The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj wants to significantly expand cooperation with the European institutions in the current year and eventually lead his country into the EU.
"The task is to actively prepare everything for our country's membership in the European Union, to increase arms supplies to Ukraine and to strengthen sanctions against Russia," Zelenskyy said in his nightly video message yesterday. He and EU Parliament President Roberta Metsola also spoke about this at a personal meeting.
"Peace formula" a topic
Zelenskyj is driving his country closer to the EU, citing Russia's war of aggression as an argument, not as an obstacle. The talks with Metsola were also about meeting the demands of the EU Commission as quickly as possible in order to be able to start accession negotiations this year, he said.
In addition, the "peace formula" proposed by Kiev and the prospects for a peace summit with the broad participation of the countries of the Global South were also discussed, the Ukrainian side announced after the meeting with the President of the European Parliament.
Metsola pushed for an increase in arms supplies to the Ukrainian armed forces. "The member states should seriously consider sending combat aircraft to Ukraine," said the Maltese politician on the sidelines of a visit to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. She will continue to call for all the equipment Ukraine needs for victory to be provided. Latvia's Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins also spoke out in favor of the delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine.
Kiev: Russia loses 500 men a day at Bachmut
According to information from Kiev, the Russian military continues to suffer enormously high losses in the battle for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which has been going on for months. "Russian losses amount to up to 500 dead and wounded every day," Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Resnikov told Bild am Sonntag. The Russian soldiers are merely "cannon fodder" in the "meat grinder tactics" used by Moscow. The information on the loss figures cannot be checked independently.
According to Reznikov, Bakhmut "is a symbolic place for the Russians," which is why efforts to capture the city are so great. Even the capture of these means nothing for the further course of the fighting in Donbass, he told the newspaper.
Kyiv: Attacks repelled at Bakhmut
The Ukrainian general staff reported continued heavy fighting around Bakhmut yesterday evening. According to the situation report, attempts by the Russian military to encircle the city were "unsuccessful". The Ukrainian defenders repelled all attacks.
The Russian mercenary unit Wagner is particularly active in Bakhmut and around the city. Their boss, the oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is considered close to the Kremlin, has recruited men for the troops in Russian prisons in the past. It is precisely among these prisoners that the casualties are said to be extremely high. The human rights organization "Russia behind bars" recently said that of the 50,000 mercenaries recruited in prisons, only 10,000 are still at the front. The rest were killed, wounded, captured or deserted.
But the losses on the Ukrainian side are also considered high. A few months ago, Selenskyj Bakhmut described it as a "fortress" that will not be given up, but the fall of the city is now being considered as a possibility in Kiev. But the Ukraine wants to hold on to the positions for as long as possible, also because the Russian troops lose a lot of time and energy trying to counter them.
The city itself, which once had 74,000 inhabitants, is now largely destroyed. According to estimates by the authorities, only about 5,000 civilians still live in Bakhmut.
Little girl among victims of Russian missile attack
According to the authorities, the number of victims in a block of flats in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhia after a Russian rocket attack rose to eleven deaths. An eight-month-old baby was also recovered from the rubble, the Ukrainian civil defense said yesterday on its Telegram channel. "The girl died along with her family." Search and recovery operations after the missile attack continued. More victims are believed to be under the rubble of the five-story building.
Zaporizhia is the capital of the region of the same name in south-eastern Ukraine that was annexed by Russia in the autumn. Russia has never taken the city, which had 700,000 inhabitants before the war. The front is currently less than 50 kilometers from the city. Zaporizhia is therefore relatively often the target of Russian rocket and artillery attacks.
Latvian Prime Minister for supply of fighter jets
Latvia's Prime Minister Karins spoke out in favor of delivering fighter jets to Ukraine. "I don't see why the West shouldn't deliver fighter jets. If the Ukrainians need fighter jets, they should get them," Karins told Der Spiegel. The delivery of fighter jets is "only a matter of time".
In the discussion about the level of defense spending by NATO member states, Karins tends to advocate a higher benchmark. "Latvia will spend more than 2.5 percent on defense this year, we are aiming for three percent," said the head of government. As a "frontline state", Latvia has no choice. "At NATO level, we first have to ensure that all members reach two percent. And yes, we should already be talking about a new target, 2.5 percent, for example," said Karins.
The current target in the NATO alliance is for all member states to approach the benchmark of spending at least two percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024. According to Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, some of the Allies want to raise this target significantly.
That's going to be important today
Russian troops are likely to continue their attacks against the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut today.