Monday, May 16 was an intense day on the military and diplomatic front. The Russian offensive in the Donbass intensified and left 10 dead in Severodonetsk, in the East, while 260 Ukrainian soldiers were evacuated from the Azovstal steelworks, after a truce announced by Russia. Moscow has also warned that it will react to deployments of“military infrastructure” of NATO in Finland and Sweden, candidates for entry into the Atlantic Alliance.
Franceinfo summarizes what to remember from this day.
Fighting intensifies in the East, twenty dead
In Severodonetsk, almost surrounded by forces from Moscow, “at least 10 people were killed” in Russian bombardments, announced the governor of Donbass.
In a previous message, Serguiï Gaïdaï had reported artillery strikes on Severodonetsk and on its twin city very close to Lyssytchank, having caused fires in residential areas. Despite calls from Ukrainian authorities to evacuate Lysychansk, more than 20,000 civilians (compared to 100,000 residents before the war) remained, according to volunteers distributing aid in the area.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of the neighboring region of Donetsk, for his part announced that nine civilians had been killed on Monday and 16 injured in his region.
Ukrainians regain ground near Kharkiv
In the northeast, the Ukrainians have regained control of part of the border in the Kharkiv region, according to kyiv. Posting a video on its Facebook account showing Ukrainian soldiers in front of a border post painted in the colors of Ukraine, yellow and blue, the Ministry of Defense welcomed the fact that its forces had “expelled the Russians”.
The Ukrainian authorities now expect that the disengaged units from the Kharkiv region will reinforce the Russian troops in the Donbass, where they are progressing only laboriously, according to Oleksiï Arestovych, an adviser to the Ukrainian presidency.
Azovstal soldiers evacuated after a truce
More than 260 Ukrainian fighters, including 53 injured, were evacuated from the steelworksAzovstalto Mariupol, reported a Ukrainian deputy defense minister. This announcement comes a few hours after the announcement of a truce by the Russian Minister of Defense.
Near 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers, including 600 wounded, were entrenched in the maze of underground passages of this industrial site, the last pocket of resistance in the strategic port. The soldiers were evacuated to Novoazovsk and Olenivka, two localities being in territory controlled by Russian and pro-Russian forces, in order to be later “trades”.
After Finland, Sweden formalizes its candidacy for NATO
“The government has decided to inform NATO of Sweden’s desire to become a member of the alliance”Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said at a press conference. The day before, Finland had formalized its candidacy. These nominations prove that“aggression does not pay”judged the Secretary General of the Atlantic Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg.
Russian President Vladimir Putin considered that these memberships did not constitute “an immediate threat”. But, he continued, “the deployment of military infrastructure on the territories of these countries will of course lead to a response”.
Monday evening, France assured that it “would stand by” of the two countries in the event of aggression, while London called for them to be integrated into NATO “as soon as possible”.
McDonald’s withdraws from Russia, Renault sells its Russian assets to Moscow
The American fast food giant McDonald’s, which has been present in Russia for more than 30 years but which had temporarily closed its 850 restaurants in early March, has announced that it will definitively withdraw from this country.
Cornered by the sanctions hitting Russia, the French car manufacturer Renault, leader in the country with the Lada brand which it had recovered, sold its assets to the Russian state on the same day.
An impossible consensus in Brussels
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba was in Brussels to discuss, among other things, new sanctions against Russia. His EU counterparts are meeting there to try to unblock an embargo project on Russian oil imports, refused by Hungary, which is very dependent on it – to the chagrin of the member states closest to kyiv.
“The whole Union is unfortunately held hostage by a Member State which cannot help us find a consensus”lamented the head of Lithuanian diplomacy, Gabrielius Landsbergis.
At the end of the meeting, the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell conceded that finalizing the 6th sanctions package “will take time”. An extraordinary European summit is scheduled for May 30 and 31.