EU prepares for further sanctions against Russia.Kremlin goes on the offensive

KIEV, UKRAINE – The European Union will unveil its 10th package of sanctions against Russia on February 24, marking the anniversary of Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a senior European Union official said on Friday. said in Kyiv. Russian attacks expected in the coming weeks.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at a press conference that the sanctions would target, among other things, technology used in Russian military machinery.

The sanctions are specifically aimed at parts used to make drones, she said, citing Iran as a major supplier to Russia.

Closing the loopholes the Kremlin uses to circumvent sanctions will also be a priority, said von der Leyen, who has visited the Ukrainian capital for the fourth time since the war began.

The exact measures of the upcoming EU sanctions package will need to be agreed upon by the bloc’s 27 member states, a process that can take several weeks.

EU officials met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and expressed support for the country as Ukraine fights against Kremlin forces and seeks to join the EU and NATO.

The last summit was held in Kyiv in October 2021, months before the war started. The highly symbolic visit is also his EU political mission, the first of its kind to a country at war.

A 60-year-old man was killed and six others were injured Friday when Russian missiles hit central Tretsk in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, the local prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Facebook. rice field.

Ukrainian authorities on Friday reported that at least six civilians had been killed and 20 injured in the past 24 hours.

Among the dead were two brothers, aged 49 and 42, when their apartment in northeast Kharkiv was destroyed by Russian artillery fire, according to the Ukrainian president’s office. A 70-year-old father is hospitalized with an injury.

Also on Thursday, Russian troops attacked the eastern city of Kramatorsk, injuring six people and damaging 18 apartment buildings, two hospitals and a school, Governor Pablo Kirilenko told Ukrainian television. . A Russian missile hit an apartment in the city on Wednesday, killing four people.

European officials were adamant about continuing to support Ukraine militarily and economically, but provided no new details on Ukraine’s accession path to the EU.

Zelensky said Ukraine’s goal is to “start negotiations by the end of the year.” But the process is likely to take years and, with the country receiving billions of dollars in aid, will require the adoption of far-reaching reforms, including cracking down on widespread corruption. Kyiv formally submitted the application in June last year.

Zelensky said progress had been made towards further economic integration of Ukraine into the EU in several areas, including agriculture, industry, energy and customs.

Volodymyr Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (middle) and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (right) address a press conference following the EU-Ukraine Summit in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 3, 2023. , President of the European Council Charles Michel (Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo)

The Ukrainian government is keen to get more Western military aid, in addition to the tanks promised last week, as the warring sides are expected to launch new offensives after winter ends. pressured to provide long-range missiles.

The United States said Friday it would send long-range bombs to Ukraine, along with air defense systems and other weapons and ammunition, as part of a new $2.17 billion aid package. (GLSDB) is launched from the HIMARS rocket launcher and glides to targets up to 150 kilometers (93 miles) away. HIMARS system may arrive.

Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the bomb would give the Ukrainian military long-range capability, allowing it to “defend itself and conduct operations to reclaim sovereign territory.”

Asked for comment on the US move, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov pointed to a statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. Putin has likened Russia’s actions in Ukraine to fighting the Nazis in World War II and issued an ominous warning to the West about announcing new arms shipments.

“People who want to defeat Russia on the battlefield don’t seem to understand that a modern war against Russia will be a completely different war for them,” Putin said. I will not send it to, but there is a counterpart, it is not limited to the use of armor.”

France and Italy also agreed on Friday to supply Ukraine with SAMP/T-MAMBA air defense systems. French officials call it the European equivalent of the Patriot system given to Ukraine by the United States. The missile’s batteries are expected to be delivered this spring.

Zelensky said there is a “chance” to repel an anticipated Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine if the West is supplied with the right weapons.

“Our task is not to give them a chance (to take revenge) until the military is reinforced with the right weapons. I think they have a chance,” Zelensky added.

Officials in eastern Luhansk said the Russian military had disabled mobile internet connections, stepped up artillery fire and deployed more troops in preparation for an attack.

According to bloc officials, EU aid to Ukraine has reached almost €50 billion ($55 billion) since the fighting began.

The EU, which is providing financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, has announced that it will increase military training missions from an initial target of pushing 15,000 troops through schooling to a maximum of 30,000 troops. One focus is to train the crews of the tanks supplied to Ukraine by the West.

Susie Blanc