During the night, the EU decides on an oil embargo against Russia. But with exceptions. Another aid package for Ukraine is also being promised. Meanwhile, FDP politician Strack-Zimmermann is giving Chancellor Scholz an ultimatum. All voices and developments on the Ukraine war here in the ticker.
08:22: Valentin Yumashev, son-in-law of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, has given up his role as a Kremlin adviser. The Reuters news agency reports, citing two sources familiar with the process.
Yumashev left his post in April, the sources said. While Yumashev had only limited influence on Putin’s decisions, his resignation marks the severing of one of the last ties within the Putin regime to the Yeltsin era. It was only in March that Anatoli Chubais, another high-ranking politician from the Yeltsin era, gave up his post as the Kremlin’s special envoy.
Yumashev’s departure is surprising, since Putin is considered a friend of the Yeltsin family. According to the Kremlin website, around January 2020, the Russian head of state visited Yeltsin’s daughter Tatyana at home to wish her a happy birthday.
The official departure reasons for the two are not known. Not even whether it is associated with war criticism.
7:05 a.m .: According to Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine now has fundamental doubts as to whether Germany is still supplying weapons to Ukraine on a significant scale, as promised. “I’m asking the West again at this point to send us all the 155mm caliber guns and multiple rocket launchers that they can,” Kuleba said in an interview with the Italian daily Repubblica. When asked whether Germany was actually behind on its promised arms deliveries, Kuleba said: “There are countries where we are waiting for deliveries and countries where we are now fed up with waiting. Germany belongs in the second group.”
The German government is internationally criticized for not clearly stating which weapons can be delivered to Ukraine. The statements have been fluctuating and sometimes contradictory for weeks. Only after international pressure did the federal government finally agree to supply two types of heavy weapons: 50 Gepard anti-aircraft tanks and seven 2000 self-propelled howitzers. The latter are heavy artillery pieces. However, Ukraine is also demanding battle tanks and armored personnel carriers, multiple rocket launchers or anti-ship missiles.
6.30 a.m .: The pressure on Chancellor Olaf Scholz is increasing. Regarding the delivery of Marder tanks to the Ukraine, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP) has now found clear words. Germany must deliver “50 Marder infantry fighting vehicles directly to Ukraine as soon as possible,” demands the head of the defense committee via “Bild”.
For a few weeks now, the Chancellery has been said to have blocked the export of numerous martens from industrial stocks. According to an internal report, the Bundeswehr also has 32 tanks of this class left that can be made fit and delivered to the Ukraine.
In addition, Strack-Zimmermann called for “transparent communication of German services to Ukraine”, which, for security reasons, should only take place after delivery, as well as a special coordinator for arms deliveries. From the point of view of the FDP politician, this should happen “immediately or before the parliamentary summer break”, which begins in July.
2:49 a.m .: Chancellor Olaf Scholz has welcomed the EU compromise for an oil embargo against Russia. “The EU agrees,” wrote the SPD politician on Tuesday night on Twitter. “We have agreed on further drastic sanctions against Russia.” The embargo will affect a large part of Russian oil imports.
12:40 a.m .: The European Union wants to provide Ukraine with further financial aid of up to nine billion euros. This was announced by EU Council President Charles Michel on Tuesday night during a meeting of the heads of state and government of the EU states in Brussels. Ukraine should be able to use the money to cover running costs such as pension payments and the operation of hospitals.
12:20 a.m .: The Georgian separatist region of South Ossetia has canceled a referendum planned for mid-July on joining Russia. The new president of the pro-Russian enclave, Alan Gagloyev, canceled his predecessor’s referendum plans on Monday. In a decree, he stressed that it was not permissible to unilaterally decide by referendum on issues affecting the “legitimate rights and interests of the Russian Federation”. Instead, Gagloyev started talks with Moscow about the “further integration” of South Ossetia.
Gagloyev’s predecessor, Anatoly Bibilov, issued a decree about two weeks ago calling for a referendum on South Ossetia’s accession to Russia, emphasizing that this corresponds to the “historic aspirations” of the people in the region. Russia officially recognized the independence of the pro-Russian separatist region and neighboring Abkhazia in August 2008 after a brief military conflict with Georgia. Since then, Russian forces have been stationed there.
