President of Ukraine criticized West, Russia proposed plan to ease sanctions

“Unity is shown through arms. My question is, are (western countries) actually united. I don’t see that. Our great advantage over Russia is when we are truly united,” President Zelenskyy said in an online speech at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland today (May 25), according to The Moscow Times.

The Ukrainian leader said the West was still divided over the level of support for Ukraine in dealing with Russia’s military campaign, which has entered its fourth month, and expressed his gratitude for the US government’s support of the Ukrainian leadership -President Joe Biden out. but said support in Europe appears to be showing signs of slowing down.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks online at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. Photo: Axios

“We are all on the European continent and we need the support of a united Europe,” said President Zelenskyy, referring to neighboring Hungary, which has resisted the European Union’s move. Europe (EU) bans Russian oil “not as united as the rest of this bloc”.

The Ukrainian President also noted the lack of consensus on Finland and Sweden’s application to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). “Will there be agreement on Finland and Sweden joining NATO? no So does the West have a strong cohesion? The answer is no,” said Zelenskyy.

Russia is proposing to the West a plan to ease sanctions

In an interview with Interfax news agency today (May 25), Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said Moscow is ready to provide a humanitarian corridor for food ships leaving Ukraine through Black Sea ports. In return, the West must lift some of the sanctions against Russia that have been imposed since the country launched a special military operation in Ukraine.

“We have expressed this position repeatedly. A solution to the problem of Ukraine’s food exports requires a comprehensive approach, including lifting the sanctions already imposed on Ukraine. Russian exports and financial transactions,” Rudenko stressed.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko. Photo: Russia Today

According to the deputy foreign minister, Russia will “ask the Ukrainian side to carry out demining of its Black Sea ports” before “Russia provides the necessary humanitarian corridors”. He also warned that Lithuania’s proposal to form an alliance of countries to escort Ukrainian goods through the Black Sea “will aggravate the situation in the region.”

Deputy Minister Rudenko also mentioned that Russia will consider exchanging prisoners of war with Ukraine, but only after the Ukrainian soldiers at the Azovstal Steel Plant have been “adequately sentenced”. “Before they are brought to justice, any discussion of a prisoner swap is premature,” he said.

Russia passes law to extend military service

Russia’s State Duma (lower house) today passed a law abolishing the age limit for recruitment, allowing those aged 40 and over to register in the country’s armed forces.

Currently, only Russian citizens between the ages of 18 and 40 and foreign nationals between the ages of 18 and 30 can enter into military service contracts. The bill, proposed last week by members of the United Russia party, would allow the Russian military to use the skills and experience of senior specialists.

“Highly qualified specialists are required for the use of high-precision weapons, the operation of weapons and military equipment. Experience has shown that only people aged 40 to 45 can have such qualifications,” says a note accompanying the draft law. According to Russian lawmakers, the bill will also make it easier to recruit civilian doctors, engineers, operations and communications specialists.

Russia will allow citizens aged 40 and over to serve in the military. Photo: TASS

Also on May 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree simplifying the process of granting Russian citizenship to residents of Russian military-controlled areas in the two southern Ukrainian provinces of Kherson and Zaporizhia.

The decree, signed today by President Putin, is an extension of a Russian citizenship program in place since 2019 for residents of breakaway regions in the two eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. Russia has issued around 800,000 passports in these regions as of 2019.

According to the decree, naturalization applicants do not have to live in Russia, prove financial means or pass a Russian language test. Moscow said it introduced the regulation for “humanitarian purposes”.

Russia calls Italy’s peace proposal ‘fantasy’

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called Italy’s proposed plan to restore peace in Ukraine a “fantasy”.

“One cannot, on the one hand, deliver arms to Ukraine and, on the other hand, come up with a plan to find a peaceful solution to hostilities,” Zakharova said, commenting on the peace plan presented by Rome last week. The representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry also denied that Moscow would follow a Western peace plan.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. Photo: RIA Novosti

Earlier, Italian Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio announced a plan to restore peace in Ukraine and said he had discussed the plan with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Italy’s plan envisages the involvement of international organizations such as the United Nations, the EU, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) as mediators to first achieve a ceasefire in the region of the conflict in Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously said Moscow had not received the peace plan mentioned by the Italian prime minister. Peskov said Russia expects to receive this document through diplomatic channels.