The Guardian - Maya Yang (now) and Martin Belam and Samantha Lock (earlier) Thu 23 Jun 2022 20.21 BST
The regional governor of the eastern region of Donetsk said on Thursday that no town is safe for residents as fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops intensifies
The historic decision from the EU brings Ukraine a huge step closer to full membership; Reports say missiles hit the southern port city.
(SORRY, original languages, no English subtitles.)
“There is no place, no town in Donetsk region where it would be safe,” Pavlo Kyrylenko told Agence France-Presse, citing latest intelligence data.
“It is extremely dangerous for residents to stay in any places of the region,” he added, given the current scale of fighting around the towns of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk.
Kyrylenko added that the priority was to prevent Russian forces from advancing into Slovyansk and Kramatorsk some 80 kilometres away further west. He said around 45,000 people remained in the latter city - about one-third of the pre-war population.
He also said that civilian evacuations were ongoing with 251 people taken out Wednesday from the area. According to him, deliveries of foodstuffs were continuing throughout the Donetsk region despite power outages and intermittent cuts to supplies of water and gas.
- 1h ago19.36
European Union approves Ukraine as an EU candidate country
The European Union has approved the application of Ukraine to become a candidate country for admission to the 27-strong bloc. EU leaders meeting in Brussels have followed the recommendation of the European Commission, which was made on Friday 17 June.
Ukraine has been seeking EU membership since the 2004 “orange revolution” and more emphatically since the 2013-14 Maidan protests. In the expectation of a positive outcome Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky had said: “This is like going into the light from the darkness.”
Ukraine’s ambassador to the EU, Vsevolod Chentsov, had said the move would mark “is a signal to Moscow that Ukraine, and also other countries from the former Soviet Union, cannot belong to the Russian spheres of influence.”
The move comes just one day short of the four-month anniversary of Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering his troops into Ukraine for what Russia has insisted is not a war, but a “special military operation”.
The accession process to the EU can be lengthy. Until today the official list of candidate countries included Albania, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey. Turkey gained candidate status in 1999, and the Republic of North Macedonia in 2005.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen tweeted on Thursday, “Today is a good day for Europe.”
“This decision strengthens us all. It strengthens Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, in the face of Russian imperialism. And it strengthens the EU,” she added, referring to the approvals of Moldova and Georgia’s applications for membership candidacy.
- 1h ago19.29
Ukraine, in a symbolic move, on Thursday said it had formally filed a case against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights to end “the mass and gross human rights violations” by Moscow’s forces during the war in Ukraine.
The bid has no chance of substantive success, given that on June 7 the Russian parliament approved two bills ending the court’s jurisdiction in Russia.
A Ukrainian justice ministry statement said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was illegal under the European Convention on Human Rights.
“The Court will be invited to find that Russia has been guilty of the most flagrant, serious and sustained violations of the Convention ever placed before the Court, and to award just satisfaction on an equally unprecedented scale,” it said.
The filing covers the first period of the war, from Feb. 24 until April 7, the date Russia effectively withdrew its ground forces from around Kyiv and other northern cities. Subsequent filings would cover later events, the ministry said.
Moscow has denied allegations by Ukraine and Western governments of human rights violations during the war.
In March, the United Nations’ top court for disputes between states ordered Russia to stop military operations, saying it was profoundly concerned by Moscow’s use of force. The International Court of Justice was responding to a case filed by Ukraine shortly after the war started.
- 2h ago18.58
UK government bans export of jet fuel, banknotes to Russia
The UK government has issued an update to the list of goods that are banned from being exported to Russia. The new details include:
- Prohibitions on the export to, or for use in Russia of jet fuel and fuel additives.
- Prohibitions on the export to, or for use in, Russia, of Sterling or EU, denominated banknotes; as well as prohibitions on the making available, supply, or delivery of such banknotes to a person connected with Russia.
- Prohibitions on the provision of technical assistance, financial services, funds, and brokering services relating to iron and steel imports.
