The essentials in brief:
- Zelenskyy thanks anti-aircraft defense for “destroying evil”
- Federal President Steinmeier visits Lithuania
- Poland closes border for trucks from Belarus and Russia
- NATO and partner air force maneuvers in Northern Europe
- Denmark increases its Ukraine fund
After massive Russian attacks with drones, cruise missiles and rockets, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the country’s air defense system. There were some hits, but most of the drones and missiles were shot down, Zelensky said in his video message that evening.
At least a few hundred lives were saved in one day. The US Patriot anti-aircraft systems helped destroy “evil,” Zelensky said. He called for more help to complete the country’s defenses. Zelenskyi also reported that he met with the military leadership to discuss the steps of the major offensive against the Russian invasion.
Russia carried out massive airstrikes on Ukraine on Monday, including on the capital Kiev. Burning fragments of fired missiles fell in some quarters of the city. Never since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression on February 24 last year have there been so many attacks in Ukraine in one month.
Steinmeier takes relatives of soldiers with him
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier opens a conference in Vilnius this Tuesday to mark the city’s 700th anniversary and the German-Lithuanian relations that have developed since then. Before that, he will meet President Gitanas Nauseda, who invited him to the conference.
In the afternoon, Steinmeier wants to watch a practice shooting run by the German-led multinational battle group at the Pabrade military training area. Steinmeier took relatives of the almost 800 German soldiers stationed there to Lithuania so that they could see their relatives again for a day. This is his way of thanking the families for shouldering the strains of this mission to secure NATO’s eastern flank against possible Russian aggression.
Steinmeier with Bundeswehr soldiers and their relatives at the airport in Vilnius
The soldiers are valued for what they do to protect freedom and democracy, said Steinmeier on Monday evening before his departure for Vilnius. He knows how much changes for families when, for example, the man is sent on a foreign assignment.
Poland closes border for trucks from Belarus and Russia
On June 1, Poland will close its border with Belarus for trucks from the eastern neighboring country and from Russia. According to a decree by the Ministry of the Interior, the ban applies until further notice to trucks, tractor units and combinations with trailers or semi-trailers that are registered in one of the two countries.
Poland had previously put 365 other representatives of the government of Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko on a sanctions list. The entry bans against them are a reaction to the maintenance of the “draconian sentence” against the activist of the Polish minority, Andrzej Poczobut, the ministry said in Warsaw.
Polish-Belarusian border crossing in Kuznica
The Supreme Court of Belarus confirmed the 50-year-old journalist’s eight-year prison sentence on Friday. He was accused of “inciting hatred” and “calling for actions harmful to Belarus”. Authoritarian Belarus is one of the last allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Luftwaffe maneuvers in Finland, Norway and Sweden
Major air force maneuvers by NATO and partner countries have begun in northern Europe. As announced by the Finnish Air Force, more than a dozen countries are taking part in the nearly two-week exercise. Around 150 aircraft take off and land in Finland, Norway and Sweden.
In addition to the host countries, the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, Italy, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and the Czech Republic are also taking part in the “Arctic Challenge Exercise”, which has been organized by the Nordic countries every two years since 2013 and the United States.
Russian border in Imatra, Finland
After decades of military non-alignment, Finland joined the western military alliance on April 4 as the 31st member state. As a result of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, Finland and Sweden jointly applied for NATO membership in May 2022. Finland’s accession to NATO will add 1,340 kilometers of shared borders with Russia. Turkey and Hungary have not yet given the go-ahead for Sweden’s accession due to various concerns.
Kyiv receives further support from Denmark
Denmark is significantly increasing its fund set up in March to support Ukraine with the equivalent of several billion euros. The Ministry of Defense confirmed a report by Danish television that the fund is to receive another billion euros this year. In the coming year, an additional 1.4 billion euros are to flow into the fund.
Will continue to support Ukraine: Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen
“The war in Ukraine is at a very critical juncture with a serious situation on the battlefield and that is why Ukraine needs all the support it can get,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on the radio.
Denmark set up the fund with an original total amount of almost one billion euros in mid-March. It is intended to cover military support as well as humanitarian aid and support for Danish companies helping to rebuild Ukraine.
Eleven years in prison for collaboration
In southern Ukraine, a woman in the Odessa region on the Black Sea has been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for collecting money for the Russian occupiers, according to the verdict. This was announced by the Ukrainian domestic secret service SBU and published evidence on its Telegram channel.
The woman organized a call for funding for the fighters in the Russian-occupied Donetsk region on social networks. She was arrested in December during an operation aimed against saboteurs. The court sentenced her to eleven years and four months in prison for supporting the aggressor state, it said.
The woman supported two relatives who joined the separatists in Donetsk region in 2016 to fight against Ukrainian forces. Fighting in eastern Ukraine began in 2014 after the fall of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The Ukrainian secret service repeatedly reports arrests of collaborators who support Russia.
gri/fw (dpa, afp)
This article will be continuously updated on the day of its publication. Reports from the combat zones cannot be independently verified.