Russia targets Ukraine's Odesa port on the 76th day of its offensive in an apparent bid to disrupt Western weapons shipments key to Kiev's defence, as US believes Moscow is preparing for a long conflict.

More than 450,000 refugees from Ukraine have fled into Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries.
More than 450,000 refugees from Ukraine have fled into Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries. (AP)

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

UN chief meets Ukrainian refugees in Moldova

UN chief Antonio Guterres has met with refugees from conflict-torn Ukraine in Moldova, saying after that "it is impossible to meet refugees and not be deeply moved by their stories."

"One couple was telling me of a bomb that fell in their yard. People that have abandoned everything, including parts of their families," Guterres told reporters outside the refugee center in Moldova’s capital, Chisinau.

Guterres noted during his two-day visit to Moldova, where he met with Moldova’s leaders, that the small nation has absorbed the most refugees proportionate to its own population of about 2.6 million people. More than 450,000 refugees from Ukraine have fled into Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries.

Russia pummels vital port of Odesa, targeting supply lines

Russia pummels the vital port of Odesa, Ukrainian officials have said, in an apparent effort to disrupt supply lines and Western weapons shipments critical to Kiev's defence.

With the offensive now in its 11th week and Kiev bogging down Russian forces and even staging a counteroffensive, Ukraine's foreign minister appeared to suggest the country could expand its aims beyond merely pushing Russia back to areas it or its allies held on the day of the February 24 assault.

Odesa is a major gateway for grain shipments, and its blockade by Russia already threatens global food supplies. Beyond that, the city is a cultural jewel, dear to Ukrainians and Russians alike, and targeting it carries symbolic significance as well.

West blames Russia for satellite hack ahead of Ukraine offensive

Western powers have accused Russia of carrying out a cyberattack against a satellite network an hour before its Ukraine offensive to pave the way for its assault.

According to the British foreign office, British, US and EU cyber security experts had met to assess new intelligence. "This is clear and shocking evidence of a deliberate and malicious attack by Russia against Ukraine...," UK foreign minister Liz Truss said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken too said Russia launched cyber attacks in late February against commercial satellite communications networks to disrupt Ukrainian command and control. 

Those actions had spillover impacts into other European countries, Blinken said in a statement.

US official: Russia two weeks behind schedule in Ukraine's east, south

Russia is about two weeks behind schedule in its offensive of Ukraine's Donbass region along with the south of the country, a senior US defence official has said.

"We would assess that he's easily two weeks or even maybe more behind...where he thought he wanted to be in the Donbass and in the south," the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told reporters.

Ukrainian FM to meet with top G7 diplomats

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock says her Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, has accepted an invitation to join top diplomats from the Group of Seven nations later this week.

Baerbock spoke during a visit on Tuesday to Kiev, where she met Kuleba and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The G7 foreign ministers will meet at Schloss Weissenhaus, a luxury resort on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast, from May 12-14. Russia’s attack on Ukraine is expected to be a major topic at the meeting.

Officials: Over 40 bodies found under east Ukraine building

Rescuers have found the bodies of 44 civilians under the rubble of a destroyed building in the eastern Ukrainian town of Izyum, now under Russian control, the regional governor has said.

"The bodies of 44 civilians were found in Izyum under the rubble of a five-storey building which was destroyed by the occupiers in early March," Oleg Synegubov, governor of the eastern Kharkiv region, said on Telegram.

Local media quoted him as saying residents had made the discovery while clearing the rubble from an area "where there is no shelling". 

WHO: Thousands died in Ukraine for want of disease treatment

The World Health Organisation's European chief says at least 3,000 people have died in Ukraine since Russia launched its February attacks because they had been unable to access treatments for chronic diseases.

So far, the UN health agency has documented some 200 attacks in Ukraine on healthcare facilities, and few hospitals are currently functioning, Hans Kluge told a regional meeting of WHO's 53 member states as well as senior agency colleagues.

"Forty percent of households have at least one member in need of chronic treatment that they can no longer find, resulting in an estimated at least 3,000 premature avoidable deaths," he said in a speech, mentioning diseases such as HIV/AIDS and cancer.

UK PM to visit Sweden and Finland before NATO decisions

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will visit Finland and Sweden, Downing Street has said, as the Nordic countries mull NATO membership after Russia attacked Ukraine.

Finland and Sweden are expected to announce this week whether they will apply to join the alliance, after decades of non-alignment.

Both Helsinki and Stockholm have been rattled by Moscow's assault on its pro-Western neighbour, prompting public support for a reversal in policy.

Ukraine's Zelenskyy tells Malta to clamp down on Russian dual-nationals

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged Malta to stop Russians from abusing passports handed out as part of a lucrative citizenship scheme, and to prevent its ships from transporting Russian oil.

In his latest video address to a Western parliament, Zelenskyy likened Ukraine's fight with Russia to Malta's own dogged defence against Nazi Germany in World War Two.