- Updated at 18.59 BST
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Pavlo Kyrylenko, Ukraine’s governor of Donetsk, has also posted a short evening update to Telegram. In his message, he says that “on 23 June, the Russians killed six civilians in Donetsk: three in Pryshib, two in Avdiivka and one in Chasiv Yar. Five more people were injured today.”
The message continues “it is currently impossible to determine the exact number of Russian victims in Mariupol and Volnovakha.”
The claims have not been independently verified.
- 2h ago18.39
Reuters reports that US sources have told them that the United States is expected to provide an additional $450 million in security assistance to Ukraine, including more long-range rocket systems, in a package due to be announced later today.
The officials told Reuters that details on the package could change at the last minute, but it is expected to include four additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems or “Himars”.
Earlier today Ukraine’s minister of defence announced the arrival of some of the precision-guided missile launchers on Twitter.
“Himars have arrived in Ukraine,” Oleksii Reznikov wrote. “Summer will be hot for Russian occupiers. And the last one for some of them.”
- 2h ago18.25
Serhii Haidai, Ukraine’s governor of Luhansk, has posted what he described as “a short evening report” to Telegram. He writes:
Fighting continues in all directions. Many defensive structures have already been destroyed in the Sievierodonetsk industrial zone, we do not rule out the possibility of retreating to new, more fortified positions.
Lysychansk under heavy shelling. We continue to support the life of the city … the “quiet” evacuation continues - today about 40 people left.
In the event of the occupation of Sievierodonetsk, people hiding in the shelters of “Nitrogen” [the Azot chemical plant] will become hostages of racists. Access will be only to the occupied part of Luhansk region.
In the newly occupied territories, the racists [Haidai’s term for the pro-Russian forces] have already begun so-called “filtering”. Activists and people involved in military affairs are being hunted, and relatives of such categories of people are also in sight. Men are forced to go to war against Ukraine, used as “cannon fodder”
The claims within his update have not been independently verified.
- 3h ago18.04
Former British Ambassador to Russia, Roderic Lyne, was interviewed earlier by Sky News in the UK about the prospect of the decision to invite Ukraine to be a candidate country for European Union membership. He told viewers:
This will be a watershed in the life of independent Ukraine. Over the past 30 years, Ukraine has made itself vulnerable to Russian pressure, because it’s been rather poorly governed.
With candidate status for the European Union, Ukraine has a very clear incentive to smarten up its act. It will be set all kinds of tough conditions and milestones. This will provide a much needed discipline towards building a really robust democracy.
If Ukraine had not been so weak, it would have been much harder for Russia to attack. So this is really a big turning point.
Asked what he felt Vladimir Putin’s response would be, Lyne said:
We’ve already had the response a week ago. He said he didn’t care because the EU wasn’t a military organisation. I think he does care, but he didn’t want to show that in public. This is another defeat for Putin.
- 3h ago17.50
Daniel R DePetris and Rajan Menon, who are both defence and security academics, write for us today to say that the war in Ukraine has entered a new, and more difficult, phase:
How has Russia learned from its errors in the initial stage of the war? First, instead of trying to attack all of Ukraine from multiple angles, a gambit that strained supply lines and left troops exposed to attacks from the rear, it has focused its campaign on Ukraine’s east, using long-range artillery, air and missile strikes on a massive scale against a smaller range of targets. The Russians have also been willing to destroy large parts of towns in order to seize or surround them. The agile urban fighting that the Ukrainian army excelled at is minimised in the Donbas, whose relatively flat terrain favours armoured warfare, airpower and missiles. These weapons, as well as the ratio of soldiers there, favour Russia by a wide margin.
In Sievierodonetsk, Russian tactics – which often destroy entire urban districts before sending in ground troops – have presented Ukrainian commanders with a conundrum: retreat and live to fight another day, or stand their ground and possibly see some of their best troops killed or captured. The outlook for Ukraine in Sievierodonetsk looks grim at best and preordained at worst. About 70% of the city is now under Russian control, and US defence officials assess that Russia could take all of Luhansk within weeks.
