Ukraine news – live: EU grants Kyiv candidate status as Zelensky hails ‘historic moment’

Ukrainian drone strikes major Russian oil refinery

Leaders from the European Union have formally accepted Ukraine as a candidate for membership to the 27-nation block, in a bold move that comes following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The decision has been hailed as a “historic moment” by European Council chief Charles Michel. He tweeted: “Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU,” before adding: “Our future is together.”

Elsewhere, the battle for the east Ukrainian cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk is “entering a sort of fearsome climax”, one of president Volodymyr Zelensky’s advisers has said.

Oleksiy Arestovych made the comment as Ukrainian forces try to cling onto this part of Luhansk province in the face of fierce Russian attacks.

The Kremlin’s troops have recently captured more territory in the industrial Donbas region, taking control of the settlements of Loskutivka and Rai-Oleksandrivka to the south of Lysychansk, according to the Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai.

In its latest report on the battle for the Donbas, the British Ministry of Defence said on Thursday that Russian soldiers had most likely advanced 3 miles towards Lysychansk from the south since Sunday.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky spoke of the massive Russian strikes in the east of the country. “The goal of the occupiers in this direction remains the same – they want to destroy the whole Donbas step by step,” he said in his late night address.

This comes as the EU is set to decide whether to grant Ukraine candidacy status.


Russia trying to get control of key highway as battle rages on in east

Officials from the Ukrainian military said that the Russian forces are trying to wrestle for control of a key highway in the war-struck country’s east as they are eyeing snapping the supply lines of artillery.

The Russians are trying to overtake the hills overlooking the highway linking Lysychansk with Bakhmut, to the southwest, the military officials said.

It is a critical route of supply line to the Ukrainian forces on the eastern frontline.

The Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway was not used because of heavy Russian shelling, regional governor Serhiy Haidai said.

He added that the Ukrainian forces are receiving supplies via an alternative route.

Arpan Rai24 June 2022 04:34

ICYMI: EU grants Ukraine candidate status

European leaders last night formally accepted Ukraine as a candidate to join the EU, a bold geopolitical move triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but a reminder that the 27-nation bloc will need a major overhaul as it looks to enlarge again.

Although it could take Ukraine and neighbouring Moldova more than a decade to qualify for membership, the decision at a two-day EU summit is a symbolic step that signals the bloc’s intention to reach deep into the former Soviet Union.

“A historic moment,” European Council chief Charles Michel tweeted. “Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU,” he said, adding: “Our future is together.”

Read more below:

Katy Clifton24 June 2022 02:51

Russia ‘weaponising hunger’

Foreign secretary Liz Truss has accused Russia of “weaponising hunger” and using food security as a “callous tool of war” with its blockade of Ukrainian grain.

Speaking at a press conference alongside Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara yesterday, Ms Truss warned the crisis is “urgent” and must be solved in the next month to avoid “devastating consequences”.

Western officials later said they believe the month deadline is set against a harvest that’s arriving, rather than fixing global food security issues as a whole.

Asked if this target was realistic, they said there is a “delicate and difficult negotiation to be had”, but that an agreement to get the grain moving could feasibly be reached within that time.

They explained there would then be a “lag”, saying: “Will maritime ships start delivering in that timeframe? Yet to be seen.”

Katy Clifton24 June 2022 01:30

Fighting nears ‘fierce climax’ in Donbas

Ukrainian troops may need to pull back from the key frontline city of Lysychansk to avoid being encircled after Russian forces captured two villages to its south, regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said yesterday.

The retreat of Ukrainian troops from Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk, the last two Ukrainian-held cities in Luhansk, would bring Moscow closer to one of its key war aims of capturing all of that region.

Divided by a river, the cities have become a key battleground in Russia’s assault on the industrial heartland of Donbas and the fighting is nearing a “fierce climax,” a top official said on Wednesday.

The general staff of Ukraine‘s armed forces on Thursday confirmed the loss of Rai-Oleksandrivka and Loskutivka, around 5 km (3 miles) from Lysychansk, and said that Russian troops were trying to surround Ukrainian forces there.

