Rishi Sunak attacks Vladimir Putin before the G20 summit. Rolf Mützenich calls again for more diplomatic efforts. The Ukrainian adviser Mykhailo Podoliak hinted at tank deliveries from Germany. All current voices and developments on the Ukraine war can be found in our ticker.
More on the course of the war in Ukraine.
Sunday, November 13, 9:48 a.m.: Before the G20 summit in Indonesia, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sharply attacked Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Putin’s war has wreaked havoc around the world, destroying lives and throwing the international economy into turmoil,” Sunak said in a statement Saturday night. For Sunak, attending the summit just a few weeks after taking office is one of his first trips abroad. Britain has been one of Ukraine’s main supporters since Russia’s war of aggression began in late February.
The summit on the island of Bali will not be “business as usual,” Sunak said. “We will confront Putin’s regime and expose his utter contempt for international cooperation and respect for forums like the G20.” Unlike Russia, Britain and its allies would work together to make progress on solving economic problems and the state of the world improve their own populations.
Russia and the UK are both members of the Group of Great Economic Powers (G20). Putin does not come to the summit, but is represented by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
7:10 p.m .: Russia will no longer allow ships loaded abroad to cross the Kerch Strait towards the Sea of Azov, according to Turkey. “The passage of ships that have been loaded outside Russian territory is prohibited north through the Kerch Strait,” said the responsible body of the Turkish Ministry of Transport on Twitter on Saturday. A ministry spokesman said the tip came from the Russian side, without giving any further details. There was initially no comment from Moscow.
The Sea of Azov is a shared inland sea between Russia and Ukraine and is only connected to the larger Black Sea by the Kerch Strait. However, important Ukrainian seaports on the Sea of Azov – such as Mariupol and Berdyansk – have been conquered by Russia and brought under its control in the course of its eight-and-a-half-month war of aggression.
5:04 p.m .: After the Russian withdrawal, the Ukrainians continue to advance to the regional capital of Cherson in the south of their country – and with them a very special symbol of victory: the watermelon. Videos circulated on social networks over the weekend, showing a Ukrainian soldier holding one of the large, round fruits and being euphorically cheered on by a crowd. A photo showing a Ukrainian flag on top of a giant melon statue was also widely shared.
The background is as follows: The Cherson region with its warm summers is known for particularly delicious watermelons. The fact that the popular fruit fell into the hands of the Russian occupying forces last season also hurt the Ukrainians financially, because the fruit is an important trade product.
After successful Ukrainian counter-offensives, Russian troops gave up all places north-west of the Dnipro River last week. The Russians still have control over a large part of Cherson, which lies on the other side of the river. But the victory over the regional capital of the same name is symbolic for the Ukrainians of recapturing the entire region – and thus also the melon fields.
Even high-ranking politicians like the head of the Ukrainian presidential office in Kyiv, Andriy Yermak, are adding melon emojis to their communications about Kherson these days. Several Ukrainian companies also quickly integrated the melon into their company logo. And the Ukrainian post office announced the printing of a special postage stamp on the occasion of the victory in Cherson – with, of course, a piece of watermelon as a motif.
5:50 a.m.: SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich has reiterated his call for more diplomatic action to end the Ukraine war. “I wish that there would be as much talk about diplomacy as about arms deliveries,” he told the newspapers of the Neue Berliner Redaktionsgesellschaft on Saturday. He sometimes had the impression that “diplomacy” was in danger of becoming a swear word, he criticized.
It’s not about “negotiating with Russia over the heads of Ukraine,” stressed Mützenich. But there must be talks with the governments in the world “that could still have a certain influence on Putin”. He advocates “not closing small diplomatic windows thoughtlessly,” said the long-time foreign politician.
With a view to the debate in the SPD about the earlier Russia policy, the faction leader warned against exaggerated self-flagellation. “I’m not willing to go in sackcloth and ashes,” he told the newspapers. The SPD’s policy of détente was “an important door opener for the peaceful establishment of sovereignty in formerly oppressed states in Eastern Europe”. “There’s no need to apologize for that.”
