The situation on the ground, international reaction, sanctions: on the issue of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said his soldiers are “resisting” in Severodonetsk, where heavy street fighting against Russian forces continues, a strategic city on which control of all of Donbass in eastern Ukraine depends. “Severodonetsk, Lysichansk and other cities of Donbass, which the occupiers now consider their targets, are holding their positions,” Zelensky said in his speech on Thursday evening.
Read : Two British militants and a Moroccan sentenced to death by Ukrainian separatists
The Ice Palace, one of the symbols of the city, was destroyed in a fire caused by Russian bombing, Sergey Gaidai, governor of the Lugansk region, said on Telegram on Friday. Capturing Severodonetsk would open the way for Moscow to another major city in the Donbass, Kramatorsk, an important step towards conquering this entire region that borders Russia and has been partly held by pro-Russian separatists since 2014. days”, as soon as he has “long-range” Western artillery, Mr. Gaidai assured earlier.
Ukrainians continue to ask their Western allies for new, more powerful weapons. Mr. Zelensky said he had discussed with Emmanuel Macron on Thursday France’s military assistance to Ukraine, including in the form of “heavy weapons,” the French president said. They also discussed Kyiv’s candidacy for EU membership. Washington and London have announced the delivery of multiple launch rocket systems with a range of about 80 km, slightly more than Russian systems, but it is not clear when the Ukrainians will be able to start using them.
Kyiv regrets that “up to 100 soldiers” are killed in combat every day and “500 are wounded,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Thursday. Lisichansk, neighboring Severodonetsk, remains entirely under Ukrainian control but is under “heavy” bombing, according to Mr. Gaidai, who accuses the Russians of “intentionally” targeting hospitals and aid distribution centers. According to Kyiv, the Russians are also bombing the Donetsk region, the rest of the Donbass “along the entire front line”, including attacks on Slovyansk and Bakhmut.
According to a report by the Ukrainian army posted on Facebook, the Russians bombed more than twenty settlements in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. On Thursday, Ukrainian forces repelled seven Russian attacks.
Mercenaries sentenced to death
In this context, the pro-Russian separatist authorities announced on Thursday the death sentences for two Britons and a Moroccan. The British Aiden Aslin and Sean Pinner, as well as the Moroccan Brahim Saadoun, who will appeal, are accused of participating in the fighting as “mercenaries” alongside the Ukrainians, the official Russian news agency TASS reported. London expressed “grave concern”.
Four foreign volunteer soldiers, including a Frenchman, were killed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to the International Legion for the Defense of Ukraine (LIDU), the official organization of foreign volunteers. Russia this week said it had killed “hundreds” of foreign fighters since the February 24 invasion and halted the flow of new arrivals.
The exact number of these foreigners is unknown. In early March, shortly after the start of the Russian invasion, President Zelenskiy claimed that 16,000 foreigners had volunteered, which could not be verified from independent sources.
Exclusion from FAO?
Due to the war, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), rising prices for grains and fertilizers should lead to a sharp increase in bills for importing countries in 2022, which will pay “more for less”. The export of Ukrainian grain is constrained by the blockade of its ports by the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The countries of Africa and the Middle East will be the first to suffer.
Senegalese head of state Macky Sall, current chairman of the African Union, called on Thursday for the demining of the Ukrainian port of Odessa and said he had received assurances from President Vladimir Putin that Russia would not attack. Mr Sall is due to meet Emmanuel Macron in France on Friday. According to him, he intends to ask him for the lifting of European sanctions against Russia, in particular the exclusion of Russian banks from the Swift system, secure messaging and significant control over international transfers of funds. For his part, Mr Zelenskiy called on Thursday for Russia to be excluded from FAO. When asked, FAO did not immediately respond to this call.
A Wednesday meeting in Ankara between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu to discuss “safe maritime corridors” that would allow the resumption of grain shipments in the Black Sea came to nothing.
The rise in prices also affected Russia, where inflation experienced a dizzying increase in April and broke a twenty-year record. According to official data, despite the decline in May, it reached 17.1% over the year. The Institute of International Finance (IFF) predicts the Russian economy will shrink by 15% this year and another 3% in 2023. For Ukraine, GDP has already fallen by 15.1% in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period last year. last year, according to official data from Ukraine.