Russia-Ukraine latest updates: UN sets up ‘rights abuses’ inquiry

United Nations Human Rights Council votes to launch investigation into allegations of abuses by Russian troops in Ukraine.

Ukraine war
Amnesty International says it has documented extensive war crimes by Russian forces in communities around the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv [File: Rodrigo Abd/AP]
  • The UN Human Rights Council has passed a resolution by a strong majority, setting up an investigation into allegations of rights abuses by Russian troops in parts of Ukraine formerly under their control.
  • Pressure on Europe to secure alternative gas supplies is rising after Moscow imposed sanctions on European subsidiaries of state-owned Gazprom and Ukraine stopped a gas transit route, pushing prices higher.
  • UN human rights chief says many abuses committed by Russian forces in Ukraine may amount to war crimes.
  • Finland leaders announce they intend to apply to join NATO “without delay”.
  • Pro-Moscow authorities in Ukraine’s occupied southern region of Kherson declare they plan to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to incorporate the territory into Russia by the end of this year.
  • Ukraine’s prosecutor general has said for the first time since the war began that a Russian soldier will stand trial for an alleged war crime in Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian officials warn of “medieval” conditions in Mariupol as Moscow continues its push for complete control of the southeastern port city.
INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what Day 77_May 11
(Al Jazeera)

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These were the updates on Thursday, May 12:

Ukrainian forces damage Russian navy ship in Black Sea

Ukrainian forces have damaged a modern Russian navy logistics ship in the Black Sea, setting it on fire, a spokesman for the Odesa regional military administration in southern Ukraine has said.

Spokesman Serhiy Bratchuk said in an online post that the Vsevolod Bobrov had been struck near Snake Island, the scene of renewed fighting in recent days, but did not give details. The tiny island is located near Ukraine’s sea border with Romania.

Over six million refugees have fled Ukraine, says UN

More than six million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began on February 24, figures from the UN refugee agency has said.

A total of 6,029,705 people had fled Ukraine as of May 11.

Many had gone to neighbouring countries before continuing their journey, according to the agency’s dedicated website, with Poland hosting the largest number.

Residents react as they are evacuated.
Residents being evacuated from a village retaken by Ukrainian forces amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine [File: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters]


G7 ministers to discuss how to end Ukrainian grain blockade

The foreign ministers of the Group of Seven industrialised nations (G7) will discuss how to end a blockade of Ukrainian grain to enable it to be exported to the world, German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock has said.

“There are 25 million tonnes of grain currently blocked in the Ukrainian port of Odesa, which means food for millions of people in the world that is urgently needed, above all in African countries and in the Middle East,” Baerbock said.

The war in Ukraine has sent global prices for grain, cooking oils, fuel and fertiliser soaring, with United Nations agencies warning that the price increases will worsen a food crisis in Africa.

France ‘fully supports’ Finland’s choice to join NATO

French President Emmanuel Macron has told his Finnish counterpart that France fully supported the country’s choice to join NATO, the Elysee presidential office said in a statement.

Finland must apply to join the NATO military alliance “without delay”, its president and prime minister said, in an historic policy shift triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

UN sets up inquiry into Russia’s alleged rights abuses in Ukraine

The United Nations Human Rights Council has passed a resolution by a strong majority, setting up an investigation into allegations of rights abuses by Russian troops in parts of Ukraine formerly under their control.

The Geneva-based council passed the resolution through a vote, with 33 members voting in favour and two against (China, Eritrea). There were 12 abstentions.

Russia was recently suspended from the 47-member council. However, it could still have joined the session as an observer but chose not to do so in protest over the resolution, which it said amounted to political score-settling.

EU plan aims to help get wheat from Ukraine to the world

The European Commission has proposed helping Ukraine export its wheat and other grains by rail, road and river to get around a Russian blockade of Black Sea ports, which is preventing those critical supplies from reaching parts of the world at risk of food insecurity.

The European Union’s executive arm said the plan aims to establish alternative routes and ease congestion between borders that also should facilitate getting humanitarian aid and other goods into the war-torn country.

