EU refuses to pay for gas in rubles, Russia excluded from Champions League

On the 68th day of the war in Ukraine, the Ukrainian authorities hope for further evacuations of civilians in Mariupol. A hundred were picked up on Sunday and taken out of the Azovstal steelworks. In parallel, the bombardments continue in the east of the country, at least eight civilians have been killed. The point on what to remember this Monday.

The essential

  • Civilian evacuation operations must resume in Mariupol, after the care of a hundred civilians Sunday from the Azovstal factory
  • At least eight civilians were killed in Kharkiv and Donetsk regions
  • EU energy ministers meet in Brussels and say they refuse to pay for gas in rubles
  • Russian football teams will be banned from next season’s European Cups, including the Champions League
  • Radio France’s daily podcast on the situation in Ukraine can be listened to here

The situation on the military front

The Russian army is gaining ground in the East

The east of the country is faced with a slow progression of Russian forces, with numerical superiority and better equipped with heavy weapons, even if the Russian army has not “not recorded substantial territorial gains” according to the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The Russians are thus pursuing “marginal advances” towards the city of Lyman, in the Donetsk region, but are blocked by their adversaries “on the front line before February 24”according to ISW.

Eight civilians killed

Eight civilians were killed Sunday in bombings in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, including four in the town of Lyman alone, close to the front and under the direct threat of the Russian advance, the regional governors announced. “Russian shelling in the Donetsk region: four civilians killed, all from Lyman”, Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram, adding that seven civilians were injured in the city from which the Ukrainian army recently had to withdraw.

A senior Ukrainian military official stressed “the difficult situation” in the east of the country, especially in the regions of Izium and Sieverodonetsk, “where the enemy has concentrated most of his efforts and his most combat-ready troops”.

In the South, evacuations must resume in Mariupol

The Ukrainian authorities planned new evacuations of residents of Mariupol on Monday, after a first operation which left first civilians of the Azovstal factory, besieged by Russian forces in this strategic port in southeastern Ukraine.

“More than a hundred civilians have already been evacuated, first of all women and children”, said the president. These civilians were expected in Zaporijjia, a town located about 200 km northwest of Mariupol and still under Ukrainian control, even if the front line is getting closer.

“For the first time since the beginning of the war, this vital humanitarian corridor has started to function. For the first time, there have been two days of real ceasefire in this territory” of the steel complex, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video broadcast message on Sunday evening. “At last!”

Teenager killed in strike in Odessa

A 15-year-old boy was killed and a minor injured in a Russian strike on Odessa, according to municipal authorities in this port city in southern Ukraine. “A missile strike on Odessa damaged a building in which five people were staying. A 15-year-old boy died, another minor child was taken to hospital“, announced the city council of the city on Telegram, without giving details on the fate of the other three occupants of the building.

Two Russian patrol boats destroyed according to Ukraine

Also in the East, the Ukrainian army claimed to have destroyed two Russian Raptor patrol boats, near Serpents’ Island, in the Black Sea, which has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance since the beginning of the invasion by Moscow forces on 24 february. The Russian Raptor-class patrol boats are among the fastest shuttles in the Russian Navy, reaching nearly 90 km/h at full speed. They can carry up to 20 soldiers in addition to the crew of three people.

No end of war on May 9

As May 9 approaches, the date on which Russia commemorates with great fanfare the victory over Nazi Germany in 1945, the governor of the Lugansk region said he expected “an intensification of the bombardments”. But to those who predicted particular military action as May 9 approached, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov seemed to send a dismissal.

“Our military will not artificially adjust their actions to any date, including VE Day”Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Italian television Mediaset broadcast on Sunday. “The pace of the operation in Ukraine depends, above all, on the need to minimize possible risks for the civilian population and the Russian military,” he added.

The diplomatic situation and international reactions

EU refuses to pay for Russian gas in rubles…

The energy ministers of the countries of the European Union met urgently on the question of Russian gas. The EU refuses to pay for its gas purchases from Russia in rubles, warned the European Commission and the French Presidency of the Council after the meeting.

Moscow’s demand to pay for purchases in rubles is “a unilateral and unjustified modification of contracts and it is legitimate to reject it”said Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson. French Minister for Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili, chair of the meeting, confirmed the “willingness to honor contracts”.

… and prepares for a break with Moscow

“We must prepare for a suspension of supplies” in Russian gas, warned the European Commissioner. “There are no immediate risks for supplies”assured the Commissioner. “But we will not be able to replace the 150 billion m3 of gas purchased from Russia by other sources. It is not tenable”she admitted.. “We can manage the replacement of 2/3 of Russian gas supplies”she clarified.

Deliveries of Russian gas to European Union countries and Turkey fell sharply between January and April compared to the same period in 2021, Gazprom also announced, while those to China exploded, climbing by 60. % over one year, specifies the gas giant.

EU finalizes phased embargo on Russian oil

The European Commission is due to finalize a sixth round of sanctions against Russia on Tuesday. This new set of sanctions must notably include a ban on the purchase of Russian gas. “There is a political will to stop oil purchases from Russia and we will have measures and a decision on a phased withdrawal next week”said a European official involved in the discussions on Sunday, without hiding that the decision is not “not easy to implement”.

Two landlocked European countries, Hungary and Slovakia, depend on Russian pipelines. They have no ports and are not connected to any European pipeline. The European Union also wants to avoid a global surge in oil prices.

Washington accuses Russia of wanting to “annex” pro-Russian territories

The United States reports information “very believable” according to which Russia intends to organize “me” referendums for “attempt to annex” the “republics” pro-Russian separatists from Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine. “According to the latest information, we believe that Russia will try to annex the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ and the ‘Lugansk People’s Republic'”US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Michael Carpenter, told reporters in Washington. “This information shows that Russia intends to fabricate referendums from scratch” in this sense, he added.

Israel slams Lavrov’s comments about Hitler

Asked, in this same interview with Italian television Mediaset, about Russian claims that the war is aimed at “denazifier” Ukraine when President Zelensky is Jewish, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov caused an outcry by saying: “I could be wrong, but Hitler also had Jewish blood”.

His Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid judged these remarks “scandalous, unforgivable and a horrific historical error“, and summoned the Russian ambassador for “clarifications”.

Russia excluded from the next European Cup

UEFA has announced that no Russian club will participate in the European Cups next season, namely the Champions League, the Europa League or the Europa League Conference. Russia is also excluded from the next women’s Europ. It will be replaced there by Portugal.

Denmark and Sweden reopen embassies in Kyiv

Denmark announced the reopening of its embassy in kyiv, in a sign of support for Ukraine, during a surprise visit by its Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod. “It is a very strong symbol of Danish support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people to reopen the doors of the Danish Embassy today”he said in a statement.

“On Wednesday, the Swedish Embassy will reopen in Kyiv (…) Sweden will continue to stand by Ukraine’s side”Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde then announced on Twitter.

The humanitarian situation and solidarity with Ukrainians

Sylvie Vartan releases a record in support of Ukraine

At 77, singer Sylvie Vartan says she is releasing a record whose proceeds will be entirely donated to Unicef ​​for the benefit of Ukraine. “When I saw the images of these Ukrainian people under the bombs, trying to flee, it was a shock. Inevitably, it brought back many images to me and intense feelings of my childhood”, confides Sylvie Vartan in a press release. A story that echoes his own. When she was 8 years old, she fled Bulgaria, then under Soviet occupation, with his parents and his brother Eddie. It was in 1952. “We have the same DNA. Even if the situation was very different because we were not fleeing a war but a brutal dictatorship, I understand the feelings of the Ukrainian people”, says the singer. To find in this article.

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