The United States is preparing a military aid package for India aimed at boosting security ties and reducing its reliance on Russian weapons, say people familiar with the matter.
The European Union is proposing to spend 12 billion euros ($ 12.6 billion) on funding for infrastructure needed to end its reliance on Russian energy as part of a larger clean-up package, but the bloc is stuck in talks to approve oil. From Moscow.
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Italy wants quick NATO entry for Finland, Sweden (1:10 pm)
Italy strongly supports Finland and Sweden’s bid to join NATO and wants to expedite the process of joining “as much as possible”, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said at a joint news conference with Finnish Premier Sana Marin in Rome.
Draghi added that Italy was ready to guarantee Finland’s security in the interim before gaining full NATO membership. He did not mention what such a guarantee was.
EU energy plan could break oil embargo, envoys say (1:05 pm)
The bloc’s ambassadors to the European Commission have said they hope a new plan to reduce reliance on Russian power could help break a stalemate over the country’s oil embargo, according to an official with knowledge of the talks.
The commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, said the EU aims to fund up to 10 billion euros ($ 10.5 billion) in missing fuel connections for gas and LNG, and up to 2 billion euros for oil infrastructure, in order to cut off Russian oil shipments. ”
Hungary, which has blocked the proposed sanctions in a sixth sanctions package, told envoys at a closed-door meeting that it had nothing new to report, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Countries including Estonia, Germany, Lithuania and Poland have expressed frustration over the stalemate.
#REPowerEU Moving up to € 300 billion.
The missing links to gas and LNG and oil infrastructure will fund about 10 billion euros to stop shipments from Russia.
All the rest will speed up the clean energy transition and scaling up.
– Ursula von der Leyen (vonderlaine) May 18, 2022
G-7 launches Global Food Alliance (12:30 pm)
The meeting of development ministers of the Group of Seven industrialized countries in Berlin will mark the official launch of a new alliance for global food security, designed to deal with the catastrophe caused by Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
“The devastating consequences of the war on Russian aggression have overtaken Ukraine,” German Development Minister Svenza Schulz, 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 largest wheat producers – an essential component of global food security – and the United States expects production to fall by one-third this year compared to last season. Millions of tons of harvested grain are also stuck in Ukrainian ports due to the Russian blockade.
Its meeting @ G7 Development ministers have begun: they will discuss development policy responses to the challenges facing the world, from the food crisis and climate change to a free restructuring. # Ukraine. # G7GER
Read the press release: https://t.co/rJsaVsSQUM pic.twitter.com/JuanW6ptKK
– Federal Ministry of Development (BMZ_Bund) May 18, 2022
Erdogan criticizes several NATO members (12:16 pm)
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says several NATO members have not cooperated enough in Turkey’s fight against the Kurdish militant group.
In a speech to lawmakers from his ruling AK Party, Erdogan called on NATO members to support Turkey’s “legitimate” cross-border military operation against PKK-allied militant groups in Syria. “NATO is a security alliance,” he said. “NATO’s expansion makes sense to us in proportion to our respect for our sensitivities.”
EU plans to help cover Ukraine’s bills (8:50 am)
The European Union will offer a loan of about 9 billion euros to cover Ukraine’s emergency bills as part of a financial package to support the war-torn country, two EU officials said.
On Wednesday, the bloc will propose a new joint debt plan and use resources confiscated from approved oligarchs for nation restructuring. Kiev needs about 15 billion euros in the next three months and the cost of the war could exceed one trillion euros, the Ukrainian government has said.
Finland, Sweden Apply for NATO Join (8:08 am)
Sweden and Finland submitted their applications to join the NATO military alliance in Brussels on Wednesday, initiating a process that would strengthen Europe’s defenses and make it more secure in the face of Russian threats to the region.
Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, told reporters: “This is a good day at a crucial moment for our security. “This is a historic moment that we should embrace.”
Austria has not seen any EU fast-track for Ukraine (7:35 am)
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schlenberg said on German public radio that Ukraine could not get full EU membership in an accelerated process and that officials should find ways to increase cooperation for a normal joining period.
“We have every interest in anchoring Ukraine into a European family,” said Schelenberg. But we know that an entry process can take years, if not decades, he said. Austria’s top diplomat says talks on Ukraine’s membership cannot ignore the aspirations of other countries, including northern Macedonia and Albania.
Japanese PM to attend NATO summit, TV Asahi says (6:14 am)
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida plans to attend the NATO summit later this month after a similar meeting of the Group of Seven opponents, broadcaster TV Asahi said, for no apparent reason.
Japan, Russia’s neighbor, is not a member of the security bloc, and Kishida will be the first Japanese prime minister to attend the summit.
Australia imposes more sanctions (3:11 am)
Australia has approved 11 individuals and 12 entities to promote Russian propaganda and misinformation, based on measures already taken against 32 propagandists in March, Foreign Minister Maris Payne said in a statement.
Australia has now approved 827 individuals and 62 entities in response to the Russian attack
US Ready Aid Package for India (2:09 am)
The US military aid package under consideration will include অর্থ 500 million in military funding, according to one source, which would make India one of the largest recipients of such aid after Israel and Egypt. It is not clear when the deal will be announced or what weapons will be included.
India is the world’s largest buyer of Russian weapons, although it has lately pushed back that relationship.
Reliance on Russia for arms against neighboring 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.
Zelensky addresses Cannes Film Festival (11:25 pm)
Speaking at the Cannes Film Festival, President Volodymyr Zelensky, a former actor and producer, noted the need for a new Charlie Chaplin and called on the film world to help fight for freedom and fight against a “dictator.”
“Then, there is a war for independence,” he added, “the free world needs to hear sounds like the 1940s from all screens.”
Separately, in his video address to the Ukrainians that night, Zelensky said efforts were being made to bring more fighters out of the Azovostal steel plant and that “the most influential international mediators involved,” without elaborating.
US to block Russia from repaying bondholders (9:35 pm)
The Biden administration is prepared to prevent Russia from being able to repay US bondholders, a move that could bring Moscow closer to defaulting on its debt.
The Treasury is expected to offer a temporary waiver – which would enable Russia to stay current in its payments – after it expires next week, according to people familiar with the matter.
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