'Ukraine sees future as part of European family'

Mayor of Ukrainian capital dismisses reports of Russian withdrawal, pointing to 'huge explosions' and continued death.

'Ukraine sees future as part of European family'

As the Russia-Ukraine war enters its 35th day, the mayor of the Ukrainian capital on Wednesday dismissed reports of Russian forces pulling back from Kyiv, underlining that the fighting is to secure Ukraine's future spot with the "European family."

In a virtual address to the EU's Working Group on Ukraine, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said sirens wailed all night and that "huge explosions" were heard from the east and north of the capital the previous day as "battles are ongoing" in the region.

The war is about Ukraine's desire to be independent and a part of the "European family" and democratic world, Klitschko said.

"Russian soldiers are fighting for money and they are paid very well. But we (Ukraine) fight and defend our families, children, our future. We are also fighting for every one of you because we have the same principles of the European Union," he said.

Klitschko underlined that his country does not "understand the position of some politicians in Europe," which he described as "half pregnant."

"From one side, they are against the war. From another side, they still communicate with Russia," he said, stressing that while EU sanctions against Russia are effective, all business ties should be cut with Russia as Russian money is stained with "the blood of Ukrainian people."

"Right now, the world is white and black. And you either support the freedom and principles and values and peace in Ukraine or you support the aggressiveness of the Russian Federation," said Klitschko.

Ukrainian forces are not just defending their country and cities, the Kyiv mayor said they are also defending "European principles."

The mayor of Lviv in western Ukraine, Andriy Sadovyi, said that since the start of the war, at least 145 children had been killed.

Speaking virtually at the meeting, Sadovyi told the EU officials that Russia "needs to be totally isolated."

"Ukrainians are going to fight to the end, we're not going to give up a single meter of our land," he said, adding that Ukraine is "fighting for freedom, for democracy."

He also asked the EU for financial assistance in rebuilding of the country, saying: "We're talking about €500 million ($556.2 million) we will need to start building. I hope the European Union will help us with that."

Separately, a declaration by the working group reaffirmed the European Committee of the Regions' "full support for the people of Ukraine in defending their territorial integrity, respect for international law, freedom and the democratic values they share with EU citizens."

It further stressed that the EU's "local and regional authorities stand ready to shelter refugees who have fled to Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, the Republic of Moldova, and other European countries."

The working group's declaration cited recent calls by Ukrainian officials, such as for the opening of humanitarian corridors and European solidarity to "develop and adopt decisions concerning reception and relocation in the EU."

It also cited the mayors' call for "urgent measures to be put in place to rapidly reduce dependency on Russian energy supplies, including gas, oil and coal."

Russia's war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, has drawn international outrage, with the EU, US, and UK, among others, implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow.

At least 1,179 civilians have been killed and 1,860 have been injured in Ukraine, with the true figure likely to be much higher, according to the UN.

More than 4 million Ukrainians have also fled to other countries, with millions more internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency.