President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said that Russia would intensify its attacks this week as European Union officials debate whether to support Kyiv’s ambition to join the bloc and Moscow pursues control of the country’s east. “Obviously, we should expect an acceleration of Russia’s unfriendly operations this week,” Zelensky warned in his weekly video message on Sunday night. “We’re getting ready.” “We’re all set.”
In February, four days after Russian forces rushed across the border, Ukraine sought to join the EU. The European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, recommended that Ukraine be granted candidate status on Friday.
Leaders of the 27-nation union will meet on Thursday and Friday to discuss the issue, and are anticipated to support Ukraine’s candidacy despite reservations from certain members. It’s possible that the process will take a long time to complete.
When Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his soldiers into Ukraine, one of his stated goals was to keep Moscow’s southern neighbor out of the West’s sphere of influence.
Putin said on Friday that Moscow had “nothing against” Ukraine joining the EU, but a Kremlin spokesman said the country was keeping a careful eye on Kyiv’s bid, particularly in light of greater defense cooperation among EU members.
On the battlefield, Russian forces are attempting to retake total control of the eastern Donbas region, which was already under the authority of Russian-backed rebels before to the February 24 assault.
The industrial city of Sievierodonetsk is a key target of Moscow’s eastern offensive. On Sunday, Russia announced that it had taken control of Metyolkine, a village on the outskirts of the city, and that numerous Ukrainian fighters had surrendered there, according to Russian state news agency TASS. Russia achieved “limited success” in the area, according to Ukraine’s military.
A Russian strike on Toshkivka, 35 kilometers (20 miles) south of Sievierodonetsk, also “had a degree of success,” according to Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai.
Gaidai stated Russia held “the main part” but not the entire town of Sievierodonetsk, which had a population of 100,000 before the war. The combat accounts could not be independently verified by Reuters.
Both Russia and Ukraine have continued to attack Sievierodonetsk “with little change to the front line,” according to the British Ministry of Defense. Residential structures and private dwellings in Sievierodonetsk’s twin city of Lysychansk had been devastated by Russian bombardment, according to Gaidai. “People are dying in bomb shelters and on the streets,” he added.
He later confirmed that 19 persons were evacuated on Sunday. “We’re doing our utmost to bring in humanitarian aid and evacuate people,” Gaidai said.
‘WAR COULD LAST YEARS,’ says one expert.
“Russian forces will certainly be able to conquer Sievierodonetsk in the coming weeks,” analysts at the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank, wrote in a note, “but at the cost of concentrating most of their available forces in this tiny area.”
According to Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the Ukraine battle might extend for years and encouraged Western governments to keep delivering state-of-the-art equipment to Ukrainian troops.
“We need to plan for the possibility that it will take years.” “We must not relent in our support for Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said.
Russia has announced the commencement of a “special military operation” to disarm its neighbor and safeguard Russian speakers from dangerous nationalists in the country. That is dismissed by Kyiv and its allies as a bogus justification for an aggressive conflict.
Morale among Ukrainian and Russian combat units in the Donbas was likely “varying,” according to a British military assessment.
“While Ukrainian forces are likely to have experienced desertions in recent weeks, Russian morale is likely to be particularly low. The British Ministry of Defense remarked on Twitter that “cases of whole Russian units defying commands and armed stand-offs between officials and their troops continue to occur.”
Russia’s military ministry said its Iskander missiles had destroyed armament recently supplied by Western countries in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, northwest of Luhansk.
According to a Ukrainian interior ministry official, Russian soldiers were attempting to approach Kharkiv, which had been heavily shelled earlier in the war, and transform it into a “frontline city.”
The mayor of Melitopol said in a video released on Telegram from outside the city that Western armament had helped Ukrainian forces move 10 kilometers (6 miles) into Russian-occupied Melitopol.
An EU decision in favor of Kyiv’s eventual membership would put Ukraine on pace to achieve a goal that would have been unattainable for the former Soviet republic before Russia’s invasion.
“Whole generations struggled for a chance to break free from the Soviet Union’s captivity and, like a free bird, fly to European culture,” Ruslan Stefanchuk, the speaker of Ukraine’s parliament, said in a statement.