Russian missile wrecks apartment block, killing 3, as EU leaders visit Kyiv

  • The head of the European Commission is in Kyiv to discuss Ukraine’s EU bid
  • Ukraine’s president has promised more anti-corruption measures
  • Zelensky gives a gloomy assessment of the Russian offensive in the East
  • Russian strike destroys apartment building; 4 died – officers
  • Lavrov says Russia will respond to long-range rocket deliveries

KYIV, Feb 2 (Reuters) – A Russian missile destroyed an apartment building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, killing at least three people ahead of the arrival of top European Union officials in Kyiv for talks seen as a key turning point for western Ukraine.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has pledged anti-corruption measures as officials continue to probe ahead of meetings with the EU, reflecting his determination to show Kyiv can be a reliable steward of billions of dollars in aid.

“We stand together to show that the EU stands by Ukraine as always and to deepen our support and cooperation,” European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen tweeted on Thursday as she arrived in Kyiv by train. along with a dozen other senior EU officials.

However, the EU, unwilling to admit a country at war, is poised to dash Ukraine’s hopes of quick membership, underscoring the need for more anti-corruption measures.

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The delegation from Brussels will discuss sending more weapons and money to Ukraine, increasing access to Ukrainian products to the EU, helping Kyiv cover energy needs, strengthening sanctions on Russia and prosecuting Russian leaders for war.

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The EU says it has already allocated nearly 60 billion euros in aid to Ukraine, but Kevin’s bid for membership is expected to take years.

In his evening video address, Zelensky also offered another gloomy assessment of the battlefield situation as Russian forces continued to make incremental gains in the east of the country on the first anniversary of the February 24 invasion of Moscow.

In Kramatorsk, a Russian Iskander-K tactical missile struck at 9:45 pm (1945 GMT) on Wednesday, killing at least three people and injuring 20 others, police said.

“At least eight apartment buildings were damaged. One of them was completely destroyed,” police said in a Facebook post.

“People could be under the rubble.”

Kramatorsk is about 55 km (34 mi) northwest of Baghmut and is currently the main focus of fighting in eastern Ukraine.

‘Tough’ on Eastern Front

Determined to advance before Ukraine receives newly promised Western combat tanks and armored vehicles, Russia has stepped up the pace on the battlefield and announced advances north and south of Baghmut, which has been under constant Russian bombardment for months.

“A definite increase in the offensive activities of the occupiers on the front in the east of our country has been noted. The situation has become difficult,” Zelenskiy said.

“The anniversary of the enemy invasion is at least trying to achieve something to show that Russia has some chance,” he added.

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Ukraine’s military said late Wednesday that Pakmut and 10 surrounding towns and villages had come under Russian fire.

Russian forces are pushing to encircle Bagmuth from the north and south, using their superior troop numbers to try to cut off its resupply and force the Ukrainians out, Ukrainian military analyst Yevan Tiki said.

“It’s a very difficult situation for us,” Dickey told Espresso TV.

“The enemy can use its only resource, which is overwhelming, its men,” he said, describing a landscape northeast of Bagmut as “literally covered in corpses.”

Ukraine and its Western allies say Moscow has suffered heavy casualties around Bagmut, sending in poorly armed troops, including thousands of criminals recruited as mercenaries from prisons.

A former commander of Russia’s Wagner mercenaries, who fled to Norway in January, told Reuters he wanted to apologize for the fighting in Ukraine and call for those responsible for the atrocities to be brought to justice.

“First, again, again, I want to apologize,” said 26-year-old Andrei Medvedev.


Ukraine has secured weapons from the West that provide new capabilities — US rockets this week are expected to nearly double the range of Ukrainian forces.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who visited the Philippines on Thursday, said: “We are focused on providing Ukraine with the capability it needs to be effective in the counteroffensive we anticipate in the spring.”

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The new weapons would put all of Russia’s supply lines in eastern Ukraine and parts of Crimea within range of Ukrainian forces.

Moscow says such rockets will escalate the conflict but not change its course.

“The greater the range of weapons provided to the Kyiv regime, the more we will have to push them back from territories that are part of our country,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Russian state television on Thursday. Moscow says it annexed four Ukrainian provinces last year and Crimea, which it seized in 2014.

Russian forces are probing areas of Ukraine’s defense weakness on the western edges of Luhansk region, its governor, Serhiy Keidai, told Ukrainian television on Thursday.

“The volume of projectiles has increased, the number of attacks in the direction of Svatove-Kreminna has increased… They are piling up our positions with bodies,” Keidai said.

Reuters could not confirm the battlefield reports.

President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine last February in a “special military operation” to “disarm” his neighbor, now portraying the campaign as a struggle to defend Russia against an aggressive West. Ukraine and the West call it an illegal war of expansion into Russian territory.

(Reporting by Reuters Bureau by Himani Sarkar and Gareth Jones Editing by Robert Birzel and Peter Graff

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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