EU proposes trade curbs on Chinese firms aiding Russia; Kyiv downs 35 drones

EU proposes trade curbs on Chinese firms aiding Russia; Kyiv downs 35 drones
A woman in Kyiv, Ukraine, outside a residential building damaged by debris from a downed drone on 8 May 2023. (Photo: Yevhenii Zavhorodnii / Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)

The European Union (EU) is pitching member states on a package of sanctions that would for the first time extend strict trade curbs to several Chinese companies as it seeks to crack down on firms that are supplying Russia with banned products.

Russia attacked the Kyiv region with 35 Iranian-made Shahed drones overnight, the Ukrainian Air Force said on Telegram. All the drones, which came from the Bryansk region of Russia, were shot down by air defence. The Odesa region was attacked overnight by missiles.

The head of the Wagner mercenary group said he’d been promised sufficient ammunition by Russia’s military to continue a campaign in Bakhmut in Ukraine’s east, walking back a threat to abandon the battle.

Key developments

Ukraine says Russia expanding evacuations in south 

Russia is expanding the evacuation of occupied areas in Ukraine’s south, moving families from Skadovsk, a city on the Black Sea coast near Crimea, as well as from nearby towns, the Ukrainian army’s general staff said on Facebook.

Last week, Ukraine reported Russia was evacuating civilians from Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region and the regions of Berdyansk and Prymorsk on the Azov Sea coast ahead of an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Italy’s Eni starts litigation with Gazprom 

Italian oil company Eni said Gazprom’s reduction of gas deliveries since last June was subject to an arbitration proceeding, according to responses to shareholders’ questions released ahead of its annual meeting. Eni said its long-term contracts with Gazprom were still in force.

Italy imported around 40% of its gas from Russia before the invasion of Ukraine and almost dropped to zero as of April 2023. Eni aims to fully replace Russian gas by 2025.

Ukraine says Russia blocked ship inspections, urges UN to act  

Russia refused to register ships bound for Ukrainian ports to pick up grain or to conduct inspections of those ships on Monday, the Ukrainian Infrastructure Ministry said on Facebook.

“Russia’s destructive acts made it impossible to draw up an inspection plan,” the ministry said. As of Monday, 90 vessels were awaiting inspection in Turkish territorial waters, of which 62 are to be loaded.

According to the ministry, the permanent interruption of the grain corridor’s operation is hurting Ukraine’s agricultural exports. Less than three million tonnes of products were exported through the corridor in April — one of the lowest indicators since the grain deal was signed.




EU targets Russian oil transfers at sea 

The EU proposed prohibiting access to its ports for vessels that attempt to circumvent sanctions on Russian oil as it seeks to deter transport of its crude and products below the price caps set by the Group of Seven nations.

Ship-to-ship transfers have become pivotal in moving Moscow’s oil to the market after the EU’s ban on seaborne Russian crude in early December.

The measure is part of a broader package of sanctions on Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine, according to EU documents seen by Bloomberg.

Ukraine announces some Russian tactical gains in offensive 

Russian forces have some “tactical successes” near Avdiyivka, Bakhmut and Lyman, which are the main focus points of their offensive, the Ukrainian Defence Ministry’s military media centre said on Telegram. Russia is aiming to capture the cities of Bakhmut and Maryinka, as well as block supply routes to Ukrainian forces in Avdiyivka, all of which are in the country’s eastern area known as Donbas.

Ukraine should get concrete path to join Nato, says Estonia

Nato allies need to spell out the concrete steps for Ukraine to become a member of the military alliance and move beyond repeating the standing position that it’s welcome to join the bloc, according to Estonia’s top diplomat.

“It’s not enough any more just to repeat the already existing position that Ukraine is welcomed to Nato,” Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna said in an interview. “We must move forward to give a strong message” about Ukraine’s next steps when leaders gather in Vilnius this summer, he said.

EU proposes first curbs on Chinese firms for aiding Russia 

The European Commission has asked member states to target about 35 more entities, including businesses in mainland China and Hong Kong, as well as companies in Uzbekistan, Armenia and the United Arab Emirates, according to documents seen by Bloomberg.

The EU’s executive arm says those targeted are “directly supporting Russia’s military and industrial complex in its war of aggression against Ukraine”.

It calls for “stricter export restrictions regarding dual-use goods and technology, as well as goods and technology which might contribute to the technological enhancement of Russia’s defence and security sector”, one of the documents says. The mechanism is separate from the designation of individuals and entities on whom travel bans and asset freezes are imposed.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, said his country’s economic trade with Russia was “completely above board” at a press briefing in Beijing on Monday. The Financial Times earlier reported the names of the Chinese firms being targeted.

Ukrainian Red Cross says missile strike burnt humanitarian aid stockpile  

A storage facility containing humanitarian aid that belonged to the Ukrainian branch of the International Red Cross burnt down in the Odesa region after it was hit by a Russian missile on Monday morning, the mission said on its website.

A Red Cross mobile hospital was damaged in Mykolayiv during a missile attack on 7 May. So far, 25 facilities of the Red Cross in Ukraine, including offices, stockpiles and logistics hubs, were either damaged or completely ruined by Russian attacks since the beginning of the Russian invasion.

Lithuania’s defence council backs infantry division plans  

Lithuania has decided to expand its military by building its first infantry division in the country by 2030 in response to Russia’s projected buildup in the region.

“The aim is to have a fully operational division assisted by allies in Lithuania, which could conduct defence operations and implement plans envisaged in collective defence documents,” Kestutis Budrys, chief presidential defence adviser, told reporters on Monday after a meeting of the country’s State Defence Council.




Six Ukrainian regions face power cuts after shelling

Thousands of consumers in the Kherson, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, Sumy and Chernihiv regions were without electricity after Russian mass shelling on Monday, the Ukrainian Energy Ministry said in an emailed statement.

“Repair teams restore the power supply where the situation allows,” the ministry said. Strikes on the Kyiv and Odesa regions did not lead to energy infrastructure damage.

Zelensky sets 9 May as Day of Europe in Ukraine 

In a further break from the Soviet past and from Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked Parliament to move the Day of Remembrance and Victory over Nazism in the World War 2 to 8 May. Previously, Kyiv celebrated the event with Russia on 9 May.

“Unfortunately, evil has returned,” Zelensky said in a video address. “And all those old evils that modern Russia is bringing back will be defeated just as Nazism was defeated.” Zelensky also set 9 May as a Day of Europe to commemorate “our historic unity – the unity of all Europeans who destroyed Nazism and will defeat Ruscism”.

Ukraine downs all 35 Russian drones  

Russia attacked the Kyiv region with 35 Iranian-made Shahed drones overnight on Sunday, the Ukrainian Air Force said on Telegram. All the drones, which came from the Bryansk region of Russia, were shot down by air defence.

The Odesa region was attacked overnight by eight missiles, the southern military command said on Facebook. Missiles hit a plant in the Odesa region and a recreation facility on the Black Sea coast. The missiles were launched from Tu-22M3 bombers. DM


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