Zelensky vows to defend ‘fortress’ Bakhmut, receives EU leaders in Kyiv

KIEV — Ukrainians will fight “as much as they can” to hold the eastern city of Bakhmut, President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed on Friday.

Meanwhile, the United States has announced that it will send military aid worth $2.175 billion to Ukraine. This includes a new rocket that doubles Kyiv’s strike range and reaches most of the Ukrainian territory currently held by Russia.

The President of the EU Executive Committee and the President of 27 EU State Leaders are in Kyiv to express their support for Ukraine on the 1st anniversary of Russia’s invasion of its neighbors on 24 February. bottom.

As they and the Zelensky administration discussed various issues, air raid sirens rang out in Kyiv and throughout the country. During months of Russian missile attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure far from the battlefields in the east and south, air raid sirens sounded regularly, but there were no reports. of new airstrikes.

Sandwiched between EU leaders at a press conference, Zelensky said European sanctions should be aimed at preventing Russia from rebuilding its military power. And he delivered a defiant message about Bakhmut, central to Ukraine’s resistance to Russian aggression and to Moscow’s drive to regain momentum on the battlefield.

“No one will let Bahmut go. We will fight as long as we can. We consider Bahmut our fortress,” he said.

Moscow says Russian forces have surrounded the pre-war city of about 75,000 people on several sides and are fighting to control roads that are also important supply routes for Ukrainian forces.

“If it’s a weapon [supplies] Not only do not abandon Bakmut, but start clearing the occupiers from Donbass. [region of eastern Ukraine]has been occupied since 2014, ”said Zelensky.

The US military aid announced on Friday includes a rocket known as the Ground-Launched Small Caliber Bomb (GLSDB), which has a range of 151 kilometers (94 miles) and can reach all of Russia’s supply lines in eastern Ukraine, as well as Part of Crimea is reachable. It was also seized in Moscow in 2014.

No EU Fast Track

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the tenth round of sanctions would hit “the trade and technology that underpin Russia’s war machine”.

The package the EU is preparing for Invasion Day has been set up to fail to meet some of Ukraine’s demands, and Kyiv’s EU membership ambitions have taken longer than it would like. It may take.

Ukraine applied for EU membership days after Russia invaded last year. The EU accepted the application, but rejected Ukraine’s request for early accession while Ukraine was at war.

EU officials cite multiple membership requirements, ranging from political and economic stability to adoption of various EU laws. This process can take years.

The EU is calling on Kyiv to tackle what it sees as endemic corruption. Zelensky has announced a series of official dismissals and investigations over the past two weeks.

Asked at a press conference with Zelensky about Kyiv’s application for membership, commissioner von der Leyen said: “There is no rigid timeline, but there are goals that must be achieved.”

EU countries on Friday agreed to a commission proposal to set a price cap on Russian petroleum products from Sunday to limit Moscow’s ability to finance the war. It includes a $100 cap on premium petroleum products such as petroleum and a $45 per barrel limit on discounted products such as fuel oil.

A similar price cap for crude oil came into effect in December.

The Kremlin said the plan would unbalance global energy markets, but Moscow was acting to mitigate the impact. , plans to nearly double its daily foreign currency turnover to 8.9 billion rubles ($130 million).

Russia’s monthly budget revenue from oil and gas fell to its lowest level since August 2020 in January, affected by Western sanctions, according to Treasury Department data.


The German government said it had approved the delivery of Leopard 1 tanks from stock to Ukraine. The tank could be delivered sooner than the advanced Leopard 2 promised by Germany and other countries last week.

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said the new tanks supplied by NATO countries would serve as an “iron fist” in counterattacks to break through Russia’s lines.

Russia is stepping up pressure on Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine, with Kyiv saying Moscow is killing thousands of soldiers and mercenaries for meager gains.

“They are recruiting troops and systematically trying to find a breakthrough,” Serhiy Cherevati, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Army’s Eastern Front, told Ukrainian Radio NV.

Moscow has said Ukraine’s main objective is to secure what remains of Donetsk Oblast, one of four it claimed to have unilaterally annexed last year. That his army claims increased profits in the past week around Bahmut.

A Belarusian volunteer fighting for Ukraine in the city said there were no signs yet that the Ukrainian army was planning to withdraw. In places, the positions are being strengthened…we are holding for now.”

Reuters was unable to independently verify Battlefield’s account.

By Tom Balmforth and Dan Peleschuk