(AFP) — Russian forces pursued an artillery fire on a front-line city in Ukraine on Sunday, trying to gain military momentum as a diplomatic counterattack in Kyiv targeted a gathering of the world’s business and political elite in Davos.
Ukrainian officials said artillery and missile strikes hit Kharkiv in the north and Mykoleif and Zaporizia in the south, killing eight civilians on the eastern front in Donbas.
Three months after starting the invasion, Moscow forces are focused on securing and expanding the offensive in the Donbas region and off Ukraine’s southern coast.
Ukraine’s parliament decided on 23rd to extend martial law for another three months until 23rd August.
Meanwhile, Kyiv is stepping up its international support and receiving arms supplies from the West, despite EU powers struggling to reach an agreement to extend sanctions on Russia’s huge energy exports.
Polish President Andrzej Duda met President Volodymyr Zelensky in a speech to the Ukrainian parliament a day before a videoconference in Davos.
“After Bucha, Borodianka and Mariupol, we cannot do business as usual with Russia,” Duda told Ukrainian lawmakers, citing towns and cities where Russian troops have been charged with atrocities against civilians.
He added, “In an honest world, we cannot return to our daily lives, forgetting the trampled crimes, aggression and fundamental rights.”
The World Economic Forum (WEF) brings the world’s business and political elites together in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos, and this year’s gathering will set the stage for Ukraine’s crisis.
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Davos criticizes Moscow
Zelensky will hold a videoconference with delegates on Monday evening to mark the opening of the Ukrainian House Davos, a forum for Kyiv and its international supporters.
In March, Davos organizers announced that anyone subject to international sanctions and severing ties with Russian businesses and officials would not be welcome at the event.
Western nations have rallied to defend the territory of Ukraine, led by neighboring countries like the United States and Poland, which have approved a $40 billion war box in Kiev.
However, some European countries that depend on Russian oil supplies, including Hungary, are opposed to the crude oil embargo, and major EU economic powerhouses such as Germany are still huge gas importers.
Duda emphasized that Poland and Ukraine had a “common future within the European Union” and warned against some European countries trying to compromise with Russia or take decisions “behind Ukraine”.
However, some EU member states remain silent about Kyiv’s ambitions to join the bloc. French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed creating a ‘European political community’ in the form of a waiting room for regular members.
Zelensky dismissed this idea.
“We don’t need that kind of compromise,” he said at a press conference visiting Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa on Saturday.
“Believe me. Because it will not be a compromise with Ukraine in Europe, but another compromise between Europe and Russia.”
After more than 12 weeks of fierce fighting, Ukrainian forces have stopped Russian attempts to retake Kyiv and the northern city of Kharkiv, but are under intense pressure in the eastern Donbas region.
Moscow’s forces flattened and occupied the Black Sea port of Mariupol, exposing Ukrainian troops and villages to the east to ruthless ground and artillery attacks.
“No work, no food, no water,” said 52-year-old Angela Kopytsa while speaking to AFP reporters on her Mariupol tour hosted by Russia.
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Kopytsa said the battle in the harbor destroyed both her home and her life, and that “the children in the maternity ward are dying of hunger.”
The once bustling port city of Azov Sea has lost electricity since early March and is now a wasteland. Between the tree-lined streets and the lush greenery of the park stands the corpse of a charred building.
The relentless fighting of the past few weeks has come to an end, and Russian troops and separatist allies are now patrolling the streets.
Elena Ilyina, who taught at a university in Mariupol, told AFP that her apartment was destroyed and she now lives with her daughter.
The 55-year-old said, “I have nothing left. “I want to live in peace in my apartment, go to work and talk to my children.”
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