Ukraine reconstruction ‘common task’ of democratic world, Zelensky says

Rebuilding Ukraine is the “common task of the whole democratic world”, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday, insisting the recovery of his war-torn country would serve world peace. Read our live blog below to see how the day’s events unfold. All times are Paris time, GMT+2.

5:49pm: Russian cosmonauts post pictures of separatist flags in space

Russian cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station on Monday celebrated Russia’s capture of the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, a significant milestone for Moscow in the war.

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, described Moscow’s capture of the Luhansk region as “a liberation day to celebrate both on Earth and in space”.

The agency posted pictures of cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev and Sergei Korsakov smiling as they held up flags of Russia’s proxies in eastern Ukraine, the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic.

5:14pm: UK foreign secretary says looking at ‘options for the deployment of Russian assets’

Russia needs to help pay for the damage it has inflicted on Ukraine during its “appalling war” while Kyiv also needed help to revive its battered economy, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told Reuters on Monday.

“Russia needs to be held to account for this appalling war,” Truss said on the sidelines of the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano. “We are looking at options for the deployment of Russian assets.”

Britain is looking at legislation to seize assets from people responsible for the war, Truss said.

4:28pm: Ukraine ‘not able to match Russia’s firepower’

“As you may imagine, the Ukrainian authorities don’t see [the Russian capture of Lysychansk in the Donbas region] as in any way a liberation of Luhansk region; they see it as an unprovoked war of conquest to take over Ukrainian territory that they are vowing to take back,” FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg reported from Kyiv.

“So they are describing this as a tactical retreat and Volodymyr Zelensky, the president, said that of course Ukraine would take back Lysychansk and the whole of the rest of Luhansk region in the fullness of time,” Cragg continued.

“But what the Ukrainians have been pretty candid about is the reason for this withdrawal — which is the Russians’ vast superiority in terms of the might of their artillery and the amount of ammunition they’ve got. Clearly the Ukrainians are struggling with supplies of ammunition and they’re not able to match the Russians’ firepower — I mean, not anything like it.”



4:21pm: Ukrainian PM says rich Russians should pay for reconstruction of Ukraine

The cost of rebuilding Ukraine following Russia’s invasion could reach $750 billion and rich Russians should help to meet the cost, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on Monday.

“We believe that the key source of recovery should be the confiscated assets of Russia and Russian oligarchs,” he told a conference in the Swiss city of Lugano, citing estimates that frozen Russian assets were worth $300-$500 billion.

“The Russian authorities unleashed this bloody war. They caused this massive destruction and they should be held accountable for it.”

3:49pm: Putin declares victory in Donbas’s Luhansk region

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday declared victory in the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, one day after Ukrainian forces withdrew from their last remaining bulwark of resistance in the province.

Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to Putin in a televised meeting Monday that Russian forces had taken control of Luhansk, which together with the neighboring Donetsk province makes up Ukraine’s industrial heartland of Donbas.

Shoigu told Putin that “the operation” was completed on Sunday after Russian troops overran the city of Lysychansk, the last stronghold of Ukrainian forces in Luhansk.

Putin, in turn, said that the military units “that took part in active hostilities and achieved success, victory” in Luhansk, “should rest, increase their combat capabilities”.

3:36pm: Moscow to rename square outside UK embassy in honour of separatists in Ukraine

Russian authorities said Monday a square outside the British embassy in Moscow will be named after pro-Kremlin separatists in Ukraine as tensions rage over the Kremlin’s offensive.

Moscow authorities said more than 100,000 people took part in a public poll to determine where to establish “Lugansk People’s Republic Square”.

More than 56 percent of respondents said the square should be located in the area along the Smolenskaya embankment outside the British embassy, city hall said.

3:06pm: Ukraine’s recovery plans needs $750 billion, PM says

Ukraine needs $750 billion for a recovery plan in the wake of Russia’s invasion, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Monday.

Shmyhal also told the Ukraine Recovery Conference hosted by Switzerland that there had been over $100 billion of direct damage to infrastructure from Russia’s invasion.

2:46pm: Reconstruction ‘biggest priority’ at Ukraine conference in Switzerland

The idea of a so-called Marshall Plan for Ukraine is being discussed at a conference in Switzerland attended by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky because “this conference was already planned before the war started and it was originally going to be about reforms and the fight against corruption in Ukraine”, said FRANCE 24 International Affairs Editor Armen Georgian.

“Those issues are still important because Ukraine has been given candidate status to join the European Union, but obviously not the focus is much more on reconstruction rather than those specifically EU-related things,” Georgian continued. “Of course, those are important, but Ukrainian officials are saying that the biggest priority now should be reconstruction.”

2:44pm: Firefighters bring water supplies to beleaguered population of Donbas’s Sloviansk

Donbas’s Sloviansk has been out of water for a month after the facilities needed to keep it running were damaged in the war, FRANCE 24’s Luke Shrago reports. Since then, the city’s firefighters have been bringing water to Sloviansk’s dwindling and beleaguered population, in an already dangerous environment.

Sloviansk’s water pumping and filtration plant to the east of the city was cut off in fighting, making repairs impossible. The Sloviansk authorities make sure the firefighters know what’s needed and where. Queues gather every day, but impatience is growing after a month in this situation. “Tell the mayor we need two trucks for each building,” said one resident. “It’s not enough; I have to come so far every day to get water.”

