Ukraine latest: Polish president to address parliament in Kyiv

Poland’s president is set to address the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv on Sunday. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke Saturday with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and the leaders of Finland and Sweden, reiterating his reservations about the Nordic nations’ bids to join the military alliance — a roadblock that’s held up what many countries want to be a rapid process.

President Joe Biden signed into law a $40 billion US aid package for Ukraine. He was later among over 900 US citizens hit with personal sanctions by Moscow. Biden is heading to Tokyo where support for Kyiv is likely to be a topic in talks with Japan’s prime minister.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy indicated he’d be satisfied if Ukraine’s borders can be restored to pre-February locations. One of his presidential advisers ruled out a ceasefire, telling Reuters that making concessions would backfire on Ukraine. A prisoner swap for the surrendered defenders of the Mariupol steel plant may be explored, a Russian lawmaker said.

Key Developments

  • Putin’s War Means Russia’s Rich Aren’t Welcome at Davos Anymore
  • G-7 Officials Roll Out $19.8 Billion Aid Package for Ukraine
  • How an Energy Expert Triggered Vladimir Putin With One Word
  • Aeroflot Is Back to the Future as Sanctions Ground its Ambitions
  • Ruble Hits 5-Year High as Gazprom Clients Heed Putin on Gas
  • Facebook Slammed for Spreading Putin’s Propaganda in NATO’s East

All times CET:

Aeroflot Back to the Future as Its Operations Shrink (8:00 a.m.)

Russia’s Aeroflot PJSC succeeded over the last two decades in transforming itself from a punchline about Communist-era service into an award-winning international carrier flying one of the youngest fleets in the world.

It now faces a future that looks more like its Soviet past and, with its Boeing and Airbus jets cut off from parts and service, it is shifting its focus to domestic routes and locally produced planes as the impact from unprecedented economic sanctions on Russia becomes clearer.

Aeroflot “will be a shadow of itself,” said Christopher Granville of London-based consultancy TS Lombard. “This is a mirror for the Russian economy as a whole.”

Polish President Visits Ukraine (2:30 a.m.)

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda is visiting Ukraine and will deliver a message to its Parliament in Kyiv on Sunday, according to a statement on the presidential website.

He’ll be the first foreign head of state to speak to Ukraine’s Parliament in person since the war began, Poland said. Boris Johnson was the first world leader to address the parliament when the UK prime minister spoke by video link on May 3.

Poland remains the first destination for many of those fleeing Ukraine. Some 3.5 million people have crossed into Poland since Feb. 24, according to border authorities. Recently the movement has been more two-sided as more Ukrainians return home.

Ukraine Negotiator Rules Out Concessions to Russia: Reuters (11:50 p.m.)

Any concession to Russia will lead to an escalation of the war, Mikhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said in an interview with Reuters.

After a break in fighting, the Russians will build up their weapons and manpower and start a new offensive, Podolyak said, acknowledging that Kyiv’s stance was becoming more uncompromising.

Serbia’s Vucic to Discuss Russian Gas with Putin (11:47 p.m.)

Serbian President Aleksandr Vucic will likely speak with his Russian counterpart on Wednesday or Thursday to discuss gas supplies, TV Pink reported, citing an interview with Vucic.

The country is focused on three aspects: volume, price and reliability of supplies, Vucic told TV Pink.

Russia May Consider Swapping Ukraine’s Mariupol Defenders for Putin Ally (8:17 p.m.)

Russia “will explore” swapping some of Ukraine’s defenders of the port city of Mariupol for Viktor Medvedchuk, an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, Interfax news agency reported, citing senior lawmaker Leonid Slutsky, a member of the Russian negotiating team that took part in peace talks with Kyiv.

“We will study the possibility,” Slutsky said Saturday in Donetsk, a eastern Ukrainian city occupied by Russia, according to Interfax.

Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian politician and a businessman, was put under arrest after prosecutors accused him of high treason and terrorist financing. Putin called the case political, and Medvedchuk denies wrongdoing. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy offered to swap Medvedchuk for captured Ukrainian soldiers last month.

