According to Ukrainian information, Russia is increasing military pressure in the east of the country in view of the pending EU decision on Ukraine’s accession prospects. The bombings are increasing on the front lines in Donbass in the east and in the Kharkiv region in north-eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian Presidential Office said on Monday. Meanwhile, Moscow accused the EU and NATO country Lithuania of “openly hostile” restrictions on rail freight traffic to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad and threatened an initially unspecified reaction.

Regarding the forthcoming EU decision, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that few decisions had ever been “so fateful for Ukraine”. “Only a positive decision is in the interest of all of Europe.” The EU foreign ministers discussed this in advance in Luxembourg on Monday. (AFP)

Several EU states are calling for further sanctions against Russia and Belarus and for the Union to commit to more military aid to Ukraine. Diplomats reported on the sidelines of the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday that the Nordic and Eastern European countries in particular were urging the EU Commission to start work on a seventh package of sanctions. About a third of the 27 Member States held this view. Germany and others, on the other hand, are of the opinion that the existing sanctions should initially be implemented completely and existing loopholes closed.

There is no mention of further sanctions in a draft for the final declaration of the summit of the 27 EU heads of state and government on Thursday and Friday in Brussels. However, the draft, which could be viewed by the Reuters news agency, is dated June 15. Diplomats expressed the expectation that the text could be tightened by foreign ministers and ambassadors. Just last month, the EU passed its sixth package of sanctions, which included, among other things, a far-reaching import ban on Russian oil. An import ban for Russian gas is currently still too sensitive because of the high European dependency, said EU representatives.

At ambassadorial level, the member states have also reportedly discussed further military aid to Ukraine. The current draft for the summit states that the EU remains committed to providing Ukraine with further military aid in order to be able to defend itself against Russian aggression. Sweden and Poland in particular are committed to providing additional financial aid directly to Ukraine. So far, the EU has provided the country with military aid worth two billion euros. (Reuters)

According to Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Three Seas Initiative of twelve Central and Eastern European countries is more important than ever. The intention to develop the area between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas and to network them more closely “perhaps sounded somewhat abstract to many ears in the past,” said Steinmeier on Monday in Riga at the initiative’s summit meeting. With the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, what is necessary is also clear to those who have previously observed the initiative with relative indifference: “We must work together to increase our resilience in various areas.”

This applies in particular to energy supply, infrastructure and digital skills. All of this was affected by the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. “We have to position ourselves better in this entire area than has happened in the past,” said Steinmeier. Germany is not a real member, just a partner country of the initiative launched in 2015.

It includes the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the Visegrad states of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, the Black Sea countries of Bulgaria and Romania, the Adriatic states of Slovenia and Croatia, and Austria. Steinmeier reported that Poland had made a proposal to invite Ukraine to participate in the Three Seas Initiative in parallel with the rapprochement with the European Union. (dpa)

US film star Ben Stiller has visited Ukraine as a special envoy for the UN refugee agency UNHCR. He meets people who had to flee because of the war and lost everything, he said on Monday in Kyiv. On the occasion of World Refugee Day, the 56-year-old actor (“Night at the Museum”) also called for global solidarity. “War and violence are destroying people all over the world,” he said on Instagram. “No one just flees their home like that. Seeking protection is a right that must be protected for all people.” (dpa)

From the Greens’ point of view, the European Union should definitely accept Ukraine as a candidate for accession – also to send a message to Moscow. “It’s not just symbolic, it’s also a clear stop sign towards Russia that we won’t let Russian artillery destroy Ukraine’s non-aligned status,” said co-chairman Omid Nouripour on Monday after deliberations by the party executive in Berlin. He therefore hopes that the heads of government of the member states will send a “clear signal of solidarity”.

The EU Commission recommended on Friday that Ukraine and Moldova should be officially designated as candidates for accession to the European Union. The decision on candidate status must now be made by the governments of the 27 EU countries. Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and his colleagues are meeting in Brussels this Thursday to discuss the topic. He was “very happy and grateful that numerous governments in Europe, including ours of course, are more than open to this issue,” said Nouripour. (dpa)

Poland wants to exhibit destroyed Russian tanks from the Ukraine war. The exhibition, called “The Invincible Army,” is scheduled to open on Palace Square at the end of the month, Prime Minister’s Chancellery chief Michal Dworczyk said on Monday. Destroyed and burned out Russian tanks and other military vehicles would be shown. The aim is to show the heroic defense of the Ukrainian army and the result of the bitter fighting. (dpa)

The foundations for the reconstruction of Ukraine are to be laid in Switzerland at the beginning of July. The Swiss government is inviting people to the Ukraine reconstruction conference in Lugano in the canton of Ticino on July 4th and 5th. Representatives from 40 countries as well as from 20 UN and other organizations and from civil society and the private sector are expected. The conference is a Swiss contribution to the stability of Europe and the world, said President Ignazio Cassis on Monday.

