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Northwest Territories

Zelenskyy wants tougher Europe, Putin evokes victory over Nazis

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Kyiv/VOLGOGRAD — Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged European leaders visiting Kyiv on Thursday to impose more sanctions on Russia, where President Vladimir Putin evoked a famous World War II victory over the Nazis in a bid to protect his nation to mobilize.

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Since Russia’s nearly year-long invasion of Ukraine, which has devastated cities, killed tens of thousands, forced millions to flee and rocked the global economy, the West has imposed sweeping punitive measures.

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In the latest violence, a Russian missile destroyed apartments in Kramatorsk, killing at least three people and trapping others under rubble, police said.

Moscow said it hit US-made rocket launchers in an area about 55 kilometers northwest of Bakhmut, which is currently the main focus of fighting in eastern Ukraine, where Russia has been making incremental advances in recent weeks.

In a speech in Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad, where the Soviet Army defeated Nazi forces 80 years ago, Putin predicted a new victory in Ukraine. He berated Germany for helping to arm Kiev and said he was ready to draw on Russia’s entire arsenal, including nuclear weapons.

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“Unfortunately, we see that the ideology of National Socialism in its modern form and expression is once again directly threatening the security of our country,” he said in a speech.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a wreath-laying ceremony during an event marking the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II at the Mamayev Kurgan memorial complex in Volgograd, Russia, February 2, 2023.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a wreath-laying ceremony during an event marking the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II at the Mamayev Kurgan memorial complex in Volgograd, Russia, February 2, 2023. Photo by Sputnik/Dmitry Lobakin /Pool via REUTERS

“Time and again we have to fend off the aggression of the collective West. It is unbelievable, but it is a fact: we are again being threatened by German Leopard tanks with crosses.”

Putin describes his “military special operation” in Ukraine as a fight to “disarm” its neighbor, a former Soviet republic, and to defend Russia against an aggressive West. Ukraine and the West speak of an illegal war to expand Russian territory.


After arriving in Kyiv by train for talks on Ukraine’s aspirations to join the European Union, the head of the bloc’s Executive Committee promised more aid to Ukraine.

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“Russia is paying a heavy price as our sanctions undermine its economy, setting it back a generation. We will continue to increase the pressure,” said Ursula von der Leyen at a joint press conference with Selenskyj.

Calling for more sanctions, he said the pace had “slowed slightly” and Moscow was adapting to them during the biggest armed conflict in Europe since World War II. “The faster and better this task is performed, the closer we will be to crushing the aggression of the Russian Federation,” he said.

Von der Leyen said there would be more military, financial and political aid ahead of the February 24 anniversary of the invasion. She also announced the creation of an international center in The Hague to prosecute aggression crimes in Ukraine.

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“We know that the future of our continent is being written here… This is a struggle of democracies against authoritarian regimes,” she said.

Determined to make headway before Ukraine receives newly promised Western main battle tanks and armored vehicles, Russia has been gaining momentum on the battlefield.

She announced advances north and south of Bakhmut, which has been suffering from prolonged Russian bombardment for months.

Russian forces are pushing from both the north and south to encircle Bakhmut and are using superior troop strengths to try to cut him off from aftersales and drive out the Ukrainians, Ukrainian military analyst Yevhen Dikiy said.

“The enemy is able to use their one resource that they have in abundance – their men,” Dikiy told Espreso TV, describing a landscape northeast of Bakhmut “literally covered in corpses.”

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Ukraine and its western allies say Moscow has suffered huge casualties around Bakhmut and dispatched waves of ill-equipped troops, including thousands of prison recruits.

A former commander of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group who fled to Norway told Reuters he regrets the fighting in Ukraine and supports bringing perpetrators of atrocities to justice. “Although I don’t know how it will be received, I want to say that I’m sorry,” said 26-year-old Andrei Medvedev.

He said he witnessed the shooting of two people who did not want to fight in front of newly enrolled ex-convicts.


Ukraine has received weapons pledges from the West that offer new capabilities – the latest, expected this week, will include missiles from the United States that would nearly double the range of Ukrainian forces.

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“We are focused on giving Ukraine the capability it needs to be effective in its forthcoming anticipated spring counter-offensive,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said.

The new weapons would put all Russian supply lines in eastern Ukraine, as well as parts of Crimea seized by Ukraine and annexed by Russia in 2014, within range of Ukrainian forces.

Moscow says such missiles would escalate the conflict but not change its course. It also says its stockpiles of weapons will increase.

“The longer the range of the weapons supplied to the Kiev regime, the more we need to push them back from areas that are part of our country,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russian state television.

Moscow claims to have annexed four Ukrainian provinces in addition to Crimea last year.

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