Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what the Kremlin calls a “special operation” to ensure Russian security and denazify Ukraine. Ukraine and the West call this a baseless pretext for a war of choice that has raised fears of wider conflict in Europe.
Russia has long opposed closer links between Ukraine, a former Soviet state, and Western clubs like the EU and the NATO military alliance.
Zelensky said he had spoken to 11 EU leaders on Wednesday about Ukraine's candidacy and will make more calls on Thursday. He said earlier he believed all 27 EU countries would support Ukraine's candidate status.
“We deserve it,” Zelensky told crowds in Amsterdam via video link.
Diplomats say it will take Ukraine a decade or more to meet the criteria for joining the EU. But EU leaders say the bloc must make a gesture that recognises Ukraine's sacrifice.
The war in Ukraine has had a massive impact on the global economy and European security, driving up gas, oil and food prices, pushing the EU to reduce its heavy reliance on Russian energy and prompting Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership.
The EU will temporarily shift back to coal to cope with dwindling Russian gas flows without derailing longer-term climate goals, an EU official said on Wednesday, as a tight gas market and soaring prices set off a race for alternative fuels.
BATTLE FOR SIEVIERODONETSK
The battle for the front-line eastern city of Sievierodonetsk, where hundreds of civilians are trapped in a chemical plant, see-sawed with Ukraine and Russia disputing who controlled the city.
Luhansk's regional governor, Serhiy Gaidai, said in an online post on Wednesday evening that Russian forces continue to build up reserves in Sievierodonetsk in an attempt to encircle Ukrainian troops.
He rejected Russian claims that its military already controls the city. “Battles are continuing,” he told Ukrainian Television. “Russian forces do not have full control.”
Moscow says Ukrainian forces in Sievierodonetsk, scene of the heaviest recent fighting, are trapped. It ordered them last week to surrender or die after the last bridge over the Siverskyi Donets river was destroyed.
Inside Russia, a fire tore through an oil refinery just 8km from the frontier with Donbas territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists, after what the refinery described as a cross-border attack on Wednesday by two drones.
There was no immediate Ukrainian comment on the strike, which suspended production at the Novoshakhtinsk refinery.
Ukraine generally does not comment on reports of attacks on Russian infrastructure near the border, which it has called “karma” for Russian attacks on Ukraine.