Ukraine invasion Day 6: U.S expels Russian diplomats for ‘spying,’ as Shell exits Russia operations



United States announced, Tuesday,  it is expelling 12 members of Russia’s United Nations mission, accusing them of spying, as the 193-nation UN General Assembly opened its first emergency session in decades, with President Abdulla Shahid calling for an immediate cease-fire and “a full return to diplomacy and dialogue.”


This is also as Shell, Tuesday, pulled out from Russia operations over the invasion of Ukraine by the country.

On Monday, Ukrainian and Russian officials ended a first round of talks to discuss a ceasefire and the delegations are returning to their respective capitals for consultations.


While Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded the demilitarisation of Ukraine and Western recognition of Russian sovereignty over the Crimean peninsula were prerequisites to ending fighting in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian delegation which arrived in the district of the Ukrainian-Belarusian border to participate in talks with representatives of the Russian Federation, included: the head of the Servant of the People faction David Arahamia, Minister of Defense of Ukraine Alexey Reznikov, advisor to the head of the Office of the President Mikhail Podolyak, the first deputy head of the Ukrainian delegation in the Trilateral Contact Group, and others.

 UN General Assembly on Monday held a rare emergency special session of the 193-member body on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Also on Monday, the UN Security Council held a meeting on the humanitarian impact of the invasion. At least 325 civilians, including 14 children, had been killed since the start of the invasion, according to Ukraine’s health ministry.

More than 500,000 Ukrainians have already fled the conflict, mostly to Poland and Moldova, according to the UN refugee agency.

Russia had called its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that it was not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its southern neighbor’s military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.

Russian forces shelled Ukraine’s second-largest city on Monday, rocking a residential neighborhood, and closed in on the capital, Kyiv, in a 40-mile convoy of hundreds of tanks and other vehicles, as talks aimed at stopping the fighting yielded only an agreement to keep talking.

The country’s embattled president said the stepped-up shelling was aimed at forcing him into concessions.

“I believe Russia is trying to put pressure (on Ukraine) with this simple method,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late Monday in a video address. He did not offer details of the hourslong talks that took place earlier, but said that Kyiv was not prepared to make concessions “when one side is hitting each other with rocket artillery.”

Amid ever-growing international condemnation, Russia found itself increasingly isolated five days into its invasion, while also facing unexpectedly fierce resistance on the ground in Ukraine and economic havoc at home.

For the second day in a row, the Kremlin raised the specter of nuclear war, announcing that its nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines and long-range bombers had all been put on high alert, following President Vladimir Putin’s orders over the weekend.

Meanwhile, an embattled Ukraine moved to solidify its ties to the West by applying to join the European Union — a largely symbolic move for now, but one that is unlikely to sit well with Putin, who has long accused the U.S. of trying to pull Ukraine out of Moscow’s orbit.

A top Putin aide and head of the Russian delegation, Vladimir Medinsky, said that the first talks held between the two sides since the invasion lasted nearly five hours and that the envoys “found certain points on which common positions could be foreseen.” He said they agreed to continue the discussions in the coming days.

As the talks along the Belarusian border wrapped up, several blasts could be heard in Kyiv, and Russian troops advanced on the city of nearly 3 million. The vast convoy of armored vehicles, tanks, artillery and support vehicles was 17 miles (25 kilometers) from the center of the city and stretched for about 40 miles, according to satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies.

Video from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-biggest city, with a population of about 1.5 million, showed residential areas being shelled, with apartment buildings shaken by repeated, powerful blasts. Flashes of fire and gray plumes of smoke could be seen.

For many, Russia’s announcement of a nuclear high alert stirred fears that the West could be drawn into direct conflict with Russia. But a senior U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States had yet to see any appreciable change in Russia’s nuclear posture.

The U.N. human rights chief said at least 102 civilians have been killed and hundreds wounded — warning that figure is probably a vast undercount — and Ukraine’s president said at least 16 children were among the dead.

More than a half-million people have fled the country since the invasion, another U.N. official said, many of them going to Poland, Romania and Hungary.

Among the refugees in Hungary was Maria Pavlushko, 24, an information technology project manager from a city west of Kyiv. She said her father stayed behind to fight the Russians.

“I am proud about him,” she said, adding that many of her friends were planning to fight too.

In business, oil giant Shell, Tuesday, withdraw from joint ventures with Russian state-backed Gazprom.

 Shell becomes the latest company to withdraw all of its joint ventures with Russian state-backed Gazprom, just a day after rival BP said it would abandon the 19.75 per cent holding in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

The oil titan announced it will end its joint ventures with Gazprom and related entities, and quit the Sakhalin 2 liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant by selling its 27.5 per cent stake.

Shell also said it will quit their 50 per cent stake in the Salym Petroleum Development and the Gydan energy venture, owned and operated by Russian gas giant Gazprom.

Sakhalin 2, located off Russia’s northeastern coast, is one of the world’s largest integrated, export-oriented, oil and gas projects, as well as Russia’s first offshore gas project – producing around 11.5 million tonnes of LNG per year.

Shell, whose Russian assets were reportedly valued at $3billion at the end of last year, also said it will stop working on the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which was completed last September.

The oil has reportedly invested an estimated £750million in the 750-mile pipeline – designed to double the amount of natural gas flowing through the Baltic Sea pipe from Russia to Germany.

However in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany said it was halting final certification of the gas pipeline from regulators in further sanctions to the country.

The announcement was made, Tuesday, following crucial talks between Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden and the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.

Shell becomes the latest company to withdraw all of its joint ventures with Russian state-backed Gazprom, just a day after rival BP said it would abandon the 19.75 per cent holding in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine .

This move comes just a day after rival oil giant BP ditched a stake in Russian energy giant Rosneft following the conflict triggered by President Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine.

It was announced that following the move, BP shares slumped more than 4 per cent today as it faces a $25billion hit.

The oil company saw a huge chunk wiped off its value following the announcement about abandoning the 19.75 per cent holding in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

Shell’s chief executive officer, Ben van Beurden, said in a statement: ‘We are shocked by the loss of life in Ukraine, which we deplore, resulting from a senseless act of military aggression which threatens European security.’

He added: ‘Our decision to exit is one we take with conviction. We cannot — and we will not — stand by. Our immediate focus is the safety of our people in Ukraine and supporting our people in Russia.

‘In discussion with governments around the world, we will also work through the detailed business implications, including the importance of secure energy supplies to Europe and other markets, in compliance with relevant sanctions.’

Britain’s business minister Kwasi Kwarteng also took to Twitter to congratulate Shell on their decision to withdraw ventures.

He wrote: ‘Earlier today I spoke to Shell’s chief executive, Ben van Beurden. Shell have made the right call to divest from Russia – including Sakhalin II. There is now a strong moral imperative on British companies to isolate Russia.’