Ukraine Update: UN Reaches Consensus On Ukraine For The First Time

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The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a statement on Friday supporting the secretary-general’s efforts to search for a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine, in the first such display of unity since February 24. The entire meeting on Friday lasted only about a minute.

Russia’s support for the statement, drafted by Mexico and Norway, shows Moscow’s readiness for diplomacy, Mexico’s permanent representative the UN Juan Ramón de la Fuente Ramírez told TASS.

“The Security Council expresses strong support for the efforts of the secretary-general in the search for a peaceful solution,” says the statement.

The SC also “expresses deep concern regarding the maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine” and “recalls that all member states have undertaken, under the Charter of the United Nations, the obligation to settle their international disputes by peaceful means.”

While the AP says the text of the statement does not contain the phrases “war,” “conflict,” “invasion” or “special military operation,” the SC press release did refer to an “invasion” of Ukraine.

Mexico’s UN ambassador, whose country helped draft the statement, was asked about criticism that it took two months to draft and merely supports the UN secretary general.

Juan Ramon De La Fuente told the AP there has to be a start somewhere and is “a very first initial step but it points on the right direction”.

Other media reports said:

U.S. Intel To Ukraine Is ‘Legitimate, Lawful, Limited’, Says Pentagon

Following is a detail on U.S. officials deflecting questions that U.S. intelligence helped Ukraine kill top Russian generals and sink the Moskva missile cruiser.

The U.S. defence department’s spokesperson, John Kirby, held a press conference on Friday where he was asked about reports that the Pentagon has provided information with Ukraine to help target and kill Russian generals.

Kirby would not corroborate the reports, instead saying Ukraine “makes the decisions” when it comes to how they use U.S. intel and emphasizing the importance of being careful when discussing intelligence-sharing with other countries.

Kirby told reporters:

“We provide [Ukrainians] what we believe to be relevant and timely information about Russian units that could allow them to adjust and execute their self- defence to the best of their ability.”

The Pentagon spokesperson also emphasized that other countries have provided Ukraine with information on Russian troop movements:

“We are not the only sole source of intelligence and information to the Ukrainians. They get intelligence from other nations as well. And they have a pretty robust intelligence collection capability of their own.

And if they do decide to do something with that intelligence, then they make the decisions about acting on it.

The kind of intelligence that we provide them – it’s legitimate, it’s lawful, and it’s limited.”

Kirby also stressed that Ukraine combines intelligence from many countries and the U.S. is “not the sole source of intelligence and information to the Ukrainians”.

Stop Leak, Says Biden

Biden urged top intelligence and defense officials to stop leaks about the U.S. providing key information to aid Ukrainian forces.

In a call with top defense and intelligence officials, Biden called for fewer leaks about U.S. intelligence sharing with Ukraine.

NBC News reports:

On the phone with CIA Director William Burns, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Biden’s message was that such disclosures “distract from our objective,” one official said. The other official said Biden conveyed that the leaks should stop.

The CIA and the Office of the DNI declined to comment. The Pentagon and the National Security Council did not respond to requests for comment.

U.S. officials previously confirmed claims that U.S. intelligence helped Ukrainian forces, aiding both in the killing Russian generals and the location of the Russian warship Moskva, which was sunk last month.

Close U.S. Intel Support To Ukraine

The Guardian’s Dan Sabbagh wrote that confirmation of the information sharing around the Moskva is a “a fresh demonstration of the close intelligence support Kyiv is receiving from Washington”:

It is unclear how far the U.S. intelligence helped Ukraine launch an accurate double missile strike on the Moskva, and the U.S. officials briefing the information insisted the targeting decision was a matter for the Ukrainians alone.

But the fact that the U.S. was willing to confirm it had at least some involvement, three weeks after the Moskva went down on 14 April, shows how far Washington is willing to acknowledge its critical backseat role in the 10-week-long war, even at the risk of openly antagonizing Moscow.”

It appears now that the U.S. President is uncomfortable with the reports. Administration officials have expressed fears that the close association and intelligence sharing could provoke Putin into an escalation. Despite the reports, the Administration denied claims that the U.S. was involved in the attack on the Russian ship and that information was aided in targeting the Russian generals.

Western Intel To Ukraine Won’t Thwart Its Goals, Says Russia

The Kremlin said on Thursday that the U.S., Britain and other NATO countries were “constantly” feeding intelligence to Ukraine but this would not stop Russia from achieving its military objectives there.

“Our military knows well that the United States, Britain and NATO permanently supply the Ukrainian army with intelligence data and other parameters. This is well-known,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “At the same time, [such actions] are unable to prevent the achievement of the special military operation’s goals.”

Peskov’s comments come one day after a report by The New York Times said U.S. intelligence was assisting Kyiv with tracking Russia’s top military leaders in Ukraine.

Information provided by Western nations combined with Ukrainian intelligence has reportedly helped Ukrainian forces target Russian positions with artillery strikes and other types of attacks.

The Ukrainian government has claimed that a dozen Russian generals have been killed since the war began 70 days ago, but U.S. officials have not confirmed this figure.

Peskov said Russia is doing “everything necessary” to counter intelligence sharing, Russian media said Thursday.

Russia has accused the West of waging a proxy war against Moscow by supplying Ukraine with billions of dollars worth of defensive aid.

The U.S., NATO and other allied nations have vowed to continue arming Ukraine as Russia doubles down in its deadly campaign in eastern and southern parts of the country.

Back Kiev

The latest U.S. military aid package to Ukraine, announced by U.S. President Biden on Friday, is worth $150m, U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken confirmed.

