UK foreign minister will call on the West to ensure Putin loses in Ukraine
From CNN’s Arnaud Siad in London
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is traveling to Bosnia and Herzegovina on Thursday, where she will use an address to the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to urge the UK's Western partners to ensure Russian President Vladimir Putin loses in Ukraine, the Foreign Office said in a statement late Wednesday.
Truss will also warn against appeasing the Russian leader, the release added.
“Russia’s aggression cannot be appeased. It must be met with strength”, she will say according to the Foreign Office. “We must be relentless in ensuring Ukraine prevails through military aid and sanctions. We can’t take our foot off the accelerator now."
5:16 p.m. ET, May 25, 2022
Putin announces 10% hike in state pensions and minimum wage as inflation rises in Russia
From CNN's Masha Angelova and Tim Lister
President Vladimir Putin has announced that state pensions and the minimum wage will rise substantially in Russia from June 1.
According to the state news agency TASS, Putin made the announcement at a meeting of the State Council.
"We discussed this issue with the government for a long time, there were differences within the government and a solution was worked out," he said according to TASS. “I propose to increase the pensions of non-working pensioners by 10% from June 1."
"Our main task is to ensure [a] further increase in the minimum wage, so that the citizens’ income level would significantly exceed the size of the subsistence rate," he added.
Some background: Pensions were raised by 8.6% at the beginning of the year, but inflation has risen sharply this year. Putin said it was currently 17.5% but would decline to 15% by the end of the year. However, he denied that the spike in inflation was related to the conflict in Ukraine.
"The current year is not easy. Since its beginning, cumulative inflation has exceeded 11%. But when I say 'not easy' this does not mean at all that all these difficulties are associated with this special military operation, because in countries that do not conduct any operations, say, across the ocean, in North America, in Europe, inflation is comparable. And if you look at the structure of their economy — it’s even more than ours, and in some neighboring countries, it’s many times higher," Putin said.
2:16 p.m. ET, May 25, 2022
Prince Charles visits Ukrainian refugee center in Romania
From CNN’s Max Foster and Niamh Kennedy in London
Prince Charles has paid a visit to a Ukrainian refugee center in Romania, according to a news release from Clarence House.
Prince Charles joined Her Majesty Margareta, custodian of Romanian Crown, in “the visit to the Romexpo Donation Center for Ukrainian refugees in Bucharest, to see at first hand the excellent response of the Romanian authorities and of international and local organizations to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine,” according to the news release.
As part of the visit, they spoke to “Ukrainians who have fled the horrors of war in Ukraine,” Clarence House said.
The center has been seeing a “steady increase” in the number of Ukrainian refugees it has welcomed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, Clarence House said.
Romania has welcomed one of the highest numbers of Ukrainian refugees in Europe, according to data from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). As of May 24, 972,203 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Romania, according to the latest UNHCR update.
This latest visit from Prince Charles “follows a series of engagements” undertaken “in recent months in support of the Ukrainian community,” according to the news release.
2:15 p.m. ET, May 25, 2022
Ukraine condemns Russian move to issue passports in occupied regions
From CNN's Oleksandra Ochman and Nathan Hodge
Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned a move by Moscow that makes it easier for Ukrainians in some Russian-occupied regions to obtain Russian citizenship.
"Illegal passportization in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, as well as in Crimea and the temporarily occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, is a gross violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, norms and principles of international humanitarian law, and the obligations of Russia as an occupying power in accordance with Article 45 of the 1907 Hague Convention and Article 47 of the 1949 Convention for the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War," the ministry said in a statement. "The decree of the president of Russia is legally null and void and will have no legal consequences. This decision will not affect the citizenship of Ukrainians on the territories temporarily occupied by Russia."
Russia's President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Wednesday streamlining the process for providing passports to Ukrainians in the occupied portions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. Russia has already handed out hundreds of thousands of passports to residents of separatist areas in Ukraine's east and in the annexed Ukrainian territory of Crimea, as well as to residents of the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia and Transnistria in Moldova. Analysts say those moves have helped Moscow create a pretext for continued intervention in those areas.
Yevhen Yaroshenko, an analyst for the human rights organization Crimea SOS, said Russia's policy of "passportization" may also serve an agenda of providing conscripts for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"Shortly after obtaining a Russian passport, the Russian Federation may call up such a person for military service and subsequently involve him in combat operations against Ukraine," said Yaroshenko. "Thus residents of the temporarily occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions become hostages of the call of the Russian Federation."
3:34 p.m. ET, May 25, 2022
US secretary of state announces joint UK, EU and US group to document war crimes in Ukraine
From CNN's Kylie Atwood
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the launch of a new joint UK, EU and US group to help support efforts of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General (OPG) to document war crimes and other atrocities committed in Ukraine.