Daniel R DePetris and Rajan Menon – The war in Ukraine has entered a new, and more difficult, phase
The war in Ukraine has entered a new, and more difficult, phase. Rajan Menon
- 3h ago17.14
Here are some images we have been sent today from Chernihiv, which is to the north of Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv and approaching the border with Belarus. Parts of the region were attacked by Russian troops early in the war.
- 4h ago16.47
Pjotr Sauer reports for us from Kyiv on the latest situation in Ukraine:
The battle for two key cities in eastern Ukraine is edging towards “a fearsome climax”, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has said, as the war in Ukraine is set to enter its fourth month on Friday.
Russia’s efforts to capture Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk – the two remaining cities under Ukrainian control in Luhansk – have turned into a bloody war of attrition, with both sides inflicting heavy casualties. Moscow, over the last two weeks, has managed to make steady gains.
“The fighting is entering a sort of fearsome climax”, said Oleksiy Arestovych in an interview late on Wednesday.
Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, one of two in the eastern Donbas, said on Thursday morning that Russian forces have been “successful” in their advances. He added that enemy forces had captured Loskutivka, a settlement to the south of Lysychansk, which threatened to isolate Ukrainian troops.
“In order to avoid encirclement, our command could order that the troops retreat to new positions,” Haidai said in a post on Telegram. Russian state news agency Tass cited Russian-backed separatists saying Lysychansk was now surrounded and cut off from supplies after Russia captured a road linking the city to Ukrainian-held territories.
Meanwhile, Russia is now believed to control all of Sievierodonetsk with the exception of the Azot chemical plant. Hundreds of civilians and Ukrainian forces are trapped there. Footage posted on social media on Thursday showed heavy fighting outside the industrial area where the plant is located.
Relentless Russian shelling of the Azot plant echoes the earlier bloody siege of the Azovstal steelworks in the southern port of Mariupol, where hundreds of fighters and civilians had taken shelter.
Read more of Pjotr Sauer’s report from Kyiv: Fighting entering ‘climax’ in key regions, says UkraineFighting entering ‘fearsome climax’ in key regions, says UkraineRead more
- 4h ago16.32
Today so far …
- EU leaders will decide today whether to grant Ukraine candidate status, following a positive recommendation from the European Commission last Friday. EU leaders in Brussels are expected to sign off on last week’s recommendation by the European Commission, the EU executive.
- Russia’s Tass news agency is carrying a report that British citizens Sean Pinner and Aiden Aslin, alongside Moroccan Saadoun Brahim, are preparing an appeal against their death sentences.
- Tass quotes Pinner’s lawyer Yulia Tserkovnikova saying “my colleagues and I are preparing the full text of the appeal against the verdict in the interests of our clients”. British authorities have described the trial as a “sham”, with one MP saying the men were essentially being held as hostages. The men argue that they were part of Ukraine’s armed forces, and should be subject to the Geneva convention on prisoners of war.
- Russia’s ministry of defence claims to have killed at least 650 Ukrainian soldiers in the last 24 hours in its latest daily operational briefing. It claims that “the enemy continues to suffer significant losses” and that it “destroyed 49 tanks with fuel for military equipment of the armed forces of Ukraine, as well as up to 50 multiple launch rocket systems located in the hangars.”
- Russian forces are putting the Lysychansk-Sievierodonetsk pocket under increasing pressure by steadily advancing around the fringes, according to British intelligence. Since 19 June, Russian forces have “highly likely” advanced over 5km towards the southern approaches of the Donbas city of Lysychansk, according to the latest UK ministry of defence report.
- Ukrainian troops may need to pull back from the key frontline city of Lysychansk to avoid being encircled after Russian forces captured two villages to its south, regional governor Serhiy Gaidai has said on national television. “In order to avoid encirclement, our command could order that the troops retreat to new positions,” he said. “All of Lysychansk is within reach of their fire. It is very dangerous in the city.”
- Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has said believes Russian forces are attempting to destroy cities in the eastern Donbas region in the same way they did in Mariupol. During his nightly address, Zelenskiy said: “The goal of the occupiers in this direction remains the same - they want to destroy the whole Donbas step by step. Entire. Lysychansk, Slovyansk, Kramatorsk - they aim to turn any city into Mariupol. Completely ruined.”
- Three cruise missiles hit Ukraine’s southern port city of Mykolaiv today, while air defences shot down another two missiles near the southern city of Odesa, the Ukrainian armed forces said in a statement.
- The governor of Dnipropetrovsk, Valentyn Reznichenko, has accused Russia of using cluster munitions in the region.
- Ukraine is expected to hold a preliminary hearing in its first trial of a Russian soldier charged with raping a Ukrainian woman during Russia’s invasion, the first of what could be dozens of such cases. The suspect, Mikhail Romanov, 32, who is not in Ukrainian custody and will be tried in absentia, is accused of murdering a civilian in the Kyiv capital region on 9 March and then repeatedly raping the man’s wife, according to court files.
- Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu has said Russia and Belarus must take urgent joint measures to improve their defence capabilities and “increase the combat readiness of troop groupings and the unified regional air defence system.”
- The UK foreign secretary Liz Truss has warned that the grain crisis in Ukraine must be solved by global leaders within the next month, otherwise, the world could see “devastating consequences”.
- The Kremlin has reiterated its assertion that Russia has not stolen any grain from Ukraine, as Turkey said it was probing allegations from Kyiv and would not allow any such grain to be brought to Turkey. Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Turkey was taking the claims seriously.
- US donations of its new “Himars” multiple launch rocket system, or MLRS, have arrived in Ukraine. Ukraine’s minister of defence announced the arrival of the precision-guided missile launchers on Twitter. “Himars have arrived in Ukraine,” Oleksii Reznikov wrote. “Summer will be hot for Russian occupiers. And the last one for some of them.”
- Ireland’s taoiseach, Micheál Martin, has accused Vladimir Putin of “wholly immoral” behaviour, saying the Russian president has “weaponised” food, energy and migration as part of his war effort.
- Lithuanian president Gitanas Nausea has said the country must raise defence spending to 3% of GDP to enable it to host a much larger number of Nato troops.
- The European Union and Norway have agreed to cooperate to bring more gas from western Europe’s biggest producer to the EU’s 27 countries, nearly half of which are now facing cuts to their Russian gas supplies.
- Dramatic footage emerged on Wednesday from Russia of what appears to be a drone flying into an oil refinery and causing an explosion in what could be an attack inside Russia’s borders. Video shared on social media showed the unmanned aerial vehicle crashing into the Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery in the Rostov region, in what would be an embarrassing breach of Russia’s air defence systems.
- Residents and workers at a nuclear power plant in Enerhodar, a city in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, are being abducted by Russian occupiers, according to the region’s mayor. “Whereabouts of some unknown. The rest are in very difficult conditions: they are being tortured with electric shock, bullied physically and morally,” said mayor Dmytro Orlov.
- A television tower in the Ukrainian separatist-held city of Donetsk has been badly damaged by shelling and broadcasting has been interrupted, the local Donetsk news agency reported. The Petrovskiy television centre is still standing, but part of its equipment has been damaged, while some equipment has been moved out, the agency said.
- 4h ago16.22
It is undoubtedly not the most pressing concern for Ukraine, but the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has issued a statement this afternoon re-affirming its decision that Ukraine will not be able to host the Eurovision song contest in 2023.
On Friday the EBU had said it was opening talks with the BBC to host next year’s contest in the UK, after ruling out the event being hosted by this year’s winners, Ukraine, as is traditional. Ukraine’s culture minister demanded further talks. Today the EBU has said:
The EBU fully understands the disappointment that greeted the announcement that the 2023 Eurovision song contest (ESC) cannot be staged in Ukraine. The decision was guided by the EBU’s responsibility to ensure the conditions are met to guarantee the safety and security of everyone working and participating in the event.
