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Ukraine moves towards EU membership as Russian forces tighten sight of Donbas cities According to Reuters


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© Reuters. Ukrainian military members watch as a tank fires towards Russian troops in the industrial area of ​​the city of Sievierodonetsk, as Russia’s offensive on Ukraine continues, Ukraine June 20, 2022. File photo. June 20, 2022. REUTERS / Oleksandr Ratushniak

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By Pavel Polityuk and Vitalii Hnidyi

KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine will be accepted as a candidate to join the European Union on Thursday, a move that boosts the country’s morale as Russian attacks weaken the defense forces of the two countries. city ​​in the eastern Donbas region.

Although EU leaders meeting in Brussels to approve the Kyiv government’s application is only the beginning of a years-long process, it marks a huge geopolitical shift and will anger Russia. angry when it tries to impose its will on Ukraine.

Ukraine’s ambassador to the EU, Vsevolod Chentsov, told Reuters the “expected green light” was a signal to Moscow that Ukraine, and other countries from the former Soviet Union, could not be within Russia’s sphere of influence”.

Friday will mark four months since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops across the border in what he called a “special military operation” in part forced by the West’s encroachment on what Russia considers. is their sphere of influence.

The conflict, which the West sees as a war of irrational aggression by Russia, has killed thousands, displaced millions and destroyed cities and divided many parts of the world. due to limited food and energy exports.

Russia has focused its campaign on southern and eastern Ukraine after its advance on the capital Kyiv in the early stages of the conflict was thwarted by Ukrainian resistance.

The war of attrition in the Donbas – Ukraine’s industrial heartland – took place most intensely in the twin cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, located opposite the River Siverskyi Donets in Luhansk Oblast.

Oleksiy Arestovych, Zelenskiy’s adviser, said the battle there was “entering a terrifying climax”.

HOT SUMMER

Russian forces are trying to encircle Ukrainian troops defending Lysychansk, Ukrainian defense official Oleksiy Gromov said at a news conference on Thursday.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai privately said that all of Lysychansk was within Russian range and that Ukrainian troops there could retreat to new positions to avoid being trapped.

Gaidai said Ukrainian forces were defending Sievierodonetsk and the nearby settlements of Zolote and Vovchoyrovka, but Russian troops captured Loskutivka and Rai-Oleksandrivka to the south.

Hundreds of civilians are trapped in a chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk while Ukraine and Russia dispute over who controls the bombed city.

Moscow says Ukrainian forces in the city are under siege. But Gaidai said on Wednesday that the Russians still did not have full control of Sievierodonetsk.

TASS news agency quoted Russian-backed separatists as saying Lysychansk is now besieged and supplies cut after a road connecting the city with the town of Sieviersk was captured.

Reuters was unable to immediately confirm the report.

On the southern front, Russian forces attacked fuel tanks and military equipment of the Ukrainian army near Mykolaiv with high-precision weapons, the Russian Defense Ministry quoted the Interfax news agency as saying.

A river port and shipbuilding center just off the coast of the Black Sea, Mykolaiv was a bastion against Russia’s efforts to push the West toward the main Ukrainian port city of Odesa.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the country’s allies to accelerate shipments of heavy weapons to match Russia on the battlefield.

“We must liberate our land and achieve victory, but much faster, much faster,” he said in a video address early Thursday.

Later, Ukraine’s Defense Minister said many HIMARS missile systems had come from the United States. With a range of 70 km, the system can challenge Russian artillery batteries to bombard Ukrainian cities from afar.

“Summer will be very hot for the occupiers of Russia. And last summer for some of them,” Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov tweeted.

SHIELD FOR EU

Like Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia are also looking to join the EU in the bloc’s most ambitious expansion since welcoming the Eastern European nations after the Cold War.

Russia has long opposed closer links between Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, and Western groups such as the European Union and the NATO military alliance.

Diplomats say it will take Ukraine a decade or more to meet EU accession criteria. But EU leaders say the bloc must make a gesture in recognition of Ukraine’s sacrifice.

Ukraine’s entry into the EU ranks alongside Sweden’s and Finland’s applications to join NATO after Russia’s invasion – showing that the Kremlin’s military actions have backfired in the country’s geopolitical goals. this.

Anna Melenchuk, a 29-year-old Ukrainian living in Brussels, was among a small crowd of her countrymen gathered outside the building where EU leaders were meeting.

“It’s a very symbolic move for the European Union … not only the war against Ukraine, Russia waged this war against Europe,” she told Reuters.

“The Ukrainians today are a shield to the European Union, we are protecting Europe from Russian aggression, so it is important to see this solidarity in action.”



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