Prepared by Sofia Oliynyk and Maryana Zaviyska
Today marks exactly 4 months since the beginning of Russia’s war against Ukraine. 4 months of struggle by the people of Ukraine. 4 months of unprecedented solidarity.
On the way to EU candidate status.
European Union government leaders holding a two-day summit in Brussels approved a recommendation from the European Commission to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova. The landmark decision immediately delivered a tremendous morale boost to Ukraine and to Moldova, and it was cheered widely in Kyiv and Chișinău, as well as across both countries. Immediately following the vote, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the European Council by video link and personally thanked each individual leader.
The EU integration is among the aspirations of Ukrainians that gave a powerful impulse for the rise of Ukrainian civil society, volunteer movements, and countries democratization. Ukrainians took to the streets twice, in 2004 and in 2014, to try to force the government to root out corruption and come closer to the EU. Eight years ago Ukrainians calling for closer relations with the EU during the EuroMaidan Revolution (Revolution of Dignity) were shot and killed by police from the pro-Moscow administration in power at the time. After the EuroMaidan Revolution the prospect of closer relations between Ukraine and the EU prompted Putin to intervene in Ukraine in 2014 when his forces annexed the Crimean peninsula and the Russian leader has referenced the expansion of NATO to his borders before the invasion of Ukraine in February. From 2015 to 24 February 2022, Ukraine lived with a frozen conflict with people dying on the frontlines. But Ukraine set its goal on Europe and NATO. Euroatlantic aspirations were enshrined in the Constitution. A vibrant civil society pushed officials to reforms. Putin couldn’t accept Ukraine leaving his empire. Over the years, he ramped up propaganda demonizing Ukraine and the West. He destabilized Ukraine and western democracies while striking lucrative deals with EU officials. Putin, in a speech in late February days before ordering the wide-scale invasion that failed to capture Kyiv, had sought to deny that Ukraine was a real country. ‘Ukraine has never had its own authentic statehood,’ he said. ‘There has never been a sustainable statehood in Ukraine.’
Even though it takes much effort for Ukrainians to integrate the country with the EU, the support among Ukrainians to join the EU jumped to 91% in a March survey by Rating Group, up from 61% in December.
The commission has made clear that the accession process will follow the same criteria and rules for all candidates. There’s no existing fast-track path to speed up the membership criteria. Steps that Kyiv will need to take include implementing legislation on a selection procedure for judges of the Constitutional Court, strengthening the fight against corruption, and ensuring that anti-money laundering legislation is in compliance with the standards of the Financial Action Task Force. The EU’s executive arm has said it will report back on those steps by the end of the year. For details check out the European Council conclusions on Ukraine, the membership applications of Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, Western Balkans and external relations.
Cities under attack.
Ukrainian army is stepping out of Sievierodonetsk, the region’s administrative center, as the Russian offensive in the east continues to advance. Heavy battles continue in the Donetsk region – at least 3 killed, 2 injured due to Russian shelling on the morning of June 24. A missile strike on Kostyantynivka killed one civilian. In the settlement of Raihorodok, Russia’s shelling killed two civilians and injured one. The Russian military continues shelling Marinka, damaging a kindergarten and seven houses. Russia is shelling villages in the Sumy region with phosphorus munitions. The Yunakivska settlement, near the Russian border, was shelled on June 23 with prohibited phosphorus munitions from the Russian border, Head of Sumy Region Administration Dmitry Zhivitsky said. Information about casualties and damage has not been reported yet. Three Russian missiles targeted Mykolaiv on June 23, hitting the city’s industrial and civilian infrastructure. In Kharkiv on the night of June 24, Russian troops launched a missile strike on a sports complex of one of the educational institutions. A fire broke out in the destroyed building.
Cities under the occupation.
Russian-occupied Mariupol flooded with mountains of unsorted garbage. Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said that the bombed-out city is ‘on the verge of an epidemiological catastrophe’ where infectious diseases are already spreading, and deadly infections such as cholera and dysentery could be among them. Mariupol City Council reported that 9 000 tons of garbage flooded the streets, and Mariupol is now ‘a real ghetto’ where unsanitary conditions are jeopardizing the lives of its remaining residents.
