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May 31, 2022Newsletter

Russia Update: May 31, 2022

Diplomacy

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz talked on Saturday with Russian President Vladimir Putin about ways to open up corridors for Ukrainian grain shipments. Putin reiterated he wants sanctions lifted. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the same topic. Zelenskyy separately talked with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan, and Turkey and Russia’s Foreign Ministers will talk on June 8.

New U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink arrived in Ukraine Monday and hit the ground running.

Sanctions

The EU secured its sixth Russia sanctions package. It will immediately ban two-thirds of oil imports from Russia, de-SWIFT Sberbank, ban three more Russian state-owned broadcasters, and sanctions additional individuals. The oil import ban provision got around Hungary’s objection by banning seaborne oil while maintaining pipeline oil.

The African Union warned that SWIFT bans could impact their ability to procure grain and fertilizer.

Consequences

Russia is examining its options to avoid a Eurobond default, including by using the same mechanism it uses to process gas payments in rubles.

Russia will halt gas supplies to Denmark, The Netherlands, and a small German company over failure to pay in rubles.

Aircraft lessor AerCap Holdings sued a Russian air carrier for $427 million over seized planes.

Ukraine Sitrep

Russia has reportedly taken Lyman. The regional governor of Luhansk saying that 70% of Severodonetsk is under Russian control. The Russian-backed leader of Luhansk says that 95% of the region is under Russian control. Ukraine is reportedly dealing with desertions by undertrained or underequipped soldiers in eastern Ukraine, though Russia is still crowdsourcing drones, food, first-aid gear, and night-vision equipment.

Ukraine is also worried of another attack from the north as Belarus begins military exercises on its border with Ukraine.

Heading into Memorial Day Weekend, CNN reported that the U.S. was preparing to send advanced long-range rockets to Ukraine. President Joe Biden partially batted the idea down Monday, saying the U.S. wouldn’t send systems that could strike into Russia, with staff further clarifying that a system with a 40-mile range is under consideration. The episode is a microcosm of a broader fracture within the Western nations over what kinds of arms to send to Ukraine. In Europe, countries like France and Germany are more reticent to send long-range weapons, while the UK and former Soviet states want to.

Both Ukraine’s region of Kherson and the Georgian pro-Russian breakaway region of South Ossetia shelved their plans for referenda to join Russia.

As many as one million Ukrainians have been sent to Russian “filtration camps,” which Politico took a closer look at. Two more Russian soldiers were convicted in a war crimes trial.

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