International sanctions have “practically broken all” logistics corridors for trade, Russian transport minister says
Transport minister Vitaly Savelyev said on Saturday that the raft of sanctions imposed by Western countries on Russia is causing serious logistical problems in the country.
According to state news agency Tass, Savalyev said:
“The sanctions that have been imposed on the Russian Federation today have practically broken all logistics [corridors] in our country. And we are forced to look for new logistics corridors together.”
Good morning and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.
I’m Joe Middleton and am now taking over from Samantha Lock to bring you the latest developments in the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
The city of Severodonetsk in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region is one of Russia’s “immediate tactical priorities” as its forces deploy terminator tanks to the area, the UK Ministry of Defence has said.
The latest intelligence report, released at 7am BST, reads:
Russia’s only operational company of BMP-T Terminator tank support vehicles has likely been deployed to the Severodonetsk axis of the Donbas offensive.
Their presence suggests that the Central Grouping of Forces (CGF) is involved in this attack, which is the only formation fielding this vehicle. CGF previously suffered heavy losses while failing to break through to eastern Kyiv in the first phase of the invasion.
Russia developed Terminator after identifying the need to provide dedicated protection to main battle tanks it used during the Afghan and Chechen wars.
The Severodonetsk area remains one of Russia’s immediate tactical priorities. However, with a maximum of 10 Terminators deployed they are unlikely to have a significant impact on the campaign.”
Russia on Saturday released a list of 963 Americans it said were banned from entering the country, including US president Joe Biden.
The lifetime bans imposed on the Americans, including secretary of state Antony Blinken, US senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, defence secretary Lloyd Austin and CIA head William Burns, are largely symbolic.
They came on the same day Biden signed a support package providing nearly $40bn (£32bn) in aid for Ukraine.
You can peruse the full list here.
Russia has intensified its offensive in the Donbas while its forces advance on the Luhansk front.
Ukraine’s president Zelenskiy described the situation in Donbas as “extremely difficult” in his latest national address.
The regional governor of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, Sergiy Gaiday, said Russia is trying to destroy the city of Severodonetsk, with fighting taking place on the outskirts of the city.
The frontline city is now at risk of encirclement after 12 people were killed and another 40 wounded by Russian shelling, Gaiday added.
“Shelling continues from morning to the evening and also throughout the night,” he said in a video post on the Telegram messaging app.
Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, the city on the other side of the Siverskiy Donets River, form the eastern part of a Ukrainian-held pocket that Russia has been trying to overrun since mid-April after failing to capture Kyiv.
In the neighbouring Donetsk region, governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram on Saturday that seven civilians had been killed and 10 wounded.
Further north in Kharkiv, just 50km from the border with Russia, new networks of trenches and checkpoints have cropped up as the city prepares to defend against a fresh assault, according to a Reuters report.
Polish president Andrzej Duda is set to deliver a speech to Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada on Sunday, a gesture that will make him the first head of a foreign state to do so since the start of Russia’s invasion.
Duda arrived in Kyiv on Saturday and “will deliver the address as the first head of a foreign state since the outbreak of the war”, his office said.
Ukraine has suggested it is willing to resume talks with Russia, while ruling out a ceasefire or concessions to Moscow.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said during an interview with the United News telethon on Saturday that “discussions between Ukraine and Russia will undoubtedly take place”.
I really thought that the war could end with dialogue. But, unfortunately, I thought that this was a dialogue with the appropriate timing, that it would be possible to find answers to many questions and many decisions with the Russian side. I really thought so. And now it is a hybrid. That is why the war is so difficult.
And the victory will be very difficult. It will be bloody, it will be in battle, but the end will definitely be in diplomacy.
We want everything back. And the Russian Federation doesn’t want to return anything. That’s why the ending will be at the negotiating table.
We want the territories back and this war to be over. But how and when it will happen depends on the time when the conversation with Putin will take place.
I think that the conversation between Ukraine and Russia will definitely take place. But we don’t know in what format: with or without intermediaries, in a wide circle or in the format of bilateral conversation.”
Zelenskiy’s senior adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Kyiv would not accept any deal with Russia that involved ceding territory. He said making concessions would backfire on Ukraine because Russia would hit back harder after any break in fighting.
Any concession to Russia is not a path to peace, but a war postponed for several years. Ukraine trades neither its sovereignty, nor territories and Ukrainians living on them.”
The war will not stop [after concessions]. It will just be put on pause for some time … They’ll start a new offensive, even more bloody and large-scale.”
Hello and welcome back to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.
I’m Samantha Lock and I will be bringing you all the latest developments for the next short while before my colleagues in London take the reins a little later.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has suggested he is willing to resume talks with Russia, though his senior advisor, Mykhailo Podolyak, clarified that Kyiv will not accept any deal with Russia that involves ceding territory.
