For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.
Recap of May 24
* Russian forces were launching an all-out assault to encircle Ukrainian troops in twin cities straddling a river in eastern Ukraine, a battle that could determine the success or failure of Moscow’s main campaign in the east.
* A Russian-installed official in Ukraine’s Kherson region says the region’s pro-Kremlin administration will ask Moscow to set up a military base there.
* U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said the world must not use Ukraine’s crisis as a justification to build out fossil fuel infrastructure at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
* Analyst APK-Inform, an information and analytical agency, raised its forecasts for Ukraine’s 2022/23 grain crop and exports because of a better-than-expected winter harvest.
* The Russian ruble strengthened to levels not seen since March 2018 against the dollar.
* Russia says it is sanctioning 154 members of the House of Lords, the upper house of the British Parliament, in retaliation for similar steps taken against Moscow's foreign envoys and lawmakers over the Kremlin's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
* An adviser to the mayor of Mariupol said that workers removing rubble from a collapsed apartment building in the devastated Ukrainian city found about 200 corpses in the building’s basement.
* As Ukraine marks three months since the start of the Russian invasion, residents in the capital Kyiv have commemorated those who have been lost since the start of the conflict.
* Olena Zelenska, the wife of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has told an assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) that the impact of Russia’s invasion on health care and mental well-being could last for decades.
* Ukraine is gathering the bodies of dead Russian soldiers strewn among the rubble of formerly occupied towns and using everything from DNA to tattoos to verify their identities in the hope of exchanging them for prisoners of war.
* Russia has not yet seen an Italian peace plan for Ukraine but hopes to receive it through diplomatic channels, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.
* Finland and Sweden will send delegations to Ankara on Wednesday to try to resolve Turkish opposition to their applications for membership of the NATO military alliance.
* Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Russia’s “unilateral” attack on the people of Ukraine was an outrage during the Quad leaders meeting.
* A court in Moscow has issued an arrest warrant for well-known journalist Maikl Naki, who is currently outside of Russia, accusing him of distributing false information about the Russian military.
* Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist Vladyslav Yesypenko, who is serving a lengthy prison term in Russia on espionage charges that he and his supporters reject, has been awarded the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, which is given to political prisoners.
* Russia’s parliament passed a bill giving prosecutors powers to shut foreign media bureaus in Moscow if a Western country has been “unfriendly” to Russian media.
The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:
8:42 p.m.: In his nightly video address, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed gratitude to every defender of Ukraine. "We must do everything necessary so that all of us and all future generations of Ukrainians remember their names," Zelenskyy said.
The ceremony took place in the White Hall of Heroes of Ukraine at the Mariyinsky Palace in Kyiv. "Every time we greet our defenders, relatives and friends of our Heroes, we emphasize the gratitude of our state to those whose courage allowed Ukraine to preserve independence and our freedom," he said.
8:10 p.m.: The Ukrainian military said Russia has fired at Ukrainian border guards in the northeastern Sumy region in the latest of a series of alleged cross-border attacks over the past few weeks, The Associated Press reported. Military officials say observers Tuesday night recorded seven shots from Russian territory toward the village of Boyaro-Lezhachi, most likely mortar fire, AP reported. The Ukrainian Operational Command North said on its Facebook post that eight other shots were heard Tuesday afternoon near a neighboring village. There were no reports of any deaths, AP reported.
7:35 p.m.: Veronika from Ukraine's Donetsk Region lost her family in an attack on the high-rise residential building where she lived. Hit by shrapnel, she was left in a coma. Kira from Kharkiv was hit by shelling when she was walking in a park. Her friend was killed. Current Time, a co-production of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and VOA, has this story.
6:18 p.m.: Six months after the world agreed in Glasgow to a U.N. climate pact with bold, new targets, political and business leaders facing an energy crisis, volatile markets and an economic downturn are grappling with how to cut carbon emissions. Amid soaring oil and gas prices triggered by Russia's February 24 invasion of Ukraine, some countries have turned to other fuels, including coal, to meet their energy needs. Meanwhile, financial market ructions have complicated plans to raise the trillions of dollars needed for the energy transition away from fossil fuels. Reuters has this report.
5:36 p.m.: When Russian President Vladimir Putin enticed more than 40 African leaders to travel to the Black Sea resort of Sochi for a summit in 2019, it demonstrated that Moscow was once again a major player on the continent. For Putin it has been a success, analysts said, enabling him to project Russia as a great power, undermine the West’s international order, and dispel the notion that he is politically isolated. But now Russia’s drawn-out invasion of Ukraine is having repercussions far beyond Eastern Europe and could undermine the Kremlin’s progress in Africa. Todd Prince withRadio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.