Energy Expert’s Fateful Question to Putin (6:09 p.m.)

“I started to ask a question, I mentioned the word ‘shale,’” Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of S&P Global, recalled of a 2013 encounter with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “And he started shouting at me, saying shale’s barbaric.”

US shale oil and gas have had a much bigger impact on geopolitics than people recognize, the energy expert says in a new podcast. It’s posed a threat to Putin in multiple ways, especially as US natural gas went on to compete with Russia’s in Europe.

Zelenskiy Urges Help to Unblock Ukraine’s Ports (4:59 p.m.)

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged partners to help reopen Ukrainian ports and clear the way for some 22 million tonnes of grain and sunflower exports now being blocked by Russia.

“There will be a second crisis in the world after the energy crisis” if the Black Sea ports aren’t unblocked, Zelenskiy said during a press conference with Portugal’s prime minister.

His comments echo those of Sara Menker, CEO of Gro Intelligence, who told a UN briefing this week that price increases for major food crops this year — driven in part by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — have “made an additional 400 million people food insecure.” Attempting to export Ukraine’s grain through Europe  via rail is “not enough,” she said.

Turkey’s Erdogan Speaks With NATO Chief, Swedish, Finnish Leaders  (4:15 p.m.)

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and with the leaders of Sweden and Finland, restating his reservations about the Nordic countries’ bids to join the military alliance.

Erdogan told Stoltenberg that Turkey won’t support the NATO expansion as long as Finland and Sweden they don’t openly show they’ll be in solidarity with Turkey, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. The pair agreed that negotiations should continue.

In a call with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Erdogan said he was disturbed by Sweden’s contacts with Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, Anadolu reported. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto described his call with Erdogan in a tweet, saying that “close dialogue continues.”

Read more: Biden Backs Finland, Sweden NATO Bids as Turkey Dangles Keys 

Biden Among Hundreds in US Banned by Russia (1:37 p.m.)

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris led a list of 963 US citizens personally sanctioned by Moscow, announced Saturday by Russia’s Foreign Ministry. The sanctions, largely symbolic, include a ban on entry to Russia.

Besides Biden and his son Hunter, the list includes Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Deputy Treasury Secretary Adewale Adeymo, and former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. Also listed were current and former US lawmakers — including at least three who are already dead — judges, prosecutors, FBI agents, businesspeople and private citizens.

Some members of the Trump administration were on the list, including former Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, but not Donald Trump himself.

Portugal’s Prime Minister Visits Ukraine (1:05 p.m.)

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa arrived in Ukraine on Saturday as the former Soviet state celebrates Europe Day, and met with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Costa visited Irpin, near Kyiv, which was seriously damaged by Russian forces who occupied the area from late February through March.

“What impresses me the most is violence against civilians,” said Costa. “The levels of destruction and violence are completely devastating. I testified the evidence of vicious, indiscriminate and unjustified attacks.”

Russian Sanctions Against Canadians Include Trudeau’s Wife (12:39 p.m.)

Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced sanctions against 26 Canadian citizens, including the spouses of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Vice Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.

The tit-for-tat move comes a day after Canada unveiled new measures over President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, including restrictions on 14 Russian individuals and a ban on the export or import of luxury goods to and from Russia.

Biden Signs $40 Billion US Aid Package for Ukraine (12:30 p.m.)

President Joe Biden on Saturday, as expected, signed the $40 billion aid package passed by a wide bipartisan majorities in Congress.

The funds, intended to support Ukraine through September, are significantly larger than the $33 billion Biden requested last month. Its passage by overwhelming margins in the Senate on Thursday and the House last week was seen as a sign of popular support in the US for Ukraine’s efforts against Russia’s invasion.

Biden, who is in Seoul, earlier in the week praised Congress for approving the spending, saying the funds “will allow us to send even more weapons and ammunition to Ukraine, replenish our own stockpile, and support U.S. troops stationed on NATO territory.”

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