Russians Try To Repeat Mariupol Playbook In Severodonetsk
Russians are besieging Severodonetsk, the eastern Ukrainian city, and urging troops there to surrender as they offer a shaky evacuation corridor for civilians. The siege and symbolism recalls the siege of Mariupol, which didn't end well for Ukrainians.
In a two-sided move that eerily recalls the tragic events in the southern port city of Mariupol, Russia has urged Ukrainian troops to surrender in Severodonetsk, the eastern Ukrainian city where fighting is raging, while at the same time pledging to spend the day evacuating civilians.
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Severodonetsk, in Luhansk region, has assumed a symbolic weight in the war as Russia focused on trying to win over control of Donbas and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky repeating that it is a “decisive” battleground. Russian troops have encircled the city over the past few weeks, trying to take it back from Ukrainian forces that had taken control in 2014 from pro-Russian separatists.
But Severodonetsk is now cut off after Russians blew up the city’s three bridges over the Siversky Donets River. It is believed that some 12,000 of the city’s 100,000 inhabitants have not been able to flee, with hundreds holed up in the Azot chemical plant together with the last-standing Ukrainian soldiers. That too recalls Mariupol's last bastion for holdouts in the Azovstal steel plant in the city's port.
Russia pledged Wednesday for the first time to open a humanitarian corridor to allow civilians to leave, reports the BBC. Civilians have little choice now, but they may be wary of the offer, remembering that families who had been offered safe passage were targeted in Mariupol and elsewhere.
Mikhail Mizintsev, head of Russia's National Defense Management Centre, also said Ukrainian fighters should "stop their senseless resistance and lay down their arms", according to Interfax news agency.
Another 21 Children Confirmed Dead In Mariupol
Ukrainian children play territorial defense fighters patrolling in the village of Stoyanka, Kyiv region
In Mariupol, the southern Ukrainian city besieged and later captured by Russia, the deaths of 21 more children has been reported by Ukraine’s Prosecutor General's Office.
The report, gathered from testimony and family members of the victims, reports that since the begining of the war on Feb. 24, a total of 313 children were killed in the port city, with most of the victims killed by cluster shelling.
These figures are not final, as work is underway to establish them in places of active hostilities, in the temporarily occupied and liberated territories.
Human Rights Watch reported the use of cluster munitions by the Russian army, which should be qualified as a war crime.
U.S. Says It Won’t Pressure Kyiv Into Negotiations
Colin H. Kahl
As Russia makes gains in the east of Ukraine,the U.S. said it will not pressure Kyiv into negotiations with Moscow. Russia now controls 80 to 90% of the Donbas and is close to claiming control of the strategically important city of Severodonetsk, giving Moscow more leverage in any future peace talks.
Colin H. Kahl, a top Pentagon official, said: “We’re not going to tell the Ukrainians how to negotiate, what to negotiate and when to negotiate. They’re going to set those terms for themselves.”
Kahl’s comments come as 40 Western allies meet in Brussels to discuss Ukraine’s request for more weaponry.
Russian Parliament Member: Time To Revoke Independence From Lithuania, Ukraine and Estonia
Russian State Duma deputy Yevgeny Fedorov
Russian State Duma deputy Yevgeny Fedorov had already introduced a bill to repeal the decision of the State Council of the USSR "On Recognition of Independence of the Republic of Lithuania."
Fedorov, who cited violations of the now defunct USSR Constitution, has now said that Russia should also cancel the independence of Ukraine and Estonia, according to Russian state news agency RiaNovosti.
"We just started with Lithuania,” Fedorov said. “And it is clear why - Lithuania is more dangerous for the Russian Federation in terms of the situation related to the Kaliningrad region, and in the confrontation with NATO and the United States. Therefore, Lithuania is more important now, but this does not mean that we will stop there."
Scholz Seeks To Not “Irritate” Putin With Gazprom Germania Deal
Gazprom Export sign seen on the building, located in St. Petersburg
Berlinwill provide a 10-billion-euro rescue package for Gazprom Germania, a former subsidiary of the Russian energy company that was taken over by the German authorities last month. The loan is designed to stabilize Gazprom Germania’s finances after Russia cut gas supplies to the country.
In return for the loan, the German government will take a stake in the company, the name of which will be changed to Securing Energy for Europe GmbH. Economy Minister Robert Habeck had wanted full nationalization of the company, but Chancellor Olaf Scholz refused because he allegedly did not want to “irritate” Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Using state money to bail out Kremlin-controlled Gazprom could prove controversial, but the subsidiary is key to Germany’s energy supply. Gazprom Germania owns a number of gas storage facilities in Germany.
Citing Russophobia, Moscow Bans 49 UK Citizens, Including 29 Journalists
International newspapers UKcommons.wikimedia.org
Russia has updated its “stop list” banning a total of 49 British citizens from entering the country. These include 29 journalists and 20 others who are believed to be working for the UK defense ministry.
A statement by the Russian foreign ministry said that this list comes after the British government imposed sanctions on Russian journalists.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said, “the British journalists included in the list are involved in the deliberate dissemination of false and one-sided information about Russia and the events in Ukraine and Donbas. With their biased assessments, they also contribute to fueling Russophobia in British society.”
Silos To Be Built On Ukraine Border To Allow For Grain Export
An aerial view of the Melitopol Elevator grain storage and railway tracks used to send grain to the Crimea in Ukraine
U.S. President Joe Biden said that temporary silos will be built on the border of Ukraine, as well as in Poland, in order to help unlock the blockages on grain export that is prompting a global food crisis.
The U.S. president said the United States is working on a plan to get grain out of Ukraine by railroads, but noted that Ukrainian railway tracks are different from those in other parts of Europe. He said the grain could be transferred from Ukrainian railway cars into the new silos, and then into Europe cars.
This comes after Russia has blocked Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and grain shipments have remained stuck in silos.
Russian And Belarusian Tennis Players Allowed To Compete In U.S. Open
Russian player Daniil Medvedev during French Open 2022
The U.S. Open will allow Russian and Belarussian tennis players to compete later this year after deciding not to follow the lead of Wimbledon, which had banned them. The players from these two nations will have to compete under a neutral flag.
Meanwhile, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) said it "continues to condemn" Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
This comes after Russia has been banned from the International Tennis Federation as well as other events in the sporting world due to the war in Ukraine. The French Open had allowed Russians and Belarusians to play.