According to CNN, in a message published on Twitter on May 15, Kuleba said he met Blinken in Berlin, Germany, where North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) foreign ministers were holding an informal meeting over the weekend.
“We have agreed to work closely together to ensure Ukraine’s food exports reach consumers in Africa and Asia. We are grateful to Secretary of State Blinken and the United States for their guidance and support,” wrote Ukraine’s top diplomat.
At the meeting in Berlin, Blinken and Kuleba discussed the recent US security assistance package to boost Kiev’s defense capabilities, as well as defense capabilities, State Department spokesman Ned Price said, such as the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war.
A day earlier, on May 14, Republican US Senate leader Mitch McConnell and other congressmen from the same party paid a surprise visit to Kiev to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. McConnell said he is urging Republican Senator Rand Paul to end his opposition to a $40 billion military aid package for the eastern European country that has already been approved by the House of Representatives.
Zelensky hailed the move as a strong signal of bipartisan US support for Ukraine and the strength of Washington-Kyiv relations.
Britain believes Russia has lost a third of its forces in Ukraine
British military intelligence said that Russia suffered many casualties in the military offensive in Ukraine and perhaps only two-thirds of infantry forces were mobilized for combat. British authorities said the ambush operation by Moscow forces in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine “has lost momentum and is significantly behind schedule”.
“Despite initial small-scale advances, over the past month Russia has failed to acquire any appreciable amount of territory while maintaining a high level of attrition. “Russia may now have suffered a loss of 1/3 of the ground combat forces it deployed in February,” UK Defense Ministry intelligence reports quoted as saying. The agency estimated Moscow’s forces are unlikely to significantly increase the rate of their advance over the next 30 days .
So far, Ukraine’s military has forced Russian military commanders to abandon plans to advance towards the capital, Kyiv, before quickly counterattacking in the northeast and driving foreign troops out of Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city. A counter-offensive by Kiev forces takes place near the Russian-controlled city of Izium.
Turkey sets conditions for Finland and Sweden to join NATO
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Finland and Sweden must stop supporting anti-Ankara terrorist groups in those countries, provide clear security guarantees and lift export bans on Turkish products.
After a May 15 meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin, Cavusoglu announced that he had met with his Finnish and Swedish counterparts to address Turkey’s concerns. He assessed that the contact had gone well and that the foreign ministers of the two Nordic countries had made proposals to allay Ankara’s “legitimate concerns”. Mr. Cavusoglu said that he himself had provided evidence to the Finnish and Swedish sides that the terrorists resided in those countries.
Mr Cavusoglu reiterated that Sweden “does not respect Turkey’s position” when it comes to the weekend’s meeting of the Kurdish terrorist group PKK in Stockholm. Cavusoglu stressed that Turkey is not threatening anyone or trying to defy NATO’s open-door policy.
On the same day, President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin of Finland officially confirmed that the country would apply to join NATO. They described it as a “historic decision” ushering in a new era in which Finland “will be sure of its security and will help build a stable, strong and responsible Nordic region”.
According to CNN, the new move marks Finland’s abandonment of decades of neutrality and ignoring threats of retaliation from Russia.
Finland’s parliament is expected to approve the decision in the coming days, before the authorities may officially send an application to join NATO to the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels next week.