Day 450 of the Invasion of Ukraine: The G-7 group Officially Announced a New Round of Sanctions against RussiaUkraine | May 19, 2023, Friday // 11:51| views
Day 450 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:
- The G-7 group officially announced a new round of sanctions against Russia
- Zelensky landed in Saudi Arabia for the meeting of the Arab League
- Advisor to Zelensky: No one is discussing a "Korean scenario" or freezing the conflict
- A drone struck the railway in Crimea and stopped train traffic
- New airstrike in Ukraine, tenth attack on Kyiv in a month
- The Ukrainian army seizes the initiative in Bakhmut, nationalists criticize Prigozhin
- Zelensky will personally visit the G7 in Japan, the US will announce new sanctions
- UK announces ban on Russian diamonds
- Lithuanian MP: Russia will use foreign children as human shields against the Ukrainian offensive
- Kissinger: Ukraine should become a member of NATO. To protect Europe from it
The G-7 group officially announced a new round of sanctions against Russia
Leaders of the world's richest democracies agreed on Friday to tighten sanctions against Russia, while a draft communique to be issued after their talks in the Japanese city of Hiroshima stressed the need to reduce dependence on trade with China, Reuters reported.
The G7 officially announced a new round of sanctions against Russia, the group said in a statement released Friday.
"We will deprive Russia of G7 technology, industrial equipment and services that support its military machine," the group said after the end of a meeting of the leaders of the seven advanced economies on issues related to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The leaders issued a statement reiterating their "firm rejection of Russia's illegal attempts to acquire Ukrainian territory by force." They also appeared to take a stand against a ceasefire proposal made by Beijing, which sent a special envoy to Ukraine earlier this week, with the G7 saying:
"We emphasize that a just peace cannot be realized without the full and unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops and military equipment, and this must be included in any call for peace."
The joint statement noted that the new measures build on previous actions and will be expanded "to ensure that the export of all items critical to Russian aggression, including those used by Russia on the battlefield, is limited in all our jurisdictions".
The group added that the most affected areas would be exports of industrial machinery, tools, construction, transport and business services, noting that they would continue to limit Russian earnings from trade in metals and diamonds.
On this occasion, the group directs its sanctions to institutions transporting materials to the front, as well as to Russian mining, processing, production and export of diamonds, "in order to reduce" the country's income.
The Group of Seven developed nations believe publicly supported investments in the gas sector may be temporarily appropriate as countries accelerate the gradual removal of their dependence on Russia, Reuters reported, citing a draft communique from the G7 meeting.
"In the exceptional circumstances of accelerating the phasing out of our dependence on Russian energy, publicly supported investments in the gas sector may be appropriate as a temporary response if implemented in a way that is consistent with our climate goals," the document said.
On China, which G7 members increasingly see as a threat to economic security, they agreed that its status as the world's second-largest economy meant there was no alternative to seeking cooperation, the draft final communique said, seen by Reuters.
"Our political approaches are not intended to harm China, we do not seek to frustrate China's economic progress and development," said the draft, which is still subject to change.
However, the draft continues to call for measures to "reduce over-dependencies" in critical supply chains and counter "malicious practices" in technology transfer and data disclosure.
The G7 leaders also reaffirmed the need for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and also called on China to pressure Russia to end its military aggression against Ukraine.
Seven countries, one mission #G7— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) May 19, 2023
Zelensky landed in Saudi Arabia for the meeting of the Arab League
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is already in the Saudi city of Jeddah for the Arab League summit. This was first reported by "Al Arabiya" and "Al Hadath" TV stations, then he himself confirmed his arrival on Twitter.
Some media - including regional ones - described the visit as "surprising", but the first reports about it appeared days ago.
The invitation by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, comes amid criticism from the United States of the Arab world for maintaining relations with Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. Washington and other Western powers are also worried about the plan to rehabilitate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who will be at the meeting today.
"I am starting my first visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to improve Ukraine's bilateral relations and ties with the Arab world," Zelensky wrote on Twitter at the start of his first visit to the Middle East since the start of the war. "Political prisoners in Crimea and the temporarily occupied territories, the return of our people, the peace formula, cooperation in energy. KSA plays a significant role and we are ready to raise our cooperation to a new level."
Zelensky does not mention the meeting of the Arab League itself, but the two Arab media talk about his participation in it, thus confirming the information about the invitation from Prince Mohammed to the forum, distributed earlier this month.
Sources of the two TV stations also confirm that Zelensky, who arrived on board a French government plane, will subsequently go (on the same plane) to the G-7 meeting in Hiroshima, Japan - his first visit to East Asia since the beginning of the war.
