Ukraine, Briefly

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  • Sweden formally confirmed Monday that it will apply for NATO membership, ending a long history of military neutrality following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, BBC reported. The announcement comes a day after the country’s ruling party said it would vote in favor of joining NATO, despite warnings from Russia. Even so, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson emphasized that Sweden does not want permanent NATO military bases or nuclear weapons on its territory if its membership is approved.
  • Ukraine is bracing for a new Russian offensive in the eastern Donbas area, even as Ukrainian officials said its army’s counterattack around Kharkiv has gained traction, according to Agence France-Presse. Control of Donbas has become one of Russia’s key aims after it failed to seize the capital at the start of the invasion in late February. Still, Western intelligence predicts Moscow’s assault will stall amid huge losses and robust opposition.
  • Gas importers in the European Union can pay for Russian fuel without violating sanctions imposed by Moscow, according to bloc officials, Bloomberg noted. Over the weekend, the European Commission published amended instructions to bloc countries, stating that businesses should make a clear declaration that they consider their duties met once they pay in euros or dollars.
  • McDonald’s said Monday it is leaving the Russian market entirely after more than three decades, paving the way for the sale of its 850 restaurants in the country, Politico wrote. At the same time, a Russian beverage company unveiled a new range of soft drinks to replace the iconic brands of Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite that left Russia following Moscow’s invasion, the Moscow Times added.

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