Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Russia-Ukraine war live: Zelenskiy tells Bundestag Germany has helped save thousands of lives as AfD snubs speech

Must read

Ukraine to receive €3.4bn from EU this summer, European Commission president says

Ukraine will receive €1.5bn (£1.3bn) in Russian frozen assets revenue in July and €1.9bn (£1.6bn) under the Ukraine Facility already this month, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said.

“We have always said that Russia must be held accountable for its crimes, and now we make Russia pay,” von der Leyen said at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin.

She said the aim of the conference is to look beyond Ukraine’s immediate needs and chart a “credible path towards its economic renaissance”.

The EU last month reached a deal to seize profits from Russia’s frozen assets to fund weapons and aid for Ukraine.

Von der Leyen said G7 leaders will discuss at a summit in Puglia, Italy, this week how to speed up the process of how Ukraine can benefit from proceeds coming from frozen Russian assets. She was speaking on the first day of the two-day recovery conference, which is aiming to mobilise international support for Ukraine’s postwar reconstruction.

Separately, the EU’s Ukraine Facility has a total budget of €50bn (£42bn) for the period from 2024 to 2027. Financial support in the form of grants, which make up one-third of the facility, and loans, the remaining two-thirds, are to be provided based on the implementation of reforms in Ukraine.

We’re rallying the financial firepower to help Ukraine resist & recover.

€1.5 bn proceeds of immobilised Russian assets will become available in July.

Another €1.9 bn will come this month from #UkraineFacility.

And we’re helping attract investments. https://t.co/YabYczYr8F

— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) June 11, 2024

Share

Updated at 

Key events

Zelenskiy tells Bundestag Germany has helped save thousands of lives as AfD snubs speech

Kate Connolly

In a feisty speech to the Bundestag in what has long since become his trademark style, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy thanked Germans for their support since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Zelenskiy said he was confident of the conflict being brought to an end by the joint efforts of Ukraine’s European neighbours and international partners, telling them:

We will end this war in the interests of Ukraine and in the interests of all of Europe, of all of us. And in the interests of everyone who comes after us. We will end this war on our terms …

Drawing on historical parallels, most especially the division of Germany, he added:

A divided Europe was never happy. And a divided Germany was never happy. You don’t need me to tell you this, you know it from your own experience.

That’s why you can understand why we Ukrainians are fighting against attempts to divide us … why we are doing everything, everything, absolutely everything so that we do not allow a wall to be created in our country …

Russia must pay for the damage its mission has caused to our country and our people. It is in all our interests that Russia loses.

Zelenskiy said the end of the conflict was potentially closer than anyone might predict.

He continued:

You can probably remember that a year or two before the fall of the Berlin Wall, no one could have predicted how quickly this could come about. It seemed to some that the wall would remain forever.

But the wall disappeared. And that was down to the leadership of the politicians and many people. It depended on that alone. And now, when people are shouting that Putin will last forever, and there is no end to this war, that’s not the case. This is an illusion … that can be destroyed by passion, by decisions, by success. And we will do this together.

Zelenskiy pointed out that Ukraine had already held out against the Russian military’s full-scale aggression for 839 days.

He thanked Germany “from the bottom of my heart” for the Patriot systems it had delivered to Kyiv, which he said had “helped save thousands of lives”. He also thanked Germany for giving refuge to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees.

Zelenskyy arrives at German Bundestag.

Full house — almost: Members of the far-right AfD and the far-left BSW parties are absent.

I let you draw your own conclusions… pic.twitter.com/t8T0QSSVzb

— Hans von der Burchard (@vonderburchard) June 11, 2024

Zelenskiy received a standing ovation from the members of the Bundestag. Striking by their absence, were most of the far-right populist AfD, whose benches, to the right of where Zelenskiy spoke, were virtually bare, except for a handful of its MPs, several of whom stood stoney faced, refusing to applaud.

The party has made its opposition to Zelenskiy clear and made gains at the European and communal elections on Sunday by stating its desire for Germany to rekindle its ties with the Moscow government and to stop supplying Kyiv with weapons.

Share

Updated at 

Russian nuclear-powered submarine Kazan and frigate Admiral Gorshkov are practising the use of high-precision weapons in the Atlantic Ocean, Russia’s defence ministry said.

