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.
09:39: France’s new Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna visits the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Monday. With the trip, she wanted to express France’s determination to increase military, financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, the Foreign Ministry said in Paris. It is also a sign of France’s solidarity with the Ukrainian people in the face of Russian aggression. Colonna is received in Kyiv by President Volodymyr Zelenskyj. She is also meeting her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, with whom she wants to talk about a solution to the blockade on Ukrainian grain exports.
Colonna took office just over a week ago after the appointment of the new government of re-elected President Emmanuel Macron. Macron himself has not yet traveled to Kyiv and had announced that he would do so at a moment when it could have a concrete benefit in ending the conflict.
France’s foreign minister also wants to visit the Kiev suburb of Bucha, where hundreds of bodies were found after the Russians withdrew in April. It hands over other fire engines and ambulances made available by France.
9:01 a.m .: The government in Moscow only wants to repay its foreign debt to the owners of government bonds if they open an account with a Russian state bank. It had already imposed a similar regulation for the payment of Russian gas supplies at the end of March. “How do the ruble payments for gas work: Foreign currency is transferred to us and here, on instruction, it is exchanged for rubles and settled in this way. The clearing mechanism for Eurobonds works the same way, only in the opposite direction,” explained Russia’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov on Monday in the daily newspaper “Vedomosti”. The regulation is intended to avert the threat of technical bankruptcy in Russia.
Since April, European countries have had to pay for Russian gas supplies in rubles by order of Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin. To do this, western gas buyers have to open an account with Russia’s state-owned Gazprombank and deposit euros there. Gazprombank then settles the amount in rubles and pays it to Gazprom.
In the case of government bonds, the principle should run the other way around, according to Siluanov’s plan. Russia deposits rubles into the bank, which converts them into euros or dollars, and the bondholders then receive foreign currency. However, they would need to have an account with the bank themselves.
According to Siluanov, the scheme is designed to bypass western payment systems. This is necessary because, after Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the US instructed the western correspondent banks, which were previously responsible for disbursements, to block Russian payments. This can result in Moscow defaulting on its debts and being declared bankrupt.
8:46 a.m .: According to CSU regional group chief Alexander Dobrindt, the planned special fund for the Bundeswehr could be sealed this week. “There is a possibility that we will complete the legislative process this week,” he said on Monday on ZDF’s “Morgenmagazin”. Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) said in the same program: “This can be done very quickly now, because the essential points have been agreed.”
Then the list with the exact order plans for tanks, aircraft, ships and other Bundeswehr equipment, which is part of the legislative process, will also be made public, Dobrindt explained. According to Lambrecht, it covers the entire spectrum: she spoke of night vision devices, radio devices and heavy transport helicopters. For ammunition alone, there is a need of 20 billion euros for the obligations in NATO. “We can now get started if this special fund is available,” said the SPD politician.
The NATO goal of spending two percent of gross domestic product on defense should not be regulated in the Basic Law, but in a separate upgrade law. It does not have to be fulfilled every year, as both politicians explained, but on average every five years. This should, for example, take account of the fact that purchases could be made in one year, but only have an impact in the following year. “It can be more, sometimes less,” explained Lambrecht.
5:41 a.m .: Despite reports to the contrary, the Greens are said not to have agreed to the negotiated compromise between the traffic light coalition and the Union regarding the special fund for the Bundeswehr. This is reported by “Bild”.
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is said to have left the parties’ meeting around 10 p.m. to coordinate the negotiated conditions with the Greens leadership. She had estimated half an hour for this. After that, nothing more was heard from her, according to negotiators. A little later, the Federal Ministry of Finance announced that the parties had reached an agreement. A response from the Greens is said to have been pending.
3:55 a.m .: Before the special EU summit on Monday, the ambassadors of the 27 member states have not yet been able to agree on a compromise proposal for the planned oil embargo. According to an EU representative on Sunday evening, no agreement was reached in a “difficult and complex discussion”.
According to an EU diplomat, there was still hope of an agreement ahead of the start of the summit on Monday afternoon, but this was far from certain. “There is a willingness in all member states to work on oil and to ban (Russian) oil from European markets,” said the diplomat. The question is how this is implemented and how national particularities are addressed.
The compromise proposal discussed by the ambassadors envisages exempting the Druzhba pipeline from the embargo and only imposing sanctions on oil deliveries by ship, as the AFP news agency learned from EU circles. Currently, two-thirds of EU countries get Russian oil from ships and one-third from the Druzhba pipeline.
