• Zelenskyy says fate of Donbas being decided in Sievierodonetsk
  • Germany’s Scholz to meet NATO chief in Berlin
  • Poland’s Duda criticizes Berlin sharply in German interview

This article was last updated at 05:15 UTC/GMT

Poland’s Duda criticizes Germany, talks with Putin

Polish President Andrzej Duda appears in Germany’s top-selling Bild newspaper on Thursday. He criticized German economic ties to Russia and said that to the best of his knowledge German tanks designed to replace Soviet-era ones Poland planned to give to Ukraine had not arrived.

Having complained last month that Poland had not received any Leopard 2 tanks, with Germany responding that it had always been clear such deliveries would take time, Duda this time said he had hoped for older Leopard tanks instead in the shorter term. 

“As far as I know we’ve received nothing at all,” Duda told Bild. “We gave our tanks away and now we have nothing at all in their place.” 

He said his government was also in procurement negotiations with the US and South Korea. 

Duda also criticized German industry, saying that for a part of it, “what happens to Ukraine or Poland” was of no concern.

“Perhaps German business does not believe that the Russian army could again celebrate a major victory in Berlin and occupy a part of Germany. We in Poland know that that’s possible,” he said. 

Duda also said he was “astonished” by the continued talks with Putin by European leaders like Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Emmanuel Macron. 

“These talks achieve nothing. What do they achieve? They only serve to legitimize a person who is responsible for the crimes the Russian military is committing in Ukraine,” he said. “Did anybody talk to Adolf Hitler during World War II in this way? Did anybody say that it was important for Adolf Hitler to save face? That we should act in such a way that Adolf Hitler is not humiliated?” 

Asked in a recent French interview why he was continuing long discussions with Putin by phone, Macron had said that it was important to maintain contact and also not to humiliate the Russian president. He also said that Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy had asked him to keep calling Putin. 

Ukraine confident about EU candidate status

Following two days of talks in Berlin, a Ukrainian official said he is confident that his country will soon be granted EU candidate status.

Regional Development Minister Oleksiy Chernyshov told German news agency dpa that he believes the 27-member bloc will greenlight Ukraine’s EU candidate status later in June.

“As we understand it, they won’t stand in the way if the EU Commission report is positive,” he said.

Chernyshov said he believes Germany will approve the move. He met with German lawmakers on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Russia could be changing strategy in Sievierodonetsk

An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia may be shifting its strategy in the key Donbas city of Sievierodonetsk.

Oleskiy Arestovych said in an online interview that Russia is hitting the city with airstrikes and missiles after ground forces pulled out.

The Ukrainian adviser says the center of the city is now deserted.

“They retreated, our troops retreated, so the artillery hits an empty place. They are hitting hard without any particular success,” Arestovych said.

A destroyed market in Sievierodonetsk

An open market destroyed by a military strike in the battle for Sievierodonetsk

Zelenskyy: ‘Fierce battle’ underway in key Donbas city

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the city of Sievierodonetsk “remains the epicenter of fighting” in the eastern Donbas region.

“It is a very fierce battle, very difficult, probably one of the hardest in the course of this war,” Zelenskyy said in his evening video address.

The Ukrainian leader said Russian troops are suffering losses, adding that the fate of the Donbas could be decided in Sievierodonetsk.

Zelenskyy’s comments come after the governor of the eastern Luhansk region said Ukrainian troops may withdraw from Sievierodonetsk amid heavy Russian attacks.

What happened in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Wednesday

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Ankara, with the two diplomats discussing a UN-backed plan to facilitate the passage of grain from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. Around 22 million tons of grain are stuck in the ports, exacerbating a global food crisis, particularly in Africa.

Russia has called on Ukraine to de-mine areas near the ports, saying it would not use the corridors to launch new attacks. Both Ukrainian and EU officials have cast doubt on the pledge.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the world is on the verge of “unprecedented hunger and destitution” due to the war.

“The war’s impact on food security, energy and finance is systemic, severe and speeding up,” the UN head said.

Ruslan Stefanchuk, chairman of the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, gave a speech to European lawmakers. He praised European Parliament President Roberta Metsola during the address for her visit to Kyiv on April 1 while fighting was raging in the area.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Kyiv is launching a system to collect data on Russian war criminals, known as the “Book of Torturers.” Zelenskyy also spoke with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz by phone about further support for Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk chided former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, after she gave an interview defending her Russia policy during her time in power. Melnyk said Merkel offered “not a hint of self-criticism” and called her statements “very regrettable.”

Ukraine and Russia exchanged the bodies of 50 soldiers killed in action.

Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai said Ukrainian forces may have to pull out of Sievierodonetsk amid heavy shelling by Russia.

You can revisit our live updates from June 8 here.

wd/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

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