Once a day, NU.nl gives you an overview of the situation in Ukraine. This time: the well-known Azot factory in Severodonetsk has been completely destroyed, says the governor of the Eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk. And furthermore, it seems that Russia has a new target with the city of Lysychansk.
The day before, you read in our overview that four civilians had been killed by air raids in Lysychansk, eastern Ukraine. It didn’t stop there. Russian shelling has caused many deaths, Ukrainian authorities say.
Lysychansk is located near Sevorodonetsk. Now that that eastern Ukrainian city is almost completely in the hands of Russia, Lysychansk seems to be the next target. The Donetsk River flows between the two twin cities and all the bridges that once were there have been destroyed.
The main highway to Lysychansk has also become inaccessible due to bombing. The Russians are moving so slowly towards the neighboring city of Sevorodonetsk, although they also admit that they do not have complete control over that city. The complex around the chemical plant Azot is still in the hands of Ukraine.
A Ukrainian woman is in tears after a school was bombed near Lysychansk.
Ukrainian civilians take shelter on destroyed Azot . factory site
Nothing remains of the buildings that once stood there on the site of that factory. Russia and Ukraine are fighting fiercely there.
Because Russian troops have now conquered all residential areas of Severodonetsk, the Ukrainian fighters have gathered in the industrial area around the factory. Underneath the Azot site are tunnels and bunkers for shelter. The Russians shell the factory buildings with missiles, among other things.
The Russian army previously said it would open a humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians, but to territory controlled by Russia. According to the Russians, the Ukrainian army has prevented that evacuation by continuing to carry out shelling. The governor says a complete ceasefire is needed before civilians can leave the compound. There are said to be thousands of Ukrainians at the complex, many of them civilians.
The United Nations has called the situation in eastern Ukraine “extremely alarming”, especially in and around Severodonetsk. There would be less and less access to clean water, food and electricity in the besieged city.
Ukrainian soldiers investigate a bombed warehouse.
British President Johnson surprises Zelensky with visit
On an unannounced visit to Kyiv, British President Boris Johnson promised his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky a major military training program.
The United Kingdom wants to train thousands of new and existing Ukrainian soldiers so that they can compete even better against the Russians.
The British training operation has the potential to train up to 10,000 soldiers every 120 days, according to a government statement. This British program should allow the Ukrainians to “accelerate their deployment, rebuild their armed forces and increase their resistance”. Should Ukraine accept the offer, Western allies may also be invited to join the program.
Advice: Ukraine candidate EU member subject to conditions
The European Commission advises Ukraine to become a candidate for membership of the European Union. Before the country actually receives this status, the 27 member states still have to agree to it.
After that, Ukraine can take a seat in the waiting room of the EU. The Commission requires Ukraine to take steps in the field of the rule of law, the fight against corruption and fundamental rights before genuine accession negotiations can be started.
Wopke Hoekstra positive about candidate membership
In any case, the Netherlands supports Ukraine’s candidate for EU membership.
The government is positive about the European Commission’s advice to grant Ukraine candidate membership of the EU. Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra called the proposal “balanced” and “a good step”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky applied for EU membership four days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Netherlands has been hesitant about the issue in recent months. Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister Hoekstra, like Portugal and Denmark, did not want to say yes in advance to a possible candidate membership and wait for the Commission’s advice. Now that this is positive, we have to wait until all EU countries support the application.
Ukraine is not allowed to organize Eurovision Song Contest
The Eurovision Song Contest will not be organized in Ukraine next year. Normally, the winning country organizes the next edition, but Ukraine cannot meet all the requirements due to the war. The organizer said in a statement on Friday that he would enter into talks with the BBC, because Sam Ryder came second on behalf of the United Kingdom.
The statement of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) states that extensive talks have been held with the Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC and the possibilities have been investigated. After that, it was decided that it is impossible to organize the Eurovision Song Contest in Ukraine next year.
Ukraine does not leave it at that and does want to organize the Eurovision Song Contest
The Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC is absolutely not happy with the announcement that they are not allowed to organize the Eurovision Song Contest next year. The umbrella organizer European Broadcasting Union (EBU) does not think it is safe enough because of the war. Ukraine does see opportunities and demands new negotiations.
According to the broadcaster, EBU made the decision “without discussion”. “We are convinced that we have every reason to continue negotiations in order to reach a joint solution that will satisfy all parties. We won the Eurovision Song Contest fairly and met all the conditions within the deadlines,” the broadcaster continues. .
“We have provided answers and assurances about safety standards and possible venues for the event.” Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko, broadcaster Chernotytski Mykola and former winners Ruslana (2004) and Kalush Orchestra frontman Oleh Psiuk (2022) have signed the UA:PBC statement.
UA:PBC believes that a Eurovision Song Contest in Ukraine is a “strong signal” to the world in view of the war. “We are demanding that this decision be changed because we believe we can deliver on all commitments, as we have also repeatedly demonstrated to the EBU.”
Putin: Everything the West did has had zero effect on Russian economy
Western sanctions against Russia have had no effect whatsoever, according to President Vladimir Putin. “The economic blitzkrieg had no chance of success from the start,” he said Friday at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg. “We are strong people and can take on any challenge.”
Putin called the sanctions imposed by Western countries over Russia’s attack on Ukraine “insane” and “ill-considered.” He said that the sanctions also hit the EU hard and estimated the damage to Europe at 400 billion dollars (more than 380 billion euros).
Putin argues that all Western sanctions have had no effect on Russia.
Putin shrugs off Ukraine’s possible EU accession
Putin says he has no objection to Ukraine joining the European Union. “We have nothing against it. It is not a military bloc. It is the right of every country to join economic unions,” Putin said after the aforementioned speech in St. Petersburg.
Russia has resisted Ukraine’s attempts to join NATO for years. In the run-up to the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, Putin repeatedly called for guarantees from the United States that Ukraine would not be admitted to the military alliance.
But the EU also has military aspects: member states are obliged to help each other in the event of an attack. Earlier in the day, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had pointed to “increased defense cooperation” within the union. Ukraine’s possible accession “requires our extra attention, as we are all aware of the intensification of discussions in Europe on strengthening the EU’s defense component,” he said.
Putin seems less concerned about that. However, he wondered whether it would be wise for the EU to allow Ukraine to join. The country needs huge subsidies that other EU members may not be willing to give, according to the Russian president.
Putin also said he expects relations between Russia and Ukraine to normalize after the “special military operation” – Russia’s euphemism for the war in Ukraine – ends. “Sooner or later the situation will return to normal,” Putin said.
Aerial footage of a destroyed building in Lysychansk, Russia’s new target.
US President Biden still doesn’t know where missing Americans are
And finally, US President Joe Biden was briefed on Friday about Americans missing in Ukraine. He still doesn’t know where they are. He reiterated that compatriots should not travel to Ukraine.
It concerns at least three Americans. Two of them are believed to have been captured by the Russian army in eastern Ukraine, according to their families. Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Tai Huynh, 27, both previously served in the US Army.
Russian media showed footage on Friday showing Drueke and Huynh in Russian captivity. The newspaper Izvestia showed a video clip of a short interview with Huynh. The RT channel posted a photo of a man identified as Drueke.