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EU Prepares More Russia Sanctions      02/04 09:23

   The European Union will unveil its 10th package of sanctions against Russia 
on Feb. 24 to mark the anniversary of Moscow's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, 
a senior official from the bloc said in Kyiv on Friday, as Ukrainian forces 
gird for an expected Russian offensive in the coming weeks.

   KYIV, Ukraine (AP) -- The European Union will unveil its 10th package of 
sanctions against Russia on Feb. 24 to mark the anniversary of Moscow's 
full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a senior official from the bloc said in Kyiv on 
Friday, as Ukrainian forces gird for an expected Russian offensive in the 
coming weeks.

   The sanctions will target technology used by Russia's war machine, among 
other things, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a news 
conference.

   The sanctions will take aim in particular at components used in the 
manufacturing of drones, she said, naming Iran as a key supplier of Russia.

   Closing loopholes that the Kremlin uses to circumvent sanctions will also be 
a priority, according to Von der Leyen, who was on her fourth visit to the 
Ukrainian capital since the war began.

   The exact measures in the next EU sanctions package must be agreed upon by 
the bloc's 27 member countries -- a process that can take weeks.

   Top EU officials met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a show 
of support for the country as it battles to counter the Kremlin's forces and 
strives to join the EU as well as NATO.

   The last such summit was held in Kyiv in October 2021 -- a few months before 
the war started. The highly symbolic visit is also the first EU political 
mission of its kind to a country at war.

   The high-level meeting came as a 60-year-old man was killed and six others 
were wounded Friday when Russian missiles hit central Toretsk, in Ukraine's 
eastern Donetsk region, the local prosecutor's office said in a statement on 
Facebook.

   Ukrainian authorities reported Friday that at least six civilians were 
killed and 20 others were wounded over the previous 24 hours.

   Among the dead were two brothers, ages 49 and 42, killed when Russian 
shelling destroyed an apartment building in the northeastern Kharkiv region, 
Ukraine's presidential office said. Their 70-year-old father was hospitalized 
with injuries.

   Also, six people were wounded and 18 apartment buildings, two hospitals and 
a school were damaged in a Russian attack in the eastern city of Kramatorsk on 
Thursday, Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko told Ukrainian TV. Four people died when a 
Russian missile hit an apartment building in that city on Wednesday.

   European officials were adamant about continuing to support Ukraine 
militarily and economically, but they didn't provide any new details about 
Ukraine's accession path to the EU.

   Zelenskyy said Ukraine's goal "is to start negotiations this year." But the 
process will likely take years and require the adoption of far-reaching 
reforms, including a clampdown on endemic corruption as the country receives 
billions of dollars in aid. Kyiv formally submitted its application last June.

   Zelenskyy said progress had been made to further integrate Ukraine 
economically into the EU across several sectors, including agriculture, 
industry, energy and customs.

   Ukraine's government is keen to get more Western military aid, on top of the 
tanks pledged last week, as the warring sides are expected to launch new 
offensives once winter ends. Kyiv has pushed the West to provide fighter jets 
and long-range missiles.

   The U.S announced Friday it will send longer-range bombs to Ukraine, along 
with air defense systems and other weapons and ammunition as part of a new 
$2.17 billion aid package. The rocket-propelled, GPS-guided, ground-launched, 
small-diameter bombs (GLSDB) are fired from HIMARS rocket launchers and glide 
to targets up to 150 kilometers (93 miles) away, twice as far as the previously 
supplied U.S. rockets for HIMARS systems could reach.

   Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder noted that the bombs will give 
the Ukrainian armed forces a longer range capability and enable them to 
"conduct operations in defense of their country and to take back their 
sovereign territory."

   Asked to comment on the U.S. move, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov pointed 
to Thursday's statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who likened the 
Russian action in Ukraine to fighting the Nazis in World War II and issued an 
ominous warning to the West for announcing new weapons shipments.

   "Those who hope to defeat Russia on the battlefield apparently fail to 
understand that a modern war against Russia will be a completely different war 
for them," Putin said. "We do not send our tanks to their borders, but we have 
something to respond with, and it is not limited to the use of armour."

   France and Italy also agreed Friday to supply Ukraine with a SAMP/T-MAMBA 
air-defense system, which French officials call the European equivalent of the 
Patriot system that the U.S. has given Ukraine. The missile battery is slated 
for delivery this spring.

   Kyiv's forces "have a chance" of beating back an expected Russian offensive 
in eastern Ukraine if supplied with the right Western weapons, Zelenskyy said.

   "Our task is not to give them (an) opportunity (for revenge) until our army 
is strengthened with appropriate weapons. I think we have a chance," Zelenskyy 
added.

   Officials in the eastern Luhansk region said Russian forces have disabled 
mobile internet connections, stepped up shelling and deployed more troops in 
preparation for an offensive.

   EU assistance for Ukraine has reached almost 50 billion euros ($55 billion) 
since the fighting started, according to officials from the bloc.

   The EU is providing Ukraine with financial and humanitarian aid, and 
announced it is ramping up its military training mission, from an initial 
target of pushing 15,000 troops through the schooling to up to 30,000 troops. 
One focus is to train the crews of tanks that Western countries have offered 
Ukraine.

 
 
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