The war in Ukraine has now lasted four months. President Zelenskyj is celebrating EU candidate status – but there is depressing news from the front.
Exactly four months after the Russian invasion, eastern Ukraine suffered a bitter military defeat on Friday. After weeks of fighting in the strategically important city of Sievjerodonetsk, their army gave up and retreated.
Should the surrounding Luhansk region fall completely, the Kremlin would have achieved an important war goal. Despite the bad news from the frontline, Ukraine hailed its new status as an EU candidate country. In Europe and in Germany in particular, nervousness increased in view of reduced gas supplies from Russia. The Federal Network Agency warned of three times as high gas bills.
In eastern Ukraine there is conflicting information about the situation in the embattled city of Lysychansk. According to their own statements, Russian troops blocked the city from the south. This was announced by the Russian Ministry of Defense on Friday evening in Moscow. The defenses of Ukrainian troops had been breached, it said.
Earlier, the general staff of the Ukrainian army had spoken of air attacks by Russia on Lysychansk on the west bank of the Seversky Donets river. “Ukrainian defenders successfully repelled a storm on the southern outskirts of Lysychansk.” All of the information is difficult or impossible to independently verify.
G7 blame worsening hunger crisis on Russians
In view of the hunger crises in several countries, the seven western industrial nations (G7) raised serious allegations against Russia before their summit at the weekend in Bavaria because its navy was blocking Ukrainian grain exports across the Black Sea. “Russia is deliberately using hunger as a weapon of war and is holding the whole world hostage,” said Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. 345 million people are threatened worldwide. Reasons are also climate change and the corona pandemic. “But only Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine turned a wave into a tsunami.”
Russia accuses NATO and the EU of preparing for war
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the EU and NATO of joining forces in a war against Russia. Lavrov recalled that at the beginning of World War II, Nazi Germany rallied other European countries to attack the Soviet Union. “Now the EU, together with NATO, is putting together such a modern coalition for a fight – and ultimately for a war against the Russian Federation.”
Lavrov saw no threat in the decision of the EU summit to give Ukraine the status of a candidate country. Unlike NATO, the EU is not a military alliance. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on the other hand, spoke of a turning point for his country. “Ukraine is not a bridge, not a cushion between the West and Russia, not a buffer between Europe and Asia, not a sphere of influence, not a gray zone, not a transit country,” he said in a video address. Ukraine is now a “future equal partner for at least 27 EU countries”.
No more holding out in battered positions
The now totally devastated industrial city of Sieverodonetsk was one of the last parts of the Luhansk region where Russian soldiers and pro-Russian separatists had not yet fully taken control. Now the last Ukrainian defenders were ordered to retreat. It no longer makes sense to “hold out in shattered positions,” says Governor Serhij Hajdaj. In the nearby town of Lysychansk, Russian soldiers have already advanced to the outskirts.
“Price wave” for gas rolls on
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said at the EU summit that efforts must be stepped up to import energy from countries other than Russia. That’s a big challenge, “but we’ll hook up there.” Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) said on RTL that the “price surge” in gas for consumers was “in fact unavoidable”. The President of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, even thinks a tripling is possible.
On Thursday, the federal government declared the alarm level in the “Gas Emergency Plan” and asked companies and consumers to save gas. In the event that Russian gas supplies fail completely, economists assume an economic crisis.
US pledges more arms to Ukraine
The US announced further arms sales to Ukraine in the amount of 450 million dollars (about 428 million euros). This also includes multiple rocket launcher artillery systems and patrol boats. According to its own statements, the United States has promised or already delivered weapons and equipment worth around $6.1 billion in the past four months of the war. The government in Kyiv has been asking for more modern weapons for weeks in order to curb the military superiority of Russian troops.
White House: G7 summit to further isolate Russia
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. The White House called the goals of the summit “further isolating Russia from the global economy, targeting the Russian arms supply chain and continuing 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.