UNITED NATIONS — European Council President Charles Michel accused Russia of using food supplies as “a stealth missile against developing countries” and blamed the Kremlin for the looming global food crisis, prompting Moscow’s U.N. ambassador to walk out of a Security Council meeting.
Michel addressed Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia directly at a council meeting Monday, saying he saw millions of tons of grain and wheat stuck in containers and ships at the Ukrainian port of Odessa a few weeks ago “because of Russian warships in the Black Sea.” He said Moscow’s attacks on Ukraine‘s transport infrastructure and grain storage facilities, and its tanks, airstrikes and mines are preventing Ukraine from planting and harvesting.
“This is driving up food prices, pushing people into poverty and destabilizing entire regions,” Michel said. “Russia is solely responsible for this looming food crisis. Russia alone.”
Michel accused Russian forces of stealing grain from areas in Ukraine that it has occupied “while shifting the blame of others,” calling this “cowardly” and “propaganda, pure and simple.”
Nebenzia walked out, giving Russia’s seat to another diplomat. Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Dmitry Polyansky tweeted later on Telegram’s Russian channel that Michel’s comments were “so rude” that the Russian ambassador left the Security Council chamber.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
— AP Exclusive: Ukraine recovers bodies from steel-plant siege
— Ukraine’s leader says Russia is trying to capture a key southeastern city
— US general says US, allies will keep sending ‘significant’ aid to Ukraine
— NATO nations block Russian envoy from visit to Serbia
— UN: Climate shocks and Ukraine war fuel multiple global food crises
— In eastern Ukraine, keeping the lights on is a dangerous job
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France — The United States and its allies will keep providing “significant” support to Ukraine out of respect for the legacy of D-Day soldiers, whose victory over the Nazis helped lead to a new world order and a “better peace,” Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday.
In an interview with The Associated Press overlooking Omaha Beach in Normandy, Milley said Russia’s war on Ukraine undermines the rules established by Allied countries after the end of World War II. He spoke on the 78th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Allied troops onto the beaches of France, which led to the overthrow of Nazi Germany’s occupation.
One fundamental rule of the“global rules-based order” is that “countries cannot attack other countries with their military forces in acts of aggression unless it’s an act of pure self-defense,” he stressed. “But that’s not what’s happened here in Ukraine. What’s happened here is an open, unambiguous act of aggression.”
“I think that the United States and the allied countries are providing a significant amount of support to Ukraine, and that will continue,” he said.
KYIV, Ukraine — Russia has begun turning over the bodies of Ukrainian fighters killed at the Azovstal steelworks, the fortress-like plant in the destroyed city of Mariupol where their last-ditch stand became a symbol of resistance against Moscow’s invasion.
Dozens of the dead taken from the bombed-out mill’s now Russian-occupied ruins have been transferred to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, where DNA testing is underway to identify the remains, according to both a military leader and a spokeswoman for the Azov Regiment.
The Azov Regiment was among the Ukrainian units that defended the steelworks for nearly three months before surrendering in May under relentless Russian attacks from the ground, sea and air.
It was unclear how many bodies might remain at the plant.
Meanwhile, Russian forces continued to fight for control of Sievierodonetsk, an eastern Ukrainian city that is key to Moscow’s goal of completing the capture of the industrial Donbas region.
NEW YORK — U.S. authorities moved Monday to seize two luxury jets — a $60 million Gulfstream and a $350 million aircraft believed to be one of the world’s most expensive private airplanes — after linking both to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.
A federal magistrate judge signed a warrant authorizing the seizure of the Gulfstream and a Boeing jet that authorities said was worth less than $100 million before a lavish customization.
The action takes place just days after the United States announced new sanctions and penalties on Russian oligarchs and elites, Kremlin officials, businessmen linked to President Vladimir Putin and their yachts, aircraft and firms that manage them.
President Joe Biden promised after Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine to pursue Russian elites’ “ill-gotten gains.”
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said Monday that his office was using every legal tool available to respond to “Russian’s illegal war in Ukraine.”
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president is asking for a secure corridor for Ukrainian vessels to be able to ship out grain and prevent food shortages in Africa and Asia.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy told a news conference on Monday that Kyiv is in talks with countries like Turkey and the U.K. about security guaranties for Ukrainian ships.
