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Ukraine must decide its own future, says Duda

May 23, 2022

Visiting Polish President Andrzej Duda has told Ukrainian parliamentarians that only Ukraine should decide what path it should follow amid Russia's invasion. Follow DW for the latest.

 Polish President Andrzej Duda embraces Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Andrzej Duda stressed solidarity between Poland and UkraineImage: REUTERS
  • Poland's Duda addresses Ukrainian parliament
  • Kyiv again rules out territorial concessions to Russia 
  • Moscow says it is ready to restart peace talks
  • Former German ambassador says Putin seeking to cause famine in Mideast, Africa

This live updates article is now closed. For our latest from May 23, click here

UK's Johnson vows help to restore Ukrainian grain exports

London and Kyiv have discussed Russia's blockade of Ukraine's shipping port of Odesa, a spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

Johnson held a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday evening over the curbs which have stymied Ukrainian food exports and left dozens of countries facing food shortages.

The Russian navy has closed off access to the Black Sea, leaving millions of tons of grain and large quantities of sunflower oil stuck in the country.

The lack of access to Odesa has also restricted imports of food and other essential goods to Ukraine.

Johnson resolved to redouble efforts to provide food and humanitarian aid to Kyiv and ensure the country was able to restore its exports, the spokesperson added.

Russia ready to restart peace talks, says chief negotiator

Russia is ready to resume peace talks with Ukraine but the initiative must come from Kyiv, Moscow's lead negotiator said.

"For our part, we are ready to continue the dialogue," Kremlin aide Vladimir Medinsky told Belarusian TV, adding that "freezing talks was entirely Ukraine's initiative″ and that the "ball is completely in their court."

Teams from both sides have held regular talks both in person and via video link since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

The Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers met for inconclusive talks in Turkey in March, followed by a meeting of the delegations in Istanbul, which also failed to bring about concrete results.

On Tuesday, Kyiv's lead negotiator Mykhaylo Podolyak said negotiations were "on hold" as they had not achieved substantial results.

Kyiv again rules out cease-fire as Donbas attacks intensify

Ukraine has for a second time in as many days ruled out a cease-fire or any territorial concessions to Moscow — a sign that Kyiv is becoming increasingly uncompromising.

"The war must end with the complete restoration of Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty," Andriy Yermak, presidential chief of staff, said in a Twitter post.

On Saturday, Kyiv said concessions would backfire because Russia would use the break in fighting to come back stronger.

Ukrainian officials say they are being pressured by the West to sacrifice land for a peace deal just as Russia steps up its attack in the east and the south of the country.

Russia is now waging a major offensive in Luhansk, one of two provinces in eastern Donbas region.

The heaviest fighting focused around the cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, interior ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko told local TV on Sunday.

Russia's defense ministry said its forces also pummelled the southern Mykolaiv region with air strikes and artillery.

Russia: New Sarmat intercontinental missiles will be ready by fall

Russia says it plans to put about 50 new nuclear-capable Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles into service by the end of the year.

Roscosmos space agency Director General Dmitry Rogozin told Interfax news agency the rockets would be made in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk and stationed within the region.

Russia first tested the missile in late April, prompting Russian President Vladimir Putin to say they would force nations to ″think twice″ about threatening Moscow.

The Sarmat has a range of 18,000 kilometers (11,180 miles) and can be armed with nuclear warheads.

This would allow Russia to reach targets worldwide by launching attacks via either the North or the South Pole.

Borrell: Time to push forward on European defense

European Union foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has called on the bloc to not only spend more on defense, ″but to spend together″, saying it is the only way of ″spending better.″

In a blog post shared on Twitter, he said Russia's invasion of Ukraine had been a ″wake-up call for EU security and defense″ and that there had been no sense of urgency among members states to increase military spending before the war began.

″Had all EU member states spent 2% of their GDP on defense with 20% dedicated to investment, between 2006 and 2020, this would have resulted in approximately an additional €1,1 trillion for defense, of which around €270 billion on investment,″ Borrell said, citing data from the European Defence Agency (EDA).

Brussels' top diplomat said the EU needs to ″take on more responsibility for its own security,″ and to achieve this, ″we need modern and interoperable European armed forces, looking at the higher-end of the spectrum and also striving to scale up capabilities and forces.

Borrell said Brussels would create a joint task force to encourage member states to buy together and that new defense investment instruments would also be created.

Germany will work to restart Ukrainian grain exports to Africa

Starting a three-day tour of Africa on Sunday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke of the impact of Ukraine's war on the continent, saying Berlin would help restore grain exports from Europe to avoid a worsening food crisis.

Meanwhile, Senegalese President Macky Sall said he would travel to Russia and Ukraine "in the coming weeks" on behalf of the African Union.

Sall, who is the current president of the continental body, was due to visit the two countries on May 18 but didn't do so due to scheduling issues.

But now new dates have been proposed, he said at a joint press conference alongside Chancellor Scholz.

