Zelenskiy vows Ukraine will prevail, Boris Johnson promises lasting support

  • Britain’s Johnson pledges support, warns of ‘Ukraine fatigue’
  • EU summit expected to support Ukraine’s candidate status
  • The Battle of Sievierodonetsk continues
  • Zelenskiy visits troops in the south
  • More rocket fire and shelling in eastern and central Ukraine

KYIV, June 18 (Reuters) – With a blessing for its European ambitions and a pledge of unwavering support from Britain, Ukraine pledged on Saturday to prevail against Moscow as its troops fought the Russian assault near a central eastern town and communities were pounded by heavier shelling.

EU leaders are expected at a summit next week to grant Ukraine candidate status following Friday’s recommendation from the bloc’s executive, putting Kyiv on track to achieve a considered aspiration as out of reach before the invasion, although actual membership could take years. Read more

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Friday and offered training to Ukrainian forces, stressed on Saturday the need to continue to support the country and avoid “Ukraine fatigue” after nearly four months of war.

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On the battlefields, the industrial city of Sievierodonetsk, prime target of Moscow’s offensive to take full control of the eastern Luhansk region, came under heavy artillery and rocket fire as Russian forces were attacking areas outside the city, the Ukrainian military said on Saturday.

The attack on towns just south of Sievierodonetsk was repelled by Ukrainian forces, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said on the Telegram messaging app.

Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenskiy, whose challenge inspired Ukrainians and won him global respect, said on Saturday he visited soldiers on the southern frontline in the Mykolaiv region, offering a new message of hope on his return.

“Our brave men and women. Each one of them is working hard,” he said on his official Telegram account. “We will definitely hold on! We will definitely win! »

A video posted to his account showed Zelenskiy in his trademark khaki t-shirt handing out medals and posing for selfies with the military. Zelenskiy did not specify when the trip took place. Read more

Ukrainian authorities reported overnight shelling of several locations in the eastern regions of Lugansk and Kharkiv and further west in Poltava and Dnipropetrovsk. Early on Saturday, Russian rockets rained down on a suburb of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, hitting a municipal building and starting a fire in an apartment building, but causing no casualties, a regional governor said.

Reuters could not independently confirm the battlefield accounts.

Moscow denies targeting civilians in what it calls a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect Russian speakers there from dangerous nationalists. Kyiv and its allies dismiss this as a baseless pretext for war.

STRATEGIC RESILIENCE

“The Russians are taking it step by step and it’s vital for us to show what we know to be true, which is that Ukraine can and will win,” Johnson told reporters on his return to Britain from Kyiv. read more “When Ukraine fatigue sets in, it is very important to show that we are with them for the long haul and that we are giving them the strategic resilience they need,” he said.

One of President Vladimir Putin’s goals when he sent thousands of troops to Ukraine on February 24 was to halt the NATO military alliance’s eastward expansion and keep its southern neighbor in outside the Western sphere of influence.

But the war, which has killed thousands, turned cities to rubble and forced millions to flee, has had the opposite effect.

He convinced Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership and paved the way for Ukraine’s application for EU membership.

“The Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday, while announcing her decision to recommend Ukraine and its neighbor Moldova as candidates for membership of the European Union. the EU.

“We want them to live the European dream with us,” she said, wearing a yellow blazer over a blue blouse, in Ukrainian colors.

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Reporting from Reuters offices Writing by Tomasz Janowski, editing by Frances Kerry

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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