The new mechanism, called the Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group (ACA), will “provide strategic advice and operational assistance to the War Crimes Units of the OPG, the legally constituted authority responsible for prosecuting war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine," Blinken said. "Although the United States and our partners are supporting a range of international efforts to pursue accountability for atrocities, the OPG will play a crucial role in ensuring that those responsible for war crimes and other atrocities are held accountable."
He added that the “ACA will liaise with the Department of Justice as it pursues accountability in US courts.”
In addition to streamlining efforts, the ACA will also provide expanded funding for the team of international prosecutors and other war crimes experts already deployed to the region, Blinken said.
Earlier this week, a 21-year-old Russian soldier was sentenced to life in prison for killing an unarmed man in Ukraine's first war crimes trial since Russia's invasion.
2:09 p.m. ET, May 25, 2022
Putin makes rare visit to military hospital and meets with soldiers wounded in Ukraine
From CNN's Radina Gigova in London
Russian President Vladimir Putin met Wednesday with soldiers wounded in fighting in Ukraine during a rare visit to a military hospital, according to footage released by the Kremlin.
Putin visited the Mandryk Central Military Clinical Hospital of the Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow and "spoke with members of the Russian Armed Forces undergoing treatment after being wounded during the special military operation, as well as with the hospital’s medical personnel," according to the Kremlin.
Putin, wearing a medical gown, asked the servicemen how they felt, where they were from and how their families were doing, the video showed.
Putin was accompanied by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
On Wednesday, Putin also visited the National Crisis Management Center of the Ministry of Emergencies, according to the Kremlin.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday the president "constantly takes interest in and keeps under his control the topic of conditions provided for those wounded in the course of the special military operation," according to Russian state news agency TASS.
1:32 p.m. ET, May 25, 2022
Switzerland to seize assets of former Ukrainian leader's ally
From CNN’s Arnaud Siad and Xiaofei Xu
The Swiss government plans to seize more than 100 million Swiss francs ($104 million) worth of assets from an associate of Ukraine's former president, Viktor Yanukovych, who was deposed in 2014, it said on Wednesday.
The proceedings concern assets of Yuriy Ivanyushchenko and his family that were frozen after Ukraine's 2014 revolution, the Swiss government said in a statement, stressing the move was “unrelated to sanctions” that Switzerland imposed against Russians this year.
The finance ministry will now ask the Federal Administrative Court of Switzerland to approve confiscating the assets so that they can be returned to Ukraine, the government said.
A few days after Yanukovych's ouster, the Swiss cabinet had ordered the freezing of any assets in Switzerland of the deposed president and his entourage, including Ivanyushchenko, a former member of parliament whom it described as a close confidant of the former leader.
However, Ukrainian authorities have not been able to issue judgements ordering the confiscation of those assets, according to the Swiss government.
The Swiss government said since the war in Ukraine “severely compounded” criminal proceedings against Ivanyushchenko, it now considers confiscation proceedings in Switzerland “both possible and appropriate.”
12:37 p.m. ET, May 25, 2022
2 killed by Russian shelling in Kharkiv region, officials say
From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko
Regional officials in Ukraine say that two people have been killed by Russian shelling of the town of Balakliya, which is on the frontlines in the Kharkiv region.
Nataliya Popova, an adviser to the head of the Regional Council in Kharkiv, said seven people had been injured in the shelling Wednesday, including one child who is in critical condition.
Balakliya lies to the northwest of Izium, which is occupied by Russian forces and has become their platform for attacks further south into Donetsk region.
12:20 p.m. ET, May 25, 2022
Russia blocking Ukrainian ports is "clear blackmail," Ukraine's foreign minister says
From CNN's Lindsay Isaac
Russia is trying to “blackmail” the international community with an offer to unblock Ukrainian sea ports if sanctions against it are lessened, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday.
This is “clear blackmail," Kuleba claimed. "You could not find a better example of blackmail in international relations.”
Some background: Before the war,Ukraine was the world’s fourth-largest exporter of corn and fifth-largest exporter of wheat, according to the US State Department. Almost 30% of global trade in wheat came from Russia and Ukraine alone.
Speaking at a panel discussion, Kuleba said Russia and Ukraine are nowhere near the possibility of negotiated peace and that Russia has no intention of taking part in discussions aimed at ending the war.
“When you are conducting an operation like this, you basically say no to negotiations. If Russia had preferred talks to war, they would have behaved differently,” he said.
Making concessions to Russia has not worked since 2014 and won’t work now, Kuleba said.
“This strategy has been used by the leading global forces from 2014 to Feb. 24, 2022. Make concessions here, make concessions here, it will help prevent war. It has failed. Eight years of this strategy has resulted in missiles hitting Kyiv and bloodshed in Donbas," the foreign minister said.
Kuleba called again for further sanctions against Russia, namely stopping the purchase of Russian oil, which he said is keeping Moscow in a comfortable position.
“Ukraine is suffering more than Russia is with the sanctions against it. ... After three months of war, my message is simple: kill Russian exports. Stop buying from Russia and allowing them to make money that they invest in the war machine to kill and destroy,” he said.