The repeated calls from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his government have finally paid off. After several weeks of calls for new arms shipments several times a day for several weeks, the American President announced new military aid on Wednesday 15 June. NATO countries will provide Ukraine with more modern heavy weapons, but this “takes time” because the Ukrainian military needs to be trained to use them, Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. Franceinfo looks back at the highlights of the day.
The US announces new military aid worth $1 billion
The US President announced a new tranche of military aid to Ukraine. Joe Biden said in a statement he told his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a phone interview. “I have reiterated the United States’ commitment to assist Ukraine in defending its democracy, protecting its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of unjustified Russian aggression,” said the US leader.
This new auxiliary tranche includes “additional artillery and coastal defense guns, as well as ammunition for artillery pieces and advanced rocket launchers, which Ukrainians need for their defensive operations in Donbass,” he said. The Pentagon indicated that this assistance included, in particular, 18 howitzers with their transport vehicles and 36,000 shells, as well as two Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers intended for Ukraine’s Black Sea coastal defense. “I would like to thank you for this support, it is particularly important for our defense in Donbass,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy reacted in a video message.
This new tranche brings the total amount of military aid the United States has provided to Ukraine to $5.6 billion since the conflict began on February 24.
Xi Jinping reiterates his support for Vladimir Putin
Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated his closeness to his “old friend” Vladimir Putin. In a telephone call, the Chinese head of state assured the Kremlin chief of Beijing’s support. “China stands ready to seek mutual assistance with Russia on issues of sovereignty, security and other issues of fundamental interest and major concern,” Xi Jinping told his Russian counterpart in a statement quoted by the new Chinese press agency.
The United States then urged China to stop supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, lest it put itself “on the wrong side of history.” “We are concerned about China’s rapprochement with Russia,” a US diplomatic spokesman said.
Given the unity of Western democracies, which have imposed unprecedented sanctions on it, Russia can only count on Chinese power to escape total economic isolation. China has refused to use the word “invasion” to describe the military operation launched by Moscow since the start of the Russian offensive, blaming the United States and NATO. The Chinese authorities close to the Kremlin have also refrained from condemning the Russian invasion.
Moscow accuses Kyiv of preventing the evacuation of civilians in Sieverodonetsk
Russia has accused Ukrainian forces of preventing the evacuation of civilians from a factory in Severodonetsk, a Russian army-held city in eastern Ukraine, through a “humanitarian corridor”. “The Russian side has provided a humanitarian corridor to allow the evacuation of civilians from the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk. Despite all these measures (…) the Kiev authorities cynically thwarted the humanitarian operation,” the Russian Defense Ministry accused in a press release.
Russia said Tuesday it would set up a “humanitarian corridor” from 7 a.m. (Paris time) to 7 p.m. Wednesday to allow civilians who have taken refuge at the Azot factory to cross Severodonetsk towards those controlled by Moscow forces Leaving areas north.
However, the Russian Defense Ministry accused the Ukrainian armed forces of “violating the ceasefire several times” and “using the humanitarian pause to move to more advantageous (combat) positions”. It has not been possible to independently verify these claims.
Ikea announces that it will reduce “its activities” in Russia and Belarus
Swedish furniture giant Ikea has announced that it will “reduce its operations in Russia and Belarus” after suspending them in Ukraine at the time of Moscow’s invasion. “Sales and supply chains are severely affected worldwide and we do not think it is possible to resume our activities in Russia and Belarus anytime soon,” wrote the Ingka Group, which manages most of Ikea’s stores, in a press release.
Like many foreign companies, Ikea had ceased operations in Russia and Belarus at the time of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February. “Unfortunately, the situation has not improved and this devastating war continues,” said Ingka, adding that he “decided to enter a new phase of reducing Ikea’s activities in Russia and Belarus.” The group announced that sales activities “will be halted and the workforce reduced, implying that many employees will be affected”.
The group added that production in Russia will “reduce its workforce and look for a new buyer for its four factories.” The two purchasing and logistics departments in Moscow and Minsk will also be permanently closed.