Hungary blocks EU sanctions again Russian missile attack on western Ukraine Baerbock: “Ukraine must win” Developments in the Ukraine war in the stern ticker.
Day 99 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine: The new EU sanctions package against Russia for the war of aggression against Ukraine cannot come into force due to another objection from Hungary. The government in Budapest is demanding that the planned punitive measures against Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, be scrapped. This was confirmed by several diplomats in Brussels from the German Press Agency. The way out of this diplomatic blockade was initially unclear on Thursday.
In the east of Ukraine, meanwhile, Russian troops continued their gradual conquest of the city of Sieyverodonetsk. The Ukrainian military, on the other hand, reported the recapture of 20 towns in the occupied Cherson region in the south. There were further rocket attacks in western Ukraine.
1:00 p.m .: Habeck − sanctions hit the Russian economy hard
The international sanctions against Russia because of the Ukraine war are hitting the country’s economy hard, according to Economics Minister Robert Habeck from the Green Party. The government of Russian President Vladimir Putin still makes a lot of money from energy exports and that “hurts,” said Habeck in the Bundestag. “But he can buy less and less, in fact nothing, with the money he earns. The Russian economy is collapsing.”
The countries that have joined the economic sanctions against Russia have exported 53 percent less to the country in the past few months, Habeck said. Exports from countries not participating in the sanctions have also fallen by 45 percent. For example, Russia lacked security updates for aircraft – “with the consequence that soon the aircraft will remain on the ground”. The country lacked technical goods, so production processes would be “destroyed”. “Time works against Russia, it works against the Russian economy.”
12:26 p.m .: Merz renewed criticism of Scholz
Despite the new announcements about arms deliveries to Ukraine, CDU leader Friedrich Merz has again accused Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) of hesitation on this issue. “Here the brakes are deliberately put on, the material is deliberately not delivered to Ukraine,” said Merz on ZDF. In the ZDF “Morgenmagazin”, Merz particularly criticized the fact that Ukraine was being denied the possible rapid delivery of Marder armored personnel carriers. “Every day people die in this war, and in large numbers,” he warned. “If all states had behaved like Germany, the Russian army would have already taken Kyiv.”
11:52 a.m .: Moscow speaks of fewer foreign mercenaries in Ukraine
The Russian military reportedly noticed a decrease in the number of foreign mercenaries in the ranks of the Ukrainian army. “Since the beginning of May, the influx of foreign mercenaries to take part in hostilities against the Russian armed forces has dried up,” said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov. According to him, the total number of foreign fighters in the Ukrainian military has fallen from 6,600 to 3,500.
Hundreds of foreigners were killed by Russian rockets in the training camps shortly after their arrival in Ukraine. Even more fell at the front, says Konashenkov. The Major General warns that foreigners are not treated as combatants and the best they can hope for if captured is a long prison sentence. The pro-Russian separatists had previously threatened to impose the death penalty on several captured foreigners.
11:26 a.m .: Slovakia delivers self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine
Slovakia has promised Ukraine the delivery of self-propelled howitzers. Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad announced this on Facebook. The Ministry of Defense in Bratislava has already signed a corresponding contract with the Ukrainian partners, ministry spokeswoman Martina Koval Kakascikova specified at the request of the German Press Agency.
Initially, eight Zuzana 2 howitzers developed and produced in Slovakia would be delivered to the neighboring country attacked by Russia. In contrast to the previous delivery of the S-300 missile defense system, this time it is not a gift but a commercial sale. The state-owned manufacturer hopes that this will result in future orders from other countries as well. The contract agreement is “a fantastic step for Ukraine as well as for our state company Konstrukta-Defense,” writes Defense Minister Nad.
The Zuzana howitzer is the flagship product of the Slovak defense industry and the only heavy weapon system produced in the country. According to the manufacturer, it can fire all types of 155mm NATO ammunition.
11:21 a.m .: Selenskyj: Ukraine is de facto already a member of the EU
According to its President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine already considers itself a part of the European Union. “Ukraine has already become a de facto member of the EU,” said Zelenskyy in a video address to the Luxembourg parliament. “I believe that Ukraine is already showing by its actions that it meets the European criteria.”
Selenskyj is convinced that Luxembourg will work to obtain the official status of an EU accession candidate in June and “to become an EU member in an accelerated process”. “Europe is facing a major test. Is Europe capable of defending its values?” says the Ukrainian president.
10:08 a.m. Rocket strikes in several Ukrainian regions
Several regions in Ukraine reported air and missile attacks on Thursday night and early in the morning. “Four enemy cruise missiles were launched. They were shot down from the Black Sea,” confirms the head of the military administration in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, Maxym Kosytzky, on his Telegram channel. Accordingly, the night rocket attack was aimed at railway objects in the Stryi and Sambir districts. Explosions can also be heard in the port city of Odessa, in southern Ukraine, in the morning.
While Kosytzkyj speaks of five injuries, the authorities have not yet provided any information on the attacks in Odessa. The spokesman for the regional military administration, Serhiy Brachuk, confirmed an air alert, but at the same time warned local media against publishing damage reports before there were any public announcements.
