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EU leaders visit Kyiv
- Zelenskiy paints a grim picture of the Russian offensive in the East
- Russian strike destroys apartment building; 4 dead – official
- Lavrov says Russia will respond to long-range rocket deliveries
- European Commission chief in Kyiv to discuss Ukraine’s EU candidacy
- Zelenskiy promises more anti-corruption measures
KYIV, Feb 2 (Reuters) – A Russian missile destroyed an apartment building in the eastern Ukrainian town of Kramatorsk, killing at least three people, police said, as senior officials of the European Union were arriving in Kyiv for talks considered essential to Ukraine’s pivot to the West.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy promised more anti-corruption measures as authorities continued their raids ahead of Friday’s EU meeting, reflecting his determination to show Kyiv can be a reliable handler of billions of dollars in aid.
“We are here together to show that the EU stands with Ukraine as firmly as ever. And to further deepen our support and cooperation,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen tweeted at the time. that she was arriving in Kyiv by train on Thursday. .
Ukraine sees the meeting as important to its hopes of joining the bloc, a process likely to take years.
In his evening video address, Zelenskiy also gave another grim assessment of the situation on the battlefield as Russian forces continued to make further gains in the east of the country as the first anniversary of the invasion of Moscow looms on February 24.
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In Kramatorsk, a Russian Iskander-K tactical missile struck at 9:45 p.m. (1945 GMT) on Wednesday, killing at least three people and injuring 20 others, police said.”At least eight apartment buildings were damaged. One was completely destroyed,” police said in a Facebook post.
“People can stay under the rubble.”
Kramatorsk is about 55 km (34 miles) northwest of Bakhmut, currently the main focus of fighting in eastern Ukraine.
“HARDER” ON THE EASTERN FRONT
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Russia, determined to make progress before Ukraine gets the newly promised Western battle tanks and armored vehicles, has gathered momentum on the battlefield and announced advances north and south of Bakhmut, which suffered persistent Russian bombardment for months.
“A marked increase was noted in the offensive operations of the occupiers on the eastern front of our country. The situation has become more difficult,” Zelenskiy said in his evening video broadcast.
“The enemy is trying to achieve at least something now to show that Russia has a chance on the anniversary of the invasion,” he added.
Bakhmut and 10 surrounding towns and villages came under Russian fire, the Ukrainian army said on Wednesday.
Avdiivka, another major Russian target, the nearby town of Maryinka, and some nearby settlements were also hit, the military added.
Russian forces are pushing from both north and south to encircle Bakhmut, using their superior numbers to try to cut him off from resupply and force the Ukrainians out, Ukrainian military analyst Yevhen Dikiy said.
“For us, this is the most difficult scenario,” Dikiy told Espresso TV.
“The enemy is able to use its only resource, which it has in excess, its men,” he said, describing a landscape northeast of Bakhmut “literally covered in corpses”.
Ukraine and its Western allies say Moscow suffered huge losses around Bakhmut, sending waves of ill-equipped troops, including thousands of convicts recruited from prisons as mercenaries.
A former commander of the Russian mercenary group Wagner who fled to Norway in January told Reuters he wanted to apologize for fighting in Ukraine and was speaking out to bring the perpetrators of atrocities to justice.
“First, many times, and again, I would like to apologize,” said 26-year-old Andrei Medvedev.
Ukraine has secured weapons promises from the West with new capabilities – the latest expected this week to include rockets from the United States that would nearly double the range of Ukrainian forces.
“We are focused on providing Ukraine with the capability it needs to be effective in its next spring counteroffensive,” US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said during a visit to the United States. Philippines on Thursday.
The new weapons would put all of Russia’s supply lines in eastern Ukraine, as well as parts of Crimea, within reach of Ukrainian forces.
Moscow says such rockets will escalate the conflict but not change its course.
“The greater the range of weapons supplied to the Kyiv regime, the more we will have to push them back from the territories that are part of our country,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russian state television on Thursday. Moscow claims to have annexed four Ukrainian provinces last year, as well as Crimea which it seized in 2014.
Russian forces are probing areas of weakness in Ukrainian defenses west of the Lugansk region, its governor Serhiy Gaidai told Ukrainian television on Thursday.
“The number of shellings has increased, the number of attacks in the direction of Svatove-Kreminna has increased… They are piling up our corpse positions,” Gaidai said.
Reuters could not confirm reports from the battlefield.
President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine last February as part of a “special military operation” to “disarm” its neighbor. He now presents the campaign as a fight to defend Russia against an aggressive West. Ukraine and the West call it an illegal war to expand Russian territory.Reporting from Reuters offices Writing by Himani Sarkar and Gareth Jones Editing by Robert Birsel and Peter Graff
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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