Tuesday, May 31, 12:00 a.m.: The EU states have agreed on a compromise in the dispute over the planned oil embargo against Russia. More than two-thirds of Russian oil supplies to the EU are said to be affected by the import ban, as EU Council President Charles Michel announced during a summit meeting in Brussels on Tuesday night. The Belgian wrote on Twitter of “maximum pressure on Russia” to end the war against Ukraine.
According to diplomats, the compromise stipulates that, at Hungary’s insistence, only Russian oil deliveries by sea will be blocked for the time being. Transports by pipeline should initially continue to be possible.
For the time being, Hungary will continue to be able to obtain Russian oil overland via the huge Druzhba pipeline. Refineries in eastern Germany and Poland as well as in Slovakia and the Czech Republic are also connected to it. However, Germany and Poland have already made it clear that they do not want to benefit from the pipeline oil exemption.
Due to the additional waiver by Germany and Poland, Russia could only sell a tenth of the previous oil volume to the EU in the coming year. This is intended to punish the country for its war against Ukraine, which has now been going on for more than three months. According to estimates by the EU think tank Bruegel, until recently, EU countries were still spending around 450 million euros a day on oil from Russia.
For weeks before the breakthrough at the summit of heads of state and government in Brussels, Hungary had referred to its heavy dependence on Russian oil and blocked an agreement on an embargo.
9:17 p.m.: In a program on Russian state television, host Olga Skabeeva said it might be time to admit that the “special operation in Ukraine” is over, “in the sense that a real war has started – moreover, it is World War III,” claims Skabeeva. In Russia it is forbidden to call the Russian invasion of Ukraine a “war” or “invasion”, which is why the Kremlin and the media close to the Kremlin always speak of a “special operation”.
Skabeeva also says on the show: “We are forced not only to demilitarize Ukraine, but all of NATO.” Meanwhile, she leaves open what she means by that.
So far, NATO has not intervened. The Western military alliance only acts when a member country is effectively attacked. However, the individual member states, including the USA and EU countries such as Germany and France, supply weapons.
From the very beginning of the war, Russia cited NATO’s eastward expansion as one of the reasons for the invasion, along with the “liberation” of Ukraine and alleged Nazi rulers.
8.30 p.m .: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj has called on the EU heads of state and government to unite and to agree on the next sanctions package against Russia as soon as possible. “Internal disputes only lead to Russia increasing the pressure on Europe,” said Zelensky in his almost ten-minute video message at the start of the special EU summit in Brussels on Monday.
He thanked everyone who wants to advance the sixth package of sanctions. “Unfortunately, it’s not that far yet,” he said. In contrast to an earlier speech by the Ukrainian President at an EU summit, he did not address individual heads of state and government but all 27.
“It’s time for you to act not individually, but together,” said Zelenskyy. “Why do you depend on Russia and Russian pressure, and why isn’t it the other way around,” said the Ukrainian president, alluding to the European dependence States of Russian gas and oil supplies.
According to information from EU diplomats, the heads of state and government discussed the consequences of the Ukraine war in the afternoon. It was also about ways to secure the export of grain stored in Ukraine. There are fears that Russia is spreading the rumor that EU sanctions are responsible for the food crisis, it said. Later on, dinner should primarily be about energy.
The sixth package of sanctions, which includes the controversial Russian oil embargo, is not officially on the agenda, but it has shaped the summit from the start. According to the latest proposal, deliveries via pipelines are to be excluded. This corresponds to about a third of oil deliveries and mainly affects Hungary, which has no access to the sea.
7.31 p.m .: France’s new Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna has promised Ukraine further military aid in the fight against the Russian invading troops. Paris will “further step up arms deliveries,” Colonna said at a press conference in Kyiv on Monday with her Ukrainian colleague Dmytro Kuleba. The new weapons should therefore arrive in the coming weeks.
According to her ministry, with her first visit to Kyiv, Colonna wanted to express “France’s solidarity with the Ukrainian people”. In addition to Kuleba, she also met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The focus of their discussion was the blockade of the Ukrainian ports imposed by Moscow and its impact on global food security.
Colonna is France’s top government official to visit Ukraine since the Russian war of aggression began on February 24. At the press conference, she defended President Emmanuel Macron against criticism for his frequent phone calls with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin.
Colonna said there seemed to be no prospect of negotiations for a diplomatic solution at the moment. But “the day of dialogue” between the two Presidents Putin and Zelenskyy will have to come. Should Ukraine then wish it, “we stand by their side to make this possible”.
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