L-R: Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz, President of France Emmanuel Macron, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Prime minister of Italy Mario Draghi and Romanian President Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Mariinsky Palace, Kyiv, Ukraine, June 16, 2022 (Sergei SUPINSKY/AFP)
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1112 GMT:
The executive of the European Commission has recommended the candidacies of Ukraine and Moldova for EU membership.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the recommendation, “We have one clear message — and that is, yes, Ukraine deserves European perspective, yes, Ukraine should be welcomed as a candidate country.”
She explained that the advance is “based on the understanding that the country will carry out a number of further reforms”, including over corruption: “Progress depends entirely on Ukraine. So it is Ukraine that has it in its hands.”
Official: European Commission recommends EU candidate status for Ukraine.
The clue was in Ursula von der Leyen's outfit. pic.twitter.com/v0rn0mXyJp
— Jennifer Rankin (@JenniferMerode) June 17, 2022
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy responded:
I commend the positive @EU_Commission Conclusion on 🇺🇦’s candidate status. It’s the 1st step on the EU membership path that’ll certainly bring our Victory closer. Grateful to @vonderleyen & each EC member for a historic decision. I expect the positive result from #EUCO next week.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) June 17, 2022
President Maia Sandu of neighboring Moldova, also under pressure with Russia occupying its Transnistria region, tweeted:
Strong signal of support for #Moldova & our citizens! @EU_Commission has recommended granting🇲🇩 the 🇪🇺candidate status on the understanding that additional efforts will be taken to advance on reforms already started. We’re committed to working hard &count on @EUCouncil’s support.
— Maia Sandu (@sandumaiamd) June 17, 2022
UPDATE 1108 GMT:
Russian missile strikes have killed at least two people and injured 20 in Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine.
Four multi-storey residential buildings and an infrastructure facility were struck.
UPDATE 0942 GMT:
Less than 24 hours after meeting Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, French leader Emmanuel Macron has restaked his position on the approach over Vladimir Putin’s invasion.
Macron declared that he had heard some say that “the goal of this war is to crush Russia. And that’s where I say you’re wrong. If you do that, you’ll never get a negotiated peace.”
He claimed that Zelenskiy shares this view, adding:
President Zelensky defends his land. And we want to help him do so….Commentators or certain leaders shouldn’t push beyond even what the Ukrainians intend.
And so it has been the role of France to put a limit to this question. We have sometimes won the war and lost the peace.
Earlier this month, Macron was widely criticized for saying that the objective over Russia’s invasion must not be to “humiliate” Putin.
He said today, “The role of the France is to have possible links for discussion with Russia,.” He conceded that currently “there’s no availability on the Russian or Ukrainian side for real discussions” after the discovery of Russian war crimes, including the mass killing of civilians, in the town of Bucha near Kyiv.
“We have never negotiated on the part of the Ukrainians. Never,” Macron declared.
UPDATE 0910 GMT:
Russia has stepped up its energy blackmail of Europe by cutting gas deliveries to Italy.
The Italian energy giant Eni says it has only received half of the supply it requested from Russia’s Gazprom on Friday after a shortfall in the two previous days.
Earlier this week Gazprom, on the pretext of “technical issues”, slashed supply through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany by 40%.
In April, Russia halted supply to Poland and Bulgaria. Deliveries to Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark were cut from the end of May.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov again invoked “maintenance issues” on Thursday. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi responded:
Both Germany and us, and others, believe these are lies. In reality they are making a political use of gas like they are using grain for political use.
UPDATE 0832 GMT:
Ukrainian officials say their forces have sunk a Russian tugboat which was carrying ammunition, weapons, and personnel to Russian-occupied Snake Island in the Black Sea.
Video of the strike on the Spasatel Vasily Bekh is circulating on social media.
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) June 17, 2022
UPDATE 0644 GMT:
The European Court of Human Rights has instructed Russia to prevent the execution of a Moroccan national by Russian proxy officials in eastern Ukraine.
Brahim Saadoun was condemned on June 9 alongside UK nationals Aiden Aslin and Sean Pinner for fighting in Ukrainian forces resisting the Russian invasion.
Russia “should ensure that the death penalty imposed on the applicant was not carried out,” the ECHR said in an emergency ruling on a petition filed by Saadoun’s representative.
