Zelenskyy warns solely diplomacy can finish conflict, rejects different to EU enlargement – EURACTIV.com

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned solely a diplomatic breakthrough fairly than an outright army victory can finish Russia’s conflict on his nation, whereas pushing its case for EU membership.

Zelenskyy additionally appealed for extra army help, whilst US President Joe Biden formally signed off on a $40-billion package deal of help for the Ukrainian conflict effort.

And he insisted Saturday (21 May) that his war-ravaged nation needs to be a full candidate to affix the EU, rejecting a suggestion from France’s President Emmanuel Macron and another EU leaders {that a} kind of related political neighborhood be created as a ready zone for a membership bid.

Macron teases different to EU enlargement

French president Emmanuel Macron on Monday (9 May) pitched a proposal for a brand new “political European community” that might enable Ukraine and others at present exterior of the EU framework to be extra carefully concerned with the EU.

“We don’t need such compromises,” Zelenskyy stated throughout a joint information convention with visiting Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa.

“Because, believe me, it will not be compromise with Ukraine in Europe, it will be another compromise between Europe and Russia.”

Speaking on Ukrainian tv Saturday, Zelenskyy stated: “There are things that can only be reached at the negotiating table.”

The conflict “will be bloody, there will be fighting but will only definitively end through diplomacy”.

“Discussions between Ukraine and Russia will decidedly take place. Under what format I don’t know,” he added.

But he promised that the end result can be “fair” for Ukraine.

Cruise missile ‘strike’

After simply over 12 weeks of fierce combating, Ukrainian forces have halted Russian makes an attempt to grab Kyiv and the northern metropolis of Kharkiv, however they’re beneath intense stress within the jap Donbas area.

Moscow’s military has flattened and seized the Black Sea port of Mariupol and subjected Ukrainian troops and cities within the east to relentless floor and artillery assaults.

On Saturday, Russia’s defence ministry claimed to have struck with cruise missiles a big stockpile of weapons equipped by the West within the nation’s northwest Zhytomyr area.

“Long-range, high-precision Kalibr missiles, launched from the sea, destroyed a large consignment of weapons and military equipment supplied by the United States and European countries,” the ministry stated. The strike has but to be independently confirmed.

Russia cuts Finland’s gasoline

Zelenskyy’s Western allies have shipped a gentle stream of recent weaponry to his forces and imposed sweeping sanctions on the Russian financial system and President Vladimir Putin’s interior circle.

The Kremlin has responded by disrupting European power provides.

On Saturday, Russian power large Gazprom stated it had halted provides to neighbouring Finland because it had not obtained the ruble funds it was due.

Helsinki had refused to pay its invoice in rubles, which Moscow had demanded in a bid to side-step monetary sanctions.

In 2021, Gazprom equipped about two-thirds of the nation’s gasoline consumption however solely eight % of its complete power use.

Gasum, Finland’s state-owned power firm, stated it might use different sources, such because the Balticconnector pipeline, which hyperlinks Finland to fellow EU member Estonia.

Moscow reduce off gasoline to Poland and Bulgaria final month, a transfer the European Union denounced as “blackmail”.

The row over Finland’s gasoline invoice comes simply days after the nation joined neighbouring Sweden in breaking their historic army non-alignment and making use of to affix NATO.

Moscow has warned Finland that becoming a member of NATO can be “a grave mistake with far-reaching consequences”, and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has stated it’ll reply by constructing army bases in western Russia.

But each Finland and Sweden at the moment are apparently on the quick monitor to affix the army alliance, with Biden this week providing “full, total, complete backing” to their bids.

All 30 present NATO members should agree, nonetheless, and Turkey has condemned Sweden’s alleged tolerance for the presence of exiled Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants

Dogged resistance

On the bottom in Ukraine, the combating stays fiercest within the jap area of Donbas, a Russian-speaking space partially managed by pro-Kremlin separatists since 2014.

In Severodonetsk, a frontline metropolis now vulnerable to encirclement, 12 individuals have been killed and one other 40 wounded by Russian shelling, stated regional governor Sergiy Gaiday.

“The Russians are using artillery day and night,” he stated.

In the neighbouring Donetsk area, governor Pavlo Kyrylenko stated on Telegram on Saturday that seven civilians had been killed and 10 wounded.

Further north in Kharkiv, simply 50 kilometres from the border with Russia, new networks of trenches and checkpoints have cropped up as town prepares to defend towards a contemporary assault.

“When we were here on the 24 February there were no positions at all,” says “Doctor”, a medic with the National Guard, referring to the day the Russians invaded.

“But now we have trenches, we have well-protected zones, so for them, it would be impossibly hard to capture (this position).”

On the roads main out of town — a few of which have been closed off — civilians assist troopers fill sandbags for the checkpoints.

“We have a problem, we are at war,” jokes a soldier as he checks a car and turns it again.

Prisoner swap mooted

On Friday, Moscow declared its bloody, months-long battle for the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol at an finish.

Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenko stated 2,439 Ukrainian personnel had surrendered on the plant since 16 May, the ultimate 500 on Friday.

Ukraine hopes to alternate the surrendering troopers for Russian prisoners. But in Donetsk, pro-Kremlin authorities have threatened to place a few of them on trial.

A Russian negotiator on Saturday stated Moscow would think about exchanging prisoners from Ukraine’s far-right Azov battalion for Viktor Medvedchuk, a rich Ukrainian businessman identified for his shut ties to Putin.

“We are going to study the possibility,” stated Leonid Slutsky, a senior member of Russia’s negotiating crew, talking from the separatist metropolis of Donetsk, the RIA Novosti information company reported.

Medvedchuk, 67, is a politician and one in all Ukraine’s richest individuals. He escaped from home arrest after Russia invaded in February however was re-arrested in mid-April.

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