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Ukraine EU candidate, agricultural facilities destroyed

►Ukraine awaits EU candidate status

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday urged European leaders to “to rise to the occasion” by granting Ukraine and Moldova EU candidate status at the European summit which opens on Thursday 23 June.

The EU executive issued a positive opinion last week on granting Ukraine and Moldova this status, attaching conditions to the continuation of reforms, which would pave the way for a long process towards membership. Georgia, which also aspires to join the EU, will still have to carry out reforms before obtaining candidate status, according to the Commission’s opinion.

“It is now up to the European Council to take a decision, and to live up to the historic responsibility incumbent on us”said Ursula von der Leyen in front of the European Parliament in Brussels.

► The Lyssytchansk-Sievierodonetsk agglomeration soon surrounded

Russian forces are stepping up their progress towards Lyssytchansk, a strategic industrial city in eastern Ukraine. According to Lieutenant-Colonel Andrei Marotchko, representing pro-Russian separatists fighting alongside troops from Moscow, the Ukrainian forces are now surrounded in two additional villages located a few kilometers from Lyssytchansk and its twin city Sievierodonetsk.

“Very soon the (Ukrainian) groups in Lysytchansk and Sievierodonetsk will be surrounded”he declared on Russian television, claiming for his camp “success (…) colossal” in 48 hours. “The Russians are approaching Lysytchansk, gaining a foothold in neighboring towns and bombarding the town with their planes”had recognized earlier Serguiï Gaïdaï, the governor of the Luhansk region, epicenter of the conflict in recent weeks.

“They want to destroy all of Donbass, step by step. Entirely. Lysychansk, Sloviansk, Kramatorsk… They want to turn all cities into Mariupol”city martyred by the war, declared President Volodymyr Zelensky on the night of Wednesday to Thursday.

► Bombed agricultural terminals in Mykolaiv

Two grain storage terminals were hit by Russian shelling on Wednesday in the port city of Mykolaiv. The Evri port terminal, with a capacity of 160,000 tonnes, dedicated to vegetable oils, was “damaged by missile attack”which caused a minor injury, said a spokesman for the company that manages the site, adding that two silos were on fire and a third damaged.

A second terminal at Bunge has been “hit in the latest Russian attacks in the region”, said the operator of the site. The strike caused no injuries and the exact extent of the damage was not yet known. The terminal, which had been closed since the first day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, includes a storage site, ship loading and a vegetable oil production unit.