In a phone call with Olaf Scholz, Russian President Putin warned against further arms deliveries to Ukraine. He attached conditions to the export of urgently needed grain. All voices and developments on the Ukraine war here in the ticker.

Turkey is currently the only NATO member to publicly block the beginning of the process of admitting the two Nordic countries into the defense alliance. Ankara justifies its stance with the alleged support of Finland and Sweden for “terrorist organizations” such as the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK. Ankara is also demanding the extradition of alleged terrorists from both countries. It is unclear which people are involved. According to the Turkish media, the government-critical publisher Ragip Zarakolu, who lives in Sweden, is also on the extradition list.

11:51 am: The Russian ambassador in London, Andrei Kelin, does not expect his country to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. According to the rules of the Russian military, this is only provided if Russia’s existence is threatened, Kelin said in a BBC interview broadcast on Sunday. “It has nothing to do with the current operation.” When asked whether he believed that President Vladimir Putin would be prepared to carry out a nuclear attack on Britain if the war escalated, the ambassador said no. This and similar scenarios were publicly discussed on Russian state television a few weeks ago.

Faced with evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine, the Russian ambassador repeatedly denied Moscow’s responsibility. “Nothing is happening, no bodies on the street,” Kelin said of reports of atrocities in the Kiev suburb of Bucha, where hundreds of bodies were found after the Russians left in April. “We think it’s an invention. It’s being used to disrupt negotiations,” Kelin said. When asked, he stated that he was last in Ukraine a few years ago – during the Maidan revolution.

Regarding footage of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, the ambassador admitted that it had been destroyed in fighting. However, Russia alone cannot be blamed here either. “Collateral damage” is possible in battles, said Kelin. In the BBC interview, the Russian repeatedly accused Ukraine of killing civilians in the contested Donbass region. Russia justifies its “special operation” by wanting to rid Ukraine of alleged Nazis.

Sunday, May 29, 2022, 7:40 a.m.: According to political scientist and military expert Carlo Masala, Russian President Vladimir Putin currently sees no reason for negotiations with Ukraine. Masala, Professor of International Politics at the University of the Bundeswehr in Munich, told the German Press Agency that Putin would only begin to negotiate seriously if he had to fear that he would lose more than he would win by continuing the war. But that is not the case at the moment. “It works for him. So there is absolutely no incentive to get involved in these negotiations.”

According to Masala, the most recent military successes of the Russian armed forces in the Donbass in eastern Ukraine can be traced back to two causes: First, the Ukrainians lack heavy weapons. Second, the Russians had successfully changed their strategy. “In contrast to the previous course of the war, they are no longer advancing on broad sections of the front, but are concentrating their troops to advance on small sections of the front. As a result, they currently have a personal superiority.”

8:38 p.m .: In Ukraine, people are still amazed at Germany’s behavior in the Ukraine crisis. In an interview with “Welt”, the ex-head of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, which is close to the Greens, Sergej Sumlenny, made massive accusations against the federal government, especially Chancellor Olaf Scholz. After his “turning point” speech, the disappointment in Ukraine is now very great.

When it comes to supplying heavy weapons, Kyiv can rely on the United States, the Czech Republic and the Baltic States and Great Britain. A lot has been announced by Berlin, but only a fraction has been implemented, Sumlenny criticizes the German government’s previous policy and draws a sobering conclusion:

“But the truth in war is decided at the front. Germany wasn’t much help there. This discrepancy between rhetoric and deeds has massively irritated the people of Ukraine. This contradiction awakens old resentments and strengthens those who believe that Berlin is still considerate of Russia.”

3:01 p.m .: Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Germany and France against further arms deliveries to Ukraine. In a telephone conversation with Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday, the Kremlin boss said, according to Russian information, that further arms deliveries were “dangerous”. As a result, there is a risk that “the situation in Ukraine will continue to destabilize and the humanitarian crisis will worsen”.

