Russia’s Donbas advance is facing strong opposition

As Russia’s war against Ukraine enters its third month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will visit Kiev. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy praised accelerated arms supplies, which he said could help Ukraine escalate its counter-offensive, saying the Americans “should not come here empty-handed.”

Airstrikes continue at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, where about 2,000 Ukrainian fighter jets are stuck. Russia said it was hitting a “major shipment” of foreign weapons into Odesa on the Black Sea coast. The missile attack killed eight people, including an infant, and injured 18, Zelenskiy said.

Turkey closed its airspace to Russian jets flying to Syria, a marked shift in policy aimed at increasing the cost of the war in Ukraine for President Vladimir Putin. UN chief Antonio Guterres will meet with the leaders of Turkey, Russia and Ukraine in the coming days.

Ukraine Recent: New calls for Mariupol ceasefire, evacuations

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Zelenskiy talks to Erdogan before Diplomacy Round-Robin (14:40)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke on Sunday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he said on Twitter. An immediate solution to the conflict in Mariupol and the evacuation of civilians were among the topics.

Turkey’s leader is due to host UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Ankara on Monday. The UN chief will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Monday and later with Zelenskiy in Kiev.

Germany’s CDU threatens to withhold Bundeswehr funds (12.07)

Germany’s opposition leader threatened to block plans to borrow 100 billion euros ($ 108 billion) to modernize the Bundeswehr. For the CDU to agree, Germany must permanently spend more than 2% of its gross domestic product on defense and present a repayment plan for the new debt, party leader Friedrich Merz told Bild am Sonntag.

According to the newspaper, the chancellery in Berlin is considering asking parliament to approve the special fund for the army without an attached financial plan and a concrete list of planned arms purchases.

Separately, Bild am Sonntag reported that Germany will spend around 5 billion euros to buy 60 CH-47F Chinooks from Boeing Co. to replace some of its 50-year-old transport helicopters.

UN demands Mariupol ceasefire; Zelenskiy Aide calls for calls (11.10 am)

The UN crisis coordinator called for an “immediate halt” to the fighting in Mariupol and the evacuation of captured civilians. “They must be allowed to evacuate safely now, today. Tomorrow it may be too late, “said Amin Awad, according to Agence France Press.

Kyiv has proposed three steps to end the stand-off in Mariupol, which Russia said on Thursday that it now has full control over, except for the Azovstal steelworks, where Ukrainian fighters and civilians are sheltered.

Mykhailo Podolyak, chief negotiator with Russia, called for a “real” ceasefire around the Orthodox Easter period; the immediate supply of humanitarian corridors; and a special round of talks focusing on troop exchanges.

Swiss veto German request for export of ammunition to Ukraine, says the newspaper (10.30)

Neutral Switzerland has stopped German arms deliveries to Ukraine by refusing to allow re-exports of certain Swiss-made ammunition, SonntagsZeitung reported.

The ammunition, produced in Switzerland, is used, according to the newspaper, in Marder infantry tanks manufactured by the German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall.

Rheinmetall has asked the German government to approve the export of 100 Marder tanks to Ukraine, Welt am Sonntag reported on Friday. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

North Korea wants to build on ‘friendly ties’ with Moscow (9:45)

North Korea wants to build on its “friendly ties” with Moscow on the eve of the third anniversary of a summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok in eastern Russia.

“Conditions, even in the face of challenges and pressure from the United States and its vassal forces, continue to evolve and strengthen,” Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry said, according to the Yonhap News Agency. These ties “contribute to ensuring peace and security in the region and to establishing international order based on independence and justice.”

From fields to front line for Ukrainian farmers (9:10)

Ukraine is the world’s largest producer of sunflower oil and among the six largest exporters of wheat, corn, chicken and even honey.

The money it makes from agriculture – $ 28 billion last year – is now more important because of the war effort, and the products are more critical for a world where record prices raise food safety concerns.

