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EU Officials Visit Ukraine Amid Russian Tension

European Union (EU) officials arrived in kyiv today to strengthen ties with Ukraine and reaffirm their support for the Russian invasion, on the eve of an EU-Ukraine summit and amid fresh attacks and accusations from Russia.

As the EU delegation arrived, rescuers searched for survivors among the rubble of a building in an eastern Ukrainian city that suffered a Russian shelling last night that left three dead and 21 injured, authorities said.

The Ukrainian presidency said local authorities believed at least one victim was buried in the mountain of rubble after a Russian missile attack on the city of Kramatorsk in the eastern Donetsk province.

The Presidency added that eight civilians were killed in Russian shelling in the past 24 hours, including the three in Kramatorsk and four more who were sheltering in a basement that was hit by mortar shells in the northeastern Chernigov region.

In kyiv, the Ukrainian president, Volodimir Zelenski, received the president of the European Commission and the head of diplomacy of the European Union (EU) and affirmed that Russia is preparing its forces to “take revenge” on Ukraine and Europe.

“Russia is concentrating its forces, we all know it. It wants to take revenge not only on Ukraine but also on free Europe,” he declared at a press conference with the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

Ukrainian military intelligence said yesterday that Russia is preparing an offensive to try to finish conquering Donetsk and the neighboring province of Lugansk, coinciding with the first anniversary of the invasion, on February 24.

kyiv expects Russia to “try something” around February 24, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told French TV channel BFM, stressing the urgency for Ukraine to receive more weapons from the West.

“We are telling our allies that we too need to be ready as quickly as possible,” he said in an interview last night.

Ukraine said this week that it will receive some 140 tanks from Western countries and has also ordered warplanes, although the United States and the United Kingdom have already ruled out this possibility.

At her news conference with Zelensky, the European Commission president, who was accompanied by some 15 members of the EU’s executive body, announced plans by the bloc to impose further sanctions on Russia over its attack on Ukraine.

Together With Our G7 Partners

“Together with our G7 partners, we will introduce an additional cap on the prices of Russian oil products, and by February 24, exactly one year after the start of the invasion, we want to have the 10th package of sanctions in place,” he declared. .

“Currently, Russia pays a high price, since our sanctions erode the economy, they set it back a generation,” celebrated the German leader, who also arrived in kyiv together with the bloc’s head of diplomacy, Josep Borrell.

Ukraine, a candidate for EU membership, will host a summit tomorrow in which, in addition to Von der Leyen, the President of the European Council, the Belgian Charles Michel, will participate.

Zelensky said the EU accession process, which is complex and takes years, was a “motivation” for Ukraine.

“The membership of the EU will be taken with the same aspiration as the candidate status and for that we need a motivating accession process so that it is seen that the struggle of the Ukrainians is supported by the whole of Europe,” the president said.

EU Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn said the European Commission will offer Ukraine to strengthen its participation in European programs to facilitate its integration into the single market, pending the “long road” of accession.

Von der Leyen welcomed Ukraine’s efforts to combat corruption, a key issue for the country to enter the EU in the future, after dozens of officials were dismissed in recent weeks accused of various corrupt schemes.

“It reassures me that anti-corruption agencies are alert and quickly detect cases of corruption,” he said, reported the AFP news agency.

In Moscow, meanwhile, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Western countries of wanting to destroy Russia and compared them to the Nazis.

Lavrov’s statement came on the day that Russia was commemorating 80 years since the Soviet victory in the battle of Stalingrad against Nazi Germany, a symbol of patriotism defended by Putin for his offensive in Ukraine.

Von der Leyen “declared that the result of the war must be the defeat of Russia, and such a defeat that it will not be lifted for decades,” Lavrov said, in a televised interview.

“Isn’t it racism, Nazism and an attempt to solve the Russian question?” he asserted, echoing the “final solution of the Jewish question,” the Nazi-orchestrated Holocaust.

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