Russia stepped up its efforts in eastern Ukraine on Sunday as the Polish president traveled to Kyiv and became the first foreign leader to address Ukraine’s parliament since the outbreak of war.
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda expressed his support for Ukraine’s ambitions to join the European Union, telling lawmakers that “only Ukraine has the right to decide its future.”
“Unfortunately, there have also been worrying voices in Europe recently calling for Ukraine to give in to Putin’s demands,” Duda said. “I want to say clearly: only Ukraine has the right to decide on its future. Only Ukraine has the right to decide for itself.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the EU should quickly agree to making his country one of the bloc’s 28th Member due to the ongoing conflict.
Zelensky said Duda’s visit marked a “historic union” between the two countries, with Poland hosting millions of Ukrainian refugees since Russia began its invasion in February.
“Despite the great destruction, despite the terrible crime and great suffering suffered by the Ukrainian people every day, the Russian invaders did not break them,” Duda told the Ukrainian legislature. “They failed. And I firmly believe that they will never succeed.”
Duda also credited President Biden for his actions in unifying the Western response to the war and imposing tough sanctions on Russia.
While Ukraine’s potential EU candidacy is expected to be discussed at a summit in Brussels at the end of June, one EU member warned that it would take “a long time” for Ukraine to be accepted.
France’s Europe Minister, Clement Beaune, told Radio J it could take up to two decades.
“We have to be honest,” Beaune said on Sunday. “If you say that Ukraine will join the EU in six months or a year or two, you are lying.”
The EU comes as Russian forces advance an offensive in the Donbass, launching artillery and rocket attacks in the country’s eastern region in hopes of expanding territory held by Moscow-backed separatists since 2014.
Ukraine’s parliament on Sunday approved the extension of martial law and the mobilization of the armed forces for the third time until August 23.
Russia is attempting to capture Sievierodonetsk, the Ukrainian-controlled capital of Luhansk province, which together with Donetsk province forms the Donbass.
The city has only one functioning hospital with three doctors and enough supplies for 10 days, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said.
Ukraine’s military said on Sunday the Russian attack on Oleksandrivka, a village outside Sievierodonetsk, had failed.
Moscow said it plans to resume its offensive on Sloviansk, a city in Donetsk province.
The latest push by Russian forces comes after the Kremlin declared control of Azovstal, a large steel mill that was a last-ditch defensive post in the port city of Mariupol. Russia claims to have captured about 2,500 Ukrainian prisoners as a result of taking Azovstal.
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Saturday that Ukraine would fight “for the return” of all captured soldiers, as a pro-Kremlin head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic vowed Ukrainian militants would be brought to justice.
Mariupol Mayor Vadim Boychenko said his city is facing a health and sanitation disaster for the 100,000 residents left behind due to shallow mass graves and a collapse of the sewage system.
Ukraine has yet to comment on Russia’s claim that it has captured Azovstal.
In a Russian-held town, Enerhodar, about 174 miles northwest of Mariupol, both Ukrainian and Russian news outlets reported that Moscow-appointed mayor Andrei Shevchuk was injured in an explosion at his home.
A Ukrainian news agency said the bomb was planted by “local partisans”.
Ukraine has said it will not agree to a ceasefire or concessions to Moscow.
With postal wires
https://nypost.com/2022/05/22/poland-president-speaks-in-ukraine-amid-russia-offensive/ Poland’s president speaks in Ukraine amid Russia offensive