“Twenty million tons of grains have to leave Ukraine in less than three months using the EU infrastructure,” said Adina Valean, EU commissioner for transport.

“This is a gigantesque challenge, so it is essential to coordinate and optimise the logistic chains, put in place new routes, and avoid, as much as possible, the bottlenecks.”

More than 300 killed in Irpin, says mayor

Russian forces have killed some 300 civilians and 37 militias in the Kyiv suburb of Irpin, its mayor, Oleksandr Markushkin, has said.

The figure was far from final and was “unfortunately growing”, Markushkin was quoted by the ITV online magazine as saying.

He said the bodies of civilians were still being found in parks and back yards.

Irpin and several suburbs north of Kyiv were occupied between late February and early April.

Europe’s gas supply crisis grows after Russia imposes sanctions

Pressure on Europe to secure alternative gas supplies has increased after Moscow imposed sanctions on European subsidiaries of state-owned Gazprom and Ukraine stopped a gas transit route, pushing prices higher.

Russia imposed sanctions late on Wednesday, mainly on Gazprom’s European subsidiaries including Gazprom Germania, an energy trading, storage and transmission business that Germany placed under trusteeship last month to secure supplies.

It also imposed sanctions on the owner of the Polish part of the Yamal-Europe pipeline that carries Russian gas to Europe.

Five Crimean Muslims sentenced to up to 14 years in jail: activist

A Russian military court sentenced on Thursday five Muslim men from annexed Crimea for their membership in what it called an “Islamist” organisation, a community activist has said.

The Southern Military District court in the city of Rostov-on-Don sentenced Bilyal Adilov to 14 years in jail, while Izzet Abdullaev, Tofik Abdulgaziev, Vladlen Abdulkadyrov and Mejit Abdurakhmanov received 12-year sentences, she told Al Jazeera.

“Russian media outlets don’t write about it, and the court doesn’t release [the information on sentencing] that is handed to lawyers,” according to Mumine Salieva.

The men were accused of being members of Hizb-ut Tahrir, an organisation that freely operates in Ukraine but is banned in Russia.

The Kremlin has for years tried to suppress the language and culture of Crimean Tatars, a mostly Muslim minority that once dominated the Black Sea peninsula and fiercely resisted the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Key gas route will not reopen until Ukraine controls transit system

Ukraine will not reopen the suspended Sokhranovka gas transit route from Russia to European customers until Kyiv obtains control over its gas transit system, the head of the system’s operator GTSOU told the Reuters news agency.

The gas pipeline runs through Ukraine’s Luhansk region, part of which has been under the control of Russian-backed separatists since 2014.

Russia warns of response to Finland NATO entry

Russia has sent a warning that it would have to take “military-technical” steps in response to neighbouring Finland joining NATO, after leaders in Helsinki backed entering the US-led alliance.

“The expansion of NATO and the approach of the alliance to our borders does not make the world and our continent more stable and secure,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Integrating Finland into NATO will not be hard: Pentagon

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told US outlet MSNBC that it would not be difficult to integrate Finland into NATO and that its entry would be historic.

Russia ‘most direct threat’ to world: EU

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said Russia is the “most direct threat” to the international order since its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia “is today the most direct threat to the world order with the barbaric war against Ukraine, and its worrying pact with China”, she said after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo along with European Council President Charles Michel.

Read more here.

Ursula von der Leyen
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen [File: Olivier Hoslet, Pool Photo via AP Photo]

Russia responsible for most civilian casualties: UN

The UN’s human rights chief says her office has found Russian forces and affiliated armed groups are responsible for most civilian deaths during the war in Ukraine.

“According to our information, while such incidents can be attributed to both parties to the conflict, most of these casualties appear attributable to the Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups,” Michelle Bachelet told the Human Rights Council.

Nike terminates contract with Russian football club

Clothing giant Nike has terminated its sponsorship deal with Spartak Moscow as the team will not be competing in European competitions next season, the club has said.

