UKRAINE,RUSSIA: As the Russia-Ukraine war entered its fifth month on Friday, Ukraine was formally accepted as a candidate for European Union membership in a morale boost for the war-torn nation as Moscow’s assaults wear down the defenders of cities in the eastern Donbas region. The Russian military controls about 95 per cent of Luhansk province and about half of neighbouring Donetsk province, the two areas that make up the Donbas, news agency AP reported. The decision from the EU comes as the Russian President Vladimir Putin has said on multiple occasions that his “special military operation” – launched in Ukraine on February 24 – was partly necessitated by Western encroachment into what Russia characterises as its rightful geographical sphere of influence.
Meanwhile, UN experts have confirmed the full or partial destruction of 152 cultural and historic heritage sites in Ukraine since Russia invaded the country, its cultural agency said Thursday.
They include museums and monuments, churches and other religious buildings, libraries and other exceptional buildings, UNESCO said in an update of its efforts to assist Ukraine authorities in documenting the damage.
Yet dozens of sites have been damaged since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, with three-quarters of those locations in the eastern regions of Kharkiv and Donetsk as well as near the capital Kyiv, UNESCO said in its update.
But for now, the seven World Heritage Sites in Ukraine have not been affected, such as the Saint Sophia Cathedral and monastic buildings of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra in the capital.
– THE TIMES OF ISRAEL