At their summit in Brussels on Thursday, European leaders are set to formally set Ukraine on the long road to EU membership, while the fight for Russian control rages on the cities of Severodonetsk and Lyschansk in the Lugansk region; 3 summits are organized with the most prominent title of support for Kiev.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his belief that all 27 EU countries would support his country’s obtaining the status of a candidate country, explaining that he spoke with 11 European Union leaders yesterday, Wednesday, about Ukraine’s candidacy for membership of the bloc, and that he will hold further talks today, Thursday, and said, “We deserve this”.
For her part, Olga Stevanishina, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration, confirmed that her country wants to be an effective member of the European Union, and suggested that the accession process would take years.
She said she was “sure that the countries of the Union will support our candidacy for membership in the Union during this week’s summit.”
Observers believe that although it is a largely symbolic step, it will help “raise the morale of the Ukrainians at a very difficult time in the 4-month conflict.”
Russia has long opposed closer ties between Ukraine and Western blocs such as the European Union and NATO.
Diplomats say it will take Ukraine a decade or more to meet the criteria to join the European Union, but EU leaders say the bloc should make a gesture acknowledging the sacrifices of Ukrainians.
After the European summit, it is supposed to hold another summit of the Group of Seven and a third for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with the participation of US President Joe Biden, and the issue of financial assistance to Kiev will be at the heart of the discussions of the three meetings.
A senior White House official pledged on Wednesday that this weekend’s G7 summit in Germany would produce “a set of concrete proposals to increase pressure on Russia and demonstrate our collective support for Ukraine.”
The White House confirmed that Volodymyr Zelensky will speak online during these two meetings.
Yesterday, German Chancellor Olaf Schulz called from Berlin to draw up a “Marshall Plan” for the reconstruction of Ukraine with a budget of billions of euros.
A frightening climax of combat
On the ground, the Ukrainian president said that the goal of Moscow’s intensive air and artillery bombardment is to completely destroy the Donbass region, and urged Kyiv’s allies to speed up the shipment of heavy weapons to it so that Russia would be rewarded on the battlefield.
“We must liberate our land and achieve victory, but at a much faster pace,” Zelensky added, in a video speech published this morning, and again demanded to provide Ukraine with larger and faster weapons.
For his part, Oleksiy Aristovich, an adviser to Zelensky, said that the fight for control of the cities of Severodonetsk and Lesichansk in the Lugansk region was heading to a “frightening climax”.
Russia seeks to control both Lugansk and Donetsk, which make up the Donbass region; It is the industrial center of the country.
Moscow says Ukrainian forces are trapped in Severodonetsk, which has been the scene of the fiercest fighting in recent times, and Russia ordered those forces last week to surrender or face death.
But Sergei Gaidai, governor of the Lugansk region, told Ukrainian television on Wednesday that “fighting continues” and that “Russian forces are not in full control” of the city.
Gaidai added that Russian forces had captured the villages of Loskotivka and Ray Oleksandrievka, to the south of the cities of Lyschansk and Severodonetsk, which are the focus of the Russian offensive in the region.
In Lysekhansk, the TASS news agency quoted Moscow-backed separatists as saying that Ukrainians in the city were trapped and cut off from supplies after seizing a road linking the city with the town of Seversk.
Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motozyanek stressed that Russia’s main goal is to control the Lugansk and Donetsk regions, as well as to preserve the land corridors leading to Crimea, in addition to limiting Ukraine’s access to the northwestern part of the Black Sea.
In the city of Mykolaiv, two huge facilities intended for storing and exporting grains and vegetable oils through the city’s port were hit by a Russian missile strike on Wednesday, according to what was announced by the companies “Viterra” and “bong”, the operators of the two facilities.
A spokesman for Vitera said that the storage tanks for the export of vegetable oils at the commercial port in the city of Mykolaiv were “damaged by a missile strike”, which also slightly injured one person.