“Atomic bomb” prevented — Orban praises EU compromise in dispute over oil embargo France is investigating war crimes 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.
9:21 a.m.: Separatists appropriate cargo ships in Mariupol
Pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk Oblast in eastern Ukraine seize several merchant ships docked in the port of Mariupol. “Some of the ships come under the jurisdiction of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” quotes the Interfax news agency as separatist leader Denis Puschilin. The ships would be renamed and become part of a newly formed Republic merchant fleet. The first ship with a load of 2,500 tons of metal has already been sent to the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. Kyiv accuses Moscow and the separatists of stealing strategically important goods and speaks of “looting.” Up to 500,000 tons of grain are said to have been shipped from the occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.
Before the war, Mariupol, with more than 400,000 inhabitants, was the largest Ukrainian port city on the Azov Sea and at the same time a center of the steel industry. Russia now controls the city, which is said to have been 90 percent destroyed by attacks by Kremlin troops.
8.39 a.m .: “Atomic bomb” prevented — Orban praises the EU compromise in the dispute over the oil embargo
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban welcomes the EU compromise in the dispute over the oil embargo against Russia. “We fended off the most outrageous idea,” says Orban in a video message on Facebook. “We have reached an agreement that states that countries that receive oil through pipelines can continue to operate their economies under the current conditions.” A complete ban on Russian oil imports would have been “unacceptable” and “like a nuclear bomb” for Hungary,” said the prime minister. “But we managed to prevent that.”
At their summit in Brussels last night, the EU heads of state and government agreed on a far-reaching embargo on Russian oil imports after long resistance from Hungary. According to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the compromise specifically envisages initially only blocking Russian oil imports by ship. Deliveries via pipeline should therefore continue to be allowed for the time being. Hungary in particular had demanded this. The country covers around two-thirds of its oil requirements via Russia’s Druzhba pipeline.
8.08 a.m .: Rocket attack on Sloviansk claims fatalities according to the military
The city of Sloviansk in Donetsk Oblast was hit by a rocket during the night, according to the head of the Donetsk military administration, Pavlo Kyrylenko. A school and seven residential buildings were hit, Kyrylenko said. According to him, three people were killed and six injured.
7.28 a.m .: Ukraine reports Russian storm attempts from Sievjerodonetsk
In eastern Ukraine, the fighting for the former city of Sievjerodonetsk is apparently entering the decisive phase. The enemy is carrying out “assault activities in the area of the villages of Sieberodonetsk and Toshkivka in the Sierodonetsk area, and hostilities are ongoing,” the Ukrainian General Staff said in its situation report. There are further Russian ground attacks in the Bakhmut area, a little further to the west. There the Kremlin troops attacked the villages of Zolote, Komyshuvahka, Berestove, Pokrowske and Dolomitne. The attacks were unsuccessful, but would continue. The attacks around Bakhmut are apparently aimed at cutting off the last Ukrainian-held conurbation in the Luhansk/Syeverodonetsk-Lysychansk region and thus wiping out the troops stationed there.
On other front sections, the night was quieter. For example, the Ukrainian general staff reports only isolated skirmishes in the Sloviansk area, which is considered the center of troops loyal to Kiev in the Donbass. The Russian attack on the village of Dowgenke was repelled. The enemy also suffered losses and withdrew when attempting to explore new attack routes from the small town of Lyman, which was recently captured by the Russian military. The information cannot be independently verified.
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 should 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. 22 million tons of grain already stored in Ukraine for export cannot leave the country due to the Russian blockade of the ports, he warns. This threatens 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.