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Ukraine’s EU candidacy will strengthen Europe as Russia threatens freedom – Zelenskiy

Written by Javed Iqbal

  • Ukraine EU candidacy will strengthen Europe-Zelenskiy
  • “Our future is together,” said the head of the European Council
  • EU candidacy will anger Moscow
  • Russia continues to bomb cities in the Donbas

KYIV, June 24 (Reuters) – President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine’s formal candidacy to join the European Union was a major step towards strengthening Europe at a time when Russia was testing its freedom and unity.

Russia continued its massive offensive in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region on Friday – marking the day marking four months since President Vladimir Putin invaded its neighbor, sparking the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II, killing thousands, uprooting millions and turning cities into cities. rubble.

It has also fueled a global energy and food crisis.

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After failing to win a quick victory by conquering Kiev, Putin’s forces are now focused on taking control of eastern Ukraine in what has become a war of attrition, with no end in sight, and the risk that the conflict may expand in Europe.

Zelenskiy told EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday that their decision to accept Kiev’s candidacy was among the most important for Ukraine since it broke out of the Soviet Union 31 years ago.

“But this decision will not only be made for the benefit of Ukraine. It is the greatest step towards strengthening Europe that could have been taken right now, in our time, and when the Russian war tests our ability to maintain freedom and unity,” he said.

The head of the European Council, Charles Michel, tweeted after the decision: “A historic moment” and added “Our future is together.” Read more

The approval of Kiev’s EU candidacy will anger Russia, which has been concerned about Ukraine’s closer ties with the West.

Moscow launched its “special military operation” on February 24 to ensure security at its borders. Kyiv and the West say Putin launched an unprovoked invasion.

Moldova also became an official EU candidate, signaling the bloc’s intention to reach deep into the former Soviet Union.

The road to EU membership will be a huge boost to morale in Ukraine, but will be a long road and can take years.

Zelenskiy has promised not to rest until Russia’s defeat and full membership were secured.

“We can defeat the enemy, rebuild Ukraine, join the EU, and then we can rest,” he said in a video released by his office.

Ukraine’s and Moldova’s move to join the EU goes hand in hand with Sweden’s and Finland’s applications to join NATO in the wake of the Russian invasion – a sign that the Kremlin’s military actions have backfired against its geopolitical goals.

RUSSIAN TRANSFERS

Russian attacks to gain control of the Donbas, Ukraine’s industrial heartland, continued as Moscow sought to link it with the already occupied Crimea to the south, Ukraine’s military general said. Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Russian forces are shelling civilian infrastructure in several cities, Ukraine’s General Staff said. Moscow denies that it is aimed at civilians, but Kiev and the West have accused Russian forces of war crimes against civilians.

The main target of Russian forces was the twin cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, located on the opposite bank of the Siverskyi Donets River in Luhansk province.

Ukrainian troops will “have to withdraw” from the predominantly Russian-occupied Sievierodonetsk, the regional governor said on Friday. Read more

Some of the fiercest fighting during the entire Russian invasion has taken place in Sievierodonetsk, where street-by-street fighting has been going on for a month, with Russia slowly and laboriously taking on more terrain.

“Staying in positions that have been shattered over many months, just to stay there, does not make sense,” Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said on television.

Russia launched shelling attacks from tanks, mortars, artillery and jets near Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk and nearby Bila Hora, Vovchoyarivka, Spirny and Berestovo, the General Staff said.

Reuters could not immediately confirm the reports.

Russian forces blocked Ukrainian sea communications in the northwestern part of the Black Sea and sought to resume offensive in the Mykolaviv area, the General Staff added.

A river port and shipbuilding center just off the Black Sea, Mykolaiv has been a bastion against Russian efforts to push west towards Ukraine’s main port city of Odesa.

Zelenskiy has called on Ukraine’s allies to speed up shipments of heavy weapons to match Russia on the battlefield.

The Ukrainian Defense Minister said that HIMARS several missile systems had arrived from the United States.

The United States will provide an additional $ 450 million in security assistance to Ukraine, including more long-range missile systems, U.S. officials said Thursday. Read more

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain was willing to help with demining operations off the southern coast of Ukraine and was considering offering insurance to ships to move millions of tonnes of grain stuck in the country. Read more

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Reporting from Reuters agencies; Writing by Michael Perry; Editing Himani Sarkar

Our standards: Thomson Reuters trust principles.

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Javed Iqbal

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