After EU nods, Ukraine vows victory while battling Russian attacks

  • Johnson pledges support, warns Ukraine will be overburdened
  • The EU summit is expected to support the status of Ukraine’s candidate
  • The battle continues for Sievierodonetsk
  • Zelensky visits troops in the south
  • More missile strikes and shelling across eastern and central Ukraine

Kyiv (June 18) (Reuters) – With a blessing for its European Union ambitions and a pledge of unwavering support from Britain, Ukraine on Saturday vowed victory over Moscow as it battled Russian attacks near a key city in the east and multiple sites were bombed and rocketed. attacks.

European Union countries are expected to attend a summit next week to grant Ukraine EU candidate status following a recommendation from the bloc’s executive director on Friday, setting Kyiv on track to realize an ambition that was elusive before Russia’s invasion on February 24, even if it is de facto membership. It can take years. Read more

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Friday and offered to train Ukrainian forces. Returning to Britain on Saturday, he stressed the need to avoid “exhausting Ukraine” after nearly four months of war.

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“The Russians are advancing step by step and it is important for us to show what we know is real, which is that Ukraine can and will win,” he told reporters. Read more “When Ukraine starts to wear out, it is very important to show that we are with them for the long-term and give them the strategic resilience they need.”

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Ukraine’s military said Severodonetsk, which was a key target in Moscow’s offensive to take full control of the eastern Luhansk region, on Saturday’s battlefields, was again hit by heavy artillery and rockets as Russian forces attacked areas outside the industrial city.

A Russian-backed representative said a large explosion rocked the Severodonetsk region on Saturday and an orange cloud was seen rising in the air.

Rodion Miroshnik, from the administration of the separatist Luhansk People’s Republic, posted a video on Telegram of what he said was the cloud, adding that he could not tell if the explosion occurred in or near the city.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks on the towns south of Severodonetsk, although the situation in the affiliated villages was “difficult”.

“The Russians dumped all their reserves in the direction of Severodonetsk and Bakhmut,” he said in an online post. “They are trying to take complete control of the regional center and cut off the Lysehchansk-Bakhmut highway. They are not succeeding, they are dying en masse.”

Gedayi said the city of Lysekhansk was under constant bombardment but remained entirely in Ukrainian hands, although a “quiet” evacuation was being conducted, and humanitarian convoys were brought in daily. He said the main highway outside the city is now impassable due to Russian bombing.

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To the northwest, several Russian missiles hit gas plants in the Izyum region, and Russian missiles fell on the outskirts of Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine, hit a municipal building and started a fire in an apartment building, but caused no casualties. authorities said.

Zelensky’s defense

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whose defiance has inspired Ukrainians and earned him global respect, said Saturday he had visited soldiers on the southern front line in the Mykolaiv region.

“Our brave men and women,” he said in Telegram. “Each one of them is working very hard.” “We will definitely hold out! We will definitely win!”

A video clip showed Zelensky, in his signature khaki shirt, handing out medals and taking selfies with soldiers. He did not say when the trip took place. Read more

Ukrainian authorities also reported nightly shelling of sites further west in Poltava and Dnipropetrovsk, and on Saturday said three Russian missiles destroyed a fuel storage depot in the town of Novomoskovsk, sending three people to hospital. Read more

Reuters could not independently confirm the battlefield accounts.

One of the stated goals of Russian President Vladimir Putin when he ordered his forces into Ukraine was to halt the eastward expansion of the NATO military alliance and keep its southern neighbor out of the West’s sphere of influence.

But the war, which killed thousands, reduced cities to rubble and forced millions to flee, had the opposite effect – it persuaded Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership and helped pave the way for Ukraine to join the European Union.

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“Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday, while announcing her decision to nominate Ukraine and its neighbor Moldova for membership in the European Union.

“We want them to live the European dream with us,” she said, wearing a yellow jacket over a blue Ukrainian blouse.

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Reporting by Reuters offices. Written by Thomas Janowski and David Bronstrom, Editing by Francis Kerry and Paul Simao

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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