Ukraine update: There was heavy shelling all day in eastern Ukraine around the city of Sieverodonetsk. Russia wants to provide residents of the occupied areas with Russian passports and could even benefit from a European oil embargo. What happened on Wednesday in the war in Ukraine.
Despite the fall of the port city of Mariupol, an adviser to the Ukrainian defense minister sees the main military objective there as having been achieved. “The main goal was achieved in Mariupol. It was to hold back the Russian groups (…) more than 20,000 Russian soldiers. And that was made possible thanks to the heroic deeds of the Mariupol defenders and the defenders who were later in Azovstal,” said Yuriy Sak on Tuesday in the ARD “Morgenmagazin”. As a result, the Russian troops would not have been able to conquer other areas in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine will not give up any territory for peace talks with Russia, stressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at a digital switch to the World Economic Forum in Davos. Ukraine will fight until it has all its territory back,” said Zelenskyy. He was also ready for talks if Russia retreated to the areas where it was before the war began in February. An initiative in Ukraine that makes visas compulsory for Russians demands, he was open to.
Meanwhile, Russian forces are advancing in eastern Ukraine. The city of Sievjerodonetsk is said to have been under fire throughout the day, according to Ukrainian sources. The Ukrainian military leadership said the city and nearby towns would be attacked with artillery and from the air.
Sieverodonetsk and neighboring Lysychansk are the last major cities still held by Ukrainian troops in the Luhansk Oblast. They are considered strategically important. Russia wants to completely conquer the area in order to add it to the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic. Moscow had recognized this as an independent state a few days before the attack on Ukraine – just like the People’s Republic of Donetsk. There were also attacks in other cities. Four ballistic missiles are said to have been fired at the city of Zaporizhia in the morning.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Wednesday that will allow citizens of the Zaporizhia and Kherson regions in southern Ukraine to apply for Russian passports using a simplified procedure. A similar presidential decree has been in effect since 2019 in the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, which are controlled by pro-Russian separatists and recognized by Russia as separate states in violation of international law. In this way, Putin could want to force closer ties between the population and Russia.
Russia could also benefit from the discussions about a European oil embargo. EU Council President Charles Michel was “confident” that agreement would be reached among the member states at a meeting next week. The economist and EU advisor Daniel Gros warned against this in an interview with the “Spiegel”: “The announcement of an embargo already drove the price of oil up sharply. We are experiencing the consequences right now. Russia will then have even higher revenues than before.”
The Swedish government has denied Turkey’s allegations of supporting terrorist organizations. “Of course we don’t send any money to terrorist organizations and we don’t send weapons either,” Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said at a press conference in Stockholm on Wednesday.
Ankara had made the allegations in connection with the planned NATO accession of Sweden and Finland. All NATO countries must agree to accept new members. Turkey called for “concrete measures” in the evening to accept accession.
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the NATO countries have agreed informally not to deliver Western-style heavy battle tanks or armored personnel carriers to Ukraine. “The Defense Committee was fully informed of this in mid-May,” said the defense policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Wolfgang Hellmich, of the German Press Agency.
Hellmich explained that there are no formal NATO resolutions because the alliance itself does not supply weapons, but rather the individual member states. So far, however, all partners have kept to the informal agreement. “Anyone who claims otherwise has either not listened properly or knowingly tells the untruth,” said Hellmich.
With massive artillery and air strikes, Russian troops have driven the Ukrainian defenders out of several towns in the east of the country in the past few days, and the Ukrainian front is beginning to falter. For Moscow, the complete conquest of the Ukrainian administrative regions of Donetsk and Luhansk is an important war goal. In Luhansk, this goal has almost been achieved.
“The Russian army is throwing all its forces into this attack,” Zelensky said in his video speech on Tuesday evening. He listed the cities of Lyman, Popasna, Sievjerodonetsk and Sloviansk. “The occupiers want to destroy everything there.” It’s getting bigger Efforts of the Ukrainian people are needed to overcome the Russian superiority in armaments and technology.According to the administration, 15 civilians were killed within 24 hours in the Donetsk region alone.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense also spoke of a difficult situation in the Donbass coal and steel region. Apparently, the Russian army wants to encircle Ukrainian units in the major cities of Sievjerodonetsk and Lysychansk, said spokesman Olexander Motusyanyk. Both cities had about 100,000 inhabitants before the war.
The Ukrainian defenders there are supplied via a single road. This has now come under fire from Russian artillery and mortars, wrote the expert Nikolay Mitrokhin in the magazine “Osteuropa”.
According to military information, Russia wants to set up a safe sea passage from the conquered Ukrainian port of Mariupol through the Sea of Azov from Wednesday. The mine-cleared route towards the Black Sea is 115 nautical miles (213 kilometers) long and 2 nautical miles wide and navigable from 8:00 a.m. local time (7:00 a.m. CEST). At the same time, the damaged port infrastructure of Mariupol will be repaired.
The last Ukrainian defenders of the city laid down their weapons at the end of last week, and Mariupol itself has been largely destroyed. According to Russian information, around 70 foreign ships from 16 countries are still stuck in the ports controlled by Ukraine on the Black Sea coast.
Gazprom nominated Schröder for a post on the supervisory board in early February – shortly before the attack on Ukraine. In an interview with the New York Times in April, the former SPD leader left open whether he would accept the nomination. Now he explained that he had rejected the post a long time ago.
Schröder has been heavily criticized in recent months for his connections to Russia. The former chancellor maintains a friendship with Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin and has held various positions in the Russian energy industry over the years: a seat on the supervisory board of the oil company Rosneft and activities for the Gazprom subsidiaries Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2. Last Friday, Rosneft announced that Schröder resigns from the supervisory board.
In the course of the Ukraine war, Russian oligarchs lost access to luxury yachts, real estate and other assets worth almost 10 billion euros. According to information from the German Press Agency, this is based on figures from the EU Commission. On April 8, the value was still 6.7 billion euros.
The EU Commission wants to present a legislative proposal this Wednesday that should make it possible to confiscate frozen Russian money. This money could then be used to rebuild Ukraine. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen emphasized on Tuesday: “We should turn every stone for this – if possible also Russian assets that we have frozen.”
Since the start of the Ukraine war, the EU has put a number of Russian oligarchs on the sanctions list because they are accused of supporting the war. At the beginning of March, an EU special unit was set up to ensure better cooperation between EU countries and to track down the assets of the oligarchs.
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