As the Russian offensive in the east intensifies, the President of the European Commission arrived at Kyiv Saturday morning to discuss with President Volodymyr Zelensky Ukraine’s application for membership in the European Union (EU).
Ursula von der Leyen stated that she was back in Kyiv to meet President Zelensky, Prime Minister [Denys] Chamygal," and she also accompanied AFP on her visit.
She added that "we will take stock the joint work required for reconstruction and the progress made in Ukraine on the way to Europe."
Next week, EU officials will decide on Ukraine’s European ambitions. This is ahead of the June 23-24 summit which is expected to address the matter.
Ukraine wants a "legal commitment" from the Europeans by June 31st to be granted official candidate status in the EU. However, the 27 Europeans are divided on this question.
Ursula van der Leyen arrives to Ukraine amid increasing fighting in the east.
The office of President Zelensky reported Saturday night that there were "bombings" of several villages or towns in this region by "the occupiers". This is the core of Moscow's objectives, particularly in the Kharkiv, Lugansk, and Donetsk regions.
Zelensky stated Friday night that Russia wanted to destroy every city in Donbass.
As the battle for Severodonetsk, the city's key, and twin Lysychansk, looks more deadly, he stated that the Ukrainian military was doing all it could to stop the attackers.
"The enemy continues carrying out assaults on the city of Severodonetsk," said the chief of staff for the Ukrainian armies on Saturday morning. He added that 14 attacks were repelled in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in less than 24 hours. However, the Russian troops had "partial success" in Orikhovo.
Severodonetsk's capture would allow Moscow to access Kramatorsk, another important city. This is an important step towards capturing the whole Donbass basin. It is a mostly Russian-speaking region in eastern Ukraine that has been held partly by pro-Russian separatists.
Residents of Lysytchansk explained to AFP their difficult decision: To stay despite the bombardments or to flee their homes.
Yevhen Jyryada (39), says that the only way to get water is via a distribution center.
He said that "we have to go there under bombardment and under fire" because "that's the only way we can survive."
Another front is in the region Kherson (south), which has been occupied almost since the beginning of the invasion. Kyiv fears a rapid annexation of Moscow. On Friday, Ukrainian forces stated that they had bombarded Russian positions.
According to the Ukrainian operational command, a reconnaissance team infiltrating into occupied territory had defeated Russian troops and "seized their armaments & means of communication".
The head of Ukraine's presidential administration Andrii Yarmak also announced Saturday that Oleksiy Chubashev, a military journalist, had died. He did not give details about the circumstances.
The Mykolaiv region is also a hot spot for fighting, as well as Odessa.
Vitali Kim, the governor of this region, said that the Russians were targeting him with heavy artillery in the city and in the villages.
"The Russian army has more power, they have lots of ammunition and artillery. He said that right now, it's an artillery conflict... and that we are out of ammunition." "We need to defend our country and we need help from Europe as well as the United States," he said.
The Ukrainians continue to ask their Western allies for more powerful weapons.
Washington and London have announced the delivery of several rocket launcher systems including Himars, which have a range of approximately 80 km. This is slightly more than Russian systems.
In this context, Ben Wallace, the British Defence Minister, paid an unannounced trip to Kyiv. President Zelensky thanked him personally for his leadership in Western support of Ukraine.
Wallace's visit was made one day after Donetsk authorities announced death sentences for two Britons and a Moroccan accused of mercenary offences.
France has stated that it is willing to lift the Odessa blockade on the Ukrainian port. This is to allow Ukraine to export its cereals, which are currently causing a global food crisis.
An adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron made the announcement. He received Macky Sall from Senegal, also President of African Union, Friday.
On Thursday, Mr. Sall called to request the demining at Odessa port. He indicated that he had been assured by President Vladimir Putin that Russia would not attack Ukraine.
On Friday night, the Ukrainian operational command of Southern Region stated that navigation was blocked in the Black Sea. Enemy ships held almost all of Ukraine's territory under threat of missile strikes.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which was launched on February 24, paralyzed grain exports and caused a spike and increase in fertilizer and grain prices. This threatened a food crisis in many countries in Africa and the Middle East. orientals.