After weeks of raging battles, it appears Severodonetsk is set to fall under full control of Russian forces. The governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Haidai wrote on Telegram that Ukrainian forces will have to withdraw from the strategic city in southeastern Ukraine.
The decision to retreat was made in order to save Ukrainian soldiers: “Nobody abandons our guys, nobody allows the encirclement (of our troops). The situation right now is as such that staying at these destroyed positions just for the sake of being there doesn't make sense,” Haidai said. At least 90% of the city's infrastructure has been destroyed.
Russian troops have put Severodonetsk under siege for weeks, as Moscow aims to fully conquer the Donbas region. So what happens next?
According to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the battle for Severodonetsk and the nearby city of Lysychansk has mobilized a significant number of Russian troops, weapons and equipment for several weeks. The capture of Severodonetsk risks being "the detriment of Russian capacities during future advances in Ukraine," insists the ISW.
Forces from the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) also said on Friday that they had captured the villages of Hirske and Zolote. “The Ukrainian group, located in the Gorsko-Zolotoy cauldron, has been liquidated. All settlements are under our control,” Andriy Marochko, an officer with the self-proclaimed LPR militia said in Telegram remarks reported by TASS news agency.
From Portugal To Poland, Marking “Historic” Decision To Grant Ukraine EU Candidate Status
\u201cToday is a good day for Europe.\n\u00a0\nCongratulations to President @ZelenskyyUA President @Sandumaiamd and Prime Minister @GharibashviliGe\n\u00a0\nYour countries are part of our European family.\n\u00a0\nAnd today\u2019s historic decision by Leaders confirms that.\u201d— Ursula von der Leyen (@Ursula von der Leyen) 1656008584
The unanimous decision by the countries of the European Union to grant candidate status to Ukraine, four months after it was invaded by Russia, marks a decisive act of diplomatic unity in the face of war and aggression.
Heads of states and media on Friday marked the momentous decision taken the previous evening to officially invite Ukraine, along with its smaller fellow ex-Soviet Republic of Moldava, to apply to join the European bloc of shared policy, open borders and the single market. The process typically takes years, as the applicant must meet a range of EU standards on the economy, legal system, and more.
Still, it marks a watershed for Ukraine, which has sought the status for decades. In a video posted on Instagram, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded to receiving EU candidacy: “This is a victory we had waited for 120 days and 30 years,” he said. “After that we will defeat the enemy and get some rest. Or maybe we shall rebuild Ukraine first and get some rest afterwards. And maybe we shall win, rebuild, join the EU and then rest. Or maybe we won’t be getting rest, because the children would disagree with that. But we will definitely win.”
Gazeta Wyborcza (Poland)
Le Soir (Belgium)
Referendums Slated For September To Declare Republics In Occupied Ukrainian Territories
Russian troops in Kherson
Russian proxies are set to hold staged referendums on Sep. 11 to proclaim “republics” in the occupied regions of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia oblasts. Ukrainian military's Center for National Resistance said in its report that the date of the staged referendums in occupied territories of these regions was chosen to coincide with the national voting day in Russia, where elections for parliamentary deputies and governors in several regions are scheduled across the Russian Federation.
Russian Forces “Weaponizing” Food
\u201cThe Kremlin is weaponizing food and endangering the world's access to critical food resources. Today, newly declassified intelligence suggests that Russian forces are destroying Ukrainian grain terminals and silos, including an attack on Ukraine's second largest terminal.\u201d— Department of State (@Department of State) 1656020039
According to a U.S. official, the Black Sea fleet of the Russian Navy, "is under orders to effectively blockade the Ukrainian ports of Odessa and Ochakiv.” The Russian forces are also deploying mines in the Black Sea.
The West continues to accuse Moscow of being responsible for the food shortage and “weaponizing” goods as tons of grain are being held hostage in Ukrainian ports.
Russia claims it is not holding back agricultural shipments from Ukraine, and has said Kyiv must de-mine the waters for the ships to transit.
The U.S. State Department announced Thursday that newly declassified intelligence "suggests that Russian forces are destroying Ukrainian grain terminals and silos," including "Ukraine's second largest terminal.” Images posted by the State Department on Twitter show the destruction of the terminal.
BRICS Leaders Call For Russia-Ukraine Negotiations
Moscow daily Kommersant
The leaders of the BRICS nationals (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) discussed the war in Ukraine via video link, urging negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv. In addition, BRICS called for a sweeping reform of the United Nations, including its Security Council, during the online conference, which offered the first global forum to Russian Vladimir Putin since he ordered the invasion of Ukraine in late February.
“We support negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. We also discussed concerns about the humanitarian situation in and around Ukraine and expressed support for the efforts of the UN Secretary-General, UN agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross,” a joint statement read.
The BRICS leaders also declared their commitment to "respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states" and the peaceful settlement of differences.
Russian President Vladimir Putin during the summit said that the crisis that has developed in the global economy arose due to "ill-conceived, selfish actions of individual states." In his opinion, these countries "transfer to the whole world their own mistakes in macroeconomic policy."
First Trial Of Russian Soldier Charged With Rape Begins
\u201c1/2\u26a1\ufe0f On June 23, Solomianskyi District Court of Kyiv began a preparatory sitting on the case of the Russian military Mikhail Romanov, accused of killing a civilian man and sexual violence against a woman.\u201d— Flash (@Flash) 1656058029
Ukraine has held a preliminary hearing in its first trial against a Russian soldier charged with the rape a Ukrainian woman. Many more cases similar to this one are under investigation. To protect the victim, the trial is being held behind closed doors.
The suspect, Mikhail Romanov, 32, will be tried in absentia. He is accused of breaking into a house in March in a village outside the region of Kyiv, murdering a man and raping his wife.
This comes as Russian crimes against Ukrainian civilians include sexual assault, murder and looting. A prosecutor working on sexual violence cases told Reuters that up to 50 crimes involving sexual assault and rape are being investigated.
Russian Air Force Facing Pilot Shortage
Sukhoi Su-25 jet aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces
The Russian Air Force is hiring retired pilots working as contractors for Wagner's private military company to carry out direct air support missions for Russian troops. Military observers say the move indicates that the Russian Air Force is short of pilots, probably due to a combination of a lack of properly trained specialists and heavy losses in the war against Ukraine.
Moscow's School Curriculum Updates To Reflect “Revival” Of Russia As World PowerSaint Basil's Cathedral, Moscow, RussiaPhoto by Nikolay Vorobyev on Unsplash
Russia’s Ministry of Education has prepared amendments to the federal state educational standard (FSES) of secondary general education to include “reunification with Crimea and Sevastopol” and the “special military operation” in Ukraine in its standard “History of Russia” course. The department says it wants schoolchildren to develop an understanding of the causes and consequences of "the revival of the Russian Federation as a world power."