The Kremlin has suggested it may be ready for “global talks” to “unblock” Ukraine’s captured ports; English language media outlets in Russia are to face new measures; Vladimir Putin is “making it easier” for Ukrainians in newly Russian-held territory to apply for citizenship.
- Putin signs decree making it simpler for those in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions to become Russians
- Moscow ‘preparing measures against English-language media’
- Russia ‘targeting Severodonetsk supply road’
- ‘Full might’ of Russian army attacking Donbas
- Port of Mariupol ‘open and operational’ says Russia
- Satellite images show Russian ships ‘stealing Ukrainian grain’
- Updates from Sky News correspondents Alex Crawford in Donbas and Dominic Waghorn in Odesa. Live reporting by Philip Whiteside
The latest maps of the Ukraine war show that Severodonetsk is right on the line of control between Russian and Ukrainian forces.
“The situation is serious,” he said. “The city is constantly being shelled with every possible weapon in the enemy’s possession.”
Ukraine does not have sufficient space to store grain, when it is ready to harvest, a Ukrainian MP has told the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Yevheniia Kravchuk said time was running out to export the 22 million tonnes of grain that is currently in storage in Ukraine before then next harvest is ready to store.
“We have about maybe a month and a half before we start to collect the new harvest,” she said on the sidelines of the event in the Swiss resort.
There have been growing warnings of a global food crisis because Russia and Ukraine together account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday that Moscow must discuss the export of the wheat trapped in Ukraine as a result of the Russian blockade.
On Wednesday, Interfax cited Russia’s deputy foreign minister Andrei Rudenko as saying Moscow was ready to provide a humanitarian corridor for vessels carrying food to leave Ukraine, in return for lifting some sanctions.
Ukraine’s foreign minister said Russia was trying to “blackmail” with an offer to unblock Black Sea ports in return for the easing of sanctions.
Ukraine says it is expecting this year’s harvest to be about 70% of last year’s crop, as some of the fields are now under Russian control or have been mined.
“For us, July is like, ‘what?'” Anastasia Radina, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, said at the World Economic Forum.
“Let me put it like this: Let’s ask a mother who is forced to sit in a basement with her newborn child who has no baby formula. . “
Germany agreed to send dozens of anti-aircraft Gepard tanks to help defend Ukraine from Russia’s invasion four weeks ago, part of what it called a turning-point after decades of military restraint.
This is despite Germany having one of the biggest defence industries in the world, with more than €9bn worth of weapons exports in 2021, according to government data.
Gepards fire a burst of 35mm bullets that form a cloud in the air to stop an incoming aircraft. Germany no longer uses them, so consequently ammunition needs to be manufactured specially.
Asked to comment on the lack of ammunition, a German defence ministry spokesperson said the government was giving support where support was possible.
A spokesman said that Russian forces were trying to envelop the city that has become the focus of intense fight in the Donbas region as well as to surround Lysychansk.
The spokesman said: “Fighting for the road (to Severodonetsk) is ongoing. The key highway to Severodonetsk remains under Ukrainian control.
It came as Russian forces have been intensifying their assault on the two key towns in the industrial Donbas region.
The area has been under constant mortar bombardment, with houses destroyed, civilians killed and their last escape route threatened, Ukrainian officials said.
The Russian government is developing measures against English-language media in response to “unfriendly actions” by foreign governments towards Russian media, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
Ms Zakharova said Russia was preparing action against what she called “Anglo-Saxon media”, using a term Russian officials often use to refer to the English-speaking world.
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio gave the rough outlines of the compatible partners match plan last week and said that he had discussed it with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres during a visit to New York.
Ms Zakharova said: “You can’t supply Ukraine with weapons with one hand and come up with plans for a peaceful resolution of the situation with the other.”
The EU is still hopeful it will be able to agree sanctions on Russian oil before the next meeting of the European Council, President Charles Michel said on Wednesday.
“I am still confident that we can be able to resolve the topic before the European Council,” Mr Michel told reporters during a news conference in Stockholm with Sweden’s prime minister.
Ukraine news live: Kremlin hints at ‘global talks’ to unblock ports; English media in Russia to face ‘measures’; Putin loosens citizenship rules
“We are working very hard in order to be able to stay united … but also to take decisions in order to break the Russian war machine and to try to put pressure on the Kremlin to end the war.”
It comes after Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said after talks with Serbia’s finance minister that his country would not support the EU’s proposal for an oil embargo on Russia until there is a solution that ensures Hungary’s energy security.
Hungary also said it wants the oil embargo proposal to be removed from the agenda of an EU leaders summit next week.
Hungary, which imports most of its gas from Russia via a pipeline through Serbia, said it would allow Serbia to store 500 million cubic metres of gas in its gas storage facilities for next winter.
The two countries also plan to double the extent to which their electricity grids are interconnected, but that will take 6-8 years.
Serbia’s Finance Minister Sinisa Mali said that Serbia, which is also almost totally dependent on Russian gas, would have a total of 3 billion cubic meters in storage by October, including that in Hungary.
The State Duma lower house approved the bill in three readings in a single session, with the upper house, the Federation Council, giving its approval shortly after.
State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said: “Today, especially, we need to strengthen the armed forces and help the Ministry of Defence.
At present, Russians have to be between 18 and 40 and foreigners between 18 and 30 to enlist as professional soldiers in the Russian forces.
The defence ministry said on March 25 that 1,351 Russian service personnel had been killed, but UK defence intelligence has said its losses in the first three months of the war are around the same as the total losses in the Soviet Union’s nine-year campaign in Afghanistan.