Gazprom turns the gas tap on in the Netherlands “Atomic bomb” prevented — Orban praises EU compromise in dispute over oil embargo 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. According to the governor of the Luhansk region, the Kremlin troops took control of parts of the city of Severodonetsk. 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. The “maximum combat capability of the Russian army” is now assembled in the Donbass, says President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his daily video message. According to estimates by British secret services, Russia, with its intensified offensive in Luhansk, must accept greater risks in other occupied areas.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, two Russian soldiers have been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for attacking villages. As the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reports, the two were found guilty of violating “the laws and customs of war” when shelling two villages in the Kharkiv region.
3:20 p.m .: Ukraine is investigating more than 15,000 war crimes cases
After three months of Russian war of aggression, Ukraine is already investigating more than 15,000 war crimes cases. A total of 80 suspects are in custody, says Attorney General Iryna Venediktova in The Hague. The authorities are targeting more than 600 suspects, including high-ranking Russian politicians and officers. “Every day 200 to 300 new cases of war crimes are added.”
In The Hague, prosecutors from Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and the International Criminal Court discussed the status of investigations into alleged war crimes. The prosecutors belong to a joint investigative team. Latvia, Estonia and Slovakia are now also part of the party. The work is coordinated by the EU judicial authority Eurojust. At Eurojust, evidence and witness statements are now to be stored in a central database. All participating countries should have access.
3:06 p.m .: According to the mayor, Sievjerodonetsk is half conquered by the Russians
During their offensive in eastern Ukraine, Russian troops have captured half of the city of Sievjerodonetsk, according to officials. “Unfortunately, the front divides the city in two,” says Mayor Olexander Stryuk. Sieverodonetsk will continue to be defended by the Ukrainian army, he says. “The city is still Ukrainian.”
2:22 p.m .: German industry calls oil embargo against Russia “extremely drastic”
The Federation of German Industries believes that the EU oil embargo will hit Russia hard. For the Russian state, the sale of oil is the most important source of income, explains Industry President Siegfried Russwurm in Berlin. “A European oil embargo is an extraordinarily drastic step, even if German companies have been preparing for these sanctions for weeks.” German industry supports the decision of the federal government and the EU for an embargo. “In view of Russia’s illegal attack on Ukraine, unequivocal, targeted and sustainable sanctions are needed that punish the aggressor more severely than us Europeans,” said Russwurm. It is now central to avoid distortions of competition within the EU when designing the embargo.
1:38 p.m .: Steinmeier meets the President of the Ukrainian Parliament in Berlin
At the end of the week, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier receives the President of the Ukrainian Parliament, Ruslan Stefantschuk, at Bellevue Palace. According to information from the German Press Agency, the meeting on Friday afternoon is the first personal meeting between the Federal President and a Ukrainian politician after political irritations between Berlin and Kyiv were cleared up. According to the Office of the Federal President, Steinmeier is very much looking forward to the exchange. Germany will continue to stand in solidarity with Ukraine with all its strength.
12:57 p.m .: According to the study, every tenth German refuses help for Ukraine
Their own sense of security and the fear of an escalation of the war have an impact on the attitude of the Germans to the course of action in the Ukraine war. The safer people feel, the more willing they are to demand tougher sanctions against Russia and to supply Ukraine with heavy weapons. This is the result of a study on social cohesion in Germany that the Bertelsmann Foundation has now presented in Gütersloh. For the study, 1000 Germans were questioned representatively in May. 21 percent of Germans currently feel as safe as they did before the war, 63 percent feel “somewhat” more insecure, 16 percent feel “a lot” more insecure.
Ten percent of all respondents not only reject any kind of arms deliveries to Ukraine, but also any support for the country attacked by Russia in February. In the group of very insecure Germans, the rejection is even greater. Here even 20 percent reject any support for Ukraine.
12.30 p.m .: Poland’s head of government would like to see Putin disempowered
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki would like to see Russia’s President Vladimir Putin removed from the Kremlin. If Europe and the free world lose the Ukraine war, Putin will always threaten and blackmail, says Morawiecki on the British broadcaster Sky News on the fringes of the EU summit in Brussels. “Obviously we want him to be removed from power completely. But he represents a brutal power and Russia is a superpower.”