9:06 a.m.: London: Russia is advancing in Sieverodonetsk, suffering heavy losses
According to British estimates, Russian troops have taken most of the embattled city of Sievjerodonetsk in eastern Ukraine. Supported by heavy artillery attacks, the armed forces made local gains, the Ministry of Defense in London said. But they suffered casualties. The main road into the city is probably still being held by Ukrainian units, according to intelligence reports.
There are several points where Russia could try again to cross the Seversky Donets River, which is a natural line of defense for Ukrainian troops. If the Russian forces were successful there, they could secure the Luhansk region and focus more on the adjacent Donetsk region, the British Ministry of Defense emphasizes. However, both potential river crossing points – between Seyerodonetsk and the neighboring city of Lysychansk and near the recently conquered city of Lyman – are still under Ukrainian control.
9.03 a.m .: President of the African Union meets Putin in Sochi on Friday
The President of the African Union (AU), Senegal’s head of state Macky Sall, meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Friday. The President’s office in Dakar announced that the goal of the visit was “the release of grain and fertilizer, the blockade of which affects African countries in particular”.
The visit was made at Putin’s invitation, it said. The African Union has also accepted the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to address the members of the African confederation of states in a video conference. The date is not fixed yet.
7.26 a.m .: Ukrainian ambassador praises Scholz for announcing air defense system
The Ambassador of Ukraine in Germany, Andriy Melnyk, struck a different tone for the first time and welcomed Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s (SPD) announcements about new arms deliveries. “We are happy that things are finally moving and that the ice has been broken,” Melnyk told the “Stuttgarter Zeitung” and the “Stuttgarter Nachrichten” (Thursday editions). “It is precisely the Iris system that we have been working on behind the scenes for almost three months.”
Scholz had announced in the Bundestag on Wednesday the delivery of the modern Iris-T-SLM air defense system from the Diehl armaments group and a tracking radar. Melnyk tells the newspapers he hopes the system will be in production by the summer. The training should start in August and the mission should begin in October. Melnyk gave the “Wirtschaftswoche” the costs at 140 million euros per piece. The Ukraine could purchase eleven other systems in the near future.
“We can finally say to Chancellor Scholz from the bottom of our hearts: Thank you!” says Melnyk. “Now one can really speak of a turning point for Ukraine. We hope for more modern weapon systems from Germany.”
6:58 a.m.: Ukrainian military reports ongoing fighting around Sievjerodonetsk
According to information from Kyiv, the fighting for the administrative center Sievjerodonetsk in eastern Ukraine continues. “The enemy is carrying out attacks in the village of Sievjerodonetsk,” the Ukrainian general staff said in its situation report. It is unclear how many districts of the former metropolis the Ukrainians still hold. The Russians had already taken the city center on Wednesday. The situation report states that fighting in the suburbs of Bobrove and Ustynivka was unsuccessful for the Russian troops, despite support from grenade launchers.
On the other hand, the Ukrainian military conceded that the Russian offensive in Komyshuvakha was at least “partially successful”. The urban settlement is south of the city of Lyssychansk, the Russians’ next stage destination. Lysychansk and Sievjerodonetsk are only separated by the river Siversky Donets and before the war together formed a conurbation of 380,000 inhabitants.
The attack from the south is intended to save Russian forces from having to cross the Seversky Donets River, say military experts from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in their latest analysis. During the campaign, the Russian military made several unsuccessful attempts to cross the river using floating bridges.
6.17 a.m .: Governor: Sievjerodonetsk 80 percent in Russian hands
Building by building, Russian troops are taking over the strategically important industrial city of Sievjerodonetsk in eastern Ukraine. They now control “80 percent of the city,” said regional governor Serhiy Gajdaj during the night. Ukrainian army chief Valeriy Zalushnyi said his soldiers in Luhansk were facing the “most difficult situation” at the moment.
“The enemy has an operational advantage in terms of artillery,” he admitted in a telephone conversation with his French colleague Thierry Burkhard, according to Kyiv. He advocates converting his troops “as soon as possible” to NATO types of weapons. “That would save lives.” Ukraine is hoping for multiple rocket launchers recently promised by US President Joe Biden, which promise greater range and accuracy.
“The situation in the east is really difficult,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told US broadcaster Newsmax in a published interview. “We lose 60 to 100 soldiers killed in combat every day and about 500 are wounded.”
5:57 a.m .: Pelé with demand to Putin: “Stop the invasion”
Brazilian soccer legend Pele has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine. “Stop the invasion. There is absolutely no justification for this continued violence,” the 81-year-old appealed to Putin in a letter published on his Instagram account. When he met Putin in the past and exchanged a smile accompanied by a long handshake, he never thought “that one day we would be as divided as we are now,” writes Pele. “The power to end this conflict is in your hands. The same ones I shook in Moscow when we last met in 2017.”
