Fierce fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops continues along the long front in the Donbass as Ukrainian fighters under siege in a Mariupol plant plead for help in the conflict that enters its 80th day.

The Russian Embassy is seen in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, following the invasion of Ukraine on the order of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Russian Embassy is seen in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, following the invasion of Ukraine on the order of Russian President Vladimir Putin. (AP)

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Russian diplomats in US are threatened — Envoy

Russian diplomats in Washington are being threatened with violence and US intelligence services try to make contact with them, Tass news agency cited the ambassador as saying.

"It's like a besieged fortress. Basically, our embassy is operating in a hostile environment ... Embassy employees are receiving threats, including threats of physical violence," Tass quoted Anatoly Antonov as saying.

"Agents from US security services are hanging around outside the Russian embassy, handing out CIA and FBI phone numbers, which can be called to establish contact."

CIA and the FBI declined comment. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the US State Department did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Ukrainian convoy gets out of 'devastating' Mariupol

A large convoy of cars and vans carrying refugees from the ruins of Mariupol arrived in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia after waiting days for Russian troops to allow them to leave.

Refugees first had to get out of Mariupol and then somehow make their way to Berdyansk — some 80 km further west along the coast — and other settlements before the 200 km drive northwest to Zaporizhzhia.

Nikolai Pavlov, a 74-year-old retiree, said he had lived in a basement for a month after his apartment was destroyed. "We barely made it, there were lots of elderly people among us ... the trip was devastating. But it was worth it," he said after the convoy arrived in the dark.

Russia-Ukraine conflict becoming a global crisis 

The Group of Seven leading economies has warned that the Ukraine conflict had become a "global crisis" that threatens poor countries.

In statements released at the end of the three-day meeting on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast, the G7 pledged to provide further humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable.

“Russia’s war of aggression has generated one of the most severe food and energy crises in recent history which now threatens those most vulnerable across the globe,” the group said. 

We are determined to accelerate a coordinated multilateral response to preserve global food security and stand by our most vulnerable partners in this respect.

G7 statement

Türkiye offers sea evacuation for wounded Ukrainian soldiers  

NATO member Türkiye has proposed carrying out a sea evacuation of wounded soldiers holed up in a steelworks in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesperson said.

Ibrahim Kalin told Reuters in an interview that he had personally discussed the proposal with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kiev two weeks ago and that it remains "on the table" although Moscow has not agreed to it.

Under the plan, people evacuated from the vast Azovstal steel plant would be taken by land to the port of Berdyansk, which like Mariupol is on the Sea of Azov, and a Turkish vessel would take them across the Black Sea to Istanbul, he said.

If it can be done that way, we are happy to do it. We are ready. In fact our ship is ready to go and bring the injured soldiers and other civilians to Türkiye.

Türkiye's presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin

Putin tells Finland that swapping neutrality for NATO is a mistake

Russian President Vladimir Putin has told his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto that ditching neutrality and joining NATO would be a mistake that could damage relations between their two countries.

The two countries said their presidents spoke by phone two days after Finland declared its intention to join the Western alliance. Moscow has described that as a security threat that will require it to respond, but has not specified how.

The Kremlin said: "Vladimir Putin stressed that abandoning the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake, since there are no threats to Finland's security. Such a change in the country's foreign policy may have a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations."

Niinisto's office said he told Putin "how fundamentally the Russian demands in late 2021 aiming at preventing countries from joining NATO and Russia's massive invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 have altered the security environment of Finland". He said Finland wanted to handle relations with its Russian neighbour in a "correct and professional manner".

Hard to predict how long West's 'total hybrid war' on Russia will last: Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that the West had announced a "total hybrid war" against Russia and it was hard to predict how long it would last.

He said that everyone would feel the consequences of this war. Efforts by the West to isolate Russia were doomed to fail, Lavrov said, in a reference to sanctions over Ukraine. 

Ukraine presses counteroffensive on key Russian line of assault: governor 

Ukrainian forces are on the counteroffensive near the Russian-held town of Izyum, the governor of Kharkiv region has said, striking at a key axis of Russia's assault on eastern Ukraine.

A major and successful counteroffensive on that Russian line of advance would deal a serious setback for Moscow in the Battle for the Donbass, a region in Ukraine's east that Russia has said it wants to capture completely.

Moscow's forces have been trying to fight their way south from the town of Izyum, the northern part of a Russian pincer movement aimed at outflanking battle-hardened Ukrainian forces dug in to defend the eastern front line. "The hottest spot remains the Izyum direction," regional governor Oleh Sinegubov said in comments aired on social media.

Ukraine could defeat Russia by year-end: Kiev intel chief

The conflict in Ukraine could reach a "breaking point" by August and end in defeat for Russia before the end of the year, Kiev's head of military intelligence tells the UK's Sky News.

Major General Kyrylo Budanov told the news network that he was "optimistic" about the current trajectory of the conflict. "The breaking point will be in the second part of August," he said. "Most of the active combat actions will have finished by the end of this year.

"As a result, we will renew Ukrainian power in all our territories that we have lost including Donbass and the Crimea," he said. Budanov said that Ukraine knows "everything about our enemy. We know about their plans almost as they're being made."

G7 'will never recognise' borders changed by force by Russia

The Group of Seven industrialised nations has said they will never recognise the borders Russia is trying to shift in its war against Ukraine.

