All the fears of the Russian leader Vladimir Putin came true at the NATO summit in Madrid, except for one – Ukraine’s entry into NATO.
NATO declared Russia the “most significant and direct threat” to its members’ peace and security and vowed to strengthen support for Ukraine.
The United States announced officially the boosting of U.S. troops in Europe in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Kremlin’s war against Ukraine brought the once neutral Finland and Sweden into NATO.
After Snake Island, Russians will also leave Crimea “in a gesture of goodwill”
Russian and Ukrainian officials acknowledged Thursday that Russian forces had left the island after occupying the strategic Black Sea outpost for months. They offered significantly different accounts of the events that led to that outcome, however.
Russia called its retreat from Snake Island a “goodwill gesture” at a time when Moscow faces global ire for obstructing grain exports from Ukraine that are key to mitigating a global food crisis. The island, which covers just 0.06 square miles, sits on a major shipping lane and access point to the key port of Odessa. Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that its forces had “completed their assigned tasks” on the island.
Ukraine offered a different story. A blitz of Ukrainian artillery, rockets and airstrikes this month forced the Russians to pull out, Valery Zaluzhny, commander in chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, wrote in a Facebook post. He shared video footage of missiles hitting the island and the surrounding waters.
Boris Johnson noted Russia’s decision to abandon the prized strategic outpost of Snake Island demonstrates Ukraine’s ability to fight back. He said it is ‘only logical and right’ to intensify military support to help Kyiv defend against Vladimir Putin’s invasion. ‘If you wanted evidence of the amazing ability of the Ukrainians to fight back to overcome adversity and to repel the Russians then look at what has happened just today on Snake Island, where again Russia has had to cede ground,’ Johnson said.
Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, said in May that the island was critically important to both Russia and Ukraine. He said whoever controlled Snake Island controlled the land – and to some extent air – security of southern Ukraine. He said at the time that Ukraine believed Russia could use the island to launch an invasion of western Ukraine and send troops into Moldova’s Transnistria region, where Moscow already has troops stationed.
The Kremlin wants Zelensky to order surrender
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who must order the Ukrainian troops to lay down their arms.
“The Ukrainian side can stop everything by the end of this day,” the spokesman said. “An order is required.”
The Russian military has carried out a series of missile strikes in recent days that have hit civilian infrastructure and housing. Russia so far has used almost 2,800 different cruise missiles against Ukraine and hundreds of thousands of air bombs and MLRS rockets.
Ukraine terminates diplomatic relations with Syria
Ukraine cut diplomatic ties with Syria on June 29 after Damascus recognized the independence of the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced the decision on June 29 in a video posted on Telegram
“There will no longer be relations between Ukraine and Syria,” Zelenskiy said, adding that the sanctions pressure against Syria “will be even greater.”
Syria has previously sided with Russia in territorial disputes. It agreed in 2018 to recognize Abkhazia and a second breakaway Georgian region, South Ossetia, as independent countries. That move prompted Tbilisi to cut diplomatic ties with Damascus.
Stockholm follows Chisinau’s example as regards extradition to Turkey?
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that Sweden has promised to extradite 73 Turkish nationals wanted by Ankara for terror charges in return for Turkey’s support for the Nordic country’s bid to become a member of NATO. However, Swedish foreign minister refuses the extradition of anyone without proof that they were involved in terrorist activities.
Erdogan noted on Thursday that the Tuesday memorandum was just the beginning of a long, multi-step process, warning that Turkey could stop supporting both Nordic countries’ bids if they fail to keep their promises.
Grain – object of diplomatic, logistic, human efforts
Greece is willing to provide ships to help export grain from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports that have been blocked by Russia, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.
“Turkey is trying to broker agreements. Greece has said it is ready to provide ships to take grain out of Ukraine. Other allies are involved in various diplomatic efforts to reach an agreement that will allow ships with food to leave the Black Sea. Moreover, Lithuania, Romania, and other countries are making efforts to use ground capabilities and rail to transport the food to the EU,” Stoltenberg said.
On the territory of Romania on June 29, 15 Ukrainian grain wagons derailed, the circumstances are being investigated. Oleksandr Kamyshin, Chairman of the Board of the Joint-Stock Company Ukrzaliznytsia, said these wagons were part of a train of 32 wagons returning empty after unloading grain at a Romanian port. All 32 cars in the train belong to a Ukrainian private operator.
Lamps in Europe are Ukrainian lit
Ukraine began exporting electricity to Europe on Thursday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said. “The long-awaited export of Ukrainian electricity to Europe has begun,” Shmyhal wrote on Telegram.
Shmyhal said the first flows of Ukraine’s electricity went to Romania at an initial capacity of 100 megawatts. Ukraine has the potential to earn more than 70 billion hryvnyas (about 2.4 billion U.S. dollars) per year from electricity exports to European countries.