Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

After a failed attempt, the EU to continue negotiating potential sanctions on Russian oil

The EU will continue to work Monday toward an agreement to embargo Russian oil, after attempts to do so on Sunday failed.

The talks are largely held up by Hungary, a major user of Russian oil and whose leader Viktor Orban is on friendly terms with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Budapest over the weekend signaled support for a European Commission proposal that would apply sanctions only on Russian oil brought into the EU by tankers, which would allow landlocked energy importers Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to continue to receive their Russian oil via pipeline until alternative sources can be found. Talks were held up however by demands from Hungary for EU financing.

The proposed sanctions on oil imports would be part of the EU’s sixth sanctions package on Russia since it invaded Ukraine in late February.

Roughly 36% of the EU’s oil imports come from Russia. Energy prices, already high at the start of this year, have skyrocketed since Putin launched the war against Ukraine.

— Natasha Turak

UK ministry says Russian forces likely suffered ‘devastating losses’ among officers

Russian servicemen patrol the destroyed part of the Ilyich Iron and Steel Works in Ukraine’s port city of Mariupol on May 18, 2022. The Russian army has likely suffered “devastating losses” amongst its mid and junior ranking officials in the conflict, which will likely exacerbate problems modernizing its approach to command and control, the UK defense ministry said.

Olga Maltseva | AFP | Getty Images

The Russian army has likely suffered “devastating losses” among its mid and junior ranking officials, which will likely exacerbate problems in modernizing its approach to command and control, the UK defense ministry said.

Junior officers are leading lowest level tactical actions because the army lacks highly trained and empowered non-commissioned officers who fulfill that role in Western forces, the ministry said in an intelligence update.

“More immediately, battalion tactical groups (BTGs) which are being reconstituted in Ukraine from survivors of multiple units are likely to be less effective due to a lack of junior leaders,” the ministry added.

“Brigade and battalion commanders likely deploy forwards into harm’s way because they are held to an uncompromising level of responsibility for their units’ performance,” the ministry said.

The lack of experienced and credible commanders is also likely to result in a further drop in morale and continued poor discipline following multiple credible reports of localized mutinies amongst Russian forces, the ministry added.

— Chelsea Ong

West waited too long to confront Putin and now he has all the leverage, professor says

The world, particularly the West, should have been more alert to Putin’s actions in Georgia and Ukraine in previous years and should have more actively engaged with Russia then, says Angus Blair, professor at the American University in Cairo.

Ukraine’s Donbas ‘unconditional priority’ for Moscow, Russia’s Lavrov says

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a meeting with Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Zhang Ming in Moscow, Russia May 18, 2022.

Russian Foreign Ministry | Reuters

The “liberation” of Ukraine’s Donbas is an “unconditional priority” for Moscow, while other Ukrainian territories should decide their future on their own, RIA news agency cited Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Sunday.

“The liberation of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, recognized by the Russian Federation as independent states, is an unconditional priority,” Lavrov said in an interview with French TV channel TF1, according to RIA.

For the rest of the territories in Ukraine, “the people should decide their future in these areas,” he said.


EU fails to reach agreement on Russia oil embargo

Flags of European Union and Ukraine flutter outside EU Parliament building, in Brussels, Belgium, February 28, 2022.

YvesHerman | Reuters

The European Union failed to reach an agreement on a Russian oil embargo, a senior EU official told Reuters.

Diplomats will still try to make progress ahead of a Monday-Tuesday summit on an exemption for pipeline deliveries to landlocked Central European countries, officials told the news agency.

The proposed sanctions, which would be the EU’s sixth package in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, are facing oil supply concerns from countries including landlocked Hungary.

Talks have been going on for a month, and would continue Monday, Reuters said.

— Leslie Josephs

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