Ukraine is approaching EU membership while Putin is once again criticizing Western “insane” sanctions.

The executive arm of the European Union on Friday recommended putting Ukraine on the path to accession, a symbolic boost for a country defending a Russian attack that is killing civilians, crushing cities and threatening its own survival.

In another show of Western support, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrived in Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to offer continued military aid and training, adding that evidence suggests that Russia “has suffered great casualties “in the invasion.

Ukraine’s latest hug by its European allies is another setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who launched his war almost four months ago, hoping to distance his former Soviet counterpart from the West. and return to the sphere of influence of Russia.

At Russia’s economic forum in St. Petersburg on Friday, Putin said Moscow “has nothing against” Ukraine joining the EU, because “it is not a military organization, a political organization like NATO.” He also reiterated his usual defense of the war, arguing that it was necessary to protect people in parts of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed rebels and to ensure Russia’s own security.

The possibility of EU membership, created to safeguard peace on the continent and serve as a model for the rule of law and prosperity, fulfills a desire of Zelensky and his Western-looking citizens.

TARGET | It could take years for Ukraine to become a member of the EU:

Ukraine receives recommendation as EU candidate

The executive arm of the European Union has recommended making Ukraine a candidate for the EU. It is the beginning of a process that can take years or even decades.

The European Commission’s recommendation that Ukraine become a candidate for membership will be discussed by the leaders of the 27-nation bloc during a summit next week in Brussels. The war has increased pressure on EU governments to accelerate Ukraine’s candidate status. But the process is expected to take years and EU members remain divided over how quickly and fully open their arms to the new members.

Political and military support for Ukraine from Western countries has been key to its astonishing success in the face of the largest and best-equipped Russian forces. Zelensky has also called for additional immediate support in the form of more and better weapons to change course to the east, known as the Donbas region.

In St. Petersburg, Putin denounced the sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and its allies as “insane and, I would say, reckless.”

“The calculation was understandable: blatantly, with a flat, crush the Russian economy by destroying business chains, forcing Western companies to withdraw from the Russian market, freezing domestic assets, hitting industry, finance and the standard of living of the population did not work, “he said.

Battle for the Donbas

Following a series of early war setbacks, including the failure to seize the Ukrainian capital, Russian forces have focused on the Donbas, a disputed region of eastern Ukraine that hosts the Moscow-backed separatists.

The Ukrainian military says Moscow troops have maintained relentless attacks on both Slovyansk and Severodonetsk, two key cities that have been the focus of recent fighting. The army said Ukrainian forces were pushing Russian fighters out of the village of Bohorodychne, north of Slovyansk.

Russia and its allies say they have taken about half of Donetsk and almost all of Luhansk, the two regions that make up the Donbas. Severodonetsk and surrounding villages are in the last pocket of the Luhansk region still in Ukrainian hands

“The Russians are setting fire to the city,” Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said. “It’s getting harder and harder for us to fight in Severodonetsk, because the Russians outnumber us in artillery and manpower, and it’s hard for us to resist this bombing.”

The constant bombing made it impossible for 568 people, including 38 children, refugees at the Azot chemical plant in the city to escape, he said.

Russian forces have destroyed all three bridges leaving the city, but Haidai said it had not yet been completely blocked.

The smoke rises after a military strike at the Severodonetsk Nitrogen Chemical Plant on Friday. (Oleksandr Ratushniak / Reuters)

The Moscow envoy for Russia-backed separatists who control much of the territory around Severodonetsk said an evacuation of the Nitrogen plant could take place under certain conditions.

Rodion Miroshnik of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic told social media that Russian troops and separatists are “willing to consider options to open a humanitarian corridor for the release of civilians but subject to strict compliance with the law.” ‘ceasefire’.

Earlier this week, Miroshnik accused Kyiv of trying to disrupt the evacuation of civilians from Azot, a statement strongly denied by Ukrainian officials.

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