European football’s governing body UEFA had previously announced that Russia would have no affiliated teams participating in its club competitions in the 2022-23 season due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

One Ukrainian killed, three wounded in Kharkiv: Governor

Russian shelling killed one and wounded three civilians in the northeastern Kharkiv region, its governor has said.

The shelling hit the village of Derhachi northwest of the regional capital, Kharkiv, Oleh Sinehubov said on Telegram.

In recent days, Ukrainians liberated several key towns around Kharkiv and pushed Russian forces towards the border.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Ukrainian strike killed one, wounded seven in western Russia: Governor

A Ukrainian attack killed one Russian and wounded seven more in a village that borders Ukraine, a regional governor claims.

The attack also destroyed 17 houses and six cars in the village of Solokhi in the Belgorod region on late Wednesday, Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram, calling the situation “the direst since the shelling began” in April.

Russia accused Ukraine of hitting several western Russian villages where fuel and arms depots are located, but Kyiv has routinely denied the claims.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Sweden to take Finland’s NATO assessment into account: Minister

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde says her country will take into account Finland’s NATO assessments when deciding to apply for membership.

“Finland is Sweden’s closest security and defence partner, and we need to take Finland’s assessments into account,” Linde posted on Twitter.

Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 78

Read the key events so far on Thursday, May 12 here.

The Wider Image: Inside a Ukraine hospital where medics work as rockets fall
Ukrainian volunteer soldier Alessandro video calls his family who fled to Poland, while recovering from shell shock, as he waits to be evacuated to a larger hospital, in Bakhmut, Donetsk, Ukraine [File: Jorge Silva/Reuters]

Gas supplies from Russia to Europe via Ukraine down: Gazprom

Russian energy company Gazprom says gas transported to Europe using a key route through Ukraine has dropped by a third.

According to the Interfax news agency, Gazprom said supplies transiting Ukraine on Thursday had dropped by nearly 30 percent compared with the day before.

Ukraine’s pipeline operator GTSOU announced it was halting gas transport at the Sokhranivka transit point from Wednesday as Russian occupying forces now in control were interfering with operations.

Ukraine abuses may amount to war crimes: UN rights chief

The UN human rights chief has said some 1,000 bodies had been recovered around Kyiv in recent weeks, adding that many of the reported abuses since the Russian invasion may amount to war crimes.

“The scale of unlawful killings, including indicia of summary executions in areas to the north of Kyiv, is shocking,” Michelle Bachelet said in a video address to the UN Human Rights Council.

The OHCHR will decide on Thursday whether to conduct an official probe into the events that occurred in Kyiv and other regions in February and March.

Russian forces try ‘blocking’ underground passages in Azovstal

In their attempt to take the besieged Azovstal plant in Mariupol, Russian troops tried to block the underground passages under the gigantic complex, a Ukrainian official has said.

The plant, which occupies 11 square kilometres (4.25 square miles), remains the only Ukrainian stronghold in the nearly-destroyed  Azov Sea port that was pummeled for more than two months.

The Russians’ “main goal is to block the exits from the system of underground passages, which was pointed out by a traitor,” city official Petro Andriushchenko said on Telegram.

However, the hundreds of Ukrainian servicemen holed up in the plant “were trying to counterattack risking everything,” he added.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Timeline: Week 11 of Russia’s war in Ukraine

The 11th week of the Russian invasion of Ukraine saw Kyiv’s forces mount a counteroffensive. Ukrainian troops have recaptured towns to the north and east of the country’s second city Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine.

Hundreds of civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, and the European Union struggled to agree on a sixth round of sanctions, as Hungary bristled at a potential oil embargo.

Read more here.

Damaged residential buildings in Saltivka neighbourhood in Kharkiv
Damaged residential buildings in Saltivka neighbourhood in Kharkiv, May 10 [Ricardo Moraes/Reuters]

Russians ‘feed fish’ in Luhansk river: Governor

Russian forces trying to cross a strategic river in Luhansk have only succeeded in “feed[ing] fish” with their bodies, the regional governor says.

