Analysis. Zelenskyy lobbies EU leaders as battles rage

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on a tour of European capitals, tells leaders at a summit in Brussels that Europe’s freedom depends on Ukraine’s.

Russian forces have significantly stepped up attacks in eastern Ukraine and are trying to break through defences near Kreminna, says the Ukrainian governor of Luhansk.

The Russian embassy in London warns of “military and political consequences” after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said “nothing is off the table”, including combat aircraft for Ukraine.

Russia’s Wagner mercenary group says it has stopped recruiting prisoners to fight in Ukraine.

He was earlier given a standing ovation at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Czech Republic to repair damaged Ukrainian armoured vehicles

The Ukrainian army’s armoured vehicles will be repaired in the Czech Republic, the Czech Defence Ministry said.

The ministry said that state-owned company VOP CZ signed a memorandum of understanding with Ukraine’s government arms manufacturer Ukroboronprom on the repairs on Monday.

“The memorandum … contains a specific plan and timetable for the repairs or securing of spare parts,” said Ales Vytecka, director of the Czech government’s AMOS agency for military cooperation, who co-signed the memorandum.

The Czech Republic has been one of the top weapons providers to Kyiv among NATO allies, supplying Ukraine with armoured personnel carriers, tanks or howitzers.

Russia may take legal action over Nord Stream investigation

Russia might take political or legal action in response to a report alleging that the US was involved in the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines last year, the TASS news agency reported, citing a foreign ministry official.

In a blog post, Pulitzer Prize-winning American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh cited an unidentified source as saying US navy divers had planted explosives on the pipelines in the Baltic Sea on the orders of President Joe Biden.

The White House dismissed the report as “utterly false and complete fiction”, and Norway, which is investigating the explosions, said the allegations were “nonsense”.

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) walks next to Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) before heading to Brussels, in Military Airport Villacoublay, in Velizy-Villacoublay, Southwest of Paris
Image caption,Ukraine’s leader travelled with President Macron to Brussels ahead of the EU summit

Mr Zelensky said Germany and France had the potential to be « game-changers » in the war. The sooner Ukraine received heavy, long-range weapons and modern planes, « the quicker this Russian aggression will end », he explained.

Although President Macron has previously signalled some openness to providing fighter jets, Mr Scholz has not.

The French leader vowed Ukraine could count on his support, with France « determined to help Ukraine to victory and the re-establishment of its legitimate rights ». Chancellor Scholz added: « The position is unchanged: Russia must not win this war. »

Because of the 11-month long Russian invasion, Mr Zelensky rarely leaves his own country and a senior Ukrainian official said that the purpose of his trip was to obtain results.

He argues that fighter jets and long-range missiles are important in addition to the Leopard 2 tanks that Western nations have recently committed to supplying. While Mr Zelensky said he had discussed the issue of combat planes in Paris, he warned there was « very little time » to provide much-needed weaponry.

The Dutch prime minister said that many sensitive issues had to be discussed before a decision could be made on supplying fighter jets. « The pros and cons – you have to make absolutely sure that you are not getting into an Article Five direct confrontation between Nato and Russia, » Mr Rutte told the BBC.

Moscow has repeatably warned the West against weapons deliveries since the war began, frequently threatening to retaliate against what it calls « provocations ».

Asked by reporters in Moscow about the growing debate over sending warplanes to Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia saw it as evidence of the growing involvement of the UK, France and Germany in the conflict.

« We regret this and state that such actions of these countries lead to the escalation of tension around this conflict, prolong it and make it more painful and torturous for Ukraine, » said Mr Peskov.

Chancellor Scholz agreed only recently to allow German Leopard tanks and has warned against getting involved in a « public bidding war » of weapons systems for Ukraine.

    Mr Zelensky had earlier addressed a joint session of the UK Parliament in Westminster Hall, underlining his plea for fighter jets: « Freedom will win – we know Russia will lose. »

    Downing Street said UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was investigating what aircraft could potentially be offered, but emphasised this was « a long-term solution » and that training pilots could take years.

    World Opinions – agencies

    ميادين | مرآة المجتمع، ملفات، تحليلات، آراء وافكار و رسائل لصناع القرار.. صوت من لا صوت له | الإعلام البديل

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