Ukraine and Russia forces entrenched, Putin to mark WWII anniversary

Ukrainian and Russian forces remained entrenched in eastern Ukrainian battlegrounds going into Wednesday, a day of commemoration in both countries to mark the anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.

Fighting in the months-long war has favored Russia in recent weeks because of its huge edge in artillery firepower, a fact Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged in a late Tuesday night address.

“Thanks to tactical maneuvers the Ukrainian army is strengthening its defenses in the Luhansk region,” he said. “That is really the toughest spot. The occupiers are also pressing strongly in the direction of Donetsk.”Luhansk and Donetsk provinces combined are known as the Donbas, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine

“And just as actively as we are fighting for a positive decision by the European Union on Ukraine’s candidate status, we are also fighting every day for modern weaponry for our country. We don’t let up for a single day,” Zelenskiy said, urging those nations supporting his country to speed up arms deliveries.

In a symbolic decision, Ukraine is set to become an official candidate for European Union membership on Thursday, EU diplomats said.

Russia’s failure to make a major breakthrough so far since invading Ukraine on Feb. 24 means time is on the side of Ukrainians, according to some military analysts.

“It’s a heavyweight boxing match. In 2 months of fighting, there has not yet been a knockout blow. It will come, as RU forces become more depleted,” retired U.S. Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, a former commander of U.S. ground forces in Europe, wrote on Twitter.

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