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Zelenskyy hails Ukraine′s possible EU membership — live updates | News | DW

  • Zelenskyy has talked up the contribution his country would to the EU
  • Kaliningrad faces Lithuanian blockade
  • Ukrainian filmmaker from Mariupol freed by Russian forces

This was last updated at 11:00 UTC/GMT

BP still Rosneft’s largest private shareholder, says Rosneft CEO

Oil giant BP pledged to end its decades’ long partnership with Rosneft over the Ukraine war in February, but the Western company remains Rosneft’s largest private shareholder, said Rosneft’s chief Igor Sechin.

The Russian oil producer recently transformed its ownership structure. Russian state holding company Rosneftgaz is believed to still control over 50% of the company with the help of subsidiaries.  BP’s stake is believed to be just under 20%.

Sechin, a known ally of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, said BP also own stakes in several large-scale Rosneft projects.

“All these actions speak of a desire to remain an active participant in the Rosneft company and to wait out the disadvantageous geopolitical situation without real losses,” Sechin said.

Speaking at an economic summit in Sankt Petersburg on Saturday, Sechin also said BP received $36 billion (€34.3 billion) from its Russian operation since 2003, while only investing $10 billion.

Berlin urges EU candidate status for Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said an EU candidate status for Ukraine is “necessary.”

In a short video published on the government’s website, Scholz said that many in Ukraine fight for “freedom and democracy” and “want to know that it will take them to Europe.”

His remarks come after the European Commission recommended that Ukraine be granted the candidate status, with the Commission’s chief Ursula von der Leyen saying that Kyiv had “clearly demonstrated its aspiration and determination to live up to European values.”

Scholz said Berlin will work to get all 27 EU member states to agree on a European perspective for Ukraine at the upcoming talks in Brussels next Thursday.

The center-left politician also spoke about his visit to Ukraine on Thursday, and inspecting the “horrible” devastation in Ukraine’s Irpin with France’s Emmanuel Macron and Italy’s Mario Draghi.

“We will continue to make funding available, we will help with the reconstruction, we will continue to deliver weapons that are urgently needed to defend Ukraine’s independence,” the German chancellor said.

UK’s Boris Johnson says Ukraine should host next Eurovision contest

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would “love it” if Ukraine could organize the next Eurovision song contest after its Kalush Orchestra won the competition last month.

It is customary for the winner of the annual pan-European contest to host the event next year. Due to the ongoing war on Ukrainian territory, however, Eurovision officials said the tradition would not be followed this time, and that the UK might be asked step in instead.

Ukraine protested the decision.

On Saturday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that Ukrainians “should have it.”

“I believe that Kyiv or any other safe Ukrainian city would be a fantastic place to have it,” he added. “It is a year away, it is going to be fine by the time the Eurovision Song Contest comes round,” Johnson told reporters after coming back from his visit to Kyiv.

Ukraine to restart peace talks in August

Kyiv plans to conduct counterattacks against Russian forces and put itself in a better position for negotiations, Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhima said. He told Voice of America that talks are likely to restart by the end of August.

Representatives of Russia and Ukraine started meeting just days after Russia launched the invasion of 24 of February. But negotiations have stalled last month, with Moscow pointing the finger to the US and saying American pressure prompted Kyiv to break off the talks.

Russian military wants to envelop Ukrainians in Donetsk

In the past 48 hours, Russia appears to have “renewed its efforts to advance” south of the town of Izium and deeper into Donetsk, UK military officials said. They believe Russian forces aim to envelop the pocket of territory still held by the Ukrainians from the north.

Russian officials also say they are trying to establish a humanitarian corridor for civilians trapped in Sieverodonetsk. The UK Defence Ministry said that the proposed evacuation route would take the evacuees deeper into occupied territory, and that the civilians are “likely to be suspicious” of using it.

However, if they refuse to use it, Russia will “likely claim justification in making less of a distinction between them and any Ukrainian military targets in the area,” the British officials said.

Zelenskyy: Ukraine set to make the ‘biggest contribution to future of Europe in many years’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country joining the European Union would be a gain for the economic bloc.

“Our rapprochement with the European Union is not only positive for us,” he said during his latest video address. “This is the biggest contribution to the future of Europe in many years.”

Zelenskyy said the EU could only secure its power, independence and future development with Ukraine as a member.

“We are one step away from the beginning of full integration into the European Union,” the president told his country, adding that Ukrainian values were European values.

European integration would have a positive impact on Ukraine’s citizens, he said. “The closer we are to other European countries, the more opportunities we will have to ensure a modern, secure life for all Ukrainians.”

His comments follow the European Commission’s decision on Friday to recommend that Ukraine and Moldova be granted EU candidate status.

At the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday, Putin said Moscow “has nothing against” Ukraine joining the EU, because it “isn’t a military organization, a political organization like NATO.”

Poland calls for more sanctions against Russia

The Polish government has called for more sanctions against Russia ahead of an EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg.

“From our point of view, a seventh sanctions package must be imposed as soon as possible. We have to keep up the pressure,” Lukasz Jasina, the Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman, told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag

Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz told the same newspaper that the sixth package of sanctions hit Russia hard but “we have not yet been able to sufficiently weaken Putin and his military machine. We need further and tougher sanctions,” he said.

Russian state TV social media airs video of captured Americans

Footage of two Americans who have been missing since last week aired on the social media accounts of a Russian state TV channel.

Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh are both veterans of the US military.

A US State Department spokesman said, “We are closely monitoring the situation and our hearts go out to their families during this difficult time.”

Macron and Zelenskyy exchange becomes internet meme

An image showing an awkward-appearing exchange between French President Emmanuel Macron and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has quickly become a meme on social media in Ukraine and beyond.

While it appears Macron is hugging Zelenskyy, he is in fact whispering in his ear.

The decisive moment took place at the conclusion of a joint news conference with Zelenskyy and four European leaders, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and French President Emmanuel Macron

The picture of Zelenskyy and Macron has become an overnight meme

Kaliningrad faces Lithuanian blockade

Anton Alikhanov, the regional governor of Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea, said the region faces a blockade by Lithuania due to Western sanctions.

Kaliningrad is home to Russia’s Baltic fleet as well as nuclear-capable Iskander missiles. 

Mariupol filmmaker freed by Russian forces

Yuliia Paievska, a celebrated Ukrainian medic whose footage was taken out of Mariupol by a team from the Associated Press, has been freed from Russian custody. Her release comes three months after she was abducted from the streets of Mariupol.

In Ukraine, Paievska is known as Taira, an alias chosen based on the World of Warcraft video game. She used a body camera to record 256 gigabytes of her team’s work during two weeks trying to save Mariupol’s wounded. 

Among the wounded in her recordings were Russian and Ukrainian soldiers.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced her release in a national address.

What happened in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Friday

The European Commission recommended granting EU candidate status to Ukraine, denoting the start of a likely lengthy process toward joining the bloc.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Ukraine for a second time for talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and pledged UK training of up to 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz insisted that German weapons would arrive in time to help Ukraine fend off Russian forces in the eastern Donbas region.

Russian media published images of what they said were two US citizens captured while fighting for Ukraine. Family members said this week the two men had been missing in Ukraine for a week and said they feared they had been taken prisoner.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Russian economy had withstood Western sanctions. Putin accused the European Union of having lost its “political sovereignty” and was “printing money” in response to high inflation.

Ukraine denounced a decision to strip it of the right to host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Organizers cited security concerns.

You can revisit our updates from Friday here.

ar, mm/jsi (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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