Ukraine sees concrete steps in international security guarantees. Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko fears new Russian attacks on his city. Economics Minister Robert Habeck is optimistic that Germany can survive a gas boycott next winter. All voices and developments on the Ukraine war here in the ticker.
7:26 a.m .: At a summit in Japan, EU leaders warned of the negative effects of cooperation between Russia and China on the world community. Russia “is the most direct threat to the world order today with its barbaric war against Ukraine and its disturbing pact with China,” said EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday after talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Kishida emphasized that “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not just a European matter, but shakes the core of the international order, including Asia.” This should not be “tolerated”. Contrary to earlier reticence in other conflicts, Japan had joined the West’s heavy sanctions against Moscow from the start.
Cooperation in the Ukraine crisis is “of crucial importance for Europe, but also for the Indo-Pacific region,” stressed EU Council President Charles Michel. He announced that the EU and Japan also intend to “deepen their consultations on a more confident China.”
According to Von-der-Leyen, the EU agreed on an intensified partnership with Japan with a focus on competitiveness and security of supply. They want to jointly invest in the infrastructure in order to stand up to China.
5:58 a.m .: Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) considers it possible that Germany could cope with a Russian gas boycott as early as next winter. “If we have full storage at the turn of the year, if two of the four floating LNG tankers we have rented are already connected to the grid and if we save significantly on energy, we can get through the winter to some extent if Russian gas supplies are cut off,” said Habeck of the “Wirtschaftswoche”.
Habeck pleaded again for saving energy. “Less consumption is the be-all and end-all when it comes to gas.” If it is possible to save ten percent over the next two years in industry and in private households, according to the minister, “then these are the decisive percentages in order not to get into an emergency. Everyone should play their part. More efficiency is a key factor leverage against Putin,” he said.
According to Habeck, two of the four liquefied natural gas (LNG) ships ordered for Germany already replace almost a quarter of Russian natural gas imports. Despite the progress, Habeck warned in an interview with the “Wirtschaftswoche” of the economic risks of a gas stop: “Even under the conditions mentioned, the gas prices would then certainly be very high and the storage tanks would be empty at the end of winter.”
4.10 a.m .: Despite the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Kyiv area, Mayor Vitali Klitschko fears a new attack on the Ukrainian capital “at any time”. In a conversation with the US broadcaster CNN on Thursday night, Klitschko did not even rule out the use of tactical nuclear weapons. Kyiv remains the main target of the Russian military. “And as long as there is war in Ukraine, we cannot give a Ukrainian any guarantees,” said the former world boxing champion.
“Right now, safety is our top priority,” he said. Although the country is being defended by “our warriors”, the risk remains. “And without our partners, without the US and the European states, we cannot survive.”
Thursday, May 12, 12:20 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sees significant progress in efforts to secure international security guarantees for his country. “We are negotiating with the world’s leading nations to give Ukraine confidence in security for decades to come,” Zelenskyy said in his daily video address on Wednesday evening. Among other things, this topic was discussed at the G7 meeting on May 8, in which Ukraine took part for the first time.
“This is the first time in the history of our state that such guarantees can be recorded,” said Zelenskyy. And not in any memoranda or unclear formulations, “but concrete guarantees”. These are therefore “not only legally valid, but also formulated in such a way that it is clear: What exactly, who specifically and how specifically (of Ukraine) is guaranteed”.
The Russian army launched its offensive against Ukraine on February 24. One of Moscow’s demands to end the hostilities is a clear commitment by Kiev to political neutrality, for which the country is seeking strong international security guarantees.
10:37 p.m .: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj believes that the war with Russia can only be ended after all occupied Ukrainian territories have been returned. “If we take back everything that belongs to us, then we will end the war,” said the head of state on Wednesday in an interview with French students. “We want peace in our state,” emphasized the 44-year-old. Russia attacked Ukraine at the end of February and occupied large areas in the east and south of the country. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula of Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also justified the war of aggression with the fact that Ukraine was planning to take back Crimea using military force. A corresponding attempt was made shortly before, Putin said on Monday at the military parade in Red Square, without presenting any evidence. Russia has always categorically ruled out returning Crimea.
9:43 p.m .: Russia has imposed sanctions on Gazprom Germania and other former subsidiaries of its state gas company. With a total of 31 listed companies, no more business should be done from the Russian side, it said. The Russian government published an order on Wednesday according to which the trade bans come into force on behalf of Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin. Gazprom Germania was placed under German state control in early April.
The federal government emphasized in Berlin that the sanctions would have no effect on security of supply. A spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection said in Berlin: “We are evaluating these announcements. We still have no details.”
The Federal Government and the Federal Network Agency, as trustee of Gazprom Germania, are already preparing for various scenarios. “The gas crisis team is closely monitoring the current situation. The security of supply is currently guaranteed and is constantly being checked,” said the spokeswoman.
Gazprom Germania owns other important companies in the German gas industry. These include the gas trader Wingas, which supplies public utilities, among other things, and the gas storage operator Astora. They are also affected by Russian sanctions.
8:36 p.m .: The federal government is apparently supposed to delay the delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine by leaving the government in Kyiv in the dark about the processes. This is reported by “Welt” with reference to government circles.
So far, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has at least not informed the Ukrainian government that Kyiv would have to order the Gepard anti-aircraft tanks itself from the Krauss-Maffei Wegmann armaments company. Instead, the message to Ukraine was that it would receive the tanks directly from the federal government.
Lambrecht’s statements to the Ukrainian government differ fundamentally from those made publicly. A day after the announcement of the delivery of Gepard tanks to Ukraine, the minister announced on ZDF that it was a “contract between Ukraine and the company”. The federal government only gives permission for it.
