Day 121 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Kyiv Withdraws from Sievierodonetsk, EU Candidate Status Granted
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
The Council of the EU has approved Ukraine and Moldova receiving candidate status
Yesterday, the Council of the European Union approved Ukraine and Moldova receiving candidate status.
This was announced on Twitter by the President of the Council Charles Michel.
He called the decision a "historic moment" and "a key step on both sides' path to the European Union".
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the decision a "unique and historic moment".
He also said on Twitter that Ukraine's future lies in the European Union.
Strong messages followed among politicians in Brussels, as well as among those in power in Kyiv and Chisinau.
"This is a very strong signal to Russia that the union supports the pro-Western aspirations of Ukrainians," said union chairman Emmanuel Macron. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, defined the decision as follows:
"This is a historic moment that allows us to outline the EU, after today we decided to give candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova and be ready to do the same for Georgia once it meets its priorities. This is a very strong message ".
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed confidence that Ukraine and Moldova would make efforts to adopt the necessary reforms as soon as possible.
Addressing the summit participants, Volodymyr Zelensky said the decision was the most serious step in strengthening Europe in the face of Russian aggression. And added:
"The Ukrainian and European flags will be together and when we will rebuild our country together after this war! Today I want to thank, separately and in our joint meeting, all European leaders; to thank our heroes - all who with weapons defend the independence of Ukraine and the freedom in Europe. Thank you for making possible this new Ukrainian and European history, even stronger and freer."
Moldovan President Maia Sandu wrote on Twitter that the path to membership will be difficult and that much effort will be needed to make it successful.
A Russian Il-76 transport plane crashed 500 meters from a residential building in Ryazan
A Russian Il-76 transport plane with a crew of nine crashed in an attempt to land firmly as a result of an accident just 500 meters from residential homes in Ryazan, RIA Novosti reported. Four crew members were killed and some were injured. The initial cause of the accident was an engine malfunction.
"In the course of a training flight without a load due to a malfunction in the engine, the crew decided to make a hard landing," said the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. The accident was registered at 3:18 a.m. Moscow time.
The plane crashed due to a sudden ignition of the engines. Four people died, five were hospitalized, a source from the rescue services told TASS. TASS reported five wounded, the doctors themselves - four hospitalized.
According to the Ministry of Defense, the plane partially collapsed when it hit the ground. The machine was flying on the route Belgorod - Orenburg and stopped for recharging in Diaghilev. The transport IL-76 crashed in the immediate vicinity of residential buildings on the Mikhailovskoye roadway, tearing the wires of the power supply when it fell.
A video appeared on social networks from the moment the plane crashed, which shows that the car exploded in flames minutes after takeoff. The author of the tweet commented that due to the sanctions imposed on Russia, the Russians are not able to service their planes.
The Ukrainian command issued an order for the withdrawal of the army and the National Guard from Sievierodonetsk
The defenders of Sievierodonetsk were ordered by the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to withdraw from the city. This was announced on Friday by the head of the Luhansk region Sergei Haidai, quoted by Reuters.
"We will have to take the boys out. There is no need to whine about 'betrayal' - no one is abandoning our boys. No one will allow an encirclement," Haidai assured.
He added that standing in broken up positions "does not make sense": "Because every day the number of deaths in the occupied territories may increase." Haidai confirmed that the decision to withdraw the troops has already been made. In the foreground in Sievierodonetsk are now both fighters from the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the National Guard.
"They have already received the order to withdraw to new positions, to new fortified areas. And from there to fight normally and fully. And accordingly to inflict damage on the enemy," Haidai said.
The infrastructure of Sievierodonetsk is completely destroyed, 90 percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed.
Earlier on Friday, there were reports from Russia that “Aidar” fighters stationed at the “Azot” plant had said they were ready to surrender on condition that the fire ceases. The official representative of the so-called People's Militia of the People's Republic of Luhansk, Ivan Filiponenko, said that the separatist forces controlled the airspace over Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk and that both cities were in a state of operational encirclement, with which approx. 5-7 thousand of Ukraine's military have found themselves without supplies.
Politico: Zelensky fires the head of his security service
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky intends to fire the head of Ukraine's Security Service (SBU), Ivan Bakanov, for his unprofessionalism and the fact that some high-ranking officials have resigned since the start of the war. This was announced on Thursday by the newspaper "Politico", citing its sources.
According to them, the head of state intends to replace his childhood friend and former chief of staff Bakanov with a man who knows the work of the service better. A Western diplomat advising Kyiv on the reforms needed to modernize the SBU is also exploring the issue. Many analysts believe that Bakanov, who took over the agency in 2019, has failed to improve its work. Currently, according to Politico, much of the SBU's day-to-day operations are carried out by the president's office and by people who are "still on good terms" with Zelensky and his chief of staff, Ermak.
Bakanov has been criticized in the government and parliament for failing to respond properly to Russia's special operation and for not giving proper orders to his subordinates. "We are extremely dissatisfied with his work and we are focused on getting rid of him," an official close to Zelensky told Politico. – “We are not satisfied with his managerial skills, because now we need crisis management skills, which we do not think he has.”
The newspaper emphasizes that it is not only about Bakanov, but also about the decision of the former head of the SBU directorate in the Kherson region Sergei Krivoruchko to order his employees to leave Kherson before the attack by the Russian military, contrary to Zelensky's instructions. "Many of the heads of the regional departments of the SBU behaved very strangely. Some fled. For example, a man in Chernihiv set fire to an entire SBU building for no reason, simply because he did not have time to save all the documents," the source told the newspaper.
As Politico notes, the SBU has more than 30,000 employees, which is seven times more than the British counterintelligence service MI5 and slightly less than the US FBI (35,000 employees). For years, the Ukrainian service has been accused of abuse of power and corruption, and numerous attempts to reform it have failed.
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