For the first time since Russia’s war of aggression began, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has visited the front line in southern Ukraine. An official video shows Zelenskyy inspecting a badly damaged regional administration building in Mykolaiv on Saturday. Meanwhile, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has announced that he intends to campaign for clear accession prospects for Ukraine at the EU summit next week.
Mykolaiv is an important military target for Russian troops. The capture of the city would open the way to Odessa, the main Ukrainian port city. Mykolayiv is also not far from the Cherson region, which is completely under the control of Russian troops.
According to the Moscow military, almost two million people have been brought to Russia from the contested areas of Ukraine. A Defense Ministry representative put the total number of Ukrainians at 1.936 million, including 307,000 children. On Saturday alone, 29,730 people were evacuated to Russia, including 3,500 children, said Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev.
Russian troops destroyed oil tanks near the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro in a rocket attack on Saturday. The regional administration reported three rockets hit the depot in the Novomokovsk district. “There is a strong fire,” wrote the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region Valentyn Reznichenko on Telegram. Three people were taken to hospital with burns.
Russian missiles struck a factory that processes gas near the city of Izyum in eastern Ukraine. There was also a big fire there, as the governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleh Synyehubov, announced. In addition to the factory, houses were also hit. No information was given about the victims in this case.
According to local authorities, civilians have been killed and injured by Ukrainian attacks in the separatist city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. “Five people were killed and 12 others injured in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) as a result of the bombardment by the Ukrainian armed forces,” the region’s authorities said on Saturday in the online service Telegram. Donetsk is the capital of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic in eastern Ukraine.
The Union continues to put pressure on Chancellor Olaf Scholz because of his hesitation in delivering heavy weapons to Ukraine. On the occasion of Scholz’s government statement planned for Wednesday in the Bundestag, the CDU and CSU want to submit an application that, according to media reports, specifically calls for the immediate delivery of Marder armored personnel carriers as well as recovery and armored personnel carriers. “Otherwise there will soon be no more Ukraine,” warned parliamentary group leader Johann Wadephul.
Hundreds of Ukrainians bid farewell to a democracy activist killed in the war in Kyiv. The funeral of 24-year-old Roman Ratushny took place on Saturday at the St. Michael’s Monastery in the capital Kyiv. Ratuschny had played an important role in the pro-European revolution of 2013-14. He was killed on June 9 near the city of Izyum in eastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region in fighting with Russian troops.
Four soldiers carried Ratuschny’s coffin through the crowd of mourners. The coffin was then placed at the entrance of the monastery. Some of the mourners held flowers, others had Ukrainian flags on their backs.
A humanitarian airlift to the Ukrainian border for war wounded and seriously ill people has officially started at Mönchengladbach Airport. The first flight on “Ukraine Airlift Day” took off towards the Ukrainian border at noon, reported one of the initiators, Uwe Lutz from the board of the European Bonanza Society. The “Ukraine Airlift Day” aims to attract more volunteers – aircraft owners and pilots alike.
Singer Smudo from the Fantastischen Vier supports the donation-financed flights to the Ukrainian border as patron of the project. The 54-year-old amateur pilot has announced that he will also be setting off on an aid flight himself in the next few weeks.
According to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), it is investigating several hundred tips on Russian war crimes in Ukraine. “So far we have received a three-digit number of tips,” said BKA President Holger Münch of the “Welt am Sonntag”. Münch said that not only the perpetrators of war crimes were being investigated, but also those responsible militarily and politically.
As an incentive to save energy in the face of severely curtailed gas supplies from Russia, politicians and economists have introduced bonuses for consumers. These should apply to households that use gas sparingly. FDP faction leader Christian Dürr spoke out against an obligation to save energy. The head of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, sees a clear strategy in Russia’s throttling of gas supplies.
“For days now, Russia has been supplying significantly less gas to Germany and Europe. That should unsettle us and drive up prices. That is why the federal government is organizing additional liquid gas and the Gas Storage Act is taking effect. Saving gas and storing it for the winter is now the order of the day,” said Müller.
Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has spoken out in favor of a clear European perspective for Ukraine, which is striving for EU membership. “Now it’s about connecting solidarity with a perspective, with a prospect,” said Scholz in a video message. Next week, the EU heads of state and government want to decide whether to officially grant EU candidate status to the country affected by the Russian war of aggression.
According to local authorities, rockets have fallen in the city of Kryvji Rih in central Ukraine. The authorities announced on the short message service Telegram that there were at least two victims. A district in the south of the city was hit. Kryvyi Rih is located in the Dnipropetrovsk region.
Shortly after Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to Kyiv, the Union wants to increase the pressure to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine. A motion by the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag states that German arms deliveries to Ukraine should be “immediately and noticeably increased in quantity and quality”. A spokesman said the application was finally voted on in the parliamentary group. The application is to be discussed in the Bundestag next week.
Britain must continue to show its long-term support for Ukraine, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. He warns of “Ukraine fatigue” as the war drags on.
“The Russians are advancing bit by bit and it’s important for us to show what we believe to be true, which is that Ukraine can and will win,” Johnson told the press after his return from Kyiv. He is responding to criticism from within his Conservative Party that he traveled to Ukraine instead of attending a conference in northern England.
The CDU European politician David McAllister sees Ukraine on a long way towards the European Union. “Ukraine deserves a credible European perspective,” said McAllister in an interview with radio station Bayern 2 on Saturday. “Becoming a member of the European Union takes a lot of time, a lot of strength and a lot of effort,” the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the European Parliament made clear.
In the meantime, Ukraine should be brought closer to the internal market – on the basis of the association agreement that has already been decided.
According to estimates by the government in Moscow, Russia’s coal exports could fall by 30 percent to 156 million tons this year as a result of international sanctions.
According to the Russian news agency Interfax, citing the Ministry of Energy, total production could fall by 17 percent to 365.1 million tons. The estimate is based on the worst-case scenario, with a full embargo on Russian coal in place. The ban on Russian coal imports imposed by the European Union over Russia’s attack on Ukraine will come into full effect in August.
CDU executive committee member Jens Spahn and BDI president Siegfried Russwurm are calling for the immediate switch from gas to coal-fired power plants for power generation. “In order to fill the gas storage tanks, gas consumption has to go down in the summer. Therefore, more coal and fewer gas-fired power plants should finally be running,” said deputy Union faction leader Spahn to Reuters.
“Instead of asking the Germans to freeze, Habeck should first act here himself,” he says, alluding to the debate on lowering the heating temperature in apartments. In the “Berliner Morgenpost”, Russwurm calls for an immediate end to gas-fired power generation and for the coal-fired power plants to be taken out of reserve. The background is concerns that Russia could further restrict its gas supplies.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz has promised Ukraine further help in the fight against Russia. The SPD politician said in a video message published for the first time on Saturday: “We will continue to provide financial resources. We will help rebuild. We will continue to deliver weapons that are urgently needed to defend Ukraine’s independence.”
According to the federal government, a video by Scholz on a central topic is to appear weekly under the name “Kanzler compact” – his predecessor Angela Merkel (CDU) also published a video message on Saturdays.
Scholz stressed that Russia had invaded Ukraine. Many people have already died, many houses, many towns and villages have been destroyed. “I have now boarded a train in Poland with Italian Prime Minister (Mario) Draghi and French President (Emmanuel) Macron and traveled to Kyiv. We looked at the destruction in Irpin near Kyiv. Awful.”
According to British intelligence experts, civilians in the heavily contested Ukrainian city of Sievjerodonetsk have to make very difficult decisions. On the one hand, with the bridges destroyed, there are hardly any ways to get out of the city apart from the humanitarian corridors unilaterally issued by Russia and its allies. On the other hand, in previous cases in Ukraine and also in Syria, Moscow has abused such corridors as a means of gaining advantages on the battlefield and forcibly relocating people, according to a statement by the British Ministry of Defense on Saturday.
