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Date : May 26, 2022

Zelenskyy warns Ukraine of crucial days ahead; Putin to meet with Austrian chancellor

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned his nation in a nightly address Sunday that the coming week would be as crucial as any in the war and accused Russia of trying to evade responsibility for war crimes.

“When people lack the courage to admit their mistakes, apologize, adapt to reality and learn, they turn into monsters. And when the world ignores it, the monsters decide that it is the world that has to adapt to them. Ukraine will stop all this,” Zelenskyy said. “The day will come when they will have to admit everything. Accept the truth,” he said.

Zelenskyy called on Western countries, including Germany, to provide more assistance to Ukraine. During talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Zelenskyy said he discussed “how to strengthen sanctions against Russia and how to force Russia to seek peace.”

“I am glad to note that the German position has recently changed in favor of Ukraine. I consider it absolutely logical,” Zelenskyy said.

Latest developments:

► President Joe Biden is set to speak with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday as he presses world leaders to take a hard line against Russia’s Ukraine invasion.

► Moscow has appointed a new war chief after a largely unsuccessful six weeks of battle in Ukraine, a senior U.S. official said Sunday. According to the official, who is not authorized to be identified and spoke on condition of anonymity, said General Alexander Dvornikov, 60, has a history of brutality against Syrians and other civilians.

Putin to meet with Austrian chancellor

Austria’s foreign minister says Chancellor Karl Nehammer is taking “very clear messages of a humanitarian and political kind” to a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said Monday that Nehammer decided to make the trip after meeting in Kyiv on Saturday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and following contacts with the leaders of Turkey, Germany and the European Union.

Schallenberg said ahead of a meeting with his E.U. counterparts in Luxembourg that “we don’t want to leave any opportunity unused and must seize every chance to end the humanitarian hell in Ukraine.”

He added that “every voice that makes clear to President Putin what reality looks like outside the walls of Kremlin is not a wasted voice.”

Schallenberg said that Nehammer and Putin will meet one-on-one without media opportunities. He insisted that Austria has done everything to ensure that the visit isn’t abused, “and I think he (Putin) himself should have an interest in someone telling him the truth and really finding out what’s going on outside.”

European Union to consider Ukraine membership in weeks

Ukraine could become part of the European Union in a matter of weeks, the president of the European Commission said Sunday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed Ukraine’s application to join the EU in February, and Olga Stefanishyna, deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine, said in April she expects Ukraine to fully join the E.U. by June.

The process can take years, but European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday “State of the Union” that Ukraine’s membership could take only weeks to consider.

“Yesterday, somebody told me: “You know, when our soldiers are dying, I want them to know that their children will be free be and be part of the European Union,” von der Leyen said. “They are in an extraordinary situation, where we have to take unusual steps.”

Russia warns of ‘direct military confrontation’ with US

Ukrainian forces are pushing back Russian troops so successfully that the invaders have been forced to regroup, refit and refocus, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday.

“Russia has changed its behavior in this war,” Sullivan said on CBS News’ Face The Nation. “They have retreated. They have pulled back from substantial territory in northern and northeastern Ukraine. Chiefly the reason they made those adjustments is because they were beaten by the Ukrainians.”

Sullivan credited the Ukraine military — and the flow of equipment the U.S. and its allies have been sending the besieged country. Last week, he said Slovakia was able to send an S-300 air defense system because the U.S. was willing to provide a Patriot battery to replace the system Slovakia was giving away.

Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov earlier told Newsweek the West is provoking Russia.

“We warn that such actions are dangerous,” the envoy said. “They can lead the U.S. and the Russian Federation onto the path of direct military confrontation.”

Satellite images of Ukraine show widespread damage to apartments, hospitals and other civilian facilities from Russian bombing.