The invasion of Ukraine by Russia reaches its 100th day this Friday, June 3, an offensive which has enabled Moscow to seize 20% of Ukrainian territory and which focuses on the Donbass region (east) and its strategic city of Severodonetsk.
“We have had some success in the battle for Severodonetsk. But it is still too early. This is the most difficult area at the moment,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday evening, referring to a similar situation in the surrounding area, particularly in Lyssytchansk and in Bakhmout.
The Russian army tightened its grip on eastern Ukraine on Thursday, its priority objective in this war which has enabled it to seize 20% of the country, according to kyiv. Three months after the start of the invasion, Russian forces currently control “about 20%” of Ukrainian territory, or nearly 125,000 km2, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday.
Before the invasion, Russian or pro-Russian forces controlled 43,000 km2 there, since the annexation of Crimea and the capture of a third of Donbass in 2014. Since February 24, they have notably advanced in the east and south , along the Black and Azov seas, now controlling a strategic coastal corridor linking eastern Russia with Crimea.
Western countries must prepare “for a war of attrition” in the “long term” in Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Thursday in Washington, after his meeting with US President Joe Biden.
“We have to be prepared for the long term. Because what we see is that this war has now become a war of attrition,” Jens Stoltenberg told reporters. Jens Stoltenberg is present in the American capital to prepare for the NATO summit scheduled for June 28 to 30 in Madrid and has indicated that he intends to achieve results before the event.
Rumors about the state of health of the head of the Kremlin were already rife. Thursday, June 2, the American weekly “Newsweek”, which quotes three senior American intelligence officials, indicates that the Russian president would have received treatment against cancer “at an advanced stage” last April. The media across the Atlantic is based on a report drawn up by Washington, at the end of May, affirming that Vladimir Putin was treated for cancer.
In the US weekly, senior officials, who represent three separate intelligence agencies, fear Putin is becoming increasingly paranoid about his grip on power, a status that makes Ukraine difficult and unpredictable. But it is one, they say, that also makes the prospects of nuclear war less likely.
The European parliament on Thursday expelled Russian lobbyists from its offices to prevent them from spreading Russian “propaganda” about the war in Ukraine, its president Roberta Metsola announced. The measure takes “immediate effect, representatives of Russian companies are no longer allowed to enter the premises of the European Parliament”, said Roberta Metsola on Twitter. “We must not give them any space to spread their propaganda and their false and toxic versions of the invasion of Ukraine,” she added.
Roberta Metsola called on all other European institutions, including the European Commission and the European Council, to follow this example. This ban is a response “to Russia which develops false versions of the war in Ukraine and spreads them through multiple channels, including state-owned companies”, said a spokesman for the European parliament.
The EU on Thursday approved a sixth sanctions package against Moscow including an oil embargo with exemptions but backed out of blacklisting the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, after tough negotiations under pressure from Hungary .
The text, approved Thursday by the ambassadors of the Twenty-Seven, must still receive the written agreement of each Member State with a view to its publication Friday in the Official Journal to allow the entry into force of the measures, according to the French presidency of the Council of the EU.
The European Commission had proposed to include on the list of people sanctioned by an asset freeze and a ban on entry into the EU the patriarch Kirill for his support for the Russian offensive but Hungary opposed it. The United States will help Ukraine overcome the Russian invasion, promises the American ambassador.
New US Ambassador to Kyiv Bridget Brink vowed on Thursday that the US would help Ukraine ‘resist Russian aggression’, speaking for the first time from the Ukrainian capital after the embassy reopened mid-May. She made her statement after being received by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, to whom she presented her credentials as an ambassador.
Citing Washington’s priorities for Ukraine, she spoke of aid to “resist” the invasion launched by Moscow on February 24, as well as to “ensure a peaceful and stable Europe” and “make it clear that force does not not allowed”. She also promised humanitarian aid from the United States to Ukraine and to ensure that “the whole world holds Russia to account for the atrocities and war crimes” attributed to it by the Ukrainian authorities.
“Ukraine must decide its own future. That’s all,” said Bridget Brink, Washington also committing itself by its voice to help it rebuild “when the time is right”.