Ukraine live: Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports could be ‘catastrophic’ for Africa

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Scattered grain sits inside a warehouse damaged by Russian attacks in Cherkaska Lozova, outskirts of Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, May 28, 2022.

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AP Photo/Bernat Armangue

Senegalese President Macky Sall, who also presides over the African Union, told European Union leaders that Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s ports is paving the way for a “catastrophic scenario” of widespread shortages and price hikes across the African continent.

It comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian seaports was preventing Kyiv from exporting 22 million tonnes of grain and accused the country of deliberately creating this problem to cause suffering elsewhere.

EU leaders are set to discuss food security at a Council summit today.

Follow the latest developments on the war in Ukraine in our live blog below:

10:21

Tuesday’s key updates:

    Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports could be “catastrophic” for Africa, according to the chair of the African Union.

    Ukraine has identified more than 600 Russian war crime suspects, says the country’s top prosecutor.

    Russian troops are in control of up to half of Sievierodonetsk, with Ukrainian authorities asking civilians to shelter in place.

    Ukrainian court sentences two Russian soldiers to jail for war crimes.

    Senior Ukraine official says EU sanctions on Russia are still “not enough”.

    Russian foreign minister is scheduled to travel to Turkey to discuss Black Sea “grain corridor”.

    The team investigating war crimes in Ukraine meets in The Hague today.

    Finland refused to take Turkey’s security concerns seriously, Ankara official says.

    The first ship leaves Russian-occupied Mariupol, according to reports.

    EU leaders agree to ban 90% of Russian oil by year-end.

17:59

Pussy Riot member arrested at Croatian border

Aisoltan Niyazova, a member of the Russian dissident performance and art group Pussy Riot, has been arrested by Croatian border police on Monday, according to domestic press.

Niyazova, who is originally from Turkmenistan, has been placed on Interpol’s wanted persons’ list since April 2003 for alleged embezzlement of $20 million (€18.6m).

She is accused of stealing the money from the Central Bank of Turkmenistan and siphoning it out of the country, which Niyazova rejects, claiming that the charges have been trumped up due to her opposition to the hermit country’s government.

Niyazova has already been brought in front of the court in Croatia, and the country is now deciding on whether to extradite her, other group members told Večernji List.

With the group on tour, she was already questioned in Slovenia prior to trying to enter Croatia but was released.

The band members claim she was issued an affidavit by Slovenian authorities which should allow her to travel freely, as she fears extradition would lead to politically-motivated sentencing in her home country.

Pussy Riot and its members have been targeted by the Kremlin for their opposition to human rights abuses in Russia, with several members spending time in jail or house arrest due to their activism.

Earlier in May, another member of the group Maria Alyokhina fled Russia, claiming she was able to shake her police monitors by disguising herself as a meal courier.

17:25

Macron: France will ‘fight against impunity’, Russia ‘breaching all international laws’

French President Emmanuel Macron vowed his country will continue to “fight against impunity” after a French journalist was killed by shell shrapnel while covering a Ukrainian evacuation operation.

The French national anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office opened an investigation for war crimes.

Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, 32, was killed on Monday as he was covering a humanitarian operation near Sievierodonetsk, a key city in the Donbas region that is being hotly contested by Russian and Ukrainian forces, according to his employer, French news broadcaster BFM TV.

Macron, speaking after a European summit in Brussels, said “journalists, humanitarian workers must be protected in war zones. Civilians must be protected.”

Russia “is breaching all international laws,” he said.

17:02

Greece and Germany working out a deal to supply weapons to Ukraine

Chancellor Olaf Scholz says Germany is working on an arrangement with Greece that would see Athens deliver old military equipment to Ukraine and get armoured personnel carriers from Germany to fill the gap.

Germany has faced criticism for a perceived reluctance to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine, which the government rejects. It points, among other things, to arrangements for NATO allies to provide older equipment — particularly of Soviet design — to Kyiv and then have modern material supplied by Germany.

Scholz pointed to an arrangement already made with the Czech Republic, saying he had agreed with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to draw up a similar deal after the EU summit.

He did not give details but said it would be finalised by the countries’ defence ministries and could be implemented quickly.

Scholz said he also spoke to his Polish counterpart about such arrangements.

16:02

Civilians in Sievierodonetsk ‘in dire need of aid’, humanitarian organisation says

The Norwegian Refugee Council says thousands of civilians caught in Sievierodonetsk are “in dire need of aid.”

