► Macron, Scholz and Draghi in Kiev
French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi are on their way to kyiv on Thursday 16 June to bring European support to Ukraine and its aspirations to enter the “European family” in the face of Russian aggression.
The three leaders boarded a special train together, the French presidency confirmed. A photo, released by German and Italian media social networks, shows them seated around a table in a wooded lounge on the train they boarded in Poland.
Ukraine: Draghi, Scholz, Macron on a train to Kiev in search of a European solution to the conflict. The story of our correspondent https://t.co/lV3VwevFGc
– Republic (@republic) June 16, 2022
The trio are due to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is calling for EU candidate status for his country as well as an acceleration of Western arms deliveries to resist the Russian push.
“I think we are at a time when we, the European Union, need to send clear political signals to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in a context where they have been resisting heroically for several months”, said the French president, who previously visited a NATO base in Romania. This trip is a first for the leaders of the three main countries of the European Union, since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Ukraine is waiting for the European summit on June 23 and 24 to decide on its official application for membership, the start of a negotiation process that could last several years. Its president should also reiterate his request for new deliveries of heavy weapons, essential, he assures, to counter the Russian firepower.
Zelensky addresses Prague
“We are with you, be with us”Volodymyr Zelensky told Czech lawmakers in Prague on a teleconference, citing an appeal made by a Czechoslovak radio presenter in 1968 as the Soviet occupiers tried to shut down the radio.
“Today, as the people of Ukraine struggle for their freedom against the cruel invasion of Russia, we use these words to address all nations of Europe and the democratic world”he added. “Ukraine must obtain everything necessary to achieve victory”he hammered.
► New US military aid
On Wednesday evening, Volodymyr Zelensky said his « gratitude » towards the United States for the new tranche of military aid that his American counterpart, Joe Biden, announced to him in the evening on the telephone. “The United States has announced a new reinforcement of our defense, a new tranche of aid of one billion dollars”confirmed Wednesday evening Volodymyr Zelensky in his daily video message.
“I want to express my gratitude for this support, it is particularly important for our defense in Donbass”, the region of eastern Ukraine epicenter of the current Russian attacks. US aid includes additional artillery and shells. On Wednesday, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin on Wednesday called on his allies to « intensifier » arms deliveries to the Ukrainians.
► Pivotal moment on the pitch
“Ukraine is facing a pivotal moment on the battlefield”said the American secretary of defense, during a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels of the countries of the “contact group” created by the United States to help Ukraine. “We must therefore intensify our common commitment” et “redouble our efforts so that she can defend herself”, he added. Volodymyr Zelensky said he also spoke with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who tweeted his support for Ukraine “until the final victory”.
The fighting has been concentrated for several days in Lyssychantsk and Sievierodonetsk, two key cities in Donbass (east). The Ukrainian authorities have admitted in recent days that their troops have been driven out of the city center of Sievierodonetsk, and have only “complicated lines of communication” with them after the destruction of all the bridges to Lysychansk.
The Ukrainian forces are notably entrenched in the Azot chemical factory, emblematic of this city, which had some 100,000 inhabitants before the war. 500 civilians are inside the complex, according to the mayor of Sievierodonetsk Oleksandre Striouk.
► Even more uprooted people in the world
The UN is concerned for its part about the consequences of the food crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. If the world does not manage to stem this crisis, the record of 100 million uprooted people will increase by another“a lot of people”warned the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Italian Filippo Grandi.