According to the Swiss Foreign Ministry, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has agreed to take part. However, it is possible that he will switch on via zoom.

The two-day conference aims to define priorities, methods and principles for reconstruction. In any case, the European Union is participating, the OECD and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Several heads of government and foreign ministers had also agreed, it said. The conference is to end with a “Lugano Declaration”. The Swiss government emphasized that it was not about monetary donations, it was not about a donor conference. (dpa)

The oral hearing in the SPD proceedings on a possible party expulsion of former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has to be postponed again. The chairman of the arbitration commission fell ill with Corona, which is why the appointment on Wednesday this week in Hanover was canceled, the SPD Hanover announced on Monday. A new appointment can take place “at the earliest from the middle of the 27th calendar week” (July 4th to 10th). The arbitration committee will decide on this in the afternoon.

Schröder has been criticized for months for continuing to work for Russian energy companies despite the war in Ukraine. There are more than a dozen motions from the SPD to expel the former chancellor from the party. However, the hurdles for this are very high. A first hearing date was originally planned for June 15, but this also could not take place due to illness. (AFP)

Journalist Anhelina Karjakina from Ukraine’s public service broadcaster highlighted the professionalism of her country’s journalists, despite the circumstances of the war. Being part of what’s happening doesn’t make you any less professional, said the head of news on Monday at the international media congress DW Global Media Forum in Bonn. The most important thing in the current situation is to tell the truth. Karjakina described the tense situation in the country: Ukrainian journalists are faced with the question of how to do the job and survive at the same time. (dpa)

Poland has opened five additional truck clearance points at a border crossing with Ukraine to facilitate the export of grain from the neighboring country. This is a doubling of the previous check-in points, said the head of the Polish Prime Minister’s office, Michal Dworczyk, on Monday. The additional clearance points would help reduce congestion and waiting times for freight traffic on both sides of the border. Ukraine’s infrastructure minister Olexandr Kubrakov said this also serves global food security. (dpa)

Ukraine has officially confirmed the ban already imposed by decree on the pro-Russian party opposition Platform – For Life. The judiciary has banned the party’s activities for “violating Ukraine’s sovereignty,” Justice Minister Denys Maljuska said on Monday. Accordingly, the entire party assets should be confiscated. President Volodymyr Zelenskyj had already banned the party by decree in mid-March because of the Russian attack.

Businessman Viktor Medvedchuk, who is considered a close confidant of Russia’s head of state Vladimir Putin, founded the opposition platform – For Life in 2018. The party was openly supported by Russia. In 2019, she entered parliament as the second strongest force behind Zelenskyj’s ruling party. Medvedchuk was arrested in April when he was about to leave the country, according to the Ukrainian secret service. (AFP)

In the fight against disinformation campaigns, the federal government wants to support independent media reporting on the war in Ukraine. “Russia is waging this war not only with brutal military force, but also with disinformation,” Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) told Deutsche Welle in Bonn on Monday. Independent journalists are being threatened both in Russia and in other countries. The Federal Foreign Office will therefore launch a new funding program for persecuted journalists.

The Minister of State for Culture and Media, Claudia Roth (Greens), announced at the Global Media Forum that an infrastructure would be set up for journalists in exile who report from Germany. This is already happening through the support of organizations such as Reporters Without Borders or “Journalists in Exile”. Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian journalists in Germany should have the opportunity to work together from Germany. Roth also announced that he would support the initiative of a “Democracy Newsroom” by the news agencies from the G7 partner countries.

Help for the independent media working inside Ukraine is also crucial, Roth said. It is necessary to support Ukraine not only by supplying military weapons. “An important weapon is also independent journalism.” At the summit meeting of heads of state and government at Schloss Elmau in Bavaria next weekend, aid for the partly destroyed media infrastructure in Ukraine should therefore also be an issue, Roth demanded.

According to the Bavarian Prime Minister and CSU leader Markus Söder, the process of Ukraine’s possible accession to the European Union will drag on. “It will be a long process,” said Söder on Monday after a meeting of the party executive in Munich. “We want to have everything in view.”

All the conditions would have to be met for such an accession to be possible. A holistic approach is necessary. “Holistic means whether the European Union would be able to take such a picture at all at the moment – ​​we are largely skeptical, including Manfred Weber, whether this can succeed now,” said Söder. The CSU European politician Manfred Weber is head of the European People’s Party (EPP). “Therefore: Don’t rush things, but approach the whole thing in a real political way,” recommended Söder. (dpa)