Sunday, May 29, 2022

‘Immense battles’ continue around Kyiv despite Russia’s promise to scale back, mayor says: Live Ukraine updates

'Immense battles' continue around Kyiv despite Russia's promise to scale back, mayor says: Live Ukraine updates

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Russian military forces continued their bombardment of areas around Kyiv despite promising to scale back operations in those areas, according to Ukrainian officials.

Earlier this week, Moscow announced plans to dial back its military activity in and around Kyiv, but the Pentagon said less than 20% of the forces have been removed. Ukrainian authorities said Russian forces instead began bombarding homes, stores, libraries, and other civilian sites on the outskirts of Kyiv.

“It’s not true,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a video address to the European Union regional officials by Reuters. “The whole night we listened to sirens, to rocket attacks and we listened to huge explosions east of Kyiv and north of Kyiv. There are immense battles there, people died, still die.”

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A delegation of Ukrainian lawmakers visited Washington on Wednesday to push for more US assistance, saying their nation needs more military equipment, more financial help and tougher sanctions against Russia.

“We need to kick Russian soldiers off our land, and for that we need all, all possible weapons,” Ukrainian parliament member Anastasia Radina said at a news conference at the Ukrainian Embassy.

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Latest developments:

Nineteen people were found dead under rubble after a rocket attack on a regional administration building in the southern city of Mykolaiv, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine reported.

Talks between Ukraine and Russia will resume Friday by video, the head of the Ukrainian delegation, David Arakhamia, said. Ukraine will not sign a peace treaty until Moscow withdraws its troops, he said.

President Joe Biden is preparing to order the release of up to 1 million barrels of oil per day from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve, according to two people familiar with the decision, in a bid to control spiking energy prices.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has recalled Ukraine’s ambassadors to Georgia and Morocco, suggesting they haven’t done enough to persuade those countries to support Ukraine and punish Russia for the invasion.

US and British intelligence officials have determined that Russian President Vladimir Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about Russian forces’ performance in Ukraine.

Jeremy Fleming, the head of the UK’s spy service, said it “increasingly looks like Putin has massively misjudged the situation.” He said Russian soldiers, short on weapons and morale, are refusing to carry out orders and sabotaging their own equipment.

“And even though we believe Putin’s advisers are afraid to tell him the truth, what’s going on and the extent of these misjudgments must be crystal clear to the regime,” Fleming said.

A US official who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity said Putin has felt misled by the Russian military, leading to tension between the sides.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says its teams are ready to help evacuate civilians from of the besieged city of Mariupol.

“Our team in #Ukraine is on the road right now to be ready to: Facilitate the safe passage of civilians out of #Mariupol tomorrow. And bring aid,” the Red Cross tweeted Thursday. “All parties must agree to the exact terms. This operation is critical. Tens of thousands of lives depend on it.

The evacuation could begin Friday provided all the parties agree to the terms, route, start time and the duration, the Red Cross said. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Ukraine is sending out several dozen buses to collect civilians from Mariupol after Russia’s military agreed to a local cease-fire from the city to Ukraine-held Zaporizhzhia.

“It’s desperately important that this operation takes place. The lives of tens of thousands of people in Mariupol depend on it,” the Red Cross said.

Sensing the worst, two weeks before Russia began invading his homeland, tech entrepreneur Volodymir “Vlad” Panchenko wanted to charter a plane for a month to get as many of his employees and their families out of Kyiv, Ukraine, as quickly as possible.

But the co-founder of video game and metaverse marketplace DMarket said his board was giving him heavy pushback because his plan to shuttle workers to the Balkan country of Montenegro would lead to a 20% budget increase.

“None of them supported me. They said I was overreacting,” said Panchenko, who trusted his gut and told them he was executing his contingency plan anyway – regardless of the cost. “I told them that I felt a war was coming and we should leave. And if there isn’t, we’ll spend time in a warm place and still get our work done.”

DMarket and many other tech companies rely on colleagues who live and work in Ukraine, a fast-growing tech hotbed. While known companies such as Google and Microsoft have workers based in Ukraine, many far lesser-known, early- and mid-stage startups globally count on the embattled country’s talent-rich pool of engineers and developers and could be in jeopardy due to the conflict . Read more here,

— Terry Collins

President Joe Biden pledged an additional $500 million in aid to Ukraine in a phone call Wednesday with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as peace talks between Russia and Ukraine have failed to produce a breakthrough.

The White House confirmed the additional “direct budgetary aid” after Biden spoke to Zelenskyy for about an hour in a call. The infusion of new assistance is on top of $2 billion the US has committed to Ukraine since Biden became president.

Zelenskyy updated Biden on the status of Ukraine’s negotiations with Russia, according to the White House. It comes as the Biden administration has expressed skepticism about Russia’s stated plans to reduce military forces near the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

The two leaders also discussed how the US is “working around the clock” to fulfill security requests by Ukraine, the White House said, and efforts with allies to identify additional assistance needed by the Ukrainian government.

Zelenskyy said in a tweet they discussed their assessment of “the situation on the battlefield and the negotiating table” as well as defense support, a package of new sanctions on Russia and financial and humanitarian aid.

– Joey Garrison

Contributing: The Associated Press

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