Ukraine’s EU hopes raised amid missile strikes
Russian attacks in Ukraine have wounded at least 14 civilians over the past day, as the president of the European Union’s executive arm returned to the Ukrainian capital to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
The governor of the Zaporizhzhia region, Yurii Malashko, said that nine people were wounded in a Russian rocket strike on the village of Zarichne. Overall, 26 cities and settlements in the region came under attack over the past day, he said.
In the Kherson region, five people were wounded, said Governor Oleksandr Prokudin. He said that attacks in the region came from artillery, mortars, drones, warplanes and tanks.
Nikopol, a city on the opposite bank of the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Europe’s largest, came under fire, but no injuries were immediately reported.
Earlier Ukraine’s armed forces said they’d hit marine and port infrastructure at a factory in the port city of Kerch in Russian-occupied Crimea.
Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-installed head of Crimea, said air defence systems had been in action around a Kerch shipyard.
“Fragments of downed missiles fell onto territory of one of the dry docks,” Aksyonov said in a Telegram post.
“There were no casualties.”
Kerch is at the western end of the bridge to Russia’s Krasnodar region, which is a crucial conduit for food and military supplies. The bridge has been hit by significant attacks twice.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrived in Kyiv on Saturday morning and was met by Zelenskiy at the train station.
She tweeted that talks during her sixth visit would focus on the path for Ukraine to join the EU “and how we will continue to make Russia pay for its war of aggression.”
The visit came a week before she was due to present a report on the enlargement of the EU, which von der Leyen said will note Kyiv’s progress on its path to membership in the 27-member bloc.
“I must say you have made excellent progress. This is impressive to see,” von der Leyen said after the meeting with Zelenskyi. “We should never forget you are fighting an existential war and at the same time you are deeply reforming your country.”
The Ukraine president on Saturday dismissed fears, expressed by Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Valery Zaluzhny, of a possible deadlocked war with Russia.
“Today people are tired, everyone is tired and there are different opinions. That is clear but there is no stalemate,” Zelenskiy said in Kyiv at the press conference with von der Leyen.
In an article for The Economist magazine, Zaluzhny explained that Ukraine was caught in a trench war.
Ukrainian forces are more reluctant to deploy their soldiers due to Russia’s air superiority, Zelenskiy said.
The F-16 fighter jets and stronger air defence expected next year would change the situation in Ukraine’s favour, he said.
The deputy head of Zelensky’s presidential office, Ihor Zhovkva, criticised Zaluzhny’s open commentary on events at the front.
He told a Ukrainian news program that it would be better for the military to “comment less for the press, the public, on what is happening at the front, what can happen and what variants there are. This would only help the enemy, Russia”.
Zaluzhny, in the interview, admitted mistakes in planning and said Ukraine’s allies must supply more weapons.
He also called for a greater mobilisation of reserves.