Russian forces have been trying to bridge the Siversky Donets River with pontoons near the town of Bilohorivka but Ukrainian forces shelled the pontoons and destroyed the Russian units that crossed the river.

The Russians are “trying to cross again, but they only feed fish,” Serhiy Haidai quipped on Telegram.

At least 60 civilians were feared killed by Russian shelling in Bilohorivka on May 8.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Finland in favour of joining NATO alliance: President, PM

Finland’s president and prime minister say their country was willing to join NATO and a formal decision would be taken later this week,

“Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay,” President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a joint statement.

Demining Ukraine may take up to 10 years: Official

It will take up to 10 years to remove all the landmines planted by Russian forces in eight Ukrainian regions, an official has reportedly said.

“Judging by international experience, the demining would take between five to 10 years,” Oleh Bondar of the State Emergencies Service was quoted by the Ukrinform news agency as saying on Thursday.

Ukrainian military and officials said Russians leave mines, booby traps and explosive devices in public schools, houses and next to dead bodies.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

‘People of Ukraine’ win Atlantic Council award

The Atlantic Council has honoured the people of Ukraine with a distinguished leadership award, marking the first time the council has given a full nation the accolade.

Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Ukrainian singer-songwriter Jamala were among today’s award honorees, recognised for representing “the pillars of the transatlantic relationship”, according to the Council.

In a video message, Zelenskyy thanked the Council saying “courage is our national trait of character” and listed only a few names of those who made sacrifices during the war.

They included: Vitalii Skakun “who blew up a bridge sacrificing himself to stop a column of Russian tanks”; “21-year-old lieutenant Vitalii Sapilo, who neutralised 30 units of equipment of the enemy and died from an air strike”; “paramedic Serhiy Chornobryvets in Mariupol, who has been on duty for 22 days since the beginning of the war”; and “11-year-old Maksym, who said nothing to his mother, ran away from home and came to ask for permission to be a part of territorial defence.”

Russia’s Kharkiv withdrawal shows its inability to capture key cities: UK

The withdrawal of Russian forces from the Kharkiv region “is a tacit recognition of Russia’s inability to capture key Ukrainian cities,” the UK’s defence ministry has said.

In its latest intelligence briefing, the ministry noted that Ukrainian forces were continuing a counterattack in the north of Kharkiv and had recaptured several towns and villages. It said Russia’s prioritisation of operations in the Donbas had left the troops around Kharkiv vulnerable.

It added that Russia had withdrawn troops from Kharkiv to replenish. Once reconstituted, the ministry said, “these forces will likely deploy to the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River, forming a blocking force to protect the western flank of Russia’s main force concentration and main supply routes for operations in the vicinity of Izium.”

Severodonetsk shelled nine times on Wednesday: Governor

Shelling has damaged at least 24 homes across Luhansk, the region’s governor says.

In Severdonetsk, at least seven high-rise residential buildings have been damaged, Serhiy Haidai said on Telegram. “Three more houses were destroyed in Rubizhne, two in Gorny, five in Vrubivka, three in Toshkovka.”

Haidai said cities and villages across the Luhansk region were shelled 26 times on May 11, “most of all Severodonetsk (nine)”.

One dead, one injured in Dnipropetrovsk: Governor

Russian shelling of the town of Zelenodolsk, near Kryvyi Rih in the Dnipropetrovsk region, has killed one person and injured another, the region’s governor has said.

“In the morning, the occupiers again fired on the Zelenodolsk community … They hit just as people were leaving for work. One dead, one wounded … An energy infrastructure facility was destroyed,” Valentin Reznichenko wrote on Telegraph on Thursday morning.

Siemens to leave Russia

Multi-national industrial manufacturing company Siemens will quit the Russian market due to the war in Ukraine, Reuters reports.

Siemens said losses and charges at its train-making business led to a downturn in profit during its second quarter.

Read more here.

Several dead and wounded in Chernihiv after air raids: Governor

Air raids hit the town of Novhorod-Siverskyi in Chernihiv overnight, killing and injuring several people, according to the region’s governor.

