Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky again congratulated, on Friday, the decision to grant Ukraine the status of candidate to the European Union. “Let us at least rejoice a little. Small and quiet, quietly, but rejoice,” he said in his daily evening video message. On the ground, however, this is hardly a time for rejoicing for the defense forces. Ukraine, whose troops are in difficulty in the Donbass, especially after the announcement of the withdrawal of the city of Severodonetsk on Friday, continues to demand arms from its allies to counter the Russian strike power.

“I stressed the need to achieve fire parity with the enemy, which will allow us to stabilize the situation in the most threatened region of Lugansk,” said Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzhnyi , reporting on his Facebook page on a telephone conversation with his American counterpart, General Mark Milley.

Missiles were fired from Belarus, a diplomatic ally of Moscow, towards the Cherniguiv border region, northeast of kyiv, the Ukrainian army said on Saturday. “Around 05:00 a.m. (02:00 GMT), the Chernigiv region came under a massive missile bombardment. Twenty rockets targeted the village of Desna, fired from the territory of Belarus (and also) from the air,” it said. Facebook the Northern Command of Ukrainian troops, stating that “there were no casualties” at this stage. “An infrastructure was affected,” he said, without indicating whether it was military or not.

This strike comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko are to meet this Saturday in Saint Petersburg, Russia, before a visit to Belarus, scheduled for Thursday and Friday, by the head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov.

“The Ukrainian armed forces will have to withdraw from Severodonetsk. They have received the order”, announced Friday morning on Telegram, Serguiï Gaïdaï, the governor of the Lugansk region, where the city in question is located. “It no longer makes sense to stay in positions that have been constantly bombarded for months […]. All essential infrastructure has been destroyed. 90% of the city is damaged, 80% of the houses will have to be destroyed” , he admitted.

These massive bombings eventually made the Ukrainian soldiers give in, but without necessarily fundamentally changing the situation on the ground, according to experts. “The Ukrainian units are exhausted, bloodless. They had terrible losses with completely neutralized battalions”, explains a senior French officer, on condition of anonymity, evoking units of 300 or 400 men of which there remained only twenty able-bodied.

The Ukrainian forces “are in the process of operating a professional and tactical withdrawal in order to consolidate positions that they will be better able to defend”, also judged an American official at the Pentagon, on condition of anonymity. kyiv is now expecting new offensives on the city of Lyssytchansk, neighboring Severodonetsk, almost surrounded by Russian forces, which are eating away at a little more territory every day.

Mykolaivka, a town about 20 kilometers south-west of Lyssytchansk, is in the hands of the Russian army, said Serguiï Gaïdaï, adding that they were now trying to “conquer Guirské”, a neighboring town. At the entrance to Lyssytchansk, partly deprived of water, gas and electricity, soldiers were digging trenches. Further south, Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of the Donetsk region, the other province of Donbass, told AFP on Thursday that “no city” in the area was “safe”, the fighting there being too much. violent.

On Thursday, kyiv announced the arrival of the first four US Himars rocket launchers, powerful weapons eagerly awaited on the ground. “The summer will be hot for the Russian occupiers,” the Ukrainian government predicted. In recent weeks, Ukrainian forces have returned to the offensive in the south in an attempt to retake territories lost since the February 24 invasion. And the attacks targeting occupation officials, several of whom were injured, multiplied in parallel in the region of Kherson and the neighboring region of Zaporijjia.

On the diplomatic front, Germany on Friday accused Russia of taking “the whole world hostage” by using hunger “as a weapon of war”. These comments were made during a conference in Berlin aimed at finding “solutions” to the food crisis caused by the Russian invasion. From Sunday, in Germany, the G7 meets to discuss, among other things, support for Ukraine, before another summit, that of NATO, scheduled from Tuesday and for two days, in Madrid (Spain ).