European Parliament APPROVES Ukraine’s candidacy to the EU… but it could take DECADES before the country joins

The European Parliament approved Ukraine’s attempt to join the EU in a vote supported by an overwhelming majority of MPs.

Leaders of member states will meet in Brussels later today to discuss requests to formally grant Ukraine ‘candidate status’ to join the bloc, as Russian forces slowly advance in the eastern Donbas region.

But some member states have been shy about letting Ukraine join the EU, and any accession process is likely to take years, if not decades.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was conducting a “telephone marathon” on behalf of his country in the run-up to the meeting, presenting his case to 11 European leaders on Wednesday alone.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (pictured on Tuesday) said he was conducting a ‘telephone marathon’ on behalf of his country in the run-up to the meeting, presenting his case to 11 European leaders on Wednesday alone.

“We are preparing for the historic decision of the European Council. That’s just a few hours to go,” he said in his daily speech.

The application supported by the European Commission is expected to be approved, but EU membership could take decades.

In eastern Ukraine’s Donbass territory, massive Russian bombing is making life “hell”, Kyiv said on Wednesday, insisting its soldiers will hold out “as long as necessary”.

Soldiers from the 126th Separate Territorial Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine participate in military exercises in the Odessa region on Wednesday

Soldiers from the 126th Separate Territorial Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine participate in military exercises in the Odessa region on Wednesday

Moscow troops have been attacking the battlefield Lugansk region and the strategically important city of Severodonetsk for weeks and are slowly advancing despite fierce resistance from the unarmed Ukrainian military.

With President Vladimir Putin’s forces tightening their grip on Severodonetsk, its twin city of Lysychansk – located across the Donets River – is now under heavier bombardment.

Taking both cities would give Moscow control of all of Lugansk, allowing Russia to put even more pressure on Donbas.

“The Russian army is… destroying everything” in Lysychansk, wrote Sergiy Gaiday, governor of the Lugansk region, which includes both cities, on Telegram.

“It’s hell out there,” after four months of bombing Severodonetsk, he later wrote.

“Our boys are holding their positions and will stay that way for as long as necessary,” he added.

Community workers try to restore electricity in front of the Housing and Communal College building, damaged in a recent bombing in Kharkiv on Monday.

Community workers try to restore electricity in front of the Housing and Communal College building, damaged in a recent bombing in Kharkiv on Monday.

A Ukrainian soldier smokes at a stand in the city of Severodonetsk, in the Luhansk area, Ukraine.

A Ukrainian soldier smokes at a stand in the city of Severodonetsk, in the Luhansk area, Ukraine.

A Ukrainian soldier fires from a position in the city of Severodonetsk, in the Luhansk area, Ukraine, on June 19.

A Ukrainian soldier fires from a position in the city of Severodonetsk, in the Luhansk area, Ukraine, on June 19.

Pro-Russian separatists claimed they were close to encircling Lysychansk and Severodonetsk.

“In recent days, a huge amount of work has been done,” Andrei Marochko, an officer in the separatist army in Lugansk, told Russian state television.

After being expelled from Kyiv and other parts of Ukraine following the February invasion, Moscow is trying to conquer a vast swath of the country’s east.

But the daily bombing continues elsewhere.

The northeastern city of Kharkiv, near the Russian border, was nearly empty on Wednesday, AFP reporters said, a day after shelling by Moscow forces killed five people.

Leyla Shoydhry, a young woman in a park near the opera house, said the situation was “very bad”.

“Last night, the building next to mine collapsed from the bombing while I was sleeping,” she said.

Roman Pohuliay, a 19-year-old in a pink sweatshirt, said most residents had fled the city.

“Only the grannies are left,” he said.

A firefighter protects a partially destroyed educational and laboratory building of a college hit the day before by a rocket in Kharkiv on Tuesday.

A firefighter protects a partially destroyed educational and laboratory building of a college hit the day before by a rocket in Kharkiv on Tuesday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pressed again on Wednesday for rapid weapons supplies from Western allies, having previously accused the Russian army of “brutal and cynical” bombing in eastern Kharkiv, where the governor said 15 people were killed in one day.

As Ukraine awaits delivery of advanced rocket systems, a new report from the Institute for the Study of War suggests that the use of drones, a key factor in early success against Russian forces, is increasingly being undermined by improvements in capabilities. of Moscow air defense.

Meanwhile, in the central city of Zaporizhzhia, women were training to use Kalashnikov assault rifles in urban combat as Russian forces closed in.

“When you can do something, it’s not that scary to get a machine gun in your hands,” said Ulyana Kiyashko, 29, after passing through a makeshift combat zone in a basement.

Separately, Iulia Tserkovnikova, a lawyer for captured British combatant Shaun Pinner, told Russian news agency TASS that she and her team are preparing an appeal against her recent death sentence.

Pinner, along with British national Aiden Aslin and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun, were sentenced to death by pro-Moscow separatists in the Donetsk People’s Republic earlier this month.

The trio were accused of being contract mercenaries, a description Russia has applied widely to foreign volunteers fighting for Kyiv.

Away from the battlefield, a top US official in Washington said President Joe Biden and other leaders of the Group of Seven who will hold a summit this weekend in Germany will announce new measures to punish Russia for the invasion.

This week, Moscow summoned the Brussels ambassador to a dispute with EU member Lithuania over the country’s restrictions on rail traffic to the Russian outpost of Kaliningrad.

Vladimir Putin's allies threatened Lithuania after the NATO country prevented EU-sanctioned goods from reaching the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

Vladimir Putin’s allies threatened Lithuania after the NATO country prevented EU-sanctioned goods from reaching the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

The territory, annexed from Germany after World War II, is about 1,600 kilometers from Moscow, on the border with Lithuania and Poland.

By blocking goods arriving from Russia, Lithuania says it is simply adhering to EU sanctions against Moscow.

The United States made clear its commitment to Lithuania as a NATO ally, while Germany urged Russia not to ‘violate international law’ by retaliating.

On Wednesday, a Turkish freighter left the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol on the coast of Ukraine’s Sea of ​​Azov.

Moscow and Ankara negotiated for weeks to get millions of tons of desperately needed grain out of the war zone into Africa and the Middle East.

But it was not immediately clear whether the Azov Concord was transporting wheat.

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