He has also promised to allow grain exports from Ukraine if Western sanctions against his country are eased. Russia is “ready” to find opportunities “for grain exports without obstacles,” Putin said in a phone call with Scholz and Macron on Saturday, according to the Kremlin. However, Western sanctions against Russia would also have to be lifted.

11:09 a.m .: The Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak does not believe in a negotiated solution with Russia. An agreement cannot be trusted and Russia can only be stopped by force, said the adviser to the Ukrainian president. “An agreement with Russia is not worth a penny,” Pdolyak wrote on the Telegram messenger service. “Can you negotiate with a country that always lies cynically and propagandistically?”

11:02 a.m .: Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) has rejected the accusation that Germany is too reluctant to deliver arms to Ukraine. “As we speak, Ukrainian soldiers are being trained on the Panzerhaubitze 2000,” Habeck told Welt am Sonntag, referring to the planned delivery of the mobile artillery pieces. It is by no means the case that Germany delivers nothing or too little. It is true that Berlin cannot fulfill all of Ukraine’s wishes.

Germany wants to deliver seven examples of the Panzerhaubitze 2000 to the Ukraine in June. Since mid-May, dozens of Ukrainian soldiers have been trained on the gun mounted on a tank chassis at the Bundeswehr artillery school in Idar-Oberstein, Rhineland-Palatinate.

The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Bundestag, Michael Roth (SPD), also protested against the accusation that the federal government was hesitant. He “doesn’t have the impression that someone is deliberately on the brakes here,” he said on Deutschlandfunk. However, the issue of arms deliveries is “more complicated than it sometimes seems.” Because the Bundeswehr’s options for delivering from its inventory are “very, very limited”.

07.10: Kremlin opponent Mikhail Khodorkovsky is urging the West to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine. “If the Ukrainians are not supplied with the weapons they are requesting, there will soon be fighting around Kyiv again,” the 58-year-old told the “Bild” (Saturday). He thinks Western politicians are most afraid of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “They think they are not in a war. Because of this, they also believe that supplying certain weapons could lead to an escalation or turn them into a war party. Khodorkovsky called this a “very stupid attitude” because, from Putin’s point of view, Western politicians and countries are already at war with Russia.

When asked whether the war will strengthen or weaken Putin’s government, he replied: “It depends on how this war ends. If Putin doesn’t win the war, the regime will be weakened.” Initially, Putin announced that his goal was to “denazify” Ukraine and capture Kyiv. “So if he can’t capture Kyiv, he already hasn’t won the war. The problem is that if he conquers part of Ukraine, the war will only stop for a certain time – and not for long.”

Khodorkovsky used to be the head of the Russian state oil company Yukos. After his break with Putin, he was imprisoned from 2003 to 2013. Then he was pardoned and allowed to leave Russia. Just over a week ago, Russia classified Khodorkovsky as a “foreign agent”.

Saturday, May 28, 00:34: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described the situation in the embattled Donbass as very difficult in view of Russian attacks. Moscow is using a maximum of artillery and reserves there, said Zelenskyj in his evening video address on Friday. There are rocket and air strikes. The Ukrainian army is defending the country with all currently available resources. “We are doing everything to strengthen the army,” assured the President.

As far as the currently fiercely contested locations in the Donbass are concerned, Zelenskyj was combative. “If the occupiers think that Lyman and Sieverodonetsk will be theirs, they are mistaken. Donbass will be Ukrainian.” If Russia brings destruction and suffering, Ukraine will restore any place. Only the Ukrainian flag will fly there – and no other, Zelenskyj emphasized.

11:54 p.m .: Russia expects additional income of the equivalent of 13.7 billion euros this year from the export of fossil fuels. “We expect up to a trillion rubles more in oil and gas revenues,” Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on state television on Friday, referring to the latest forecast by the Ministry of Economic Development. Part of the additional income could be used to continue the Russian offensive in Ukraine.

The government wants to spend the extra revenue this year rather than set it aside, he said. The money should be spent on “additional payments” for pensioners and families with children and for the “special operation” in Ukraine, the finance minister said, citing Russia’s offensive in pro-western Ukraine.