Vyacheslav Chaus said schools, other administrative buildings and private houses were damaged.

“There are dead and wounded. Rescuers and doctors are currently working at the scene,” Chaus wrote on Telegram. He did not specify the number of casualties.

Valentyna Sherba, 68, enters her destroyed father's home in the aftermath of a battle between Russian and Ukrainian troops on the outskirts of Chernihiv.
Valentyna Sherba, 68, enters her father’s destroyed home in the aftermath of a battle between Russian and Ukrainian troops on the outskirts of Chernihiv, April 23 [Francisco Seco/AP]

Heavy shelling in Zaporizhzhia village kills one person

On Wednesday, the village of Komyshuvakha in the Zaporizhzhia region came under heavy shelling, which killed one person and destroyed 60 residential buildings, Interfax reports.

Missiles fell on Komyshuvakha throughout the day, according to the Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration (ZOVA).

ZOVA also said that Zaporizhzhia’s city Orekhov had been shelled for three days in a row. The city council introduced a three-day curfew starting from May 13, prohibiting citizens from going out without a special pass, ZOVA wrote on Telegram.

Nearly 800 missiles launched at Ukraine since February 24: Army

Ukraine’s army says 788 cruise and ballistic missiles have been launched on targets in Ukraine from the territories of Russia and Belarus since the start of the invasion.

Alexei Gromov of Ukraine’s armed forces said the main targets were transport infrastructure in the south and east of Ukraine “but they repeatedly fired at other objects of critical infrastructure of social importance”.

Germany may be able to do without Russian gas next winter: Minister

Germany may be able to cope with a boycott of Russian gas imports as soon as the coming winter, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck has said.

“If we have full storage facilities at the turn of the year, if two of the four floating LNG tankers we have leased are connected to the grid and if we make significant energy savings, we can to some extent get through the winter if Russian gas supplies collapse,” Habeck told WirtschaftsWoche.

Germany is Europe’s biggest natural gas consumer. Last year, Russian gas accounted for 55 percent of its imports and a sudden stop could trigger a recession in Europe’s biggest economy, a study found this week.

Japan and EU agree to further cooperation on Russia

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says Japan and the European Union have agreed to further their cooperation with respect to Russia.

In a joint news conference held in Tokyo, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and Kishida said they would condemn Russia and continue discussions on how to maximise the various partnerships currently in place, including in energy.

Kharkiv severs ‘sister’ ties with Russian cities

Kharkiv City Council has voted to unilaterally severe twin relations with the Russian cities of Belgorod, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk and Saint Petersburg, Ukrainian news agency Hromadske has reported.

Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said:”We cannot have fraternal relations with people who kill Ukrainians and destroy our motherland … There can be no such sister cities in Kharkiv,” Terekhov said.

The decision was adopted by Kharkiv City Council on May 11.

Damaged residential buildings in Saltivka neighbourhood in Kharkiv
Damaged residential buildings in Saltivka neighbourhood in Kharkiv, May 10 [Ricardo Moraes/Reuters]

Nearly five million jobs lost in Ukraine: Study

About 4.8 million jobs have been lost in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion, the International Labour Organization (ILO) says.

The job losses, which account for some 30 percent of Ukraine’s workforce before the invasion, could climb to seven million if hostilities continue, the ILO said in a study, which added that 3.4 million jobs could return quickly if there were a ceasefire.

The ILO also said the war could drive up unemployment in neighbouring countries hosting millions of refugees and hit Central Asian economies as migrant workers in Russia lose their jobs and return home.

EU chief welcomes Japan’s stance against Russia

The EU-Japan summit is under way with discussions on “further cooperation and alignment on sanctions in response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” according to a statement.

Ursula von der Leyen, Charles Michel and Fumio Kishida are taking part.

Von der Leyen said she welcomed Japan’s strong stance against Russia in its aggression towards Ukraine. “Like the EU, Japan understands what is at stake here … the future of a rules-based world order,” she said in a tweet.

