European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen addresses the media, Brussels, Belgium, June 17, 2022 (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP)

Friday’s Coverage: Europe’s Leaders Visit Zelenskiy

Source: Institute for the Study of War


Hundreds of mourners in Kyiv have celebrated the life of activist Roman Ratushnyi, who was killed Saturday while fighting Russian forces on the frontline in Izyum in northeast Ukraine.

Ratushnyi, 24, was among demonstrators in the Maidan Revolution that overthrew Ukraine’s pro-Russian leader Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.

The Ukraine Ministry of Foreign Affairs paid tribute:


Vladimir Putin has expressed his concern about the collapse of the Russian automobile industry.

Speaking on the sidelines of his Friday appearance at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin told Government officials and industry representatives on Thursday that measures are needed to avoid an emergency.

“Compared to the indicators of a year earlier, in March of this year, the output of the domestic auto industry was three times lower, and in April it was five times lower,” Putin said. “The situation is not easy.”

The Russian industry has contracted, with sales down 83.5%, amid suspensions of supplies and firms leaving the market.

Putin said there must be “technological sovereignty” to “saturate” the domestic market, where automobile prices have risen and “a shortage has formed”.

The Moscow Times writes that attempts to restart production at leading manufacturer AvtoVAZ have failed on three occasions recently. It claims the largest foreign car plant, Avtotor in Kaliningrad, sent employees to pick potatoes and strawberries, and offered vegetable gardens as a measure of support.

The outlet reports that only two of 20 automobile factories are currently operational.

Putin instructed the government to prepare a new strategy for the auto industry by September 1.


Russian independent journalist Dmitry Muratov is auctioning his Nobel Prize medal to raise money for Ukrainian refugee children.

Muratov, the founder of the Novaya Gazeta newspaper. and Philippine journalist Maria Ressa were the joint recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize last October for their investigative reporting and advocacy of press freedom.

Novaya Gazeta was forced to suspend operations in March because of the threat by Russian authorities of up to 15 years in prison for reporting on the invasion of Ukraine.

Muratov told Reuters, “My country invaded another state, Ukraine. There are now 15.5 million refugees….We thought for a long time about what we could do … and we thought that everyone should give away something dear to them, important to them.”

The auction for the medal will take place on June 20, facilitated by U.S.-based Heritage Auctions. All proceeds will go toward UNICEF’s relief efforts for child refugees displaced by the war in Ukraine, the auction house said.


Ukraine Presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak has challenged Vladimir Putin’s speech at the St Petersburg Economic Forum on Friday.

Putin declared that Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine “has become a lifeline” for the West to blame all of its problems on Russia.

Poldoyak responded:


Russian State media has put on show two captured American fighters.

Andy Huynh, 27, and Alexander Drueke, 39, both from Alabama, had been missing for more than a week.

In a six-second video on Telegram and reviewed by Reuters, a man with a beard and an American accent says, “My name is Alexander Drueke, I am against war.”

Huynh is showing saying in Russian, “I am against war.”

A third American volunteer, former Marine Corps officer Grady Kurpasi, has been reported as missing since late April. He was last seen at an observation post in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine.


Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty posts video of the port city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine, before and after its devastation and occupation by Russian forces.

Ukrainian officials say more than 22,000 people were killed during the bombardment, siege, and ground assaults.


The US has held up the delivery of four large, armable drones to Ukraine because of concerns that they might fall into Russian hands, according to “two people familiar with the matter”.

The Biden White House had approved the transfer, but it was halted after a review by the Pentagon’s Defense Technology Security Administration.


Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced the release of civilian paramedic Yulia Payevska from Russian captivity.

Known throughout Ukraine as “Tyra”, Payevska is prominent for her rescue and treatment of civilians and both Ukrainian and Russian troops. She was captured by Russian forces in Mariupol, then under bombardment and siege, in southern Ukraine on March 16.

The paramedic recorded hours of video of the work by her team on the ground before she was captured. The footage was smuggled out of Mariupol by an Associated Press team.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Ukraine has moved a step closer to European Union membership, with the executive of the European Commission recommending the candidacies of Kyiv and neighboring Moldova.

Wearing blue and yellow — the national colors of Ukraine — Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Friday, “We have one clear message — and that is, yes, Ukraine deserves European perspective, yes, Ukraine should be welcomed as a candidate country.”

She emphasized 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.”

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly address to the nation:

We are now one step from the beginning of full-fledged integration with the European Union. We have a positive conclusion from the European Commission on the candidacy for Ukraine. And this is a historical achievement of all those who work for our state….

Ukraine deserves this positive. Ukrainian values are European values. Ukrainian institutions maintain resilience even in conditions of war. Ukrainian democratic habits have not lost their power even now.

Zelenskiy expressed his hope that the European Council of the 27 EU states will confirm the recommendation of candidacy next week.

President Maia Sandu of neighboring Moldova, also under pressure with Russia occupying its Transnistria region, tweeted:

During their visit to Kyiv on Thursday, the leaders of France, Germany, Romania, and Italy all backed Ukraine’s candidacy, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson — anxious to distract from his troubles at home — followed with a surprise trip on Friday, and Zelenskiy will speak by phone with Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Saturday.

The Ukraine President summarized:

It is difficult to overestimate the symbolism of what happened….But no one picked the moment on purpose. This is what the course of history is. Russia itself has done everything to destroy any ties with Ukraine. Well, we are doing everything to make our ties with Europe as strong as possible.

Speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday, Vladimir Putin said he has no objections to Ukraine joining the EU as “it is not a military bloc”.

But he snapped that it might not be “advisable” for the EU to accept Ukraine, asserting that Kyiv would need huge economic subsidies that other EU members might not be willing to give.