4:30 p.m.: The World Health Organization on Tuesday shared a video clip on Twitter of Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska announcing Ukraine’s participation in a unique psychological assistance program, the WHO Global Special Initiative on Mental Health.
4:02 p.m.: Russia’s parliament on Tuesday passed a bill giving prosecutors powers to shut foreign media bureaus in Moscow if a Western country has been “unfriendly” to Russian media, following the closure of some Russian state news outlets in the West. The bill, passed in the first reading by the lower house of parliament, or Duma, also prohibits the distribution of articles or other materials from media that have been closed by the prosecutor’s office. It needs to undergo two more readings, be reviewed by the upper house of parliament, and signed by President Vladimir Putin to become law.
3:46 p.m. : The Orthodox Church of Ukraine is seeking permission from the government to take over a building on the grounds of a historic monastery in Kyiv, a move likely to widen a rift with a separate Ukrainian church that adheres to the Russian-backed wing of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church known as the Moscow Patriarchate. Reuters has this story.
3:13 p.m.: Ukraine is gathering the bodies of dead Russian soldiers strewn among the rubble of formerly occupied towns and using everything from DNA to tattoos to verify their identities in the hope of exchanging them for prisoners of war, Reuters reported. Volunteers have helped the military gather 60 bodies in the northeastern region of Kharkiv where Russian forces have retreated in recent weeks, stacking them up in a refrigerated rail carriage.
3:00 p.m.: Billionaire financier George Soros said on Tuesday that Russia's invasion of Ukraine may have been the beginning of World War III so the best way to preserve free civilization was for the West to defeat President Vladimir Putin's forces, Reuters reported.
2:51 p.m.: Actor Richard Gere hosted a benefit concert for Ukraine at Carnegie Hall that raised $360,000 for Direct Relief, a humanitarian organization providing medical aid, The Associated Press reported. “We recognize their fight as our fight for the right to self-determination, for freedom, for a more just and more secure world based on wisdom and love,” Gere said from the stage. He quoted Leonard Bernstein, the conductor who led more than 400 performances at Carnegie: “Lenny said: ‘This will be our reply to violence. To make music more intensively, more beautifully, more devoted than ever before.’"
2:43 p.m.: A Russian-backed separatist leader in eastern Ukraine said on Tuesday that foreign representatives, including Western ones, would be invited to a trial of Ukrainian fighters there, according to an Interfax news agency report. Prosecutors in the region are working with Russia on the composition of a tribunal to try the fighters, Interfax quoted Denis Pushilin, head of the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic, as saying, according to Reuters.
2:36 p.m.: Russia says it is sanctioning 154 members of the House of Lords, the upper house of the British Parliament, in retaliation for similar steps taken against Moscow's foreign envoys and lawmakers over the Kremlin's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The Foreign Ministry in Moscow said on Tuesday that it had banned the British lawmakers -- including William Hague, a former foreign minister and leader of the Conservative Party in opposition -- from entering Russia. In March, the British government imposed personal sanctions on "almost all the members" of the Russian parliament's upper chamber, the Federation Council, the Foreign Ministry said in justifying its move. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.
2:06 p.m.: The top military commander who fought until last week to keep Ukrainian control of the southern port city of Mariupol is alive in Russian-controlled territory, his wife said Tuesday after holding a brief telephone conversation, according to The Associated Press. Kateryna Prokopenko, who is married to Azov Regiment leader Denys Prokopenko, said that her husband asked her how she was, but that the line broke off before he could say anything about himself. She said the phone call was possible under an agreement between the governments of Ukraine and Russia and thanks to the mediation of the Red Cross, which has been visiting some of the Ukrainian fighters who surrendered.
1:35 p.m.: A poll conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) shows that 39 percent of Ukrainians believe that joining NATO would guarantee the nation's security, while 42 percent believe that in the current environment settling for security guarantees may be acceptable. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has the details.
1:12 p.m.: A court in Moscow has issued an arrest warrant for a food blogger and magazine founder for allegedly "spreading fake news" about the Russian military. The Basmanny district court announced its decision on Tuesday to arrest Veronika Belotserkovskaya, who founded the St. Petersburg magazine and website Sobaka. Belotserkovskaya currently lives in France. On March 16, Russia's Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against the Ukrainian-born Belotserkovskaya, who blogs under the name Belonika, for allegedly spreading false news about the Russian Army on her Instagram account, which has almost 950,000 subscribers. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has the story.
