Russian propagandists deny the successes of Ukrainian forces and lie that Ukraine’s counteroffensive has already started; 12 EU countries rebuked the European Commission over the ban on imports of Ukrainian grain.
Meanwhile, Russia tries to interfere in the presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey, and the United States takes on the task of countering the migration influx caused by the expiration of the COVID-era swift expulsion policy.
offers a digest of Western mass media at the end of the May 8–12, 2023, business week.
Ukrainian counteroffensive: Russia’s lies and the real success of Ukrainian forces
Ukraine says it has recaptured ground in Bakhmut, although Russia denied these claims, the BBC reports.
Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar accused the Kremlin of claiming false victories while at the same time spreading lies about the lack of weapons and ammunition. She noted that Russia had suffered significant losses the past week, while Ukraine regained 2 kilometers without losing any positions.
The head of Russia's Wagner mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin blamed Russian regular forces for leaving their positions in Bakhmut.
"The situation on the flanks is developing according to the worst predicted scenario," he said.
The Institute for the Study of War also said Ukrainian forces had probably made gains in Bakhmut and noted that the hustle shown by the Russian ministry of defense in denying Ukrainian counterattacks was reflective of "increased panic."
Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on May 11 that it was too early to start the attack: Ukraine can go forward with what it has but it would lose a lot of people.
However, despite the Ukrainian president's words, Russian propagandistic media claimed the counter-offensive had begun.
An unnamed senior U.S. military official told CNN that Ukrainian forces were preparing for a major counter-offensive by striking targets such as weapons depots, command centers and armor and artillery systems..
12 EU countries enraged by the restriction on imports of Ukrainian grain
Agriculture ministers from 12 EU countries have raised "serious concerns" over a recent restriction of imports of Ukrainian grain and other agricultural products agreed upon by Brussels and five Eastern members of the bloc, Politico reports.
In late April, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Bulgaria banned grain imports from Ukraine. The European Commission responded with a proposal to deliver €100 million in aid for farmers in those countries and Romania, as well as a temporary ban on Ukrainian imports to them unless for transit to other nations.
In a strongly worded letter sent to the European Commission, the 12 agriculture ministers said the deal "undermines the integrity of the EU internal market."
Ministers from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Greece, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Luxembourg, Estonia, Denmark and Slovenia called for urgent clarification of the arrangement, which they said the Commission made without consulting member states.
In the letter, the ministers refer to the rules of the EU’s internal market, the EU’s obligations toward Ukraine, and Kyiv’s association agreement with the bloc and call for an explanation of how and why the €100 million was granted.
"It is imperative to ensure that the European Union is united and that our differences do not play into Russia’s hands, especially on this particular issue, where Russia is threatening not to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative," the ministers said in the letter.
Hands off Turkey: Russia was accused of meddling in elections
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Turkey’s opposition leader, accused Russia of election interference days before the vote, The Guardian reports.
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu of the Republican People’s party, the chief rival to the incumbent president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, accused Russia of concocting fake videos and false material.
Another candidate, Muharrem İnce, recently dropped out of the race after an allegedly deepfake sex tape was published.
"If you want the continuation of our friendship after May 15, get your hands off the Turkish state," Kılıçdaroğlu tweeted, adding: "We are still in favor of cooperation and friendship."
On Sunday, May 14, Turkey holds both presidential and parliamentary elections. Re-electing Erdoğan would provide a mandate for him to further concentrate power around his office, crack down on opponents, and use his position of influence on the world stage to harden his control at home.
A coalition of six opposition parties led by Kılıçdaroğlu promises to conduct reforms and dismantle the sprawling system of control that Erdoğan has spent two decades building.
Current polling suggests a tight vote in the presidential election and a possible loss of governing majority by Erdoğan’s coalition in the parliamentary elections.
In an interview with Reuters, Kılıçdaroğlu emphasized that he deemed it unacceptable for another country to interfere in Turkey's election process in favor of a political party. He also said he would push for another peace initiative between Russia and Ukraine should he win the election and asserted that he would support NATO enlargement.
The U.S. fears a new migration wave from Mexico
On Thursday, May 11, the U.S. policy on expelling migrants known as Title 42 expired, CNN reports.
The 2020 policy allowed U.S. authorities to swiftly expel undocumented migrants to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Authorities have expelled migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border more than 2.8 million times under Title 42 since the policy began, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.
Title 8, the decades-old protocol reinstated from May 12, provides for a much longer procedure for each migrant, which involves court hearings.
Throughout the week, the U.S. surged agents, troops and other federal workers toward the southern border, anticipating a migration influx after Title 42’s expiration.
"We’re boarding up like there were a hurricane coming," said Victor Treviño, mayor of the Texas border city of Laredo.
Just before the expiration, the U.S. homeland security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, issued a statement saying migrants shouldn’t take that to mean the way was clear for unlawful entry.
The end of Title 42’s swift expulsions could attract a surge of migrants, U.S. officials have said, and worsen an already challenging humanitarian crisis at the southern border.
Over the last two days, U.S. border authorities reported taking more than 10,000 migrants into custody daily. About 155,000 migrants were estimated to be in shelters and on streets across northern Mexican states bordering the U.S., a source familiar with federal estimates said this week.
Meanwhile, the Joe Biden administration is also introducing new measures. A new regulation going into effect this week would largely ban migrants who traveled through other countries on their way to the U.S.-Mexico border from applying for asylum in the United States.
According to multiple sources, the Biden administration is also rolling out a new program to track and swiftly expel migrant families who have been denied asylum.