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EU backs Ukraine’s ‘European dream’ as Russia cuts fuel provides

European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen holds a press convention on the EU membership functions by Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia on the European Fee headquarters in Brussels on June 17, 2022. — AFP

BRUSSELS: Europe despatched a strong image of solidarity with Ukraine on Friday, when Brussels backed Kyiv’s bid for EU candidate standing, whilst Russia shelled frontline Ukrainian cities and in the reduction of fuel provides to the West.

With the European Fee’s backing, Ukraine may now be added to the checklist of nations vying for EU membership as early as subsequent week, when member state leaders meet at their Brussels summit.

All 27 EU leaders must conform to the candidacy, however the heads of the European Union’s greatest members — France, Germany, and Italy — already gave their full-throated assist to the thought on Thursday, on a visit to a war-torn suburb of Kyiv.

Then on Friday, the European Fee gave the chief’s formal backing to the bid, and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen made her place clear by donning a hanging jacket in Ukraine’s nationwide colors.

“Everyone knows that Ukrainians are able to die for the European perspective. We wish them to dwell with us for the European dream,” she mentioned.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky instantly welcomed the choice as a “first step on the EU membership path that’ll definitely deliver our victory nearer”.

He thanked von der Leyen for the fee’s “historic resolution” and mentioned he anticipated that EU leaders would give Ukraine a “constructive outcome” on the June 23-24 summit.

As Brussels celebrated their breakthrough, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson — whose nation has left the European Union — returned to Kyiv for his second go to since Russia’s February 24 invasion.

“Many days of this struggle have proved that Nice Britain’s assist for Ukraine is agency and resolute,” Zelensky wrote on social media. Johnson’s workplace tweeted an image of the premier assembly the Ukrainian chief, carrying a stack of books and paperwork beneath one arm.

“My go to right this moment, within the depths of this struggle, is to ship a transparent and easy message to the Ukrainian folks: the UK is with you, and we will likely be with you till you in the end prevail,” Johnson mentioned.

Based on Downing Road, Johnson supplied to launch a significant coaching operation for Ukrainian forces, to coach as much as 10,000 troopers each 120 days and “change the equation of the struggle”.

Every Ukrainian soldier would spend three weeks on the British coaching course, studying fight techniques, fundamental medical expertise, cyber-security and counter-explosive techniques.

Russia responded to Brussels’ resolution with scorn, accusing the West of “manipulating” Ukraine with guarantees of integration.

Russian bombardment 

Overseas ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova mentioned Ukraine “isn’t getting a vivid future, for some purpose, regardless of the guarantees changing into increasingly more candy and alluring”.

As soon as Ukraine joins the EU candidates’ checklist — alongside a number of international locations within the Western Balkans — it may nonetheless take years to satisfy all of the formal membership necessities, even when Kyiv prevails within the struggle.

“Sure, Ukraine must be welcomed as a candidate nation — that is based mostly on the understanding that good work has been executed however essential work additionally stays to be executed,” von der Leyen mentioned.

And within the meantime, the combating continues, with Russian forces bombarding Ukrainian pockets of resistance in frontline Severodonetsk, together with civilians holed up in a chemical plant within the japanese Ukrainian metropolis.

And Moscow turned up the strain on Western allies, sharply lowering flows of pure fuel in its pipelines to Western Europe, driving up power costs.

France’s community supplier mentioned it had not acquired any Russian fuel by pipeline from Germany since June 15, and Italy’s Eni mentioned it anticipated Russian agency Gazprom to chop its provides by half on Friday.

A number of European international locations, together with Italy and Germany, are extremely reliant upon Russian fuel for his or her power wants and, because the West sides with Ukraine, Moscow is reducing provides.

‘Extraordinarily alarming’ 

Berlin and Rome have rejected Russia’s argument that technical points have prompted the drop in provides, arguing that state-owned Gazprom’s transfer is political.

However western Europe is sweltering in a heatwave and power costs are already hovering, including to runaway inflation and industrial motion in a number of economies.

The scenario is, after all, starker in Ukraine itself, the place Russian troops have occupied a swathe of the south and east of the nation through the 113-day struggle, together with a lot of the Donbas area.

“The humanitarian scenario throughout Ukraine — significantly within the japanese Donbas — is extraordinarily alarming and continues to deteriorate quickly,” the UN humanitarian company, OCHA, mentioned.

The assertion mentioned the scenario is “significantly worrying in and round Severodonetsk” — the place bloody battles have raged for weeks.

Severodonetsk is within the Lugansk area, the place governor Sergiy Gaiday referred to as for a ceasefire, stating tons of of civilians have been trapped within the besieged Azot chemical plant within the metropolis.

“It’s now not possible and bodily harmful to get out of the plant because of fixed shelling and combating. There are 568 folks within the shelter, together with 38 kids,” he mentioned.

 ‘God’s will’

Gaiday mentioned earlier this week that round 10,000 civilians remained within the metropolis, which is managed largely by Russian forces.

Within the frontline Donbas village of Adamivka close to the town of Sloviansk, a group of Orthodox nuns have seen a rocket gap blasted into the wall of their well-tended backyard.

Beneath near-constant bombardment by Russian forces, Sister Anastasi and a bunch of different black-clad nuns and pilgrims dwell day-to-day, praying for deliverance.

“We’re all alive, sure. Nobody has left. That is our house,” she mentioned quietly, her face framed by a black veil, as shells crashed within the distance.

“We belief in God’s will, in God’s assist, within the assist of all of the saints and the Holy Virgin. That is our house, we now have nowhere else to go.”

At the least two folks have been killed and 20 injured in a Russian strike on a residential space within the southern Ukrainian metropolis of Mykolaiv, the native governor mentioned.

Individually, Zelensky introduced an finish to the visa-free journey that Russian residents, a lot of whom have Ukrainian kin, have loved since Ukraine turned impartial from the Soviet Union in 1991.

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