“It is important for us that there is a security corridor … that the fleet of this or that country ensures the shipping of the grain,” Zelenskyy said.
Zelenskyy adds that “if now we have 22-25 million tons blocked there, in the fall we might have 75 (million tons).”
“What are we going to do? he asked. ”That’s why we can’t do without the ports.”
The issue of blocked grain will be on the agenda on Wednesday during Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Turkey. Ankara is involved in efforts by the United Nations to reach an agreement for the shipment of Ukrainian grain amid an escalating food crisis.
Zelenskyy says Kyiv hasn’t been invited, possibly because Turkey wants to get security guarantees from Russia for its own ships first.
He explains that Ukraine can’t export large shipments of grain via railways because of long delivery times, even though Kyiv has been in talks with Poland and the Baltic nations. A transport through the territory of Russia’s ally Belarus isn’t an option, he said.
UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. envoy on sexual violence in conflict says sexual violence in Ukraine especially against women and girls remains prevalent and underreported, and the humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country is turning into “a human trafficking crisis.”
Pramila Patten told the U.N. Security Council Monday that there is a gap between its resolutions aimed at preventing rape and other sexual attacks during conflicts and the reality on the ground for the most vulnerable — women and children.
As of June 3, she said, the U.N. human rights office had received 124 allegations of conflict-related sexual violence — 97 against women and girls, 19 against men, 7 against boys and 1 gender unknown. Verification of these cases is on-going, she said.
Patten said Ukraine’s prosecutor general informed her during a visit in May that a national hot line reported the following forms of conflict-related sexual violence between Feb. 24, when Russian troops invaded the country, and April 12: “rape, gang rape, pregnancy following rape, attempted rape, threats of rape, coercion to watch an act of sexual violence committed against a partner or a child, and forced nudity.”
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president says the Russian forces intend to capture the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia, a move that could severely weaken Ukraine’s standing and allow the Russian military to advance closer to the center of the country.
“In the Zaporizhzhia region … there is the most threatening situation there,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy told reporters on Monday. He added that part of the region already has been taken and Russia wants to take the city next.
In the south of Ukraine, Russia has already seized large cities of Kherson and Mariupol. The Zaporizhzhia region, with the population of 1.6 million people, is one of the biggest industrial hubs of Ukraine’s southeast. The city itself has 722,000 people.
Zelenskyy also said that the Ukrainian troops continue to fight in the eastern part of the country known as the Donbas. In the Luhansk region, the Ukrainian resistance continues in Sievierodonetsk, one of two cities still not in Russia’s hands, he said.
“There are more of them, they are more powerful, but we have every chance to fight on there,” Zelenskyy said.
In the northern Kharkiv region, the Ukrainian army “step by step de-occupies our lands,” Zelenskyy said.
MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree granting lump-sum payments of 5 million rubles ($81,000) to families of Russian National Guard members who die in Ukraine.
The National Guard is Russia’s internal military forces, but has taken part in military operations in Ukraine including the seizure of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
The lump sum is equivalent to roughly six years of Russia’s average salary.
MOSCOW — The president of Ukraine’s separatist Donetsk People’s Republic says the region’s supreme court is opening the trial of three British men alleged to have been mercenaries for Ukrainian forces.
If convicted on the charges, including of trying to seize power, the men could face the death penalty.
Separatist president Denis Pushilin on Monday said “the crimes they committed were monstrous,” according to separatist news agency DAN. They are also charged with committing crimes against groups of people.
Two of the men, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, were members of regular Ukrainian military units in Mariupol. The affiliation of Andrew Hill, who was captured in the Mykolaiv area, is unclear.
ROME — Russia’s ambassador in Rome has been summoned to the Italian foreign ministry, following anti-Italy remarks by Russian government officials.
The foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday that Ambassador Sergey Razov was summoned on instructions on Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and “in concert” with the office of Italian Premier Mario Draghi.
Last month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov derided Di Maio’s peace plan, which had been relayed to the United Nations. Lavrov described the plan, which called for incremental cease-fires as well as humanitarian corridors in Ukraine, as not serious.
Lavrov also insinuated that Di Maio was out for “self-promotion” to gain votes.
The foreign ministry statement said Secretary General Ettore Francesco Sequi “firmly rejects accusations of amorality” aimed at some heads of Italian institutions and media.