Here is everything you might have missed:
- Ukraine has suggested it is willing to resume talks with Russia. Speaking on Saturday, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that “discussions between Ukraine and Russia will undoubtedly take place … under what format I don’t know … but the war will be bloody, there will be fighting and [it] will only definitively end through diplomacy.” He added: “We want everything back. And the Russian Federation doesn’t want to return anything. That’s why the ending will be at the negotiating table.”
- However, Kyiv has ruled out a ceasefire or concessions to Moscow. Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Kyiv would not accept any deal with Russia that involved ceding territory. “Any concession to Russia is not a path to peace, but a war postponed for several years. Ukraine trades neither its sovereignty, nor territories and Ukrainians living on them,” he said in a video posted to Twitter on Saturday. Making concessions would backfire on Ukraine because Russia would hit back harder after any break in fighting, he added. “The war will not stop [after concessions]. It will just be put on pause for some time. They’ll start a new offensive, even more bloody and large-scale.”
- Russia claims to have taken full control of the besieged city of Mariupol. The last group of Ukrainian soldiers holed up in the smashed Azovstal steelworks have surrendered, Russia’s defence ministry said late on Friday, marking an end to the three-month siege of the defenders’ last stronghold in Mariupol. “Underground structures of Azovstal where militants were hiding are now under full control of Russian armed forces,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that in total 2,439 Ukrainian fighters have surrendered.
- Moscow is considering giving up Ukraine fighters captured in Mariupol for Viktor Medvedchuk, a detained ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin. “We are going to study the possibility,” said Leonid Slutsky, a senior member of Russia’s negotiating team on Ukraine, speaking from the separatist city of Donetsk in south-eastern Ukraine, Russian state media agency RIA Novosti reported.
- Zelenskiy described the situation in Donbas as “extremely difficult” in his latest national address, adding that the Russian army is trying to attack Slovyansk and Severodonetsk, a frontline city now at risk of encirclement where 12 people were killed and another 40 wounded by Russian shelling, regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said.
- Polish president Andrzej Duda has arrived in Ukraine to address the Ukrainian parliament. Duda arrived in Ukraine on Saturday and will be the first head of a foreign state to deliver a speech to Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada since the start of Russia’s invasion.
- Russia banned 963 Americans, including president Joe Biden, from entering the country. The list, which also includes the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, US senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, defence secretary Lloyd Austin and CIA head William Burns, is largely symbolic.
- Biden signed a funding bill that will provide nearly $40bn (£32bn) in aid to Ukraine.
- Zelenskiy met Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, and described the meeting as “important and meaningful”. Portugal later announced an agreement to provide €250m ($264m) in financial aid to Ukraine.
- The Ukraine president also had a phone conversation with Italy’s prime minister, Mario Draghi, and said he stressed the importance of more sanctions on Russia and unblocking Ukrainian ports.
- Russia destroyed a Ukrainian special-operations base near Odesa, Ukraine’s main Black Sea port, as well as a significant cache of western-supplied weapons in northern Zhytomyr region, Russia defence ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said on Saturday. There was no confirmation from the Ukrainian side.
- Turkish president Tayyip Erdoğan, who has objected to Sweden and Finland joining Nato, held phone calls with the leaders of the two countries on Saturday and discussed his concerns about terrorist organisations. Turkey surprised its Nato allies last week by objecting to the two countries’ accession to the military alliance, but western leaders have expressed confidence that Ankara’s objections will not be a roadblock for the membership process.
- Russia’s state gas company, Gazprom, halted gas exports to Finland, which refused Moscow’s demands to pay in roubles for Russian gas after western countries imposed sanctions over the invasion. Gasum, Finland’s state-owned energy company, said it would use other sources, such as the Balticconnector pipeline, which links Finland to fellow EU member Estonia.
- Canada has imposed sanctions on the Russian-born billionaire and newspaper proprietor Alexander Lebedev. The former KGB agent is the owner of UK newspapers the Evening Standard and the Independent.
- The world must help Ukraine unblock seaports, otherwise the energy crisis will be followed by a global food crisis, Zelenskiy said. “Russia has blocked almost all ports and all, so to speak, maritime opportunities to export food … There will be a crisis in the world. The second crisis after the energy one, which was provoked by Russia. Now it will create a food crisis.” According to
- A second meeting of partner countries is set to take place on 23 May at Germany’s Ramstein Air Base. Zelenskiy said he expects Ukraine will be provided with more weapons. “To be honest, we have high expectations. I would call it a long-awaited process. We are grateful for the great military support provided by various states. We expect a positive result on the supply of MLRS,” he said.