11:29 a.m .: Ukrainian court sentences two Russian soldiers for attacks on villages
In Ukraine, two Russian soldiers have been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for attacks on villages. As the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reports, the two soldiers Alexander Bobykin and Alexander Ivanov were found guilty of violating “the laws and customs of war” when shelling two villages in the eastern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv. The court imposed prison terms of eleven years and six months.
Ukraine has accused numerous Russian soldiers of war crimes. The first Russian soldier was convicted of war crimes in Ukraine last Monday. A court in Kyiv handed down a life sentence to a 21-year-old man who shot and killed a 62-year-old civilian in north-eastern Ukraine. The Russian confessed to the crime in court and asked for forgiveness.
11:24 a.m .: The Russian military reports a large body find in the Azovstal factory
According to the Russian military, more than 150 bodies of Ukrainian fighters have been found in the underground bunkers of the Azovstal factory, which has been the subject of months of fighting. “152 bodies of fallen fighters and soldiers of the Ukrainian armed forces were stored in a container with no longer functioning cooling,” said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov in Moscow. To date, the Ukrainian leadership has not made any request to transfer the dead. On the contrary, the Russian troops discovered mines under the corpses, with which the container was probably supposed to be blown up on instructions from Kiev in order to blacken Russia, Konashenkov claims. Russia will soon hand over the dead to representatives of Ukraine.
The port city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine was surrounded by Russian troops in the first days of the war. As a result of the fighting, the city was almost completely destroyed. After heavy rearguard action, the Ukrainian defenders finally entrenched themselves in the Azovstal steel works before the last soldiers there surrendered in mid-May.
10.01 a.m .: Gazprom turns off the gas tap in the Netherlands
Russian state energy giant Gazprom has halted its supplies to the Netherlands. “Gazprom stopped supplying gas to GasTerra B.V. (Netherlands) because they were not paid for in rubles,” the company announced. Gazprom is referring to President Vladimir Putin’s decree, according to which all buyers of Russian gas from so-called unfriendly countries, which Moscow sees as including the EU countries, must convert their payments to rubles from April. According to Gazprom, business partners were informed about this change in good time. GasTerra B.V. but ignored her.
In 2021, Russia exported 6.67 billion cubic meters of natural gas to the Netherlands — around 16 percent of consumption there. According to GasTerra, it has foreseen the current delivery stop and has already obtained the missing gas volume from other sources. Before the Netherlands, Gazprom stopped deliveries to Poland, Bulgaria and Finland because these countries also refused to pay in rubles. German energy suppliers continue to obtain gas from Russia.
9.59 a.m .: Russia conquers parts of Sievjerodonetsk
Russian troops have partially taken control of the city of Sieverodonetsk. “The situation is extremely complicated. A part of Sieverodonetsk is controlled by the Russians,” writes the governor of the Luhansk region, Sergiy Gaiday, on Telegram. However, the Russian soldiers cannot advance unhindered because there are “still” Ukrainian fighters in the city.
Separated by a river, Sieverodonetsk and Lysychansk are the last cities in the Luhansk region still controlled by Ukraine. Sievjerodonetsk has been hotly contested for weeks. The city, which had a population of 100,000 before the war and is now estimated to have 15,000 civilians, is already badly damaged. Sieverodonetsk Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk has already sounded the alarm about the humanitarian and sanitary situation. “Constant bombing raids” made the supply of drinking water more difficult.
9.41 a.m .: According to British secret services, Moscow is taking risks with the Luhansk offensive
According to British intelligence services, Russia, with its intensified offensive in the Luhansk region of Ukraine, must accept greater risks in other occupied areas. The Kremlin made slow but greater progress in Luhansk than in earlier stages of the war as it concentrated its troops and weapons in a relatively small region, according to an update from the UK MoD. The heavy shelling there is continuing, and street fighting is also believed to be taking place on the outskirts of the city of Sievjerodonetsk. However, the focus on Luhansk means that Russia is risking its control in other occupied areas. In order to completely occupy the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, as Moscow is probably aiming for, the Russians would also have to take control of the important city of Kramatorsk and the main artery between Dnipro and Donetsk in addition to Sievjerodonetsk.
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.