12:37 p.m.: Battles being fought in eastern Ukraine could determine the country's fate, Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said on Tuesday, according to Reuters. Three months after invading Ukraine, Russian forces are trying to encircle Ukrainian troops in twin cities straddling the Siverskyi Donets River in eastern Ukraine. Motuzyanyk said Russian forces had not given up attempts to cross the river. "Now we are observing the most active phase of the full-scale aggression which Russia unfolded against our country," he told a televised briefing. "The situation on the (eastern) front is extremely difficult, because the fate of this country is perhaps being decided (there) right now."
12:29 p.m.: Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs said on Twitter Tuesday that his government is not prepared to make compromises on Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
11:54 a.m.: A Ukrainian government minister pushed Tuesday for a quick decision on eventual Ukrainian membership in the European Union, even as France warns that it could be decades before Ukraine joins the bloc, The Associated Press reported. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanishyna met with French Europe Minister Clement Beaune Tuesday in Paris and argued that Ukraine has made deep and difficult reforms aimed at improving its chances at EU membership. The European Commission aims to deliver a first opinion in June on Ukraine’s request to become a member. But the process usually takes many years, and French President Emmanuel Macron has said it could be decades.
11:27 a.m.: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist Vladyslav Yesypenko, who is serving a lengthy prison term in Russia on espionage charges that he and his supporters reject, has been awarded the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, which is given to political prisoners. Yesypenko, currently serving a six-year sentence in a Russian prison for his reporting in Russian-occupied Crimea, was presented with the award in absentia at the PEN America gala in New York on May 23. RFE/RL has this story.
11:14 a.m.: A member of Ukraine’s Parliament, Alona Shkrum, made comments at the World Economic Forum in Davos that were posted on Twitter Tuesday. “History is repeating itself,” she said, as she shared her story.
11:01 a.m.: During Protection of Civilians Week, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released a photo on Twitter of a boy who was wounded in Ukraine, noting that “civilians continue to pay the highest price in this war.”
10:56 a.m.: Ukraine's second-largest city Kharkiv restarted its metro service on Tuesday and asked the hundreds of people who had used the underground as a bomb shelter for the last three months to free up the train carriages, but many said they were still too scared to return home.
10:42 a.m.: Americans are becoming less supportive of punishing Russia for launching its invasion of Ukraine if it comes at the expense of the U.S. economy, a sign of rising anxiety over inflation and other challenges, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
10:34 a.m.: The U.N. World Food Programme Country Director for Ukraine, Matthew Hollingworth, on Tuesday shared a video on Twitter explaining how his team is getting food supplies to those in need.
10:07 a.m.: A court in Moscow has issued an arrest warrant for well-known journalist Maikl Naki, who is currently outside of Russia, accusing him of distributing false information about the Russian military as Moscow's war against Ukraine continues. Media across the country have been instructed by the government that Russia's actions in Ukraine cannot be called a "war" or an "invasion," and should instead be referred to as a "special military operation." Naki has his own YouTube channel with 726,000 subscribers. He uses it to regularly report about the war in Ukraine. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this story.
9:44 a.m.: The leader of a Turkish nationalist party that is allied with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey should consider leaving NATO if “circumstances become inextricable” and Turkey is forced to approve Sweden and Finland membership, The Associated Press reported. Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the Nationalist Action Party, said in a speech to his party’s legislators on Tuesday that Turkey isn’t without alternatives and could be part of a possible security alliance that could be made up of Turkic-speaking states and Muslim nations. “Turkey is not without options. Turkey is not helpless. Turkey is objecting to Sweden’s and Finland’s historic bid to join the alliance, citing as reasons their perceived support to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and other groups that Turkey considers to be terrorists.
9:26 a.m.: An adviser to the mayor of Mariupol said on Tuesday that workers removing rubble from a collapsed apartment building in the devastated Ukrainian city found about 200 corpses in the building’s basement, The Associated Press reported. Petro Andryushchenko said on Telegram that the bodies were decomposing and that the stench permeated the neighborhood. It’s not clear when they were discovered and the report could not be independently verified. Perched on the Sea of Azov, Mariupol was relentlessly pounded during a monthslong siege that finally ended last week after some 2,500 Ukrainian fighters abandoned a steel plant where they had made their last stand in the strategic port city.