Ukraine's National Security Council insists that his planned participation is by video link only, but other reports say he will speak remotely tomorrow and arrive in person on Sunday.
وصول الرئيس الأوكراني فلاديمير زيلينسكي إلى المملكة لحضور #القمة_العربية الـ 32 في #جدة#قمة_جدة— قبل قليل ???? (@QblQlel) May 19, 2023
Advisor to Zelensky: No one is discussing a "Korean scenario" or freezing the conflict
Freezing the conflict is not on the agenda.
This was emphasized by the adviser to the Ukrainian president Mykhailo Podolyak, UNIAN reported. Yesterday "Politico" published an article in which American sources were quoted, according to which, in the long term, the USA was preparing for a "Korean scenario" of the war in Ukraine.
According to Podolyak, any ideas about freezing the war in Ukraine, which appear periodically in articles, are a "pseudo-analytical product" and the result of lobbying efforts of Russian diplomacy.
"There are no such scenarios on the real agenda, they are not discussed in any cabinet. All players are well aware of the limited resources and time of the Russian Federation and Putin's elite. The path remains unchanged."
The Politico article reported that a freeze on the conflict could be seen as a politically acceptable long-term outcome for the United States and Ukraine's other partners, as it would reduce the cost of supporting Kyiv.
A drone struck the railway in Crimea and stopped train traffic
An unidentified drone has carried out an attack on the railway network in Crimea, the Baza Telegram channel reported. Due to the attack, the movement of trains in the area of the incident has been stopped, announced the head of the occupation authorities in Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov.
The attack took place on the night of May 19 near the Solone Ozero station in the Dzhankoy region of Crimea. There is a military airport not far away. Numerous remains of the drone were found at the crash site, technicians and explosion experts are working.
Although the railway tracks were not damaged, the movement of trains was stopped, the electrical network was damaged.
According to Sergey Aksyonov, on the night of Friday in the northern part of the peninsula annexed by Russia, four unmanned aerial vehicles were shot down, and there were no casualties or damage.
On Thursday, the railway line to the base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol was blocked after a train derailed near Simferopol. The cause, according to British intelligence, was probably sabotage aimed at blocking the only railway line leading to the Russian base.
New airstrike in Ukraine, tenth attack on Kyiv in a month
Air raid warnings were sounded last night throughout Ukraine, except for the extreme western regions. Some areas later reported explosions.
Officials reported that air defenses were activated in several regions of the country. There are no reports of strikes on infrastructure or civilian targets. No casualties were reported either. The head of Kyiv’s military administration said Russian forces had sent successive waves of drones toward the capital. This is the tenth attack this month and the second in less than 24 hours.
Yesterday, after another night of rocket fire, at least 18 civilian casualties were reported. In his evening video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country's short-term priorities are related to additional air defense systems, missiles, training and combat aircraft, as well as long-range weapons. He is expected to ask for more weapons from allies again during the G7 summit, which begins today in Hiroshima.
Earlier, the Ukrainian president announced that he had signed a decree establishing the Council for the Reintegration of Crimea at a conference marking the anniversary of the deportation of nearly 200,000 Crimean Tatars by the Soviet authorities in 1944:
"Whatever Russia does, its aggression will be broken. It will not be able to steal either Crimea or any other part of our country. This is our home. I am convinced that the time will come when we can all gather together on May 18 and make sure that there is a free life in our Crimea and there is no trace of occupation. That's how it will be!".
At the same time, it became clear that the Pentagon overestimated the value of the weapons and ammunition that were sent to Ukraine. According to two senior officials of the United States Department of Defense, it is an accounting error for more than billion of the announced amount of billion. They explained that the error was the result of the valuation of the weapons, which were taken from military stockpiles.
The Ukrainian army seizes the initiative in Bakhmut, nationalists criticize Prigozhin
Ukrainian forces seized the tactical initiative and made significant tactical progress around Bakhmut in the May 18 counterattack, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its latest report on Friday. Thursday's operations are a continuation of the localized counterattacks that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been conducting for several days and are not the start of a new major operation, the authors of the report explain.
Multiple Russian military bloggers claim that Ukrainian forces broke through Russian defensive lines south and southwest of Ivanovsk (6 km west of Bakhmut) and northwest of Klishchievka (6 km southwest of Bakhmut) from the northwest. They also add that Russian forces have withdrawn from positions north of Sacco and Vantsetti (15 km north of Bakhmut) to positions south of the settlement, but that Ukrainian forces have not yet entered the village.
