Switzerland: The World Economic Forum’s president has stated that the Geneva-based organization is sending a strong message to Moscow by not inviting Russian officials and businesses to this year’s Davos conference while asking Ukraine’s president to speak.

“We elected not to invite Russian business or Russian government because there are restrictions,” Borge Brende told Katie Jensen, host of the Arab News chat show Frankly Speaking, which featured talks with important lawmakers and business executives.

“Russia has violated international and humanitarian law.” They are not abiding by the United Nations Charter, and we have witnessed numerous massacres.”

To shore up its defenses, Ukraine’s parliament decided on Sunday to prolong martial law and military mobilization for a third time, until August 23.

 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has emphasized that the EU’s 27 members should expedite Ukraine’s application for membership. Ukraine’s possible candidacy will be debated at a conference in Brussels in late June.

 

Clement Beaune, France’s European Affairs Minister, told Radio J on Sunday that Ukraine’s EU membership would take “a long time,” possibly two decades.

 

He stated, “We have to be honest.” “You’re lying if you claim Ukraine will join the EU in six months, a year, or two.”

Poland, on the other hand, is stepping up its efforts to win over EU countries that are wary about Ukraine joining the organization. Duda’s visit, Zelensky claimed, symbolized a “historic unification” between Ukraine and Poland, which ended communist tyranny two years before.

 

“This is a historic opportunity,” Zelensky added, “not to lose such solid friendships, founded on blood and Russian invasion.” “All of this is to avoid losing our state and our people.”

 

Poland has taken in millions of Ukrainian refugees and has become a transit point for humanitarian aid and armaments from the West. It also serves as a staging area for foreign soldiers who have volunteered to fight Russian forces.

Duda praised the United States and Vice President Joe Biden for uniting the West behind Ukraine and implementing sanctions on Russia.

 

“From Kiev, it is evident that we need more America in Europe, both in the military and in this economic dimension,” said Duda, a right-wing populist who clearly prefers former President Donald Trump to Biden in the 2020 race.

 

Russia appears to be making sluggish, grinding progress in the Donbas in recent days on the battlefield. It stepped up its efforts to take Sievierodonetsk, the biggest city under Ukrainian control in Luhansk province, which, along with Donetsk, forms up the Donbas. Russian soldiers launched a fruitless offensive on Oleksandrivka, a village outside of Sievierodonetsk, according to the Ukrainian military on Sunday.

 

Luhansk Governor Serhii Haidai stated the Russians were “just aiming to destroy the city… engaged in a scorched-earth strategy” when they shelled Sievierodonetsk.

 

According to Haidai, Moscow is concentrating personnel and weaponry in Luhansk in an attempt to take control of the city, bringing in forces from Kharkiv to the northwest, Mariupol to the south, and from within Russia.

 

According to him, the city’s only functioning hospital has only three doctors and supplies for ten days.

 

Since the war began, Ukrainian officials have stated nothing about the number of people murdered in their country, but Zelensky said at a news conference on Sunday that 50 to 100 Ukrainian forces were killed every day in the east.

 

Russia also stated it was prepared to restart its onslaught on Slovyansk, a city in Donetsk region that saw severe combat last month after Moscow’s troops withdrew away from Kyiv, in a general staff morning report.

 

An explosion at the mayor’s mansion in Enerhodar, a Russian-controlled city 281 kilometers (174 miles) northwest of Mariupol, injured the Moscow-appointed mayor, according to Ukrainian and Russian news sources. According to Ukraine’s Unian news agency, a bomb planted by “local partisans” injured Andrei Shevchuk, 48, who lives near Europe’s largest nuclear power station.

 

Concerns escalated as Russia claimed to have kidnapped about 2,500 Ukrainian fighters from the Mariupol steel mill, raising questions about their fate and that of the city’s surviving people, who are now thought dead.

The combatants’ relatives have asked for their release as prisoners of war and eventual return to Ukraine. Ukraine, according to Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, “will fight for the return” of everyone of them.

Denis Pushilin, the pro-Kremlin leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, promised that the Ukrainian plant fighters will face trials.

 

The complete takeover of the Azovstal steel factory, a symbol of Ukrainian resilience, provided Putin a much-needed win in the war he started on February 24. The Ukrainian military informed the fighters that their task was complete and that they could leave. It was described as an exodus rather than a mass surrender.

 

Mariupol Mayor Vadim Boychenko has warned that mass graves in shallow pits and the failure of sewage infrastructure will result in a “catastrophe” for the city’s health and sanitation. Mariupol had a population of 450,000 people before the war, and an estimated 100,000 people now live there.

 

Russian atrocities, according to Ukrainian authorities, include the bombings of a maternity facility and a theater where hundreds of civilians were sheltering.

 

Meanwhile, a Russian soldier who was the first to stand trial for alleged war crimes was due to receive a verdict Monday from a Ukrainian court. If convicted, the 21-year-old sergeant could face life in prison for killing a Ukrainian man in the head in a village in the northern Sumy area on Feb. 28.

 

General Prosecutor Iryna Venediktova of Ukraine claimed her office was investigating 41 Russian servicemen for war crimes, including attacking civilian infrastructure, killing people, rape, and looting.

 

In other news, Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, gave a rare interview alongside her husband to national broadcaster ICTV, saying she hasn’t seen him since the war began.

 

“Our family, like all Ukrainian families, is now divided,” she explained, adding that she communicates with him only via phone.

“Unfortunately, we are unable to get together, eat supper with the entire family, and discuss everything,” she explained.

 

The interview was dubbed “a date on air” by Zelensky, and the couple, who have two children, joked in front of the media.

“We’re joking,” he continued, “but we’re actually longing to be reunited, just like everyone else, just like all the other families in Ukraine who are currently divided, waiting for their relatives and friends who want to be together again.”

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