Ukraine Has Hopes for EU Summit Set for Kyiv

Reuters file photo
European Union flags fly outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium September 19, 2019.

KYIV (AFP-Jiji) — Ukraine will hold a summit with the European Union in Kyiv this week, the government announced Tuesday, as it expressed hope the conference will bring the war-battered nation closer to EU membership almost a year after Russia launched its invasion.

In his evening address to the nation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was hopeful the summit, which will take place in the Ukrainian capital on Friday, will reflect a high “level of cooperation and progress” with the 27-member bloc, which Kyiv has long sought to join.

“We are waiting for news for Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said.

Announcing the summit earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said, “The fact that this summit will be held in Kyiv is a powerful signal to both partners and enemies.”

Ukraine gained EU candidacy status in June last year, several months after Vladimir Putin sent Russian troops rolling into Ukraine.

No details were provided on who would be attending the summit on the European Union side.

Despite flows of Western weapons, Russia has recently claimed gains in the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine.

Its defense ministry announced it had “liberated” the village of Blagodatne north of Bakhmut.

Blagodatne lies on a highway leading towards Bakhmut, and its announced capture comes not long after Ukraine conceded it had given up the nearby salt-mining town of Soledar.

AFP journalists around 150 kilometers south of Bakhmut heard sporadic shelling coming from Vugledar, which both Moscow and Kyiv have said is seeing an uptick in fighting.

“It’s very tense, the more time passes the worse, worse and worse it gets,” said Oleksandr, a 45-year-old Ukrainian serviceman operating a mortar near Vugledar.

On Tuesday, Kyiv said a 12-year-old boy and 70-year-old man were killed during Russia’s latest barrage in Bakhmut.