EU leaders to weigh Russian oil embargo at Brussels summit

  • Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai says Russian forces have reached the outskirts of the key city of Severodonetsk and are moving into the city.
  • Haidai says Severodonetsk has no fuel or water and there is no possibility of restoring these services.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says all critical infrastructure in Severodonetsk has been destroyed and 90 percent of buildings damaged.
  • The “liberation” of Ukraine’s Donbas is an “unconditional priority” for Moscow, while other Ukrainian territories should decide their future on their own, says Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
  • European Union leaders will meet on Monday to discuss further support for Ukraine and the EU’s next package of sanctions against Russia.

Here are all the latest updates:

NATO support for Ukraine ‘unbreakable’: Spanish PM

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says NATO’s support for Ukraine is “unbreakable”.

“Supporting Ukraine with determination is the only way to ensure that the Europe and the world we have built has a certain future,” Sanchez told an event marking Spain’s 40th anniversary as part of the alliance.

The United States and other NATO allies have backed Ukraine, which is not a NATO member, with billions of dollars’ worth of weapons supplies during Russia’s offensive.

Kremlin says gas-for-roubles scheme could be applied to Eurobonds

A Russian gas-for-roubles scheme used with foreign purchasers has proved convenient both for buyers and sellers, the Kremlin has said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov’s remarks came after Russia’s finance ministry proposed to apply a similar scheme to foreign holders of Russian Eurobonds.

“The practice of paying for gas [in roubles] has shown its convenience for sellers and buyers. So why not use it [for Eurobonds]?” Peskov said during a conference call with reporters, adding that Moscow remained willing to honour its external debts.

Kherson official says grain being sent to Russia

An official installed by Russia in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine says grain from the area is being sent to Russia.

Kirill Stremousov, the deputy head of the Russia-backed administration for the Kherson region, told Russia’s TASS news agency that grain from last year’s harvest was being delivered to Russian buyers.

“There is space for storing [the next crop] although obviously there is a lot of grain here,” Stremousov was quoted as saying. “Now people are partially exporting, having reached agreements with those who are buying from the [Russian] side.”

Russian troops overran most of the Kherson region in the early weeks of the war and have tightened their grip on the area since. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin visited the region earlier this month and suggested it could become part of “our Russian family”.


Ukrainian counterattack kills 63 in Kryvyi Rih: Official

Ukrainian forces killed 63 Russian soldiers during a counterattack south of the city of Kryvyi Rih, in central Ukraine, according to a local defence official.

The Russian troops were advancing from the occupied Kherson region in southern Ukraine, but the counterattack repelled them and also “destroyed” T-72 tanks, helicopters and the Grad multiple rocket system, Oleksandr Vilkul said in a Telegram post late on Sunday. Kryvyi Rih is Zelenskky’s hometown.

There was no immediate response to Vilkul’s claim from Moscow, and Al Jazeera could not independently verify his report.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Russia says it struck a shipyard in Mykolaiv

Russia’s defence ministry says its forces have struck a shipbuilding facility in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv.

Russian artillery struck a hangar at the Okean Shipyard, destroying vehicles and other equipment, the ministry said.

There was no immediate response to the ministry’s claim from Moscow, and Al Jazeera could not independently verify the report.

Russia has suffered devastating losses among lower-ranked officers: UK

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence says Moscow appears to have suffered devastating losses among mid- and junior-ranking officers.

“With multiple credible reports of localised mutinies amongst Russia’s forces in Ukraine, a lack of experienced and credible platoon and company commanders is likely to result [in] a further decrease in morale and continued poor discipline,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence update.

Brigade and battalion commanders were probably deploying to the most dangerous positions while junior officers have had to lead low-level tactical actions, the ministry added.

Spain backs new sanctions against Russia: Minister

Spain supports a new package of EU sanctions against Moscow but there is no agreement yet as some member states remain heavily dependent on Russian crude imports and are reluctant to block them, Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares has said.