Finland leader to give green light for NATO

Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto is expected to give the green light on Thursday for his country to join the NATO military alliance.

Jill Biden asks Putin to end ‘senseless war’

US First Lady Jill Biden has asked Putin to “please end this senseless and brutal war” in an article for CNN.

Biden wrote of the women she spoke with during her trip to Europe: “A young mother I met in Uzhhorod … told me that when she and her family ventured out in search of food, Russian soldiers would shoot into the lines of people waiting for a piece of bread.”

She also met with President Zelenskyy’s wife Olena Zelenska. “She didn’t ask me for food or clothing or weapons. She asked me to help her get mental health care for all those suffering from the effects of Vladimir Putin’s senseless and brutal war.”

Russians block all evacuation routes out of Mariupol: Official

An adviser to the Mariupol mayor says Russian forces have blocked all evacuation routes out of the city.

Petro Andriushchenko said on Wednesday that there were few buildings fit to live in after the weeks of bombardment and very little food or drinking water, and that some residents who remain in the city are cooperating with the Russian occupying forces in exchange for food.

Mariupol’s mayor told Ukrainian television on Wednesday that conditions in the city were “dire” and Russians had turned Mariupol into a “medieval ghetto”.

Members of Russia's Emergencies Ministry operate excavators while removing debris of a destroyed building in the southern port city of Mariupol.
Members of Russia’s emergencies ministry operate excavators to remove the debris of a destroyed building in Mariupol, May 11 [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

US lend-lease Ukraine act ‘historic’: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy has described as “historic” the US signing of the lend-lease act, which makes it easier to provide military assistance to Ukraine.

“And it is no coincidence that the new Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act was signed on May 9. I am personally grateful to President Biden for this support, for this decision and for such symbolism,” Zelenskyy said in his nighttime national address.

Zelenskyy also thanked the US for a $40bn assistance package passed by the House yesterday and added that Ukraine was “constantly discussing” its security guarantees “in a very substantive way”.

Russia made no gains in Ukraine Wednesday: Think-tank

Russian forces made no significant advances anywhere in Ukraine on Wednesday, while Ukrainian forces took further ground northeast of Kharkiv, the Institute for the Study of War says.

“The Ukrainian counteroffensive north of Kharkiv City has forced Russian troops onto the defensive and has successfully alleviated artillery pressure on Kharkiv City,” the institute said in its latest campaign assessment.

It added the Russians made no advances in the Severodonetsk-Rubizhne-Lysychansk areas, either.

The institute said Moscow’s forces may have started a new advance towards Bakhmut after capturing Popasna and “are attempting to consolidate their positions in western Kherson Oblast to push into Mykolaiv Oblast”.

Allies to approve Finland, Sweden NATO bid

NATO expects Finland and Sweden to apply to join the alliance in coming days and will grant membership quickly, five diplomats and officials told Reuters.

During the one-year ratification of their membership, the allies would provide an increased troop presence in the Nordic region, hold more military exercises and naval patrols in the Baltic Sea and possibly rotate US and UK forces through Finland and Sweden, they said.

Finland and Sweden would not benefit from NATO’s collective defence clause – that an attack on one ally is an attack on all – until the parliaments of all 30 member states have ratified the decision.

Swift US Senate approval likely for $40bn Ukraine aid bill

Final congressional approval of the US $40bn Ukraine aid bill seems certain within days, the Associated Press reports.

Top Senate Republicans said on Wednesday they expect strong GOP backing for the bill that the House approved yesterday.

“I think there’ll be substantial support,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told AP. No 2 Senate GOP leader John Thune predicted big support for the bill, which he and others suggested might come on Thursday.

A woman with a child from Siversk look though the window of a bus during evacuation near Lyman.
A woman and child from Siversk look out of a bus during evacuation near Lyman, Ukraine, May 11 [Evgeniy Maloletka/AP]

IMF approves $145m for Moldova

The International Monetary Fund says its executive board approved an immediate $144.8m disbursement to Moldova to help the country meet balance of payments financing needs as it comes under pressure from Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

In a statement, the IMF said the payment is part of an augmentation of Moldova’s existing IMF loan programme to a new total of $795.7m – an addition of $260m, Reuters reports.