The drills involve hitting targets from a distance of more than 600 km (370 miles), it said in a statement reported by Reuters, and follow an exercise in anti-aircraft fire.

Russia’s malign hybrid activities in Nato countries are a source of deep concern, the presidents of Romania, Poland and Latvia said.

Countries on Nato’s eastern flank say that Russia is using tactics ranging from sabotage and cyber-attacks to illegal migration to destabilise them due to their support for Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly denied accusations that it is behind such activities.

The presidents said in a statement:

We are deeply concerned about Russia’s recent malignant hybrid activities on Allied territory, which constitute a threat to Allied security.

We will act individually and collectively to address these actions, boost our resilience and continue to coordinate closely to ensure that the Alliance and Allies are prepared to deter and defend against hybrid actions or attacks.

Polish prime minister Donald Tusk said on Tuesday that 10 people had been arrested in Poland in recent weeks for acts of sabotage.

Czech prime minister Petr Fiala said on Monday that Russia may have been behind an attempted arson attack on Prague city buses last week.

Finland sees first Nato deployment since joining the alliance

Finland has made its first deployment for Nato since joining the alliance in April 2023, sending seven F-18 fighter jets to a military base in southeastern Romania where they will conduct air shielding missions with Romanian and British jets.

A Finnish air force commander said the mission would help speed up Finland’s integration into Nato.

“I’m sure that during this enhanced air policing air shielding mission our integration into Nato will take a big leap forward,” Johan Anttila, commander of Finland’s Karelia Air Wing told soldiers on the tarmac at the Mihail Kogalniceanu base.

“We as a team will have learned a lot and all this will boost Nato deterrence and defence.”

Romania, a Nato member since 2004, was among the first alliance states to approve Finland’s accession. Romania shares a 650-km (400-mile) border with Ukraine and has had Russian drone fragments stray into its territory repeatedly as Moscow attacks Ukrainian ports just across the Danube River that separates the countries.

It also hosts a Nato-backed regional F-16 training hub where Ukrainian pilots will soon begin learning how to fly F-16 jets provided by the Netherlands.

Finnish air force F/A-18 Hornet fighter plane flies alongside a Romanian air force F-16 and a British Eurofighter Typhoon during the certification ceremony taking place at Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase, in Constanta, Romania. Photograph: Inquam Photos/George Calin/Reuters
Share

Updated at 

Zelenskiy to address Bundestag as his German far-right critics ride high on election gains

Kate Connolly

Kate Connolly

The German Bundestag is awaiting the arrival of Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who will address it in person for the first time.

He spoke to the parliament in March 2022, but was connected via video link only.

The centre of Berlin ground to a halt as Zelenskiy’s convoy made its way from the west of the city, where a two day Ukraine Recovery Conference is being held, to the parliament building at lunchtime.

Despite Germany’s support for Ukraine, the parliament has staunch Zelenskiy critics in the form of the far-right populist AfD, emboldened by their recent gains in the European election.

The left-wing Die Linke party has been an outspoken opponent of supporting Ukraine’s war effort and would like to see more effort at negotiations with Moscow.

The address can be watched live here in German, Ukrainian and English.

Kate Connolly

Kate Connolly

Oleksandr Markushyn, the mayor of Irpin, a city in northern Ukraine, next to Kyiv, has told the Ukraine Recovery Conference taking place in Berlin, how he was quizzed by a customs official on arriving in the German capital after a long and gruelling journey from his home, “tell me, why are you talking about recovery, if the war is still raging?”

Markushyn said he told him it was about giving the country a sense of perspective on its future, making it liveable in for those who have chosen to stay, and giving more of an incentive for those who have left, including the one million Ukrainians who have found refuge in Germany, to return.

“I told him: a lot of people fled the country to Germany. If they come back, they have to live somewhere, they have to find a job. Kids in Ukraine need schools, just like German kids … we need to rebuild Ukraine. Ukraine has been fighting the biggest war in Europe for the last 80 years. Russian terrorists are destroying our schools, our hospitals, our kindergartens … they are killing women, elderly people and children. So we have to do what we can to succeed in this war.”

