Russian missile wrecks apartment block, killing 3, as EU leaders visit Kyiv

  • In Kyiv, the head of the European Commission will discuss Ukraine’s accession to the European Union
  • Ukraine’s president has promised to take more measures against corruption
  • Zelensky gave a sad assessment of the attack in the east of Russia
  • Russian strike destroys apartment building; 4 died – officials
  • According to Lavrov, Russia is responsible for the delivery of long-range missiles

Kyiv, Feb 2 (Reuters) – At least three people were killed when a Russian missile destroyed a block of flats in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, which top European Union officials said was key to Ukraine turning west for talks in Kiev.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to step up the fight against corruption as authorities continue raids ahead of meetings with the European Union, reflecting his determination to show Kyiv can be a reliable steward of billions of dollars in aid.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Thursday as she arrived in Kyiv by train: “We are together to show Ukraine that it is as strong as ever. To further deepen our support and cooperation.” Together with more than a dozen high officials of the European Union.

However, the EU’s reluctance to accept a country at war has dashed Ukraine’s hopes for early membership and underscores the need for more anti-corruption measures.

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The group from Brussels will discuss sending more weapons and money to Ukraine, expanding access to the EU for Ukrainian products, helping to cover Kiev’s energy needs, increasing sanctions against Russia and prosecuting Russian leaders for war.

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The European Union says it has allocated almost 60 billion euros in aid to Ukraine, but Kiev’s bid to become a member could take years.

In an evening video address, Zelensky gave another grim assessment of the situation on the battlefield as Russian troops continue to make incremental gains in the east of the country as the February 24 anniversary of Moscow’s invasion approaches.

At least three people were killed and 20 injured when a Russian Iskander-K tactical missile fired in Kramatorsk at 21:45 (1945 GMT) on Wednesday, police said.

“At least eight apartment buildings were damaged. One of them was completely destroyed,” the police said on their Facebook page.

People may be buried under the rubble,” he said.

Kramatorsk, located about 55 kilometers northwest of Bakhmut, is currently the main focus of the war in eastern Ukraine.


Determined to succeed before Ukraine receives newly promised Western battle tanks and armored vehicles, Russia has stepped up its pace on the battlefield, announcing advances north and south of Bakhmut, which has been under constant Russian bombardment for months.

“On the eastern front of our country, there has been a clear increase in the offensive operations of the invaders. The situation has worsened,” Zelensky said.

“The enemy is now trying to achieve at least one thing, to show that they have some opportunities on the anniversary of the Russian invasion,” he added.

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The Ukrainian army reported on Wednesday evening that Bakhmut and 10 towns and villages around it were hit by Russian fire.

According to Ukrainian military analyst Yevgeny Dikiy, Russian forces are trying to encircle Bakhmut from both the north and the south, using a large number of troops, stopping its resupply, and trying to drive out the Ukrainians.

“This is the most difficult scenario for us,” Dikiy told Espreso TV.

“The enemy can use their only resource, their surplus men,” he said, describing a landscape northeast of Bakhmut “covered in corpses.”

Ukraine and its Western allies say Moscow has suffered heavy casualties around Bakhmut and sent a wave of ill-equipped troops, including thousands of convicts recruited as mercenaries from prisons.

The former commander of the Russian mercenary group “Wagner”, who fled to Norway in January, told Reuters that he wanted to apologize for his military actions in Ukraine and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“First of all, I apologize again and again,” said 26-year-old Andrey Medvedev.


Ukraine has received weapons pledges from the West that offer new capabilities – the latest is expected to include missiles from the US this week that will almost double the range of Ukrainian forces.

“We are focused on giving Ukraine the capability it needs to be effective in its expected spring counteroffensive,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said during a visit to the Philippines on Thursday.

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The new weapons will bring all Russian lines in eastern Ukraine, as well as parts of Crimea, into the territory of Ukrainian forces.

Moscow believes that such missiles will intensify the conflict, but will not change its course.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Russian state television on Thursday: “The more the range of weapons provided to the Kiev regime, the more they will have to be pushed back from the territories that are part of our country.” Moscow claims to have annexed four Ukrainian provinces last year, as well as Crimea, which it seized in 2014.

Ukrainian Governor Serhiy Gaidai told Ukrainian television on Thursday that Russian forces were probing weak spots in Ukraine’s defenses on the western outskirts of Luhansk region.

“The number of casualties has increased, attacks in the direction of Svatove-Kreminna have increased… They are piling up our positions with bones,” Gaidai said.

Reuters could not confirm reports from the battlefield.

President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine last February for a “special military operation” to “disarm” his neighbor, and now presents the campaign as a fight to protect Russia from an aggressive West. Ukraine and the West call it an illegal war to expand Russian territory.

Reuters Reporting by Himani Sarkar and Gareth Jones Editing by Robert Birsel and Peter Graff

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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