The road to EU membership often takes years. In view of the Russian war of aggression, Ukraine is hoping for clearer prospects from a summit this Friday. All the latest news on the Ukraine war can be found in the Newsticker.
7.20 a.m .: According to the head of the US secret service CIA, the next six months will be decisive for the outcome of the Ukraine war. “The key will be on the battlefield over the next six months,” CIA Director William Burns said at an event at George Town University in Washington.
“We must shake Putin’s hubris and make him understand that not only will he not be able to advance any further in Ukraine, but that with each passing month he is in more and more danger of losing the territory he has given Ukraine so far illegally snatched”. Putin does not want to negotiate seriously.
2:37 a.m.: The Ukrainian human rights commissioner has accused Russians of kidnapping Ukrainian children and selling them for sexual abuse. There is corresponding news in online networks, said Dmytro Lubinets on Thursday. They revealed “that Russians kidnap Ukrainian children and make sex videos with them”. For example, 250,000 rubles (more than 3,200 euros) were offered for a boy “who is about to start school”.
The human rights commissioner of the Ukrainian parliament posted a chat on Telegram between two users who he said were exchanging views on the sale of a boy for child pornography. “He was brought from Ukraine, from a children’s home, he has no relatives,” wrote one of the users, offering sex videos. “We bring in little ones for this kind of work. He’s not the first we’ve brought in,” the user reportedly added.
Friday, February 3, 12:51 a.m.: According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine “deserves” that negotiations on his country’s accession to the EU “deserve” to begin this year. “I think Ukraine deserves to start negotiations on EU membership this year,” said Zelenskyy on Thursday after talks with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Kyiv.
According to Zelenskyi, those responsible in Ukraine and the EU are in agreement: “Only together can a strong Ukraine and a strong European Union protect the life we value,” he said. “And that our further integration must give our people energy and motivation to fight against all obstacles and threats.”
An EU-Ukraine summit with Selenskyj will take place in Kyiv on Friday, which will be attended by von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel. Ukraine has officially been a candidate for EU membership since June 2022. But the path to full membership can take years, if not decades – or even come to nothing, as the example of Turkey shows.
Von der Leyen wrote on Twitter that Ukraine was making “remarkable progress” in implementing EU recommendations while “fighting an invasion.”
The head of the commission arrived in Kyiv on Thursday morning with 15 other commission members for a two-day visit. She began by praising the recent crackdown on corruption in the country by the Ukrainian authorities.
8:18 p.m .: Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) only sees an opportunity for negotiations to end the Ukraine war if Russia agrees to withdraw troops from the occupied territories. “The moment you let it be known that the way is troop withdrawal, the moment the way for talks with Ukraine is – I’m pretty sure – free,” said Scholz on Thursday in a question and answer session with citizens in Marburg, Hesse . Then there is also the opportunity to communicate. “But we still have to work a bit towards that,” added the Chancellor.
6.45 p.m .: 80 years after the Red Army’s victory over the Wehrmacht in the Battle of Stalingrad, Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin accused Germany of allowing himself to be drawn into a war with Russia. “It’s unbelievable, but a fact: we are being threatened again with the German tank Leopard,” Putin said on Thursday at a ceremony in Volgograd, which was temporarily renamed Stalingrad because of the anniversary. Signs with the name of Stalingrad were also hung in the city on the Volga.
Putin, who has been at war with Ukraine for almost a year, used the anniversary of the battle to justify attacks on the neighboring country. While the head of state was cheered on by guests, Ukraine was struggling with the aftermath of the recent Russian attacks. After a rocket hit a residential building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, the number of injured rose to more than 20. Three people were rescued dead from the rubble. Meanwhile, the EU once again demonstrated solidarity with Ukraine with a visit by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
As in the Second World War, German weapons are being used to fight against Russia on Ukrainian soil, Putin said. However, the 70-year-old himself started the war against Ukraine almost a year ago. “We have something to answer with. And the matter does not end with the use of armored vehicles. Everyone should understand that,” said the leader of the nuclear power. The guests at a celebratory concert where Putin gave the short speech reacted enthusiastically.
Putin made his first public statement since Germany’s decision to supply tanks to Ukraine. He accused the “collective West” of anti-Russian policies similar to those under Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. “Now, unfortunately, we see the ideology of Nazism in a modern face, in its modern expression it again creates a threat to the security of our country,” Putin claimed. Germany has repeatedly emphasized that it is not or does not want to become a war party.
6:32 p.m .: Ukraine has requested concrete funds from the European Union for the ongoing reconstruction of the infrastructure destroyed by Russia’s war. “This year the requirement is 17 billion US dollars (around 15.6 billion euros),” said Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal at a meeting with acting Vice President of the EU Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, according to a statement on Thursday. Above all, the Russian funds frozen in the course of the sanctions against Moscow should be used for this.
4:05 p.m .: According to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, further sanctions are to be imposed on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The tenth package of punitive measures against Russia should be decided by February 24, announced von der Leyen on Thursday during a visit to Kyiv. “We will keep pushing”; she said. Russia is already paying a high price. The upper price limit for Russian crude oil deliveries to third countries alone, which was agreed with international partners, costs Russia around 160 million euros a day.
Von der Leyen did not comment on the content of the tenth package of sanctions in Kyiv. According to EU diplomats in Brussels, further trade restrictions and an expansion of the list of people and organizations whose assets must be frozen are planned.
3:01 p.m .: On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked the EU to launch another package of sanctions against Russia. Together with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Selenskyj spoke about a tenth package of sanctions. Von der Leyen is currently in Kyiv with EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell and other EU officials.
Zelenskyj criticizes that the pace of sanctions in the EU has slowed down while Russia is adapting to the EU sanctions. “We have to correct that,” says Zelenskyj. “It is a common European task to reduce Russia’s ability to evade sanctions. And the sooner this task is accomplished, the closer we are to the defeat of the Russian Federation,” he added. “It is not enough to be successful on the battlefield. We need belief in a free Europe, in a peaceful Europe, in a united Europe,” he continued.
1:22 p.m .: The Russian leadership is threatening to penetrate deeper into the country because of the delivery of long-range western weapons to Ukraine. The goal must be to keep Western weapons as far away from Russian territory as possible, including the annexed areas, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Russian television on Thursday. The statement is a reaction to US plans to equip Kyiv with missiles that have a range of 150 kilometers.
“If we are now striving to push back the artillery of the Ukrainian armed forces to such a distance that they no longer pose a threat to our territories, then it is necessary to drive them even further away from the territories that are part of our country, ever longer-range weapons they have,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov stressed again that Russia claims the Ukrainian regions of Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhia, which it annexed in the autumn, although it does not fully control the regions to this day. Western supplies of arms would not alter the goals of full capture of the regions.
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