Germany receives request for cruise missiles

Ukraine has sent the German government an official request for supplies of Taurus air-to-surface cruise missiles with a range of at least 500 km, the German Defense Ministry told AFP on Saturday.

“We have received a request from the Ukrainian side in recent days,” the spokeswoman said, without giving details of the quantities involved.

It now remains to be seen whether Berlin will grant the request or not, which is likely to spark heated internal debate.

The German government has significantly increased its arms deliveries to Kiev in recent months, but has so far been reticent about providing cruise missiles or support to the Ukrainian air force, such as assistance with the delivery of F-16 fighter jets.

Taurus is an air-to-ground cruise missile carried by fighter jets and developed by the German-Swedish company of the same name. Because of its range, it could hit targets far behind the current front line in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian football continues with competition for the top title

Two soccer teams exiled from cities in war-torn eastern Ukraine will face each other on Sunday in the safer western part of the country with the league title at stake.

The showdown between league leaders Shakhtar Donetsk and second-placed Dnipro-1 at Arena Lviv will be decisive in a football season that ends on schedule in remarkable circumstances.

The stadium was one of four in Ukraine, including Shakhtar’s home in Donetsk, safe enough in 2012 from Russian aggression to host that year’s European Championship with Poland.

Shakhtar lead by five points and need only a draw this weekend to secure the title ahead of the final scheduled round on June 4.

“I think maybe it will be one of our best games ever,” Ukrainian league CEO Ievgen Dykyi told The Associated Press this week in a call from Kiev. “Because the situation is now really difficult and all the players understand this.”

Russia fails to block Ukraine at World Health Organization

Russia suffered a setback on Friday when it failed to block Ukraine’s entry into the World Health Organization (WHO) board.

The 10 countries that joined the board over three years – among them both Ukraine and North Korea – are usually elected by acclamation during the World Health Assembly, whose 76th session is currently taking place in Geneva.

However, due to Moscow’s attempts to prevent Ukraine from joining this 34-member forum, which plays an important role in WHO’s governance, it was necessary to hold a vote for the first time since 1977.

The result was clear: the candidates, nominated by each of WHO’s 6 regions, were elected with 123 votes against 13 abstentions.

“Today’s vote was a resounding defeat for Russia, which failed in its ruthless attempts to undermine the authority of the WHO regional committees and disrupt the work of the World Health Assembly and its governing body,” said a delighted Yevheniia Filipenko, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva.