War in Ukraine, Day 91: Russians make progress, Moscow risks default


► The Russian army advances in the Donbass

Three months after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine“the situation in the Donbass is extremely difficult”Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged on Tuesday evening. “All the forces that the Russian army still has have been thrown there for the offensive” because they “want to destroy everything”he said.

→ REREAD. War in Ukraine, day 90: the Donbass pounded, state of emergency in Hungary, 8 million displaced

Moscow has decided to step up its offensive in the Donbass, which the Ukrainians are struggling to defend. “In the Luhansk region, the Russians are advancing in all directions at once”regional governor Serguiï Gaïdaï confirmed on Wednesday.

Kremlin soldiers have broken through several defense lines near the town of Popasna and are threatening Bakhmut and Soledar. The towns of Severodonetsk and Lyssytchansk, which together had nearly 200,000 inhabitants before the war, were shelled by artillery and threatened with encirclement.

→ REPORT. “I was born here and I will die here”: in Karlivka, the slow agony of a Donbass village

“The bombardments are more and more intense” and “the Russian army has decided to completely destroy Severodonetsk”a strategic city which “is being wiped off the face of the earth”added the governor of the region, comparing the fate of the city with that of Mariupol, conquered last week.

► Russia risks default

The United States has decided to end, from Wednesday, an exemption allowing Moscow to pay its debts in dollars, announced Tuesday the American Treasury. A decision that could precipitate Russia into default.

The Russian government still has to honor 13 payments by the end of the year. Failure to pay therefore seems inevitable. In place since the start of Western sanctions against Russia, in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine launched on February 24, this exemption had until then allowed Moscow to escape them.

► Hungary blocks an embargo on Russian oil

Paris said on Tuesday that Budapest’s blocking of the EU embargo on Russian oil could still be overcome, contradicting Prime Minister Viktor Orban who judges a deal “very unlikely”. France considers that“there is still the possibility in the days that have just come to unblock the Hungarian veto”adding that “various options are on the table”.

→ ANALYSIS. NATO: Erdogan and Orban, the blackmail of autocrats

Hungary, in discussions with the European Commission, “is not in a position to accept the sixth sanctions package until the negotiations are successful in resolving all outstanding issues”warned Viktor Orban in a letter to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. “Solutions must precede sanctions”he warns in this letter.

He asked that this question not “be not examined” at the summit on behalf of “the unity of the European Union” who “must remain our priority”. The approval of the sanctions requires the unanimity of the 27.

Hungary also declared a state of emergency on Tuesday to deal with the consequences of the war in Ukraine. “The world is on the brink of an economic crisis. Hungary must stay out of this war and protect the financial security of its families”justified Viktor Orban.

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