Ukraine update: Top EU officials arrive in Kyiv following night of deadly strikes

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News


Top European Union officials arrived in Kyiv Thursday for talks with the Ukrainian government following a night of deadly Russian missile strikes that killed at least eight Ukrainian civilians and wounded dozens of others.

Rescue crews in Kramatorsk, a city in the eastern Donetsk region, spent the night searching for survivors in the rubble of an apartment building that was struck by a rocket late Wednesday. Officials said that at least three civilians were killed in the strike and 21 injured. Ukraine’s presidential office said early on Thursday that at least one more victim was believed to be under the debris.

Elsewhere, four Ukrainians were killed when a Russian mortar shell struck a bomb shelter in the northeastern Chernihiv region, officials there said, as reported by Reuters.

Amid the destruction and chaos, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed EU President Ursula von der Leyen and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell Fontelles to Ukraine’s capital ahead of a larger summit scheduled for Friday to discuss strengthening ties between Europe’s political and economic union and Kyiv, The Associated Press reported

Von der Leyen tweeted an image of herself and Zelenskyy locking hands in a warm greeting captioned: “Your determination to forge ahead on your European path is amazing. You are taking notable steps forward to meet our recommendations, while at the same time fighting an invasion. We will continue to support your efforts on making further progress.”

Chief among these “recommendations,” and a key focus of Friday’s summit, is Zelenskyy’s campaign to weed out corruption in his government. 

Ukraine’s presidential office on Wednesday announced a second round of dismissals of high-ranking officials in a matter of weeks. Zelenskyy was elected in 2019 on an anti-corruption platform, vowing to tackle widespread government greed and grift that has long plagued the former Soviet republic. The renewed focus on this objective is also meant to alleviate concerns expressed by Kyiv’s wartime financial and military backers who have poured billions of dollars of aid into Ukraine so far in the war, the vast majority of which has come from the U.S.


Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov on Wednesday stressed that it is now more urgent than ever that Kyiv’s partners and allies send in more advanced weapons without delay because Russia will likely “attempt something” on the one-year anniversary of its Feb. 24 invasion.

“We are telling our partners that we too need to be ready as fast as possible,” Reznikov told France’s BFM television.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters Thursday during a trip to the Philippines that the focus of American aid is to increase Ukraine’s military capabilities by sending artillery, armor, air defense, and providing training to Ukrainian troops. The remarks followed President Biden’s assertion earlier this week that Washington has no plans to provide Kyiv with long-requested F-16 fighter jets.

Austin said that Washington is “focused on providing Ukraine the capability that it needs to be effective in its upcoming anticipated counteroffensive in the spring,” and that the U.S. is “doing everything we can to get them the capabilities that they need right now to be effective on the battlefield.”

Washington is expected to announce an additional $2 billion in Ukrainian assistance as early as this week that includes, for the first time, longer-range missiles and a new Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) capable of striking behind enemy lines.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov struck a dismissive tone Thursday, saying the new weapons will have little impact on Russia’s ability to achieve its objectives in the war. He added that Moscow will simply move potential Kremlin targets out of range.

“The longer range the weapons supplied to the Kyiv regime, the farther we would need to push them away from the territories that are part of our country,” Lavrov said in an interview with Russian state media.

Asked, as he often is, about the prospect of a peaceful resolution to the conflict, Lavrov said that, while Moscow would like to see the war end, its length is far less important than its result: the security of Russian territory and the liberation of “people who want to remain part of the Russian culture.”