Ukraine live: Russian diplomat resigns, says he’s never been so ashamed of his country

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Cars pass by destroyed Russian tanks in a recent battle against Ukrainians in the village of Dmytrivka, close to Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, May 23, 2022

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A veteran Russian diplomat in Geneva resigned on Monday over the war in Ukraine.

“For twenty years of my diplomatic career I have seen different turns of our foreign policy, but never have I been so ashamed of my country as on Feb. 24 of this year,” he wrote, alluding to the date of Russia’s invasion.

Meanwhile, in a virtual address to the World Economic Forum in Davos on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pushed for “maximum sanctions” against Russia, including a full oil embargo, for all Russian banks to be barred from global systems, and for Russia to be cut off from international trade completely. 

See the latest updates in our live blog below and watch Euronews TV coverage in the video player above.

07:20

Monday’s key points:

    A Russian diplomat resigned saying he’s never been so ashamed of his country.

    Russian soldier sentenced to life in prison for killing unarmed civilian.

    Zelenskyy has called for ‘maximum sanctions’ against Russia during Davos speech.

    Biden says Russia must pay ‘long-term price’ for invasion of Ukraine.

    Ukrainian fighters captured from Mariupol steelworks to face ‘international tribunal’, says head of separatist region.

    Children hiding in basement in Ukraine told Euronews they just don’t want to be bombed.

    YouTube has removed 70,000 videos and 9,000 channels for violating content guidelines related to Ukraine.

    The global refugee population topped 100m for the first time on record, according to the UNHCR.

    The global economy faces perhaps its biggest test since World War II, said the IMF chief.

    Sacrificing any Ukrainian territory would be ‘huge blow’ to West, said Polish president.

21:07

Navalny welcomes diplomat’s resignation

A spokesperson for the jailed critic of the Kremlin has welcomed the resignation of Russian diplomat Boris Bondarev.

Kyra Yarmysh said on Twitter that the adviser to Russia’s UN mission had written that “the modern Russian Foreign Ministry has nothing to do with diplomacy, but only with inciting war, lies and hatred.

“It seems that there was one honest person in the entire Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

20:39

Captured Azovstal fighters to face ‘tribunal’

The head of the Russia-backed separatist region in eastern Ukraine says that Ukrainian fighters from the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol who were captured by Russian forces are being held in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and will face “international tribunal” there.

“The plan is to arrange the international tribunal on the territory of the republic as well,” Denis Pushilin was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying. Pushilin added that “at the moment the charter for the tribunal is being worked out.”

Pushilin said earlier that 2,439 people from Azovstal were in custody, including some foreign citizens, though he did not provide details.

Family members of the steel mill fighters, who came from a variety of military and law enforcement units, have pleaded for them to be given rights as prisoners of war and eventually returned to Ukraine.

(AP)

19:37

Another 48 Russian soldiers to face war crimes trials in Ukraine

Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, said on Monday afternoon there are currently about 13,000 cases of alleged Russian war crimes being investigated, of which 48 will definitely get to court.

It comes after the sentencing of Sgt. Vadim Shyshimarin earlier today: the first Russian to be tried for war crimes since the conflict began.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Venediktova added: “All evidence indicates that the Russian military and political elite has unconditionally reverted to the brutal war tactics of violence.

“Civilian populations and civilian objects – including hospitals, educational facilities, and residential buildings – are internationally targeted in a widespread and systematic manner.”

Ukrainian officials have a list of about 600 named individuals thought to have engaged in war crimes. Two cases involving three people are already being prosecuted.

Venediktova also said 4,600 civilians were known to have died as a result of the war, including 232 children, though the real number was likely to be higher.

18:57

Russian diplomat hits out at war in resignation letter

 A veteran Russian diplomat to the UN Office at Geneva says he handed in his resignation before sending out a scathing letter to foreign colleagues inveighing against the “aggressive war unleashed” by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.

Boris Bondarev, 41, confirmed his resignation in a letter delivered Monday morning after a diplomatic official passed on his English-language statement to The Associated Press.

“For twenty years of my diplomatic career I have seen different turns of our foreign policy, but never have I been so ashamed of my country as on 24 Feb of this year,” he wrote, alluding to the date of Russia’s invasion.

The resignation amounts to a rare — if not unprecedented — public admission of disgruntlement about Russia’s war in Ukraine among the Russian diplomatic corps.

