After a visit to the front, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy makes it clear that the defenders of the country’s independence are heroes. And he also sees steadfastness in the war as a reason for rapid EU accession. The developments at a glance.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has emphatically demanded EU candidate status after more than 100 days of valiant struggle against Russian invasion.

“I mean, this will not only be a decision for Ukraine, but for the entire European project,” said the head of state in his daily video message. That will also decide whether the EU has a future or not, Zelenskyj said.

The EU Commission wants to decide in June how to proceed with the EU ambitions of the country attacked by Russia. The federal government has not yet taken a position on this issue. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has made it clear that there should be no shortcuts for Ukraine on the way to the EU. Ukraine, which above all has to do with massive corruption, sees its fight against Russia as sufficient qualification.

Meanwhile, fighting in Ukraine continues. “On the 103rd day, the Ukrainian Donbass held strong,” Zelenskyy said, referring to the situation in the east of the country. In addition, everything is being done to ensure that the front in the Zaporizhia and Mykolaiv areas holds out. Heavy fighting continued around Sieverodonetsk, Lysychansk, Sloviansk, Bakhmut, Sviatohirsk, Avdiivka, Kurakhove and in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. The armed forces have to accept heavy losses.

Moscow: Sviatohirsk practically taken

The Russian military and Moscow-backed separatists say they have now completed the capture of the Ukrainian city of Svyatohirsk (Swjatogorsk) with its historic monastery. “Svyatogorsk is practically liberated,” said the leader of the Donetsk separatist region, Denis Pushilin, on Russian state television. There is the arch monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, which was also recently shot at, which is one of the most important sanctuaries of Russian Orthodoxy.

Moscow Patriarch Kirill, who supports the war of aggression against Ukraine, has long had a reputation for wanting to keep Ukraine’s ancient religious sites for the Russian Orthodox Church under his influence. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov previously said the city’s capture was in its final stages. The last soldiers of the Ukrainian armed forces left behind the military equipment and weapons and fled themselves. According to Konashenkov, around 80 Ukrainian soldiers crossed the city’s river, the Russian side let them flee and did not open fire, he said.

Initially, there was no confirmation from the Ukrainian side that Sviatohirsk had been abandoned. However, the Ukrainian general staff reported heavy fighting in the Donetsk region around the city on Monday morning. For weeks, Ukraine has been demanding supplies of heavy weapons from the West, not only to stop and push back Russian forces, but also to liberate occupied locations.

Debate on tank deliveries from Spain

Spain, for example, wants to deliver German-made battle tanks to Ukraine. The Union in the Bundestag warned the federal government against preventing Spain from doing so. “If Spain wants to deliver Leopard 2, the federal government must make it possible quickly,” demanded the deputy CDU / CSU parliamentary group leader Johann Wadephul (CDU) in the “Augsburger Allgemeine”. “Germany abandons Ukraine every day that no heavy weapons arrive there.” The CDU foreign policy expert Roderich Kiesewetter made a similar statement in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”: “I expect the federal government to issue the necessary export license quickly and as proactively as possible.”

The usually well-informed Spanish newspaper El País, citing sources in the Defense Ministry, reported that Spain was preparing to deliver about 40 Leopard 2 A4 main battle tanks and ground-launched anti-aircraft missiles. Minister Margarita Robles did not want to confirm or deny this. This is an “extremely delicate topic” and requires “the greatest discretion”.

Massive fighting in Donbass

Ukrainian army spokesman Olexander Motusianyk reported intense fighting “practically along the entire front line in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions”. The Russian Air Force has flown 39 air strikes outside of eastern Ukraine. However, the situation is most threatening in the Zaporizhia region, where the Russian army is threatening the region’s capital, it said. President Selenskyj visited the region on Sunday and was also directly at the front.

What will be important on Tuesday

Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth (Greens) arrived on Monday afternoon for a two-day visit to the Ukrainian port city of Odessa. She traveled to the Black Sea at the invitation of her Ukrainian counterpart. “We want to show that we are there,” said the Green politician at the start of the trip, “we want to show how culture is being attacked,” she said before the main day of the trip on Tuesday. Offers of humanitarian aid are still rarely mentioned in the debates.

For the first time since the beginning of the Ukraine war, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) is visiting Lithuania on Tuesday, a NATO country that borders Russia and feels particularly threatened by the nuclear power. In the capital, Vilnius, he will meet Nauseda and the heads of government of all three Baltic states – in addition to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are also included. The Chancellor then visits the Bundeswehr soldiers who are stationed in Lithuania to secure NATO’s eastern flank.