Europe steps up support for Ukraine as Russia presses offensive -Breaking
Natalia Zinets & Simon Lewis
KYIV/IRPIN Ukraine (Reuters) – Britain will hold talks to rebuild key infrastructure in Kyiv, a day following leaders of France, Germany, and Italy visited Ukraine. They offered the country the possibility of EU membership, as the nation fights a fierce Russian invasion in the east.
The sirens of war blared when the French President Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz from Germany and Mario Draghi from Italy visited the Ukrainian capital.
The leaders met with Volodymyr Zelenskiy and signalled to him that Ukraine should become a candidate for the European Union. It was a symbolic gesture which would help Kyiv get closer to the European bloc.
Scholz claimed that Germany had accepted 800,000 Ukrainian refugees. He said Germany would support Ukraine for as long as necessary.
He stated that Ukraine belongs to the European Family.
Britain will be welcoming representatives from Ukraine on Friday, along with business leaders, to talk about how British businesses can assist in rebuilding key infrastructures in Kyiv.
Britain will encourage collaboration among its companies in the areas of infrastructure, energy, transport and Ukraine to repair and rebuild damaged or destroyed infrastructure.
Officials from Ukraine claimed that their troops held out against Russian bombing in Sievierodonetsk’s eastern suburb, and they also described progress in counteroffensives in the south.
However, they stated that the victorious battles at both major fronts were dependent on more West aid. This included artillery and firepower to offset Russia’s large advantage.
After talks with European counterparts, Zelenskiy stated that while we appreciate their support, we anticipate new deliveries.
Macron declared that France would increase its arms supplies to Kyiv. NATO defence ministers meeting at Brussels promised more weapons to Ukraine and made plans to support the U.S.-led alliance’s eastern flank.
“MAKE EUROPE, not WAR!”
It took several weeks for the EU’s three top leaders to organize a visit to Ukraine. They also had to deal with criticism over their stances that they were being too close to Vladimir Putin.
Klaus Iohannis, the Romanian President, joined them on a tour of Irpin. It was devastated shortly after the invasion started on February 24th.
Macron commented on graffiti written in “Make Europe, Not War” and observed that the wall had been painted with “Make Europe, Not war” graffiti. It’s the right message.
Putin stated repeatedly that the sole reason for what Putin called a “special army operation” was to save Russian-speakers from being persecuted and attacked in Ukraine.
Draghi, Macron, and Scholz all state that they support Ukraine and have taken concrete steps to decrease Europe’s dependency on Russian energy.
However, Ukraine had long criticized Scholz for what it considers Germany’s slow weapons delivery and refusal to cut economic ties. This month Macron was furious at Ukraine for saying that Russia should not be “humiliated”.
Italy also offered a peace proposal, which Ukrainians worry could cause them to be under pressure to hand over their territories. Macron suggested that some form of communication with Putin is still necessary after the Kyiv talks.
According to Ukraine, its troops have made inroads in the southern part of Kherson Province, which Russia had occupied before its invasion. It is not clear if there has been any independent verification of battlefield positions.
Andriy Yarmak, Zelenskiy’s chief of staff wrote that he visited an area of 3-4 km (2 miles) away from Russian positions. There, dozens of “ghost village” were destroyed by combat.
“Our troops on the ground, the mood is fighting. We are rebuffing the enemy, even with very limited resources. Long-range weapons are missing. He wrote, “In any event, they will be thrown out of the South.”
Recent weeks have seen the battle for Sievierodonetsk (the eastern city) as the focus of Ukrainian forces encamped in a chemical facility with hundreds civilians.
Oleksandr Stryuk, Sievierodonetsk’s mayor, said that “every day it becomes more challenging because the Russians pull more weapons into the town.”
Regional governor Serhiy Giaidai stated that an air strike struck the building housing civilians in Lysychansk, across the river. The attack killed at least four people and left seven others wounded.
In the meantime, the Dutch intelligence agency claimed it discovered a Russian plot to use a fake Brazilian identity as a means of placing a military agent in an investigation into war crimes.
According to Erik Akerboom (the acronym for Russia’s military intelligence services), “This was a multi-year, long-term GRU operation that took a lot time, energy, and money.” The ICC or Russia did not provide any comment.