Nevertheless, Mützenich acknowledged mistakes in Russia policy in recent years. “This includes, for example, the sale of gas storage facilities to Russian companies and also the relativization of the political dimension of Nord Stream 2,” he said.
4:12 a.m .: The mysterious street artist is believed to have immortalized himself in Ukraine. On his Instagram channel on Friday evening, Banksy published images of a work on a destroyed house, said to have been taken in the badly devastated city of Borodyanka near Kyiv.
The work shows a girl on the gray wall of a war-damaged house, apparently doing a handstand on the rubble. The publication on his Instagram channel is traditionally seen as a sign that Banksy confirms a work as his. The famous street artist has also traveled to crisis areas in the past, including the West Bank. Banksy’s identity is still unknown.
Saturday, November 12, 1:45 a.m.: The European Commission and several development banks are increasing their support for grain exports from Ukraine by one billion euros. The money is to be invested in the so-called solidarity corridors. These are routes on which Ukrainian grain is transported by road or rail to ports in the EU. From there it can then be shipped to other parts of the world.
“Where Russia sowed destruction, Europe restored hope,” said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Twitter on Friday. The money was intended to shorten waiting times for trucks and trains heading to Poland and Romania. According to a statement, it is planned to improve the flow of traffic at border crossings and the road and rail infrastructure in Ukraine.
Ukraine is one of the largest grain producers in the world. However, because of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Kiev’s grain exports are severely affected.
An agreement brokered by the UN and Turkey was signed in Istanbul on July 22 to enable the safe export of Ukrainian grain through a protective corridor in the Black Sea and the export of Russian food and fertilizers despite the war. However, the agreement expires on November 19th.
On Friday, representatives of Russia and the UN spoke in Geneva about a continuation of the agreement. The United Nations hopes for a one-year extension. However, it is still unclear whether Russia will extend its involvement. Moscow has repeatedly complained that it cannot sell its grain and fertilizers because of the sanctions imposed by the West. “The world cannot afford to allow global problems in access to fertilizers to lead to global food shortages,” the United Nations said in a statement.
5:58 p.m .: Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) phoned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj before the G20 summit. Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit announced on Friday that it was about the military, political and humanitarian situation in Ukraine. Zelenskyi also informed the chancellor about the most recent development of the situation in the Cherson region. Both politicians also condemned “the ongoing targeted shelling of civilian infrastructure in Ukraine by the Russian armed forces and discussed concrete measures to strengthen the Ukrainian energy infrastructure”. Chancellor Scholz reaffirmed Germany’s continued support to Ukraine with current priorities in the areas of energy infrastructure and air defense.
The summit of the group of major economies is next Tuesday and Wednesday on the Indonesian island of Bali. The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine is a key issue in the talks.
As Hebestreit further announced, Scholz and Selenskyj called for the grain agreement under the aegis of the United Nations to be extended beyond November 19, which will help to improve the global food situation. Both agreed to stay in close contact. As Selensky wrote on Twitter, he thanked Scholz for the German support during the conversation.
On Wednesday, Russia announced the withdrawal of troops from the region’s capital, Cherson, because supplying its own soldiers was impossible, for example due to bridges that were no longer usable. Since then, the Ukrainian armed forces have reported a gradual advance in the region. Several towns were therefore freed again. After the failure of the advance on Kyiv and the retreat at Kharkiv, this is considered another military defeat for Russia.
3:15 p.m .: Mykhailo Podoliak, a close adviser to the Ukrainian President, spoke in an interview with “t-online” about the current situation in Ukraine. According to Podoliak, the army liberated village after village in the Cherson region after the Russians withdrew.
When asked how his country looked at Germany, Poldoljak said: “We see that the German government is changing mentality and there is a growing understanding of what kind of war is happening here.” He does this “in public statements and statements by German ministers behind closed doors”. “Germany has started to deliver missile defense systems to us. In addition, the German government is reconsidering its stance on new arms shipments. This also applies to Leopard 2 and Marder tanks. With 200 modern main battle tanks and armored personnel carriers, we could enormously accelerate our counter-offensives on several front sectors.
Ukraine “expects a delivery of this magnitude soon, as soon as Berlin sees how effective the plans of the Ukrainian General Staff are.”
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