July 2, 2022

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War in Ukraine, Day 84 | Finland and Sweden approached NATO and surrendered in Azovstal

(Brussels) Sweden and Finland submitted applications for NATO membership on Wednesday, claiming that nearly 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers who had been hiding in the Azovstal factory in Mariupol (south) were a direct result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Released at 6:20 p.m.

Max DELANY with Charlotte Flandiv in kyiv
French Media Company

Wednesday was another highlight in Ukraine: the start of an investigation into a war crimes attempt by a Russian soldier in Kiev, the first since the conflict began on February 24.

In Brussels, the ambassadors of Sweden and Finland – who share a 1,300 km border with Russia – submitted their nomination papers to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, whom he hailed as “a historic moment in a crucial moment for our security.”

Turkey opposes their integration and may block the process, but a diplomatic source said consultations were underway to overcome Ankara’s opposition. “We hope it will end soon,” he said. Stoltenberg said.

According to Moscow, surrendered in Azovstal

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that 959 (Ukrainian) militants had been taken prisoner, including 80 wounded, since Monday at the Azovstal base in Mariupol.

Information that Kiev did not comment in the morning.

Last week, Ukraine promised to have more than 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers – 600 wounded – in this huge steel complex, the last stronghold of resistance in the city destroyed by Russian attacks.

Ukrainian civil servants said Wednesday morning that the Russian military was focusing on its efforts to “block our units near the Azovstal” with artillery and airstrikes.

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On Tuesday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense praised the “Ukrainian heroes” who “accomplished their mission”. He also pointed out that Russian prisoners would be allowed to return to the country “as soon as possible”, confirming that some of these men were actually in Russian custody.

However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky said on Tuesday that the evacuation of troops from the Azovstel steelwork was “continuing”, without mentioning the number of soldiers involved. According to the president, who spoke with his French envoy, Emmanuel Macron, by telephone on Tuesday, the mission involved “particularly influential international mediators.”

Mariupol, a strategic port city on the Sea of ​​Azov, besieged by the Russians since early March and defended by the Ukrainians at the cost of mass destruction, will be an important step for Moscow in this conflict. .

This would allow him to control an area from the Crimean Peninsula, which the Russians annexed in 2014, to the Donbass (eastern) areas already in the hands of pro-Russian separatists.

“Clear signal”

Nearly three months after the invasion of Ukraine, a 21-year-old Russian soldier accused of killing a civilian man appeared in Ukrainian courts on Wednesday for a war crime.

The trial, which begins at 7 a.m. EDT, is “a clear signal,” Ukrainian attorney general Irina Venedikova said on Twitter. “There is no one to punish […] There is no escaping justice, ”he said, adding that more than 11,000 war crimes trials had been launched while international agencies were investigating the abuses committed by Russian troops.

In The Hague (Netherlands), Kareem Khan, a lawyer at the International Criminal Court (ICC), announced that he was sending a team of 42 investigators and experts to Ukraine, the largest task force ever sent to Ukraine. ICC

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And Washington announced on Tuesday the creation of “Conflict Surveillance”, which initially provided six million dollars, “to collect, analyze and widely disseminate evidence of war crimes” that they attributed to Russia in Ukraine.

“Long phase”

On the ground, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksi Resnikov said on Tuesday that the war was entering a “protracted phase”.

According to the Ukrainian president, seven people were killed and six wounded in the front line in the Donetsk region (east).

In the neighboring region of Luhansk, four people were killed Wednesday when its governor, Sergei Kaitoi, announced he had found two bodies in the village of Priville.

Russian forces are trying to infiltrate near Bopasna and into Severdonetsk, one of the main cities in the region under Ukrainian control, citing “intensifying shelling of civilians,” he added.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry warned on Tuesday that Russian forces were carrying out “liaison attacks” in the Donetsk region and part of the neighboring Luhansk region.

The Russian military is trying to “encircle and destroy the reconstruction of the Ukrainian armed forces in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” partly at the hands of pro-Russian separatists. Resnikov confirmed. Secretary General of Defense and NATO Jens Stoltenberg.

After weeks of fierce fighting around small villages in these regions, the Russian army in Kharkiv (northeast) is advancing little by little.

In Sydorovié, AFP journalists saw fields in flames and bombings against this small village.

According to Ukrainian civil servants, the enemy is “strengthening its forces” to launch attacks in the direction of Polohi and Orikiv, far from Saporizia in southeastern Ukraine.

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The eastern part of the country has been their priority since Russian troops withdrew from the vicinity of the Ukrainian capital at the end of March.

However, Russian attacks targeted other parts of the country, killing at least eight people and wounding 12 others.

According to the governor of the Lviv region Maxim Kozitsky, another Russian attack on a Ukrainian military base in western Lviv on Tuesday morning, 15 kilometers from the Polish border.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Mr. Resnikov called on Ukraine’s Western allies for greater coordination in arms supplies to Kiev.

Paris will intensify its deliveries to Ukraine in the “coming days and weeks”, Mr. Mr. Macron said during their call on Tuesday. Promised to Zhelensky.

The latter was speaking during a video message aired during the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival, calling for a film that would not be “quiet” in the face of war in Ukraine.