Live blog | Loss of Russian gas costs the EU 195 billion euros

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is now 79 days old. In this liveblog you can read the latest news about the war and its consequences.

ANP / AFP / Yasuyoshi Chiba

Loss of Russian gas costs the EU 195 billion euros

05:30 | The European Union must set aside 195 billion euros by 2027 to compensate for the loss of Russian energy. In addition, European energy consumption must be reduced by 13 percent in 2030 against 9 percent in previous plans. It writes Volkskrant on Friday.

Over time, the EU will be able to spend almost 94 billion euros less on energy each year through savings and investments that promote more efficient use of energy. This is stated in a draft of the RePowerEU plan, which the European Commission will present on Wednesday.

The money for the plans comes largely from the existing EU budget. In March, European government leaders decided that Europe should reduce its dependence on Russian energy as soon as possible. They asked the Commission to draw up a plan for this. ‘The time to reduce Europe’s strategic energy dependence is now’, the Commission writes in its draft plan.

Ukraine: UN and Red Cross talk with Russia about Azov figures

03:15 | Representatives of the Red Cross and the UN are negotiating with Russia on the evacuation of the last Ukrainian soldiers from Mariupol. Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said on Ukrainian television on Thursday night that a new round of negotiations has begun on the withdrawal of the approximately 1,000 soldiers who have anchored the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, the last Ukrainian stronghold in the heavily bombed city.

According to Vereshchuk, the evacuation was to take place in several phases, beginning with the seriously injured. The agreements must be put on paper and signed by all parties, she emphasized. She said Turkey mediated the negotiations.

Previous attempts to reach an agreement with Russia on a withdrawal from Mariupol have failed. Ukraine had, among other things, proposed exchanging Russian prisoners of war with seriously wounded Ukrainian soldiers.

The Ukrainian soldiers have entrenched themselves in bunkers and underground passages on the large grounds of the steel factory. About a hundred civilians are also said to be hiding there. Russia carries out daily bombing raids on the complex using aircraft, artillery and tanks.

Kremenchuk hit by the heaviest rocket attack since the invasion

01:30 | The Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk, a major industrial hub in the center of the country, was hit by the worst rocket attack since the start of the Russian invasion on Thursday. In his usual speech, Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky spoke of a “senseless attack” involving the collision of an oil refinery.

According to the governor of the region, the Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reports that no injuries were reported in the attack. At least twelve Russian missiles are said to have hit various targets. The refinery in particular came under fire.

The governor said in a Telegram statement that the oil refinery was “not in operation” at the time, according to Al Jazeera. However, Zelensky reports that residents of the Zaporizhzhya and Donbas regions are running out of fuel due to the “cowardly attack”. The Ukrainian president wonders aloud what Russian troops are trying to achieve with such attacks.

Foreign media have not been able to independently confirm the missile attacks. It is also not clear whether the oil refinery was still in operation and what the possible consequences are for the fuel supply in the surrounding regions.

Thursday, May 12

Hoekstra positive about security guarantees in Sweden and Finland

23:30 | The Cabinet will look “openly and positively” at any request from Sweden and Finland for security guarantees after applying for NATO membership. This was said by Minister Wopke Hoekstra (Foreign Affairs) in the House of Representatives.

He would ‘understand very well when such a request also got us’. According to the Minister, in such a case, one should look to other countries in Europe to cooperate in that area. The United States and the United Kingdom have already provided security guarantees.

The reason why Stockholm and Helsinki will ask for such guarantees is that in the event of an attack, they will not be protected by NATO as long as the accession process is ongoing. Accession cannot be ratified if one country is in conflict with another.

Ruben Brekelmans from VVD asked, among others, for clarity about the guarantees. The Liberal pointed out that threatening language is already being uttered in Moscow by officials vis-à-vis Sweden and Finland. Hoekstra believes that both countries must be able to join NATO quickly.

The Minister sees few obstacles in the way of countries joining NATO. According to him, it should be possible to fix it pretty quickly. All 30 countries in the Atlantic Alliance must agree to join.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has made Sweden and Finland look to NATO. Both countries were neutral for decades. Russia is strongly opposed to both countries’ membership of NATO.

Blinken will meet NATO’s foreign ministers in Berlin on Saturday

22:25 | US Secretary of State Antony Blinken travels to Berlin on Saturday for a meeting with NATO foreign ministers to discuss the war in Ukraine, his ministry said.

Potential topics for discussion include the possible accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO, the preparations for the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of June and the development of a new strategic concept for the military alliance established in 1949, the ministry said.

Due to a positive corona test, Blinken is still absent from the meeting with foreign ministers in the G7, which started on Thursday in a resort on the German Baltic coast. Diplomat Victoria Nuland will replace him at that meeting.

Blinken plans to travel to France on Sunday. There, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Trade Minister Gina Raimondo will join him.

Ukraine: Troops damage Russian naval vessel in the Black Sea

21:25 | Ukrainian troops damaged and set fire to a Russian navy logistics ship in the Black Sea, a spokesman for the regional military administration in Odessa in southern Ukraine said.

According to the spokesman, the ship, Vsevolod Bobrov, was attacked near the strategically important Snake Island, where there have been fierce fighting in recent days. The small island is located near the Ukrainian sea border with Romania.

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