War in Ukraine, day 76 | Washington plans to expand conflict, Kiev pushes for EU accession

(Kiev) US intelligence said on Tuesday it expected the conflict to extend beyond Ukraine, and said Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to bring it to Moldova, while Kiev reiterated the need for its security to join the European Union.

Posted at 6:22
Updated at 1:20 PM

David Stout with Dmitry Zaks in Kramatorsk
Media agency France

What you need to know

  • The conflict led to more than 8 million displaced people in Ukraine on May 3, according to the UN;
  • “More than a thousand” Ukrainian soldiers, including “hundreds of wounded” still in Azovstal, according to Kiev;
  • Moscow will not attend a special meeting of the Human Rights Council on Thursday;
  • The Russian oligarchs are being hit hard by the sanctions and are being robbed of their fortune;
  • According to Mayor Vitali Klitschko, nearly two-thirds of Kiev’s 3.5 million residents have returned to the Ukrainian capital;
  • Joe Biden on Monday reactivated a law to speed up the shipment of military equipment to Ukraine Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022
  • Special meeting of the Human Rights Council;
  • Ukrainians have been “sent to Russia against their will,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday;
  • Fighting in the east, strikes in Odessa;
  • Finland and Sweden come to the choice of their probable candidacies to NATO.

“We believe that President Putin is preparing for a prolonged conflict in Ukraine, in which he still plans to reach goals beyond the Donbass” (East): Transnistria, the region of Moldova that seceded in 1990, the US said chief of intelligence Avril Haines.

If it is “possible” that the Russians achieve this goal in the coming months, “they will not be able to reach Transnistria and reach Odessa (southern Ukraine) without declaring some form of general mobilization,” Mr.me Haines during a Congressional hearing.

The Russian president is “probably counting on a weakening of the resolve” of Westerners, she warned.

Believing that Mr Putin’s ambitions exceed the capabilities of his military, she “probably” sees the coming months as a “more unpredictable trajectory and possibly an escalation”, as well as a greater chance of “more drastic measures, including instituting law, the reorientation of industrial production”.

“We continue to believe that President Putin will only order the use of nuclear weapons if he perceives an existential threat to the Russian state or regime,” she noted.

L’adhésion de l’Ukraine à l’UE, dans le contexte de l’invasion du pays par la Russie, est devenue une « question de guerre ou de paix », a estimé le même jour le ministre ukrainien des Affaires étrangères Dmytro Kouleba à l’occasion de la première visite dans son pays d’un membre du gouvernement allemand depuis le début de la guerre, son homologue Annalena Baerbock.

Selon lui, « l’une des raisons pour lesquelles la guerre a commencé est que Poutine était convaincu que l’Europe n’avait pas besoin de l’Ukraine ».

Le président français Emmanuel Macron, qui exerce la présidence tournante de l’UE, avait douché lundi les espoirs d’une adhésion rapide de l’Ukraine à l’UE en affirmant que cette éventualité prendrait « des décennies ». Il a proposé, en attendant, l’accession à un nouvel ensemble, une « communauté politique européenne », susceptible aussi d’accueillir d’autres pays.

Ambassades de retour à Kyiv

La cheffe de la diplomatie allemande a annoncé mardi la réouverture de l’ambassade d’Allemagne à Kyiv, fermée peu après l’invasion russe du 24 février. Sa visite a été l’occasion pour Kyiv de saluer le « changement de position » de Berlin vis-à-vis de Moscou ces dernières semaines.

« Je voudrais remercier l’Allemagne d’avoir modifié sa position sur un certain nombre de questions », dont sa « politique traditionnelle envers la Russie », a déclaré M. Kouleba durant une conférence de presse à Kyiv avec Mme Baerbock. Kyiv était allé jusqu’à refuser mi-avril de recevoir le chef de l’État allemand Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

La ministre allemande s’est rendue à Boutcha, une ville près de Kyiv où des centaines de civils tués ont été découverts après l’occupation russe au mois de mars. « Nous devons aux victimes non seulement de commémorer ici, mais de traduire en justice les coupables et leur demander des comptes […] this is the promise we can and should make here in Boutcha,” she said.

Dutch minister Wopke Hoekstra, also in Ukraine, tweeted Tuesday photos of streets in Irpin, another town near Kiev, where Ukraine accuses Russians of massacring civilians in March, ahead of a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kouleba. . He also announced the reopening of the Dutch embassy in Kiev.

Continuation of strikes

On the ground, following strikes in Odessa on Monday that left at least one dead and five injured, the Ukrainian General Staff announced that Russian artillery fire and airstrikes continued on Tuesday in the east of the country and on the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. (southeast).

According to a senior Ukrainian government official, “more than a thousand soldiers”, including “hundreds of wounded”, are still in the underground galleries of the huge steel factory, the last part of the Ukrainian resistance in this strategic southern port of Donbass.

In the rest of the Donbass, the Russians continue to “prepare offensive operations in the Lyman and Severodonetsk regions,” the Ukrainian General Staff said.

The Russian Ministry of Defense announced to him the capture of Popasna, between Kramatorsk and Luhansk in northern Donbass, putting Russian and pro-Russian forces “the administrative border of the Luhansk People’s Republic”, or the “border” between the self-proclaimed Republic of Luhansk. of pro-Russian separatists and the other pro-Russian separatist area, the self-proclaimed Republic of Donetsk.

Ukrainian border guard Andriy Demchenko accused Russia on Tuesday of daily attacks on Ukraine’s Cherniguiv and Sumy regions in the north of the country.

In Kiev, which was evicted from most residents at the start of the Russian invasion, nearly two-thirds of the capital’s 3.5 million residents have returned, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Tuesday.

While there are still curfews, roadblocks and mines in the forests around Kiev, “if these restrictions don’t scare you, you can indeed come back,” added the councilor, who has so far urged residents to be patient.

Agreement of the 27 in sight on oil

US military aid, which has amounted to some $3.8 billion since the start of the conflict, should be further facilitated by President Joe Biden’s signing on Monday of the “Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act.” “. This “Lend-Lease” law uses a system passed by President Franklin Roosevelt (1933-1945) in 1941, which gave him extensive powers to support the war effort in Europe.

Meanwhile, negotiations continue on the proposed European Union embargo on Russian oil, which is currently blocked by Hungary.

An agreement is possible “within a week”, French Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune assured Tuesday.

“Russian hydrocarbons are not just another commodity. It is worth giving up, especially oil. Because freedom is at stake. And protecting freedom comes at a price,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday.

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