France investigates war crimes EU countries reach compromise on oil embargo against Russia  The developments in the Ukraine war in the stern ticker.

Day 97 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine: The situation in the east of the country remains extremely difficult. The “maximum combat capability of the Russian army” is now assembled in the Donbass, says President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his daily video message. Kremlin troops had already advanced into the embattled city of Sievjerodonetsk yesterday. The city has been the target of Russian attacks for months. It is considered the last point that the Ukrainian military still controls in the Luhansk region.

Meanwhile, the EU agreed on a compromise on the oil embargo overnight. Further sanctions against Russia and financial aid for Ukraine are also to come.

6.32 a.m .: Investigators comment on possible war crimes in Ukraine

International investigators want to comment on the status of investigations into possible war crimes in Ukraine from 2 p.m. today in The Hague. Shortly after the start of the Russian invasion at the end of February, Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania set up a joint team of investigators, and the International Criminal Court joined just over a month later.

5.14 a.m .: Ukraine war again topic at EU summit in Brussels

The special EU summit continues today in Brussels. Topics include the situation in Ukraine, efforts to strengthen defense and energy and food security.

3:31 a.m .: France is investigating war crimes

After the death of a French war reporter in Ukraine, the anti-terror prosecutor’s office is investigating possible war crimes. The investigations were started, among other things, because of an intentional attack on the life of a person protected by international law, as reported by the French news agency AFP. TV journalist Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff died yesterday near Sievjerodonetsk in eastern Ukraine while accompanying a humanitarian evacuation. The 32-year-old reporter was hit by shrapnel. It was his second mission to Ukraine since the beginning of the war.

2.11 a.m .: Ukraine and Russia complain about dead civilians

In eastern Ukraine, both warring parties reported further civilian deaths. Three people were killed by Russian shelling in the Donetsk region, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko announced on Telegram. According to the online newspaper Ukrajinska Pravda, a man was killed by Russian shells in the Kharkiv region. According to the Tass agency, the Russian side speaks of two civilians killed by Ukrainian attacks in the Donetsk region and two women killed in the Luhansk region. The information is not independently verifiable. The two self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine are recognized by Moscow as independent states. Their capture is one of Russia’s war aims.

1.05 a.m .: Scholz calls the EU compromise “drastic sanctions against Russia”

Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomes the EU compromise for an oil embargo against Russia. “The EU is in agreement,” tweeted the SPD politician. “We have agreed on further drastic sanctions against Russia.” The embargo will affect a large part of Russian oil imports. EU Council President Charles Michel wrote on Twitter of “maximum pressure on Russia” to end the war against Ukraine.

12:27 a.m .: The EU wants to support Ukraine with additional billions in aid

The European Union wants to provide Ukraine with further financial aid of up to nine billion euros. The EU Council President Charles Michel announced in Brussels that the Ukraine should be able to use the money to cover running costs, for example for pension payments and the operation of hospitals. It is unclear how much money will be paid out as a grant and how much as a loan. The EU Commission recently announced that it would propose a corresponding measure. At that time, EU Economic Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said that the help should consist primarily of loans and, in part, grants. According to Ukrainian information, the country receives the equivalent of almost 4.7 billion euros a month from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. These are the costs that the Ukrainian budget needs for social spending as a result of the war.

12:15 a.m .: According to Zelenskyy, the Russian army has “maximum combat power” in the Donbass

According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the situation in eastern Ukraine remains extremely difficult. The “maximum combat power of the Russian army” is now assembled there, says Zelenskyj in a video message. She is trying to put more and more pressure on Ukrainian soldiers in the Donbass. The President named the cities and towns of Sievjerodonetsk, Lysychansk, Bakhmut, Sloviansk and Avdiivka as important targets for the Russian army. There was also shelling in Kharkiv and in the Sumy region in north-eastern Ukraine.

In his video speech, Selenskyj also addresses the threat of global grain shortages caused by the war. He warns that 22 million tons of grain already stored in Ukraine for export cannot leave the country due to the Russian blockade of the ports. As a result, there is a risk of famine in countries in Africa, Asia and Europe, which in turn could trigger a migration movement. The president sees this as Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin’s intention to destabilize the West. Ukraine is one of the largest grain exporters in the world. Western politicians also accuse Russia of speculating on a hunger crisis and using it as a means of pressure so that the West weakens sanctions. Moscow denies these allegations.

0.02 a.m .: EU countries reach compromise on oil embargo against Russia

The EU countries have agreed on a compromise in the dispute over the planned oil embargo against Russia. More than two thirds of Russian oil deliveries to the EU are said to be affected by the import ban, as announced by EU Council President Charles Michel during a summit in Brussels. In addition, the Russian Sberbank is to be excluded from the financial communications network Swift and three Russian TV channels are to be banned. Michel writes on Twitter of “maximum pressure on Russia” to end the war against Ukraine.

According to diplomats, the compromise stipulates that, at Hungary’s insistence, only Russian oil deliveries by sea will be blocked for the time being. Transports by pipeline should initially continue to be possible. For the time being, Hungary will continue to be able to obtain Russian oil overland via the huge Druzhba pipeline. Refineries in eastern Germany and Poland as well as in Slovakia and the Czech Republic are also connected to it. However, Germany and Poland have already made it clear that they do not want to benefit from the pipeline oil exemption.