9:07 a.m.: A Russian-installed official in Ukraine’s Kherson region says the region’s pro-Kremlin administration will ask Moscow to set up a military base there, The Associated Press reported. “There should be a Russian military base in the Kherson region,” deputy head of the Russia-installed administration in Kherson Kirill Stremousov was quoted as saying by the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. “We will be asking for it, the entire population is interested in it. It is vitally important and will become a security guarantee for the region and its residents.”
Russian forces took control of the Kherson region in southeastern Ukraine early on in the war and installed its own administration there. Ukrainian officials have speculated that Russia plans to stage a referendum in the region to declare its independence, similar to the ones that took place in eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions in 2014. Moscow recognized the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics two days before invading Ukraine and used it as a pretext to send troops to its ex-Soviet neighbor.
Stremousov denied such plans earlier this month and said the region will ask the Kremlin to make it part of Russia instead. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said it is up to the people of Kherson to decide how and where they want to live.
8:43 a.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba Tuesday and discussed ongoing diplomatic efforts to address the consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine and “to hold the Kremlin to account,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. “The Secretary noted the global food security crisis resulting from President Putin’s brutal war requires a global response, and they discussed potential means to export Ukraine’s grain to international markets,” Price said. They also discussed the $40.1 billion supplemental appropriations act signed by President Biden on May 21, “which provides further funding for security, economic, and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and countries impacted by the war,” he added.
8:32 a.m.: Russia has not yet seen an Italian peace plan for Ukraine, but hopes to receive it through diplomatic channels, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio gave the broad outlines of the plan last week and said that he had discussed it with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres during a visit to New York, Reuters reported.
8:21 a.m.: The Russian rouble strengthened to levels not seen since March 2018 against the dollar on Tuesday, boosted by export-focused companies selling foreign currency to pay taxes and shrugging off a slight easing of capital controls, Reuters reported.
8:17 a.m.: Danish Jehovah's Witness Dennis Christensen has been released from prison in Russia after serving a term he was handed on extremism charges that he and his supporters have denied. Christensen was detained in May 2017 in the city of Oryol, some 320 kilometers south of Moscow, weeks after the Russian Supreme Court ruled to ban the religious group in the country, declaring it "an extremist organization." The news of Christensen's release comes a day after a court in the city of Prokopevsk sentenced 53-year-old Andrei Vlasov to seven years in prison after finding him guilty of the same charges Christensen was found guilty of. Since the faith was outlawed, many Jehovah's Witnesses have been imprisoned in Russia. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.
7:59 a.m.: Photographer Aris Messinis with Agence France-Presse captured the intensity of fighting in the Donbas as mortar shells rain down around his car. These photos were taken on May 23 as civilians tried to make their way along an important link road near Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty published this photo gallery.
7:31 a.m.: Olena Zelenska, the wife of Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has told an assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) that the impact of Russia’s invasion on health care and mental well-being could last for decades. In a video address to the World Health Assembly in Geneva on May 23, Zelenska said that "Russia's war has shown horrors we could not have imagined," stressing the consequences for mental health. "WHO is committed to protecting the most crucial human rights to life and health. Now they are both being violated in Ukraine," she said. "The consequences of this war unfortunately will remain for years and decades," said Zelenska. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this story.
7:16 a.m.: Finland and Sweden will send delegations to Ankara on Wednesday to try to resolve Turkish opposition to their applications for membership of the NATO military alliance, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said on Tuesday. "We are sending our delegations to visit Ankara, actually both Sweden and Finland. This will happen tomorrow, so the dialogue is continuing," Haavisto said during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forumin Davos. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who has objected to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, held phone calls with the leaders of the two Nordic countries on Saturday and discussed his concerns, Reuters reported.
7:09 a.m.: If the war in Ukraine causes food shortages in North Africa, this will in turn lead to mass migration to Europe, Poland's president said on Tuesday, according to Reuters. "If it turns out that there is hunger in North Africa... both Spain and the whole of southern Europe will have a huge migration problem," Andrzej Duda told a panel in Davos. "Today we should focus on Ukraine being able to export its grain."
6:58 a.m.: Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Tuesday lambasted President Vladimir Putin, casting the Kremlin chief as a doomed madman who started a "stupid war" that was butchering the innocent people of both Ukraine and Russia, Reuters reported. Appealing unsuccessfully against his latest nine-year sentence, Navalny used his address to a Moscow court to deliver a stinging attack on Putin and the war - a rare public act of dissent in a country where it is a criminal offense to criticize the army and its "special military operation" in Ukraine.