“The aggressive war unleashed by Putin against Ukraine, and in fact against the entire Western world, is not only a crime against the Ukrainian people, but also, perhaps, the most serious crime against the people of Russia, with a bold letter Z crossing out all hopes and prospects for a prosperous and free society in our country,” Bondarev wrote, referring to the widespread use of the letter “Z” as a symbol of support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Reached by phone, Bondarev — a diplomatic counselor who has focused on Russia’s role in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva after postings in places like Cambodia and Mongolia — confirmed he handed in his resignation in a letter addressed to Ambassador Gennady Gatilov.

A spokesman for the mission didn’t immediately respond to AP requests seeking comment.

(AP)

18:40

18:14

Pro-Russia authorities in captured Ukraine region introduce rouble as official currency

The new pro-Russian authorities in the Ukrainian region of Kherson have introduced the rouble as official currency alongside the Ukrainian hryvnia.

Kherson, which is close to Crimea, was the first major city to be captured by Russian forces early in March.

“The region is becoming a dual currency zone: the rouble will circulate alongside the hryvnia. Companies and entrepreneurs can display prices in both currencies,” the pro-Russian civilian and military administration of the region announced on Monday. 

“The exchange rate is two rubles to one hryvnia,” it continued, in a statement on its Telegram account.

The administration added that the first branch of a Russian bank would open “very soon” in Kherson, the regional capital, and that “all entrepreneurs wishing to do so” could open an account there.

In late April, a local official said rubles and hryvnias could circulate during a transitional period before a full switch to Russian currency, a possibility that was not mentioned Monday by the pro-Russian regional administration.

Local and Russian officials, however, have raised the possibility that the entire region will eventually be part of Russia.

(AFP)

18:00

Starbucks closes Russia outlets permanently

Starbucks, which temporarily closed its 130 locations in Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, announced on Monday that it had decided to leave the country permanently, following in the footsteps of other multinationals such as McDonald’s.

The American chain, known for its lattes and frappuccinos, opened its first café in Russia in 2007 and operated there through a partner, a Kuwaiti group, which owned and managed the licensed establishments. 

“We condemn the unprovoked, unjust and horrific attacks on Ukraine by Russia,” wrote the group’s then CEO Kevin Johnson in a message to employees in early March. A few days later he said that his partner had agreed to suspend all operations in the country with immediate effect.

Starbucks will continue to pay the approximately 2,000 employees working on its behalf for six months, the company said in a message on its website.

It did not specify the financial impact of this decision on its accounts. 

Major Western companies have found themselves under intense pressure after the start of the war in Ukraine and the imposition of economic sanctions to distance themselves from Moscow on ethical grounds or because of difficulties in operating the business.

After more than 30 years in Russia and nearly 850 restaurants, McDonald’s announced in mid-May that it was leaving the country for good and sold its operations, but not the brand name, to a Russian businessman.

French carmaker Renault, the leader in the country with the Lada brand that it had turned around, has also sold its assets to the Russian state, while oil giant ExxonMobil has planned to withdraw from its last major project in the country, Sakhalin-1.

(AFP)

17:56

Lithuania: ‘The world needs Ukrainian food’

Lithuania’s foreign minister has urged EU countries to find export solutions for Ukrainian crops, and help prevent global food shortages. 

Writing on Monday, Gabrielius Landsbergis said Ukraine is a significant exporter of food items, and that Russian forces were preventing the harvest being exported from ports — potentially causing raised prices or shortages of food. 

“The countries who consider the looming global food crisis a serious challenge — and who neither believe that Russia should have the right to cut off Ukraine nor that Russia should profit from increased prices on its own grain exports to fund the slaughter of Ukrainians — should guarantee a safe passage of ships from Odesa across the Black Sea to the Bosphorus,” Landsbergis wrote. 

He says a naval presence might be required to guarantee that civilian ships carrying grain are not attacked by Russia’s Black Sea fleet, or to ensure that Russian ships do not capture Odesa port. 

In addition, Landsbergis says Ukraine should be given midrange missiles so it can “continue to defend Odesa from a Russian assault.”

The Lithuanian foreign minister points out that there are other export routes from Ukraine, via road or railway through other European countries, but those come with significant logistical challenges. 

(Euronews)

17:24

UK and Lithuania sign declaration to boost defence collaboration

The United Kingdom and Lithuania agreed on greater security and economic cooperation, the UK foreign office announced.

“The UK and Lithuania are two countries which believe in freedom and sovereignty, and who stand up to authoritarian regimes in Europe and across the world. We stand together with Ukraine in the face of Russia’s illegal, barbaric war,” said UK foreign secretary Liz Truss.

The declaration was signed on the 100th anniversary of their bilateral relations.

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