Russian attacks on the key city of Severodonetsk continue Thursday, while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has warned that the war in Ukraine puts at risk the "system of international cooperation that was forged after two world wars."
Here's the latest on Russia's war in Ukraine:
- Massive Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine: On Wednesday alone Russian troops fired on 41 settlements in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, said Ukraine's Joint Forces Task Force in a statement Thursday. "As a result of enemy shelling, 6 people were killed and 12 were injured," said the statement.
- Battle for Severodonetsk: Russian shelling of residential neighborhoods in the industrial city, which is key to controlling Luhansk, hasn't stopped for more than a week, Oleksandr Striuk, head of the Severodonetsk military administration, said in a radio interview Thursday. Russian forces have also been shelling a bridge between Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, added Striuk.
- Russian attacks in Donetsk: Meanwhile, Ukraine's Defense Ministry said Russian forces are "conducting an intense offensive" on the key town of Lyman in the neighboring Donetsk region. Lyman is an important rail hub, and if the Russians are able to consolidate control there, the nearby city of Sloviansk becomes more vulnerable to attack by artillery — and Ukrainian troops to the southeast of the town become more at risk of encirclement.
- Zelensky criticizes Kissinger: Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky has made a blistering attack on Henry Kissinger, after the former US Secretary of State appeared to suggest that Ukraine should cede territory to Russia in peace negotiations. Zelensky compared Kissinger's views to appeasement of Nazi Germany in 1938.
- Scholz fires warning at Davos: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has warned that Europe and the international community are at a critical point, and said the world has changed since the Ukraine war began. "The world is at a turning point," said Scholz during a special address at the World Economic Forum in Davos, adding that not only is Ukraine at risk but also the "system of international cooperation that was forged after two world wars."
- Russia cuts interest rates: A resurgent ruble — buoyed by robust oil and gas revenues — has taken some of the heat out of inflation and allowed Russia's Central Bank to cut interest rates. On Thursday, the bank announced that rates will fall from 14% to 11%, after inflation slowed to 17.5% in May compared to 17.8% in April. It is now forecasting that annual inflation will decrease to 5–7% in 2023 and return to 4% in 2024.
- Portugal approves Chelsea sale: The Portuguese government has authorized the sale of Chelsea FC, the London football team owned by Roman Abramovich, a Russian businessman and Kremlin ally. An ownership group led by Todd Boehly looks set to take control of the club after the UK government and the English Premier League also approved the deal this week.
- Food crisis: Russia is trying to "blackmail" the international community with an offer to unblock Ukrainian sea ports if sanctions against it are lessened, Ukraine's foreign minister said. He warned that if Moscow does not lift its blockage of Ukrainian exports of crops, the entire agricultural cycle will be interrupted and could spur a "multi-year food crisis."