The Russian Black Sea Fleet tugboat hit by Ukrainian missiles has sunk, according to Ukrainian authorities.
The tug “Vasily Bech” was damaged by Ukrainian missiles in the morning. “Later it became known that it sank,” said Odessa’s military governor, Maxym Marchenko, in a video address on his Telegram channel on Thursday evening. There is no confirmation from Russian or independent sources for the sinking.
In solidarity with the victims of the war in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra (Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra) intends to tour Europe and the USA in the near future.
The ensemble brings together Ukrainian musicians playing in various European orchestras with colleagues from cities such as Lviv, Kharkiv, Odessa and elsewhere, the organizers said. Rehearsals are scheduled to begin in Warsaw in mid-July. The tour kicks off on July 28th at the Polish National Opera. Appearances in Munich, Berlin and Hamburg are also planned for August.
Russian media have shown two US soldiers who are fighting in the Ukrainian army and who have been captured by troops loyal to Moscow. In an interview with the Kremlin-affiliated newspaper Izvestia, one of the men justified himself by believing Western “propaganda” about the “bad Russians” and therefore went to war, which the paper showed on its Telegram channel on Thursday. “We are not told in the Western media how incompetent and corrupt the Ukrainian army is,” he said.
The second prisoner appeared on the Kremlin channel RT. He sent only a greeting to his mother and spoke of the hope of being allowed to return home. According to the Russian media, both soldiers are from the US state of Alabama and are said to have been captured near Kharkiv.
It is still unclear who captured them. This may be important for their future fate. Troops of the pro-Russian separatists from the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk are also fighting alongside Russia. They have already sentenced three foreigners from the ranks of the Ukrainian army – two Britons and one Moroccan – to death in a show trial. In Russia, on the other hand, the death penalty is suspended.
Poland is pushing for a further tightening of punitive measures against Russia. “It’s about expanding the sanctions. From our point of view, a seventh package of sanctions must be launched as soon as possible,” Lukasz Jasina, spokesman for the Polish Foreign Ministry, told the newspaper “Welt am Sonntag” according to a preliminary report.
Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz told the newspaper about the content of a possible seventh sanctions package: “We want to completely prevent European technology exports to Russia.” In addition, more action must be taken against Russian banks and against Russian propaganda and disinformation channels.
The Vice-President of the European Parliament, Katarina Barley (SPD), has warned against a hasty admission of Ukraine to the European Union, Barley told the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”. “Anyone who is once in the EU cannot be excluded.” It is therefore “all the more important” that the accession criteria of Kyiv are “completely met”. As a negative example, Barley cited Hungary, which joined the EU in 2004 and “systematically” undermines the rule of law.
According to a media report, the inspector of the air force, General Ingo Gerhartz, is warning the NATO countries to use nuclear weapons in an emergency. As reported by “Bild”, Gerhartz spoke out at the Kiel International Seapower Symposium not to rule out the use of nuclear weapons. “For credible deterrence, we need both the means and the political will to implement nuclear deterrence if necessary,” the newspaper quoted the general as saying.
Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended her decisions to build the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea.
“I didn’t believe in change through trade, but in connection through trade, with the second largest nuclear power in the world,” Merkel told the editorial network Germany (RND, Saturday). But it wasn’t an easy decision. “The thesis at the time was: If Nord Stream 2 is in operation, Putin will no longer deliver gas through Ukraine or will even attack it.” The West made sure that gas was still routed through Ukraine and that they would continue to receive transit fees have.
Merkel pointed out that Russia then attacked Ukraine on February 24, when gas was not yet flowing through Nord Stream 2. “In this sense, gas was not a weapon,” Merkel said.
According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Russia has released a doctor who is celebrated in her homeland and who used a bodycam to record her work during the Russian occupation of the port city of Mariupol. Julija Pajewska handed over the footage to a team from the AP news agency on March 15. The next day she was captured by Russian troops. Pajewska, known as Taira in Ukraine, is “already at home,” Zelenskyj said on Friday. Ukraine continues to work to free all those held by Russia.
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