World · June 23, 2022

Ukraine and Moldova have granted EU candidate status

Ukraine has become Thursday, a bold geopolitical step triggered by the Russian invasion that Kiev and Brussels hailed as “a historic moment”.
According to a Ukrainian government adviser, the start of the long road to EU membership will be a huge boost for morale in the besieged country, as Russian assaults on two cities in the eastern Donbas region are approaching a ” terrible climax “.
“The future of Ukraine is in the EU,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted after the official announcement.

“A historic moment”, tweeted the head of the European Council Charles Michel, adding: “Our future is together”.

The approval of the Kiev government’s request by EU leaders gathered in Brussels will anger Russia as it struggles to impose its will on Ukraine. Moldova also became an official candidate on Thursday, signaling the bloc’s intention to go deep into the former Soviet Union.
Friday will mark four months since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops across the border in what he calls a “special military operation” in part necessitated by the Western invasion of what Russia considers its sphere of influence.
The conflict, which the West sees as a war of unwarranted aggression by Russia, has killed thousands, displaced millions and destroyed cities, while reduced food and energy exports have affected countries around the world.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain is willing to help with demining operations off Ukraine’s southern coast and is considering offering insurance to ships to move millions of tons of stranded grain into the country. .

Russia focused its campaign on southern and eastern Ukraine after its advance on the capital in the early stages of the conflict was threatened by Ukrainian resistance.

The war of attrition in Donbas, Ukraine’s industrial heartland, is most critical in the twin cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, which lie on opposite banks of the Siverskyi Donets River in Luhansk province.

The battle is “entering a kind of terrible climax,” said Oleksiy Arestovych, Zelenskyy’s adviser.

Hot summer

Russian forces were trying to surround Ukrainian troops in defense of Lysychansk, senior Ukrainian defense official Oleksiy Gromov said in a briefing on Thursday.
Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said separately that all of Lysychansk was within range of Russian fire and that Ukrainian troops could retreat to new positions to avoid being trapped.

The Russian-backed separatist forces said fierce fighting was underway around Ukrainian positions in Hirske, which was on the western side of the north-south main road to Lysychansk, and Zolote, another settlement to the south.

Ukrainian forces were defending Severodonetsk and neighboring Zolote and Vovchoyrovka, Gaidai said, but Russian troops had captured Loskutivka and Rai-Oleksandrivka in the south.
Hundreds of civilians are trapped at a chemical plant in Severodonetsk as Ukraine and Russia argue over who controls the bombed city.
On the southern front, Russian forces hit Ukrainian army fuel tanks and military equipment near Mykolaiv with high-precision weapons, the Russian Defense Ministry said, quoted by the Interfax news agency.
A river port and shipbuilding center just off the Black Sea, Mykolaiv has been a bastion against Russian efforts to push the West towards Ukraine’s main port city, Odesa.

Zelenskyy urged Ukraine’s allies to speed up shipments of heavy weapons to match Russia on the battlefield.

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“We have to free our land and get victory, but faster, much quicker,” he said in a video speech early Thursday.
Subsequently, the Ukrainian Defense Minister claimed that more HIMARS missile systems had arrived from the United States. With a range of 70 kilometers, the systems can challenge Russian artillery batteries that hit Ukrainian cities from afar.

“Summer will be hot for the Russian occupiers. And the last for some of them,” Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov tweeted.

Shield for the EU

Russia has long opposed closer ties between Ukraine, another former Soviet republic, and Western groups such as the European Union and the NATO military alliance.

Diplomats say Ukraine will take a decade or more to meet the criteria for EU membership. But EU leaders said the bloc must make a gesture that recognizes Ukraine’s sacrifice.

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The country’s move to join the EU goes hand in hand with demands from Sweden and Finland to join NATO in the wake of the Russian invasion – indications that the Kremlin’s military actions have backfired against its geopolitical goals.
In Kiev, where mass protests ousted the then president eight years ago after breaking his promise to develop closer ties with the EU, 22-year-old military man Volodymyr Yanishan welcomed Ukraine’s candidate status .

“It means that people have almost achieved what we have aspired to since 2014, in a bloody struggle that has cost us a lot of effort … I think the majority will be happy and it means changes for the better.”