Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

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Putin to meet African Union chief to discuss release of stranded grain supplies from Ukraine

Senegalese President Macky Sall speaks to the media during an EU-Africa summit on February 17, 2022 in Brussels, Belgium.

Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet African Union leader and Senegalese President Macky Sall on Friday to discuss releasing grain and wheat stocks that have been frozen by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The meeting, to be held in the southern Russian city of Sochi, aims to “release grain and fertilizer stocks, the blocking of which particularly affects African countries”, as well as to ease the conflict in Ukraine, according to a statement from the office said.

Putin has been accused of weaponizing food and hunger, as his forces have for months blocked vital ports and attacked agricultural logistics hubs in Ukraine, which is a major exporter of much of the world‘s grain. Together, Russia and Ukraine supply more than a quarter of the world’s cereals, as well as other important staples like sunflower oil.

The disruption in agricultural exports has sent food prices skyrocketing, especially for countries in Africa and the Middle East that rely heavily on imports from Russia and Ukraine.

—Natasha Turak

Angela Merkel calls Russia’s war ‘barbaric’ in first speech since leaving office

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel harshly condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine in her first public speech since leaving office in December last year.

Merkel described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a ‘barbaric war of aggression’ that was a ‘far-reaching turning point’ and Europe’s ‘most flagrant violation of international law’ since World War II. .

“My solidarity goes out to Ukraine which has been attacked and attacked by Russia,” the former leader told a German trade union protest in Berlin on Wednesday evening, adding that Ukraine’s right to self-defense was indisputable.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) arrive at the plenary session of the G20 summit on July 7, 2017.

Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Merkel, who led Germany for 16 years, has come under intense scrutiny in recent months for her history of friendly relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and her track record of expanding economic ties between Russia and Germany.

Many criticize him for making Germany more dependent on Russian energy imports, in particular with the establishment of the first Nord Stream gas pipeline between the two countries. She also led development of the now-defunct Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which her predecessor Olaf Scholz put on hold just before Russia invaded Ukraine.

—Natasha Turak

Biden administration plans to sell deadly drones to Ukraine: Reuters

A US Air Force MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone, developed by General Atomics, is displayed at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX) at Seoul Airport in Seongnam, South Korea , Monday, October 18, 2021.

Seong Joon Cho | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Biden administration aims to sell drones that can be lethally armed to Ukraine in the “coming days”, Reuters reported, citing three sources. The sale would be for four MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones, produced by General Atomics, which can be equipped with Hellfire missiles.

The Gray Eagle is the US Army‘s iteration of the powerful Predator drone and can fly over 30 hours, collect large amounts of intelligence, and carry up to eight Hellfire missiles. Ukraine has used armed drones with substantial success in the months since the start of the Russian invasion, but the Gray Eagle would represent a major step up in its capabilities.

Congress can halt the sale — which has been under consideration by the Pentagon for the past few weeks — or it can still be undone by a change in policy, Reuters wrote.

—Natasha Turak

Ukraine is working on a UN-backed mission to restore grain transport routes

A cargo ship is loaded with grain at the port of Mariupol in Ukraine.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ukraine is working with its Western partners to mount a United Nations-backed effort to reopen its vital Black Sea export routes, through which it delivers the vast majority of its grain and other products to much of the world.

“We call on countries whose food security may suffer more from Russian aggression against Ukraine to use their contacts with Moscow to force it to lift the blockade of Ukrainian seaports and end the war,” he wrote. on Facebook Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko.

Russian forces have blockaded many of Ukraine’s largest ports, and the Russian Navy controls major Black Sea shipping lanes. Together, Russia and Ukraine supply around 25% of the world’s wheat, and the disruption of those exports due to war and sanctions has driven up food prices and raised fears of a global food crisis.

—Natasha Turak

Russian forces control most of Sieverodonetsk: United Kingdom

Russia made significant gains in a strategic city in Ukraine’s Donbass, the easternmost city that was still under Ukrainian control and the last Ukrainian stronghold in the Luhansk region.

“Russia has taken control of most of Sieverodonetsk. The main road to the Sieverodonetsk pocket probably remains under Ukrainian control, but Russia continues to make steady local gains, thanks to a heavy concentration of artillery”, wrote the UK Ministry of Defense as part of its daily intelligence update on Twitter.

“It was not without cost, and Russian forces suffered casualties in the process.”

Russian troops will likely have to cross the Siverskyy Donets River, which impedes their advance, a mission that is “vital for Russian forces as they secure Luhansk Oblast and prepare to focus on Donetsk Oblast.” “, wrote the ministry.

“It is likely that Russia will need at least a short tactical pause to prepare for opposing river crossings and subsequent attacks further into Donetsk Oblast, where Ukrainian Armed Forces have prepared defensive positions,” he said, noting that it could “risk losing some”. of the momentum they’ve built over the past week.”

—Natasha Turak

Moscow calls US arms package ‘direct provocation’

“This is a direct provocation (by Ukraine), aimed at involving the West in military action,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference while in town. Saudi Arabia.

Russian Foreign Ministry | Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov joined other Russian officials in condemning the US decision to send longer-range rockets to Ukraine under a new rocket program. $700 million military aid.

“This is a direct provocation (by Ukraine), aimed at involving the West in military action,” Lavrov told a news conference while in Saudi Arabia.

Earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We believe the United States is deliberately and diligently adding fuel to the fire.”

Biden administration officials are reportedly split on the level of arms support for Ukraine that would constitute too much involvement and risk sparking a dangerous confrontation with Russia.

—Natasha Turak

Zelenskyy says Russia forcibly deported over 200,000 Ukrainian children

A young boy sits in front of a damaged building after a strike in Donbass, Ukraine, May 25, 2022. More than 200,000 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his evening speech.

Aris Messinis | AFP | Getty Images

Russia has forcibly deported more than 200,000 Ukrainian children, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his evening speech.

“They are orphans from orphanages. Children with parents. Children separated from their families,” Zelenskyy said.

Nearly 700 children have been injured or killed as a result of the Russian attacks, and another 139 children are missing, the president said.

Yesterday, UNICEF reported that on average, more than 2 children are killed and more than 4 are injured every day in Ukraine mainly due to explosive weapon attacks in populated areas, according to information verified by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Rights.

—Chelsea Ong

Oil prices fall on reports that Saudi Arabia could increase if Russian production is hit by EU sanctions

Oil prices fell in the morning hours of trading in Asia after the Financial Times reported that Saudi Arabia was ready to increase production if Russia’s output fell significantly following Union sanctions European.

Saudi Arabia is aware of the risks of supply shortages and that it is “not in its interest to lose control of oil prices”, the Financial Times reported, citing sources.

The FT report comes ahead of a monthly meeting of the OPEC+ alliance on Thursday, of which Russia is a part.

Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of OPEC, has yet to experience a real shortage in oil markets, according to the report. But that could change as global economies reopen amid the pandemic recovery, boosting demand for rough.

—Weizhen Tan

Ukraine welcomes new US military aid program

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office welcomed $700 million in new military aid announced by the United States.

“Thank you allies,” tweeted Zelenskyy adviser Andriy Yermak after listing what the package would include, along with emoji showing a handshake between the Ukrainian and US flags.

The United States will send four rocket systems known as HIMARS, Javelin anti-tank missiles, anti-armour weapons, artillery shells and helicopters, among other equipment.

—Jacob Pramuk

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

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