Russian forces may be on their way: After the fall of Lysychansk just over 70km east, Sloviansk lies directly in their path as the Russian offensive in the Donbas grinds on.



2:40pm: Briton appeals against death sentence in separatist-held eastern Ukraine

British citizen Aiden Aslin, sentenced to death by a court in the Russian-backed breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, submitted an appeal on Monday, the Russian Interfax agency reported on Monday.

“A cassation appeal against the verdict was filed today,” the lawyer representing him, Pavel Kosovan, told Interfax.

Aslin was sentenced to death last month together with fellow Briton Shaun Pinner and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun for “mercenary activities” because they had been captured while fighting as foreigners for Ukraine’s army against Russian and Russian-backed forces in Ukraine.

2:35pm: Ukraine reconstruction ‘common task’ of democratic world, Zelensky says

Rebuilding Ukraine is the “common task of the whole democratic world”, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday, insisting the recovery of his war-torn country would serve world peace.

“Reconstruction of Ukraine is the biggest contribution to the support of global peace,” Zelensky said, speaking via video link to an international conference in southern Switzerland on rebuilding his nation.

1:37pm: Ukraine flag has been raised again on Snake Island

The Ukrainian flag has been raised again on Snake Island in the Black Sea, a Ukrainian military spokesperson said on Monday, after Russian troops withdrew from the strategic outpost last week.

“The territory (Snake Island) has been returned to the jurisdiction of Ukraine,” Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern military command, said at a news conference.

1:35pm: Ukraine renews its invitation for Pope Francis to visit

Ukraine renews its invitation for Pope Francis to visit Ukraine and urges the pontiff to continue praying for the Ukrainian people, a Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson said on Monday.

“It is time to deepen connections with those who sincerely desire it. We renew the invitation to Pope Francis to visit our country and urge you to continue praying for the Ukrainian people,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said when asked for comment about an interview Francis gave to Reuters.

The pope said in the interview that he hoped he would be able to go to Moscow and Kyiv after a trip to Canada as part of efforts to end the war in Ukraine.

1:22pm: Putin orders Ukraine offensive to press on following Luhansk capture

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday ordered Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu to press ahead with Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine after troops took control of the entire Luhansk region.

“Military units, including the East group and the West group, must carry out their tasks according to previously approved plans,” Putin told Shoigu.

1:04pm: Turkey halts Russian ship, investigates Ukrainian stolen grain claims

Turkey has halted a Russian-flagged cargo ship off its Black Sea coast and is investigating a Ukrainian claim that it was carrying stolen grain, a senior Turkish official said on Monday.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey said on Sunday the Zhibek Zholy was detained by Turkish customs authorities. Ukraine had previously asked Ankara to detain it, according to an official and documents viewed by Reuters.

Kyiv has accused Moscow of stealing grain from the territories that Russian forces have seized since their invasion began in late February. The Kremlin has previously denied that Russia has stolen any Ukrainian grain.

12:56pm: Wimbledon to appeal $1 million fine over Russia ban

Wimbledon chiefs confirmed Monday that they will appeal against a $1 million fine handed down by the WTA women’s tour for banning Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s tournament. The All England Club imposed the ban in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Wimbledon chief executive Sally Bolton said an appeal will be lodged. “It’s subject to a legal process so I can’t comment specifically but what I will say is that we stand by the decision we made,” said Bolton. “We have appealed.”

12:07pm: Kyiv tries to slow down the Russian army in the eastern part of the country

Kyiv on Monday tried to slow down the Russian army’s advance in eastern Ukraine after the fall of the strategic city of Lyssychansk. “We continue to defend a small part of the Luhansk region so that our army can prepare a new line of defence,” said Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the region, which Moscow said on Sunday it controlled completely.

He said fighting was taking place near Bilogorivka, a town bordering the Donetsk region, located a few kilometres west of Lyssychansk.

9:44am: Russia likely to shift focus to Donetsk, especially Bakhmut, Ukraine warns

A day after Russia’s defence ministry announced that Moscow’s forces had “liberated” Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, its governor Serhiy Gaidai said that Russia would now likely shift focus to the neighbouring Donetsk region, especially Sloviansk and Bakhmut.

“In terms of the military, it is bad to leave positions, but there is nothing critical (in the loss of Lysychansk). We need to win the war, not the battle for Lysychansk,” Gaidai said.

“It hurts a lot, but it’s not losing the war.”

He said the withdrawal from Lysychansk had been “centralised”, indicating that it had been planned and orderly, but that Ukrainian forces had risked being surrounded.

“Still, for them (Russian forces) goal number 1 is the Donetsk region. Sloviansk and Bakhmut will come under attack – Bakhmut has already started being shelled very hard,” he said.

6:40am: Switzerland hosts 2022 Ukraine recovery conference

Leaders from dozens of countries, international organisations and the private sector gathered in Switzerland on Monday to hash out a “Marshall Plan” to rebuild war-ravaged Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who will take part virtually, warned on Sunday that there was a lot of work to be done even in the areas that have been liberated.

The two-day conference, which will have a high security presence and be held in the picturesque southern Swiss city of Lugano, had been planned well before Russia launched its full-scale invasion on February 24.

It had originally been slated to discuss reforms in Ukraine, but once the Russian bombs began to fall it was repurposed to focus on reconstruction.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)


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