Live blog | Ukraine awaits assessment of EU membership candidate; Despite boycott, Dutch products for sale in Russia

Kremlin: Russia is a very reliable gas supplier to Europe

13:53 | Russia is a very reliable energy supplier to Europe and fulfills all its supply obligations. This is what Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov says. Earlier in the day, Germany declared the alert phase of concerns about possible gas shortages due to reduced supplies from Russia.

Russia’s gas supply to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which runs through the Baltic Sea, has been cut by 60 percent, which Russia says is due to technical problems. German Economy Minister Robert Habeck has said Russia is using gas as a ‘weapon’ because of Germany’s support for Ukraine in the war with Russia. Berlin is talking about an ‘economic attack’ from Moscow.

But Russia finds the German accusations strange, because according to the Kremlin, the lower gas supply is linked to maintenance delays. According to Peskov, there is no other reason for the declining supply.

King: Russian invasion is a violation of what Europe stands for

13:50 | “The Russian invasion is a blatant violation of everything our family of European nations stands for.” This was stated by King Willem-Alexander during his speech to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on Thursday. He clearly spoke out against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Brutal violence and abuse of power should never have the last word, the king said.

Willem-Alexander stressed that ‘we Europeans’ do not want ‘the clocks to be turned back a century’ and that Europe cannot be forcibly driven apart by 2022. “Or that violence can be used to deprive a people of its freedom.” Willem-Alexander referred to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, which he described as ‘a shock wave’.

“We do not want to go back to a time of ‘might is right’ or to an era of extreme nationalism, hate speech and terror. Those ghosts of the past must not return,” Willem-Alexander said. The king said it should be “very clear” to everyone.

The king also expressed his appreciation for the way Ukraine’s neighbors took action and received a large number of refugees. He also named the refugees who have come to Holland. ‘I have met some of them and have been deeply moved by their stories. Young mothers with small children who hastily packed their belongings in sleeping bags. People whose houses burned down shortly after being shot at. ‘

“It is precisely at this point that we as Europeans must stand together,” he said. ‘We have worked together step by step to achieve an ever higher level of protection. The Council of Europe has been one of the main driving forces behind these efforts. ‘

UN: More than 150 heritage sites damaged in Ukraine

11.47 | More than 150 cultural and religious monuments in Ukraine were damaged or destroyed during the war, the UN cultural organization UNESCO reported. That’s at least fifty more than was announced two months ago.

According to UNESCO, these are museums and monuments, churches and other religious buildings, libraries and other extraordinary buildings. The seven Ukrainian UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, are known to have remained undamaged. The historic center of Chernihiv has previously been damaged by fierce fighting. Ukraine had nominated this place for the World Heritage List.

UNESCO uses satellite images and testimonies to assess the damage. In this way, the organization verifies information provided by the Ukrainian authorities.

Germany scales the gas crisis plan to Phase 2

11:37 | The German government has raised the alarm level under the emergency gas plan as Russia’s gas supplies are being throttled. This marks the start of the second phase of the three-part emergency plan for gas supplies in the country. It was previously reported that Germany would increase the alarm phase.

“Gas is now in short supply in Germany,” said Economy Minister Robert Habeck, urging the Germans to reduce their gas consumption to save energy for the winter. “We are in an economic confrontation with Russia,” the minister said in response to the reduced gas supply from Russia.

Phase two activation brings Germany one step closer to the third and final phase, where gas rationing can take place in Europe’s largest economy. During the new alarm phase, energy companies will have the opportunity to increase their gas prices for customers, so that demand falls. In the third phase of the contingency plan, the government can intervene directly in the distribution of gas in the country.

‘Only a matter of time before the Donbas are in Russian hands’

10.59 | The Russian army faces strong resistance from Ukrainian troops in the Donbas. Nevertheless, it is only a matter of time before the region of eastern Ukraine is in Russian hands, says foreign commentator Bernard Hammelburg. “The Russians are ‘milling’ forward.”

‘Ukraine offers an incredible amount of resistance. The Russians had not expected this in the beginning, “says Hammelburg. ‘The fact that the Russians are slowing down does not, of course, mean that Ukraine will win. As far as the Donbas are concerned, there is certainly no stopping it. It will take some time, but in the end the Russians will be in charge there. ‘

“Complete closure of Russian gas tap more likely”

10:46 | The scenario where Russia completely shuts off the gas tap to Europe this winter is becoming increasingly likely. Without Russian gas, it will be very tight to get through the winter. This is what energy specialist Jilles van den Beukel from the Hague Center for Strategic Studies says.

