2022-06-27 06:12:18 By : Mr. Kitty Chen

Russia misses deadline on foreign debt payments for the first time since 1918 amid Western sanctions over Ukraine invasion.

Here are the latest updates:

A week of consistently heavy shelling suggests Russia is trying to regain momentum on the northern Izium axis, the UK’s defence ministry has said.

The ministry’s latest intelligence briefing said Russia’s campaign would increasingly rely on different units of reserve forces in the coming weeks. They include Russia’s Combat Army Reserve, which consists of part-time volunteers with units typically ear-marked for rear area security tasks.

Then there is the Human Mobilisation Resource, which the ministry said is a sizeable pool of all veterans who have served in the regular military in the last five years, adding that “Russian authorities are likely using volunteers from this category to fill out the third battalions within regular brigades.”

“Despite a continued shortfall in the number of deployable reservists for Ukraine, the Russian leadership likely remains reluctant to order a general mobilisation,” the ministry said.

Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 27 June 2022

Find out more about the UK government's response: https://t.co/sKDdkkH7BC

🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/i963Jlmikl

— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) June 27, 2022

More than 100 bodies have been found in one house in the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol, the mayor’s adviser has said.

“When examining buildings in the Lioberezhny district, in a house hit by an air bomb at the intersection… more than 100 bodies of those who died from the bombing were found. The bodies are still under the rubble. The occupiers do not plan to seize and bury,” Piotr Andryushchenko wrote on Telegram.

The conflict in Ukraine will continue to dominate the agenda on the second day of a three-day summit of G7 leaders in southern Germany on Monday, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy set to join talks via video link.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is also set to join the group via video link to address the food crisis that has resulted from Russia’s war in Ukraine, which is now in its fifth month. The conflict is preventing grain from leaving the country’s ports and making food more expensive across the globe, with experts and aid groups warning of the potential for famine in parts of Africa and elsewhere.

Some Taiwanese holders of Russian Eurobonds have not received interest due on May 27 after a grace period expired on Sunday evening, two sources told Reuters.

President Vladimir Putin signed a decree last Wednesday to launch temporary procedures and give the government 10 days to choose banks to handle payments under a new scheme, suggesting Russia will consider its debt obligations fulfilled when it pays bondholders in roubles.

One of the Taiwanese sources told Reuters that with the two Eurobonds in question there was “no rouble clause attached”.

“The coupon cannot be paid in roubles instead,” the source added.

The United States is likely to announce this week the purchase of an advanced medium to long range surface-to-air missile defence system for Ukraine, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday.

Washington is also expected to announce other security assistance for Ukraine, including additional artillery ammunition and counter-battery radars to address needs expressed by the Ukrainian military, the source added.

US President Joe Biden thanked German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for his leadership saying it was “in no small part because of you” that the West had stuck together against Russia four months after the invasion of Ukraine. 

“You’ve done an incredible job,” Biden said at the G7 summit on Sunday.

“Putin is counting on from the beginning that somehow NATO would and the G7 would splinter… But we haven’t it and we’re not going to,” he added.

NATO leaders will urge Turkey to lift its veto over Finland and Sweden’s bid to join the military alliance when they meet for a three-day summit on Tuesday, diplomats said, as the West strives to send Russia and China a signal of resolve.

Taking place in the shadow of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Madrid gathering comes at a pivotal moment for the transatlantic bond after failures in Afghanistan and internal discord during the era of former US President Donald Trump, who threatened to pull Washington out of the nuclear alliance.

Negotiations among an often-fractious organisation are still under way, diplomats said, but leaders also hope to agree to provide more military aid to Ukraine, increase joint defence spending, cement a new resolve to tackle China’s military rise and put more troops on stand-by to defend the Baltics.

Although British and US officials have advised against a Baltic request for permanent multinational forces in the region, the summit is likely to settle on a compromise of promising rapid reinforcements.

Russia has missed the deadline on payment of its foreign-currency sovereign debt for the first time in a century as the 30 day grace period on about $100m of two bond payments due on May 27 expired on Sunday.

The deadline is considered an event of default if missed, according to Bloomberg.

