Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed his country’s EU candidate status as a historic moment. “The future of Ukraine lies in the EU,” he emphasized after the decision of the EU heads of state and government at the summit in Brussels. At the same time, this is currently the largest possible step to strengthen Europe, “while the Russian war is testing our ability to maintain freedom and unity.”

Selenskyj had campaigned massively for the prospect of accession in the past few months. Now, in his daily video address, he reiterated that Ukraine is capable of becoming a full EU member.

According to its mayor Vadym Boychenko, the devastated Ukrainian city of Mariupol is “on the verge of an epidemiological catastrophe”. This is reported by the “Kyiv Independent”. According to this, infectious diseases are already spreading in the city. These could therefore also include deadly infections such as cholera and dysentery. According to the city administration, there are 9000 tons of garbage in the streets. Mariupol is “a real ghetto” where unsanitary conditions endanger the lives of the remaining residents.

In eastern Ukraine, Russian troops advanced to the outskirts of the city of Lysychansk, according to Ukrainian sources. “Our fighters stopped the advance towards the southern outskirts of Lysychansk, inflicted casualties on the enemy and forced him to retreat,” said the General Staff situation report in Kyiv on Thursday evening. The Russian army is now drawing on reserves.

Lysychansk is the last major city in the Luhansk Oblast under full Ukrainian control. The twin city of Sievjerodonetsk on the other side of the river Siverskyi Donets has been largely conquered by Russian troops.

On Thursday morning it became known that south of Lysychansk a Ukrainian group was surrounded in the villages of Solote and Hirske. In the evening, the Ukrainian military announced that the Russian troops had meanwhile partially captured Hirske. According to the report, they were able to completely close the cauldron.

The US announced further arms sales to Ukraine in the amount of 450 million dollars (about 428 million euros). That included multiple rocket launcher artillery systems and patrol boats, said a senior White House official, John Kirby. According to its own statements, the USA has promised or already delivered weapons and equipment worth around 6.1 billion dollars to the country attacked by Russia in the four months of the war. The government in Kyiv is asking for more modern weapons to curb the military superiority of Russian troops.

US President Joe Biden is traveling to the G7 summit this Saturday, which will take place from Sunday to Tuesday at Schloss Elmau in Bavaria. Kirby said the summit’s goals were to “further isolate Russia from the global economy, target Russia’s defense supply chain, and continue to work against the circumvention of these unprecedented sanctions.” After the G7 meeting, Biden travels to a NATO summit in Madrid. There, too, the Ukraine war will be the focus.

The world’s largest sporting goods company Nike wants to withdraw completely from Russia in view of the ongoing war against Ukraine. “Nike has made the decision to exit the Russian market,” the US company announced. The priority now is to support local workers while operations are being shut down in the coming months. The Adidas competitor – like many other Western companies – had already significantly restricted its business in Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. In the meantime, more and more companies want to turn their backs on Russia entirely.

That will be important on Friday

At the EU summit, high inflation and rising energy prices will be discussed, which are part of the consequences of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine.

The military situation around Lysychansk will continue to be the focus, as Russia could open the way there for control of the entire Luhansk region.

At a conference in Berlin shortly before the G7 summit, the German government is focusing on the global food situation and the search for solutions to blocked grain exports from Ukraine.

Also read: The Ukraine update – rocket launchers arrived, Ukrainians surrounded at Lysychansk: What happened today