“There are two goals we have when approving a sanction package. One is not allowing Vladimir Putin to finance his war effort with European capital and the other is not allowing Vladimir Putin’s war to destabilise the European Union,” Albares noted in an interview with state broadcaster TVE.

Ukraine says 243 children killed amid war

Ukraine says 243 children have been killed since Russia started its offensive, with another 444 wounded.

The office of the country’s prosecutor general said the figures were not final as work was under way to establish numbers in areas of active hostilities, and in temporarily occupied as well as “liberated territories”.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the figures provided.

African families paying 45% more for wheat due to war: AP

Families across Africa are paying about 45 percent more for wheat flour as Russia’s war in Ukraine blocks exports from the Black Sea, The Associated Press news agency reports.

Some countries like Somalia get more than 90 percent of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine. That has forced many to replace wheat with other grains.

But the prices of other grains are skyrocketing too, on top of an existing hunger crisis in the wider Horn of Africa brought on by persistent drought.

EU’s Borrell hopeful of deal on Russian oil ban

EU members should be able to reach an agreement on a new sanctions package against Russia, including imposing restrictions on Russian oil imports, during talks being held by officials, the bloc’s foreign policy chief has said.

“We need to decide unanimously. There were tough talks yesterday afternoon, as well as this morning,” Josep Borrell told broadcaster France Info.

“I think that this afternoon, we will be able to offer to the heads of the member states an agreement,” he added.

Asked if plans to include a ban to import Russian oil could fail over the resistance from Hungary and other Eastern European states, Borrell said: “No, I don’t think so … there will be an agreement in the end.”

Russian troops moving into Severodonetsk: Governor

Russian troops are moving into the city of Severodonetsk from its outskirts, Luhansk’s governor says.

“Unfortunately we have disappointing news, the enemy is moving into the city,” Haidai told national television, describing the fighting there as “very fierce”.

He added the neighbouring city of Lysychansk was still under Ukrainian control, while the main road into the two cities has been shelled, but not blocked.

“They [Russian army] use the same tactics over and over again. They shell for several hours – for three, four, five hours – in a row and then attack. Those who attack die. Then shelling and attack follow again, and so until they break through somewhere,” Haidai said.

Two civilians were killed and five others wounded amid the shelling, he added.

France’s foreign minister to meet Zelenskyy in Kyiv

French Foreign Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna will meet Ukraine’s president in Kyiv later on Monday to express solidarity and offer more support for the country, the French foreign affairs ministry has said.

Colonna’s trip to Ukraine comes amid criticism from some diplomats and political analysts that France is not doing enough to support Ukraine in its fight with Russia.

No gas or water in Severodonetsk: Governor

The governor of Luhansk has said there is no gas or water in Severodonetsk, and no possibility of restoring these services.

Haidai added that about one million people have been left without water supply in the region.

A Donetsk People's Republic militia serviceman speak on a communication device prior to fire with a multiple rocket launcher from its position not far from Panteleimonivka, in Russian-occupied territory, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, May 28, 2022
A Donetsk People’s Republic militia serviceman speaks on a communication device near Panteleimonivka, in Russian-occupied territory, eastern Ukraine, May 28, 2022 [Alexei Alexandrov/AP Photo]

Moscow looking to withdraw from Russia-US organisations: TASS

Moscow is reviewing the terms of its agreements with the United States “in the fields of scientific and educational cooperation” with a view to terminate or suspend them, state news agency TASS has reported newspaper Izvestia as saying.

According to TASS, Russia’s first deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, Svetlana Zhurova, told Izvestia that the committee will consider all international treaties and analyse whether Russia’s participation in various joint organisations is feasible.

Izvestia did not specify the kinds of scientific and educational organisations the committee was looking into.

