Russia intensified its efforts in eastern Ukraine Sunday as Poland’s president traveled to Kyiv and became the first foreign leader to speak in front of the Ukrainian parliament since war broke out.
Poland President Andrzej Duda expressed his support for Ukraine’s ambitions to join the European Union, telling the legislature that “only Ukraine has the right to decide about its future.”
“Unfortunately, in Europe there have also been disturbing voices in recent times demanding that Ukraine yield to Putin’s demands,” Duda said. “I want to say clearly: Only Ukraine has the right to decide about its future. Only Ukraine has the right to decide for itself.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said the EU should agree quickly to make his country the bloc’s 28th member due to the ongoing conflict.
Zelensky said Duda’s visit marked a “historic union” between the two countries with Poland taking in millions of Ukrainian refugees since Russia launched it’s invasion in February.
“Despite the great destruction, despite the terrible crime and great suffering that the Ukrainian people suffered every day, the Russian invaders did not break you,” Duda told Ukraine’s legislature. “They failed at it. And I believe deeply that they will never succeed.”
Duda also credited President Biden for his actions in unifying the Western response to the war and slapping tough sanctions on Russia.
While Ukraine’s potential EU candidacy is expected to be addressed at a Brussels summit in late June, one EU member cautioned it would take a “long time” for Ukraine to be accepted.
France’s European Affairs minister Clement Beaune told Radio J that it could take up to two decades.
“We have to be honest,” Beaune said on Sunday. “If you say Ukraine is going to join the EU in six months, or a year or two, you’re lying.”
The EU comes as Russian forces moved ahead with an offensive in the Donbas, launching artillery and missile attacks in the Eastern region of the country in hopes of expanding territory that Moscow-backed separatists have held since 2014.
Ukraine’s parliament Sunday approved the extension of martial law and the mobilization of armed forces for the third time through Aug. 23.
Russia is attempting to capture Sievierodonetsk, the main city controlled by Ukraine in the Luhansk province, which along with Donetsk province makes up the Donbas.
The city has only one working hospital with three doctors and enough supplies to last ten days, Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai said.
The Ukrainian military said Sunday the Russians attack on Oleksandrivka, a village outside of Sievierodonetsk, failed.
Moscow said it plans to resume its offensive on Slovyansk, a city in Donetsk province.
The latest push from Russian forces comes after the Kremlin declared control of Azovstal, a large-scale steel plant that was a final defensive holdout in the port city of Mariupol. Russia claims to have captured about 2,500 Ukrainian prisoners as a result of taking Azovstal.
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Saturday that Ukraine “will fight for the return” of every captured soldier as a pro-Kremlin head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic vowed Ukrainian fighters would face tribunals.
Mariupol Mayor Vadim Boychenko said his city faced a health and sanitation “catastrophe” for the 100,000 residents that remained due to shallow mass graves and a sewage system breakdown.
Ukraine has yet to comment on Russia’s claim it captured Azovstal.
In a Russian-held city, Enerhodar about 174 miles northwest of Mariupol, both Ukrainian and Russian news agencies reported an explosion injured Moscow-appointed mayor Andrei Shevchuk at his home.
A Ukraine news agency said the bomb was planted by “local partisans.”
Ukraine has said it won’t agree to a ceasefire or concessions to Moscow.
With Post Wires