Ukraine’s Intelligence reports that Russian proxies are going to hold staged referendums to proclaim ‘republics’ in occupied parts of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia oblasts on September 11. Ukrainian military’s Center for National Resistance said in its report that the date of the staged referendums in occupied territories of these regions was chosen to coincide with the single voting day in Russia.
War crimes investigations.
On June 23 PACE released a resolution on the results of investigations regarding the flight MH17. PACE has said that, based on the evidence made available to its rapporteur by Ukrainian and Dutch authorities, it considers ‘as the most convincing scenario by far’ that flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in 2014 by a Buk missile made available to military units controlled by the Russian Federation. Unanimously approving a resolution , based on a report by Titus Corlatean (Romania, SOC), the Assembly said it was appalled at the ‘disinformation’ spread by Russian authorities concerning the downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight, which has caused ‘pain and suffering’ to the victims’ relatives and friends.
War crimes prosecution.
Ukraine is seeking $80 billion in compensation from Russia over war crimes inflicted during its invasion of the country, kick-starting its legal battle at Europe’s human rights court. Ukraine’s justice ministry filed the first round of submissions against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, according to a Thursday statement from their lawyers, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. The move is considered symbolic as the Russian parliament passed a pair of bills ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights in the country on June 7.
Ukraine started first trial of Russian soldier accused of murdering a civilian man in the Kyiv region on March 9 and then repeatedly raping the man’s wife. A preliminary hearing in the country’s first such trial is expected on June 23 and the man will be tried in absentia as he is not in Ukraine. A prosecutor told Reuters that up to 50 such crimes were currently being investigated, but that the number of cases was likely to be higher.
Germany, Austria, and other EU countries are now turning to coal and oil-fired power stations so more gas can be diverted into storage for heating homes during the winter – CNN reports. Germany on Thursday activated the second phase of its three-stage gas emergency program, taking it one step closer to rationing supplies to industry — a step that would deliver a huge blow to the manufacturing heart of its economy. Twelve EU countries have so far been affected by Russian gas supply cuts, the bloc’s climate policy chief Frans Timmermans said on Thursday. ‘Russia has weaponized energy, and we have seen further gas disruptions announced in recent days. All this is part of Russia’s strategy to undermine our unity,’ Timmermans told EU lawmakers.
Russia’s invasion causes over $6 billion worth of environmental damage. Russia’s war in Ukraine has led to more than 250 cases of ecocide and more than 2,000 cases of environmental damage, according to Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Ruslan Strilets. ‘The war has created more than 200,000 tons of hazardous waste and scrap metal, while every destroyed house represents 50 cubic meters of destruction waste,’ he said.
The UK introduces additional sanctions against Russia. The new measures include a ban on the trade of goods and technologies related to chemical and biological weapons, the maritime sector and the oil refining industry, as well as a prohibition on the export to or for use in Russia of Sterling or EU denominated banknotes.
To learn more about Ukrainian EuroMaidan revolution in 2014 watch a Netflix movie ‘Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom’ that depicts Ukraine’s fight for freedom from the frontlines of the 2014 uprising
- Ukrainian Farmers Harvest Wheat Amid Russian Rockets, Crossfire | The Wall Street Journal – While some flee fighting on their land, others press ahead with harvesting. ‘If they start shooting, we’ll run.’
- Fallen activist Roman Ratushnyi and his battle for a better Ukraine | Kyiv Independant
- The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine reports that every day 200-300 war crimes are committed by Russian forces in Ukraine. In total, more than 18 800 war crimes have been registered since Russia’s full-scale invasion.
- The UN reports 10 403 civilian casualties in Ukraine as a result of Russia’s war. The UN’s human rights agency as of June 22 confirmed 4662 deaths and 5803 injuries to civilians in Ukraine since February 24. At least 320 children were killed and 479 were injured.
- General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced the total estimated losses of the Russian military as of 10 a.m., June 24, 2022: personnel – around 34 530, tanks ‒ 1507, APV ‒ 3637, artillery systems – 759, MLRS – 241, anti-aircraft warfare systems – 99, fixed-wing aircraft – 216, helicopters – 183, operational-tactical level UAV – 622, cruise missiles – 137, boats and light speed boats – 14, soft-skinned vehicles and fuel tankers – 2553, special equipment – 60.
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