Humanitarian situation in Bonbas is extremely alarming

UN: “Humanitarian situation in the eastern Donbas is extremely alarming.”

The United Nations’ humanitarian agency OCHA raised concerns that the humanitarian conditions in eastern Ukraine continued to deteriorate four months into the Russian invasion.  “Nearly four months since the start of the war, the humanitarian situation across Ukraine — particularly in the eastern Donbas — is extremely alarming and continues to deteriorate rapidly,” the OCHA said in a statement.  The situation in the key city of Sievierodonetsk, where heavy fighting has been taking place in recent weeks, is “particularly worrying,” the OCHA added.  Ukrainian officials have said that thousands of civilians remain in the city, with hundreds sheltering in a local chemical plant.  According to the OCHA, the UN and its partners have delivered aid to more than 8.8 million people across Ukraine since the Russian invasion started.

In a regular intelligence report, the British Defense Ministry said Russia was increasingly cracking down on opposition to the war.  “In Russia, the war has accelerated the state’s long-term trajectory towards authoritarianism,” the report said.  Citing migration applications, the ministry said some 15,000 Russian millionaires were likely trying to leave the country.  It added that the so-called Freedom for Russia Legion, including Russians fighting on Ukraine’s side, has “almost certainly deployed in combat alongside the Ukrainian military.” The report noted that Russia’s parliament was working to introduce a 20-year sentence for Russians who fight against Russia.

The European Commission is to recommend granting EU candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova later on Friday.  Candidate status is not the same as EU membership — it denotes the start of an often lengthy process toward joining the bloc.  The Commission will give its opinion on the matter to the EU’s 27 members after an agreement on the opinion in a meeting Friday, and the decision is expected to be made public next week.  The bloc’s governments will then have to decide how to proceed.  On Thursday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said in Kyiv that they backed Ukraine’s application for EU candidate status.  Ukraine and Moldova will likely face a long accession process.  For Ukraine, the focus of the process will be on promoting good governance, the rule of law, and measures to tackle corruption.  Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky submitted Ukraine’s bid for EU membership shortly after the war started in February.