In the city of Sievjerodonetsk, Russian and Ukrainian soldiers are fighting for every street and every house. The destruction of a bridge cuts off the way back for the Ukrainians. The events at a glance.
Before a possible visit by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) to Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj is calling for clear support from Germany.
“We need Chancellor Scholz’s assurance that Germany will support Ukraine. He and his government have to make a decision, »said Selenskyj in an interview with the ZDF «heute-journal». Germany should not attempt a balancing act between Ukraine and relations with Russia.
Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi could visit Ukraine in the middle of the week. An official date is still pending. Fierce fighting continued on Tuesday night in eastern Ukraine. Russia attacked the neighboring country at the end of February.
Selenskyj raises the bar for Scholz
“Germany came a little later than some of our neighboring countries in terms of arms deliveries,” criticized Zelenskyj on ZDF. But not only the Baltic states and other eastern EU countries, but also the USA and Great Britain have become active earlier. Initially, Germany and France only supported Ukraine politically and rhetorically.
Recently, the Ukrainian side has frequently criticized the fact that Germany is too hesitant to deliver weapons that have already been promised. The Ukrainian government is hoping for concrete promises for an immediate delivery of German tanks.
Zelenskyy said he would like the chancellor to personally support Ukraine’s EU membership. He expects the European Union to grant his country the status of a candidate country in June. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced at the weekend in Kyiv that she would complete the analysis of Ukraine’s EU membership application at the end of next week. In any case, your authority’s recommendation is likely to be linked to calls for further reforms in Ukraine.
Scholz rejected the accusation that he was too hesitant to deliver weapons that had already been promised. The training of Ukrainian soldiers on the sometimes very modern and complicated weapon systems is ongoing. “It’s really heavy equipment. You have to be able to use that, you have to be trained for it, that’s currently taking place in the Federal Republic of Germany, »said Scholz on Monday in Greifswald. “We will deliver all the weapons that we have on the way.”
When will the trio travel to Kyiv?
Scholz said nothing about the possible visit to Kyiv. Relations between Berlin and Kyiv had cooled off considerably at the beginning of the war. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was not welcome in Ukraine because Kyiv accused him of his pro-Moscow policies. Added to this was the controversy over the extent and speed of Germany’s support for the attacked country.
The Italian newspaper “La Stampa” named this Thursday as a possible date for the three-way visit by Scholz, Macron and Draghi. Ukrainian media, citing French diplomats in Kyiv, reported that Macron was expected on Wednesday.
Zelenskyy promises reconquest of Crimea
Shortly before the expected meeting, Zelenskyi made it clear again that Ukraine’s war goal was to take back the Crimean Peninsula from Russia. “Of course we will also liberate our Crimea,” said the Ukrainian President. “The Ukrainian flag will again fly over Yalta and Sudak, over Dzhankoy and Yevpatoria.”
Russia militarily occupied the Black Sea peninsula in 2014 when Ukraine was weakened after a change of power and was unable to resist. Then an internationally unrecognized referendum was held and Crimea was annexed to Russia.
Zelenskyj called on the citizens of Ukraine to keep in touch with the Russian-occupied parts of the country, Donetsk and the Kharkiv region. These areas would also be liberated again. “Tell them that the Ukrainian army will definitely come!” Zelenskyy said. In the east, in the Donbass, the army is under pressure and the losses are terrible. The armed forces urgently need modern artillery from their foreign partners in order to be able to assert themselves.
Last bridge from embattled city destroyed
In the city of Sievjerodonetsk in eastern Ukraine, which has been fought over for weeks, the third and final bridge over the Siwerskyj Donets river has also been destroyed, according to the authorities. This means that the city is not completely sealed off, said the governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Hajdaj. However, it is not possible to evacuate civilians or bring aid supplies into the city.
Sjewerodonzek is mostly in Russian hands. “Unfortunately, as of today, Russia controls over 70 percent, but not the entire city,” said Hajdaj on the TV channel Belsat. There are hard fights for every house. With the capture of the city, the pro-Russian separatists, with Moscow’s help, had almost completely taken control of the Luhansk region and thus achieved an important war goal.
That’s going to be important today
Macron will start a trip on Tuesday that will already bring him close to the conflict region. He will visit French troops who have been deployed there in the NATO and EU member state Romania and meet President Klaus Iohannis. The next day he is to meet Moldova’s President Maia Sandu. The ex-Soviet republic borders Ukraine and also wants to join the EU.
In The Hague, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will meet the heads of government of Denmark, Belgium, Romania, Poland, Latvia and the Netherlands. They want to prepare for the upcoming NATO summit.