At least 10,000 people are usually accredited to work on, or at, the ESC including crew, staff and journalists. A further 30,000 fans are expected to travel to the event from across the world. Their welfare is our prime concern.
The EBU outlined the security advice it had taken, noted that no major acts are touring Ukraine in 2013, and said that Ukraine’s own security assessment noted “the ‘severe’ risk of air raids/attacks by aircraft or attacks by drones or missiles. The statement concludes:
Taking all of this into account the EBU, with regret, made its decision to move the event to another country and will continue discussions on finding a suitable location for next year’s Eurovision Song Contest. We are happy to engage further with our Ukrainian Member UA:PBC on all these issues.
- 5h ago15.58
Interfax has reported some words from Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu. He has said Russia and Belarus must take urgent joint measures to improve their defence capabilities and troops’ combat readiness. Interfax quotes him saying:
Circumstances dictate the need to take urgent joint measures on strengthening the defence capabilities of the union state, increase the combat readiness of troop groupings and the unified regional air defence system.
- 5h ago15.55
Ukrainian troops may need to pull back from the key frontline city of Lysychansk to avoid being encircled after Russian forces captured two villages to its south, regional governor Serhiy Gaidai has said on national television, Reuters reports.
“In order to avoid encirclement, our command could order that the troops retreat to new positions,” he said. “All of Lysychansk is within reach of their fire. It is very dangerous in the city.”
The Ukrainian military almost never shares details concerning its strategy, but the chief commander of the armed forces Valery Zaluzhny conceded that Ukraine was having to make defensive adjustments.
“We are forced to conduct a mobile defence, to occupy more advantageous lines and positions,” Zaluzhny said in an online post that did not name specific areas. “The price of freedom is high.”
- 5h ago15.40
Here are some of the pictures we have been sent from Brussels, where European Union leaders are meeting to discuss Ukraine’s status as a possible candidate country for entry to the EU.
- 5h ago15.32
The European Union and Norway have agreed to cooperate to bring more gas from western Europe’s biggest producer to the EU’s 27 countries, nearly half of which are now facing cuts to their Russian gas supplies.
Norway and the European Commission will “step up cooperation in order to ensure additional short-term and long-term gas supplies from Norway,” they said in a statement, after the EU climate policy chief, Frans Timmermans, and Norway’s energy minister, Terje Aasland, met in Brussels.
Reuters notes that the EU imports roughly a fifth of its gas from Norway, compared with the 40% it got from Russia before Moscow’s latest invasion of Ukraine. Russia has been cutting gas supplies to countries refusing to pay it in roubles.
Today’s statement said Norway will remain a “large supplier” to Europe beyond 2030 and expressed support to increase its oil and gas exploration. It also pledged to cooperate on renewable energy and green technologies such as hydrogen. Moves by some countries to invest in new gas fields have raised fears that the Ukraine war could derail climate commitments.
- 6h ago15.06
Telecoms equipment maker Cisco will wind down its business in Russia and Belarus, the company has told Reuters. The US company stopped business operations, including sales and services, in the region in March.
- 6h ago14.56
Ahead of the expected decision that Ukraine is to become a candidate country for EU membership, the German chancellor Olaf Scholz has warned that the bloc must ready itself for expansion.
Reuters reports he told the media in Brussels: “We need to set the conditions that are necessary for Ukraine to continue its promising road ahead and at the same time we need to understand that we need to make ourselves ready for expansion.”
Scholz said that in order for a larger union to work, more decisions should be made by the majority, instead of requiring unanimity.
The bottom line is for the people to regain their original, moral principles, which have intentionally been watered out over the past generations by our press, TV, and other media owned by the Illuminati/Bilderberger Group, corrupting our morals by making misbehavior acceptable to our society. Only in this way shall we conquer this oncoming wave of evil.
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