6:55 a.m.: Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Tuesday said on Twitter that Russia is stealing Ukrainian grain, and urged the world not to buy what has been stolen.
6:51 a.m.: Russia is using food supplies as a weapon with global repercussions, acting the same way as it does in the energy sector, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday. Speaking at the annual World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, she said “global cooperation” was the “antidote to Russia’s blackmail.” Von der Leyen added, “In Russian-occupied Ukraine, the Kremlin’s army is confiscating grain stocks and machinery (...) And Russian warships in the Black Sea are blockading Ukrainian ships full of wheat and sunflower seeds.” The EU has pledged to open “solidarity channels” with Ukraine - alternative logistics routes to help the country export grain, Reuters reported.
6:41 a.m.: Russian forces were launching an all-out assault to encircle Ukrainian troops in twin cities straddling a river in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, a battle which could determine the success or failure of Moscow’s main campaign in the east, Reuters reported. Moscow is attempting to seize the Donbas region of two eastern provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk, and trap Ukrainian forces in a pocket on the main eastern front. The easternmost part of the Ukrainian-held Donbas pocket, the city of Sievierodonetsk on the east bank of the Siverskiy Donets river and its twin Lysychansk on the west bank, have become the pivotal battlefield there, with Russian forces advancing from three directions to encircle them.
6:35 a.m.: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden reached “substantive outcomes” on Tuesday in talks to strengthen their trade and defence ties, India said, though Modi refrained from condemning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported. The leaders are in Tokyo for a meeting of the Quad group of countries - the United States, India, Japan and Australia. Of the four, only India has not condemned Russia’s invasion despite pressure from the United States for it to do so.
6:30 a.m.: U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said Tuesday that the world must not use Ukraine’s crisis as a justification to build out fossil fuel infrastructure at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Kerry said we can win all these battles, including in Ukraine and against climate crisis.
6:00 a.m.: Addressing the World Economic Forum Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said when Russian President Vladmir Putin invaded Ukraine in February, Putin “wanted less NATO on his borders and launched a war.” However, Stoltenberg said, “now he’s [Putin’s] getting more NATO on his borders and more members.”
Stoltenberg praised the decision of Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership and called it “historic.” He said the application “demonstrates that European security will not be dictated by violence and intimidation. All allies agree that NATO enlargement has been a great success, spreading freedom and democracy across Europe.”
5:30 a.m.: In an interview with Deutsche Welle, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz condemned the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and called on Russian President to stop the war.
Scholz also said the European Union and United States are trying to convince oil and gas-producing countries to increase their production to help lower global fuel prices, Reuters reported.
“It is necessary that we start to increase the supply with gas, with fuel, with all the things to make it feasible for the countries to pay for their bill,” Scholz was quoted as saying, asked about an U.S.-EU initiative mentioned by his economy minister. “We are now discussing with all these countries that are exploring oil and gas and trying to convince them to increase their capacities, so this would help the world market.”
Scholz began a three-nation visit to Africa on Sunday that also focused on the geopolitical consequences of the war in Ukraine. The Associated Press has the story.
5:20 a.m.: One of President Vladimir Putin’s top security officials said Tuesday that Russia would achieve its objectives in Ukraine without being constrained by deadlines, Reuters reported.
“All the goals set by the President will be fulfilled. It cannot be otherwise,” Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev said in an interview with the Argumenty i Fakty newspaper. “We are not chasing deadlines,” Patrushev added.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what it calls a “special military operation” to “denazify” and “demilitarize” its neighbor. But Russian forces have encountered multiple setbacks and suffered significant losses during the three-month campaign.
4:30 a.m.: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged other governments to send more weapons more quickly to aid Ukraine’s fight against Russian forces.
4:00 a.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden met with the leaders of Japan, India and Australia, Tuesday and said the conflict in Ukraine “is more than just a European issue, it’s a global issue.”
Citing the widespread effects of the conflict, including on the global food supply, Biden pledged ongoing U.S. support, saying, “as long as Russia continues the war, the United States will work with our partners to help be the global response, because it’s going to affect all parts of the world.”
Biden said the conflict in Ukraine demonstrates the importance of international order, adding that, “international law, human rights must always be defended regardless of where they’re violated in the world.”
3:30 a.m.: Russian gas producer Gazprom GAZP.MM said it continues to supply gas to Europe through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point, with volumes on Tuesday seen at 46.1 million cubic meters (mcm), up from 43 mcm on Monday, Reuters reported.
