RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING
Russian troops pushed deeper into Eastern Ukraine yesterday as they continue their assault on the major eastern city of Sievierodonetsk. The city is important to Russian efforts to capture the eastern industrial region of the Donbas before more Western arms arrive to bolster Ukraine’s defense. As Moscow’s advance on Sievierodonetsk intensified, Russian forces also shelled parts of Ukraine’s northeast, and a struggle continued for control of a southern region.Yuras Karmanau and Elena Becatoros report for AP
Russia has seized control of the Ukrainian city of Lyman in the Donetsk region, Ukrainian officials confirmed yesterday. Fighting continues around Lyman, which had offered access to bridges over the Siversky Donets River, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in a video posted on YouTube. Meryl Kornfield reports for the Washington Post.
French photojournalist Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, 32, has been killed in a Russian airstrike in Ukraine. Leclerc-Imhoff was killed when the Russian military struck the humanitarian convoy he was in. The truck was on its way to pick up refugees near the city of Sievierodonetsk. Leclerc-Imhoff’s death marks the eighth journalist to be killed in the war. Meryl Kornfield and Tara Bahrampour report for the Washington Post
As the war in Ukraine approaches its 100th day, the course of the invasion is beginning to tip in Russia’s favour. Russian troops entered the outskirts of Severodonetsk yesterday, one of the last strategically significant cities in the Luhansk region still under Ukrainian control. If the city falls under Russian control, it would give Russia near-total control over half of the Donbas region. As part of the new Russian war aims, this development marks a significant advancement. Ishaan Tharoor provides analysis for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
The E.U. reached an agreement yesterday to ban almost all Russian oil imports by the end of the year. Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban has previously held up the agreement on an oil embargo, calling it an “atomic bomb” to the Hungarian economy. In order to win Hungary’s approval, European leaders endorsed an embargo on oil arriving in the bloc by sea – a move that would cut 0ff two-thirds of the E.U.’s total oil imports, while having no effect on Hungary, a landlocked nation. Matina Stevis-Gridneff reports for the New York Times.
Dutch energy company, GasTerra, announced yesterday that Russian gas producer Gazprom was cutting off its gas supply after it refused to settle its contracts in rubles. According to a statement by GasTerra, it had decided not to pay in rubles as it did not want to risk “violation of the sanctions drawn up by the E.U.” Gazprom cut off Poland and Bulgaria in April for the same reason. Matina Stevis-Gridneff reports for the New York Times
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic yesterday announced a new gas deal with Russia despite global sanctions. The deal is likely to be signed when Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov travels to Belgrade early in June — a rare visit by a ranking Russian official to a European country since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The new deal stands in contrast to Vucic’s claim that he wants Serbia to join the E.U. but is congruent with his increasingly close ties with Russia. Serbia is also almost entirely dependent on Russian gas, and its main energy companies are under Russian majority ownership. Dusan Stojanovic reports for AP.
African nations are facing a worsening hunger crisis as wheat exports via the Black Sea halt as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This comes amid U.N. warnings that 13 million people in the Horn of Africa are already facing severe hunger caused by persistent drought. Omar Faruk and Krista Larson report for AP.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
The U.S. will not send long-range rocket systems to Ukraine, despite persistent Ukrainian requests, President Biden has announced. “We’re not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that strike into Russia,” Biden told reporters after arriving back at the White House after a weekend in Delaware. This comes after earlier reports in the Washington Post which said that the administration was planning to announce the provision of long-range rockets as soon as this week. The Multiple Launch Rocket System, or MLRS, has been on the top of the Ukrainian list of requests from the U.S. for months. The Kremlin had warned that any country providing advanced weaponry to Ukraine will face harsh repercussions. Steve Holland reports for Reuters.
The new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, arrived in Kyiv yesterday as the U.S. begins to rebuild its diplomatic presence in Ukraine. Brink’s arrival, which she announced in a tweet, marks the first time in three years that the U.S. has has an ambassador in the country. Mychael Schnell reports for The Hill.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – WAR CRIMES TRIALS
A Ukrainian court has sentenced two Russian soldiers to 11 and a half years in jail for shelling a town in eastern Ukraine. This marks the second war crimes verdict since the start of Russia’s invasion. Alexander Bobikin and Alexander Ivanov, who listened to the verdict standing in a reinforced glass box at the Kotelevska district court in central Ukraine, both pleaded ‘guilty’ last week. Pavel Polityuk and Nerijus Adomaitis report for Reuters.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
U.S Senator Tammy Duckworth met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen today, to reiterate U.S. support for the island amid continued threats from China. During the meeting, Duckworth emphasized the close economic, political and security relations between Taipei and Washington. The U.S. is also planning on “cooperation” between its National Guard and Taiwan’s military, Ing-wen said. AP reports.
President Biden will meet with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today to discuss ongoing U.S. engagement in the Indo-Pacific region. “Top of mind for us, alongside the situation in Ukraine, is the situation in our region,” Ardern told New Zealand media at a press conference in Washington D.C. “We’ll be encouraging the United States to really continue and strengthen engagement in our region including economic engagement, which is really critical to our region.” Lucy Craymer reports for Reuters.