"As soon as it's set, I will go of course to Moscow and also to Kyiv and we have also accepted to get together all the heads of state of the African Union who want to with (Ukrainian) President (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy, who had expressed the need to communicate with the African heads of state," he said.

US considers deploying forces to guard embassy: report

The United States is considering sending special forces to Kyiv to guard the recently reopened embassy in the Ukrainian capital, according to a report in US media on Sunday.

The proposals would force the Biden administration to balance a desire to avoid escalating its military presence in Ukraine against fears for the safety of its diplomats, The Wall Street Journal reported Washington officials as saying.

According to the US newspaper, Joe Biden has yet to be presented with the proposal but should he approve the decision, troops would be deployed only for the defense and security of the embassy, which lies within the range of Russian missiles.

Since Russia invaded its neighbor on February 24, Biden has maintained that no American troops will be sent into the country.

Poland's Duda says he would not rest until Ukraine is in the EU

During a visit to Kyiv, Polish President Andrzej Duda told Ukrainian lawmakers that Ukrainians who fled the war into Poland were "not refugees to us."

"You are our guests," he was quoted as saying by The New Voice for Ukraine news outlet.

The Polish politician also said Ukraine needed to be rebuilt "at the cost of the aggressor" and that he would not rest until Ukraine becomes an EU member.

France: Ukraine will need 15 or 20 years to join the EU

Paris does not want to offer Ukrainians "any illusions or lies" about their way into the European Union, said France's State Secretary for European Affairs Clement Beaune.

"We have to be honest. If you say Ukraine is going to join the EU in six months, or a year or two, you're lying," Beaune told Radio J. "It's probably in 15 or 20 years, it takes a long time."

France's Macron has previously suggested creating a "European political community" to help quickly integrate Ukraine with the bloc. Kyiv would still be able to work towards full membership. But Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy rejected "such compromises" on his country's journey to the EU membership.

At a meeting in March, EU leaders said Ukraine belongs to the European family, but rejected the bid to fast-track its membership.    

Concert-goers chant anti-war slogan in Russia

The crowd at a rock concert in St. Petersburg was recorded chanting an anti-war slogan on Friday, causing a stir in a country where media is banned from using words like "war" and "invasion" to describe Russia's attack on Ukraine.

In a video that spread across social media, the crowd is heard chanting "F--- war!"  during a concert of the Russian band Kiss Kiss.

The band did not comment on the events. They have previously taken an anti-war stance despite the government's clampdown under the draconian law which prohibits "discrediting Russia's armed forces."

Last week, another video surfaced of Russian rock Legend Yuri Shevchuk criticizing the war and the Russian president at a concert of Shevchuk's band DDT in the city of Ufa. In the video, he decried the deaths of young Ukrainians and Russians "over Napoleonic plans of another of our Caesars."

"The motherland, my friends, is not the ass of a president that needs to be cuddled and kissed all the time," he said. "The motherland is a poor grandmother selling potatoes at the train station. That is the motherland."

Shevchuk now faces charges for allegedly discrediting the military. He could face a fine of up to 50,000 rubles ($806, €764).

Ukraine prolongs martial law for another three months

With the Ukraine war about to enter its fourth month, the country's parliament prolonged general mobilization for another 90 days. Martial law will also stay in effect at least until August 23.

Martial law stops able-bodied men ages 18 to 60 from leaving the country and restricts certain civil liberties, such as the right to demonstrate. The military also has extended powers.

Polish president says Ukraine must 'decide about its own future'

Polish President Andrzej Duda has told the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv that "only Ukraine has the right to decide about its future," criticizing those "worrying voices" saying that the country should give in to the demands of Russian  President Vladimir Putin in the hope of ending Moscow's invasion.

"Nothing about you without you," Duda said in what was the first speech at the Rada by a foreign head of state since the start of Russia's invasion on February 24.

Duda also said that nothing could disrupt the solidarity between his country and Ukraine.

His speech was punctuated by frequent bursts of applause by the Ukrainian parliamentarians.

Poland has taken in around 3.5 million people fleeing neighboring Ukraine from a total of 6.5 million now thought to have departed from their homeland amid the conflict.

Warsaw is also an enthusiastic supporter of Kyiv's bid for EU membership.

A Ukrainian parliamentarian, Roman Hryshchuk, later reported that Kyiv came under attack from Russian missiles during the speech, forcing deputies to take shelter.

Russia claims strikes on multiple Ukrainian military sites in east and south

Russian forces have hit Ukrainian forces at several locations in eastern and southern Ukraine, targeting command centers, troops and ammunition depots with airstrikes and artillery, Russia's Ministry of Defense says.

Major General Igor Konashenkov, the spokesman for the Defense Ministry, said air-launched missiles had hit three command points, 13 areas with troops and Ukrainian military equipment as well as four ammunition depots in the eastern Donbas region.

He said that in the southern region of Mykolaiv, Russian rockets had hit a mobile anti-drone system near Hannivka, some 100 km (62 miles) northeast of the city of Mykolaiv, along with dozens of control points and artillery and mortar units.

The claims cannot be independently verified.

Russian forces are now focusing their attention on operations in the Donbas region after failing in an attempt to take the capital, Kyiv, at the start of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24.

Putin wants to trigger famines, refugee crisis, says ex-ambassador

Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to deliberately cause famine in the Middle East and Africa so that Europe is destabilized by the huge numbers of people fleeing the regions as a result, the former German ambassador to Russia says.

"Putin's calculation is that after grain supplies collapse, starving people from these regions will flee and try to come to Europe — like previously the millions of Syrians fleeing the horrors of war," Rüdiger von Fritsch told the daily Tagesspiegel.

Von Fritsch, who was ambassador to Russia from May 2014 to June 2019, said this was why Russia was seeking to stop Ukraine from exporting grain and bombing grain silos.

"He wants to destabilize Europe with new flows of refugees so that Western states give up their tough stance toward Russia," he said.

Ukraine is one of the world's major grain exporters. Aid agencies have warned that millions may starve if the country is prevented by Russia's invasion from delivering grain and other agricultural products.

Severodonetsk a tactical priority for Russia: UK military intelligence

The Severodonetsk area in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region is one of Russia's "immediate tactical priorities," with Moscow's only operational company of BMP-Terminator tank support vehicles likely to have been deployed there, the UK Ministry of Defence has said in an intelligence update.

The presence of the vehicles suggests that the Central Grouping of Forces (CGF), which tried to take Kyiv in the early days of Russia's invasion, is involved in the operation, the update said. However, it said the Terminators, designed for urban combat, were too few in number to significantly aid Russian military efforts.

The city of Severodonetsk has been the administrative center of Luhansk Oblast since Russian-backed separatists took control of Luhansk, the oblast capital, in 2014.

Gas supply to Europe via Ukraine continuing, says Gazprom

Russian gas giant Gazprom has said it is continuing to deliver gas to Europe through Ukraine. It said 44.7 million cubic meters were expected to flow on Sunday via the Sudzha entry point, down from 45.9 million cubic meters on Saturday.

Ukraine rejected an application to supply gas via the main Sokhranovka entry point, Gazprom claimed.

The CEO of German energy company RWE, Markus Krebber, told the paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung that he expected Russia to gradually reduce gas deliveries to Europe amid an economic war triggered by Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

However, he said that he did not expect the supply of gas from Russia to be cut completely. He added that Germany could become independent of Russian gas by the spring of 2025 if the right measures were taken, with the situation “perhaps” becoming manageable a year before that.

Germany has been reliant on Russia for up to 55% of its gas supply, according to the Agora Energiewende think tank. It is currently seeking to diversify its sources amid concerns that revenue from energy exports is helping fund Moscow's invasion.

Poland's Duda visiting Ukraine

Polish President Andrzej Duda has arrived in Ukraine on an unannounced visit and will address the country's parliament, the Rada, on Sunday, his office said.

He will be the first head of state to give a speech in person in the Rada since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, according to the office.

Duda already visited Kyiv in April, meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Poland has taken in millions of people fleeing the war in Ukraine and is a major point of access for humanitarian and military aid. It has also been helping Ukraine export its grain and other agricultural products.

Warsaw strongly supports Ukraine's accession to the European Union.

Ukraine: No cease-fire, concessions with Moscow

Kyiv has ruled out a cease-fire with Moscow, saying it would play into the Kremlin's hands.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said making concessions — like ceding territory to Moscow — would backfire because Russia would hit back harder after any break in fighting.

"The war will not stop [after any concessions]. It will just be put on pause for some time," Podolyak told Reuters news agency.

He dismissed as "very strange" calls in the West for an urgent truce that would involve Russian forces remaining in the territory they have occupied in Ukraine's south and east.

Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak
Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak has spoken against giving Moscow concessionsImage: Emin Sansar/AA/picture alliance

"It would be good if the European and US elites understand: Russia can't be left halfway because they will [develop] a 'revanchist' mood and be even more cruel ... They must be defeated, be subjected to a painful defeat, as painful as possible," he said.

Both sides say peace talks have stagnated, with each blaming the other for the failure.

Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that the war could only end through diplomacy.

"The end will be through diplomacy," he told a Ukrainian television channel. The war "will be bloody, there will be fighting but will only definitively end through diplomacy."

A major issue hampering the talks is whether Russia should end up retaining territories it has seized in the war, or pull back to its internationally recognized borders.

Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Saturday

Donetsk separatist leader Denis Pushilin said that six Ukrainian fighters died in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol "when they tried to blow up ammunition holdings before they were captured."

Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said that seven civilians in the region were killed by Russian forces.

Russia issued a complete list of 963 Americans, including US President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and CIA chief William Burns, who are banned from entering the country.

Biden signed a bill providing Ukraine with $40 billion (€38 billion) in aid to help fund its war effort amid the Russian invasion.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said his country condemns "terrorism in all its forms" in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

You can catch up with all the events surrounding the war in Ukraine by clicking here. 

Ukrainian school camp for displaced kids

mm, jsi, sdi/sms, aw (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)