Drowned under a deluge of fire, the city of Lyssytchansk, in eastern Ukraine, is living “hell” according to the Ukrainian authorities, who recognize the advance of Russian troops who intend to fully control the eastern region of Donbass.

Faced with these military setbacks, kyiv hopes for a strong diplomatic success with the holding of the European Council on Thursday, which must decide on its status as an EU candidate.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday called on European leaders to “rise to the occasion” by granting Ukraine and Moldova EU candidate status at their summit on Thursday.

The EU executive issued a positive opinion last week on granting Ukraine and Moldova this status, attaching conditions to the continuation of reforms, which would pave the way for a long process towards membership. Georgia, which also aspires to join the EU, will still have to carry out reforms before obtaining candidate status, according to the Commission’s opinion.

The United States is considered more reliable by the populations of the allied countries since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, while the image of Russia, already negative, has plunged further, according to an international poll published on Wednesday.

In Sweden, a northern European country which has just presented its candidacy to join NATO, 84% of those questioned believe that Washington is a reliable partner, 21 points more than a year earlier, after this Pew Research Center study conducted in 18 states. A comparable increase is recorded in South Korea (83%, 25 points) and Canada (84%, 16 points).

Russia, which commemorated this Wednesday the invasion of the USSR by the Nazis in 1941, accuses Germany of fueling a “Russophobic hysteria”, in a context of heightened tensions between Moscow and Berlin linked to Ukraine. “Berlin, by words and deeds, threatens the results of decades-long efforts by Russia and Germany to overcome enmity (…) after the war,” Russian diplomacy said in a statement released. on the occasion of commemorations.

For its part, Germany “firmly” rejects the threats of reprisals brandished by Russia against Lithuania after this Baltic state introduced restrictions for certain goods transiting to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, in accordance with European sanctions linked to the invasion in Ukraine. “We ask Russia not to take measures that go against international law,” said government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit, as Moscow promised “serious” reprisals against Vilnius.

Between March 31 and June 6, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medically evacuated 653 patients by train from war-affected areas in the east of the country to hospitals in safer areas. Medical data and accounts from evacuated patients show that the war “is being waged with a scandalous lack of care to distinguish and protect civilians” and “reveal constant indiscriminate attacks on civilians,” MSF said in a statement on Wednesday. More than 40% of the train’s war casualties were elderly and children suffering injuries from explosions, traumatic amputations, shrapnel and gunshot wounds. According to the humanitarian medical organization, this is a lack of respect for the protection of civilians, “which constitutes a serious violation of international humanitarian law”.

A Turkish merchant ship left the Ukrainian port of Mariupol on Wednesday after talks between Turkish and Russian delegations in Moscow over grain blocked in Ukraine due to the Russian military offensive, the Turkish Defense Ministry said. It is the “first foreign ship to leave the Ukrainian port of Mariupol”, which fell into Russian hands in May, according to the ministry. Millions of tons of wheat are now stuck in Ukrainian ports, so a global food crisis is looming.

Ankara, which is trying to maintain good relations with Moscow and kyiv, has offered to help organize the transport of grain, based on a UN plan involving Russia and Ukraine. For its part, Moscow claims not to prevent the exit of merchant ships and accuses Ukraine of having paralyzed maritime transport by undermining its ports. kyiv, for its part, fears a maritime attack from Russia on its Black Sea coast, while the Russian army is already occupying a large part of southern Ukraine, in particular the entire shores of the Sea of ​​Azov.

Russian authorities have said they suspect a drone attack is behind a fire that broke out on Wednesday at the Novochakhtinsky oil refinery, located a few kilometers from the border with the separatist region of Lukhansk , in eastern Ukraine. “According to one version, the fire was caused by a drone attack on the technical installations of the plant. Fragments belonging to two drones were found on the territory” of the refinery, the governor of the city said on Telegram. Rostov-on-Don region, Vasily Golubev.

According to him, the fire did not cause any casualties and was extinguished at the end of the morning. Refinery operations will be suspended pending the conclusion of an investigation to assess the extent of the damage, he added. Russia, which has been leading a military offensive against Ukraine since the end of February, has repeatedly accused kyiv forces of having bombed Russian border towns.

Meanwhile, the tone has risen between Moscow and Lithuania. The former Soviet republic has indeed implemented European sanctions linked to the invasion of Ukraine on the transit by rail of goods in the direction of Kaliningrad. Enough to warm up the Russians who described them as “hostile acts”. “Appropriate measures” will be “adopted soon” and they will have “serious negative consequences for the people of Lithuania” threatened, in the process, the secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolaï Patrushev, of visit in the Russian enclave on the Baltic.

Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh, two former US soldiers who went to Ukraine to support the country’s army, have been in Russian hands since early June. During an interview with the American channel NBC on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed that they were “endangering” Russian soldiers and should be “held responsible for these crimes”. He added that they were “mercenaries” involved “in illegal activities”, so they were not protected by the Geneva Conventions, hinting that they risked the death penalty.

“It is appalling that a Russian government official is suggesting the death penalty for two American citizens who were in Ukraine,” White House spokesman for national security John Kirby said on Tuesday. He also confirmed that a second American national had been killed in action in that country.