Situation in Ukraine’s east ‘getting tougher’: Zelensky

President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned the situation on Ukraine’s eastern front lines is becoming tougher as Russian troops push for a significant battlefield victory in the region.

The Ukrainian president made the remarks in a nightly video address on Saturday. Russian forces have been working to close their grip on the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut and the nearby coal-mining city of Vuhledar located in the eastern industrial region of Donetsk.

“I’ve often had to say the situation at the front is tough, and is getting tougher, and it’s that time again,” Zelensky said.

He said the circumstances in Bakhmut, Vuhledar, Lyman and other directions were “very difficult now.”

Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar claimed in a post on Telegram earlier in the day that Russian efforts to break the defenses in Bakhmut and Lyman had failed.

Shelling continues in Donetsk. In the southern region of Odesa, an accident at a power plant left nearly 50,000 homes without electricity.

Russia started its “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, 2022 in order to defend the pro-Russian population in Luhansk and Donetsk against persecution by Kiev, and also to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Ever since the beginning of the war, Ukraine’s Western allies, including the United States and the European Union, have been supplying large consignments of heavy weaponry to Kiev and slapping Russia with a slew of sanctions.

Military experts say Moscow appears determined to push forward in the coming months, since the West has pledged hundreds of modern tanks and armored vehicles to Ukraine.

Russia has repeatedly said sending weapons to Ukraine would prolong the war.

EU prepares more Russia sanctions

Meanwhile, the European Union is set to unveil its 10th package of sanctions against Russia on February 24 to mark the anniversary of the war. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made the announcement at a news conference in Kiev on Friday. The sanctions will target technology used by Russia’s war machine, among other things, von der Leyen said, adding they will take aim in particular at components used in the manufacturing of drones.

She said “closing loopholes that the Kremlin uses to circumvent sanctions will also be a priority.”

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