European leaders visit Ukraine, pin their hopes on EU membership

  • Zelensky thanks EU leaders for solidarity go to
  • Commanders roam the devastated metropolis of Irbin
  • Preventing rages in Severodonetsk and southern Ukraine

Kyiv/IRBIN, Ukraine (Reuters) – The leaders of Germany, France and Italy, all of whom Kyiv has criticized prior to now for his or her assist it has deemed too cautious, visited Ukraine on Thursday and supplied hope for European Union membership for a rustic that begs it. To get weapons to repel the Russian invasion.

Air raid sirens sounded in Kyiv as French President Emmanuel Macron, German Olaf Schulz and Italy’s Mario Draghi started a go to, as leaders toured a close-by city devastated early within the warfare. Learn extra

After holding talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the leaders indicated that Ukraine ought to be granted EU candidate standing, a symbolic gesture that will convey Kyiv nearer to the financial bloc.

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Schulz stated Germany had taken in 800,000 Ukrainian refugees who had fled the battle and would proceed to assist Ukraine so long as wanted.

“Ukraine belongs to the European household,” he stated.

On the battlefield, Ukrainian officers stated their forces had been holding out within the face of intense Russian bombing of the japanese metropolis of Severodonetsk, and described new progress in a counterattack within the south.

However they stated battles on the 2 primary fronts trusted receiving extra assist from the West, particularly artillery, to counter Russia’s nice benefit in firepower.

“We admire the assist already offered by the companions, and we anticipate the supply of latest shipments, primarily heavy weapons, trendy rocket artillery and anti-missile protection methods,” Zelensky stated after talks along with his European counterparts.

“There’s a direct relationship: the extra highly effective weapons we get, the sooner our individuals and our land will likely be liberated,” he stated.

Macron stated France would step up arms shipments to Kyiv, whereas NATO protection ministers in Brussels pledged extra arms to Ukraine as they plan to bolster the japanese flank of the US-led navy alliance.

“This may imply extra deployed fight formations for NATO…extra air, sea and cyber defenses in addition to pre-existing stockpiles of kit and weapons,” NATO Secretary-Normal Jens Stoltenberg stated in an announcement.

“Make Europe not warfare”

The go to of the three strongest leaders within the European Union to Ukraine took weeks to arrange as they fended off criticism over attitudes described as too condescending to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The leaders, joined by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, toured Irbin, shortly after the invasion started on February 24.

Referring to graffiti on the wall studying “Make Europe, not warfare,” Macron stated: “It is vitally shifting to see that. That is the proper message.”

Schulz, Macron and Draghi say they’re staunch supporters of Ukraine who’ve taken sensible steps to scale back Europe’s dependence on Russian vitality and discover weapons to assist Kyiv.

However Ukraine has lengthy criticized Schulz over what it sees as Germany’s sluggish supply of arms and its reluctance to chop financial ties with Moscow, and this month it was angered by Macron for saying in an interview that Russia shouldn’t be “humiliated.”

Italy has additionally proposed a peace plan that the Ukrainians concern will strain them to surrender their lands. After the talks in Kyiv, Macron stated that some form of communication channel with Putin was nonetheless wanted.

Whereas Europe’s leaders have tried to point out solidarity with Ukraine, the continent’s dependence on Russia for a lot of its vitality provides has been uncovered, as gasoline shipments via a serious pipeline have plummeted in current days. Learn extra

In the meantime, a scarcity of grain shipments from Ukraine has led to the emergence of a worldwide meals disaster.

Russia blames sanctions in each nations, whereas Italy’s Draghi stated Moscow is “politically profiting” from the state of affairs.

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Victoria Abramchenko, stated in an interview with Reuters that Moscow is facilitating the export of grain and oilseeds via Russian-controlled transit factors on the Sea of ‚Äč‚ÄčAzov, with out clarifying who was offering the foodstuffs for export. Learn extra

ghost villages

Ukraine claims a whole bunch of casualties day by day because the warfare enters a brutal attrition section within the east.

The primary battle has erupted in current weeks across the japanese metropolis of Severodonetsk, the place Ukrainian forces are holed up in a chemical plant with a whole bunch of civilians.

“Day-after-day it turns into harder as a result of the Russians are withdrawing increasingly weapons into town,” Severodonetsk Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk stated on Thursday.

District Governor Serhiy Gaidai stated Thursday an airstrike hit a constructing housing civilians in Yesichansk throughout the river, killing no less than 4 and wounding seven.

Within the south, Ukraine says its forces are making their method into the Kherson area, which Russia occupied early in its invasion. There have been few unbiased stories to substantiate the battle places within the space.

Zelensky’s chief of workers, Andrei Yermak, wrote in a tweet that he had visited an space about 3 to 4 kilometers (about 2 miles) from the Russian positions, the place dozens of “ghost villages” had been evacuated because of the combating.

“Our males are on the bottom – the temper is combating. Even with restricted assets, we’re repelling the enemy. One factor is lacking – long-range weapons. In any case, we are going to drive them out of the south,” he wrote. .

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Extra reporting by Reuters workplaces; Written by Peter Graf, Toby Chopra and Ramy Ayoub. Enhancing by Angus McSwan, Alex Richardson and Rosalba O’Brien

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