An application to supply gas via the main Sokhranovka entry point was rejected by Ukraine, Gazprom said. However, Ukraine’s state gas transit operator says Gazprom has reduced booked transit capacity for May 24 to 44.96 million cubic meters from 66.26 mcm booked earlier, Reuters said.
2:30 a.m.: Britain is in discussions with Ukraine about how to help get grain out of the country after Russia blocked its main sea ports, transport minister Grant Shapps said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.
Shapps said he was very concerned about the issue, which has seen global food prices soar as Ukraine is unable to export nearly 25 million tons of grains, and met Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksander Kubrakov last week. “We were discussing details which I can’t go into but about how infrastructure could be in place to ensure the grain leaves,” Shapps told Sky News.
“We’re looking at all the different options ... there are lots of different potential ways to get grain and other goods out of the country,” he said. “It’s absolutely essential that we do, otherwise there could be a lot of hunger and indeed even famine.”
1:40 a.m.: Australia’s Prime Minister Antony Albanese said on Tuesday “strong views” were expressed on Russia in the Quad leaders meeting, Reuters reported.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Albanese said Russia’s “unilateral” attack on the people of Ukraine was an outrage. “Strong views were expressed in the meeting,” he added. “That was obviously discussed you will see the reference in the leaders’ statement,” Australia's foreign affairs minister Penny Wong said.
Asked about U.S. President Joe Biden’s comments this week on Taiwan, Albanese said there was “no change” in Australia’s position on Taiwan. “There should be no unilateral change to the status quo,” he said.
Australia’s new prime minister was sworn in Monday before flying to Japan for talks with U.S. President Joe Biden and other world leaders. For VOA, Phil Mercer has the story.
1:10 a.m.: The British defense ministry said Tuesday that Russia has increased intensity of operations in Donbas as it seeks to encircle Severodonetsk, Lyschansk, and Rubizhne. “At present the northern and southern axes of this operation are separated by approximately 25 km of Ukrainian-held territory,” the ministry said in a daily report posted on Twitter.
1:00 a.m.: As Ukraine marks three months since the start of the Russian invasion, residents in the capital of Kyiv have commemorated those who have been lost since the start of the conflict, The Associated Press reported.
A lawn in a square in the capital has been strewn with small Ukrainian flags, put out in tribute to those who have lost their lives since the fighting broke out on February 24. A monument displays the message “Ukrainians killed by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin” with the number 7,463 written below.
Also in Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took part in a ceremony to launch a series of anti-war postage stamps.
The first stamp depicts the sinking of a Russian warship in April. The stamps were put into circulation by the Ukrainian Post; there will be 5 million in all.
12:35 a.m.: Russian forces are stepping up their offensive on the last pocket of resistance around Lugansk in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, Agence France-Presse reported.
12:30 a.m.: Analyst APK-Inform, an information and analytical agency, raised its forecasts for Ukraine’s 2022/23 grain crop and exports because of a better-than-expected winter harvest on Tuesday, Reuters reported.
Ukraine could harvest 48.3 million tons of grain in 2022, including almost 17.1 million tons of wheat and 25.2 million tons of corn, the consultancy agency said in a statement.
APK-Inform said 2022/23 exports could also rise to 39.4 million tons versus the previous outlook of 33.2 million tons.
The agency however revised down its forecast for Ukraine’s sunflower oil output by around 7% to 5.3 million tons despite the unchanged outlook of the 2022 sunflower harvest at 9.2 million tons. Ukraine harvested 16.6 million tons of sunflower seeds last year.
Ukraine is the world’s largest sunflower seed grower and sunflower oil exporter, but its invasion by Russia in February and the heavy fighting since have clouded the outlook for planting and exports.
12:15 a.m.: About 20 countries are sending new security assistance packages for Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said after concluding the second meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.
“Many countries are donating critically needed artillery ammunition, coastal defense systems, tanks and other armored vehicles. Others came forward with new commitments for training Ukraine's forces and sustaining its military systems,” Austin told reporters at the Pentagon Monday. VOA’s Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
12:01 a.m.: Through photos, videos, charts, and analysis, The Guardian documents “Russia’s use of illegal weapons” during the invasion of Ukraine.
“The Guardian has visited the small towns and villages north of Kyiv razed to the ground during the Russian occupation and reviewed evidence found there — as well as other materials from Ukrainian prosecutors — of imprecise munitions such as the FAB-250, metal dart shells and cluster bombs whose use led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians.”
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.