Live blog | Attacks on Severodonetsk take longer than Russia wants; The EU is bringing billions in aid to Ukraine

The attack on Severodonetsk is taking longer than Russia wants

05:55 | Russian forces have captured about a third of Severodonetsk, but the attack on the eastern Ukrainian city takes longer than hoped. Leonid Paschnik, the leader of the defunct Ukrainian region of Luhansk, told the Russian state news agency TASS.

“We can already say that we have a third of Severodonetsk under control,” Paschnik said. ‘But first and foremost, we want the city’s infrastructure to be preserved.’

Russian shelling has destroyed much of Severodonetsk, and troops have entered the city from the southeast and northeast, but the Russian campaign in the Donbas region has been delayed by Ukrainian defense. According to the state news agency TASS, the advance of Russian troops was hampered by the presence of several chemical factories in the area.

Russian troops finally managed to enter Severodonetsk on Monday after the city had been surrounded and shelled for several weeks. It is the only major city in the Luhansk region that is not yet in the hands of the Russians.

Mission Dutch F35s are coming to an end

03:50 | The first foreign mission of the Dutch F-35s ends on Tuesday. Since the beginning of April, four fighter jets have been stationed at the Graf Ignatievo air base in Bulgaria to monitor the airspace of the Eastern European country.

They were sent there to reinforce the eastern flank of the NATO area. That is what the alliance decided to do after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. It was impossible to extend the deployment of the F-35s that Bulgaria wanted.

The plane will return to the Netherlands on June 2, a spokesman for the defense said. About a hundred men and women are on the plane as support. Dutch marines are responsible for surveillance.

Counseling agencies on war crimes

03:40 | The European investigative organization Eurojust and the International Criminal Court (ICC) will discuss possible war crimes committed in Ukraine on Tuesday in The Hague. A press conference will then be held, which will also include Ukrainian, Polish and Lithuanian prosecutors. It is not yet known what exactly will be discussed.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan has previously been in Ukraine to investigate possible war crimes, including in the city of Butja, where hundreds of civilians have been killed by Russian soldiers. Last month, Khan said it was time for action by the ICC. According to him, the ICC does not take sides, but it chooses ‘the law that will protect humanity’.

The Chief Prosecutor added that we should be ashamed that so many parts of the world in 2022 will still be confronted with genocide, crimes against humanity and war violence.

The EU comes with billions in aid

02:50 | The EU will help Ukraine with 9 billion euros to pay current bills, EU leaders agreed at their summit in Brussels. With the money, the state can repay interest obligations, pay pensions and salaries and cover the costs of, for example, hospitals. The country needs almost 5 billion euros a month, the International Monetary Fund has calculated.

The leaders have not yet decided whether the financial support will go to Ukraine as a gift or loan. Germany argues, among other things, for subsidies because Ukraine is already burdened by a huge debt. Other countries, such as the Netherlands, are more reserved about a gift. The European Commission is now going to look at it and will soon come up with a proposal, it has been agreed.

Belarus conducts military exercise

02:45 | Belarus will conduct military mobilization exercises in the southeastern region of Gomel from next month, the Belarussian news agency BelTA reported. The region borders Ukraine to the south and Russia to the east. Part of Gomel also borders the area around the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

The exercises take place between June 22 and July 1. “This kind of event is usually held to prepare military units for combat and mobilization and to improve the military knowledge and practical skills of the responsible military personnel,” said Andrey Krivonosov, Gomel’s military commissioner.

In addition, between June 28 and July 16, military training will take place for the division of the army responsible for defending territory.

Belarus is known as a close ally of Russia. The country announced in March that it would not participate in the “special military operation in Ukraine”, which Russia calls the war. Thousands of Russian troops invaded Ukraine via Belarus during the invasion on 24 February.

Route: ‘Next round of sanctions should be different’

02:10 | The EU must do things differently if it launches a new package of sanctions on Russia, says Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The union must learn from the extremely difficult agreement on a boycott of Russian oil.

EU leaders on Monday night agreed on a diluted version of the embargo proposed by the European Commission almost four weeks ago. Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic negotiated exemptions, the technical details of which have not yet been worked out.

According to him, Rutte and some of his colleagues have argued that the order should be reversed from now on. “If we are to work on a seventh package, we need to have a debate about the technology,” such as arranging alternatives and rebuilding refineries, “before we start talking about what the sanctions package should really look like.”

The Netherlands want to continue with such a seventh package as soon as possible, but ‘you know it will be even harder’, Rutte said. For example, it could include measures to reduce imports of Russian gas, which is still a taboo for many EU countries.

Referendum on Russia’s accession postponed

00:40 | The referendum in South Ossetia, a province of Georgia, on the accession of the self-proclaimed republic to Russia has been tentatively canceled. The new leader Alan Gagloev has postponed the referendum until consultations have been held with Moscow on all issues related to the region’s further integration into Russia. The referendum was printed by his predecessor Anatoli Bibilov.

As the reason for the postponement, Gagloev mentions “uncertainty about the legal consequences of the issue submitted to the referendum.”

Gagloev won the election in South Ossetia in early May. He immediately said he was waiting for a ‘signal’ from Moscow before asking the people if they wanted to belong to Russia. A few days later, Bibilov reported that the organization had already been disbanded during his presidency and that the referendum would take place on July 17.

A referendum is unacceptable to Georgia because it still considers South Ossetia with about 60,000 inhabitants to be part of the country. Since 2008, Moscow has recognized the Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent republics. Russia then invaded Georgia and conquered South Ossetia within 24 hours. Russia said it started that war because of genocide against the Russian people. The Russian invasion of Ukraine began with a similar rationale.

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