War in Ukraine, Day 114 | Brussels recommends granting Ukraine EU candidate status

(Brussels) The European Commission on Friday recommended granting Ukraine EU candidate status after Paris, Berlin and Rome, a promise branded “false news” by Moscow that largely spelled the gas for Europe this week parked

Posted at 6:28
Updated at 12:49 p.m

Françoise MICHEL with Anna MALPAS in Lyssytchansk
Media Agency France

what you need to know

  • The European Commission has granted Ukraine candidate status for the European Union;
  • Ukraine “will not have a bright future” in the European Union, the spokeswoman for Russian diplomacy affirmed;
  • The UN warns of an “extremely alarming” humanitarian situation for the besieged and bombed population in Donbass;
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid a surprise visit to Kyiv on Friday;
  • Moscow has gradually but massively cut off gas supplies to Western Europe, which is heavily dependent on it;
  • A Russian attack in Mykolayiv left at least two dead and twenty wounded;
  • The Russian military claimed that nearly 7,000 “foreign mercenaries” from 64 countries had entered Ukraine since the conflict began, and nearly 2,000 of them had been killed;
  • The Ukrainian Navy claimed to have destroyed a Russian tugboat Vasily Bechwho transported arms and ammunition in the Black Sea;
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin denied that the invasion of Ukraine could be the cause of global inflation;
  • The European science laboratory CERN announced on Friday that it would end the cooperation agreements with Russia and Belarus after they expire in 2024.

This acceleration, with the approach of the June 23-24 European summit, which must decide unanimously and overcome reluctance from some member countries, comes at a time when the Ukrainian army is fighting Russian firepower in the eastern Donbass region. The United Nations has warned of the “extremely alarming” humanitarian situation of the people who are constantly besieged and bombed in the region, particularly in the shelled city of Sievierodonetsk.

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

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

Photo SERGEI SUPINSKY, Agence France-Presse archives

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday June 16 in Kyiv.

Moldova, a small Romanian-speaking republic neighboring Ukraine, enjoys the same support from Brussels. Georgia, a Caucasian country also occupied by Russia in 2008, will have to wait.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted that he welcomed the prospect of a “first step towards EU membership, which will certainly bring us closer to victory” against Russia.

Moldovan President Maïa Sandu, whose country also feels threatened by Russian ambitions, saw the announcement from Brussels as “the hope our citizens need”.

Boris Johnson back in Kyiv

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was again in Kyiv on Friday, a surprise visit that comes a day after that of four European Union leaders.

“I am happy to see a great friend of our country, Boris Johnson, back in Kyiv,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram. “It’s good to be back in Kyiv,” Boris Johnson said on his Twitter account.

Boris Johnson became the first leader of a G7 country to visit Ukraine on April 9, after Vladimir Putin launched the war against that country on February 24. Since then, London has provided Kyiv with particularly strong military support.

Lors d’une conférence de presse depuis Kyiv, M. Johnson a affirmé qu’il allait continuer à fournir « comme depuis le début [de l’invasion russe]the military equipment you need – and now, of course, the necessary training to go with it – so that you, the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian Armed Forces, can […] send the aggressor out of Ukraine”.

The leader offered to “train up to 10,000 soldiers every 120 days,” according to a Downing Street press release.

According to the British Prime Minister, this military training program “could change the equation of this war by channeling the most powerful forces, namely the determination of the Ukrainians to win”.

“Putin’s troops are under severe pressure and suffering heavy casualties. Their spending on ammunition, grenades and other weapons is colossal, and after 114 days of attacks on Ukraine, they still haven’t reached the goal they set for the first week,” he assures.

Boris Johnson also denounced “indisputable war crimes” committed by Russia in Ukraine.

“Many days of war have proved it: Britain’s support for Ukraine is firm and resolute,” said Volodymyr Zelenskyy. “We have a common vision of how Ukraine can achieve victory. »

Boris Johnson arrived in Kyiv the day after an unprecedented visit by French, German, Italian and Romanian leaders, all of whom, unlike the UK, are members of the European Union.

They said they were in favor of granting Ukraine candidate status for EU membership, as the European Commission did on Friday – a status that Kyiv was demanding and that will fuel hopes of early membership of the European bloc.

