The US is preparing a military aid package for India that aims at increasing security ties and reducing its reliance on Russian weapons, people familiar with the matter said.
The European Union is proposing to spend as much as 12 billion euros ($12.6 billion) to help fund the infrastructure needed to end its reliance on Russian energy as part of a larger clean-energy package, but the bloc remains stuck on negotiations to sanction oil from Moscow.
All times CET:
Italy Wants Fast NATO Entry for Finland, Sweden (1:10 p.m.)
Italy strongly supports Finland’s and Sweden’s bid to join NATO and wants to speed up the accession process “as much as possible,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi said at a joint press conference with Finnish Premier Sanna Marin in Rome.
Draghi also said Italy is ready to guarantee Finland’s security “without conditions” in the interim period before full NATO membership. He didn’t specify what such a guarantee entails.
EU Energy Plan Could Break Oil Ban Deadlock, Envoys Told (1:05 p.m.)
The European Commission told the bloc’s ambassadors it hopes a new plan to cut dependence on Russian energy may help break a deadlock over banning the country’s oil, according to an official with knowledge of the discussion.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU aims to help finance up to 10 billion euros ($10.5 billion) in missing energy links for gas and LNG and up to 2 billion euros “for oil infrastructure in view of stopping the shipment of Russian oil.”
Hungary, which has been blocking a proposed ban in a sixth sanctions package, told envoys at a closed-door meeting that it had nothing new to report, said the official who declined to be named on confidential talks. Countries including Estonia, Germany, Lithuania and Poland expressed frustration at the impasse.
#REPowerEU is mobilising up to €300 billion.
About €10 billion will fund missing links for gas and LNG and oil infrastructure to stop shipments from Russia.
All the rest will go into speeding and scaling up the clean energy transition.
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) May 18, 2022
G-7 to Mark Start of Global Food Alliance (12:30 p.m.)
Development Ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations meeting in Berlin are due to mark the formal start of a new alliance for global food security, in part designed to address the fallout from Russian’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The terrible consequences of Russia’s war of aggression extend far beyond Ukraine,” German Development Minister Svenja Schulze, who is chairing the meeting, said in an emailed statement. “There is a risk of famine because Putin uses hunger as a weapon.”
Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest growers of wheat — an essential element of global food security — and the US expects production to fall by one-third this year compared to last season. Millions of tons of harvested grain are also stuck at Ukrainian ports due to Russia’s blockade.
The Meeting of the @G7 development ministers has started: They will discuss development policy responses to the challenges facing the world – from the food crisis & climate change to the reconstruction of a free #Ukraine. #G7GER
— Bundesentwicklungsministerium (@BMZ_Bund) May 18, 2022
Erdogan Criticizes Several NATO Members (12:16 p.m.)
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says several NATO members haven’t collaborated enough in Turkey’s fight against Kurdish militant groups.
Erdogan called on NATO members to support Turkey’s “legitimate” cross-border military operations against PKK affiliated militant groups in Syria, in a speech to lawmakers of his ruling AK Party. “NATO is an alliance of security,” he said. “NATO’s enlargement is meaningful to us in proportion to respect shown to our sensitivities.”
EU Plans to Help Cover Ukraine’s Bills (8:50 a.m.)
The European Union will propose some 9 billion euros in loans to cover Ukraine’s urgent bills as part of a financial package to support the war-torn country, two EU officials said.
The bloc on Wednesday will also propose a new joint debt plan and using seized assets from sanctioned oligarchs to rebuild the nation. Kyiv needs around 15 billion euros over the next three months and the war costs could surpass one trillion euros, the Ukrainian government said.
Finland, Sweden Apply to Join NATO (8:08 a.m)
Sweden and Finland submitted their applications to join the NATO military alliance in Brussels on Wednesday, marking the start of a process that would fortify Europe’s defenses and make it more secure in the event of Russian threats to the region.
“This is a good day at a critical moment for our security,” North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters. “This is a historic moment which we should seize.”
Austria Sees No EU Fast-Track for Ukraine (7:35 a.m.)
Ukraine can’t receive full EU membership in an expedited process and officials should seek to find ways to boost cooperation for the duration of a normal accession talks, Austria’s Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said on German public radio.
“We have every interest to anchor Ukraine in the European family,” Schallenberg said. But we know that an entry process lasts years, if not decades, he said. Austria’s top diplomat said discussions over Ukraine’s membership cannot ignore the aspirations of other countries, including North Macedonia and Albania.
Japan PM to Attend NATO Summit, TV Asahi Says (6:14 a.m.)
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida plans to attend the NATO summit after a similar meeting of Group of Seven counterparts late next month, broadcaster TV Asahi reported, without attribution.
Japan, a neighbor of Russia, isn’t a member of the security bloc and Kishida would be the first sitting Japanese premier to attend the gathering.
Australia Imposes More Sanctions (3:11 a.m.)
Australia has sanctioned 11 individuals and 12 entities for promoting Russian propaganda and disinformation, building on the measures already taken against 32 propagandists in March, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement.
Australia has now sanctioned 827 individuals and 62 entities in response to Russia’s invasion
US Readies Aid Package for India (2:09 a.m.)
The US military aid package under consideration would include military financing of as much as $500 million, according to one person, which would make India one of the largest recipients of such aid behind Israel and Egypt. It’s unclear when the deal would be announced, or what weapons would be included.
India is the world’s largest buyer of Russian weapons, although it has scaled back that relationship of late.
Its dependence on Russia for weapons against neighbors China and Pakistan is a big reason Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has avoided criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine.
Zelenskiy Addresses Cannes Film Festival (11:25 p.m.)
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a former actor and producer, urged the world of cinema to help fight for freedom and battle a “dictator” in his address to the Cannes film festival, citing the need for a new Charlie Chaplin.
“As then, there is a war for freedom,” he said, adding, “words are needed to sound like in 1940 from all screens of the free world.”
Separately, in his nightly video address to Ukrainians, Zelenskiy said that efforts to get more fighters out of the Azovstal steel plant continue and “the most influential international middlemen are involved,” without providing details.
US to Block Russia From Repaying Bondholders (9:35 p.m.)
The Biden administration is poised to prevent Russia from being able to make payments to US bondholders, a move that could bring Moscow closer to defaulting on its debt.
The Treasury is expected to let a temporary exemption — which had enabled Russia to stay current on its payments, lapse after it expires next week, according to people familiar with the matter.
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