Russia Claims It Has Opened A Land Corridor To Crimea Through Occupied Territory

Russia Claims It Has Opened A Land Corridor To Crimea Through Occupied Territory

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2 hr 59 min agoRussia claims it has opened a land corridor to Crimea through occupied Ukrainian territory From CNN’s Anna Chernova

Steel rolls are stacked on the dock before being loaded on board a cargo ship at the Port of Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 30. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed on Tuesday that it had opened a land corridor to Russian-occupied Crimea, allowing civilians and goods to pass through the eastern Ukrainian territory now under its control.

Russian defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, said in a conference call on Tuesday that the military, working with Russian Railways, had restored 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) of train tracks and opened roads to allow “full-fledged traffic” between Russia, eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region and Crimea, the peninsula annexed by Russian forces from Ukraine in 2014. The supply of water through the North Crimean Canal — a lifeline for Crimea — had also resumed, Shoigu said.

According to an official readout of the call, the defense minister said that the land corridor allowed Russia to begin delivering goods to Mariupol, Berdiansk and Kherson, southeastern Ukrainian port cities that have been seized by Russia since it launched its invasion in late February. He claimed that the Mariupol and Berdiansk ports were operating normally and were ready to ship grain, amid international condemnation over Russia’s months-long blockade of key ports that has left millions of tons of grain languishing in Ukraine.

As instructed by Supreme Commander (Russian President Vladimir Putin), we are ready to load grain in the ports,” Shoigu said on Tuesday.

Earlier Tuesday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov restated that Ukraine must de-mine the coastal waters for grain ships to pass and ensured Russia will facilitate their passage and won’t use the de-mined sea corridors to attack Ukraine.

“President Putin… said that Ukraine should de-mine the approaches to the ports, which will allow the ships, after being checked by our military to ensure that the ships do not import weapons, to enter the port, load with grain and then, if necessary, even with our help, proceed to the international waters,” Peskov told reporters on a regular conference call.

Some background: The minister’s comments come as global leaders have condemned a months-long blockade by Russian forces at key ports in Ukraine — including Mariupol on the Sea of Azov and Odesa on the Black Sea — which has left more than 20 million tons of grain stuck inside the country. In a United Nations Security Council speech Monday, European Council President Charles Michel accused the Kremlin of “using food supplies as a stealth missile against developing countries” by holding hostage millions of tons of Ukrainian grain and blockading Ukraine’s ports.

CNN’s Sana Noor Haq, Eliza Mackintosh, Maegan Vazquez and Sam Fossum contributed reporting to this post.

3 hr 17 min agoZelensky says he’s glad “very important ally” Johnson will remain UK prime ministerFrom CNN’s Mick Krever in London

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, meets Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 9. (Ukrainian Presidency/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Tuesday that he was “very happy” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had won a confidence vote on Monday, as he is “a true friend of Ukraine.”

“I am glad that we have not lost a very important ally,” Zelensky told the Financial Times in a broadcast interview. “This is great news.”

“I cannot comment on the internal situation. I do not know all the details. So I beg pardon to Mister Johnson about this. I think that he is much better informed about the details than I am.”

But “Boris is very concrete in supporting Ukraine,” Zelensky said.

Johnson met with Zelensky in Kyiv in April.

4 hr 9 min agoRussia will be unable to maintain military strength due to West’s sanctions, German chancellor saysFrom CNN’s Inke Kappeler

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks at a press conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, on June 7. (Michael Kappeler/picture alliance/Getty Images)Russia will be unable to sustain its military capabilities due to tough Western sanctions, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Tuesday.

Western countries have hit Russia with a swathe of sanctions since its invasion of the Ukraine, with Scholz asserting that the “very effective, very-far reaching” injunctions would set the Russian economy back “by decades.”

“It [Russia] will not be able to participate in the progress of the world, in economic and technical progress. That is becoming clearer every day, and it is a significant detriment,“ the Chancellor said at a press conference during his visit to the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius for a meeting with the heads of the Baltic states.

Scholz added that even if Russia abused imports of civilian goods for military purposes, Moscow will also not be able to retain its military capabilities the same way due to the sanctions.

In his first visit to a NATO country that borders Russia, the Chancellor also joined leaders from Estonia and Latvia in promising to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank by pledging to bolster Germany’s military support to Lithuania.

“As allies in NATO, we are committed to each other and will defend every inch of NATO territory in the event of an attack,“ Scholz added, speaking alongside Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krisjanis Karins.

Read more of our coverage on Russian sanctions here:

4 hr 16 min ago”Very surprising”: Zelensky criticizes Macron’s comments that “we are not going to humiliate Russia”From CNN’s Mick Krever in London

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pictured in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 6. (President of Ukraine)Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Tuesday that he “simply cannot see the preconditions for ending the war.”

In a broadcast interview with the Financial Times, Zelensky​ said that while “any war should be ended at the negotiating table,” the position for “victory must be achieved on the battlefield.”

He conceded that “restoring the borders that we controlled before 24th of February” — the date of the massive Russian invasion — could be considered a “serious temporary victory.” But he insisted that it was a “war for independence.”

“Independence in my opinion, and in the opinion of most of our people, is regaining all of our territories, restoring all of our territorial integrity and inviolable sovereignty of Ukraine,” Zelensky said.  

“We have already lost too many people to simply cede our territory,” he said.

He reserved particularly harsh criticism for French President Emmanuel Macron over recent remarks he made that “we are not going to humiliate Russia.”

“Some people want to be leaders. In order to be a leader, you do not need to consider yourself one, but to be behave as a leader,” Zelensky said. “How can we achieve a ceasefire in the territory of Ukraine without listening to the position of country, and without listening to position of the leader of this country? This is very, very surprising.”

In a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on May 28, the leaders of France and Germany “renewed their demand for a ceasefire” and called on Putin to have a direct exchange with Zelensky. 

In an interview published Saturday, the French President said, “We must not humiliate Russia so that the day when the fighting stops we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means. I am convinced that it is France’s role to be a mediating power.”

“We are not going to humiliate anyone,” Zelensky said. “We are going to respond in kind.”

Zelensky said that Macron, as a leader of the Normandy Format of negotiations that existed before Russia’s expanded Feb. 24 invasion, “has a profound understanding of all the details, of all the details of all the arrangements made with the Russian Federation, and with Russia’s failure to comply with these accords.” 

He said that he was prepared for negotiations with Russia, but that the only person capable of discussing an end to the war was Putin himself.

“Any war should be ended at the negotiating table,” he said. “This is exactly how it has happened in history. I am still resolute and determined, whether I want it or not, I am ready for direct negotiations with President Putin if we are ready to discuss putting an end to this war seriously.”Zelensky also said Russia’s blockade of ports, which is preventing grain exports, “is a threat of global magnitude.”

“There is just one side to this threat; this is the Russian Federation. There is no dialogue here. This is a very concrete, tangible threat to Asia, Africa, and certain countries in Europe,” he said.

“We understand that the ensuing consequences might be famine and migration that is going to affect Europe. So the consequences might be very severe,” he said. “And everyone knows for a fact that we are not going to let Russian ships to Ukrainian ports, because they attack us on a daily basis, and everyone knows that Ukraine is ready to export everything that we have. We are ready for a normal civilized conditions, but on safe terms.” 

4 hr 36 min agoUK foreign secretary says more sanctions on Russia are “in the pipeline”From CNN’s Lauren Kent and David Wilkinson in London

Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Liz Truss arrives to attend the weekly Government cabinet meeting at Downing Str

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