Prepared by Sofia Oliynyk and Maryana Zaviyska
‘It is the only country where people got shot because they wrapped themselves in a European flag. Ukraine has gone through hell and high water for one simple reason: and that’s their desire to join the European Union.’ – Ursula von der Leyen said, explaining her Commission’s decision to formally recommend candidate status a scant four months after Ukraine submitted its application in the early days of Russia’s invasion.
On the way to EU candidate status.
EU leaders will decide today whether to grant Ukraine candidate status, following a positive recommendation from the European Commission last Friday. EU leaders in Brussels are expected to sign off on last week’s recommendation by the European Commission, the EU executive. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said he had spoken to 11 EU leaders on Wednesday about Ukraine’s candidacy and will make more calls on Thursday, believing all EU countries would support Ukraine’s candidate status.
Debates on the future of the EU continue. According to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the EU must change its voting rules in key areas such as foreign policy before it can admit new member states like Ukraine.
The Czech Republic has suspended visa issuance to Russians and Belarusians till March 2023. After the Russian army invaded Ukraine, the Czech government decided to suspend the issuance of visas to citizens of the Russian Federation and later to Belarus, except for humanitarian causes. ‘This step should serve to protect the foreign policy interests of the Czech Republic in connection with the armed conflict in Ukraine caused by the invasion of Russian troops and supported by the Republic of Belarus,’ – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informs.
The EU has created the EU Sanctions Whistleblower Tool that is aimed at collecting first-hand information to help uncover cases of sanctions violations, including evasion and circumvention.
Cities under attack.
7 people, including 2 children, were injured by Russian shelling in the Kharkiv region. According to the Head of Kharkiv Regional Administration Oleh Syniehubov, Russians shelled the village of Pechenihy on the night and morning of June 23. The attack destroyed multiple houses, he said.
Russia intensifies airstrikes in Donbas. On June 22, Russia’s airforce hit several settlements near the city of Sievierodonetsk, Luhansk region, Ukraine’s General Staff said. They also carried out several airstrikes on seven villages near the city of Bakhmut, Donetsk region. Russian troops killed 4 civilians, wounded 5 on June 22 in Donetsk region. According to the Head of Donetsk Regional Administration Pavlo Kyrylenko, the people were killed in three settlements – Prechistivka, Krasnohorivka, and Zalizne. Ukraine controls nearly 45% of Donetsk region. Russia and its proxies currently hold the remaining 55%, including destroyed cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha. Russia shelled residential areas of Dnipropetrovsk region with cluster munitions. Russian troops attacked Kryvyi Rih District overnight on June 23 damaging residential buildings. Two civilians were injured after handling unexploded ammunition. Russia launches 7 missiles on Mykolaiv on June 22.
Online map of sites destroyed by Russian troops launched. The NGO Anti-Corruption Headquarters has launched the ‘Map of Destruction’ that captures the effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Some 1,500 destroyed sites are already on the map.
Cities under the occupation.
Residents and workers at a nuclear power plant in Enerhodar, Zaporizhzhia region, are being abducted by Russian occupiers, according to the region’s mayor. ‘Whereabouts of some unknown. The rest are in very difficult conditions: they are being tortured with electric shock, bullied physically and morally,’ said mayor Dmytro Orlov. A television tower in the Ukrainian separatist-held city of Donetsk has been badly damaged by shelling and broadcasting has been interrupted, the local Donetsk news agency reported.
In Kyiv morgue, the Azov patronage service began inspecting the bodies handed over as part of the exchange yesterday On June 21, Ukraine returned the bodies of 35 Ukrainian defenders of Azovstal in Mariupol, AzovAngels Patronage Service reported.
War crime prosecution.
Court in the Poltava region sentences Russian proxies to 15 years in prison. The nine militants from the Russian-occupied areas of Donetsk region were captured during hostilities in the Kharkiv region, according to Artem Dekhtyarenko, a spokesman for the Security Service of Ukraine.
A British man sentenced to death by a Russian proxy court for fighting in Ukraine has been told the execution will be carried out, his family say, according to BBC. Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner were sentenced by a court which is not internationally recognised, in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). Aide Aslin told his family his captors said there had been no attempt by UK officials to negotiate on his behalf.
On June 22 Microsoft published a new intelligence report ‘Defending Ukraine: Early Lessons from the Cyber War’. The report represents research conducted by Microsoft’s threat intelligence and data science teams with the goal of sharpening our understanding of the threat landscape in the ongoing war in Ukraine. The report also offers a series of lessons and conclusions resulting from the data gathered and analyzed. Notably, the report reveals new information about Russian efforts including an increase in network penetration and espionage activities amongst allied governments, non-profits, and other organizations outside Ukraine. According to the report the Russian invasion started on February 23 and involved a cyberweapon called ‘Foxblade’ that was launched against computers in Ukraine. Also the report says that the Russian invasion relies in part on a cyber strategy that includes at least three distinct and sometimes coordinated efforts – destructive cyberattacks within Ukraine, network penetration and espionage outside Ukraine, and cyber influence operations targeting people around the world.
The report offers five conclusions that come from the war’s first four months:
- Defense against a military invasion now requires for most countries the ability to disburse and distribute digital operations and data assets across borders and into other countries;
- Recent advances in cyber threat intelligence and end-point protection have helped Ukraine withstand a high percentage of destructive Russian cyberattacks;
- As a coalition of countries has come together to defend Ukraine, Russian intelligence agencies have stepped up network penetration and espionage activities targeting allied governments outside Ukraine;
- In coordination with these other cyber activities, Russian agencies are conducting global cyber-influence operations to support their war efforts;
- The lessons from Ukraine call for a coordinated and comprehensive strategy to strengthen defenses against the full range of cyber destructive, espionage, and influence operations.
Media under attack.
After BILD reporter Paul Ronzheimer, together with photographer Giorgos Moutafis and Vadim Moissenko, wanted to leave Lysytschansk, which was almost encircled by the Russian army, the team was shot at midday on a street. There were several explosions. The reporters are not injured.
The May intelligence bulletin from the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security says the Kremlin’s influence arm has focused Russian influence operations that are targeting American audiences almost entirely on the war in Ukraine – reports Daily Beast. Russian state media and proxy information operations are working to paint Western support for Ukraine as the reason the war is dragging on so long, and the reason there is a growing food crisis. Never mind the fact the conflict and grain export problems exist because Putin chose to invade Ukraine in the first place. The intelligence team also assesses that the Russian government remains one of the primary threats to the United States due to its “malicious cyber operations against federal and state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, election organizations,” and more. The Russian influence shops have also particularly been zeroing in on the idea that Western security assistance to Ukraine has been escalating the war.
- Russia Has a Plan for Ukraine. It Looks Like Chechnya | The Atlantic – Putin’s template is simple: flatten cities, install satraps, rule by fear.
- What would EU candidate status mean for Ukraine? | Atlantic Council – Ukrainian society is currently mobilizing tremendous resources to resist Russian aggression. It can be hoped that EU candidate nation status would help civil society to shape the political agenda, much as it did in 2014.
- General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced the total estimated losses of the Russian military as of 10 a.m., June 23, 2022: personnel – around 34 430, tanks ‒ 1504, APV ‒ 3632, artillery systems – 756, MLRS – 240, anti-aircraft warfare systems – 99, fixed-wing aircraft – 216, helicopters – 183, operational-tactical level UAV – 620, cruise missiles – 137, boats and light speed boats – 14, soft-skinned vehicles and fuel tankers – 2548, special equipment – 60.
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