The United States is sending an additional $450 million in military aid to Ukraine, including four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS). The 27 countries of the European Union have unanimously approved Ukraine and Moldova’s applications to become candidate countries for membership in the bloc. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the EU’s decision is one of the most important for Ukraine since it gained independence. Ukraine says it will act quickly and take the necessary steps to start accession negotiations. Germany says it could last an average winter without Russian gas for two and a half months if its storage tanks were full. (Al-Jazeera)
These are the latest updates:
14 minutes ago (00:54 GMT)
EBRD lends 300 million euros to Moldova to solve energy failures
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has said it would lend Moldova 300 million euros ($316 million) to help it cope with energy supply disruptions exacerbated by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Moldova, wedged between Ukraine and Romania, is sourcing almost all its industrial and heating gas from Russian giant Gazprom under a contract until 2026. The supplies have been the subject of difficult periodic price negotiations, which were negotiated even before the invasion of Ukraine, have soared, and Moldova’s ability to pay its debts.
The loan to the pro-Western government of President Maia Sandu will be made in two tranches: 200 million euros to avoid disruptions and another 100 million euros to build a strategic reserve in Ukraine or Romania.
22 minutes ago (00:46 GMT)
The head of the German network agency says full gas storage is enough for 2.5 months.
Germany could support itself for two and a half months on average winter if its natural gas storage facilities were 100 percent full, the head of the German network agency said, adding that Europe’s largest economy needs additional suppliers and conserves gas.
“If the storage facilities in Germany were mathematically 100 percent full … we could do without Russian gas altogether … for just two and a half months, and then the storage tanks will be empty,” Klaus Mueller said of the Maybrit Illner program from ZDF.
Mueller said the gas supply situation was tense but still stable.
In a statement earlier, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said that Russia’s gas supply cut was an economical attack by President Vladimir Putin.
27 minutes ago (00:41 GMT)
Canada approved the budget, including the power to seize assets seized in response to the Russian invasion.
The Canadian Senate has approved Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s budget and passed a long list of measures, including the power to seize and sell assets in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
30 minutes ago (00:38 GMT)
The US welcomes Turkey’s aid for grain exports from Ukraine
National security spokesman John Kirby said that the United States includes Turkey’s involvement in agreeing to get grain from Ukraine.
Kirby said that the US is working with allies and partners to get some grain from Ukraine, exports thwarted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We certainly welcome Turkey’s involvement in trying to make arrangements to allow grain shipments,” he said, noting a blockade in the Black Sea.
1 hour ago (00:04 GMT)
The US sends advanced missile systems and other aid to Ukraine
Officials have announced that the United States will send an additional $450 million in military assistance to Ukraine, including some medium-range missile systems, to help push back Russia’s progress in the war.
The latest package includes four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, which will double their current number. All four were pre-positioned in Europe, and training on those systems has already begun with the Ukrainian troops that will be using them, said Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Anton Semelroth, a Pentagon spokesman.
The first four HIMARS that the US sent earlier have already gone to the battlefield in Ukraine and are in the hands of troops there.
According to the Pentagon, the aid includes 18 tactical vehicles used to tow howitzers so the weapons can be moved around the battlefield, as well as 18 coastal and river patrol boats, thousands of machine guns, grenade launchers, and ammunition. And several other equipment and spare parts.
1 hour ago (23:55 GMT)
Zelenskyy says he won’t rest until EU membership is secured
Zelenskyy has promised not to rest until Russia’s defeat, and Ukraine’s full membership in the European Union are confirmed.
“This is a victory,” a smiling Zelenskyy said in a short video on his Instagram channel, noting that Ukraine had waited 30 years for this moment.
“We can defeat the enemy, rebuild Ukraine, join the EU, and then we can rest,” he said in a low voice.
“Or maybe we won’t rest – our kids would be offended. But without a doubt, we will win.”
Andriy Yermak, Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, said Kyiv would quickly implement the plan needed to begin accession negotiations.
We thank people and the military for showing the importance of European values. We pay a high price. And we would like to become the member.
Prepare for further necessary reforms.
— Andriy Yermak (@AndriyYermak) June 23, 2022
1 hour ago (23:47 GMT)
Ukraine, Moldova will swiftly tackle reforms: EUs von der Leyen
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was confident Ukraine and Moldova would act as quickly as possible to implement the necessary reforms.
“There could be no better sign of hope for the citizens of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia in these difficult times,” she told reporters on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels after both countries secured EU candidate status, adding that they still do homework.
“I am deeply convinced that the decision today strengthens us all. It strengthens Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia in the face of Russian aggression,” she said.
“And it strengthens the European Union because it shows the world once again that it is united and strong in the face of external threats.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, center, and French President Emmanuel Macron, right, speak with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during a roundtable meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Thursday, June 23, 2022 [Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP]
1 hour ago (23:46 GMT)
Moldovan president says EU decision on candidacy status is a historic day
Moldovan President Maia Sandu said the European Union’s move to grant her candidacy status was a landmark day, adding: “We have a difficult road ahead that will require a lot of work and effort”.
In a Facebook post, she said EU membership would mean more prosperity, opportunities, and order in the small country sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania.
1 hour ago (23:38 GMT)
Zelenskyy thanks the EU for approving their candidacy
A triumphant Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the European Union for granting Ukraine candidate status, saying it marked the beginning of Europe’s new history.
Zelenskyy named and thanked each country in the bloc individually in a video address, saying they had made “one of the most important decisions for Ukraine in all 30 years of independence from our state”.
“I have always said that we Ukrainians believe in the European Union. Although we remained formally outside the European Union, our country probably had the largest flags of a united Europe,” he said.
“They were in the hands of our people during the revolutions. They have been in the hands of our people in the trenches since 2014. I believe that the flag of the European Union will hang in every Ukrainian city that we have yet to liberate from the occupation of the Russian Federation,” Zelenskyy added.
Sincerely commend the decision of EU leaders at #EUCO to grant candidate status. It is a unique and historic moment in 🇺🇦-🇪🇺 relationships. Thank you to @CharlesMichel, @vonderleyen, and EU leaders for their support. The future of Ukraine lies within the EU. #EmbraceUkraine https://t.co/o6dJVmTQrn
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) June 23, 2022
Read all updates from June 23 here.