But Sergei Tsekov, a member of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs, told Izvestia Russia is extremely likely to withdraw from other organisations, such as the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Having shipped artillery shells to Ukraine, Canada asks Seoul for more

Canada has asked South Korea to supply it with artillery rounds, Seoul has said, apparently to “backfill” supplies that Ottawa has sent to Ukraine, upping pressure on South Korea to provide – at least indirectly – lethal aid in the war, Reuters reports.

A spokesperson for South Korea’s ministry of defence confirmed that Ottawa had made the request, but would not elaborate further saying “no official proceedings are under way related to the request,” according to Reuters.

Canada has provided Ukraine with M777 towed howitzers, which fire 155-millimetre shells. South Korea is a major manufacturer of 155mm ammunition, with its K9 self-propelled howitzer dominating the international market.

Seoul has provided humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and has shipped non-lethal items including bulletproof helmets and medical kits but has said it has no plans to provide the embattled country with lethal aid.

Ukraine opens criminal proceedings into Russia’s Saturday Donetsk attacks

Ukraine’s prosecutor’s office in the Donetsk region has opened five criminal proceedings into Russia’s use of heavy artillery on May 28 against the town of Toretsk, and villages in the Bakhmut and Pokrovsky districts, Interfax reports.

The prosecutor’s office says three people were considerably injured in the attacks.

Images show Russian ship, with allegedly stolen Ukrainian grain, in Syria: CNN

New satellite imagery shows that a Russian ship carrying grain allegedly stolen from Ukrainian farms has arrived in the Syrian port of Latakia, CNN reports.

The images are provided by Maxar Technologies and show the carrier Matros Pozynich at Latakia on May 27.

According to CNN, the Pozynich is one of three ships that have been loading grain in the Crimean port of Sevastopol since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It was last seen in Sevastopol on May 19 and then tracked along the Turkish coast.

CNN has previously reported that convoys of trucks have been seen carrying grain from farms and silos in southern Ukraine into Crimea. Ukrainian authorities estimated earlier this month that Russian forces in occupied areas had seized more than 400,000 tonnes of grain.

Few key decisions likely in upcoming EU meeting

Draft conclusions of Monday’s upcoming meeting of EU leaders, seen by the Reuters news agency, show that while the EU will be generous with verbal support for the government in Kyiv, there will be little in terms of new decisions on any of the main topics.

EU leaders will meet on Monday to declare continued support for Ukraine to help it fend off Russia’s assault, but the talks will be overshadowed by their failure to agree on a new sanctions package against Moscow.

Reuters reports that the most tangible of decisions will be the leaders’ political backing for a 9 billion euro ($9.6bn) package of EU loans, with a small grants component to cover part of the interest, so that Ukraine can keep its government going and pay wages for about two months.

But even there, the decision will be only made later, after the European Commission makes a proposal on how to raise the money, Reuters reports.

Russian forces damaged 2,229 high-rise buildings in Kharkiv region: Governor

The governor of the Kharkiv region says Russian forces damaged 2,229 high-rise buildings, of which 225 have been destroyed.

In the city of Kharkiv itself, the northern and eastern districts suffered the most damage and destruction, Oleh Synyehubov told Zelenskyy during the president’s visit to Kharkiv, adding that 30 percent of the housing stock was either damaged or destroyed in these areas.

Russian forces fired on 46 communities in Donetsk and Luhansk Sunday: Army

Russian forces fired on 46 communities in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on Sunday, killing at least three civilians, wounding two others, and destroying or damaging 62 civilian buildings.

In a Facebook post, Ukrainian forces in the Donbas said they had been on the defensive all day on Sunday.

Russian shelling also continued across several regions such as in Novy Buh in Mykolaiv and Sumy. The city council in Novy Buh in the Mykolaiv region in southern Ukraine said on its Telegram channel that a Russian missile attack had caused considerable damage in the city centre.

Russia still occupies one-third of Kharkiv region: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy has said that one-third of the Kharkiv region is still under Russian occupation, but that Ukraine will “definitely liberate the entire territory”.