Asked how the Ukraine Recovery Conference was contributing to keeping the country and its economy going, Ikhor Terekhov, the mayor of Ukraine’s second biggest city, Kharkiv, said the process of recovery could not wait for the war to end, but was ongoing.

“We cannot wait. People need reconstruction as quickly as possible,” he told the conference, explaining how 150,000 people had lost their homes in the city.

“If you just take the issue of housing, there is also of course a very strong emotional component to this. People see that reconstruction is underway, that houses are being built, that people are going to work. That is a motivation for people. It is emotional support.

“People want to lead a normal life. They want to work. Despite what is happening in Kharkiv, we are engaging in reconstruction.”

Still, he insisted, repeating an issue that has dominated the first day of the conference, talk of recovery would be far easier if Ukraine was better able to defend itself, following repeated calls for a boost to its air defence systems.

“We had several cases where we rebuilt objects and a new missile destroyed the objects. And we had to rebuild them again. We have no choice but to continue to do that,” he said.

A man shot dead a local official on Tuesday in the city of Zaporizhzhia near Ukraine’s southern front line, police have said on Facebook.

“In the city of Zaporizhzhia, the police are searching for a man who shot a local official,” police said, according to a report on Agence France-Presse.

“The injured man died. The police are conducting urgent investigative and operational measures.”

The attacker fired at the official outside a high-rise apartment building.

Police have opened a murder probe.

Zaporizhzhia is around 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the front line.

There have been several assassinations of Russian-installed officials in occupied areas of Ukraine – blamed by Moscow on Ukrainian security services.

Similar attacks behind Ukrainian lines are more rare but Ukraine says it has foiled multiple assassination plots against President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Kate Connolly

Kate Connolly

Kate Connolly is the Guardian’s Berlin correspondent

In a forceful and sometimes emotional speech to the Ukraine Recovery Conference taking place in Berlin, Ikhor Terekhov the mayor of the country’s second largest city, Kharkiv, described to delegates the gruelling day to day effects of the war is having on the citizens and infrastructure.

“We are in a war and it is a brutal war,” he said. “Every day in Kharkiv people lose their lives. Yesterday too was no exception. We’d already arrived in Germany and we felt safe and secure. While our city was under attack at the same time ….

“According to the latest statistics published in May, we have had 76 such attacks from the air via Russia. 193 alarms were sounded in the city. Just imagine what this means. 20 times 24 hours of alarm. Regardless of these facts, Kharkiv is not giving in. Kharkiv continues to run, continues to work. Kharkiv is alive.”

He repeated the appeal made earlier by President Zelenskiy, who called on the international community to urgently boost Ukraine’s air defence capabilities.

“In an affirmation of what our president said earlier today, we need the most modern air defence conceivable … so as to allow the people to continue to live their lives.”

Ihor Terekhov attends the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin. Photograph: Nadja Wohlleben/Reuters

Terekhov said this extended to ensuring that energy supply provision, extensively destroyed by the Russian military, is restored as soon as possible, appealing to everyone present, including politicians, investors, bankers, insurers, NGOs, to support the restoration of Ukraine.

“The next winter is almost on our doorstep and our enemy has smashed our energy supply. All heating power plants have been destroyed. None of them are generating a single kilowatt of electricity right now.

“We get like minus 20 degrees Celsius during winter and without a heating system that works, without electricity, without water supply, people will not survive,” Terekhov said.

He cited the project announced by architect Sir Norman Foster at the last Ukraine Recovery Conference in London a year ago, involving a reconstruction plan for the city to extend over 50 to 100 years.

“Even whilst we’re at war, we need to make these plans and we plan to present them to the investors so that they can take a look at them and take the time to familiarise themselves with them …We guarantee transparency and will provide them with the opportunity to invest in Kharkiv, a heroic city.”

Summary of the day so far…

  • Ukraine will receive €1.5bn (£1.3bn) in Russian frozen assets revenue in July and €1.9bn (£1.6bn) under the Ukraine Facility already this month, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on the first day of the two-day Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin, which is aiming to mobilise international support for Ukraine’s postwar reconstruction. She also told the conference that accession talks with Ukraine to join the EU will start at the end of this month, with Ukraine having fulfilled all the necessary reform requirements to enable it to become a member of the bloc. Pleading for more air defence support, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, revealed that Russian aerial attacks had already destroyed half of the country’s electricity production since winter.