Russia’s new invasion phase ‘no less dangerous’: US secretary of defence

Russia’s new offensive focusing on southern and eastern Ukraine is “no less dangerous” than when it attempted to take Kyiv, the US secretary of defence has said.

Lloyd Austin met with the UK’s defence secretary, Ben Wallace, today and discussed “the next steps to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian military aggression”, according to a tweet from the UK defence ministry.

“[W]e will continue to work together with unity and resolve to rush Ukraine what it needs to defend itself now, and in [the] future,” Austin said, according to a US defence department statement.

Ukraine football team plays for first time since invasion

Ukraine’s national football team played its first game since the Russian invasion on Wednesday, beating German club Borussia Moenchengladbach 2-1 in a friendly organised to raise funds for victims of the conflict.

Thousands of spectators waved Ukrainian flags and joined the players in relaying a message of support to a country that came under attack from Russia on February 24.

“This match is very important, for our team and for our country,” said former Ukraine international Andriy Voronin, who was commentating on the match for German TV channel ProSieben.

Biden visits US farm and highlights war-driven food inflation

US President Joe Biden has blamed Russia’s war on Ukraine for the latest spike in global food prices in the US and pledged to support the nation’s farmers as they seek to fill the supply shortage.

“America is fighting on two fronts. At home, it’s inflation and rising prices. Abroad, it’s helping Ukrainians defend their democracy and feeding those who are left hungry around the world because Russian atrocities exist,” Biden said during a visit to a family farm in the US state Illinois.

Biden said US farmers have helped pull Americans through the COVID-19 pandemic and now the Ukraine crisis. “You are the backbone of freedom,” he said.

More than 560 Ukraine National Guard soldiers killed in war: Kyiv

More than 560 soldiers from Ukraine’s National Guard, a force that includes the Azov regiment currently holed up in Mariupol’s steelworks, have been killed since the war with Russia began, its leader has said.

Besides the 561 dead, an additional 1,697 troops had been wounded since the war started, National Guard chief Oleksiy Nadtochy said in an online briefing.

Zelenskyy discusses more Russia sanctions with Germany

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he discussed defensive aid, energy sector cooperation and increasing sanctions on Russia in a call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

“We appreciate the high level of dialogue with Germany and support in our struggle!” he said in a tweet.

A German government spokesperson said the chancellor and the Ukrainian president “exchanged views on very concrete, practical ways of continuing to support Ukraine and agreed to remain in close contact,” giving no further details.

First Russian soldier to face trial in Ukraine for alleged war crime

Ukraine’s prosecutor general says a Russian soldier will stand trial for committing an alleged war crime in Ukraine for the first time since the war began.

Iryna Venediktova said in a post on Facebook the man, identified as Vadim Shysimarin, is accused of killing an unarmed civilian in Ukraine’s northeastern Sumy region on February 28, four days after Moscow launched its offensive.

The 21-year-old is currently being held in custody. If convicted, he faces between 10 years to life in prison, Venediktova said.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Volunteers exhume the bodies of civilians killed by Russian shelling in the village of Stepaky, close to Kharkiv.
Volunteers exhume the bodies of civilians killed by Russian shelling in the village of Stepaky, near Kharkiv, May 11 [Andrii Marienko/AP]

One dead, three wounded in Russia after Ukraine attack: Belgorod governor

One person died and three more have been injured in southwestern Russia as a result of shelling from Ukraine, the governor of Belgorod has said.

Russian deputy foreign minister meets US ambassador in Moscow

Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov and US ambassador John Sullivan have met in Moscow to discuss bilateral issues.

The US embassy said: “The United States remains committed to open channels of communication with the Russian government, both to advance US interests and to reduce the risk of miscalculation between our countries.”

Russia’s foreign ministry issued a short statement with no details of the conversation.

Read all the updates from Tuesday, May 11 here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies