Ukraine Says Russia Is Blocking Aid To Mariupol, Civilians Still Trapped
An adviser to the mayor of Mariupol says Russia is blocking aid from getting to the besieged city and is preventing a planned "humanitarian corridor" from opening to allow civilians to escape heavy fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces.
Petro Andryushchenko said in a post on Facebook on April 1 that Mariupol remained closed to an aid convoy trying to get badly needed supplies into the city, where tens of thousands of residents remain trapped with no electricity and few basic supplies.
"The city remains closed to entry and very dangerous to exit by private transport," Andryushchenko said.
"Since yesterday (March 31), Russian forces have categorically not allowed any humanitarian aid, even in small quantities, into the city. The reasons for such actions are still unclear, but this is disappointing. We do not see a real desire from the Russians to allow Mariupol residents to evacuate to other territory controlled by Ukraine," he added.
Ukrainian officials said on March 31 that a convoy of 45 buses was headed to Mariupol to deliver aid and leave with residents who have been trapped for weeks in the city. Russian military officials had said they were willing to adhere to a cease-fire to allow for the opening of a "humanitarian corridor."
Russian officials did not comment immediately on the situation, but several similar agreements have been reached in the past, only to collapse before their implementation.
The southern port city, home to some 430,000 people before the war, has seen intense fighting for weeks amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian attacks have struck a maternity hospital, fire department locations, cultural venues, and civilian homes.
Tens of thousands of civilians are said to be trapped in the city with no electricity and extremely limited food and water supplies.
On March 30, an aid warehouse for the International Committee of the Red Cross was hit by what Ukrainian authorities say was a Russian air strike even though the building's roof is clearly marked with the Red Cross' symbol.
Russia launched its unprovoked attack on Ukraine on February 24.
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Former German Chancellor Resigns From Board Of Russian Oil Giant Rosneft
A longtime friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Schroeder has come under increasing international pressure since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine in February.
Schroeder, a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), was German chancellor from 1998 to 2005. He has faced fierce criticism in Germany for years over his work for state-controlled Russian energy companies.
Schroeder also has worked for Gazprom and holds leading positions in the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 natural gas Baltic Sea pipelines for the delivery of Russian gas.
Warnig is also managing director of Nord Stream 2, which has been completed but its operations were switched off following Moscow's invasion. He was included on the U.S. sanctions list after the invasion.
Schroder's decision to step down from the board of Rosneft comes after he had his right to an office at the German parliament in Berlin removed. He is also facing calls to be sanctioned from the European Parliament.
Germany's current chancellor, Olaf Scholz of the SPD, has urged Schroeder to leave the party.
Scholz on May 20 backed the German parliament decision to shut down Schroeder's office and renewed a call for the ex-chancellor to give up all his Russian energy posts.
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HRW Says Tehran Again Trying To Stifle Civil Groups Amid Growing Protests
"The arrests of prominent members of civil society in Iran on baseless accusations of malicious foreign interference is another desperate attempt to silence support for growing popular social movements in the country," said Tara Sepehri Far, senior Iran researcher at HRW.
"Instead of looking to civil society for help in understanding and responding to social problems, Iran's government treats them as an inherent threat," she added.
Even though many Iranians are struggling to make ends meet amid a poor economy crushed by U.S. sanctions and years of mismanagement, President Ebrahim Raisi announced earlier this month a series of economic measures, including cutting subsidies and increasing the prices of several staples such as flour and cooking oil.
The move sparked protests in several cities across the country, with security forces arresting dozens of people. Reports say at least five demonstrators have died during the unrest.
Meanwhile, bus drivers and other employees of the Tehran Bus Company have held strikes since May 16, fueling a transportation crisis that has led the city to use police buses and drivers from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, a powerful branch of the military, to keep routes open.
The bus employees, angered by the government's failure to deliver fully on a promised wage hike and undeterred by the arrest of their union leader as well as 12 strikers, have vowed to continue their protests until municipal authorities pay up.
The bus strike is widely seen as separate from the street protests over the country's worsening economic situation, some of whom have chanted for the end of the clerical regime.
But observers have suggested that Tehran is eager to prevent the two protests from merging, and have questioned the veracity of the city's announcement on May 17 that it was closing schools and government offices due to high air-pollution levels.
Authorities have also cut Internet services in many areas to try and keep the protests from spreading further.
"Iranian authorities have long sought to criminalize solidarity among members of civil society groups inside and outside the country," Sepehri Far said.
"The intention is to prevent accountability and scrutiny of state actions that civil society provides."