It is calling for humanitarian organisations to be allowed to access the eastern Ukrainian city “with lifesaving assistance and to enable safe evacuations of civilians who wish to leave.”

The council’s secretary-general, Jan Egeland, said Tuesday: “We fear that up to 12,000 civilians remain caught in crossfire in the city, without sufficient access to water, food, medicine or electricity.”

He added that “the near-constant bombardment is forcing civilians to seek refuge in bomb shelters and basements,” with “only few precious opportunities” to escape.

He added that the organisation “cannot save lives under the hail of grenades”.

14:54

Ukraine has identified more than 600 Russian war crime suspects

Ukraine has identified more than 600 Russian war crime suspects and has started prosecuting around 80 of them, Kyiv’s top prosecutor said on Tuesday.

The list of suspects includes “top military, politicians and propaganda agents of Russia”, prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova told a news conference in The Hague.

Venediktova said Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia had decided to join an international investigation team in Ukraine.

(Reuters)

14:06

Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports could be ‘catastrophic’ for Africa

The chair of the African Union, Senegal’s President Macky Sall, has told European Union leaders that Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s ports is paving the way for a “catastrophic scenario” of widespread shortages and price hikes across his continent.

In an address to leaders gathered in Brussels Tuesday for a summit focused on helping Ukraine, Sall said that a halt to grain and fertiliser exports via the Black Sea is very worrying for a continent hosting 282 million undernourished people. He said that the price of fertiliser across Africa has already tripled compared to 2021.

“According to some estimates, cereal yields in Africa will fall by 20 to 50% this year,” Sall said. “We would like to see everything possible done to free up available grain stocks and ensure transportation and market access.”

Charles Michel, the EU Council president, said that “the EU is sparing no efforts to free Ukraine’s exports over land and exploring alternative sea routes.”

African countries imported 44% of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine between 2018 and 2020, according to UN figures. The African Development Bank is already reporting a 45% increase in wheat prices on the continent.

(AP)

14:01

Ukraine’s historic monuments conserved using cutting-edge technology

Many of Ukraine’s historic monuments have been destroyed in the three months since Russia invaded the country, but cultural experts are working to conserve their memory using cutting-edge technology and 3D scans.

Find out more about it below.

Ukraine’s historic monuments conserved using cutting-edge technology

13:00

‘Hatred’ at heart of sanctions, claims former Russian president

Russia’s last president has alleged that international sanctions against his country are motivated by ‘hatred’ in a Telegram post on Tuesday. 

Dmitry Medvedev, who now heads Russia’s Security Council, claimed sanctions, including the new measures targeting oil exports, do not affect the Russian political elite and wont be “fatal” for big business. 

They are instead “directed precisely against the people of Russia,” he alleged. 

“At the heart of these decisions is hatred for Russia – for Russians, for all its inhabitants. Hate [for] our culture. Hence the cancellation of Tolstoy, Chekhov, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich. Hatred for our religion. Hence the desire to destroy the Russian Orthodox Church,” he wrote. “And so it was almost always.” 

His remarks comes as EU leaders agreed this morning to ban Russian oil, although pipeline imports to some Central and Eastern European countries remain exempt. 

Of embargos on purchasing Russian gas and oil, Medvedev said the intension was to to “reduce budget revenues and force the state to abandon social obligations, including including indexation of incomes.

“Again, against ordinary citizens, in order to make them uncomfortable. Not to mythical bosses, not to moneybags, but to them,” he added. 

EU leaders have said sanctions imposed on Russia – now in their sixth round – are necessary to punish the Russian leadership and limit funding available for their war machine, following the country’s deadly invasion of Ukraine.  

The EU has not introduced an embargo on Russian gas.

12:27

Norwegian Refugee Council calls for humanitarian access to Sievierodonetsk

The Norwegian Refugee Council says thousands of civilians caught in Sievierodonetsk are “in dire need of aid.” It is calling for humanitarian organisations to be allowed to access the eastern Ukrainian city “with lifesaving assistance and to enable safe evacuations of civilians who wish to leave.”

The council’s secretary-general, Jan Egeland, said Tuesday: “We fear that up to 12,000 civilians remain caught in crossfire in the city, without sufficient access to water, food, medicine or electricity.”

He added that “the near-constant bombardment is forcing civilians to seek refuge in bomb shelters and basements,” with “only few precious opportunities” to escape.

He added that the organisation “cannot save lives under the hail of grenades.”

(AP)

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