At the request of the world, the Federal Ministry of Defense confirmed this position. “It is not about a delivery of Bundeswehr material. The scope of delivery (cheetah, ammunition, training, …) is negotiated in direct exchange between the company and Ukraine,” it said to “Welt”. Ministry also “no knowledge of when the announced Cheetah anti-aircraft gun tanks will be delivered to Ukraine”. This emerges from the ministry’s response to a request from CDU MP Serap Güler.
Confusion also prevails at Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. The armaments company also assumed a different approach. Before the Cheetah tanks can be delivered, they have to be repaired, a spokesman told the New York Times. In order to start, the company is waiting for an order confirmation from the federal government.
6:06 p.m .: The Russian ex-military Mikhail Shishkin sees only one way out for the Russian army in the Ukraine war. Shishkin told the news portal “ntv”: “The Russian army is only fighting to survive in this war. And the only way to survive is not to take part in the war in the first place. This is how this war will end.”
He has a simple explanation for the failure of the Russian offensive. “The Russian army can no longer fight, without morale it is no longer capable of fighting. The Ukrainian soldiers are fighting because they know why they are there – they are defending their freedom. What are the Russians defending there? Only their own lives. They want to be there don’t fight,” Shishkin told ntv.
Shishkin was a reserve officer in the Soviet Army in the 1980s. Today he is a writer.
3:40 p.m .: Ukraine has blamed Russia for stopping gas transit through a key hub in the east of the country. Russian energy giant Gazprom has “stopped” gas supplies via the key Sokhranivka route, Ukrainian gas network operator GTSOU announced on Wednesday. The day before, GTSOU had accused the Russian army of interfering in technical processes and announced the suspension of gas transit through the Sokhranivka node.
“Gazprom has turned off the tap,” GTSOU announced on Wednesday. Russia has diverted gas supplies destined for transit through Ukraine to pro-Russian separatist-controlled “People’s Republics” in eastern Ukraine, the statement said.
On Tuesday, GTSOU announced that it would temporarily redirect all gas supplies from Russia destined for transit to Europe to the northern Ukrainian hub of Suja “in order to fully meet transit obligations towards European partners”.
A representative of Ukraine’s state gas company Naftogaz, Svitlana Zalishchuk, told AFP on Wednesday that Russia had increased the volume of gas routed through Suja by 15 percent. However, this was not sufficient to close the gap created by stopping the transit via Sochranivka.
Data released by GTSOU showed that the volume of gas over the Sokhranivka route dropped to zero on Wednesday morning. According to the company, the volume of gas from Russia routed via Sokhranivka or Suja is expected to fall by 18 percent compared to the previous day. This corresponds to 16 million cubic meters of gas.
3:27 p.m .: As part of the Russia sanctions, Germany has so far frozen a sum of more than 130 million euros. A spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Finance named a total of 137.9 million euros on Wednesday in Berlin for the key date April 29.
According to the information, these are pure amounts of money and not other assets such as villas or yachts. The EU states had imposed punitive measures against oligarchs and businessmen because of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine.
3:01 p.m .: Despite the partially stopped transit through Ukraine, Russia has emphasized its role as a secure gas supplier for Europe. “Russia has always reliably fulfilled its contractual obligations and intends to continue to fulfill them,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in Moscow on Wednesday, according to the Interfax agency. He did not give a clear answer to the question of whether Russia is now considering alternative transit routes to compensate for the lost volume.
Instead, the Kremlin spokesman referred to a statement from the state-owned company Gazprom, according to which a diversion, at least via the Suja point, which is on Russian territory, is not technically possible.
Ukraine announced on Tuesday that it would stop the transit of Russian gas in the Luhansk region due to the war. This could now save up to 32.6 million cubic meters of gas per day – that is almost a third of the maximum amount that can be transported daily via Ukraine to Europe, it said.
11:46 a.m .: Pussy Riot activist Maria Alyokhina has evaded police surveillance in Russia and secretly traveled abroad. She disguised herself as an employee of a food delivery service and left her mobile phone in her apartment in Moscow, the 33-year-old said in an interview with the US newspaper “New York Times” published on Tuesday.
She crossed the border to Belarus and a week later, after several attempts, she managed to enter the EU country of Lithuania. “I’m glad I did it because it was an unpredictable and big kiss goodbye for the Russian authorities,” Alekhina told the New York Times.
The activist is one of the best-known members of the Kremlin-critical protest group Pussy Riot. In September she was sentenced to a year in prison for taking part in demonstrations for the jailed government critic Alexei Navalny. The court ordered surveillance and imposed a night curfew on Alekhina, who was also banned from leaving Moscow. At the end of April, the sentence was commuted to imprisonment.
Alyokhina’s partner, Lusia Shtein, wrote on Twitter that her partner “didn’t flee Russia but went on tour” to raise money for Ukraine. A concert in Berlin is planned for Thursday. Schtein was also convicted of protests against Navalny’s imprisonment and left Russia in April.
Alekhina had already spent almost two years in prison for taking part in a protest at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior in 2012.
10 a.m.: Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki warned of Vladimir Putin in a guest article for the British “Telegraph”. This was “more dangerous than Hitler and Stalin,” said Morawiecki. Putin has “deadlier weapons in his arsenal” and also has the internet at his disposal to “spread millions of fake news”.
Morawiecki demands that the world must be “deputinized”. The Russian tyrant’s “monstrous ideology” must be “eradicated.” Russia’s ideology of a Russian world is equivalent to communism and National Socialism in the 20th century: “Russia is justifying invented rights and privileges for its country,” says Morawiecki.
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