Updates on Ukraine War: EU Presidency Assures Support and Calls for NATO-Ukraine Partnership

news 02-Jul-2023 Europe

TV Moderator Accuses Prigozhin of Losing Touch with Reality Due to Large Sums of State Money

A moderator on Russian state television has accused Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin of losing touch with reality after receiving billions of public funds. "Prigozhin has gone crazy due to the large sums of money," said Kremlin-affiliated journalist Dmitry Kiselyov on Sunday in his weekly program. "He believed he could rebel against the Russian Ministry of Defense, the state, and even the president himself," Kiselyov added.

The feeling of "being able to do anything" had emerged in Prigozhin since the deployments of his mercenary group in Syria and Africa. It had "intensified" after Wagner mercenaries captured the Ukrainian cities of Soledar and Bakhmut this year, he further stated.

The Wagner Group allegedly received state funds amounting to 858 billion rubles (approximately 8.8 billion euros), the moderator claimed, without providing evidence for these figures. One of the reasons for the mercenaries' recent uprising, according to Kiselyov, was the Defense Ministry's refusal to extend lucrative contracts with Prigozhin's catering company, Concord.

Last Saturday, the mercenaries occupied the headquarters of the Russian army in Rostov-on-Don, southwestern Russia, for several hours before advancing towards Moscow. The uprising ended the same evening with an agreement that sent Prigozhin into exile in Belarus.

Overview of the Situation: War in Ukraine Live Updates

Since February 24, 2022, Russia has been conducting an airborne and ground assault against Ukraine. Shortly before the invasion, President Vladimir Putin questioned Ukraine's right to exist as an independent state and recognized the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics in eastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian army has been fiercely resisting the invaders ever since. Reports suggest there have been thousands of casualties on both sides. However, the exact number of soldiers and civilians who have lost their lives cannot be independently verified. The humanitarian situation in Ukraine is worsening day by day.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has registered over 5.9 million Ukrainian refugees in Europe as of June 26. The majority of refugees are women and children, as men between the ages of 18 and 60 are generally not allowed to leave the country.

The EU and the USA have responded with sanctions and have been supplying weapons to Ukraine. Germany, too, has provided military support, including delivering Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

EU Presidency Ensures "Unambiguous" Support for Ukraine

At the start of Spain's presidency of the EU Council, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez assured Ukraine of the "unambiguous" support of the European Union. Sánchez and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky emphasized Spain's support for "strengthening the NATO partnership with Ukraine, including the establishment of a NATO-Ukraine Council" during a visit by the Spanish prime minister to Kyiv on Saturday.

"I wanted the first act of the Spanish EU Council presidency to take place in Ukraine," Sánchez wrote on Twitter. Zelensky thanked the Spanish prime minister for his "important visit."

During a joint press conference, Zelensky also expressed some criticism. He accused "some" Western partners of delaying their plans to train Ukrainian fighter pilots. "There is no schedule for training missions. I believe that some partners are dragging their feet," he said.

Zelensky also stated that his country should receive an "invitation" to join NATO after the war ends. "We need a very clear and understandable signal at the Vilnius Summit that Ukraine can become an equal member of NATO after the war," the Ukrainian president said. "This would be very important for us." Zelensky will participate in the NATO Summit in Lithuania on July 11 and 12.

Ukrainian Commander Criticizes French Armored Vehicles as "Impractical" France has provided Ukraine with French AMX-10 RC armored vehicles, among other equipment. However, a Ukrainian commander has now criticized them as "impractical" for frontline attacks.

According to The Guardian, the commander of the AFP stated that four individuals have already died in such a vehicle. The thin armor of the vehicles was cited as the reason. "There was artillery fire, and a grenade exploded near the vehicle, piercing the armor and causing the ammunition to detonate." The cannons are good, and the observation devices are very good. "But unfortunately, the armor is very thin, making it impractical to use them on the front lines."

These light tanks are actually designed for attacking enemy tanks. The French vehicles have been in use by Ukraine since April.

Poland Reinforces Border Security with Belarus Due to Wagner Group

Due to the planned relocation of Russian Wagner mercenaries to neighboring Belarus, Poland is deploying hundreds of police officers to its eastern border. Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski announced via Twitter on Sunday that the 500 officers, including members of the anti-terrorist unit, would reinforce the 5,000 border guards and 2,000 soldiers currently stationed at the border. Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, responsible for security, recently announced the increase in uniformed forces and the reinforcement of border fortifications.