At a regional summit this week, China plans to encourage Pacific island nations to join an agreement that would expand cooperation on law enforcement and cybersecurity, and explore the creation of a free-trade zone between China and the Pacific. The agreement, a draft of which has been reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, represents the “single-most game-changing proposed agreement in the Pacific in any of our lifetimes,” wrote David Panuelo, president of the Federated States of Micronesia, in a May 20 letter cautioning other Pacific nations from signing on. The president of Micronesia, which has close ties with Washington, argued that the agreement demonstrates China’s aim to gain control of the geostrategically significant region. Mike Cherney reports for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Iran has enough enriched uranium to produce a nuclear weapon, according to a report by the U.N.’s atomic agency. Iran hasn’t offered credible answers to the agency’s probe into nuclear material found in the country, the report said, adding that Iran’s stockpile of highly enriched uranium has grown to roughly enough material for a nuclear bomb. The revelations are likely to heighten concerns about Iran’s nuclear work at a time when negotiations on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal – which placed tight but temporary restrictions on Iran – have stalled. Laurence Norman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Israel and the U.A.E signed a free trade agreement today, just two years after they established formal diplomatic relations. Officials from both countries said that the new deal would boost business ties. The agreement will cover 96% of bilateral trade, which stood at $885 million in 2021, according to Israel’s ministry of economy. “Our agreement will accelerate growth, create jobs and lead to a new era of peace, stability, and prosperity across the region,” the U.A.E’s Minister of Trade Thani al-Zeyoudi tweeted. Dov Lieber reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday announced new legislation to combat gun violence. The new legislation would implement a “national freeze” on the sale and purchase of handguns as part of a gun-control package that would also limit magazine capacities. It comes just a week after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas where 19 people were killed. “We need only look south of the border to know that if we do not take action firmly and rapidly it gets worse and worse and gets more difficult to counter,” Trudeau said. Ismail Shakil and Anna Mehler Paperny report for Reuters.
Rodolfo Hernandez – a former wealthy businessman heralded as Colombia’s Trump – beat conservative establishment candidate Federico Gutierrez in Sunday’s election, dramatically shifting Colombia’s political landscape. Colombia’s presidential election now heads to a June runoff between Hernandez and Gustavo Petro, a former rebel-turned senator making a bid to be the nation’s first leftist president. Julie Turkewitz provides analysis for the New York Times.
JAN. 6 ATTACK and 2020 ELECTION PROBE
Peter Navarro, White House adviser to former President Trump, disclosed yesterday that he has been summoned to testify to a federal grand jury in relation to the Jan. 6 attack. The subpoena is the latest indication of an expanding inquiry by federal prosecutors and seeks both Navarro’s testimony and any records he has related to the attack. He will appear before the grand jury on Thursday. Luke Broadwater and Alan Feuer report for the New York Times.
The federal investigation into efforts to put forth alternate slates of electors to displace Joe Biden’s electors has expanded to multiple states. Prominent Georgia Republican Patrick Gartland and others connected to the Republican party in the battleground states of Georgia and Michigan have come under particular scrutiny. Strikingly, subpoenas issued to Gartland and others in Georgia are seeking communications with “any member, employee or agent of Donald J. Trump or any organization advocating in favor of the 2020 re-election of Donald J. Trump,” demonstrating the breadth of the probe and the drive to gather information from people in more politically connected circles. Katelyn Polantz reports for CNN.
Cleta Mitchell, a central figure in the scheme to reserve the 2020 election, is mobilizing activists, including election conspiracists, to monitor the next election. “We are taking the lessons we learned in 2020 and we are going forward to make sure they never happen again,” Mitchell told a crowd of about 150 activists-in-training, as she delivered a seminar on “election integrity” in Harrisburg, PA. An extensive review of Mitchell’s effort, including documents and social media posts, interviews and attendance at the Harrisburg seminar, reveals a network of influential groups and fringe figures. They include election deniers as well as mainstream organizations such as the Heritage Foundation’s political affiliate, Tea Party Patriots and the R.N.C., which has participated in Mitchell’s seminars. Alexandra Berzon reports for the New York Times.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
At least 15 mass shootings have taken place across the U.S. since the shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde last Tuesday. At least eight people have been killed and 55 injured in mass shootings over the Memorial Day weekend alone, according to the Gun Violence Archive and local news sources. Since the Uvalde shooting last Tuesday, at least 11 people have been killed and 67 injured in mass shootings. Annabelle Timsit reports for the Washington Post.
The Supreme Court will soon issue its first major Second Amendment opinion in more than a decade, in the wake of the Uvalde and Buffalo mass shootings. The court is expected to rule in the coming days or weeks in a pending dispute over New York state’s tight limits on the concealed carry of handguns. Experts say that while it’s unclear just how broadly the conservative majority court will rule, the New York law is likely to be invalidated – a decision that could have significant ramifications for gun control efforts across the country. John Kruzel reports for The Hill.
Supreme Court officials are escalating their search for the source of the leaked draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, by taking steps to require law clerks to provide cell phone records and sign affidavits. The court’s moves, are unprecedented and have sparked alarm amongst clerks, some of whom are reportedly considering hiring outside counsel. The escalating scrutiny of law clerks reflects concerns expressed by Chief Justice Roberts about the breach in confidentiality and the possibility of further leaks, and also suggests that the court has so far been unsuccessful in determining the source of the leak. Joan Biskupic reports for CNN.
COVID-19 has infected over 83.72 million people and has now killed over 1.00 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 527.412 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.28 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
A map and analysis of the vaccine rollout across the U.S. is available at the New York Times.
A map and analysis of all confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. is available at the New York Times.
U.S. and worldwide maps tracking the spread of the pandemic are available at the Washington Post.
A state-by-state guide to lockdown measures and reopenings is provided by the New York Times.