Moscow replica

At the St. Petersburg Economic Forum on Friday, President Vladimir Putin said Russia had “nothing against” Ukraine’s EU membership, but said “Ukraine will turn into a semi-colony” of western countries.

Russian diplomacy spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was more direct: “For years, the Western community has been manipulating this history of including Ukraine in their integration structures, and since then Ukraine has gone increasingly wrong,” she told Russian agencies.

Ukraine “will not have a bright future” in the EU, she added.

Explicit consideration of Kiev’s candidacy submitted in February is happening with unprecedented speed, which is justified by the war started by Vladimir Putin on February 24.

Austria, for its part, called on its EU partners to also send “clear signals to the Western Balkans, especially North Macedonia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina” at the summit and to underline “Russia’s great potential for destabilization not only in Eastern Europe, but also in the south-east”, in the voice of his foreign minister, Alexander Schallenberg.

In this crucial week in the struggle for influence in the West, Moscow has gambled its money, gradually but massively halting its gas supplies to its heavily dependent western Europe over technical problems, unconvincing European officials.

France’s gas network manager, GRTgaz, announced on Friday that it would not receive any Russian gas via pipeline since June 15 as “the physical flow between France and Germany is disrupted”.

The Russian giant Gazprom has sharply reduced its deliveries, especially to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, in the past few days, causing prices to explode.

In Italy, Gazprom will deliver only 50 percent of the gas requested by Eni on Friday, the Italian group announced.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi denounced a “political use of gas” in Kyiv on Thursday.

“We should have no illusions, we are in a showdown with Putin,” said Economics and Climate Minister Robert Habeck. “This is how dictators and despots act. »

US President Joe Biden, whose country is a potential supplier of LNG to Europe, on Friday accused Russia of fueling a “global energy crisis” with its war against Ukraine and called for “reliable and long-term energy security”. climate conference.

“Our actions to liberate Donbass have nothing to do with this,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum. “This is the result of systematic errors by the US government and the European bureaucracy,” he said.

humanitarian drama

On the battlefront, Ukrainian forces continue to fight in the Donbass, a region in the east of the country that has been partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014 and that Moscow is aiming to conquer.

The United Nations on Friday stressed that “the humanitarian situation across Ukraine, particularly in eastern Donbass, is extremely alarming and continues to deteriorate rapidly.”

According to Ocha, the United Nations Humanitarian Organization, the situation in Sieverodonetsk and the surrounding area is “particularly worrying”.

For several weeks, fighting has focused on Sievierodonetsk and Lysytchansk, two key cities for control of Donbass, which have been subjected to constant bombing.

Photo ARIS MESSINIS, Agence France-Presse

Ukrainian soldiers inspect a destroyed warehouse in Lysychansk, Donbass.

The large Azot chemical plant in Sieverodonetsk, to which some 500 civilians have fled alongside Ukrainian soldiers, cannot be evacuated without a “full ceasefire” due to “constant shelling and fighting,” the city’s governor said on Friday in the Luhansk region. Serguiï Gaïdaï.

In Lysytchansk, a rocket attack on the “House of Culture” where residents of the city were refugees killed three and wounded seven, the press service of the President of Ukraine said on Friday. Another civilian was killed in a bomb attack in the middle of the street, according to the same source.

A Russian attack on Friday morning in Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine also left at least two dead and twenty wounded, according to a report by the region’s governor.

The Russian army also claimed that nearly 7,000 “foreign mercenaries” from 64 countries had entered Ukraine since the conflict began, and that nearly 2,000 of them had been killed.

In addition, the Ukrainian Navy announced on Friday that it had destroyed a Russian tugboat Vasily Bechwhich transported weapons and ammunition to the Black Sea.


The Russian tug Vasily Bech in January 2022.

Russia has “already strategically lost” its war in Ukraine and “will never take control of the country,” Britain’s Defense Chief of Staff Admiral Tony Radakin said on Friday. According to him, “President Putin has used 25% of his army’s might to make tiny territorial gains.”

As a new sign of a deep cut in relations with Russia, the renowned European science laboratory CERN in Switzerland announced on Friday that it would end the cooperation agreements with Russia and Belarus after they expire in 2024.

For its part, Ukraine has announced the introduction of a visa regime for Russian citizens.

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