  • Russia said it had captured two more villages in eastern Ukraine, in the latest in a string of gains for Moscow on the battlefield. Moscow’s defence ministry said Russian forces took Timkovka in the north-eastern Kharkiv region and Miasozharivka in the eastern Luhansk region.

  • Russia said its troops had started the second stage of drills to practise the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons alongside Belarusian troops after what Moscow said were threats from western powers. The ministry said the drills were aimed at ensuring that the two countries’ military personnel and equipment were ready to protect their sovereignty and territorial integrity.

  • Several Russian warships will arrive in Cuba on Wednesday, the RIA news agency cited Russian navy commander Alexander Moiseyev as saying.

Zelenskiy: Russian aerial attacks destroyed half of Ukraine’s electricity production since winter

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that Russian aerial attacks had already destroyed half of the country’s electricity production since winter, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

“Russia’s greatest strategic advantage over Ukraine is superiority in the sky. It is missile and bomb terror that helps Russian troops advance on the ground,” Zelenskiy told the reconstruction conference in Berlin.

“Air defence is the answer,” he said.

Months of Russian strikes have caused severe energy shortages in Ukraine, leading to scheduled power outages and blackouts.

Zelenskiy, who is also due to address the German parliament, will join the heads of the G7 developed nations later this week in Italy. He then heads to Switzerland for peace talks over the weekend on the war in Ukraine. Russia has not been invited.

The comments come as Ukraine’s state power operator said it was extending scheduled outages around the country because of increased consumption.

Flames and smoke rise from a blaze at an electricity facility after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on 22 March 2024. Photograph: Yakiv Liashenko/AP
Share

Updated at 

Ukraine to receive €3.4bn from EU this summer, European Commission president says

Ukraine will receive €1.5bn (£1.3bn) in Russian frozen assets revenue in July and €1.9bn (£1.6bn) under the Ukraine Facility already this month, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said.

“We have always said that Russia must be held accountable for its crimes, and now we make Russia pay,” von der Leyen said at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin.

She said the aim of the conference is to look beyond Ukraine’s immediate needs and chart a “credible path towards its economic renaissance”.

The EU last month reached a deal to seize profits from Russia’s frozen assets to fund weapons and aid for Ukraine.

Von der Leyen said G7 leaders will discuss at a summit in Puglia, Italy, this week how to speed up the process of how Ukraine can benefit from proceeds coming from frozen Russian assets. She was speaking on the first day of the two-day recovery conference, which is aiming to mobilise international support for Ukraine’s postwar reconstruction.

Separately, the EU’s Ukraine Facility has a total budget of €50bn (£42bn) for the period from 2024 to 2027. Financial support in the form of grants, which make up one-third of the facility, and loans, the remaining two-thirds, are to be provided based on the implementation of reforms in Ukraine.

We’re rallying the financial firepower to help Ukraine resist & recover.

€1.5 bn proceeds of immobilised Russian assets will become available in July.

Another €1.9 bn will come this month from #UkraineFacility.

And we’re helping attract investments. https://t.co/YabYczYr8F

— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) June 11, 2024

Share

Updated at 

The finance ministries of Ukraine and Germany have signed a joint Declaration of Intent to bolster bilateral cooperation to support Ukraine’s reconstruction after the war.

Germany’s finance minister, Christian Lindner, said:

We are not limiting ourselves to the form of support that Ukraine needs to win the war.

We want to contribute now so that Ukraine can set the course for future growth through its reconstruction.

This is not just about financial resources, but also about building institutional capacities to support private companies in Ukraine and promote investment, Lindner added.

The declaration does not constitute a treaty and does not create rights or obligations under international law.

Germany’s finance ministry has tasked the KfW Development Bank with assessing the feasibility of a project involving financing consultancy to support Ukraine’s finance ministry. The project could also support the Business Development Fund, to make it an independent state financing institution focused on Ukrainian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Russian forces capture two villages in Ukraine – report

Russian forces have captured the village of Miasozharivka in Ukraine’s Luhansk region and the village of Tymkivka in the Kharkiv region, the Tass news agency cited Russia’s defence ministry as saying on Tuesday. These claims have not yet been independently verified by the Guardian. We will give you more on this breaking news as soon as we have more information.

