Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy greats European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Kyiv, June 11, 2022


Thursday’s Coverage: Zelenskiy — Russia Turning Donbas Into Mariupol


Source: Institute for the Study of War


UPDATE 1257 GMT:

The head of the Sievierodonetsk district military administration, Roman Vlesenko, has confirmed that Ukrainian defenders have begun to withdraw from the bombarded city in eastern Ukraine.

Expanding on this morning’s announcement by Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai (see 0701 GMT), Vlasenko said the withdrawal is expected to last a few days.

He added that 568 civilians, sheltering inside the Azot chemical plant, will have to accept transfer to Russian-occupied territory “as soon as the shelling is over”.


UPDATE 1204 GMT:

The US-based Institute for the Study of War analyzes the imminent Ukrainian withdrawal from Sievierodonetsk (see 0701 GMT) and possible loss of nearby Lysychansk, the remaining Ukraine-held cities in the Luhansk oblast in eastern Ukraine:

The loss of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk will not represent a major turning point in the war.

Ukrainian troops have succeeded for weeks in drawing substantial quantities of Russian personnel, weapons, and equipment into the area and have likely degraded Russian forces’ overall capabilities while preventing Russian forces from focusing on more advantageous axes of advance. Russian offensive operations will likely stall in the coming weeks…likely granting Ukrainian forces the opportunity to launch prudent counteroffensives.


UPDATE 1155 GMT:

Russian troops have occupied the district of Hirske, south of the city of Lysychansk in the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine.

The municipal head of Hirske, Oleksiy Babchenko, said, “Unfortunately, as of today…the entire Hirske district is occupied. There are some insignificant, local battles going on at the outskirts, but the enemy has entered.”

The loss of Hirske and nearby settlements puts Lysychansk in danger of being surrounded from three sides by Russian forces.


UPDATE 0943 GMT:

A Russian proxy official in the occupied Kherson region has been killed in a car bombing.

Dmitry Savluchenko was head of the families, youth, and sports department of the Kherson Military-Civilian Administration in southern Ukraine.

He was slain when he got into the car in a courtyard, near a four-story house whose windows were shattered.

Kherson was seized by Russian forces in the first week of their invasion.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, “Our military is there, and, of course, this terrorist activity requires special attention. These are nothing but acts of terrorism.”


UPDATE 0701 GMT:

Ukrainian troops in Sievierodonetsk — one of two Ukraine-held cities in the Luhansk region in the east of the country — will “have to be withdrawn”, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said on Ukrainian TV this morning.

“Remaining in positions smashed to pieces over many months just for the sake of staying there does not make sense,” Haidai said.

Haidai said in a morning report on Telegram that “the number of dead is growing”. He noted that 90% of homes in the city, where about 10,000 civilians remain, have been damaged or destroyed.

Defenders repelled a Russian attack on the southern outskirts of Lysychansk, the other Ukraine-held cities in Luhansk.

Haidai said Lysychansk and the neighbouring village of Borivske were hit by Russian airstrikes overnight, with multiple houses destroyed.

A Russian attack on the Borivskyi area was knocked back, but the Russians took control of the village of Mykolaivka, near a key highway to Lysychansk.


ORIGINAL ENTRY: The European Union has approved the candidacies of Ukraine and neighboring Moldova for membership.

Meeting in Brussels, the EU’s 27 nations confirmed last Friday’s recommendation of the European Commission executive.

Ukraine has pursued membership since the 2004 “Orange Revolution”; however, issues of governance, corruption, judicial procedure, and transparency limited any movement until the catalyst of Russia’s invasion in February.

As soon as the immediate Russian threat to occupy Kyiv and topple his Government had been repelled, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced the renewed pursuit of membership. In advance of Thursday’s EU session, he called most of the bloc’s leaders, saying, “This is like going into the light from the darkness.”

Kyiv’s Ambassador to the EU, Vsevolod Chentsov, said the approval “is a signal to Moscow that Ukraine, and also other countries from the former Soviet Union, cannot belong to the Russian spheres of influence”.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen reacted:

Zelenskiy: “Unique and Historical Moment”

Reacting on Twitter, Zelenskiy wrote, “It’s a unique and historical moment in Ukraine-EU relations….Ukraine’s future is within the EU.”

He added in a video on Instagram, referring to the Russian invasion and Ukraine’s post-Soviet independence in 1991, “It’s a victory. We have been waiting for 120 days and 30 years. And now we will defeat the enemy and then we will have a rest.”

And, in his nightly address to the nation, he said:

I believe this is what will always be the starting point of Europe’s new history. Europe without division. Europe without “gray” zones. Europe that is truly united and that knows how to defend itself, its values, its future.