KYIV (Dispatches) - With a fresh blessing for its European Union ambitions and a promise of continued strong support from Britain, Ukraine and Russia kept fighting on Saturday.
At a summit next week, EU leaders are expected to grant Ukraine candidate status following Friday’s recommendation from the bloc’s executive, putting Kyiv on course to realize an aspiration seen as out of reach before the invasion, even if actual membership could take years.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who made a surprise visit to Kyiv and offered training for Ukrainian forces, on Saturday stressed the need to keep supporting the country and avoid “Ukraine fatigue” after nearly four months of war.
On the battlefields, the industrial city of Sievierodonetsk, a prime target in Moscow’s offensive to seize full control of the eastern Luhansk region, remained under heavy Russian artillery and rocket fire, the Ukrainian military said on Saturday.
“In order to improve their tactical situation, Russian units tried to carry out assault operations outside the city but were unsuccessful,” the armed forces general staff said in a daily update.
Local authorities reported overnight shelling of multiple locations in the eastern regions of Luhansk and Kharkiv and further west in Poltava and Dnipropetrovsk. Rockets hit the central city of Kryvyi Rih on Saturday, causing at least two casualties, local authorities said on messaging app Telegram.
Russian rockets also hit a suburb of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, , hitting a municipal building and starting a fire in a block of flats, but causing no casualties, a regional governor said.
Moscow denies targeting civilians in what it terms a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of dangerous nationalists threatening its Russian-speaking population.
Trump Warns of World War III
Former U.S. president Donald Trump in a speech at a religious conservative conference in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday, has warned the the lavish military aid provided to Kiev by Washington could result in the conflict in Ukraine turning into World War III.
“We have a war in Ukraine... and perhaps it’s going to lead to World War III because of the way we’re handling it,” Trump warned, RT reported.
“We just gave $40 billion on top of another $16 billion. So, we’re in for $56 billion,” he said regarding the aid packages the Joe Biden administration has already approved for Ukraine amid the conflict with Russia.
“But when you look at Europe – and Germany, and France and all these other countries – they’ve given a tiny fraction, a tiny, tiny fraction of what we’re giving. We’re giving $56 billion and they’re giving a few billion dollars. And they’re the ones who are affected much more so,” he added.
Trump once again blamed the conflict on President Biden, who replaced him in the White House, insisting that “if I were president that would never have happened”.
“And I got to know [President Vladimir] Putin very well and we talked about it… he knew the consequences were going to be tremendous. He understood that and he would have never ever done it,” the former president insisted.
“If the election weren’t rigged and stolen, we wouldn’t have had any problems with Ukraine being attacked viciously,” he stressed.
Trump dedicated a large portion of his address to attacking the ongoing House committee hearings on the events of January 6, 2021. The former president claimed that the probe into his alleged role in provoking his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol in Washington was a “rigged deal” and a “one-sided witch hunt”.