Ukraine: Zelenskyy urges Belarus not to get dragged into war — live updates

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  • Zelenskyy to address G7 summit via video link
  • Missile strike hits Odesa region
  • Russia poised to default on foreign debt

This article was last updated at 0648 UTC/GMT

Russia heading towards debt default after deadline expires

Russia is set to default on its foreign debt for the first time since the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

Moscow has been unable to pay the $40 billion (€38 billion) in foreign bonds it owes as a result of sweeping sanctions imposed over its war in Ukraine. The measures effectively excluded Russia from the global financial system and froze billions in foreign currency held overseas.

A 30-day grace period on $100 million in interest payments originally due on May 27 expired on Sunday. But it could be some time before a Russian default is confirmed. A default declaration would usually come from ratings agencies or be decided by a court.

The Kremlin says any default is artificial because it has the funds to pay bondholders but is blocked from doing so by the sanctions.

The US Treasury Department last month ended Russia’s ability to pay its billions in debt to international investors through American banks. Russia’s Finance Ministry then said it would pay dollar-denominated debts in rubles.

Odesa region hit by missile strike

Six people have been injured in a missile strike in the southern Ukrainian region of Odesa, according to Ukraine’s military.

“The strike in a residential area of civilian settlement destroyed several residential and farm buildings over around 500 square meters,” the southern military command said.

It added that the missile was fired from a Russian type Tu-22 strategic bomber.

Regional administration spokesperson Serhiy Bratchuk said that one of the wounded individuals was a child.

The information could not be independently verified. Russia denies targeting civilians.

Over the weekend, Ukraine reported a spike in Russian missile attacks on regions far behind the front line, including Lviv and Kyiv.

Zelenskyy appeals to Belarus not to get drawn into war

In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on the people of neighboring Belarus not to be drawn into Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.

“The Kremlin has already decided everything for you. But you are not slaves and cannon fodder. You don’t have to die,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Saturday that Moscow intends to supply nuclear-capable Iskander-M missile systems to Belarus in the coming months.

“I know that the people of Belarus support Ukraine, they support us, definitely us, not the war. And that is why the Russian leadership wants to draw you — all Belarusians — into the war, wants to sow hatred between us,” Zelenskyy said.

He called on ordinary Belarusians to refuse to participate in this war. “Your lives belong only to you, not to someone in the Kremlin,” the Ukrainian president added.

Zelenskyy also mentioned the numerous Russian rocket attacks on Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, and Ukraine’s need for a modern air defense.

“Part of the missiles were shot down. But only part. We need a powerful air defense — modern, fully effective. Which can ensure complete protection against these missiles,” he said.

According to Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian authorities talk about this every day with their partners. However, he warned that delays in arms transfers to Ukraine and any restrictions are actually an invitation for Russia to keep striking.

UN: Ukraine war could boost illegal drug production

The war in Ukraine could allow illegal drug production to flourish, the United Nations warned on Monday.

Previous experience from the Middle East and Southeast Asia suggests conflict zones can act as a “magnet” for making synthetic drugs, which can be manufactured anywhere, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in its annual report.

The UNODC said the number of dismantled amphetamine laboratories in Ukraine rose from 17 in 2019 to 79 in 2020, the highest number of seized laboratories reported in any country in 2020.

Ukraine’s capacity to produce synthetic drugs could grow as the war continues, it added.

“You don’t have police going around and stopping laboratories” in conflict zones, UNODC expert Angela Me said.

Putin to make first trips abroad since start of invasion

Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to travel to Tajikistan and Turkmenistan in the coming days, although the exact dates of the journey remain unclear. 

Putin will first fly to Tajikistan, a military ally, for talks with President Emomali Rakhmon, Russian state television reported.

Putin will then travel on to Turkmenistan to join a summit of the Caspian Sea states. 

The meeting is planned for Wednesday, government spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, according to the TASS news agency. 

This would be the first trip abroad for Putin since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

What happened in Russia’s war in Ukraine on Sunday

Russian Federation Council speaker Valentina Matvienko said that Russia is ready to negotiate only if Kyiv accepts Moscow’s conditions.

US President Joe Biden told G7 leaders gathered in Germany that the West must remain unified in its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Pro-Russian separatists said that around 250 more people were evacuated from the Azot chemical factory in Sievierodonetsk after Ukraine relinquished control of the city.

Ukrainian forces attacked an oil platform in the Black Sea, the Tass news agency reported, citing local officials.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said Russian forces struck three Ukrainian military training centers in northern and western Ukraine.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Russian troops in Ukraine.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said most Ukrainian forces had withdrawn from their remaining defensive positions in the city of Sievierodonetsk.

Click here to catch up with all of Sunday’s major developments regarding the war in Ukraine.

sdi,dh/jsi (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

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