Berlin apparently agrees on criteria for admitting persecuted Putin opponents Lavrov rejects speculation about Putin’s illness The developments in the Ukraine war in the stern ticker.

Day 96 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine: The Russian army wears down the Ukrainian lines in the east with massive shelling. The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj accuses Russia of a war of annihilation. After visiting the front, he speaks of serious damage in the city of Kharkiv and reports of destruction in Donbass. Selenskyj also wants to speak about it at an EU summit starting today in Brussels.

6.25 a.m .: The federal government apparently agrees on criteria for the admission of persecuted Putin opponents

According to a report, the federal government has set criteria for the admission of particularly vulnerable Kremlin critics from Russia. As the newspapers of the Funke media group report, the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media have come to an agreement on the groups of people who are at risk. These are human rights defenders threatened by political persecution, members of the opposition, employees of human rights organizations and scientists, but also journalists who are specifically endangered. According to the federal government, they will be helped faster and less bureaucratically with a residence permit when they flee Russia.

4.11 a.m .: EU heads of state and government are negotiating new financial aid for Ukraine

Further financial aid for Ukraine and European defense policy are topics of the EU special summit today and tomorrow in Brussels. It is unclear whether the heads of state and government can agree on the sixth package of sanctions against Russia. This should also include an oil embargo against Russia, which Hungary does not want to support. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wants to report on the situation in Ukraine by video at the beginning of the summit.

Hungary has so far blocked the planned EU oil embargo because it says it gets 65 percent of its crude oil from Russia. The country recently demanded a four-year transition period and 800 million euros in financial aid to adapt its refineries and expand a pipeline from Croatia. The French EU Council Presidency originally convened the special summit to make progress on European defense policy. Among other things, a joint procurement policy is to be discussed.

3:15 a.m.: Reports of dead and injured in Russian attacks

According to the authorities, several civilians were killed or wounded in attacks on Ukrainian locations. The governor of the Donetsk region, Pavlo Kirilenko, blames Russia for three dead and four injured in the government-controlled part of the region in the east of the country. In Mykolaiv in the south of the country, the authorities report at least one death in an attack on a residential area. Russia denies attacking civilian targets.

According to the General Staff in Kyiv, the Ukrainian army has fended off 14 Russian attacks in the Donbass. More than 60 Russian soldiers were killed and tanks and artillery destroyed. The information cannot be independently verified.

2:47 a.m.: Gauck for supporting Ukraine with weapons

According to the former German President Joachim Gauck, arms deliveries to the Ukraine are important for their fight for freedom against the Russian attackers. “Without the weapons of the Allies in the World War there would have been a Europe under Nazi rule,” says Gauck in the “Bild” newspaper. Ukraine must be allowed to say what it needs to oppose Russia. “If people then say to us: We want to fight for our freedom, we’ll even risk our lives, then it’s not up to us to explain to them from a safe place what the right thing is,” said the ex-president. “That would be callous and highly arrogant.”

Nevertheless, politicians must continue to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Responsible politics must also talk to dictators. We must never do without diplomacy.” However, it is important to negotiate from a position of strength. That also “proved to be correct during the Cold War.”

1.19 a.m .: Selenskyj accuses Russia of a war of annihilation

After an unannounced visit to the embattled Kharkiv region in eastern Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyj is shocked. “Black, burned-out, half-ruined apartment buildings face east and north with their windows — to where Russian artillery fired from,” he says in a video message. Russia not only lost the battle for Kharkiv, but also for Kyiv and northern Ukraine. “It has lost its own future and any cultural ties to the free world. They are all burned.”

Zelenskyj also accuses Russia of extensively destroying the city of Sievjerodonetsk in the Donbass. The entire infrastructure has been destroyed, he says in the video message. “90 percent of the houses are damaged. More than two-thirds of the city’s housing stock has been completely destroyed.” The city is constantly under attack. According to Zelensky, Moscow wants to hoist its flag on the administrative building of Sievjerodonetsk, which is located on the Boulevard of Friendship of Nations there. “How bitter that name sounds now.” Sievjerodonetsk has been the target of attacks for months. The city is considered the last point that the Ukrainian military still controls in the Luhansk region. The trip to Kharkiv was Zelensky’s first known visit to the front since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression.

12:25 a.m .: Lavrov rejects speculation about Putin’s illness

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has denied rumors that Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin has fallen ill. “I don’t think that reasonable people can see signs of any kind of illness or infirmity in this person,” Lavrov said in response to a question from French television channel TF1. Putin, who will be 70 in October, appears in public “every day”. “You can see him on screens, read and listen to his speeches,” Lavrov said, according to a statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry. Putin’s health and personal life are taboo subjects in Russia and almost never discussed in public.

0.02 a.m .: Eurovision winners auction trophy in favor of Ukraine

The Ukrainian winners of the Eurovision Song Contest have announced that they have auctioned off their competition trophy for the benefit of their home country’s army. “A special thanks to Team Whitebit who bought the trophy for $900,000 and are now the legal owners of our trophy,” the band Kalush Orchestra announced. Whitebit is a Ukrainian company that operates a crypto exchange, an online trading platform where cryptocurrencies can be bought, sold and exchanged. Since 2008, the winners have been presented with a glass microphone trophy. Kalush Orchestra won the 66th ESC in Turin in mid-May with the song “Stefania”.