For Europe's top leaders, travel details have not been confirmed ahead of what could be a momentous visit to Kyiv. But Ukrainian President Zelensky also had some frank words for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz
There are conflicting reports about the precise day and hour, but it appears certain that two of Europe’s key leaders, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, are heading soon to Kyiv for the first time since Russia’s invasion.
But the travel plans also raise the question of whether German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will join the other two European leaders for what would be a show of unity and support for Kyiv and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at a moment that Russian troops are gaining territory and some analysts say that Ukraine should be ready to negotiate a settlement.
Zelensky had frank words for Scholz during a Monday night interview on German TV, alluding to reports that Berlin is weighing its policy in light of maintaining relations with Moscow.
“We need from Chancellor Scholz the certainty that Germany supports Ukraine,” he said in an interview with German public broadcaster ZDF. “He and his government must decide: there can’t be a trade-off between Ukraine and relations with Russia.”
Macron is currently visiting French troops in Romania and then travels on to neighboring Moldavia, countries that share borders with Ukraine. French media says he is expected in Kyiv on Thursday to meet with Zelensky, but there are no confirmations from the Élysée presidential palace in Paris.
Similarly, Draghi is also already abroad, currently in Israel, and Italian press are reporting that he will rendezvous with both Macron and Scholz in Kyiv.
Russia Close To Total Control Of Luhansk Region
A satellite image shows the damaged Pavlograd Bridge in western Severodonetsk
Russian forces have cut off all routes out of Severodonetsk by destroying three bridges leading to the city, reports the governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Haidai.
The destruction of the remaining two bridges over the Siverskyi Donets River in the past two days, has left civilians with no escape to the neighboring city of Lysychansk, which is also being shelled by Russian forces, but remains in Ukrainian hands for the moment.
“The destruction of the bridges gives the Russian military another advantage since supply lines are interrupted. Getting in weapons and reserves is now difficult, but not impossible,” Haidai added. Ukrainian authorities continue to evacuate civilians for Severdonetsk whenever there is a break in the shelling of the city.
In his nightly address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke about the battle for the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine and said that it “will surely go down in military history as one of the most brutal battles in Europe and for Europe.”
Taking Lysychansk and its twin city, Severodonetsk, has become a top military goal for Russia, as it would give Moscow control of the entire Luhansk region.
New Mass Graves Of Civilians Found In Kyiv
The bodies of civilians killed by russian soldiers were found near the village of Myrotske in Bucha district.
Ukrainian authorities found another mass grave site in a forest near Bucha containing the bodies of seven civilian men. “Seven civilians were tortured by the Russians and brutally executed with bullets in the head,” the Kyiv region police chief, Andrei Nebitov reported.
Ukraine’s national police said that across the country they are still trying to identify the bodies of 1,200 civilians.
Major Weapons Trade Fair In Paris With Eye On War
The Eurosatory 2022, the 27th edition of the international weaponry and defense trade fair, opened yesterday in Paris with more than 1,700 companies representing 62 countries, reports French daily Les Échos.
Russia and China won’t have any booths this year, with the event focusing on European weapons professionals and featuring conferences, innovations and simulations.
The event comes at a moment when the war in Ukraine is becoming a war of heavy weapons and the West is ever more supplying Ukraine with military equipment.
But experts also note that the prime lesson on the battlefield is that technology ultimately does little to make war more palatable: “What is happening in Ukraine shows once again that the idea that technical progress [...] can be carried out without any destruction or impact on the population is an illusion,” an unnamed general stated.
Lithuanians Deliver “Tolkien” Weapons To Ukrainian Army
Since the beginning of the war, the Lithuanians have been actively supporting Ukraine and its army in the fight against Russia. In a few months, thanks to donations from ordinary citizens, more than 1.5 million euros were collected, for which the Lithuanians bought special weapons to shoot down Russian spy drones.
The Lithuanians named the weapon Orcrist, after the "Goblin-cleaver" sword wielded by elves in Tolkien's The Hobbit, or There and Back Again. "Tolkien would appreciate it," said Lithuanian TV presenter and public figure Andrus Tapinas. The rifles will be delivered to Ukraine in the near future. They will be distributed among 35 units of the Armed Forces.
Putin Appoints His Own To Lead Donbas, New Sign Of Russian Accession Plans
Russian president Vladimir Putin
This appears to be a key move in Putin’s plans for the accession of the breakaway republics to become part of Russia, and a signal to local residents that Donbas is "already Russia.”
One of Kommersant's experts believes that during the reconstruction of the the DNR and LNR republics, financial control over cash flows and economic resources is very important, which the Kremlin "is most able to ensure through its personnel.”
Pope Francis Has Harshest Words For Russians, But Also An Alibi
Pope Francis, who has been criticized for not explicitly condemning Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, has issued his harshest criticism of Russia to date, calling out the “cruelty” and “ferocity” of Moscow’s troops and citing the “brave” Ukrainian people.
But in the interview published Tuesday in the Jesuit-run magazine La Civilta Cattolica, the pope also said the war should be viewed in a larger context: “We must not forget the real problems if we want them to be solved," he said. Among those, he singled out the weapons industry and referred to the “way NATO was moving” in the weeks and months before the war.
“Someone may say to me at this point: ‘So you are pro-Putin!’ No, I am not,” the pope said. “The danger is that […] we do not see the whole drama unfolding behind this war, which was perhaps somehow either provoked or not prevented. And note the interest in testing and selling weapons.”
The Pope also said he hopes for a meeting in September with the head of the Russian Orthodox church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, who has been a staunch defender of Putin.
Pro-Ukrainian Street Art Around The Globe
Ukrainian artist Sasha Korban created this symbolic mural in Kyiv.
Since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, street art murals supporting Ukraine’s resistance have appeared everywhere from Kyiv to Syria. Ukrainian news outlet Livy Bereg takes a look at some of the most notable examples.