In his nighttime address, the president also described the destruction in the region’s capital city of Kharkiv, which he visited on Sunday.

“Black, burnt-out, half-ruined apartment buildings face east and north with their windows – from where Russian artillery was firing. From where Russian combat aircraft arrived,” he said.

“They face Russia. And in them now, like in a mirror, the Russian state can see itself. See how much it lost during these 95 days of full-scale war against Ukraine,” Zelenskyy added.

Debris cover the room of an apartment damaged during shelling in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, May 21, 2022
Debris cover the room of an apartment damaged during shelling in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, May 21, 2022 [Bernat Armangue/AP]

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra raises $900,000 for army by auctioning Eurovision trophy

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra, which won the Eurovision Song Contest earlier this month, raised $900,000 for the country’s military by selling the contest’s trophy.

The group won Eurovision with their entry “Stefania”, surfing a wave of public support to claim an emotional victory that was welcomed by the country’s president.

On Sunday they sold the crystal microphone they were awarded in a Facebook auction led by Ukrainian TV presenter Serhiy Prytula.

The funds raised will be used to purchase for the armed forces the PD-2 unmanned aerial system, which includes three aircraft and a ground control station, Prytula said at the auction.

Serbia secures gas supply deal with Putin

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic has announced that he has secured an “extremely favourable” three-year natural gas supply deal with Russia, amid efforts by the EU to phase out Russian energy supplies.

“What I can tell you is that we have agreed on the main elements that are very favourable for Serbia,” the Serbian president said after clinching the deal during a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

For more, read here

No EU deal on Russian oil embargo yet; more talks on Monday

The EU governments have failed to reach an agreement on an embargo on Russian oil, but will continue negotiations on Monday morning, an EU official told Reuters.

The proposal under discussion now among EU countries assumes a ban on Russian oil delivered to the EU by sea by the end of the year, but foresees an exemption for oil delivered by the Russian Druzhba pipeline, which supplies Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech republic.

Top Kharkiv official fired over city’s defence: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy says he fired Kharkiv’s security services chief for “not working on the defence of the city” since the start of Russia’s invasion.

“I came, figured out and fired the head of the Security Service of Ukraine of the (Kharkiv) region for the fact that he did not work on the defence of the city from the first days of the full-scale war, but thought only about himself,” Zelenskyy said in his daily national address.

He spoke after visiting the country’s war-ridden east for the first time since Russia’s invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy looks on as he visits the war-hit Kharkiv region. Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the situation in the east as "indescribably difficult."
President Zelenskyy looks on as he visits the war-hit Kharkiv region. He described the situation in the east as ‘indescribably difficult’ [Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP]

All critical infrastructure in Severodonetsk is destroyed: Zelenskyy

Russian forces stormed Severodonetsk after trying unsuccessfully to encircle the strategic city, Ukrainian officials said, creating a situation that Zelenskyy described as “indescribably difficult”. He said a relentless Russian artillery barrage had destroyed the town’s critical infrastructure and damaged 90 percent of its buildings.

“Capturing Severodonetsk is a principal task for the occupation force… We do all we can to hold this advance,” Zelenskyy said, adding that the Russians don’t care about casualties.

The deteriorating conditions raised fears that Severodonetsk could become the next Mariupol, which spent nearly three months under Russian siege before the last Ukrainian fighters surrendered.

Ukraine’s Donbas ‘unconditional priority’ for Moscow: Lavrov

The “liberation” of Ukraine’s Donbas is an “unconditional priority” for Moscow, while other Ukrainian territories should decide their future on their own, the RIA news agency cited Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying.

“The liberation of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, recognised by the Russian Federation as independent states, is an unconditional priority,” Lavrov said in an interview with French TV channel TF1, according to RIA.

For the rest of the territories in Ukraine, “the people should decide their future in these areas,” he said.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war.

See all updates from Saturday, May 28 here.

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