On Saturday, the 108th day of war, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stepped up his political-media activities in an effort to keep the world’s attention on the Ukrainian tragedy and maintain support from international partners.
He joined via video conference at the Shangri-La forum in progress in Singapore. Zelensky said he is grateful for “the support that is not aimed only at Ukraine but at yourselves, because on the Ukrainian battlefield today the structures of the future world are decided together with the boundaries of the possible.” Then he raised the alarm for “the acute food crisis that many countries in Africa and Asia will suffer if Russia continues to prevent the export of Ukrainian agricultural products.”
Or if Russia continues to destroy them, as happened again last weekend in Mykolaiv, according to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Kyiv, Taras Vysotskyi, with 300,000 tons of grains stored in silos and gone up in smoke under the blows of Russian artillery.
The high point of the presidential day was undoubtedly the visit to Kyiv of Ursula von der Leyen for an interview that centered on the path of Ukraine’s accession to the European Union and its reconstruction, which will obviously be “sustainable” and green, so much so that it offers itself as a forerunner for the ecological transition of the whole of Europe. Zelensky thanked the president of the European Commission for the sanctions with which Brussels wanted to strike Russia, “of great help for our struggle.” But unfortunately “the war continues,” she added. “And now the need is felt for a seventh package of punitive measures.”
Von der Leyen reassured Zelensky that “by the end of next week” there will be the green light for the official candidacy of Kyiv, thanks to an emergency procedure, the same triggered also for Moldova and Georgia. In record time, the trio will reach the same step reached by Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey, who have struggled to obtain the coveted status of EU pre-member.
The “Russification” proceeds much more rapidly in the occupied areas of southern Ukraine: according to TASS in the Kherson region there are the ceremonies of handing over the passport of the Russian Federation to residents who request it. Hundreds of cases have already been processed, the new local authorities say, who have not abandoned the idea of a referendum on the model of the one with which Crimea changed hands in 2014.
After recent disputes with Paris, with Macron who seemed to the Ukrainians more worried about “not humiliating Putin” than determined to fight him, an official note from the Elysée tries to make it clear that, “as always said by the French president, we want the victory of Ukraine and we want its territorial integrity to be restored.” Furthermore, the note continues, in Macron’s words, “there was no intention of conceding anything to Putin and Russia.”
But while one horizon is clearing up, other storm clouds are gathering over the relations between Kyiv and its closest allies, thanks to another of the straight-legged outings to which US President Joe Biden has accustomed us in recent times. Remember the warnings issued by US intelligence in February about the imminence of the Russian invasion? Well Zelensky, Biden said during an event on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, “he didn’t want to listen to them.” And apart from him, there were “many other people.”
The spokesman of the Ukrainian presidency Sergei Nikiforov wanted to reject the sender’s note: “President Zelensky had asked Western partners for preventive sanctions against Russia before it invaded Ukraine,” he said. “He had talked about it with Biden himself over the course of three or four phone calls. We can therefore say that it was our allies who did not want to listen.”
On the other hand, strong and clear appreciation resounded on the Twitter profile of the Kyiv Ministry of Defense for the latest supply of equipment related to the Starlink satellite system from Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Who “manages not only to work on the preparations for the mission to Mars, but also to transmit the Starlinks to our intelligence, so necessary for his special missions.” As special as they are space-age, because “the Armed Forces of Ukraine defend freedom on Earth so that it can also be established on Mars.”