G7 To Provide $9.5 Billion In New Aid To Support Ukraine's Economy
The new pledges include $7.5 billion in grants from the United States and $1 billion in grants from Germany. The remaining $1 billion will be provided by the other G7 countries in the form of guarantees and loans, the German Finance Ministry said.
"We will continue to stand by Ukraine throughout this war and beyond and are prepared to do more as needed," the G7 ministers said in a communique at the end of the two-day meeting in Koenigswinter, a town outside Bonn.
Russia's invasion touched on almost every topic covered during the meeting of finance ministers and central-bank governors from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
"Russia's war of aggression is causing global economic disruptions, impacting the security of global energy supply, food production and exports of food and agricultural commodities, as well as the functioning of global supply chains in general," the statement says.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other leaders spoke earlier about the need for allies to provide enough additional aid to help Ukraine "get through" the Russian invasion.
"All of us pledged to do what's necessary to fill the gap," Yellen said on May 19 after the first day of the meeting. "We're going to put together the resources that they need."
The International Monetary Fund's latest world economic outlook says Ukraine’s economy is projected to shrink by 35 percent this year and next.
With reporting by AP and Reuters
Canada Slaps New Sanctions On Russian Oligarchs, Including Formula One Driver Mazepin
"These individuals have directly enabled Vladimir Putin's senseless war in Ukraine and bear responsibility for the pain and suffering of the people of Ukraine," it added.
Mazepin and his billionaire father, Dmitry Mazepin, a long-standing associate of Putin, headline the list of those hit with sanctions.
Following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, Nikita Mazepin and his father, a prominent racing-team sponsor with close ties to Vladimir Putin, were pushed out of Formula One, while governments around the world have been seizing the family's assets, including a villa in Italy estimated to be worth more than $110 million.
Yelena Timchenko, the wife of billionaire oligarch Gennady Timchenko, Ksenia Frank and Natalya Browning, Timchenko's daughter, and oil and gas magnate Farkhad Akhmedov, are also on the new list, among others.
The news measures also ban the importing of Russian goods including alcoholic beverages, seafood, and nonindustrial diamonds, while the export ban targets luxury goods such as footwear, luxury clothing, and jewelry.
Detention Of Khachaturov's Son Upheld On Assault Charge During Yerevan Protests
Another group of protesters gathered outside the venue where Armenian officials and Western diplomats were attending a democracy forum.
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Azovstal Defenders 'Ordered' To Stop Fighting; Russia Intensifies Offensive In Eastern Ukraine
Prokopenko said that the process of removing the dead from Azovstal was still under way and that he "hopes that in the near future, relatives and Ukraine will be able to bury their soldiers with honor."
British intelligence on May 20 noted in its daily report on the situation in Ukraine that after securing the strategic Sea of Azov port following a monthslong siege that turned the city into ruins and killed thousands of civilians, Moscow is likely to redeploy troops to aid in the offensive in the east.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that almost 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers holed up in the sprawling Azovstal steel plant had surrendered so far.
"The blocking of the Azovstal plant continues," Shoigu said in televised remarks. "Nationalists are actively surrendering to captivity," he said, referring to the Ukrainian troops. "At the moment, 1,908 people have laid down their arms."
Ukrainian officials have not confirmed that number, and it could not be independently verified.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said it is registering the hundreds of Ukrainian fighters who left the Azovstal plant in Mariupol as prisoners of war (POWs).
Twelve people were killed in the town of Severodonesk, where a Russian assault has been unsuccessful, said the regional governor, Serhiy Hayday. The town and the city of Lysychansk are in an area where Russian troops have launched an offensive.
In Donetsk, "the Russian enemy carried out massive artillery shelling of civilian infrastructure, including multiple-rocket launchers," Ukraine's General Staff said in a statement.
Ukraine's Prosecutor-General's Office said that as of May 20, 232 children had been killed and 427 wounded since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
In a regular address to the nation, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia had "completely destroyed" Ukraine's eastern Donbas region.
"It is hell there -- and that is not an exaggeration," Zelenskiy said in his nightly address, repeating his accusation that Russia is committing genocide, a claim Moscow has denied.
The minister also said Russia would beef up its western defenses with troops and 12 additional military bases in response to Sweden and Finland's bid to join NATO.
The two Nordic countries shed their longtime neutrality this week by formally submitting applications to join the alliance, saying the move was necessary because of security concerns sparked by Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
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Blinken rejected Russian claims that sanctions were to blame for the food crisis.
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The killing occurred just days after Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
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The Kazakh authorities have insisted there are no political prisoners in the country.
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Washington also believes Turkey's concerns can be overcome.
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More than 70 local residents have been detained, authorities said.
Mamatshoeva was arrested on May 18.
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