Ukraine: “Calm before the storm” – Russia is pushing for EU summit

Onlookers watch as firefighters try to put out a fire allegedly caused by shelling in Nemyshlianski district of Kharkiv region. /Leah Millis/Reuters

Onlookers watch as firefighters try to put out a fire allegedly caused by shelling in Nemyshlianski district of Kharkiv region. /Leah Millis/Reuters

European Union leaders are expected to give their blessing to Ukraine to become an official candidate to join the bloc at a summit on Thursday and Friday. where they are said to be checking new sanctions against Moscow, allegedly related to gold.

• In eastern Ukraine, however, a relatively quiet Monday night was announced in Luhansk The calm before the storm,” said the governor of Donbass region Serhiy Gaidai the morning after There was “catastrophic destruction” in the city of Lysychansk.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy acknowledged the difficulties in Donbass, after predicting Moscow would escalate attacks ahead of this week’s EU summit. However, he was defiant about saying so on Monday Ukrainian troops held out despite “difficult” fighting in Luhansk around the strategic cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk.

Russia has summoned the EU ambassador to Moscow over a rail blockade that has halted shipments of many basic goods to Russia’s Kaliningrad outpost on the Baltic Sea, the recent stalemate over the sanctions imposed in the Ukraine conflict.

The Kremlin says two Americans captured in Ukraine are “mercenaries” who shot at Russian soldiers and fall outside the Geneva Conventionsthe Kremlin told RIA, adding they should take responsibility for their “crimes”.

American basketball star Brittney Griner, who has been jailed in Russia since February, is being prosecuted. To moskau. Russia has previously said it arrested her for possession of vape cartridges containing hash oil.

Russia has blamed the West’s “destructive” stance for skyrocketing grain prices, which have sparked fears of a global food crisis amid the conflict. “Regarding the possibility of famine, more and more experts are leaning toward a pessimistic scenario… and that’s the fault of Western regimes,” the State Department said.

• Desperately looking for alternative fuel supplies, Europe’s largest Russian gas consumers are even considering burning more coal to cope with reduced gas flows which threaten an energy crisis in winter if the storage tanks are not refilled.

Russia has warned NATO member Lithuania that it will not quickly lift a new transit ban on goods to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, then becomes Moscow take unsolicited action to defend its national interests.

Russian TV is now broadcasting in the southern Kherson region of Ukraine. This was announced by the Russian army on Tuesday in an area where Moscow has already introduced the ruble and started distributing Russian passports.

US actor Ben Stiller met with Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Monday and hailed the comedian-turned-president as “my hero”. for rallying the world’s support amid the Ukraine conflict.

Hollywood actor and Goodwill Ambassador Ben Stiller meets with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Press Service of the President of Ukraine/Reuters

Hollywood actor and Goodwill Ambassador Ben Stiller meets with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Press Service of the President of Ukraine/Reuters

‘The calm before the storm’

The battle over eastern Ukraine has spiraled into a devastating conflict of attrition in recent weeks, with Russia focusing its overwhelming firepower on a Ukrainian-controlled part of the Donbass region that Moscow wants to seize control of for its separatist proxies.

While Moscow has been making slow progress there since April, fighting has been relentless, costing both sides thousands of troops in one of the bloodiest land battles in Europe in decades.

Most of the fighting takes place along the river Siverskyi Donets, which flows through the region.

Russian forces are mainly stationed on the east bank and Ukrainian forces are mainly stationed on the west, although some Ukrainian fighters still hold out in the town of Sievierodonetsk on the east bank.

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In recent days, Russia has seized control of Toshkivka, a small town on the west bank further south, giving its forces a potential base to cut off the main Ukrainian stronghold of Lysychansk.

Rodion Miroshnik, ambassador of the pro-Moscow separatists to the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic in Russia, said forces were “moving from the south towards Lysyhansk”, with gun battles breaking out in a number of towns.

“The coming hours should significantly change the balance of power in the region,” he said on Telegram.

The governor of Ukraine’s surrounding Luhansk region said Russian forces took more territory on Monday, but while it was relatively calm overnight, more attacks came.

“It’s a calm before the storm,” said Serhiy Gaidai.

Though Russia has gained more territory in recent weeks due to its huge artillery advantage, some Western military analysts say the failure to make a major breakthrough means time is now on the Ukrainians’ side.

Cargo at the Sortirovochny railway station in Kaliningrad /People’s Vision

Cargo at the Sortirovochny railway station in Kaliningrad /People’s Vision

The Kaliningrad blockade is raising tensions between the EU and the Kremlin

Russia has subpoenaed the EU ambassador in Moscow over a rail blockade that halted shipments of many basic goods to a Russian outpost on the Baltic Sea, amid tensions between Brussels and the Kremlin over sanctions.

The latest diplomatic crisis affects the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, a port city and surrounding countryside on the Baltic Sea that is home to nearly a million Russians.

It is connected to the rest of Russia by a rail link through Lithuania, which is a member of the EU and NATO.

In recent days, Lithuania has blocked the route for basic commodities, including building materials, metals and coal, a result of new EU sanctions that came into force on Saturday, according to Vilnius and Brussels.

Moscow has described the move as an illegal blockade and threatened unspecified retaliation.

The EU ambassador in Moscow appeared at the headquarters of Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, Russia’s state news agency RIA reported.

Overnight, the Kaliningrad governor told Russian television that EU ambassador Marcus Ederer should be summoned and “informed about the relevant conditions.”

Moscow had also summoned a Lithuanian diplomat, but EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Vilnius was “doing nothing other than implementing the guidelines given by the (European) Commission”.

Source(s): AFP, Reuters

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