As fighting continues in southern and eastern Ukraine, France has said it is ready to help lift the blockade of the Ukrainian port of Odessa.
I subscribe for 1€ the 1st month
France is ready to help lift the blockade of the Ukrainian port of Odessa, in order to get cereals out of Ukraine, the blockage of which is causing a world food crisis, while deadly fighting is raging in the south and east of the country. 'Ukraine. “We are at the disposal of the parties for, basically, that an operation be put in place which would allow access to the port of Odessa in complete safety, that is to say to be able to allow boats to pass despite the fact that the sea is mined,” said an adviser to President Emmanuel Macron.
These statements come as Emmanuel Macron received Senegalese President Macky Sall, also President of the African Union, on Friday. Macky Sall had called on Thursday for the demining of the port of Odessa, and indicated that he had received assurances from President Vladimir Putin that the Russians would not take advantage of this to attack, as the Ukrainians fear.
“Navigation is blocked in the Black Sea and enemy ships hold almost the entire territory of Ukraine under the threat of missile strikes,” Ukraine's operational command for the southern region said Friday night, noting that , “Failing to make progress on land, the enemy is testing the strength of our positions [on the front lines] with bombardments from the air with helicopters.”
Joe Biden warned Volodymyr Zelensky of the Russian invasion
The Russian invasion launched on February 24 paralyzed grain exports from Ukraine – a major player in this sector – and caused a spike in grain and fertilizer prices, threatening a food crisis in many countries, especially in Africa and the Middle East. orientals. The French president is due to travel to Romania and Moldova on Tuesday and Wednesday, pending a visit to Ukraine, the date of which has not yet been set, according to the Élysée.
< p>For his part, US President Joe Biden said on Friday that his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky “didn't want to hear” US warnings ahead of Russia's invasion of his country.
“A lot of people thought I was exaggerating” when I talked about a Russian attack on Ukraine before it started, Joe Biden said. “But I knew we had information to that effect. [Russian President Vladimir Putin] was going to cross the border. There was no doubt and Zelensky didn't want to hear it,” he added to reporters.
Intense fighting in Kherson and Mykolaiv
On the ground, Ukrainian forces said Friday they shelled Russian positions in the southern region of Kherson – almost all of which has been occupied since the early days of the invasion. kyiv fears a rapid annexation by Moscow. For several days, the Ukrainians have been reporting fighting in this region.
The Ukrainian operational command said that a reconnaissance group infiltrated in this occupied territory had defeated Russian troops, “seizing their armaments and means of communication”. The local authorities put in place by Moscow are loudly calling for annexation. A Russian negotiator mentioned on June 1 the upcoming organization, possibly in July, of a referendum in the occupied territories on this issue.
A project described as “illegal” by kyiv and which recalls the referendum organized by Russia in Crimea in 2014, before annexing the Ukrainian peninsula in stride. The fighting is also intense in the region of Mykolaiv, close to Odessa. “The Russians are targeting us with heavy artillery, whether in the city or in the villages,” Vitali Kim, governor of this region, told Agence France-Presse, while welcoming that the Russians had retreated. days. “They won't come back, we won't let them come back,” he said.
Constant strikes on Sievierodonetsk
In the Donbass, the battle for the key city of Sievierodonetsk and its twin Lyssytchansk continues, increasingly deadly. In his usual daily evening message, Volodymyr Zelensky reported “very heavy fighting” in the Donbass. “Russia wants to devastate every city in Donbass, every one, without exaggeration. Like Volnovakha, like Mariupol,” he noted.
“The Ukrainian military is doing everything to stop the attacks of the occupiers, as much as possible with as many heavy weapons and modern artillery” that Ukraine has, “everything that was asked and continues to be asked of our partners,” he said. But the fighting continues in Sievierodonetsk and the shelling is constant, said Friday Sergei Gaïdaï, governor of the region.
The chief of staff of the Ukrainian armies clarified on Saturday morning that the Russians were advancing in the direction of Novotoshkivske-Orikhove and had “partial success” on the outskirts of the village of Orekhovo. “The enemy continues to carry out assaults in the city of Sievierodonetsk,” he continued, noting that fourteen attacks had been repelled in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in 24 hours.
Taking Sievierodonetsk would open up the road to Moscow to another major city, Kramatorsk, an important step in conquering the entire Donbass basin, a predominantly Russian-speaking region in eastern Ukraine, partly held by pro-Russian separatists since 2014.
Ukraine hopes for more powerful new weapons
According to the general staff, the Russian army is preparing to attack Slavyansk and Siversk, regrouping its troops and moving ammunition and fuel in this perspective. And the risk of strikes by Ukraine from Belarus “continues”, he noted. The battle is particularly deadly, with “up to 100 Ukrainian soldiers” killed and 500 wounded every day, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Thursday. The Russians say nothing about their losses.
The head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, Andriï Yermak, announced on Saturday morning “the death during the war” of a military journalist, officer Oleksiy Chubashev. He did not give details on the circumstances of the death of the man who was responsible for a recruitment program and Ukrainian military television.
Ukraine could, however, retake Sievierodonetsk “in two, three days”, as soon as it has “long-range” Western artillery, Sergiï Gaïdaï assured Thursday. The Ukrainians keep asking their Western allies for new, more powerful weapons. The delivery of multiple launch rocket systems, including Himars with a range of about 80 kilometers, slightly greater than that of Russian systems, has been announced by Washington and London.
In this context, British Defense Minister Ben Wallace made an unannounced two-day visit to Kyiv. President Zelensky thanked him for London's leading role in Western support for Ukraine. “The British are showing real leadership on defense issues,” insisted the Ukrainian president in his evening message.
Two Britons and a Moroccan sentenced to death
Ben Wallace's visit comes the day after the announcement by the authorities of the pro-Russian separatist “republic” of Donetsk of the death sentence for mercenary charges of two Britons and a Moroccan who fought on the Ukrainian side: Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner and Brahim Saadoun. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is “appalled” by the sentencing, Downing Street said on Friday, saying he was working with kyiv on their release.
“Clearly they were serving in the forces Ukrainian armies and are prisoners of war” and not mercenaries, Boris Johnson's spokesman said. On the 107th day of the war, the Heads of State of nine Central and Eastern European countries (Romania, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Slovakia) also met on Friday in Bucharest to call for a reinforcement of NATO's eastern flank, less than three weeks from an Alliance summit in Madrid.
“In the face of heightened security risks in Romania and the Black Sea, consolidating NATO on its eastern flank […] becomes all the more urgent and crucial,” Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said opening the meeting, co-chaired by his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda.