In the aftermath of the capture of Lyssytchansk and while the Russian army increases the pressure in the Donbass, Vladimir Putin cut short any possibility of a cessation of fighting. In an interview with his Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, conducted in Moscow, the leader urged his troops to continue the war. In the northeast of the country, in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, three civilians died in bombings that occurred before dawn on Monday, local authorities said.
The order given by Vladimir Putin to his troops provoked an immediate reaction from the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, since in his daily address on Monday evening, the leader agreed that the fighting should last over time: “It is a mission difficult, which requires superhuman time and effort. But we have no other choice”. The objective set by Zelensky: “to break” the enemy. But for the time being, the priority is above all to contain the Russian army which continues to advance in the east of the country.
On Sunday evening, the Ukrainian army general staff announced the withdrawal of its units engaged in Lyssytchansk, kyiv’s last bastion in the Lugansk region, which Moscow says it now fully controls. Russian troops are now moving towards two major towns in the neighboring Donetsk region to the west: Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. Ukrainian soldiers are ordered to contain them. But this offensive beyond the Lugansk region makes the Ukrainians and the European chancelleries fear the prospect of a widening of the conflict.
“The enemy’s main effort (…) is aimed at a gradual overrun”. The warning comes from the Ukrainian General Staff. Attempts at Russian assaults are multiplying in various places in the territory, which aims to widen the combat zone and thus gain the upper hand over Ukrainian capabilities. On Monday evening, the Ukrainian army reported repelled Russian assault attempts in the Kharkiv (northeast) and Donetsk regions.
The troops did not, however, manage to completely ward off the invaders in other localities since near Sloviansk, “the enemy launches assaults in the direction of the locality of Mazanivka and partially succeeds there”, warned the Staff. Russian fighters approaching Sloviansk. The front line thus seems to be approaching this city in Donetsk Oblast, usually populated by 100,000 inhabitants.
Local authorities ordered residents to flee. The streets of Sloviansk were almost deserted on Monday morning, according to AFP journalists who were present on the spot. “Nothing good is going to happen, the best thing is to leave,” explained Viktoria Koloty, a 33-year-old woman, met by journalists who confided that she had already had her children exfiltrated.
Planned well before the war, the Lugano conference in Switzerland was initially to raise the issue of corruption in Ukraine, the debates which will continue until Tuesday evening are finally turned towards the challenge of rebuilding Ukraine, destroyed by Russian bombings. Although President Volodymyr Zelensky did not come, Prime Minister Denys Chmygal and Speaker of Parliament Rouslan Stefantchouk arrived in Lugano on Sunday.
During their meeting with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen or in contact with other leaders, the Prime Minister and the Head of Parliament insisted on two phases of reconstruction. The urgency is to help the population affected by the war before, in a second step, to finance thousands of reconstruction projects, which leads in the long term to preparing a European, green and digital Ukraine, explained Denys Chmygal. The foundations of a sort of “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine have been laid.
The task of rebuilding the country proved to be difficult and the financial effort colossal because hundreds of towns and villages were destroyed. The cost of the reconstruction of Ukraine was estimated on Monday at at least 750 billion dollars by Denys Chmygal, during the Lugano conference in Switzerland, which must outline the recovery plan for the country invaded by Russia.
To financially support this reconstruction, several options are on the table. Denys Chmygal has a fixed idea on the question: a “key source” of financing should be the seizure of the assets of Russia and Russian oligarchs frozen within the framework of international sanctions against Moscow. If we are to believe the figures of the Ukrainian authorities, Russian assets frozen in Western countries alone are valued at 300 to 500 billion dollars.
At the same time, the European Investment Bank (EIB) is to propose the creation of a new fund for Ukraine, which could reach 100 billion euros, according to AFP. This sum could be allocated within the framework of the famous Marshall plan discussed in Lugano.