Ukraine Latest: Fighting Around Bakhmut Shifts Lines of Control

(Bloomberg) -- Ukraine said its forces advanced in the suburbs around the eastern city of Bakhmut in heavy fighting, even as Russian troops aided by artillery and reinforcements pressed ahead in the city itself.

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Ukraine earlier shot down 18 missiles, including six hypersonic weapons, in an intense barrage launched on Kyiv, which injured at least three people in the capital.

Prosecutors detained the head of Ukraine’s Supreme Court, and he was ousted from his post after investigators said had uncovered “large-scale corruption” at the nation’s highest judicial body.

Key Developments

  • Ukraine Detains Supreme Court Chief in Graft Probe

  • Ukraine Says It Defeated ‘Exceptional’ Russian Missile Blitz

  • Putin Embrace Is a Big Gamble for South Africa: Balance of Power

  • UK’s Sunak Backs Coalition to Send Fighter Aircraft to Ukraine

(All times CET)

Scholz Hails Ukraine ‘Damage Register’ (8 p.m.)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said a “damage register” for Ukraine that the Council of Europe is launching at a conference in Reykjavik will be of vital importance for the country’s future.

Arriving at the meeting in the Icelandic capital, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal welcomed the establishment of the mechanism, which he said would help hold Russia to account. The Council of Europe is a group of 46 nations founded in 1949 to promote democracy and human rights. It expelled Russia after its invasion of Ukraine and is holding its first summit in almost 20 years as it attempts a reset.

Russia Burns Through Military Budget (5:35 p.m.)

Russia produced as many tanks and armored vehicles in the first quarter as in the whole of 2022, and overall weapons production surged more than seven-fold, Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov said, according to the state-run Tass news service.

That helps explain why Russia spent almost half of its 2023 military budget in the first two months of the year, reaching $25 billion, according to the Finance Ministry. Military spending may exceed the full-year budget of $62 billion by as much as 20%, according to Alexander Isakov, Russia economist at Bloomberg Economics.

Russians Push Into Bakhmut as Ukraine Captures Suburbs (4:07 p.m.)

Ukrainian troops have captured almost 12 square miles of territory north and south of Bakhmut over the past several days, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said on Telegram.

While Ukrainian forces made progress outside Bakhmut, Russian troops moved forward inside the city, obliterating it with artillery. Russians received reinforcements from elite paratrooper units, she said.

“Hard fighting with various results continues,” she said. The shift in control of the city comes before an expected counteroffensive in which Ukraine has said it plans to retake territory occupied by Russian forces.

Ramaphosa Says African Nations Plan Peace Mission (1:14 p.m.)

A delegation of African heads of state plans to travel to Moscow and Kyiv to present a peace initiative to help bring an end to the war, President Cyril Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on May 12 and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy the following day. The South African leader has faced criticism from the US and other Western allies for its refusal to back their criticism of the conflict.

Ukraine Detain Top Judge in Graft Probe (11:23 a.m.)

Supreme Court Chairman Vsevolod Knyazev was detained on suspicion of taking a $2.7 million bribe, the head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau said.

Authorities discovered evidence that Knyazev had taken a $2.7 million bribe. “Top Supreme court officials were caught red-handed,” on May 15, NABU chief Semen Kryvonos said.

At an emergency meeting of the court, his dismissal was backed by 140 judges.

Germany Calls for Measures to Stop Countries Dodging Sanctions (11:23 a.m.)

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said the EU needs to consider further measures to prevent Russian sanctions from being circumvented.

“We are aware that there are countries that still deliver to Russia and this cannot be accepted,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels. “We want to have pressure on Russia. We have serious sanctions and they mustn’t be circumvented by countries that benefit. We’re working on it.”

Sweden Says More Sanctions Needed, Must Close Loopholes (9:12 a.m.)

The European Union will need further sanctions packages against Russia but it must make sure the existing ones work and that loopholes are closed, Swedish Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson said.

“We can have many more sanctions packages, we will need to have that, but we also need to see that everyone is really implementing it, using it as it should,” she said on the sidelines of a meeting of finance ministers in Brussels. “We need more sanctions but we have to see that sanctions we have do work.”

France Is Ready to Train Ukraine Fighter Pilots, Macron Says (9:12 a.m.)

Macron told the TF1 TV network that French training for Ukrainian fighter pilots would be coordinated with other European countries and added that discussions are also ongoing with the US.

While not ruling out a change in approach, the US hasn’t disavowed its position that providing Ukraine with fighter jets would be unnecessarily provocative. Macron’s comments came a day after the French leader hosted Zelenskiy for a working dinner in Paris.

China Envoy Begins Tour as Xi Aims to Play Peacemaker (8:59 p.m.)

A top Chinese envoy will begin his tour of Ukraine and four other nations in Kyiv on Tuesday, in a trip designed to bolster President Xi Jinping’s credentials as a global peacemaker.

Ambassador Li Hui, special representative of the Chinese government for Eurasian Affairs, will visit the capital on Tuesday and Wednesday, a Ukrainian official told AFP and Reuters on Monday. It’s not clear whether Li will meet with Zelenskiy.

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