"The resilience and resistance of Malta between 1940 and 1942 helped define the future of Europe in the same way as the resilience and strength of our people will decide whether freedom will win again in combating tyranny," Zelenskyy said.

US intelligence chief: Putin ready for long conflict beyond Donbass

President Vladimir Putin will not end the Ukraine conflict with the Donbass campaign and is determined to build a land bridge to Russian-controlled territory in Moldova, US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines has said.

US intelligence also views it increasingly likely that Putin will mobilise his entire country, including ordering martial law, and is counting on his perseverance to wear down Western support for Ukraine.

"We... see indications that the Russian military wants to extend the land bridge to Transnistria," Haines said, referring to the Moscow-backed separatist region of Moldova along Ukraine's southwest border.

We assess President Putin is preparing for prolonged conflict in Ukraine during which he still intends to achieve goals beyond the Donbass

US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines

Ukraine's EU berth 'a matter of war and peace' for Europe

Ukraine's foreign minister has said that its membership in the European Union was a question of "war and peace" on the continent.

"I want to emphasise that Ukraine's membership in the EU is a matter of war and peace in Europe," Dmytro Kuleba told a press conference. 

"One of the reasons that this war started is that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin was convinced that Europe doesn't need Ukraine."

China's Xi warns of confrontations arising from Ukraine crisis

Confrontation between blocs resulting from the Ukraine crisis could become a bigger and more lasting threat to global peace than the crisis itself, China's President Xi Jinping has told his French counterpart.

China has repeatedly urged European countries to exercise diplomatic autonomy instead of aligning with the United States in what Beijing says is a "cold war mentality". China has refused to condemn Russia for its offensive.

Speaking to French President Emmanuel Macron on the phone, Xi said China felt Europe should have full control of European security, Chinese state television reported. 

Elysee: France, China respect Ukraine territorial integrity   

French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have discussed the Ukraine situation and the global food crisis arising from it, while calling for an urgent ceasefire, the Elysee has said.

"The two heads of state reiterated their commitment to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine," the Elysee presidential office said after a phone call between the two leaders.

The Elysee said Macron and Xi had also discussed France's FARM (Food and Agriculture Resilience Mission) initiative as a response to the risk of food.

Russia FM in Algeria as EU steps up push for alternative gas

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has visited gas-producing ally Algeria for talks as Europe pushes to secure alternative energy supplies.

Lavrov met President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra, according to foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova.

Lavrov told Lamamra that Moscow supported "an initiative by our Algerian friends to draw up a new interstate strategic document which will reflect the new quality of our bilateral partnership", according to the Russian foreign ministry.

Biden hosts Italian PM for Ukraine talks

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi is headed to Washington for talks with President Joe Biden dominated by Russia's attacks on Ukraine.

Despite Italy's dependence on Russian gas and its traditionally friendly ties with Moscow, Draghi's government has been a staunch supporter of efforts to punish Russia for the conflict. 

Draghi has also pledged support for any European Union sanctions on Russia's energy sector despite the risks; 40 percent of Italy's natural gas imports are currently coming from Russia.

Germany says will reopen embassy in Kiev

Germany will reopen its embassy in Kiev, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has said during a visit to Ukraine, the first by a senior government figure since the Russian offensive began.

"We will shortly reestablish a minimal presence of our German embassy in Kiev," Baerbock said as she travelled to the capital in the hope of soothing strained relations between Germany and Ukraine.

Russia: Resolution that could see WHO office closed purely political

Russia's health ministry has said a World Health Organisation resolution that could result in the closure of Russia's regional office over Moscow's actions in Ukraine was "purely political", the TASS news agency has reported.

Members of the WHO's European region passed a resolution on Tuesday that could also see meetings in Russia suspended.

Lithuanian lawmakers brand Russian actions as 'genocide'

Lithuania's parliament has voted unanimously to describe Russia's actions in Ukraine as "genocide" and "terrorism", and to call for an international tribunal, modelled on the Nuremberg Trials after World War Two, to prosecute suspected "war crimes".

The motion, co-sponsored by Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, said Russian forces' "war crimes" in Ukraine included the deliberate killing of civilians, mass rape, forcible relocation of Ukrainian citizens to Russia and the destruction of economic infrastructure and cultural sites.

Moscow denies targeting civilians and says it launched on February 24 a "special military operation" to disarm Ukraine and rid it of what it calls anti-Russian nationalists.

UN: More than 8 million internally displaced in Ukraine

More than eight million people are estimated to have been internally displaced by Russia's attacks on Ukraine, having fled their homes but stayed within the country, the United Nations has said.

The figure for the number of internally displaced persons as of May 3, issued by the UN's International Organisation for Migration, is up from the 7.7 million estimate that the IOM gave as of April 17.

NGO: Ukraine refugees at risk of human trafficking

Refugees fleeing Ukraine are becoming increasingly vulnerable to human traffickers, a new report has said, urging the registration of victims, especially unaccompanied children.

