraine's announcement Tuesday that it would suspend the flow of gas through a transit point bringing Russian fuel to Europe does not present a gas supply issue, the European Commission said on Thursday.

"While these developments may have an impact on part of the gas transit to the EU, they do not bring about any immediate security of supply issue for the EU," a Commission spokesperson said, adding that Ukraine's inability to operate the Novopskov gas compressor station was a result of actions by Russia.

"Ukraine has been a reliable transit partner for many years," the spokesperson said. (Reuters)

14:27 (IST)12 May 2022
Russia says it hit two ammunition depots in Ukraine's Chernihiv region

Russia said Thursday its forces hit two ammunition depots in the Chernihiv region of Ukraine.

Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Russia had destroyed a Ukrainian S-300 air defence missile system in the Kharkiv region and a radar station near the city of Odesa.

Russia also said it shot down a Ukrainian drone near Snake Island, a remote outcrop taken by Russia on the first day of the invasion.  (Reuters)

13:56 (IST)12 May 2022
What are the steps in Finnish, Swedish Nato bids?

While there is no set time frame, here are the steps in Nato's membership process that would apply for Helsinki and Stockholm:

  1. Finland and Sweden submit membership requests, ideally together and most likely as letters sent to Nato headquarters to simplify the bureaucratic procedure.
  2. Representatives of the 30 allies meet in Brussels to discuss, and most probably accept, the membership request. 
  3. Membership talks begin. This is likely to happen in Brussels at Nato headquarters, taking as little as one day for each country, assuming compliance with the terms of Nato's founding Washington Treaty.
  4. Nato representatives meet again. The 30 allies would be likely to grant Finland and Sweden membership, giving them observer status at all allied meetings. However, they would still not be covered by Nato's collective defence guarantee.
  5. Finally, ratification. All allied parliaments must ratify a membership approval by national governments. This can take anywhere between four months to a year, depending on elections, bureaucratic delays and summer recesses. After the "deposition of the ratification" of all allies, both Finland and Sweden must also deposit their "instrument of accession" at the US Department of State, finally making both countries Nato allies.
13:35 (IST)12 May 2022
Russia puts sanctions on Gazprom units in Europe and US, part owner of pipeline

Moscow has imposed sanctions on the owner of the Polish part of the Yamal pipeline that carries Russian gas to Europe, as well as the former German unit of the Russian gas producer Gazprom, whose subsidiaries service Europe’s gas consumption.

A view shows valves near a drilling rig at a gas processing facility, operated by Gazprom company, at Bovanenkovo gas field on the Arctic Yamal peninsula, Russia. (File photo via Reuters)

The entities on a list of affected firms on a Russian government website on Wednesday were largely based in countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, most of them members of the European Union.

The implications for gas supplies to Europe, which buys more than a third of its gas from Russia, were not immediately clear. Eastbound gas flows continued via the Yamal-Europe pipeline from Germany to Poland, data from the Gascade pipeline operator showed. (Read more)

12:51 (IST)12 May 2022
Finland's leaders in favour of applying for Nato membership

Finland's president and prime minister said Thursday they're in favour of applying for Nato membership, paving the way for the alliance to expand amid Russia's war in Ukraine.

The announcement by President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin means Finland is virtually certain to seek Nato membership though a few steps remain before the application process can begin. Neighbouring Sweden is expected to decide on joining Nato in coming days.

“Now that the moment of decision-making is near, we state our equal views, also for information to the parliamentary groups and parties,' Niinisto and Marin said in a joint statement. 'Nato membership would strengthen Finland's security.”

“As a member of Nato, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance,” they said. “Finland must apply for Nato membership without delay. We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days.” (AP) 

12:38 (IST)12 May 2022
How much of Ukraine does Russia hold?

Russia invaded Ukraine with the intention of toppling the government; seizing Kyiv, the capital; and bringing the nation firmly into the Kremlin’s sphere of influence.

Ukrainian men use a crane while dismantling a Russian tank on the side of a road outside Kyiv, May 10, 2022. (David Guttenfelder/The New York Times)

While Moscow failed in those sweeping objectives, Russian forces have seized a wide swath of southern Ukraine and redeployed soldiers, vehicles and heavy weapons with the aim of pushing deeper into eastern Ukraine, expanding the territory it has controlled through proxy forces since 2014.

Here is a look at where things stand.

12:20 (IST)12 May 2022
How Russia and China exploit history to further their interests

“Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” This quote from George Orwell’s world-famous novel “1984” describes in one sentence the importance of history in politics.

Russian President Vladimir Putin with Chinese President XI Jinping. (AP)

The quote finds a place in the preface of the recently published book “Dancing on Bones,” authored by journalist Katie Stallard. In the book, she described how the leaders of Russia, China and North Korea use history for their own purposes. Read full story here. 

Emergency personnel work near a building damaged after a military strike, in Odesa, Ukraine, in this handout image released May 9, 2022. (Reuters)

Who is Patron, the little four-legged warrior honoured by Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy?

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday (May 8) presented a medal to Patron, Ukraine’s famous mine-sniffing dog, and his owner for their services to the nation since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

Patron has so far detected more than 200 explosives, according to Ukrainian claims, potentially saving dozens of lives and preventing serious injuries, and has become a canine symbol of Ukrainian patriotism, Reuters reported.

Zelenskyy honoured Patron — barking and constantly wagging his tail — and his owner, Maj. Myhailo Iliev of Civil Protection Service, at a news conference in Kyiv with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Also Read:

Why the loss of Mariupol steel plant, a holdout for the city’s resistance, matters

On Victory Day, Putin justified invasion of Ukraine. What his speech means

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