A day earlier, Yevgeny Prigozhin announced in an audio statement that Russian forces had ceded 570 meters of territory north of Bakhmut, which coincided with Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar's statement that Ukrainian forces had advanced 500 meters north of Bakhmut and on 1000 meters south of the city.
The spokesman for the Eastern Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Col. Serhiy Cherevaty, said that the Ukrainian army had advanced up to 1,700 meters in the past day, and the Ukrainian 3rd Separate Assault Brigade reported that the brigade's counterattacks had expanded the Ukrainian-held section of the Bakhmut area to 2,000 meters width and 700 meters depth.
The VSU is forcing the Russian military to respond to the Ukrainian actions, including by transferring Russian airborne elements to the flanks of Bakhmut to defend against the Ukrainian advance. The Russians have deployed most of their reserves in the Bakhmut area, which according to Hanna Maliar is likely to the detriment of other frontline areas. According to a recent ISW assessment, the Russian military command is redeploying military assets to the Bakhmut area to increase the Wagner's offensive capabilities and win a tactical victory before a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
The Washington Institute pays special attention to Yevgeny Prigozhin's latest media activity after repeated accusations that the regular Russian army has left Bakhmut and the Russian flanks in the city are collapsing. "Prigozhin's efforts to blame the Russian military for the failures around Bakhmut, ISW writes, have led some ultranationalists to accuse him of using the battle for Bakhmut to satisfy his personal ambitions." Russian serviceman and prominent ultranationalist Andrei Morozov (known by the alias Мурц) criticized a "Wagner" Telegram channel for wrongly attributing successful artillery fire to the 4th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 2nd Army Mercenary Corps from Wagner. Morozov argued that Prigozhin's claims that Russian conventional forces were abandoning the flanks were another part of Prigozhin's narratives aimed at saving his forces at the expense of other units that were deployed to reinforce Wagner's forces.
Morozov accused Prigozhin, thanks to the war, he had improved his financial situation. The nationalist also says that Prigozhin blames the conventional units in order to promote himself. ISW believes that Russian “siloviki” (strong men) are trying to discredit Pritozhin by accusing him of trying to use the Bakhmut victory to further his political aspirations in Russia. Morozov's criticism is notable because it may indicate a change in ultranationalists' perception of Prigozhin, ISW adds.
Zelensky will personally visit the G7 in Japan, the US will announce new sanctions
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will personally attend this Sunday's G7 summit in Japan, where the United States is expected to announce new sanctions against Russia.
The news was reported by Reuters, Financial Times and Bloomberg sources. It follows multiple reports that the Ukrainian leader planned to address his counterparts from the seven countries (US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Japan) via video link.
The war in Ukraine and tensions with China will be the inevitable focus of the G-7 meeting in Hiroshima - the second dedicated to the war. The series of Russian attacks in Ukraine, meanwhile, continued: Ukrainian authorities reported Russian warplanes in the sky, there were fears of airstrikes with hypersonic “Kinzhal” missiles, drones and more across the country. However, no damage is known to have been done; Kyiv claims that all UAVs have been taken down.
Difficult consensus on sanctions
Both the US and other countries in the group are expected to announce new restrictive measures, according to US officials. Those in Washington are expected to include a ban on US exports to 70 organizations and an expansion of the "blacklist" to include another 300 Russian citizens and companies.
The consensus on this issue is far from certain. For Germany, the emphasis is on the need to look for mechanisms against the circumvention of the current sanctions, instead of expanding the list of prohibitions. In addition, the eight other invited countries this year will also have positions: Australia, India, Brazil, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Comoros (representing the African Union) and the Cook Islands (representing the Pacific Islands Forum).
Britain, meanwhile, has already announced new sanctions against Russia ahead of the G7. It will itself ban the import of diamonds and metals from Russia, among other measures, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement. Tracking the diamond trade will also be discussed in Hiroshima, but no final decision is expected at the collective level.
The divisions between the actors are even more sensitive for China: there is no consensus on how to strike a balance between countering Beijing's threats and trading with it.
UK announces ban on Russian diamonds
In a fresh round of sanctions, the UK has announced a ban on Russian diamonds, alongside the military-industrial complex and metals amid the ongoing Ukraine war.
An industry worth USD 4 billion in exports in 2021, the ban on diamonds comes amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. The ban has also been announced on imports of Russian-origin copper, aluminum and nickel, the UK government said in a statement on Thursday. Along with these trade sanctions, the UK is also preparing to target an additional 86 members of Putin's military-industrial complex as well as those engaged in vital industries including energy, metals, and shipping, the statement said.