So far, US arms supplies to Ukraine have focused on Javeline anti-tank missiles, Stinger shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, firearms and ammunition. However, the USA has already begun to deliver M777 howitzers to Ukraine, which have a range of around 25 kilometers. The systems now under discussion could therefore shoot considerably further.

US Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said Ukrainians have been asking for multiple rocket launchers for a long time. But he will not anticipate any decision. “We are constantly talking to the Ukrainians about their needs and about what we and our allies and partners can provide.” The first M777 howitzers are in use in Donbass, among other places. The Ukrainians said they were “definitely making a significant difference on the battlefield.”

4:12 p.m .: The political scientist Herfried Münkler sounded the alarm in an interview with the “Welt”: “It is now important that the resistance of the Ukrainians in the first 90 days of this war was not in vain. Because after a period of euphoria that Ukraine could win this war and even drive out the Russians from all over Ukraine, the war is now very difficult for Ukraine. It is about to lose it.”

According to Münkler, if negotiations lead to peace in the current military situation, this would not be good for Ukraine. “It is to be expected that a negotiated peace would now mean that Ukraine would tend to lose the entire Donbass, if not even larger areas,” Münkler told the “Welt”.

According to the political scientist, a defeat in Ukraine would have consequences for the whole world: “The first global learning effect will be that many countries will say: Well, what Putin can do and he got half of Ukraine, we could try now wherever. A concession to Putin, with the best intentions of the peace friends, would have the effect of ushering in an era of wars of conquest.”

3:58 p.m .: Only a week ago, Russian troops took Mariupol after Ukrainian fighters had holed up there for weeks in the Azov steelworks. But a lot is already changing for those residents who have not yet fled the city. Putin’s occupiers not only placed three trucks on site that played Russian propaganda. The entire administration has already changed, and there is still a lot to come for the residents.

12.17 p.m .: Development Minister Svenja Schulze has traveled to Ukraine as the second member of the federal government since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression. During a visit to the heavily damaged Kiev suburb of Borodjanka on Friday, she assured the people of civil aid from Germany. 185 million euros for emergency measures have already been approved, Schulze told journalists in Borodjanka on Friday.

Specifically, apartments and power lines are to be built. “Ukrainians simply need water and electricity. Those who have fled inside Ukraine need a roof over their heads, the children need to be able to go back to school and support is needed for all of this.”

As a reason for his resignation, Bondarev states that Russian politics is not designed to help its own economy, but “to please the hierarchy or some very specific people”. Foreign policy is also “very loud and very rough”, but not efficient. Bondarev says he made his decision on February 24, when Russia began its war of aggression against Ukraine. His decision had been thought through for a long time. In order to ensure the safety of his family, however, he needed three months to implement it.

The ex-diplomat cannot say how his colleagues reacted to his resignation. “I don’t know what happened there, I’m no longer in contact, but I think it was a bad day for them.” Bondarev explains that this was mainly for the ambassador and some people from the security area was a severe blow.”They may ask themselves how they should explain that in Moscow and why they didn’t pay enough attention,” he explains.

When the interview is about his colleagues who are actively spreading Russian propaganda on social media, the Geneva-based diplomat has a surprising answer. Spreading the propaganda aggressively is their duty.

“A few months ago, the outrageous tweets from one of my colleagues made me seethe with anger. But when I asked him about it, he was like, ‘What are you interfering with? That’s my job and I have to do it’.” There are many such people in Russian diplomacy. Bondarev: “They know very well that the propaganda is not true, but spread it anyway because it is their duty,” summarizes the ex-diplomat.

9.39 a.m .: The FDP politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann calls for a coordinator for German arms deliveries to Ukraine in view of “unacceptable” communication. “There doesn’t seem to be any other way,” wrote Strack-Zimmermann on Twitter on Friday. “The image that Germany gives internally and externally is just as unacceptable as the communication.” The FDP politician had previously suggested appointing a coordinator who would bring together actors from politics, business and the military.

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