On the 79th day of the war in Ukraine, Moscow is accused by Washington of “forcibly” transferring Ukrainians to Russia, while Russian forces are accused of perpetuating war crimes. Meanwhile, corn production in Ukraine has plummeted and the European Union has announced aid of 500 million euros to help it defend against the Russian invasion.
The conflict continues in Ukraine. The country is entering its 79th day of conflict. Today, Moscow is accused on all sides. On the one hand for war crimes, and on the other for the “forcible” transfer of Ukrainians to Russia, as Washington claims. Kyiv put forward the number of 1.2 million people deported by Moscow to Russia. The Ukrainian authorities also denounce the existence of Russian “filtration camps”, often in the territories controlled by Russia in eastern Ukraine, through which these “deportees” pass.
EU aid of 500 million euros
The European Union pledged on Friday to provide half a billion euros in additional aid to support Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion, while in Georgia, a pro-Russian separatist region turn a step towards joining Russia.
The authorities of this self-proclaimed separatist “republic”, de facto independent of pro-Western Georgia and occupied by Moscow forces since a Russian military intervention in 2008, announced on Friday that they would organize a referendum on July 17 on its integration into Russia.
“The time has come to unite once and for all.” “South Ossetia and Russia will be together, this is the beginning of a great new story”, declared the “president” of South Ossetia Anatoly Bibilov, raising fears of the appearance of another outbreak of tension, this time on the flank of Georgia, which has made a long-standing vow, like Ukraine, to join the European Union and NATO.
For the time being, in Ukraine, the fighting continued in the east between Russian forces and the Ukrainian army, in particular in Mariupol, the large port city in the south-east where a thousand Ukrainian soldiers are still resisting, entrenched in the bowels of the factory. Azovstal steelworks. “There are nearly 600 wounded on Azovstal, the Russians continue to bombard the military hospital”, testified from the factory Sviatoslav Palamar, the deputy commander of the Azov regiment, one of the Ukrainian formations which are there, during an online conference.
“We will resist”
“We will resist as long as we can (…), if we hadn’t done it, this horde would go further,” he added. “I would like the United States to help evacuate our wounded and mobilize all efforts to help extract our regiment” from this encirclement, he said. International efforts, including those of Pope Francis, have so far proved unsuccessful in rescuing the Ukrainian soldiers entrenched in this city 90% destroyed by Russian bombing.
Without specifying whether this question had been raised, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin noted on Friday that his meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu had not led to any progress. According to a senior Pentagon official, “the call itself did not resolve any acute issues or lead to direct changes in what the Russians do or say.” Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister, made the same observation after the call for help from the Azov regiment.
“We must not exaggerate the power of world leaders” in the face of Moscow’s determination, she noted on Telegram, adding that “negotiations with the enemy are very difficult”. Faced with the continuation of the bombardments and the Russian offensive against Ukraine, the European Union announced on Friday that it was going to add 500 million euros to its financing of the Ukrainian military effort, bringing it “to 2 billion euros in total”.
The recipe is “clear”, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told a G7 meeting in Wangels, in Germany’s far north: “more of the same is needed”. thing”, namely more economic sanctions against Russia, more support for kyiv, and also “continue to work to isolate Russia”.
On the subject of sanctions, the 27 members of the EU have still not succeeded in agreeing to gradually stop their purchases of Russian oil, Hungary having considered the waiver obtained insufficient. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian assured kyiv of the support of the G7 “until Ukraine’s victory”.
“We are not at war with Russia, it is Russia that is at war with Ukraine: there is an aggressor and an attacked and we support the attacked,” he said. The G7 Foreign Ministers (Germany, France, Italy, Canada, United States, Japan and United Kingdom), joined by their Ukrainian counterparts Dmytro Kouleba and Moldovan Nicu Popescu, are meeting until Saturday.
