Ukraine, Briefly

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  • Russian President Vladimir Putin could formally declare war on Ukraine as early as May 9, allowing Russia to fully mobilize its reserve forces while invasion plans stall, CNN wrote. May 9 is known as “Victory Day” in Russia, which commemorates the country’s defeat of the Nazis in World War Two. Western officials posited that Putin will exploit the symbolic significance and propaganda value of that day to announce either a military achievement in Ukraine, a major escalation of hostilities – or both.
  • The European Union is close to reaching an agreement to phase out Russian oil imports in response to the Ukraine conflict, but concerns from Hungary and Slovakia are preventing a deal from being reached, the Washington Post reported. According to officials, the EU may provide the two nations concessions or carve-outs to cement the deal. Meanwhile, Russian gas company Gazprom said that natural gas shipments to China increased by 60 percent in the first four months of the year compared to the same time in 2021, according to the South China Morning Post.
  • Israel condemned Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday for saying that Hitler had Jewish blood, saying his comments were “unforgivable and outrageous,” Politico noted. Lavrov said during a Sunday interview that Ukraine still had a Nazi element – a line pushed by Moscow to justify its invasion – despite its president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, being Jewish. He added that “some of the worst anti-Semites are Jews.” Despite Israeli condemnation, Russia doubled down on its comments Tuesday and accused Israel of supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine, Reuters added.
  • Hundreds of people remain trapped at a steel mill in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, despite the departure of a group of evacuees on Sunday, BBC wrote. For weeks, Russia has been bombarding the Azovstal plant, which has become the city’s final bulwark of Ukrainian resistance.
  • Ukraine will temporarily close its four main seaports after losing control of them to Russian forces, Radio Free Europe noted. The declaration is considered mainly a formality, since Russia has blockaded or occupied the seaports following its invasion on Feb. 24. Zelenskyy, meanwhile, warned that Ukraine might lose tens of millions of tons of grain due to Russia’s control of Black Sea shipping lanes.
  • The Kremlin is using a new troll factory to disseminate disinformation on social media and in the comment sections of popular websites in an attempt to sway public opinion about its invasion of Ukraine, Bloomberg added.

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