The ruling is unlikely to have any effect: Russia withdrew from the ECHR in March. The Russian Parliament has adopted legislation that Moscow no longer adhere to the Court’s decisions.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: In a show of support — but with ongoing questions about the extent of that support — four European leaders visited Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv on Thursday.
France’s Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Olaf Scholz, Italy’s Mario Draghi, and Romania’s Klaus Iohannis spoke with Zelenskiy after a visit to Irpin, a town near Kyiv where occupying Russian forces carried out mass killings. It was the first visit by each of the men to Ukraine since Vladimir Putin launched his war on February 24.
At a joint press conference, the quartet supported “immediate” European Union candidate status to Ukraine. Macron’s endorsement — “Europe is by your side, and will remain so for as long as necessary, all the way to victory” — was amplified bu Draghi’s “main message” that Italy wants to see Ukraine as a part of the EU.
We are at a turning point in our history. The Ukrainian people defend every day the values of democracy and freedom that underpin the European project, our project. We cannot wait. We cannot delay this process.
Scholz, pledging that Germany will support Ukraine’s “heroic” resistance against Russia’s invasion as long as necessary, said, “My colleagues and I came here to Kyiv today with a clear message: ‘Ukraine belongs to the European family.”
The French President had previously said that it would take “decades” for Ukraine to be granted EU membership. He proposed an alternative form of relationship with Kyiv, an idea rejected by Zelenskiy.
The European Commission will issue its opinion on Ukraine candidacy on Friday.
Questions Over Military Aid
Macron also said France will escalate arms deliveries, including truck-mounted artillery, to Kyiv.
Zelenskiy, saying the Russian invasion was an aggression against all of Europe, emphasized military assistance from the West. He added that the meeting discussed further sanctions against Russia and post-war reconstruction of Ukraine.
But even as the five men declared unity and an advance on the European project, the immediate issue of supporting Ukraine’s military resistance came to the fore.
While committing to the artillery systems, Macron told Ukrainian journalists:
We help Ukraine defend itself, but we do not enter the war against Russia. Therefore, it was agreed not to supply certain weapons, such as assault aircraft or tanks, and President Zelenskiy is aware of this agreement.
That line contrasted with Zelenskiy’s injunction at the press conference:
We appreciate the support already provided by partners, we expect new deliveries, primarily heavy weapons, modern rocket artillery, anti-missile defence systems.
Every day of delay or delayed decisions is an opportunity for the Russian military to kill Ukrainians or destroy our cities. There is a direct correlation: the more powerful weapons we get, the faster we can liberate our people, our land.
Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the BBC:
The announcements of new weapons delivered to Ukraine should be made on a weekly basis. And these weapons should be delivered in sufficient quantities….
The truth is that we’re still outnumbered when it comes to artillery, multiple launch rocket systems and defense systems, and we cannot make any big progress until we strike a balance with Russia in the numbers on these three positions.
In a parallel statement, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at the end of NATO’s two-day summit in Brussels, Belgium that the organization will continue to offer “unprecedented support so [Ukraine] can defend itself against Moscow’s aggression”.
Macron did pull back from his widely-criticized assertion that Vladimir Putin must not be “humiliated” over his invasion. He said on Thursday that only the Ukrainians can negotiate with Russia and that neither “France nor Germany will do the negotiations for Ukraine”.
Zelenskiy: “A Big Step Was Made”
In his nightly video address to the nation, Zelenskiy emphasized the positive signals from the meeting.
Noting the support for Ukraine’s EU candidacy, he continued:
At our meeting today a big step was made — a step forward. It was important for me to hear from the leaders another fundamental thing — they agree that the end of the war and peace for Ukraine must be exactly as Ukraine sees them. As our people see them.
Zelenskiy spoke of France’s commitment to “additional Caesar artillery systems” — “This is very important for our defense” — without mentioning Macron’s line against tanks and warplanes: “President Macron openly said that the European support for Ukraine should really demonstrate that we defend the same values, defend Europe together.”
In general, my impression of the meeting is positive. All leaders understand why negotiations to end the war are not underway. Exclusively because of Russia’s position, which is only trying to intimidate everyone in Europe and continue the destruction of our state. They do not want to look for a way to peace. This is an aggressor who must decide for himself that the war must end.
We will continue to fight until we guarantee our state full security and territorial integrity.