The development comes a day after Russia’s defence ministry said the Russian military had taken control of the village of Staromaiorske in the Donetsk region of Ukraine.

Elsewhere, Russian forces appear to be making headway towards their longstanding goal of capturing the strategic Ukrainian town of Chasiv Yar, according to reports, as Moscow seeks to exploit Kyiv’s shortages of ammunition and troops. Chasiv Yar stands on high ground about 20km (12 miles) to the west of Bakhmut, a town Russian forces seized a year ago, and is seen as a potential staging point for Russia to advance on Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

Share

Updated at 

Moscow and Tehran are continuing their work on a comprehensive bilateral cooperation agreement, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has told reporters, adding Russia intended to develop ties with Iran.

Work on a new major agreement between Moscow and Tehran was announced in September 2022 during a meeting between Vladimir Putin and the late Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, who was killed when his helicopter crashed in May.

Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russia has moved to strengthen its political, trade and military ties with Iran in a deepening relationship that the US and Israel view with concern.

In January, Russia’s foreign ministry had said a new interstate treaty reflecting the “unprecedented upswing” in Russia-Iran ties was in the final stages of being agreed, and Putin and Raisi were expected to sign it soon.

Iran said in November it had finalised arrangements for Russia to provide it with Su-35 fighter jets, Mi-28 attack helicopters and Yak-130 pilot training aircraft.

Nato’s eastern flank leaders will have a more coordinated approach towards supporting Ukraine after Tamas Sulyok, the Hungarian president, stayed away from their summit in Riga, Latvia’s president, Edgars Rinkevics, has said.

Rinkevics said Sulyok cancelled his trip to the summit of the Bucharest Nine (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia), a group of European countries on the eastern edge of Nato, at the weekend.

“The most important thing is that we have a more coordinated approach to the (Nato) Washington summit, when it comes to support for Ukraine, when it comes to strengthening the alliance’s capabilities,” Rinkevics said.

The split emphasises diverging approaches to Russia and Ukraine among central European nations, amid Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán’s continued close ties to Russia and refusal to give arms to Ukraine.

Slovak President Zuzana Caputova called off her trip to Riga “at the last minute”, the Latvian president’s office said. Slovakia stopped state military aid to Ukraine when prime minister Robert Fico’s government took power last year.

The Slovak foreign ministry told Reuters Caputova’s term in office was ending this week, and Fico was unable to attend as he was recovering from an assassination attempt in May.

Kharkiv’s mayor, Ihor Terekhov, has spoken with Reuters in Berlin. He said Ukraine striking missile launch positions in Russia has helped reduced the number of attacks on the city, which has long been a strategic target for Moscow.

While missile and drone strikes continue, Terekhobv, who is visiting the Ukraine Recovery Conference, said the change had helped bring relative “calm”.

“This has helped,” Terekhov said when asked whether the ability to strike inside Russia had alleviated the situation after weeks of heavy bombardment.

“That is why maybe Kharkiv has … this period of … calm the last couple of weeks … that there were no great strikes as it was, for example, in May,” he added, as he stressed the need for western air defences to help protect his city.

His comments came after Joe Biden last month approved the use of American weapons to strike targets inside Russia that were being used to attack Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city located close to the Russian border.

Ukrainian rescuers work at the site of a glide bomb attack on a private building in Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine, on 10 June 2024. Photograph: Sergey Kozlov/EPA

The mayor said that about 11,500 people had arrived in Kharkiv city from regions that were being actively bombarded.

Ukraine has struggled to intercept incoming Russian drones and missiles because of the lack of systems to shoot them down. Kyiv’s allies are scrambling to find more, but deliveries have been held up by political wrangling in Washington and the lack of availability of suitable weapons.

“It is very important to have the weapons on time. It is very important to have these weapons, especially the multi-defence air system,” Terekhov told Reuters.

Russia launched three guided bombs at Kharkiv on Monday, damaging at least two houses, according to local officials, underlining the continuing threat.

Share

Updated at 

Latest article