Ukraine has made significant advances close to Kherson to the point of controlling the water supply in Crimea. Professor Michael Clarke, who specialises in defence studies, explained Ukraine is within striking distance of the supply. Speaking to Sky News, he said: “The Ukrainians are conducting quite a big offensive to take back Kherson.
“They’ve opened up a 50-mile front to the northeast of Kherson and there are reports over the last 24 hours that the Ukrainians may have got as far as Kiselivka which is quite close to Kherson.
“They may be within striking distance of Nova Kakhovk which is a dam which controls the water supply in Crimea.
“Ukraine would love to retake that and be back in control of that supply.
“We’re keeping a very close eye on those two areas because that battle is so far developing in Ukraine’s favour as the days go on.”
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It comes as the European Union’s executive is expected to propose on Friday that Ukraine become a formal candidate for membership of the bloc, diplomats and officials say, a significant political gesture to the country as it resists Russia’s invasion.
But for the 27 EU leaders, who are set to sign off on the European Commission recommendation at a June 23-24 summit, it may force an unwelcome moment of reckoning over the failure of the bloc’s broader “enlargement” policy.
EU candidate status, sought by Ukraine since 2014 when protests in Kyiv toppled an unpopular pro-Russian president, would be a milestone in its path from a former Soviet republic towards a developed economy in the world’s largest trading bloc.
Candidate status “is a correct solution from a moral, economic, and security perspective,” Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said alongside his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron at a military base in Romania on Wednesday.
Macron, Iohannis, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi could visit Kyiv on Thursday.
“Before the war, you had a couple of eastern European members that uttered the possibility of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia having a European pathway, but you had big players always saying categorically no,” a senior EU diplomat said.
“The philosophy has changed now,” the diplomat said.
But with Moldova and Georgia also likely to get EU membership status if they fulfill certain conditions, the June summit in Brussels will be a high-profile reminder that EU states cannot agree on whether to bring other official candidates – Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey – into the bloc.
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According to five diplomats and officials, cementing Ukraine’s candidacy risks unrealistic expectations about membership for a country at war and endemic corruption.
They also said it was divisive at a time when the bloc is seeking unity over economic sanctions on Russia following its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. Eastern countries strongly support giving Kyiv the status of an EU candidate, but France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, and Portugal have misgivings.
Two diplomatic notes seen by Reuters show the disagreement.
A Danish document argues that: “Ukraine does not yet sufficiently fulfill the criteria” of what it takes to be an EU candidate in terms of democracy, human rights, respect for minorities, and the rule of law. A Lithuanian document says: “By defending their country, Ukrainians are defending European values, freedom, and democracy.”