War in the neighborhood: IPN updates

If bread is lost, world is lost

G7 Development Ministers agreed to form an alliance to ensure global food security, Der Spiegel reported. The alliance should organize both funding and cooperation between states to provide food for the world’s population.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russia on Thursday of using food as a weapon in Ukraine by holding “hostage” supplies for not just Ukrainians, but also millions around the world. Addressing the United Nations Security Council, Blinken appealed to Russia to stop blockading Ukrainian ports.

“The Russian government seems to think that using food as a weapon will help accomplish what its invasion has not - to break the spirit of the Ukrainian people,” he said.

The United States is considering the possibility of temporarily lifting sanctions on Belarusian potash fertilizers in exchange for the transit of Ukrainian grain through Belarus, The Wall Street Journal informed.

Vatican. The Prime Minister of Ukraine appealed to the Holy See to help organize “green” corridors for the export of Ukrainian grain. At a meeting in Kyiv with the Secretary of State for Interstate Relations of the Holy See, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Prime Minister Denis Shmygal called for help in organizing safe corridors for Ukrainian grain exports.

Germany. German Transport Minister Volker Wissing at the International Transport Forum said that his department is working to ensure Ukraine can export products to other states. They set up a railway bridge to supply humanitarian aid to Ukraine and will now create a bridge for grain.

Russia. Ex-President Dmitri Medvedev warned that Russia would not continue food supplies unless the west eased its sanctions on the Kremlin. After pleas from western government and the United Nations to Moscow to allow the flow of food to avert possible famine in some countries, Medvedev said on Thursday that Russia was ready to do so but expected “assistance from trading partners, including on international platforms” in return.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said his country is being blamed for all of the world's woes. He noted that Ukraine's ports are blocked by Ukraine itself, which he said has placed mines along the Black Sea coast.

Russia and Ukraine together account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies. Ukraine is also a major exporter of corn, barley, sunflower oil and rapeseed oil, while Russia and Belarus - which has backed Moscow in its war in Ukraine - account for more than 40% of global exports of potash, a crop nutrient.

Zelensky among most influential people on Earth

According to Time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky led the 2022 TIME100 reader poll, in which readers voted for the people they thought deserved a spot on TIME’s annual list of most influential people of the year. With more than 3.3 million votes cast, Zelensky came in first with 5% of the vote.

In second place was Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk with 3.5% of the vote. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson came in third with 3.4% of the vote. The official vote result will be announced on May 23.

Weapons worth US$100m for Ukraine

The U.S. has announced a shipment of US$100 million in military equipment to Ukraine, separate from what will be coming from the $40 billion approved Thursday by Congress.

The latest package includes 18 more howitzers as well as anti-artillery radar systems, both of which the U.S. has provided to Ukraine already since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the equipment will be in the hands of Ukrainian forces “very, very soon.”

He who does not win loses

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed to do everything not to let our people down. In a message on Twitter, he wrote: “Every day I receive dozens of messages from people who've lost their loved ones, their home. From those whose relatives have been captured or deported to Russia. Ukraine will defeat the darkness, but pays a terrible price. We’ll do everything not to let our people down.”

This week, Mr Podolyak, who has been involved in several rounds of talks with Russia, said that Ukraine would not accept any ceasefire until all the Russian troops are pulled back.

European political community: a step forward or stagnation?

The “European political community” complements the EU accession process and is not an “alternative”, President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday, following concerns by those in the EU waiting room that the idea could serve as a way to shut out countries from the bloc.

On May 20, speaking in Paris at a press conference with the President of Moldova Maia Sandu, the French president attempted to clarify his proposal.

He said it represented “a new framework for structuring cooperation, bringing together democratic European nations that adhere to our set of values and that may or may not aspire to join the European Union.”

Although it could be seen as a way of avoiding the integration of certain countries into the EU, the community would be a “compliment” and not an “alternative to the accession process”.

Russia with diverse, sophisticated and many weapons

In an interview for The New York Times, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Major General Kyrylo Budanov said Russia uses the whole arsenal of weapons it possesses, except for nuclear ones. According to him, the Ukrainian army needs weapons for counter-offensive, including rocket systems, heavy machine guns and anti-aircraft missile systems.

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