The latest tranche of assistance includes 25,000 155mm artillery rounds, as well as counter-artillery radars, jamming equipment, field equipment and spare parts.

With the latest $150m U.S. security aid package to Ukraine, U.S.’s military assistance to Kyiv since the Russian invasion began has reached around $3.8bn, Blinken said.

Howitzer systems provided by the U.S. required training for Ukrainian soldiers, and Kirby told reporters 220 have received training and 150 more are currently being trained.

U.S. lawmakers additionally took steps last week to revive a World War II-era policy that would ensure that not only would Ukraine gain faster access to U.S. arms, but also all nations in Eastern Europe affected by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war would.

The policy was agreed to just days after Russia suggested it would also set its sights on Moldova.

The UK government has said it will give Ukraine 287 mobile generators in addition to 569 generators it had donated earlier.

Biden And Trudeau Like To Hold Russia Accountable

US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in a phone call on Friday, underscored their commitment to holding Russia accountable for its invasion of Ukraine and discussed efforts to provide security assistance to Ukraine, the White House said in a statement.

Poland Might Be A Source Of Threat, Says Kremlin

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that there was hostile rhetoric coming out of Poland, and that Warsaw could be “a source of threat”.

Poland has led calls for the EU to toughen sanctions and for the Western NATO alliance to arm Ukraine as it tries to resist Russian forces that have poured into its east.

Stanislaw Zaryn, a spokesman for the Polish security services, said that Russia has been conducting a coordinated disinformation campaign against Poland for several days, including suggestions it could be a threat to Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Polish Environment and Climate Minister Anna Moskwa said on Monday that “Poland is proud to be on Putin’s list of unfriendly countries.”

POW Exchange

Over 40 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians captured by Russia, among them 11 women and a cleric, have been freed in a new prisoner exchange, Kyiv said.

“Another prisoner exchange has taken place: 41 people, including 11 women were brought home,” Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a statement on Telegram.

Among those released were 28 soldiers and 13 civilians, one of whom was a member of the clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

She did not say how many Russians were released in exchange.

Ukraine’s Wheat Harvest May Fall By 35%, Raising Fears Of Global Shortage

A Guardian report said:

Wheat production in Ukraine is likely to be at least a third lower than in normal years, according to analysis of satellite images of the country.

Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest exporters of wheat, but the war is taking a toll on the country’s agriculture and food supplies, sparking fears of shortages or higher prices around the world.

Last year, Ukraine produced about 33m tonnes of wheat, of which it exported about 20m tonnes, making it the sixth-largest exporter globally. This year, with the situation as it stands, the country only has the potential to produce about 21m tonnes of wheat, down about 23% on the average of the previous five years, according to analysis published on Friday by the satellite analysis company Kayrros.

But with more disruption from the war extremely likely, and fighting concentrated in the east where the main wheat-growing regions are found, Kayrros estimates that the wheat harvest is likely to be down by at least 35% this year compared with 2021.

Ukraine has already moved to ban exports of grain and many other food products, in an effort to preserve its own food supplies. Transport is also difficult, with Russia blockading the country’s Black Sea coast.

Global wheat prices leapt by 20% in March, owing to the direct impact of the war on wheat production, as well as higher energy and fertiliser prices around the world. These costs were already rising before Russia’s invasion, but have been sent soaring further as countries have moved to cut imports of oil and gas from Russia.

While wheat prices have since slipped back slightly from record highs, analysts at Rabobank predict they could rise again due to the war in Ukraine, where it is predicting production could fall by slightly more than 20%, as well as sanctions on Russia and dry and hot conditions in other wheat-producing nations including the U.S. and India.

Carlos Mera, an analyst at Rabobank, said prices would remain high as it was unlikely leading global producers would be able to increase production significantly, because of high fertilizer prices and pressure to grow other crops where prices were also rising.

Russia and Ukraine are also big producers of fertilizer, which has further raised input prices for farmers.

He added: “It is not just a question of how much wheat Ukraine will harvest but how much it will manage to export. Normally 90% of grain exports flow through ports into the Black Sea but we are not going to see that [because of Russian military action].” He said exports via train had also been affected by attacks on railway lines.

Food price rises are now a serious cause of concern around the world. People on low incomes in developing countries were already facing problems because the pandemic had depleted their resources, while conflict has led to countries such as Yemen and Afghanistan teetering on the brink of famine.

The climate crisis is also taking a toll. In recent weeks, a heatwave in south Asia has left millions of people facing heat stress. The heat is likely to reduce crop yields, and could affect India’s wheat harvest.

Last year, heatwaves in Canada disrupted its wheat-growing and led to higher prices for pasta. Australia, another major wheat producer, has had heavy flooding this year.

In the UK, Brexit has added about 6% to food prices, according to the London School of Economics.

Much of Ukraine’s wheat went to the Middle East, forcing countries there to be even more dependent on Russia for grain supplies. Egypt, for instance, which will host the next UN climate summit, Cop27, this November, is reliant on Ukraine and Russia for about 80% of its wheat.

Kayrros uses artificial intelligence combined with data from satellites to monitor commodities, biomass and other environmental concerns such as methane. Antoine Halff, its co-founder, said: “Monitoring geopolitical events in near real-time is critical to understanding them and mitigating their impacts. The impacts of the terrible war in Ukraine can sadly be seen from space, and this data illustrates the specter of rising food prices and hunger the world faces as a consequence of this conflict.”

British Ambassador To Moscow Summoned

The British ambassador to Moscow was summoned to the Russian foreign ministry to discuss UK sanctions on Russian media.


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