8:28 am: African Union chief meets Putin in Russia
Senegalese President Macky Sall, the current chairperson of the African Union, is traveling to Russia on Thursday for talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Friday, his services said in a statement.
This visit is “part of the efforts of the current presidency of the Union to contribute to calming the war in Ukraine, and liberating stocks of grain and fertilizers, the blockage of which particularly affects African countries,” they said.
8:09 am: Swiss group Oerlikon leaves Russia
It was announced on Thursday that Swiss industrial group Oerlikon, which counts Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg among its shareholders, will leave the Russian market by reselling its activities to its executives, without disclosing the amount of the deal.
He said in connection that the Swiss group specializing in surface coating and textile machinery manufacturing has signed an agreement with the local management team to sell all its activities in the country, where it currently employs 48 people.
Its sales in Russia last year amounted to 5 million Swiss francs, or 4.8 million euros. Its worldwide turnover was 2.6 billion francs in 2021.
Oerlikon halted all cross-border business with Russia on March 4 after the invasion of Ukraine. “As a final step, Oerlikon has now ceased all activities in Russia as well,” the group explains in a press release.
7:57 am: 200,000 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia, says Zelensky
Volodymyr Zelensky, in a video, claimed that Russia has “deported” “more than 200,000 Ukrainian children” since the beginning of the conflict. “This is one of the most heinous war crimes committed by Russia,” he said.
“These are children in orphanages, children with parents, children separated from their families,” he added. According to him, these children are scattered all over the Russian lands, in remote areas, so as to “make them forget Ukraine and prevent them from returning one day.”
In the same video, the Ukrainian president claimed that 243 children had died since the start of the war, 446 had been wounded, and 139 were missing.
UNICEF has counted 262 children killed and 415 injured since the conflict began.
6:27 am: Severodonetsk “80%” is busy
In Severodonetsk, the administrative capital of the Lugansk region, now “80% of the city is occupied” by Russian forces and street fighting is raging, Lugansk region’s governor, Sergio Gaidai, said at night from Wednesday to Thursday.
“The most difficult situation is in the Lugansk region, where the enemy is trying to drive our troops out of their positions,” Valery Zaluzhny, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, was quoted as saying in an army statement published on Wednesday. From night until Thursday.
“The enemy has an operational advantage in terms of artillery,” Kyiv said in a telephone conversation on Wednesday with French Chief of Staff of the Army General Thierry Burckhard.
This raises the question of the fastest possible transition of our units to NATO-type weapons. “It would save lives,” said the Ukrainian general.
5:50 am: Ukrainians expect arms shipments from the US
Ukrainian forces are waiting for the delivery of more powerful missile systems promised by the United States. According to a senior White House official, these are HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Missile System), which are multiple rocket launchers installed on lightly armored vehicles, and have a range of about 80 kilometers. However, the delivery date has not been specified.
Some specialists believe that the Hemars could change the balance of military power on the ground. Anthony Blinken also confirmed on Wednesday that Ukraine had given the United States “assurances” to ensure that these new weapons would not be used to strike targets in Russia. However, the Kremlin accused Washington of “throwing oil on the fire” and discouraging Ukrainians from participating in peace talks that have been stalled for several weeks.
Denmark to join European defense
The vast majority of Danes, nearly 67%, voted on Wednesday to join the European Union’s defense policy. Denmark has sent an important signal. To our allies in Europe and NATO and to (President Vladimir) Putin. We show that when Putin invades a free country and threatens stability in Europe, we meet,” more information in this article.
5:47 am: Conflict could last ‘many months’
“It could end tomorrow, if Russia ends its aggression,” but “we don’t see any indication in that direction at this point,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken estimated Wednesday during a press conference, alongside UN Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Washington.
That assessment of the war’s duration was confirmed on Wednesday by a Western security official on condition of anonymity: “The conflict should continue until the end of this year, and maybe beyond.”
5:46 am: Ukraine is losing 60 to 100 soldiers a day, according to Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed to US media Newsmax on Wednesday that between 60 and 100 Ukrainian soldiers die every day in combat and about 500 more are injured. “The situation in the east is really difficult,” he added.
This large number of casualties comes as Ukrainian forces are fighting fiercely against a strong concentration of Russian forces trying to control the Lugansk region in eastern Ukraine. “Most” of Severodonetsk, a major city in this region, is now under the control of the Russian army, after several bombings that destroyed about 90% of the city according to Ukrainian television. Nevertheless, Volodymyr Zelensky emphasized: “We are holding our defensive positions” in the east.
The Russians also incurred heavy losses, according to information received from the front. The Ukrainian government estimated last week that Russia has lost more than 30,000 soldiers since the start of the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
What to remember from Wednesday
- Former President of the Republic Francois Hollande announced Wednesday morning on BFMTV that “Emmanuel Macron should go to Kyiv, it is expected that he will go to France, it is time for him to do it.”
- On Tuesday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he also wanted to visit the French head of state “and the best thing for him is to come with other arms shipments.”
- Russian gas giant Gazprom announced that Russian gas exports fell by 27.6% between January and May 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.
5:45 a.m.: Hey everyone, welcome to this livestream where we’ll be following the situation around the conflict in Ukraine, on the 99th day of the Russian invasion.