More than two million children have fled Ukraine since Russia attacked it on February 24, according to the 42-page report compiled by the Dutch-based La Strada anti-trafficking organisation and commissioned by Britain's Freedom Fund.

"People fleeing the war, mainly women and children, are extremely vulnerable and face increased risk of sexual and labour exploitation as organised criminal groups and individual profiteers take advantage of the turmoil," the groups said in a statement.

Human, material cost of conflict piling up for Russia - Ukraine

Russia continues to suffer massive human and material losses in Ukraine, with hundreds of its soldiers killed and more equipment destroyed over the past day, the Ukrainian military said.

Since conflict began, about 26,000 Russian troops, including 350 in the past day, have been killed in Ukraine, according to the Ukrainian General Staff’s latest update.

Ukrainian forces have also destroyed 1,170 tanks, 2,808 armored vehicles, 519 artillery systems, 380 drones, 199 aircraft, 185 multiple rocket launcher systems, and 158 helicopters, it said. 

Over 1,000 Ukraine fighters still in Azovstal plant - Kiev

Kiev said that more than 1,000 Ukrainian troops, many of them injured, remained in the sprawling Azovstal steelworks in the Russian-controlled port city of Mariupol.

"More than a thousand" Ukrainian soldiers remain in the plant, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, told AFP.

"Hundreds are injured. There are people with serious injuries who require urgent evacuation. The situation is deteriorating every day."

German FM pledges accountability for killings in Bucha

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock pledged that the international community would hold to account those responsible for the killing of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha during Russia's war.

Speaking during a visit to the town on the outskirts of Kiev, Baerbock said that “the worst crimes imaginable” had been perpetrated in Bucha during the Russian occupation.

Witnesses have told how Russian soldiers targeted civilians seemingly at random, leaving their bodies lying on the street after their withdrawal on March 31. 

Russia hits Odessa as civilian bodies uncovered northeast

Ukraine's military said that four high-precision Onyx missiles fired from the Russian-controlled Crimea peninsula had struck the Odessa area in southern Ukraine. 

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian official said that at least 100 civilians remain trapped at a steel mill in the besieged city of Mariupol, where Ukrainian fighters are making a last stand.

The 44 bodies were found in a five-story building that collapsed in March in Izyum, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the city of Kharkiv, which has been under sustained Russian attack since the beginning of the war in late February.

Ukraine: Russia could target chemical sites

The Ukrainian military is warning that Russia could target the country’s chemical industries.

The claim by Ukraine’s general staff wasn’t immediately explained. However, it comes after oil depots and other industrial sites have been targeted by Russian shelling.

The military said, “The possibility of sabotage at the chemical industry of Ukraine with further accusations of units of the armed forces of Ukraine is not ruled out.” 

Turkish, Ukrainian defence ministers discuss safe transportation of Turkish ships, planes

Türkiye's National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov exchanged over phone views on the safe transportation of Turkish commercial ships and A400M Turkish aircraft stranded in Ukraine.

According to a statement by the Turkish National Defense Ministry, Akar told Reznikov that Türkiye will continue to do its part in establishing peace in Ukraine and send humanitarian aid.

He also reiterated the importance of declaring a permanent cease-fire at the earliest.

Japan to decide Russia oil embargo timing

Japan will decide the timing and method of a Russian oil embargo while considering the possible economic impact, its industry minister said, after Tokyo agreed on a ban with other Group of Seven nations over Moscow's attacks in Ukraine.

"We would like to consider a method of phasing out over time in a way that minimises adverse effects on people's lives and business activities," Japanese industry minister Koichi Hagiuda told a news conference.

"We will think about specific methods and timing for reducing or suspending oil imports, taking into account the actual situation," he said. 

Poland, Ukraine work on shipping more oil products to Ukraine – officials

Poland and Ukraine are working out ways to ship more oil products to Ukraine and ease fuel shortages there caused by the Russian offensive, officials from both countries said after a joint meeting.

"Poland can act as a major fuel transporter for Ukraine, ensuring the arrival of more than 200,000 tons of product monthly," Ukraine's Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko said in a Facebook post. 

Russia not planning to close embassies in Europe

Russia is not planning to proactively close its embassies in Europe in response to unfriendly measures by the West and expansion of sanctions against Moscow, the RIA news agency reported, citing a deputy foreign minister.

"This is not in our tradition," Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told RIA.

"Therefore, we believe that the work of diplomatic representative offices is important." 

Biden 'worried' Putin does not have a way out of Ukraine 

US President Joe Biden has said he is worried that Russian President Vladimir Putin does not have a way out of the Ukraine offensive, and Biden said he was trying to figure out what to do about that.

Biden, speaking at a political fundraiser in a Washington suburb, said Putin had mistakenly believed the attack on Ukraine would break up NATO and break up the European Union.

Instead, the United States and many European countries have rallied to Ukraine's side. Russia's assault on Kiev was beaten back in March by strong Ukrainian resistance.

For live updates from Monday (May 9), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies