Ukrainian units (in the Kharkiv region on January 25)
Photo: STRINGER / REUTERS
That says Kyiv
With a view to the EU-Ukraine summit on Friday, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj has called for concrete accession prospects for his country.
"I believe that Ukraine deserves to start EU membership talks this year," said Zelenskyy in his evening address on Thursday.
Further integration into the European Union would give Ukrainians "energy and motivation to fight against all obstacles and threats."
Ukraine has had candidate country status since June.
It usually takes many years to become a member.
Another topic of the summit, which takes place under strict security precautions, is additional European support in the war against Russia.
In view of the difficult situation, especially in the east, Zelenskyi reiterated his call for increased pressure on Russia.
Strategically, Russia's defeat is already foreseeable.
“But tactically they still have resources for offensive attempts.
They're looking for ways to change the course of the war."
According to a report by the Ukrinform agency, Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov once again called for longer-range missiles for his country.
Ukraine's human rights commissioner has accused Russians of kidnapping Ukrainian children and selling them for sexual abuse.
There are corresponding messages in online networks, explained Dmytro Lubinets.
They revealed "that Russians are kidnapping Ukrainian children and making 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 abuse videos.
According to the head of the US secret service CIA, the next six months will be decisive for the outcome of the war in Ukraine.
"The key will be on the battlefield in 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.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) only sees a possibility for negotiations on an end to the Ukraine war if Russia agrees to withdraw troops from the occupied territories.
"The moment they 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.
Then there is also the opportunity to communicate.
"But we still have to work a bit towards that," added the Chancellor.
Ukraine refuses negotiations until Russian troops have completely withdrawn from Ukrainian territory - including Crimea.
Following the announcement by Germany and other Western countries that they would be supplying main battle tanks to Ukraine, the Russian leadership also backed away from the idea of peace talks.
Scholz wants to do everything in his power to prevent the war in Ukraine from spreading to other parts of Europe.
"We will avoid any escalation that leads to a war between Russia and NATO," said Scholz.
"A war between NATO and Russia would be terrible." He added: "We have a responsibility to do everything we can to ensure that this escalation does not happen."
Scholz spoke shortly after a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He had said: "It's unbelievable, but German Leopard tanks are threatening us again." Putin added a threat: "Time and again we are forced to fend off the aggression of the collective West."
Scholz insisted "that we carefully weigh all our steps".
When it comes to supplying more weapons, he doesn't allow himself to be pushed into going it alone: "If some call out: 'Go ahead!' then I say: That's not the right way."
During a visit to Ukraine, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced new sanctions against Russia.
By February 24, the first anniversary of the Russian invasion, "we want to complete a tenth package of sanctions," von der Leyen said in Kyiv.
The President of the Commission stressed that the previous sanctions had already caused considerable damage to the Russian economy and would "set it back by a generation".
The price cap for Russian oil alone costs Moscow “about 160 million euros a day”.
The new sanctions package, which has been in preparation since December, is expected to include new entry and asset freezes for those responsible in Russia and its ally Belarus.
A price cap for Russian petroleum products such as diesel or kerosene is also to come into force on Sunday, and representatives of the EU states are still discussing the amount.
what is happening today
For the first time since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, more than a dozen representatives of the EU Commission have traveled to the capital Kyiv, including EU Commission President von der Leyen.
They want to show that the EU is still on the side of the attacked country.
EU Council President Charles Michel is also expected at today's EU-Ukraine summit, but not the heads of state and government of the 27 member states.