Two senior European officials said during a visit to Tokyo on Thursday that Russia posed “the greatest direct threat to the world order”, and while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the start of progress in the country’s efforts to secure international security guarantees, leaders of the occupied Ukrainian region Kherson attempt to annex it to Russia.
After a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumoyo Kishida, accompanied by European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated that Russia “today is the biggest direct threat to the world order with its barbaric war against Ukraine and its worrying alliance with China. “
The two European officials visited Tokyo on Thursday as part of an annual round of talks between Japan and the European Union, taking place this year amid the war in Ukraine and amid growing concerns in Asia over China’s military ambitions.
In turn, Kishida, whose government has joined Western sanctions against Moscow, especially in the areas of finance and energy, stressed that “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means not only Europe but the heart of the world order, including Asia. , shot. ” and added: “It should not be allowed.”
The issue of China’s tighter stance on the crisis has also been raised on the agenda of the talks, at a time when the European Union wants to play an increasing role in Beijing.
“Our co-operation in Ukraine is essential in Europe, but it is also important in the Indo-Pacific region, and we also intend to expand our consultations on China, which is increasingly asserting its position.” said Michel.
These developments come as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said progress is being made in the country’s efforts to secure international security guarantees.
“We are negotiating with the leading countries of the world to give Ukraine confidence in security for decades to come,” Zelensky added in his daily video speech on Wednesday night.
This was one of the topics discussed at Sunday’s G7 meeting, in which Ukraine participated for the first time.
“This is the first time in the history of our state that it has become possible to establish such guarantees,” Zelensky said.
Zelensky added that this “will not only be important from a legal point of view, but will also be clarified so that it will be clear: what exactly do we want? Who guarantees it to us? And how?”.
It is noteworthy that one of Russia’s demands for an end to armed hostilities is a clear commitment by Ukraine to political neutrality, for which the country seeks strong international security guarantees.
In parallel developments, the TASS news agency reported yesterday, Wednesday, referring to the Civil Military Administration of the Ukrainian Kherson region, that the leaders of the Russian-occupied region intend to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to oppose it. end of annexing his land to his land. the year.
“There will be a request (to the Russian president) to include the Kherson region as a full part of the Russian Federation,” said Kirill Strimosov, the assistant in charge of the Kherson civil-military administration. Kherson is the region occupied by the Russian army during its war against Ukraine, which began on February 24, 2022.
“The entire legal base (…) will be ready before the end of the year,” he added, adding that since the international community did not recognize the 2014 referendum on the annexation of Crimea by Russia, the Kherson region does not organize. a referendum.
During his visit to Kherson on Friday, Russian parliamentary official Andrei Turchak stressed that Russia will remain “in the south of Ukraine” forever “.
Kiev has been accusing Moscow for weeks of wanting to hold a “referendum” soon aimed at declaring the region’s independence, as pro-Russian separatists did in Donbass in 2014.
“There will be no Kherson People’s Republic. If anyone wants a new annexation, tougher sanctions will be imposed on Russia,” President Zelensky threatened on April 22.
These statements came at a time when US Intelligence Director Avril Haynes said on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to expand the “scope” of the conflict, to Transnistria, the region of Moldova declaring independence in 1990. has, to include.
On April 22, Russian General Rustam Minkayev said: “Control of southern Ukraine also means a passage to Transnistria where we see cases of persecution of the Russian-speaking population.” The defense of Russian-speakers is one of Moscow’s justifications for the current war.
The Ukrainian leadership in the south has declared that Russian forces are “mercilessly” bombing the Mikolaiv region, the last stronghold before Odessa, in the west. Wednesday night, she explained, “houses and agricultural facilities were damaged and electricity was cut off in one of the villages.”
In the field, specifically in the southeast of the country, Russian forces again bombed steel plants in Azovstal in Mariupol, where dozens of Ukrainians, including military and civilians, are still hiding. “Dozens of strikes (…) every hour,” Petro Andriuchenko, the city’s assistant mayor, wrote on Telegram.
In a rare announcement, the commander of the Ukrainian national guard, Oleksiy Natochi, reported on Wednesday that about 561 soldiers in the guard to which the Azov battalion, which is entrenched in the Azovstal complex, had died.
Natucci pointed out during an online press conference that 1,697 members of the National Guard were injured.