As the UK continues to engage with G7 allies to address all types of sanctions circumvention, they also include those who actively help the Kremlin in its efforts to weaken the impact of current sanctions, it said.
As he meets with G7 leaders in Hiroshima, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will also issue a warning against complacency in preserving "our ideals and against despotic governments," the UK government said.
To hinder Russia's war effort, the UK has applied the harshest set of sanctions ever placed on a significant economy, it said.
"To date we have sanctioned over 1,500 individuals and entities, freezing more than £18 billion of assets in the UK, and sanctioned over £20 billion of UK-Russia goods trade," the official statement of UK government read.
Along with other G7 leaders, the prime minister is set to visit the A-Bomb dome site at the Hiroshima Peace Park before participating in discussions on global collaboration, the G7 reaction to the Ukraine, Indo-Pacific security policy, and nuclear non-proliferation.
"He will urge the international community to stay the course on Ukraine, ensuring it has the diplomatic, military and economic support it needs, in the interests of international peace and security," the government statement said.
In his meeting with President Zelensky on Monday, the Prime Minister confirmed increased military assistance and emphasized the significance of long-term international support for Ukraine, particularly for the country's future in NATO. This announcement comes after that meeting. The leaders talked about Ukraine's road to a stronger political alliance and greater cooperation with G7 and NATO members.
Recently, Russia has considerably increased the number of missile attacks against Ukraine, but it also seems that Ukraine is shooting down more of Russia's missiles.
Meanwhile, the United States will also unveil new sanctions to "extensively restrict Russia's access to goods that matter for its battlefield capabilities," a US official said on Friday ahead of a G7 summit in Japan.
The United States apparently plans to blacklist about 70 companies and organizations for selling restricted US products to Russia.
"We will continue to expand export controls to make it even harder for Russia to sustain its war machine. Among other things, this involves extensively restricting categories of goods key to the battlefield, and also cutting off roughly 70 entities from Russia and third countries from receiving US exports by adding them to the Commerce blacklist," the official stated.
Lithuanian MP: Russia will use foreign children as human shields against the Ukrainian offensive
Russia intends to use foreign children as human shields during the upcoming counteroffensive by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. For this purpose, the Russian Federation organizes group excursions for minors to Crimea. This was announced by the member of the Lithuania Seimas(Parliament) Laurynas Kasčiūnas, "Unian" reported.
According to him, Russians from different countries around the world are trying to organize groups of children to travel to the occupied peninsula in the near future. Some offer a simple holiday, others - various cultural and educational events.
Kasčiūnas gave an example: as a reward after a music competition, the winners - children aged twelve to thirteen years from Kazakhstan, Israel, Belgium, Morocco, Tajikistan, Egypt, Armenia and other countries - are invited to go to the Artek children's camp in Crimea.
Kissinger: Ukraine should become a member of NATO. To protect Europe from it
“Ukraine should become a member of NATO. Not so much to ensure the country's security, but to protect Europe from the emergence of the best armed, most modern country with the least experienced leadership on the Old Continent”.
This was announced by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in an interview with The Economist, "Gordon" reported.
According to Kissinger, the West has demonstrated that it will take care of Ukraine's security.
"We have already proven that we will protect Ukraine," he explained, adding that what the Europeans are saying now is very dangerous. "Because the Europeans say we don't want to see them in NATO because they're taking too much risk, so we're going to arm them to infinity and give them the most advanced weapons. How can that work?" he asks.
Kissinger condemned Putin for the invasion and described his decision as a catastrophic mistake. According to him, the war must be ended without creating the conditions for the next round of conflicts. Kissinger condemned the West for many years promising to help defend Ukraine without presenting a plan of action in the event of a threat. Thus, not only did they not guarantee the security of the country, but they unnecessarily "infuriated" Moscow.
"Now I'm in a strange position where people are saying, 'Look, he's changed his mind, now he's for Ukraine's membership in NATO.' And I have two reasons for that. First, Russia is no longer the conventional threat that it used to be . And secondly, we have now armed Ukraine to such an extent that it will be the best-armed, most modern country with the least experienced leadership in Europe. Therefore, it is better for the security of Europe that Ukraine joins NATO," he said.
Kissinger believed that "with any ceasefire" Russia could keep some of the occupied territories, including Sevastopol, where its naval base is located. An agreement in which the Russian Federation keeps some occupied territories but loses others could anger both sides, a recipe for future confrontation, Kissinger said.
To establish lasting peace in Europe, two steps must be taken. First, Ukraine should be admitted to NATO "as a means of deterrence as well as protection". The second - for Europe to organize a rapprochement with Russia as a way to create a stable eastern border.
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