- Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy compares Russia’s invasion of his country on February 24 to Hitler’s surprise attacks on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.
- Russia has commemorated the 81st anniversary of the invasion, with President Vladimir Putin laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Kremlin wall.
- In Ukraine’s occupied port city of Mariupol, pro-Moscow activists lit 10,000 candles to spell out the phrase “Remember 22.06.1941”.
- A Ukrainian official overseeing the country’s push to join the European Union says she is “100 percent” certain all 27 EU nations will approve Ukraine’s candidacy during a summit this week, perhaps as soon as Thursday.
- Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in Iran to discuss, according to Iran’s state media, “Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, boosting bilateral and energy cooperation, as well as international and regional issues.”
These are the latest updates:
Zelenskyy speaks with 11 leaders on eve of EU summit
Ukraine’s president spoke with 11 European leaders on Wednesday, he has said, in an effort to boost the chances of the European Parliament approving Kyiv’s bid for EU candidacy.
In what Zelenskyy described as a second day “marathon” of talks, he listed his discussions with the prime ministers of Bulgaria, Latvia, Greece, Sweden, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Slovenia, as well as with the presidents of Moldova and Lithuania, and Austria’s chancellor.
“Tomorrow I will continue this marathon – we must provide maximum support to our state,” Zelenskyy said.
“We expect a key European decision tomorrow night,” he added.
Discussed the forthcoming European Council Summit with Federal Chancellor. Thanked 🇦🇹 for the humanitarian support. Exchanged views on the reconstruction of 🇺🇦 and the forthcoming Conference on the Reconstruction of Ukraine in Lugano
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa)
Russia’s Lavrov in Iran to discuss nuclear deal, cooperation
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Iran on Wednesday, Iranian state TV reported, as world powers and Tehran are struggling to revive their 2015 nuclear pact amid stalled negotiations.
“During Lavrov’s visit, Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, boosting bilateral and energy cooperation, as well as international and regional issues will be discussed,” Iranian state media reported.
Iranian state TV showed Lavrov meeting Iran’s hardline President Ebrahim Raisi, but gave no details. Iranian foreign ministry said on Monday that Lavrov’s visit was aimed at “expanding cooperation with the Eurasian region and the Caucasus.”
Last month, Moscow said Russia and Iran – which are both under Western sanctions and sit on some of the world’s largest oil and gas reserves – had discussed swapping supplies for oil and gas as well as setting up a logistics hub.
US hopeful for positive resolution soon for Sweden, Finland’s NATO bid
The United States is hopeful there will soon be a positive resolution of the issues between Turkey, Finland and Sweden regarding the NATO accession bids of the two Nordic countries, the State Department’s top diplomat for Europe has said.
Karen Donfried, assistant secretary for Europe and Eurasian affairs, speaking at a Senate foreign relations hearing, said the US was “certainly pushing” to get all parties on the same page before next week’s NATO summit in Madrid.
G7, NATO leaders to ratchet up pressure on Russia, keeping eye on China: US officials
Leaders from the Group of Seven rich nations and the NATO alliance will seek to increase pressure on Russia over its war in Ukraine at meetings next week, while making clear that they remain concerned about China, Reuters cites senior US administration officials as having said.
NATO would announce new commitments to shore up European security, the officials said, while the participation of leaders from Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand would show that the war in Ukraine had not detracted from focus on China.
G7 leaders were also expected to address China’s “coercive economic practices,” which have become even more aggressive in recent years, one of the officials said, according to Reuters.
Russia marks anniversary of Hitler’s USSR invasion
Russia commemorated the 81st anniversary of Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union on Wednesday, with Russian President Vladimir Putin laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Kremlin wall.
Hitler’s forces launched surprise attacks on Kyiv, Moscow and Belarusian Brest on June 22, a day that marks the start of what Russia calls the Great Patriotic War and is today known in the country as Day of Remembrance and Sorrow.
The Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces kicked off commemorations after midnight with a Divine Liturgy and a memorial service for the estimated 27 million Soviet soldiers and civilians killed in the war, the Moscow Times reports. Later 1,418 candles were lit outside the cathedral for each day the war lasted.
In Ukraine’s occupied port city of Mariupol, pro-Moscow activists lit 10,000 candles to spell out the phrase “Remember 22.06.1941”.
Russia did the same in Ukraine as Germany when it invaded Soviet Union: Zelenskyy
Russia did the same on February 24 when it invaded Ukraine as Nazi Germany did on June 22, 1941, when it invaded the Soviet Union, Zelenskyy has said on the WW2 anniversary.
“Today, June 22, is the Day of Mourning and Remembrance of the Victims of War. A war that was to remain forever in the history of the 20th century and was never to be repeated. But it is repeated,” Zelenskyy said in his morning address.
“Today there is no shortage of words that Russia did the same on February 24 as the Nazis did on June 22 … And I want to add only one thing. Then 1418 days passed from the morning of the invasion to the defeat of the aggressor. We must liberate our land and achieve victory, but faster. Much faster,” he said.
“This is our national goal, and we must work to achieve it on a daily basis. Not only the state, but also every citizen – at the level at which it is possible.”
This day in 1941, Nazi Germany invades the Soviet Union with the largest invasion force in the history of warfare, called operation Barbarossa. Approx. 3 million personnel invaded the USSR along a 2,900-kilometer (1,800 mi) front.
— WWII Pictures (@WWIIpix)
Ukraine expects EU-wide support for candidacy to join bloc
A Ukrainian official overseeing the country’s push to join the EU has said she is “100 percent” certain all 27 EU nations will approve Ukraine’s candidacy during a summit this week.
In an interview with The Associated Press news agency, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishyna said the decision could come as soon as Thursday, when the leaders’ summit starts.
Stefanishyna said the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark had been sceptical about starting accession talks with Ukraine while it is fighting Russia’s invasion but are now supportive. Asked how confident she was that Ukraine would be accepted as an EU candidate, she said: “The day before the summit starts, I can say 100 percent.”
EU candidate status, which can be granted only if the existing member countries agree unanimously, is the first step towards membership. It does not provide security guarantees or an automatic right to join the bloc. Ukraine’s membership bid is the top order of business for EU leaders meeting in Brussels.
You can read all the updates from June 22.