Ukraine: Zelensky hails support from Brussels, Severodonetsk under Russian fire

The European Commission on Friday recommended granting Ukraine EU candidate status. His opinion will be discussed Thursday and Friday at a European summit, where the 27 EU leaders will have to give the green light – unanimously – for kyiv to officially obtain this status.

For Mr. Zelensky, who “waiting for a positive result“at this summit,”it is the first step on the road to EU membership. Ukraine “deserves this positive news”estimated the Ukrainian president in his video intervention of the evening, welcoming a “historic success of all those who work for our State”.

Our rapprochement with the European Union is not only positive for us. This is the biggest contribution to the future of Europe for many years“, he added.

We all know that Ukrainians are ready to die for their European aspirations. We want them to live with us, for the European dream“, had declared in Brussels earlier in the day the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, dressed in blue and yellow, the colors of Ukraine.

The Commission recommends to the Council, firstly, to give Ukraine a European perspective and, secondly, to grant it candidate status“, she added, the day after the visit to kyiv of the leaders of Germany, France and Italy, the first three European powers which delivered the same message.

– Express review –

On Friday, it was the turn of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – whose country is no longer a member of the EU – to return to Kyiv, where he announced a training program for Ukrainian forces

Speaking at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Russia has “nonothing against“an accession of Ukraine to the EU, but claimed that”Ukraine will turn into a semi-colony“Western countries.

Spokeswoman for Russian diplomacy Maria Zakharova was more blunt: “For years, the Western community has been manipulating this story of Ukraine’s involvement in their integration structures, and since then Ukraine has been going from bad to worse.“, she told the Russian agencies.

– “Strong test“-

During this decisive week in its struggle for influence with the West, Moscow put its money where its mouth was, gradually but massively cutting off its gas deliveries to Western Europe, which is very dependent on it.

The operator of the French gas network, GRTgaz, announced Friday that it will no longer receive Russian gas by pipeline since June 15, with “the interruption of the physical flow between France and Germany“.

The Russian giant Gazprom has considerably reduced its deliveries in recent days, particularly to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, causing an explosion in prices. In Italy, Gazprom will deliver only 50% of the gas requested by Eni on Friday, the Italian group announced.

We should have no illusions, we are in a showdown with Putin“, said Robert Habeck, the German Minister of Economy and Climate.This is how dictators and despots act.

US President Joe Biden, whose country is a possible supplier of LNG liquefied gas to Europe, accused Russia on Friday of fueling its war against Ukraine with a “global energy crisis“.

Our actions to liberate the Donbass have nothing to do with this“, retorted Russian President Vladimir Putin at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum. “It is the result of the systemic errors of the American administration and the European bureaucracy“.

– “most bombed place“-

On the fighting front, Ukrainian forces remain in difficulty in the Donbass, this region in the east of the country partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014, and which Moscow has set itself the objective of conquering.

The UN stressed on Friday that “the humanitarian situation throughout Ukraine, particularly in eastern Donbas, is extremely alarming and continues to deteriorate rapidly“.

The fighting has been concentrated for several weeks on Severodonetsk and Lyssytchansk, two key cities for the control of Donbass, subjected to constant bombardments.

Severodonetsk is the most bombed place” from the Lugansk region and “the fights are hard“in the city, where Russian forces are bombing houses,”destroying the city“, said Governor Serguiï Gaïdaï on his Telegram channel.

More than 500 civilians, including 38 children, found refuge alongside Ukrainian servicemen in the large Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk, which they “refuse to evacuate“, he also said. “They think it’s safer to stay there. We tried to talk to them but they don’t want“.

In Lysychansk, a missile strike on the “Culture House“, where residents of the city were refugees, killed four people who were sheltering there according to residents present at the scene.

A Russian strike on Friday morning in Mykolaiv, in southern Ukraine, also left at least two dead and twenty injured, according to a report communicated by the governor of the region.

The Russian army also claimed that just under 7,000 “foreign mercenaries“, from 64 countries, had arrived in Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict and that nearly 2,000 of them would have been killed.

Videos of two Americans who had gone to fight as volunteers with the Ukrainian forces and had been missing for several days were broadcast on Friday by a Russian public television channel.

A State Department spokesperson confirmed on Saturday that he had seen the photos and videos of the two American citizens “allegedly captured by Russian military forces in Ukraine“.”We are closely monitoring the situation“, he told AFP.

In addition, Ukraine, which won the Eurovision Song Contest this year, denounced on Friday the decision to withdraw its hosting of the next edition for security reasons.


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