Hungary, which says it gets 65 percent of its crude oil from Russia and gets it entirely through the Druzhba pipeline, is blocking the planned EU oil embargo. The government in Budapest recently demanded a four-year transition period and 800 million euros in financial aid to adapt its refineries and expand a pipeline from Croatia. According to information from diplomatic circles, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, which are also supplied via the Druzhba pipeline, accepted a two-and-a-half-year transitional period.
Monday, May 30, 2:46 a.m .: According to his own statements, former Federal President Joachim Gauck believes that arms deliveries to Ukraine are important for their fight for freedom against the Russian attackers. “Without the weapons of the Allies in the World War there would have been a Europe under Nazi rule,” said Gauck in an interview with the “Bild” (Monday edition). Ukraine must be allowed to say what it needs to oppose Russia. “If people then say to us: We want to fight for our freedom, we’re even risking our lives, then it’s not up to us to explain to them from a safe place what the right thing is,” said the ex-president. “That would be callous and highly arrogant.”
Nevertheless, politicians must continue to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Gauck. “Responsible politics must also talk to dictators. We must never do without diplomacy.” However, it is important to negotiate from a position of strength. That also “proved to be correct during the Cold War.”
10:58 p.m .: The government coalition and the Union have agreed on the details of the planned 100 billion euro special fund for the Bundeswehr. Representatives of the coalition and the Union announced on Sunday evening that talks about amending the Basic Law to create the special fund and about a law to finance the Bundeswehr and set up this special fund had been successfully concluded.
In their statement distributed by the Ministry of Finance, the politicians said: “Together we will ensure that the Bundeswehr will be strengthened with additional investments of 100 billion euros in the coming years.” The so-called two percent target of NATO will be achieved “on average over several years”.
Use of the money:
This was probably the main point of contention until the end. The Union wanted to make it clear that the special fund will be used exclusively for the Bundeswehr. An initially planned formulation – “to strengthen the alliance and defense capability” – was too unspecific for her. The Greens in particular wanted the money to be used to finance cyber defense and support for partner countries.
It is now not the special fund that is to be used for this, but the federal budget. The government will present a strategy to strengthen security in the cyber and information space. “Necessary measures for cyber security, civil protection and to strengthen and stabilize partners are financed from the federal budget,” said the negotiators around Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP).
More details of the agreement:
With the planned law for the establishment of the special fund, an economic plan with the specific procurement projects should also be decided, the Union and the coalition further agreed. “Its realization will be accompanied by an advisory body of the Budget Committee of the German Bundestag.”
The agreement provides for the following for the future: “After the special fund has been used, the necessary funds to achieve the then valid NATO capability goals will continue to be made available.” After the claim, the repayment begins “within a reasonable period of time”.
10:49 p.m .: Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov calls the taking of the Donbass an “unconditional priority” for his country and speaks of a liberation. Russia recognizes Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states, Lavrov told French broadcaster TF1, according to a report by the RIA news agency. The other parts of Ukraine should decide their own future.
8:19 p.m .: Chancellor Olaf Scholz has again assured the people of Russia’s attacked Ukraine of Germany’s solidarity. “We stand by your side,” said the SPD politician on Sunday evening in a video message that was recorded at a music show with Ukrainian artists at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. “Your hearts and thoughts are with us – today as well as every day since Russia attacked your country.”
Together with friends and partners, Germany is providing ongoing financial support to ensure Ukraine’s economy does not collapse, said Scholz, who delivered his words in English. “We are sending weapons to Ukraine and are thus breaking with the long-standing German tradition of not delivering weapons to war zones.” Almost 800,000 Ukrainians have found refuge in Germany. “We welcome them with open arms.”
In addition, plans are being made for post-war reconstruction in Ukraine. “Because this war will end,” said Scholz. “We stand united – for Ukraine, for freedom, the rule of law and dignity. As European sisters and brothers.”
Featuring music and video messages from international politicians and celebrities, the show was a telethon broadcast by numerous Ukrainian TV channels. Numerous music stars from the state performed at the Brandenburg Gate. This year’s winners of the Eurovision Song Contest, the Kalush Orchestra, were also expected.
5:03 p.m .: While the traffic light coalition continues to argue about whether Germany is supplying battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, documents reveal that Germany is also hardly supplying light weapons to Ukraine. This was reported by the “Welt am Sonntag”, which has insights into the documents mentioned. Only two shipments of arms from the government arrived in Ukraine in two months, between March 30 and May 26. This includes: Only small devices.
