Zelensky fears Russia will ‘step up attacks’ ahead of EU decision

HToday “begins a truly historic week”, proclaimed Zelensky, in his daily video speech, in which Ukraine will have “the European Union’s answer on candidate status”.

“Since 1991, there have been few decisions as vital for Ukraine as the one we await today,” he added, saying he was “convinced that only a positive response is in the interests of the whole of Europe.”

The European Commission (EC) recommended last Friday to the Council that Ukraine be granted the status of candidate country for accession to the EU, “on the assumption that action will be taken in a number of areas”.

“We have a clear message, which is: yes, Ukraine deserves the European perspective, and yes, Ukraine should be welcomed as a candidate country,” announced European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels.

Portugal will follow the opinion of the European Commission so that this status is granted to Ukraine, announced last Friday the Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa, after a day of hearings with the parties with parliamentary representation on this matter.

EU member states meet on Thursday and Friday to decide whether to officially grant Ukraine candidate accession status, something that requires the unanimity of the 27.

Until then, “obviously, we expect Russia to step up attacks this week,” warned Volodymyr Zelensky. “We’re ready,” he added.

The Ukrainian leader said the Russians were “regrouping their forces towards Kharkiv (northeast) and the Zaporijia region (south)”. He added: “They’re still bombing our fuel infrastructure.”

“We will respond to these attacks”, assured Zelensky, while admitting “significant losses”. “Our army is resisting,” he said.

“[Os russos] attempted an advance in the Toshkivka area, they were partially successful, but our artillery worked and we can say that the advance attempt was not successful,” said Sergey Gaidai, governor of eastern Lugansk region.

In Lysychansk, there are signs of preparations for street fighting, with soldiers digging trenches and laying barbed wire and police placing burnt-out vehicles in the streets to stop Russian forces from advancing.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Sunday claimed the capture of Metolkine, just outside Severodonetsk, and claimed to have hit a factory in Mykolaiv, in the south, having destroyed “ten M777 155mm howitzers and up to 20 armored vehicles supplied to the Kiev regime by the Western”.

In the early hours of February 24, Russia launched a military offensive in Ukraine, which was condemned by a large part of the international community, which responded by sending weapons to Ukraine and imposing sanctions on Russia.

Also Read: “Challenges are huge, with so many people fleeing in such a short time”

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