In an interview with BNR, the energy specialist confirms the warning from Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency, who warned Europe that it must work on a Plan B if Russia stops gas supplies this winter.

British and Moroccan appeal against the death penalty

10:35 | Two Britons and a Moroccan detained in Ukraine by pro-Russian separatists are appealing the death penalty they received in the Donetsk region, the Russian news agency TASS reported. The three were captured while fighting for the Ukrainian armed forces.

The court convicted the men of working as mercenaries and of wanting to take control of the area. “We are still preparing the full appeal,” the Ukrainian lawyer told one of the British men. “Should the appeal be rejected, we will seek pardon, which is a right for the accused in Donetsk.”

The British government said after the sentencing that the case is against the laws of war. According to Foreign Minister Liz Truss, the men are prisoners of war and should therefore not be sentenced to death.

After Severodonetsk, Russia focuses on Lisitchansk

08:03 | With the Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk almost in the hands of Russia, it seems the Russians are focusing on their next goal. Geopolitical analyst Alex Krijger fears that Lisichiansk, which is located right next to Severodonetsk, will be hit by Russia. ‘Before the war, that city had 100,000 inhabitants.’

According to Krijger, Russian preparations to attack the city are already underway. “One has to take into account that it will again be a war of attrition as in Mariupol and Severodonetsk. We’re going to see terrible scenes with a ruined city and a lot of victims. ‘

Russia takes villages near Lisichian

07:37 | The Russian army has occupied two villages near Lischansk, the governor of the Luhansk region reported. The Russians have already almost completely controlled the nearby city of Severodonetsk and are increasingly targeting Lisichiansk.

British military intelligence said on Thursday that Russia was increasing pressure in the Lischansk and Severodonetsk areas. Since last week, Russian troops have advanced about 5 kilometers in the direction of Lisichian.

The Ukrainian army continues to fight for Severodonetsk and the conquered villages of Zolote and Vovchoirovka, the governor said. In Severodonetsk, only the site of a chemical plant is still in the hands of Ukraine, many civilians are also hiding there.

Microsoft: Russian cyber attacks on Ukraine’s allies

05:40 | Russian hackers have begun carrying out large-scale cyber attacks on Ukraine’s western allies, says technology company Microsoft. It is especially state computers in NATO countries that are the target of the attacks, especially American computers are being attacked, but in total Microsoft observed attempts at hacks in 128 organizations in 42 different countries. The hackers managed to gain access to 29 percent of the networks. In a quarter of these cases, data was stolen.

Ukraine awaits verdict on EU member candidate

03:45 | EU leaders gather in Brussels on Thursday for a historic summit, where they shout around them for the highest. Ukraine and Moldova are riveted to the union as candidate members, there is no doubt about that anymore. Finally, with the accession of a number of Balkan countries still awaiting EU membership, some progress can finally be made.

It was unthinkable three months ago that Ukraine would become a candidate for EU membership, senior EU diplomats recall. But the last reserves of countries like the Netherlands have melted away with lightning speed as Ukraine becomes more and more brutally attacked by Russia, and the country longs for the certainty that its future lies in the West. Even before the EU summit kicks off, insiders say no member state will object. Not even against the candidate status of neighboring Moldova and the prospects that Brussels, by the way, wants to offer Georgia.

Heineken and Unilever products for sale in Russia despite boycott

01:30 | Heineken previously stopped completely in Russia. Unilever stopped exports to the country. Yet their products are still available there because they are widely offered at Russia’s largest online store Wildberries. It shows a study conducted by BNR. According to the brands, the products end up in Russia via a detour.

BNR looked at the extent to which products from companies with an AEX listing are still available through Wildberries. Due to the war in Ukraine, many companies no longer decided to supply their products to Russia, for example, the Heineken beer brand withdrew completely after weeks of pressure. But e-commerce giant Wildberries still sells Heineken and Amstel beers, BNR discovered. The company fulfilled more than 800 million orders last year and is considered the Russian Amazon.

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