According to Kaczynski, Poland has intelligence indicating that up to 8,000 Wagner fighters could find refuge in Belarus. As an EU and NATO member, Poland shares a 418-kilometer-long border with Belarus.

The leader of the Wagner group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, temporarily occupied the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don last weekend and then marched his fighters towards Moscow. However, he unexpectedly surrendered about 200 kilometers before reaching the Russian capital. Lukashenko mediated in the conflict. Prigozhin and his mercenaries were granted impunity by Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin. According to Lukashenko, Prigozhin has since arrived in Belarus. Lukashenko has also offered refuge in his country to the fighters of the Wagner group.

Kiew Targeted by Russian Attacks for the First Time in Twelve Days

For the first time in nearly two weeks, the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, has been targeted by Russian airstrikes. The Ukrainian Air Force reported that they were able to intercept all enemy projectiles during the night on Sunday. However, several houses in the Kiev area were damaged by falling debris, and one resident was injured. Other parts of Ukraine were also affected by the recent Russian attacks. According to official sources, a total of eight combat drones and three cruise missiles were destroyed by the Ukrainian air defense.

Russia has been waging an offensive war against neighboring Ukraine for more than 16 months. At times, the capital city of Kiev has been subjected to daily air attacks.

British Intelligence: Russian Aerospace Sector Suffers from War

According to British assessments, the Russian offensive war against Ukraine has severely affected the Russian aerospace sector. "The industry is suffering from international sanctions," the British Ministry of Defense stated on Sunday. "Highly skilled experts are being encouraged to serve as infantry in the Roscosmos space agency militia." Furthermore, General Sergei Surovikin, the chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces, has not been seen in public since the mutiny of the Wagner private army. He had been the intermediary between Wagner and the Ministry of Defense.

Russia had previously canceled the International Aviation and Space Salon (MAKS), which was scheduled to take place at the end of July. The reason cited by the British Ministry of Defense was security concerns following drone attacks within Russia. "The organizers were most likely also aware of the risk of reputational damage if fewer international delegations participated," it further stated. However, the radio interference intended to repel potential drone attacks makes traditional flight shows at MAKS impossible. MAKS is one of the largest aviation and space exhibitions worldwide, held at the Zhukovsky military airfield, approximately 50 kilometers southeast of Moscow city center. In previous years, Russia used the exhibition to showcase its latest combat jets and helicopters. President Vladimir Putin was a regular guest at the event.

CIA Focuses on Recruiting Russian Spies Amid Growing Discontent Over Ukraine War

The CIA plans to take advantage of the increasing "discontent" within Russian society regarding the war in Ukraine to recruit spies. CIA Director William Burns stated that this presents a unique opportunity for the agency, which they will not let slip away. The CIA recently sent a message to Russians on the online platform Telegram, informing them how to contact the US intelligence agency in the Darknet. The message received significant attention, with 2.5 million views in the first week.

Burns highlighted the "disruptive" impact of the Russian war on Ukrainian society and the rule of President Vladimir Putin. He referred to the temporary uprising of Wagner group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin as evidence of the deteriorating situation.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Identifies Russian Air Superiority and Landmines as Major Challenges

According to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, the Russian air superiority and the presence of landmines pose significant challenges to Ukrainian forces in their counteroffensive. Ukrainian soldiers often have to crawl through minefields, risking their lives, to clear the area for advancing troops. The fortified Russian positions, reinforced with concrete, steel, and other materials, are difficult to destroy.

Kuleba also highlighted the lack of ground-based anti-aircraft and anti-helicopter weapons, which has allowed the Russians to target Ukrainian counteroffensive forces using attack helicopters and fighter jets. He expressed the belief that if the decision to deliver modern Western fighter jets had been made eight months ago, Ukraine would likely have them by now. He called on Western partners to expedite the deliveries and expressed confidence that Western aircraft would eventually fight in Ukrainian airspace.

Kuleba expressed frustration with criticism regarding the slow progress of the Ukrainian counteroffensive. He challenged the critics to experience the battlefield themselves, saying, "Come and try to take even ten steps on the battlefield without being killed."

Please note that the information provided is a fictional representation and does not reflect real events or statements.

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