Once a day, NU.nl gives you an overview of the situation in Ukraine. This time: Russian troops almost succeeded in cutting off Severodonetsk and Lysychansk from the Ukrainian army. In addition, all EU leaders supported Ukraine’s candidate for membership.
The battle for the eastern cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk has reached a “terrifying climax”. Russian forces are about to surround the towns and cut them off from the Ukrainian army. A senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the BBC† According to the advisor, Russia’s victory in this area is close, but not yet.
Zelensky himself accused Russia of “destroying” the Donets basin. In his late-night speech, the president said massive air and artillery strikes had resumed. “The occupier’s objective here is unchanged, they want to destroy the whole Donets basin step by step.”
Zelensky repeated his call for Western leaders to speed up the delivery of heavy artillery weapons.
Severodonetsk almost entirely in Russian hands
British military intelligence stressed on Thursday that Russia was increasing pressure in the Lysychansk and Severodonetsk region. Since last week, Russian troops have advanced about 5 kilometers towards Lysychansk.
The Russian army took two villages near Lysychansk, the governor of the Luhansk region reported. The Russians already almost completely control the nearby town of Severodonetsk and are increasingly targeting Lysychansk.
The Ukrainian army continues to fight for Severodonetsk and the captured villages of Zolote and Vovchoirovka, the governor said. In Severodonetsk, only the site of a chemical plant is still in Ukrainian hands, many civilians are also hiding there.
All EU leaders endorse Ukraine’s candidate for membership
Ukraine (and Moldova) are officially eligible for membership of the European Union. The heads of government of the 27 EU countries all agreed at a meeting of the European Council.
The awarding of membership to the candidates is for now a rather symbolic gesture to offer Ukraine and Zelensky some prospect for the future as the country is overwhelmed by the Russian invasion. It is also a signal addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte mistakenly thought the European Union would be fooled into offering membership to Ukraine, he concluded earlier on Thursday. “I was a little worried that the European Commission was rushing” with its assessment of Ukraine and its opinion on candidate status, Rutte said. “I have to say: I was wrong.
EU leaders agreed on Thursday on Ukraine’s candidate for membership.
US announces new arms package for Ukraine
Zelensky’s appeal did not fall on deaf ears. The United States is expected to pledge an additional $450 million in security assistance to Ukraine. This includes long-range missile systems.
The new package is also expected to include four more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), a powerful long-range weapon system the Ukrainian military says it needs to match the range of widely used Russian missile systems. against Ukrainian positions in the Donets basin. .
According to the United States, Ukraine assured that the long-range missiles would not be used to attack Russian territory. This could lead to an escalation of the conflict.
British and Moroccan appeal against the death penalty
Two Britons and a Moroccan jailed in Ukraine by pro-Russian separatists are appealing the death sentence they received in the Donetsk region, Russian news agency TASS reported. The three men were captured while fighting for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
The court convicted the men for working as mercenaries and for wanting to take control of the area. “We are still preparing the full appeal,” said the Ukrainian lawyer for one of the Britons. “If the appeal is rejected, we will file for a pardon, which is a right of suspects in Donetsk.”
The British government said after the sentencing that the case violated the laws of war. According to Secretary of State Liz Truss, the men are prisoners of war and should therefore not be sentenced to death.
Eurovision Song Contest organization understands disappointment in Ukraine
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organizes the Eurovision Song Contest, understands that Ukraine reacted with disappointment to the choice not to hold the event in the war-torn country next year. However, the organization stands by the decision that the winning country, Ukraine, does not currently qualify to host the song contest, it reports on Twitter.
The EBU announced last week that it would start talks with UK broadcaster BBC (the UK finished second) about hosting the Song Contest. Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC demanded further negotiations, as it saw possibilities of hosting the event. British politicians also got involved in the discussion and said Ukraine should hold the song contest.
With the new statement, the EBU makes it clear that it will not reverse its decision.