Russia has struggled to keep up payments on $40bn of outstanding bonds since its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, which provoked sweeping sanctions that have effectively cut the country out of the global financial system and rendered its assets untouchable to many investors.

The Kremlin has repeatedly said there are no grounds for Russia to default but is unable to send money to bondholders because of sanctions, accusing the West of trying to drive it into an artificial default.

While a formal default would be largely symbolic given Russia cannot borrow internationally at the moment and doesn’t need to, thanks to rich oil and gas revenue, the stigma would probably raise its borrowing costs in future.

Leaders of the G7 mocked the macho image of their absent adversary Vladimir Putin on Sunday.

As the besuited leaders sat down for their first meeting of the three-day G7 summit in the sweltering Bavarian Alps, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked if their jackets should come off – or if they should even disrobe further.

“We all have to show that we’re tougher than Putin,” Johnson said, to laughter from some of his colleagues.

“Bare-chested horseback riding,” shot back Canada’s Justin Trudeau.

“Oh yes,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “Horseback riding is the best.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will attend a round of talks with the leaders of Sweden, Finland as well as NATO’s secretary general ahead of the Western alliance’s upcoming summit in Madrid, according to a presidential aide.

Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Erdogan, told the broadcaster Haberturk that the meeting will take place in Madrid on Tuesday, a day before the NATO gathering.

“There will be a four-way summit in Madrid at the leader level upon the request of the NATO Secretary General with the attendance of our president,” he said. But Erdogan attending the talks with Sweden, Finland and NATO “does not mean we will take a step back from our position”, he said.

Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But their bids have faced opposition from Turkey, which has been angered by what it says is Helsinki and Stockholm’s support for Kurdish fighters and arms embargoes on Ankara.

Kalin also said he and Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal would attend a round of talks with the Swedish and Finnish delegations in Brussels on Monday.

Four of the Group of Seven rich nations have moved to ban imports of Russian gold to tighten the sanctions squeeze on Moscow and cut off its means of financing the invasion of Ukraine.

But it was unclear whether there was G7 consensus on the plan, with European Council President Charles Michel saying the issue would need to be handled carefully and discussed further.

The United Kingdom, the United States, Japan and Canada agreed to the ban on new Russian gold imports, the UK government said on Sunday. It said the ban was aimed at wealthy Russians who have been buying the safe-haven bullion to reduce the financial effect of Western sanctions. Russian gold exports were worth $15.5bn last year.

Energy ministers from the European Union will meet this week to attempt joint plans to fight climate change.

The previously scheduled will also give the officials a chance to discuss emergency plans to reduce gas demand, which the EU is expected to draw up in coming weeks in case of further cuts in supply from Russia.

The energy ministers’ meeting on Monday, and environment ministers’ meeting the following day, are also expected to agree on common positions on proposed laws to meet a 2030 target to cut net emissions by 55 percent from 1990 levels. The laws would expand renewable energy, revamp the EU carbon market and ban sales of new cars running on fossil fuels from 2035.

Brussels says the energy supply crisis this year caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means the 27 EU countries should move even faster to wean themselves off fossil fuels. But the threat of an economic slump from surging energy prices has also made some countries more cautious about swift change that they fear might bring more disruption.

Ukraine needs a modern air defence system to deter Russian missiles, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said, after a weekend that saw Moscow step up attacks across Ukraine.

In his nighttime address, Zelenskyy decried Sunday’s attack on Kyiv, which killed a 37-year-old man and wounded at least six people, saying that “the second army of the world triumphantly ‘defeated’ a kindergarten and an apartment building”.

“Missiles also hit the Mykolaiv region, the Chernihiv region, Odesa, Cherkasy. Artillery and mortar shelling did not stop in the Kharkiv region, in the Sumy region, in Donbas, in the south of our state,” he said in his nightly address, adding that Russia had fired 62 missiles at Ukraine within 24 hours.

“Part of the missiles were shot down. But only part. We need a powerful air defence – modern, fully effective. Which can ensure complete protection against these missiles … And partners need to move faster if they are really partners, not observers.”

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Read all the key developments from Sunday June 26 here.