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Russia says seized US soldiers could face death

Some 568 people, including 38 children, reportedly remain inside the besieged Azot chemical plant.
Ukrainian soldiers inspect a destroyed warehouse reportedly targeted by Russian troops on outskirts of Lysychansk, in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 17, 2022. Image: Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said two US veterans captured in Ukraine could face the death penalty, adding that the Geneva Conventions likely don’t apply as Moscow doesn’t consider the men part of the national army.

The European Union’s 27 member states are set to formally grant Ukraine candidate status later this week in the first — but highly symbolic — step on the long path to becoming an EU member.

As Russian forces gather in eastern Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned that Moscow’s assault has put almost half of his country’s economy out of action.

Key Developments
The latest on the ground
Russian forces control the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk except for its besieged Azot chemical plant, where fierce fighting continues and some 568 people, including 38 children, remain inside, according to Luhansk regional Governor Serhiy Haiday.

Russian forces are shelling the nearby city of Lysychansk, where the head of the military administration came under fire, he added.

(All times CET)
Oil Advances as Investors Weigh Outlook for Demand (7:26 a.m.)
Oil ticked higher as traders weighed the odds of a recession in the US amid Federal Reserve tightening, with President Joe Biden pushing back against the notion that the world’s largest economy faces a contraction.

Oil is headed for a quarterly gain, with prices supported by rising demand and supply disruptions spurred by the war in Ukraine, although the Fed’s pivot toward tighter monetary policy has stoked concern of an economic slowdown.

Putin Spokesman Says Captured US Veterans Could Face Death Penalty (5:15 a.m.)
Dmitry Peskov told US broadcaster NBC he couldn’t guarantee the two Americans captured in Ukraine wouldn’t face capital punishment, saying they should be “held responsible for the crimes they have committed.”

In the interview that aired Monday, he said Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh, whose families reported them missing last week, weren’t likely to be protected by the Geneva Conventions as prisoners of war. That’s because Moscow considers them “soldiers of fortune” not part of the Ukrainian army, he said, adding that there’d be a full investigation into their cases.

Some 20,000 people from around the world have responded to Kyiv’s call to join the International Legion of Ukraine’s effort against Russian forces, the Ukrainian government said in March.

The US and NATO’s eastward expansion had left Russia with no choice but to invade Ukraine in February, Peskov added, saying that Russia “will never trust the West again.”

Russian Nobel-Prize Editor’s Medal Sells for Record $103.5M, AP Says (2:45 a.m.)
Dmitry Muratov, the Russian editor awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for championing freedom of speech, auctioned his medal Monday for $103.5 million, breaking the record for a Nobel, the Associated Press reported.

The previous record was set in 2014, when James Watson sold his medal for discovering the structure of DNA for $4.76 million. Muratov will donate his money to Ukrainians who’ve been made into refugees by Putin’s war.

US Says Russian Oil Price-Cap Plan in Progress (2:09 a.m.)
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said talks are continuing on how the US and its allies might cap the price of Russian oil exports, possibly through a plan that offers exceptions to the European ban on insuring Russian oil shipments.

“We are talking about price caps or a price exception that would enhance and strengthen recent and proposed energy restrictions by Europe, the United States, the UK and others,” she said.

Ukraine to Get EU Candidate Status (9:20 p.m.)
The European Union’s 27 member states are set to formally grant Ukraine candidate status later this week, according to people familiar with the matter. The European Commission made the recommendation last week and included criteria Kyiv will have to meet on issues related to the rule of law, justice and anti-corruption.

The bloc is also set to back the commission’s opinion in granting candidate status to Moldova, as well as to Georgia if it first meets specific additional conditions, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.

Civilians are Hiding Around Azot Chemical Plant (7:20 p.m.)
Haiday said that in Sievierodonetsk, Ukrainian soldiers only control the area surrounding the Azot chemical plant. Ukrainian deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said about 300 civilians are hiding near there.

Sweden, Finland Discuss NATO Bids With Turkey (5:51 p.m.)
Senior officials from Sweden and Finland made some progress in talks with Turkey during a five-hour session at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels about security concerns that have prompted Ankara to block their applications to join the military alliance, according to Finland’s lead negotiator, Petri Hakkarainen.

“Clear progress was made on some issues and on others there’s still some way to go before a consensus can be reached,” he said in a statement, adding that the parties share a goal to continue talks as soon as possible.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week the two countries had yet to take concrete steps to address his country’s concerns, which include their support of Kurdish PKK militants, leaving little hope that accession talks would start in time for a NATO leaders summit in Madrid next week.

EU Says Lithuania Didn’t Act Alone on Kaliningrad (5:45 p.m.)
The EU’s foreign policy chief said Lithuania had not taken any unilateral national action by stopping the transit of steel to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad and had only implemented European Commission guidelines around EU sanctions.

“The land transit between Kaliningrad and other parts of Russia has not been stopped. There is no blockade,” Josep Borrell told reporters following a gathering of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg. He said the EU would nevertheless verify the legal aspects around Lithuania’s measures.

