President Volodymyr Zelensky said Moscow’s massive air and artillery attacks were aimed at destroying the entire Donbas region and urged Ukraine’s allies to accelerate the shipment of heavy weapons to match Russia on the battlefield.
On the diplomatic front, European leaders on Thursday will formally set Ukraine on the long road to EU membership at a summit in Brussels.
“There were massive air and artillery strikes in Donbas. The occupier’s goal here is unchanged, they want to destroy the entire Donbas step-by-step,” Zelensky said in a video address released early Thursday, reiterating Ukrainian demands for larger and faster weapons.
“This is why we again and again emphasise the acceleration of arm deliveries to Ukraine. What is quickly needed is parity on the battlefield in order to halt this diabolical armada and push it beyond Ukraine’s borders.”
In an indication that the battle for the Donbas was becoming more difficult, News Agencies cited pro-Moscow separatists as saying they had captured most of Vovchoyarivka, a village some 12km southwest of the city of Lysychansk. If true, Lysychansk would be at greater risk of being cut off.
As the fierce war of attrition grinds on in the Donbas, Russian forces resumed pounding Ukraine’s second-biggest city Kharkiv near the Russian border.
The Russian strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday on Kharkiv were the worst for weeks in an area where normal life had been returning since Ukraine pushed Moscow’s forces back last month.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what the Kremlin calls a “special operation” to ensure Russian security and denazify Ukraine. Ukraine and the West call this a baseless pretext for a war of choice that has raised fears of wider conflict in Europe.
Russia has long opposed closer links between Ukraine, a former Soviet state, and Western clubs like the EU and the NATO military alliance.
The war in Ukraine has had a massive impact on the global economy and European security, driving up gas, oil and food prices, pushing the EU to reduce its heavy reliance on Russian energy and prompting Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership.
The EU will temporarily shift back to coal to cope with dwindling Russian gas flows without derailing longer-term climate goals, an EU official said on Wednesday, as a tight gas market and soaring prices set off a race for alternative fuels.