Many farmers have replaced workwear with fatigue, so far. “Once a farmer, always a farmer,” said Yaroslav Andrushko, CEO of a small farm. “But circumstances required us to take up arms.”

Ukraine Recent: New calls for Mariupol ceasefire, evacuations

UN chief to meet Erdogan before Moscow trip to Kiev (09:05)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Monday, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said.

Guterres then travels to Moscow, where he will meet with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and on to Kiev for meetings with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

UN. the chief asked last week for separate meetings with Putin and Zelenskiy to discuss “urgent steps” for peace. Turkey has been a leading mediator during the two-month war.

Travel flow between Poland, Ukraine backing (08:38)

More travelers entered Ukraine from Poland on Saturday than traveled, Polish border authorities said, continuing the recent trend of Ukrainians slowly returning after Russian forces withdrew from the north.

About 15,100 people were approved to enter Poland on the day, while 21,100 left Poland for Ukraine. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, more than 2.9 million people have entered Poland from Ukraine – a large proportion of the more than 5 million who have left the country.

Ukraine continues to reject Russia along the line of contact (7:30)

Russia has gained some territorial gains, likely at “significant cost” to its troops, but several attacks along the Donbas line of contact this week have been rejected, Britain said in an intelligence update.

“Poor Russian morale and limited time to reconstruct, re-equip and reorganize forces from previous offensives are likely to be an obstacle to Russian combat efficiency,” Britain said.

Russia continues to attack the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, including attacks from long-range aircraft. Satellite images in cities near Mariupol show what appear to be mass graves; City officials have estimated that 10,000 or more may have died during the week-long siege.

Germany borrows extra 40 billion euros to mitigate war (23:41)

Germany will increase its loan plans this year to mitigate the effects of the war in Ukraine, bringing the total net debt to nearly 140 billion euros, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The adjustment is needed to help fund measures to offset the economic impact of the war and rising energy prices on businesses and consumers, the people said. The plan will be presented to the government on Wednesday and then for approval in parliament.

Turkey closes airspace for Russian planes transporting troops to Syria (23:05)

Turkey’s move, which includes civilian flights with troops, is the first such airspace ban since Russia intervened in Syria’s civil war in 2015 in support of President Bashar al-Assad. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Putin about his decision in a phone call, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was quoted as saying by state broadcaster TRT.

Most Russian flights to Syria pass through Turkish airspace, although the exact number of troops or materiel has not been disclosed. The move also signals Turkey’s solidarity with other NATO members and increases Turkish pressure on Russia to end the war in Ukraine.

Zelenskiy says Austin, Blinken will visit (18:40)

“We will discuss the list of weapons we need and the pace of their delivery to Ukraine,” Zelenskiy said at a press conference at a metro station in Kiev. “I want to emphasize again – the last week, the signals, the messages, the tone of arms supplies – everything has improved.” Ukraine is waiting for the security situation to allow the US president to visit, he said.

The U.S. National Security Council and the State Department did not immediately comment. The visits, if confirmed, would be the first by U.S. top officials in Ukraine’s capital since the war began.

Zelenskiy says Weapons Flow can strengthen the counter-offensive (18:40)

Zelenskiy also said that accelerated arms supplies from the United States and European nations could enable the Ukrainian military to step in for the counter-offensive. “In particular, we are seeing a change in the reaction rate from the United States, and if this rate increases, we will be able to accelerate the de-occupation of our territory.”

The president said the Ukrainian military is unable to relieve forces and civilians trapped in the Azovstal factory in Mariupol, which is surrounded by Russian forces.

Ukraine Recent: New calls for Mariupol ceasefire, evacuations

Naftogaz CEO says some gas transit via Ukraine is in danger (18:00)

One-third of gas volumes sent via Ukraine to Europe could be lost due to Russian forces in newly occupied territories, according to the head of state-owned Naftogaz Ukrainy.

Moscow troops are disrupting the operation of pumping stations, CEO Yuriy Vitrenko said on Twitter. Russia has continued to pay Kiev to send about a third of its supplies to Europe via Ukraine, despite the war.

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