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EU Chief Visits Kyiv to Discuss Ukraine Bid to Join Bloc

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A photo of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Kyiv, Ukraine, posted to her Twitter account June 11, 2022.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is in Kyiv Saturday for a meeting with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss the country’s reconstruction and progress towards European Union membership she said.

“I will take stock of the joint work needed for reconstruction and of the progress made by Ukraine on its European path,” she said in a Twitter post.

Zelenskyy said Saturday his country would “definitely prevail in this war that Russia has started, speaking from an undisclosed location in Kiyv.

In an address meant for delegates at the Shangri-La Dialogue Asia security summit currently held in Singapore, Zelenskyy said Ukraine is struggling to continue supplying food due to the conflict and that some parts of the world are facing “an acute and severe food crisis and famine” because of Russian blockade.

Zelenskyy 'didn't want to hear' warnings

On Friday, President Joe Biden insisted that U.S. intelligence tried to warn Ukraine about the imminent danger of a Russian invasion but Zelenskyy “didn’t want to hear it.”

Biden made the remarks during a fundraiser in Los Angeles where he was talking about his work to rally and solidify support for Ukraine as the war continues into its fourth month.

"Nothing like this has happened since World War II. I know a lot of people thought I was maybe exaggerating. But I knew we had data to sustain he — meaning Russian President Vladimir Putin — was going to go in, off the border."

Although Zelenskyy has inspired people with his leadership during the war, his preparation for the invasion — or lack thereof — has remained a controversial issue.

In the weeks before the war began on Feb. 24, Zelenskyy publicly bristled as Biden administration officials repeatedly warned that a Russian invasion was highly likely.

At the time, Zelenskyy was also concerned on the time that the drumbeat of war was unsettling Ukraine’s fragile economy.

Today, Ukrainian officials are increasingly worried support from the West will trail off as its allies suffer "war fatigue."

They fear Russia could take advantage of that to pressure Ukraine into compromise, something Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has resisted, saying Ukraine would pursue its own terms for peace.

"The fatigue is growing, people want some kind of outcome [that is beneficial] for themselves, and we want [another] outcome for ourselves," he said.

"It is obvious that Russia is determined to wear down the West and is now building its strategy on the assumption that Western countries will get tired and gradually begin to change their militant rhetoric to a more accommodating one," said Volodymyr Fesenko, political analyst with the Penta Center think tank in an interview with The Associated Press.

Ukraine: More heavy weapons

Meanwhile, the grinding Ukrainian-Russian fight for control of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine continued Friday.

Ukrainian officials have upped their calls for more weaponry, including rocket systems and artillery, from the West.

"This is an artillery war now," Vadym Skibitsky, deputy head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, said in an interview with Britain's Guardian newspaper.

"Everything now depends on what [the West] gives us," Skibitsky said. "Ukraine has one artillery piece to 10 to 15 Russian artillery pieces. Our Western partners have given us about 10% of what they have."

A dog named Buddy is seen near his building destroyed by yesterday's Russian military strike where one local resident was killed and another wounded, in the town of Kostiantynivka, in Donetsk region, Ukraine, June 10, 2022.
A dog named Buddy is seen near his building destroyed by yesterday's Russian military strike where one local resident was killed and another wounded, in the town of Kostiantynivka, in Donetsk region, Ukraine, June 10, 2022.

Biden said last week the U.S. would provide Ukraine with advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable it to more precisely strike key Russian targets.

Information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.
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