5.19 a.m .: Ukrainian national coach dedicates World Cup playoff victory to the armed forces
National coach Oleksandr Petrakov dedicated Ukraine’s victory over Scotland in the playoff semifinals for the World Cup to the soldiers at home. The 3-1 win in Glasgow on Wednesday evening was “for the forces in the trenches and hospitals giving their last drops of blood, for those in Ukraine who suffer every day,” he said, according to the AP news agency.
The team around ManCity professional Oleksandr Zinchenko won against Scotland 3-1 (1-0) after a strong performance overall. On Sunday (6 p.m.) the Ukrainians will play in Wales for the last European ticket for the World Cup at the end of the year.
The game in Scotland was the first competitive game for the Ukrainian national team since the beginning of the war at the end of February. Should the side qualify for the World Cup by beating Wales, they would meet England, Iran and the USA in Group B in the preliminary round.
5.12 a.m .: Merkel comments on the Ukraine war
In her first public speech in about six months, former Chancellor Angela Merkel called the attack on Ukraine a “profound caesura.” She doesn’t want to make any assessments from the sidelines, says Merkel in Berlin. But Russia’s invasion of the neighboring country marks a blatant breach of international law. “My solidarity is with Ukraine, which has been attacked and invaded by Russia, and in support of their right to self-defense.” She supports efforts by the federal government, the EU, the USA, NATO, the G7 and the UN “to stop this barbaric war of aggression by Russia”.
5.10 a.m .: Poland and Ukraine are examining joint armaments factories
During a visit by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to Kyiv, Poland promised the neighboring country further aid. His country was also asked to help export Ukrainian grain. According to Kiev, it was agreed during the consultations to examine the establishment of joint armaments companies. This will take military cooperation to a new level, says Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal. Morawiecki and his deputy Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s national-conservative ruling party PiS, also speak with President Volodymyr Zelenskyj.
5:09 a.m.: Russian advance in the east continues
The Ukrainian military admits that Russian troops have had “partial success” in battles in the embattled city of Sieverodonetsk in the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine. The general staff said the enemy was in control of the eastern part of the city. The storm on the big city continues, it was said. The pro-Russian separatists claimed they had already taken control of more than 70 percent of the city.
Sieverodonetsk is the administrative center in the Ukrainian-controlled part of the Luhansk region. The city has been fighting for weeks. Should Russian troops capture the city, they would have complete control over the Luhansk region. The capture of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions is one of the goals set by Putin.
4.43 a.m .: Hungary again blocks new EU sanctions against Russia
Hungary is demanding further changes to the new EU sanctions package against Russia, once again blocking its entry into force. Specifically, the country is calling for the planned punitive measures against the Russian Orthodox Church leader, Patriarch Kirill, to be abandoned, as several diplomats from the German Press Agency confirmed. The EU’s plan was actually to initiate the decision-making process for the sixth package of sanctions this Wednesday. Earlier on Tuesday night, after weeks of arguments, an agreement was reached at a summit meeting in the dispute over the oil embargo that was also planned.
3.32 a.m .: The United States wants to deliver a total of four rocket launchers to Ukraine
The US wants to provide Ukraine with a total of four multiple rocket launchers. According to the US Department of Defense, the new weapons package for Kyiv will also include another 1,000 Javelin anti-tank missiles and four Mi-17 helicopters. The US government had announced the new military aid package with a total value of 700 million dollars (650 million euros) the day before.
Deputy Defense Secretary Colin Kahl says Ukraine’s armed forces need about three weeks of training to deploy the Himars missile system. This should give the Ukrainians a greater range and precision in the artillery battles in the east of the country. According to Kahl, the rocket launchers can fire six guided missiles at a time over 70 kilometers. Accordingly, the systems are already available in Europe for training and delivery.
0.41 a.m .: Baerbock: “Ukraine must win”
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has made it clear that Ukraine will win the war against Russia. The Greens politician was asked on Wednesday evening in the ZDF program “Markus Lanz” about Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s more cautious formulation that Russia should not win the war. “I say that what the Chancellor says is true,” replies Baerbock. “Of course, Russia must not win this war, but strategically lose it.” Russia is breaking with international law. “They want to destroy the peace in Ukraine. That’s why Ukraine must not lose under any circumstances – that means: Ukraine must win.”
0.02 a.m .: Selenskyj recalls the fate of children in the war
At least 689 children have been harmed in nearly 100 days of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, according to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. 243 children were killed, says Zelenskyj in his video address in Kyiv. At least 446 children were injured and 139 children were missing. “And those are just the ones we know about.” There is no information from the areas occupied by Russian troops. “Eternal memory to those whose lives were taken by the Russian war against Ukraine,” says Zelenskyy.
12:01 a.m.: Russian missile attack on western Ukraine
Several Russian missiles are believed to have landed in western Ukraine. The target of the attack on Wednesday evening was the transport infrastructure in the Stryi district, the head of the military administration in the Lviv region, Maxym Kosytskyi, said on Telegram. According to the first reports, two people were injured, and there was initially no information about the dead. At around 9:00 p.m. local time (8:00 p.m. CEST) air alerts were sounded in all parts of Ukraine due to fears of Russian missile attacks. Two people were killed and two injured in shelling on the southern city of Mykolaiv earlier Wednesday.