Katy Clifton24 June 2022 00:30

Ukraine files European court case against Russia

Ukraine, in a symbolic move, today said it had formally filed a case against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights to end “the mass and gross human rights violations” by Moscow’s forces during the war.

The bid has no chance of substantive success, given that on 7 June the Russian parliament approved two bills ending the court’s jurisdiction in Russia.

A Ukrainian justice ministry statement said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was illegal under the European Convention on Human Rights.

“The Court will be invited to find that Russia has been guilty of the most flagrant, serious and sustained violations of the Convention ever placed before the Court, and to award just satisfaction on an equally unprecedented scale,” it said.

Katy Clifton23 June 2022 23:30

‘I don’t think that we should underestimate them’

The West should not underestimate Russia’s military capabilities in Ukraine, Estonia’s leader has said, adding that as the war enters its fifth month, Moscow’s forces are in it for the long haul. Prime minister Kaja Kallas said in an interview with the Associated Press that Europe should ensure that those committing war crimes and attempted genocide are prosecuted, noting that Russian president Vladimir Putin escaped punishment for annexing the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and supporting an insurgency in eastern Ukraine‘s Donbas region that killed over 14,000 people even before this year’s war began. “I’ve heard talks that, you know, there is no threat anymore because they have exhausted themselves. No, they haven’t,” she said of the Russian military, which failed to take Kyiv in the early stages of the war and is now concentrating its firepower in the east. “They have plenty of troops still who can come (to fight) — They are not counting the lives that they are losing. They are not counting the artillery that they are losing there. So I don’t think that we should underestimate them in the longer term to still keep this up,” Ms Kallas said, despite the low morale and corruption troubling Moscow’s forces.

Katy Clifton23 June 2022 22:30

‘Ukraine’s future is within the EU’

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has tweeted his gratitude at the country being granted EU candidate status and declared: “Ukraine‘s future is within the EU.”“It’s a victory. We have been waiting for 120 days and 30 years,” he added on Instagram, referring to the duration of the war and the decades since Ukraine became independent upon the breakup of the Soviet Union. “And now we will defeat the enemy.”

Katy Clifton23 June 2022 21:30

Watch: Ukrainian refugee says she felt a ‘sense of safety’ when she arrived in Wales

Retired school teacher Marta Burak, 64, has described feeling a “sense of safety” when she arrived in Wales from Ukraine.

She is currently living in a specialist camp run by youth group Urdd Gobaith Cymru, as part of the Welsh Government’s “super sponsor scheme”, which provides support for refugees upon their arrival in the country.

Ukrainian refugee says she felt a ‘sense of safety’ when she arrived in Wales
Andy Gregory23 June 2022 20:33

Ukraine granted EU candidate status in ‘historic moment’

European leaders have formally accepted Ukraine and Moldova as candidates to join the EU, in a “historic moment” which will also serve as a blow to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Although it could take the two countries more than a decade to qualify for membership, the decision at a two-day EU summit is symbolic step which signals the bloc’s intention to reach deep into the former Soviet Union.

“A historic moment,” European Council chief Charles Michel tweeted. “Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU,” he said, adding: “Our future is together.”

Read more here:

Eleanor Sly23 June 2022 20:00

Over 40 organisations call on Biden to do more to free Brittney Griner from detention in Russia

Dozens of organisations have signed a letter calling on President Joe Biden to make a deal to free Brittney Griner, the basketball star who has been detained in Russia for more than three months, Abe Asher reports.

Ms Griner, whose resume includes two Olympic gold medals, an NCAA championship with Baylor University, and a WNBA championship with the Phoenix Mercury, was detained in February just prior to the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on accusations that she was transporting hashish oil in her luggage. The US State Department has classified her as “wrongfully detained”.

In the letter, also addressed to vice president Kamala Harris, Ms Griner’s allies wrote that the star “continues to endure inhumane treatment, deprived of contact with her family” and called on the administration to increase its urgency regarding the matter and “make a deal to get Brittney back home to America immediately and safely.”

Signatories to the letter included the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA), the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, the NAACP, the National Urban League, and a range other human rights, LGBTQ+, and sporting organisations.

Andy Gregory23 June 2022 19:51

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