Sequi also rejected “insinuations relative to the alleged involvement of the media of our country in an anti-Russia campaign.” In the same statement, Sequi reiterated Italy’s condemnation of Russia’s “unjustified aggression” against Ukraine.
MOSCOW — The Russian foreign minister has warned the West that if it provides Ukraine with long-range rockets, Moscow will respond by taking over larger areas of Ukraine.
Speaking during an online news conference Monday, Sergey Lavrov said that “the longer the range of weapons you supply, the farther away the line from where neo-Nazis could threaten the Russian Federation will be pushed.”
The U.S. and Britain have announced they will provide Ukraine with multiple rocket-launchers capable of striking targets up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) away. The systems are capable of firing longer range rockets that can hit areas of up to 300 kilometers (186 miles) away, but U.S. said it wouldn’t supply the rockets.
Asked how Moscow would respond if the U.S. and its allies change their mind and provide Ukraine with long-range rockets, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in televised comments Sunday that Moscow will “draw appropriate conclusions and use our strike means, which we have plenty of, in order to hit the facilities that we haven’t struck yet.”
SOFIA, Bulgaria — Bulgaria’s foreign ministry said Monday that Ukraine’s ambassador to Sofia has requested Bulgarian arms deliveries for his embattled country.
Ambassador Vitaly Moskalenko confirmed in a TV interview that his country needs Soviet-era weapons including heavy artillery.
“We need weapons, we are talking about howitzers and missile systems — Soviet, old weapons that we can handle,” he said.
In the wake of Russia’s stepped-up military efforts in eastern Ukraine, he added: “Imagine the firepower concentrated now against Ukraine in Donbas.”
On May 4, Bulgaria’s Parliament approved military technical assistance to Ukraine, which provides only for the repair of Ukrainian weapons and equipment, not the provision of combat systems and small arms.
Parliament would need to revise its previous decision, which seems uncertain because of the divisions between the political parties on this issue.
KYIV, Ukraine — A regional governor in Ukraine says that the situation in a key eastern town has worsened.
Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai said Monday that fierce fighting was continuing in the city of Sievierodonetsk in the epicenter of the Russian offensive. He described the combat situation as “quite dynamic.”
“Our defenders managed to conduct counteroffensive and free nearly half of the city, but the situation has worsened again now,” Haidai told the AP. “Our guys are defending the positions in the industrial zone on the outskirts of the city.”
“The shelling of Sievierodonetsk has intensified, (the Russians) are destroying everything in line with their scorched earth tactics,” he alleged.
Haidai said that the Russians have continued intensive bombardment also of nearby Lysychansk.
The Russians “have an enormous amount of equipment and personnel, they have pulled up a lot of reserves,” he said. He added that they had shelled a humanitarian center in Lysychansk and destroyed a bakery, and that 98 people had left the town over the past 24 hours.
Haidai said that a key highway between Bakhmut and Lysychansk has been under constant shelling even though it remains in Ukrainian hands.
COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France — Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had strong words about the war in Ukraine at a ceremony Monday commemorating the 78th anniversary of D-Day.
Speaking in the American Cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer, overlooking Omaha Beach, Milley said that “Kyiv may be 2,000 kilometers away from here, they too, right now, today, are experiencing the same horrors as the French citizens experienced in World War II.”
He spoke in the presence of more than 20 World War II veterans and several thousand people who came to pay tribute to those who fell that day.
“The world has come together in support of the defense of Ukraine against a determined invader. The fight in Ukraine is about honoring these veterans of World War II,” he said.
“It’s about maintaining the so called global rules-based international order that was established by the dead who are buried here at this cemetery.”
Gen. Milley recalled the principle underlined in that order that “strong countries cannot just invade small countries. Each country is sovereign and each country has the right to territorial integrity.”
MOSCOW — The Russian military says it has struck a Ukrainian factory that was being used to repair armor.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Monday that Russian warplanes fired long-range missiles to destroy a plant on the edge of the town of Lozova in the northeastern Kharkiv region that was fixing armored vehicles.
Konashenkov said that the Russian aircraft hit 73 areas of concentration of Ukrainian troops and equipment, while the Russian artillery struck 431 military targets. His claims couldn’t be independently verified.