Sparks can lead to fire
The Ukrainian press reported that meeting with Maia Sandu, Emmanuel Macron admitted that the war in Ukraine might expand to other nations. The French leader said the possibility of crisis spreading to neighboring countries cannot be ruled out, citing “recent episodes” in Moldova’s Transnistria area, where Russian forces are already stationed and explosions have occurred in the area. He further stated that France stays particularly vigilant in the region’s security situation.
Finland does not want bases, Poland wants
The NATO alliance has not expressed any interest in placing nuclear weapons or permanent bases in Finland, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Thursday during a visit to Rome. “I think at this stage it is important to stay calm, to have discussions with Turkey and all other member countries, answering questions that may exist and correcting any misunderstandings,” Marin stated.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Thursday said Warsaw would defend Sweden and Finland if they were attacked during their accession process to military alliance NATO. He added that Poland is ‘ready to build’ more permanent NATO bases.
Germany promised further military support to Ukraine to help the country defend itself against Russia’s attacks. “Russia must not win this war, Ukraine must prevail,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz told German lawmakers during a debate on the government’s foreign policy. He sharply criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin and accused him of continuing a “brutal war.” “Putin continues to believe that he can use bombs to dictate the terms for peace. But he is wrong,” Scholz said. “There will not be a peace treaty dictated by Russia. The Ukrainians will not accept it, and we will not accept it either,” he stressed.
Ukrainians want everything, but now
Ukrainian government official Dmytro Kuleba criticized again Europe for trying to serve surrogates for EU candidate status to Kyiv. “Strategic ambiguity on Ukraine’s European perspective practiced by some EU capitals in the past years has failed and must end. It only emboldened Putin. We do not need surrogates for EU candidate status that show second-class treatment of Ukraine and hurt feelings of Ukrainians,” he wrote.
In a letter to Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovsky expressed support for the Ukrainian people and congratulated President Zelensky on his candidacy for membership in the European Union. “The Republic of Northern Macedonia as a candidate country supports the European path of friendly Ukraine and gaining candidate status during the Council of Europe Union in June this year,” he said.
Azovstal didn’t fall?
The Russian Defense Ministry said that 1,730 fighters have surrendered from Azovstal since Monday. That includes a further 771 who surrendered, they say, in the last 24 hours. 80 were wounded.
However, Deputy Commander of the Azov Regiment, Captain Sviatoslav Palamar recorded a video in which he denies the information that he left the territory of the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol and surrendered to Russian invaders. “The command and I are in the territory of Azovstal steelworks. An operation is underway, the details of which I will not disclose. I want to thank the whole world and Ukraine for support. See you,” he said.
“Weapons, sanctions and money are our platform of negotiations”
Russian Foreign Sergei Lavrov dialled WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday confirming Moscow's support for the central role of the WHO and its readiness to continue to actively participate in the activities of the organisation.
Lavrov outlined in detail the actions taken on a daily basis as part of a special military operation to alleviate the suffering of civilians, and "called on WHO to influence the Kyiv regime so that it does not interfere with the implementation of the measures proposed for this purpose".
Ukraine should not be offered a ceasefire at this time, as this is off the table without the total withdrawal of Russian troops, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the head of the President's Office, has said on Twitter.
"Do not offer us a ceasefire – this is impossible without total Russian troop withdrawal. Ukraine is not interested in a new ‘Minsk (Protocol)’ and the war starting up again in a few years," Podolyak said.
Americans discuss war in Ukraine with Russians
The top U.S. military officer, General Mark Milley, spoke by telephone with Russia's Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov, the Pentagon said on Thursday, the first conversation between the two since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February.
The discussion was held at the initiative of the American side, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“Issues of mutual interest were discussed, including the situation in Ukraine,” it added.
Some can no more, others cannot yet
The NATO alliance doesn't expect significant gains for either side of the battlefield in Ukraine in coming weeks, a NATO military official with knowledge of the intelligence told CNN on Wednesday.
According to the official, the current NATO discussion is that the momentum has shifted significantly in favor of Ukraine and the debate within NATO circles is now over whether it is possible for Kyiv to retake Crimea and the Donbas territories seized by Russia and Russian-backed separatists, respectively, in 2014."I think they could [retake Crimea and the Donbas], yes," the official said. "Not now, not soon, but if they can keep up the fight I think so."
NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Russia’s offensive in Ukraine is failing and its operation in the Donbass region has stalled, but this does not mean that Russia abandoned its strategic objectives.
US$40bn for Ukraine
The US Congress on Thursday approved a huge weapons and aid package worth $40 billion, and the White House said President Joe Biden would sign it during his trip to Asia. The bundle includes $6 billion for Ukraine to enhance its armored vehicle inventory and air defense system. Biden has cast the Ukraine war as part of a great US-led struggle of democracy against authoritarianism.