In mid-May, Germany sent 3,000 anti-tank mines and 1,600 more specialized anti-tank directional mines, according to a list. However, the main problem facing the Ukrainian army at the moment is the superior firepower of the Russians in the east of the country. Mines don’t help much. A month earlier, Ukraine received spare parts for machine guns, “igniters”, detonating cords, radios, hand grenades, explosive charges and mines.
Ukraine last received anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons more than two months ago. On May 25, Germany delivered 2,000 Panzerfaust 3 rockets and 1,500 Strela anti-aircraft missiles. At the end of March, beginning of April and beginning of May, Ukraine demanded from Defense Minister Lambrecht (SPD) anti-ship missiles in addition to anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank weapons. Germany has not yet complied with this request.
Like Scholz and Lambrecht before it, the Ministry of Defense referred to confidential information on arms deliveries. “The information on specific weapons deliveries is security-relevant and classified, so I ask for your understanding that I can neither provide more information nor confirm details,” the ministry said to “Welt”.
4:46 p.m .: Poland is apparently delivering 18 KRAB self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, the Polskie Radio 24 broadcaster reported on Sunday, citing government circles. Poland has also trained 100 Ukrainian soldiers on the system. According to the report, Ukraine now has at least 24 self-propelled howitzers from Western stocks. France has already delivered six Caesar systems.
On Saturday, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov announced that he had received modified M109 howitzers from US stocks. The US has not yet confirmed this. Germany and the Netherlands want to hand over twelve tank howitzers 2000. The training of Ukrainian soldiers is said to have already started.
4:14 p.m .: In the dispute over plans for a European oil embargo against Russia, the EU Commission has presented a new compromise proposal. According to information from the German Press Agency, the draft initially only allows the import of oil transported by ship to be phased out. Oil transported via the huge Druzhba pipeline would therefore be exempt from the embargo until further notice.
This would allow Russia to continue part of its business with companies in the EU. According to EU information, around a third of the total delivery volume flowed through the Druzhba pipeline. This supplies refineries in Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic as well as in Poland and Germany. It was initially unclear whether the compromise proposal presented at the weekend had any prospects of success. Late on Sunday afternoon, the permanent representatives of the EU states wanted to meet in Brussels for initial consultations.
There has been a dispute in the EU for weeks about plans to ban imports of Russian oil because Hungary has so far been unwilling to support the project. The country justifies this with its high dependence on Russian oil supplies and the high costs of switching to other suppliers. Hungary only wants to agree to an embargo if it receives billions in aid from the EU or far-reaching special rules.
3:50 p.m .: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj has visited the embattled Kharkiv region in the east of the country. Video footage shared on Sunday on the president’s official Telegram channel showed Zelenskyy awarding soldiers, inspecting the destroyed infrastructure in Kharkiv, but also inspecting burnt-out military vehicles abandoned by the Russian army.
Selenskyj thanked the soldiers for their commitment. “I am immensely proud of our defenders. Every day they risk their lives to fight for the freedom of Ukraine,” the President said.
While Zelenskyi received a report from the military leadership on the operational situation at the front, he spoke to Governor Oleh Synehubov about the damage to civilian objects in the region. According to Synehubov, more than 2,000 houses were destroyed in Kharkiv and the surrounding area. 31 percent of the territory is still under Russian control. The Ukrainian counter-offensive in April and May contributed to the liberation of five percent of the area, Synehubov said.
3.40 p.m .: Because he is fighting the Russian military in the Ukraine war, the Moscow judiciary has instituted criminal proceedings against the son of British MPs and ex-minister Helen Grant. “As part of criminal proceedings for mercenary activity, investigators are investigating the role of a relative of British MP Helen Grant,” the Russian investigative committee said on Sunday on its Telegram channel. In the British media, Ben Grant is celebrated as a hero.
Grant, a former British marine, has volunteered with Ukraine since March to fight the Russian invasion. The British press recently reported that he saved the life of an injured comrade under fire and carried him from the battlefield.
Moscow has now responded to the reports. According to Russian authorities, he “led the attack by a group of Western mercenaries on Russian military equipment in Ukraine.” Therefore, Grant’s actions would now be judged criminally. In Russia, as in many other countries, mercenary activity is a criminal offense and can be punished with up to seven years in prison.
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