A day after fighting in Ukraine expanded on another front, with the military announcing a counteroffensive around the southern port city of Kherson, European leaders will be gathering in Brussels for a two-day summit focused on the war in Ukraine.
On the agenda of the European Council meeting is a package of sanctions against Russia, including an oil embargo. Hungary has been holding up an E.U. embargo on Russian oil imports, though Robert Habeck, Germany’s vice chancellor and energy minister, said last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that he was “positive that Europe will find a solution within the next days.” As of Sunday, that still hadn’t happened.
President Volodymyr Zelensky is scheduled to address the European leaders by video link on Tuesday. On Sunday, Mr. Zelensky sought to build morale among his fighters by making a rare journey outside Kyiv to visit the country’s northeast, near Kharkiv, which is still under shelling.
“I want to thank each of you for your service,” Mr. Zelensky told his forces. “You risk your life for all of us and our state.”
He was visiting eastern Ukraine as his military announced a counteroffensive in Kherson, a key city in the south that had been one of the first to fall to Russia when the war began in February. Ukrainian officials had for weeks telegraphed plans to counterattack in the area to threaten Russia’s supply routes into Kherson on bridges over the Dnipro River. But they said the maneuver would require the delivery of Western artillery systems that had been promised by the United States and other allies.
Those weapons are now showing up at frontline positions in the war’s eastern theater, but the military statement made no mention of their use in the announcement of the counterattack in the south.
The Biden administration has approved sending long-range multiple launch rocket systems to Ukraine, a significant transfer that could hugely aid the country, U.S. officials said on Friday. Mr. Zelensky has suggested an official announcement could come this week.
In other developments:
Russian forces are trying to gain a foothold on the northeast edge of Sievierodonetsk and are moving in the direction of the city center, Ukraine’s military said on Sunday evening. Russian forces also are pounding route T1302, a road that runs into the city from the southwest. Route T1302 has been called the “road of life,” given its critical role in getting supplies in and giving fleeing civilians a route out.
Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, said that sophisticated Harpoon anti-ship cruise missiles had arrived. He said the missiles came courtesy of Denmark and would be used to try to break Russia’s Black Sea blockade and to protect the port city of Odesa.
Mr. Zelensky said Russian strikes have destroyed “the entire critical infrastructure” of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine. Describing shelling there as “constant,” he said in his Sunday evening address that capturing the city was Russia’s fundamental objective and added that Ukraine was doing “everything” to repel the offensive.