"We will never recognise borders Russia has attempted to change by military aggression, and will uphold our engagement in the support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea, and all states," the G7 foreign ministers said in a statement after three days of talks in northern Germany.

Russia suspends electricity to Finland: Finnish grid operator

Russia has suspended electricity supplies to Finland overnight after its energy firm RAO Nordic threatened to cut off supplies over payment arrears, an official for Finland's grid operator says.

The supplies "are zero since midnight," Timo Kaukonen said. 

RAO Nordic had said it would suspend supplies, citing problems with payments, as Helsinki prepares to announce its application for NATO membership in the wake of Moscow's offensive in Ukraine.

Ukraine: 27,200 Russian troops killed since start of conflict

Some 27,200 Russian soldiers have so far been killed during the war in Ukraine, the Ukrainian military claims.

At least 300 more Russian troops were killed over the past day, according to the Ukrainian General Staff. 

It said Ukrainian forces have destroyed 200 Russian aircraft, 163 helicopters, 411 unmanned aerial vehicles, 1,218 tanks and 2,934 armored vehicles since the conflict began on February 24. 

Russia likely to withdraw fully from Ukraine's Kharkiv: ISW

Ukraine appears to "have won the Battle of Kharkiv" after its forces prevented Russian troops from encircling, let alone seizing the city, the US-based Institute for the Study of War says.

"The Russian military has likely decided to withdraw fully from its positions around Kharkiv City in the face of Ukrainian counteroffensives and the limited availability of reinforcements", according to the latest assessment from the US-based Institute for the Study of War. 

"Reports from Western officials indicate that Moscow is focused on conducting an orderly withdrawal and prioritising getting Russians back home before allowing proxy forces to enter Russia rather than trying to hold its positions near the city", it said.

Moscow will respond if NATO moves nuclear forces closer to Russia's border - RIA

Moscow will take adequate precautionary measures if NATO deploys nuclear forces and infrastructure closer to Russia's border, RIA news agency has quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko as saying.

Moscow has no hostile intentions towards Finland and Sweden and does not see "real" reasons for those two countries to be joining the NATO alliance, Grushko added.

Pro-Kremlin authorities in Ukraine's Kherson to ask to be included in Russia: UK

The Russian-imposed military-civilian administration in Ukraine's Kherson region will ask Russia to include it in the Russian federation, British defence ministry says.

"A central part of Russia’s original invasion plan was highly likely to use rigged referendums to place the majority of Ukraine’s regions under long-term pro-Russian authority", the ministry said.

If Russia carries out an accession referendum in Kherson, it will almost certainly manipulate the results to show a clear majority in favour of leaving Ukraine, Britain said in a regular Twitter bulletin.

Duma deputy head visits Ukraine's Russian-occupied Kherson - RIA

Senior Russian lawmaker Anna Kuznetsova has visited the Russian-occupied region of Kherson in Ukraine to discuss social and healthcare needs of the local population, the state RIA news agency reported.

Kuznetsova, deputy head of Russia's Duma or lower house of parliament, discussed the supply of foodstuffs as well as medical and other products needed for children, RIA reported. "We are here ready to provide all kinds of assistance," Kuznetsova, the wife of an Orthodox priest and mother of seven was quoted saying.

Kherson is the first region set to be annexed after Moscow said in April it had gained full control of the region, which has seen sporadic anti-Russian protests.

Over 700,000 refugees from Ukraine registered in Germany -Welt

More than 700,000 people fleeing the conflict in Ukraine have been recorded in Germany thus far, Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported, citing Interior Ministry data.

Since the start of the Russian offensive on February 24 until May 11, 727,205 people have registered in Germany's Central Register of Foreigners (AZR), of which 93 percent hold Ukrainian citizenship, Welt reported. 

A significant number may have travelled on to other European Union countries or returned to Ukraine, it said. Around 40 percent of Ukrainian refugees were minors and women make 81 percent of the adult refugees registered, Welt added.

US-ASEAN summit reaffirms Ukraine's territorial integrity

Leaders of the United States and the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) committed at a summit in Washington on Friday to raise their relationship to a "comprehensive strategic partnership" in November this year.

In a joint "vision statement" after a two-day summit, the leaders also said in reference to Ukraine that they reaffirm "respect for sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity."

Russia takes losses in failed river crossing, officials say

Russian forces suffered heavy losses in a Ukrainian attack that destroyed a pontoon bridge they were using to try to cross a river in the east, Ukrainian and British officials said in another sign of Moscow's struggle to salvage an attack gone awry.

Ukraine’s airborne command released photos and video of what it said was a damaged Russian pontoon bridge over the Siversky Donets River in Bilohorivka and several destroyed or damaged Russian military vehicles nearby — the Ukrainians said they destroyed at least 73 tanks and other military equipment during the two-day battle earlier this week. The command said its troops “drowned the Russian occupiers.”

“Conducting river crossings in a contested environment is a highly risky maneuver and speaks to the pressure the Russian commanders are under to make progress in their operations in eastern Ukraine,” the British Defence Ministry said in its daily intelligence update.

Europe's media body suspends Russian news agency

The European News Agencies Association (EANA) has suspended the membership of TASS, a major Russian state-owned news agency.

In its official statement at the time, the association said the move was due to a "new regulation enforced by the Russian government which is heavily restricting media freedom."

"The Board of EANA considers that TASS finds itself in violation of the purpose of EANA ... not being able to provide unbiased news, which stand at the core of EANA's mission statement."

For live updates from Friday (May 13), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies