97% of the Luhansk region
The Russian army has “completely liberated” the residential areas of Severodonetsk, the epicenter of the fighting in eastern Ukraine, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday.
“The takeover of its industrial zone and neighboring localities continues,” he said, adding that his troops now control 97% of the Luhansk region, to which Severodonetsk belongs and which together with Donetsk constitutes the Donbass.
On Sunday, the governor of the Lugansk region claimed that Ukrainian forces had “cleaned up” half of the city. On Monday, he admitted a “worsening” of the situation with an intensification of Russian bombardments on Severodonetsk and the neighboring city of Lysychansk.
The British Ministry of Defense confirmed on Tuesday that Ukrainian forces had “recaptured parts of Severodonetsk”, while Russian “progress” had “stopped” in Popasna, in southern Donbass.
800 civilians taken refuge in a factory
About 800 civilians have taken refuge in a chemical plant in Severodonetsk, the American lawyer for the tycoon Dmytro Firtach, owner of the site, said on Tuesday. “Among these 800 civilians are about 200 of the plant’s 3,000 employees and about 600 residents of Severodonetsk,” he added.
The Ukrainian presidency has not yet confirmed the information.
According to the press release published on the Group DF website, the 200 employees still present on the site of the factory “remain […] to ensure the protection of the highly explosive chemicals still on the site”.
Dmytro Firtach, 57, one of Ukraine’s wealthiest people, is a close associate of former pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. In June 2021, Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree imposing sanctions on the tycoon, including ordering the freezing of his assets and the withdrawal of licenses from his companies, after accusing him of selling titanium products to companies. Russian military.
However, Dmytro Firtach had denounced the Russian invasion at the end of February, helping to set up a continuous television channel with the presidential administration and other channel owners.
Journalists and activists imprisoned
The Ukrainian navy claims to have pushed the Russian fleet back “more than a hundred kilometers” from its coast, even if “the threat of strikes” from the Black Sea remains.
Since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, Russian ships and submarines have launched “more than 300 missiles” into Ukrainian territory, according to kyiv, which notes a recent “decrease” in the “intensity of strikes” .
Ukraine also accuses the Russian army of having imprisoned nearly 600 people in the Kherson region (south), entirely occupied by Moscow forces. They are “mainly journalists and activists” who organized “pro-Ukrainian rallies in Kherson and its region” after the occupation of this territory by the Russians, said Tamila Tacheva, representative of the Ukrainian president for Crimea , Ukrainian peninsula bordering Kherson, annexed by Moscow in 2014.
“According to our information, they are being held in inhuman conditions and are victims of torture,” she said.
Lavrov in Turkey
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Turkey on Tuesday evening to discuss the establishment of maritime corridors to facilitate grain exports to the Black Sea. He is due to meet the head of Turkish diplomacy, Mevlüt Cavusoglu on Wednesday. At the heart of the negotiations, the possibility for Ukraine, a major player in the world cereals market, to export its crops currently blocked in its ports.
The ongoing conflict since February 24, which has blocked most of Ukraine’s exports via the Black Sea, is driving up prices and posing a serious risk of famine in the countries that depend on them, particularly in Africa and the Middle -East.
At the request of the United Nations, Turkey has offered its assistance in escorting maritime convoys from Ukrainian ports, despite the presence of mines, some of which have been detected near the Turkish coast, in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
According to the Turkish Minister of Agriculture Vahit Kirisci, Ankara has made “an agreement with Ukraine which will deliver to us (at a price) 25% cheaper than that of the FOB”, the market price which includes the price at destination. A gesture, according to him, to thank Turkey. “Russia and Ukraine both trust us,” he said, quoted by several Turkish dailies on Tuesday. “Discussions continue.”
Turkey is considered an ally of Ukraine, to which it provides combat drones, but is careful to maintain a neutral position towards Russia, on which it depends for its energy and grain supplies. Just before the war, Ukraine was on its way to becoming the world’s third-largest wheat exporter and supplied half of the world’s trade in sunflower seeds and oil. kyiv exported 12% of the world’s wheat, 15% of corn and 50% of sunflower oil each month.
The “victory” of kyiv desired by the countries of Central Europe
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala expressed on Tuesday, during a visit to Paris, the wish of the countries of Central Europe for a “victory” for Ukraine against Russia. “We are going to talk about the evolution of the war in Ukraine, the sanctions against Russia and the positions that we will have to adopt vis-à-vis Russia,” the head of the Czech government told the press before an interview with Emanuel Macron.
At his side, the French president highlighted the “rapid and massive sanctions” taken by the European Union against Russia and the “massive solidarity” with regard to Ukraine. “We will exchange on the situation in Ukraine, the efforts to help President Zelensky to reach a ceasefire as well as the future of Ukraine in the European family”, he added on the steps of the Elysee.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned on Tuesday, in the columns of the Financial Times, that his country needed a victory over Russia “on the battlefield” before any peace negotiations.
Larcher soon in Ukraine
The President of the French Senate Gérard Larcher will go “soon” to kyiv, at the invitation of the President of the Rada (Ukrainian parliament) Rouslan Stefantchouk, he announced Tuesday at a joint press conference in Paris.
The President of the Senate reaffirmed his support for Ukraine in its application for candidate status for membership of the European Union. “I say it in my soul and conscience and with all responsibility, Ukraine has written in letters of blood several of the conditions required to obtain the status of candidate”, declared Gérard Larcher, affirming that “the European Union cannot back to Ukraine by denying it” this status.
For his part, the President of the Rada, in khaki and speaking in Ukrainian, urged the European Union to “open the door” to his country. “Ukraine’s path is only in the direction of Europe,” he said.
IAEA and ECHR
Ukraine opposes the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi visiting the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia (south) as long as it is occupied by the Russians, indicated on Tuesday the Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator Energoatom.
“Ukraine has not invited Mr. Grossi to visit the Zaporizhia power plant and has refused him in the past to make such a visit. Visiting the plant will only become possible when Ukraine regains control over the site,” he wrote on Telegram on Tuesday.
Russian deputies passed a law on Tuesday last reading authorizing Russia to no longer apply the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), after the country’s exclusion from the Council of Europe in March.
The ECHR “has become an instrument of political struggle against our country in the hands of Western politicians,” said Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, in a press release.
Tens of thousands dead
There is no overall assessment of the civilian victims of the conflict. For the city of Mariupol (southeast), which fell in May after a terrible siege, the Ukrainian authorities evoke a balance sheet of around 20,000 dead.
On the military level, Western military sources mention 12,000 to 15,000 Russian soldiers killed, when kyiv claims to have killed more than 30,000 enemy soldiers.
Ukrainian forces are losing between 60 and 100 soldiers every day in combat, President Volodymyr Zelensky told US media Newsmax last week, without providing a total.
No independent statistics are available.
A third of displaced or refugee Ukrainians
More than eight million Ukrainians are internally displaced, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Added to this are 6.9 million who have fled abroad, more than half of them – 3.6 million – to Poland.