Scholz visits NATO’s eastern flank Selenskyj insists on Ukraine’s status as an EU candidate USA suspects Russia of stealing Ukrainian grain The developments in the star ticker.

Day 104 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine: Fierce fighting continues in the east of the country. According to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, both sides have suffered heavy losses. The Russian military, supported by separatists, says they are on the verge of completely capturing the city of Sviatohirsk.

Today, for the first time since the beginning of the war, Chancellor Olaf Scholz is visiting Lithuania, a NATO country that borders Russia and feels particularly threatened by the nuclear power. In addition to Nauseda, he will meet the heads of government of all three Baltic states in the capital, Vilnius.

11:32 a.m .: Russia responds to NATO exercises with military maneuvers in the Baltic Sea

Parallel to a NATO maneuver in the Baltic Sea, Russia has started its own major troop exercises of its Baltic Fleet. More than 20 warships and boats are involved in the exercise, according to the Russian military, according to a report by the Interfax news agency. In addition to corvettes and frigates, these also include missile boats, submarine destroyers and landing craft. The squadron also includes anti-submarine aircraft of the type Il-38 and attack helicopters.

According to the Russian military, these are planned combat exercises. Nevertheless, the timing is piquant: The NATO maneuver “Baltops 2022” with 45 ships under the leadership of the US Navy is still running in the Baltic Sea until the middle of the month. 45 ships are involved in the exercise.

The activity of Russian troops in the Baltic Sea region has increased noticeably. At the beginning of May, the Russian army held major military maneuvers in the Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad, simulating the launching of Iskander missiles. The short-range missiles with an official range of up to 500 kilometers can be equipped with both conventional and nuclear warheads. In April, the Russian Ministry of Defense launched a multi-week exercise to check the operational readiness of the Baltic Fleet.

10.43 a.m .: Union warns “traffic light” against blocking Spanish Leopard tank deliveries to Ukraine

The Union warns the federal government against abandoning Ukraine in the event of a possible delivery of Leopard tanks from Spain. “Germany abandons Ukraine every day that no heavy weapons arrive there,” said deputy leader of the Union faction Johann Wadephul (CDU) of the “Augsburger Allgemeine”. “If Spain wants to deliver Leopard 2, the federal government must make it possible quickly.”

The Spanish newspaper “El País”, citing government circles in Madrid, reported that Spain now also wants to supply heavy weapons to Ukraine. In addition to anti-aircraft missiles, the package included around 40 used Leopard 2 A4 tanks, which Germany sold to Spain in 1995.

8.59 a.m .: Roth sees the cultural identity of Ukraine under threat

Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth sees the country’s cultural identity threatened by the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. “This war is also a war against culture, against the culture of democracy,” said the Green politician during a visit to the port city of Odessa on the Black Sea. After more than three months of war, 375 cultural institutions have been destroyed or damaged. 137 churches are also affected. “It becomes clear that it’s about attacking Ukraine’s cultural identity.”

Roth promises support to the country. “We are now trying to send an international signal by supporting the nomination of Odessa’s old town as a World Heritage City,” she says on ZDF’s “Morgenmagazin”. The international community must take responsibility accordingly. This may also be an additional protective shield against attacks.

7.42 a.m .: Ukraine reports its own airstrikes in the south of the country

While the situation in eastern Ukraine is largely unchanged, the Ukrainian military says it has carried out several airstrikes on Russian positions in the south of the country. “Ukrainian helicopters struck against accumulations of enemy troops in the Kherson region, and planes against ammunition depots in the Mykolaiv region,” the General Staff said. Ukraine has so far only used its own air force sparingly in the war because of Russian air superiority.

5:26 a.m .: Ukrainian authorities report “intense” fighting for Sievjerodonetsk

In the battle for the strategically important city of Sievjerodonetsk in eastern Ukraine, the situation of the Ukrainian forces appears increasingly difficult. The city’s mayor, Oleksandr Striuk, said on Monday that the situation was changing “every hour”. There is “intense street fighting,” and Russian troops are also using “airstrikes and heavy artillery.” The attackers “are about to destroy the city” after “failing to take it in a day or two”.

Sieverodonetsk is the last major city in the Luhansk region that Russia has not yet conquered. According to the Ukrainian army, the current focus of the Russian offensive in the east of the country is on completely capturing the industrial city. According to their own statements, the soldiers retained “control” and only fought in the eastern part.

3.40 a.m .: Lithuania is pushing for a stronger NATO presence in the Baltic States

Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda is pushing for a stronger NATO presence in the Baltic States in view of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. “The NATO summit in Madrid must be the summit of decisions,” says Nauseda of the German Press Agency before Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s one-day visit to Vilnius. “We hope to agree at the summit: on a transition from deterrence to forward defense, from a battalion to a brigade, from air surveillance to air defense.”

At the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of the month, the question will be whether the troops on the eastern flank of the western defense alliance will be increased again. A good three weeks before the top meeting, Scholz is traveling to Lithuania for a short visit today.

1.06 a.m .: Special envoy Selenskyjs promotes EU candidate status in Berlin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has sent a special envoy to Berlin to hold talks with the German government about his country’s prospects for EU membership. The Minister for Regional Development, Oleksij Tschernyschow, wants today and tomorrow, among others, the Head of the Chancellery Wolfgang Schmidt (SPD), Development Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD), Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) and, in the absence of Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens), their Minister of State Tobias Lindner ( Green) meet.

Ukraine hopes that the heads of state and government of the European Union will meet them at the summit on 23-24. declare a candidate for EU accession. “The European Union should embrace Ukraine,” Chernyshev demands before his talks in Berlin. But he also emphasized that his country did not want to be given preferential treatment.

12:12 a.m .: US suspects Russia of grain theft

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has raised suspicions that Russia is stealing Ukrainian grain for its own profit. Reports that Russia is confiscating Ukrainian grain in order to sell it itself were called “credible” by Blinken in Washington on Monday. He has also accused Moscow of trying to “blackmail” the world by blocking Ukrainian grain exports.

The Russian naval blockade of the southern Ukrainian port of Odessa is preventing grain from being shipped from there to its “normal destinations”, said Blinken at a virtual conference held by his ministry on the risks to food security arising from the Ukraine war. Around 20 million tons of wheat are “trapped” in silos near Odessa. Blinken emphasizes that this is a strategy of Putin, who wants to force the rest of the world to “give in” and lift its sanctions against Russia. “In other words, very simply put, it’s blackmail.”