Sweden and Finland at the gates of NATO
On Friday, an official Swedish report paved the way for the country’s accession to NATO, by multiplying the favorable conclusions before the decision of this Nordic country and its Finnish neighbor in the coming days. “Sweden’s membership in NATO would raise the threshold (of triggering) of military conflicts and would thus have a deterrent effect in Northern Europe”, concludes the report prepared in recent weeks by the government and the parties in Parliament.
As a direct consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland, two EU members who have remained outside military alliances for decades are due to announce their candidacy for NATO by the start of next week. Russia had warned neighboring Finland in particular. And on Friday, the local subsidiary of the Russian electricity supplier InterRAO announced that it would suspend deliveries to this country from Saturday, citing payment problems. The Finnish operator, however, assured that it could do without Russian electricity, which represents “less than 10%” of its needs.
As for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he expressed his hostility to the accession of these two countries to NATO on Friday, at the risk of blocking the whole process which requires the unanimity of the members of the Atlantic Alliance. He explained that he blamed Stockholm and Helsinki for serving as “hostels for the terrorists of the PKK”, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Washington “is working to clarify Turkey’s position,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Friday.
Corn production in Ukraine will fall by more than half
Corn production in Ukraine will decrease by 53% during the current campaign, estimates the American Department of Agriculture (USDA), which also sees the quantity of wheat produced by the country at war falling by more than a third. At the same time, wheat production should increase by more than 6% in Russia, which would thus consolidate its position as the world’s leading exporter ahead of the European Union, with 19% of volumes traded against 16.5% the previous year.
“The net trend” of this monthly report called Wasde, “is always tensions on the cereals market and in particular wheat”, reacted Gautier Le Molgat, of the Agritel cabinet. The USDA thus sees world stocks reaching the end of the campaign which is ending (the wheat year starts on June 1 in the United States) down 3.9%, and sees them still falling by 4, 5% at the end of the next season.
Washington accuses Moscow of “forced” transfer of Ukrainians to Russia
The United States on Thursday accused the Russian army of having “forcibly” transferred “several thousand” Ukrainians to Russia since the start of the war in late February, often through “filtration camps” where they are subjected to “rough” treatment.
“The United States estimates that Russian forces transferred at least several thousand Ukrainians to these ‘filtration camps’, and evacuated at least several tens of thousands more to Russia or Russian-controlled territories, sometimes without telling the evacuees what their final destination was,” U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Michael Carpenter said Thursday.
Zelensky’s response to Macron
On this question of the attitude towards the Kremlin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky considered that French President Emmanuel Macron was trying “in vain” to dialogue with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. “We must not look for a way out for Russia, and Macron is doing it in vain”, regretted Volodymyr Zelensky Thursday evening on the Italian television channel RAI 1, according to a video broadcast Friday on his Telegram channel. Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that, to end the war waged in Ukraine by the Russian army, peace should be built without “humiliating” Russia.
“The President of the Republic has never discussed anything with Vladimir Putin without the agreement of President Zelensky. He has always said that it was up to the Ukrainians to decide the terms of their negotiations with the Russians”, defended himself from his side the French presidency on Friday.
Russian forces accused of war crimes in Kharkiv region
Ukrainian authorities and witnesses interviewed by AFP on Thursday accused Russian forces of firing a tank at a house in a village near Kharkiv, in the east of the country, killing several civilians. The American channel CNN for its part published Thursday what it presents as CCTV images showing two Ukrainian civilians shot in the back by Russian soldiers.
The scene, which takes place near a car dealership on March 17 on the outskirts of kyiv, shows a group of five soldiers searching the two men before letting them go. When they leave, two soldiers shoot them in the back. According to CNN, the Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office is investigating these facts on the basis of war crimes charges. In the Kharkiv region, the regional prosecutor’s office told him on Thursday of the exhumation of three corpses of civilians killed on March 27 in the village of Stepanki, then occupied by Moscow forces and since returned to kyiv control.