Ukraine’s modernization: Soldiers evacuated from the Azov steel plant | Current Europe | DW

The basics in a nutshell:

  • 264 Ukrainian soldiers evacuated from the Azov Steel Plant
  • Zelensky: “Ukraine needs its heroes from Mariupol alive”
  • Schultz rules out “imposed peace” with Russia
  • EU approves more money for arms deliveries to Ukraine
  • No EU agreement to ban oil imports from Russia

In Mariupol, after weeks of siege, Ukrainian fighters were brought from the Azov steel mills, which were surrounded by Russian units. They were transported from the site in several buses. Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Anna Malgar confirmed the evacuation of 264 soldiers in a video posted online. 53 seriously wounded soldiers were taken to Novoazovsk and another 211 soldiers to Olenivka for medical treatment.

Both places are in areas under the control of the Russian army. Malgar said there will be an exchange so they can go home. It was not possible for Asovstal to “fight freely,” Malgar wrote on Facebook.

In his daily video address, President Volodymyr Zelensky stressed that “we hope that we can save the lives of our children” and continued that “Ukraine needs its heroes from Mariupol alive.”

According to Moscow, the Russian and Ukrainian militaries had previously agreed on an evacuation campaign. The Ukrainian General Staff said efforts to rescue the troops still inside the steel plants were underway. He did not say how many soldiers were left.

Injured Ukrainian soldiers arrive in the Russian-occupied city of Novoazovsk

Azov Steel is the last stronghold of the Ukrainian army in the strategically important port city of Mariupol. In the past few weeks, hundreds of civilians have been taken to safety from the huge Azovstal industrial complex. Hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers, whose food and water supplies were running out, continued to hold out in bunkers and tunnels. In the past few weeks, steel plants have become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance against the Russian occupiers.

Schultz: No peace with Russia, with new borders

Chancellor Olaf Schultz has ruled out the possibility of a “dictate peace” with Russia, in which Ukraine must sign its territorial concessions. “It is very clear to me that there is only one way out of this situation for Russia if it comes to an agreement with Ukraine,” Schulz said in a question-and-answer session on German television station RTL. Ukraine will be supplied with weapons to defend itself until Russian President Vladimir Putin sees them.

“We should be concerned about the escalation of the war,” the German chancellor said on RTL. The goal should be for Russia not to win the war in Ukraine. At the same time, Schultz warned that no one should go beyond that. “It would be a completely wrong goal, given that it is a nuclear power,” he added.

The chancellor doesn’t just want to go to Kyiv to take a picture

Chancellor Schultz emphasized that when he goes to Ukraine, it is about discussing specific matters. He said in an RTL question and answer session that he would not “join a group of people who are going to travel to Kyiv for a short time to take a photo”.

Foreign Minister Annalina Barbuk (Green Party) was the first member of the German government to travel to Kyiv last week since the start of the war, shortly before Bundestag President Barbel Bass (SPD) arrived there. Heads of state and government of many other countries visited Ukraine, which was attacked by Russia, to show their solidarity with the country. The Ukrainian side canceled the trip planned by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at a short time. For a while, this was considered an obstacle to the Chancellor’s journey. In the meantime, the discomfort made is seen.

EU approves more money for arms deliveries

The foreign ministers of the 27 European Union countries approved another 500 million euros to supply the Ukrainian armed forces with weapons and equipment. This was announced by the Commissioner for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell after a meeting with ministers in Brussels. This increases the EU funds available for military aid to Ukraine to two billion euros.

The first package of €500 million was approved at the end of February, with another package to follow in March and April. According to EU information, the money will be used to finance personal protective equipment, fuel, and also defense weapons. According to Borrell, the additional half a billion euros will be used to provide artillery pieces and armored vehicles, among other things.

No EU agreement to ban oil imports from Russia

According to the representative of Foreign Affairs Borrell, there is still no agreement in the European Union on the planned sixth package of sanctions against Russia. Borrell said in Brussels that negotiations had reached a dead end – particularly due to differences over the planned oil embargo. Since there are “fairly assertive attitudes”, he cannot guarantee the success of the hack.

About two weeks ago, the European Union Commission proposed a ban on the import of Russian crude oil and oil products, which should come into force gradually by the end of the year. However, the EU’s plans have yet to be determined, mainly due to Hungary’s reservations. The country only wants to agree if it receives billions in aid or far-reaching exemptions from the European Union. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has threatened to veto because he sees his country’s energy supply at risk, even though EU plans already include a longer transition period for Hungary.

Foreign Minister Birbock expressed much greater confidence in Borrell that an agreement on an oil embargo against Russia could be reached in the coming days. But she also stressed that it was important “that all countries go the way out together”. “In the next few days we will come to a common conclusion – I am very confident of that,” the green politician said.

Belgium Brussels |  EU foreign ministers meeting |  Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba

Dmytro Kuleba, guest of the EU foreign ministers meeting

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who attended the EU foreign ministers meeting as a guest, earlier renewed Kyiv’s call for a speedy ban on the import of Russian oil and gas. Kuleba said European countries continue to spend millions of euros on them every day. This money then finances the “Russian War Machine, Aggression and Atrocities”.

Sweden will apply for NATO membership

In the face of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Sweden is breaking a long tradition of military non-alignment. Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said in Stockholm on Monday that the country will apply to join the NATO military alliance. This is the beginning of a new era. Previously, almost all parties in Parliament had expressed support for the bid to join.

MEPs are also discussing a corresponding movement in neighboring Finland. The majority in Parliament is considered safe. President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin jointly announced on Sunday that the government wants to ask NATO to join. The country shares a border of about 1,300 km with Russia.

qu / ack (rtr, dpa, afp, ap)

This article will be constantly updated on the day it is published. Reports from combat zones cannot be independently verified.

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