No Progress in Talks to Unblock Ukrainian Ports (4:46 p.m.)
Zelenskiy sees no movement in “difficult multilevel talks” to unblock Black Sea ports and allow grain to be exported, he says in an address to the Assembly of the African Union about Ukraine’s efforts to restore shipments and global food security.

A special tour by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to sub-Saharan African countries is being prepared, and Ukraine is seeking to establish direct cooperation with African countries, Zelenskiy said.

EU Aims to Finalize $9.5 Billion Loan Package (3:02 p.m.)
The EU is expected to finalize the details of a 9 billion euro ($9.5 billion) financial package for Ukraine in the coming days, with EU leaders scheduled to meet Thursday and Friday in Brussels to discuss Ukraine’s reconstruction plan and its bid for membership in the bloc.

The European Commission proposed the latest aid package in mid-May to cover part of Ukraine’s financial needs of around 5 billion euros per month. The Ukrainian government has been calling on its partners to transfer the funds as a matter of urgency, but the commission and Germany disagreed over the package’s design.

Zelenskiy Says Half of Ukraine’s Economy not Working (2:30 p.m.)
“Almost half of our economy and our economic system is not operational,” Zelenskiy said during an event in Milan, Italy, blaming the economic devastation on Russia’s invasion. Speaking virtually to the conference, Zelenskiy said it’s not possible to have a “normal economic life” in Ukraine.

“Just imagine what would it mean if half of Italian economy would be blocked,” he said, calling again for richer nations to send more weapons to Ukraine and warning that the war may trigger a global food crisis.

Ukraine to Parade Broken Russian Tanks Across Europe (1:36 p.m.)
Ukraine is planning to tour an exhibition of destroyed Russian military vehicles across Europe, as it strives to maintain public attention on the conflict. The exhibition will launch in Warsaw before moving on to Berlin, Paris, Madrid and Lisbon, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said.

Ukraine claims Russia lost some 1,477 tanks and 3,588 armored vehicles since the invasion began in February. Some of the missiles, burnt Russian tanks and other military vehicles are currently being displayed in downtown Kyiv.

Russia Demands Lithuania Unblock Kaliningrad (1:05 p.m.)
The Foreign Ministry in Moscow summoned Lithuania’s envoy to declare its “strong protest” over the Baltic country’s ban on the rail transport of a large number of goods to Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave.

Lithuania announced it would stop the transit of steel and other goods made from iron ore to Kaliningrad in accordance with EU sanctions. Russia demanded Vilnius immediately rescind the order and said it “reserves the right to act to protect its national interests.”

Lithuania responded by summoning an official from Russia’s embassy and rejecting the accusations it’s blocking transit of unsanctioned goods and passengers across its territory to Kaliningrad.

ECB Sees Ukraine Refugees Lifting Workforce (10:44 a.m.)
Refugees fleeing the war could boost the euro area’s active labor force by up to 1.3 million people, the European Central Bank predicts.

“Back-of-an-envelope” calculations point to an jump of 0.2% to 0.8% over the medium term, the institution said in an economic bulletin published Monday — corresponding to between 0.3 million and 1.3 million workers.

Refugee Rations Cut as War Worsens Hunger (10:43 a.m.)
The World Food Programme is cutting food rations for refugees by as much as half, as it faces a hunger crisis worsened by the war in Ukraine and funding constraints.

“We are being forced to make the heart-breaking decision to cut food rations for refugees who rely on us for their survival,” WFP Executive Director David Beasley said Monday in a statement.

Food prices are near a record high after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sharply reduced Kyiv’s key exports of grain and vegetable oil, adding to price pressures from logistics snarl-ups and a rebound in demand after the pandemic.

Borrell: Blocking Ukraine Grain a ‘War Crime’ (9:38 a.m.)
The EU’s foreign policy chief slammed Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian grain exports as a “real war crime” and said UN efforts to get supplies out of the country were advancing.

Borrell said EU sanctions were not to blame for soaring grain prices as Russian food and fertilizer fell were not subject to penalties. “I hope nobody will be able to resist the pressure of the international community,” he said. “One cannot imagine that millions of tons of wheat remain blocked in Ukraine while in the rest of the world people are suffering from hunger.”

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna echoed those concerns, calling on Russia to stop “playing with hunger in the world, to stop its blockade of Ukrainian ports and to stop destroying Ukrainian cereal infrastructure.”

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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“Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said two US veterans captured in Ukraine could face the death penalty, adding that the Geneva Conventions likely don’t apply as Moscow doesn’t consider the men part of the national army.”

Hmmm … so you illegally invade a foreign country where you have no judicial rights and yet you want to become judge and jury in that illegally invaded country?

With the same logic, separatists and mercenaries in Eastern Ukraine could be sentenced to death as they are also not “part of the national army” of Russia, although it is a fact that they are funded by Moscow and have Russian citizenship.

there are over 1,500 mercenaries employed by Wagner fighting in Ukraine for putin. What would their fate be when captured?

And a few hundred at least in Africa …

End of comments.

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