Zelensky appeals for heavy weapons and EU membership while Russia bombs Ukrainian cities

Zelensky appeals for heavy weapons and EU membership while Russia bombs Ukrainian cities
Zelensky appeals for heavy weapons and EU membership while Russia bombs Ukrainian cities

Kyiv (Reuters) – Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said Moscow’s massive air and artillery bombardment was aimed at destroying the entire Donbass region, urging Kyiv’s allies to speed up the shipment of heavy weapons to Russia to reward it on the battlefield.

Oleksiy Aristovich, an adviser to Zelensky, said the fight for control of the cities of Severodonetsk and Lesichansk in the Luhansk region was heading to a “frightening climax”. Russia seeks to control both Luhansk and Donetsk, which make up the Donbass region and is the country’s industrial center.

On the diplomatic front, European leaders will formally set Ukraine on the long road to EU membership at a summit in Brussels on Thursday. Although it is a largely symbolic move, it will help boost morale for Ukrainians at a very difficult time in the four-month-old conflict that has killed thousands, displaced millions and reduced villages and cities to rubble.

“We must liberate our land and achieve victory, but at a much faster pace,” Zelensky said in a video speech published in the early hours of Thursday morning, and again demanded to provide Ukraine with larger and faster weapons.

“There was intense air and artillery bombardment in the Donbass. The goal of the occupier here has not changed, they want to destroy the entire Donbass step by step.

“This is why we have repeatedly emphasized the need to speed up arms deliveries to Ukraine. What needs to be achieved quickly is parity on the battlefield in order to stop these savage crowds and push them beyond the borders of Ukraine.”

Twin cities

The worst of the fierce war of attrition in the Donbass is the cities of Severodonetsk and Lisichansk.

Hundreds of civilians are trapped in a chemical plant in Severodonetsk, where Ukraine and Russia are jostling for control of the devastated city.

Moscow says Ukrainian forces are trapped in Severodonetsk, which has been the scene of the fiercest fighting in recent times. Russia ordered those forces last week to surrender or face death.

But Luhansk region governor Serhiy Gaidai told Ukrainian television on Wednesday that “fighting continues” and that “Russian forces are not in full control” of the city.

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.

Reuters was not able to verify the news yet.

Aristovich, an adviser to Zelensky, said that the Russian forces in the two cities consisted of conscripts who had received varying levels of training after Ukraine inflicted heavy losses on those forces. Reuters was unable to verify his statements about the Russian losses.

“It’s like two boxers fighting in the 18th round of a bout and can barely move things forward,” he wrote in an online post. This process started on April 14 and has been going on for nearly 80 days.”

European Union membership

Russia has long opposed closer ties between Ukraine, the former Soviet state, and Western blocs such as the European Union and NATO.

Zelensky said he spoke with 11 EU leaders on Wednesday about Ukraine’s candidacy for the bloc, adding that he would hold more talks on Thursday. Earlier, he expressed his belief that all 27 EU countries would support his country’s obtaining the status of a candidate country.

“We deserve this,” Zelensky told an audience in Amsterdam via video link.

Diplomats say it will take Ukraine a decade or more to meet the criteria for joining the European Union. But union leaders say the bloc should make a gesture acknowledging the sacrifices of Ukrainians.

The war had an enormous impact on the global economy and European security arrangements, driving up gas, oil, and food prices, causing the European Union to reduce its heavy dependence on Russian energy, and leading Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership.

An EU official said on Wednesday that the bloc would temporarily return to using coal to solve the problem of declining Russian gas flows without derailing long-term climate goals, while a choking gas market and rising gas prices triggered a race for alternative fuels.

US administration officials confirmed that the leaders of the Group of Seven and NATO will seek to increase pressure on Moscow over its war on Ukraine in meetings next week.

The article is in Arabic

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