Weekly roundup. Ukraine resists Russia’s invasion. Days 656-660

This week, Russia has intensified missile attacks on Ukraine, pounding Kyiv with ballistic missiles. On Monday, Ukraine’s air defenses shot down all eight ballistic missiles that targeted Kyiv. On Wednesday, Russia launched 10 ballistic missiles toward the capital. All of them were intercepted by Ukraine’s air defenses, but their debris caused extensive damage to several neighborhoods. At least 53 people were injured.

This week, Kyivstar, Ukraine’s largest mobile operator came under a powerful Russian cyberattack that knocked out mobile and internet services to millions of people. As of this writing, Kyivstar has restored voice services. Works are underway to bring the rest of the services back.

On the frontlines, fierce fighting continues to rage. Ukrainian troops have recaptured a spoil heap on the outskirts of Horlivka, in Donetsk region. The town has been occupied by Russia since 2014.

This week also marks intense diplomatic efforts. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi visited the U.S. Yet Congress has not passed an emergency spending bill that includes aid for Ukraine. On Thursday, EU leaders agreed to give a historic green light for the start of Ukraine’s talks for EU membership.

“This is a victory for Ukraine, a victory for all of Europe. A victory that motivates, inspires, and strengthens,” Zelenskyi said on X, commenting on a message by European Council President, Charles Michel, announcing the decision.

“A decision has been made to open EU membership talks with Ukraine and Moldova. I thank everyone who has worked on this to make this decision happen, everyone who was helping us. I congratulate every Ukrainian. I also congratulate Moldova and personally Maia Sandu. History is made by those who don’t get tired of fighting for freedom,” Zelenskyi said in Ukrainian on X.

Hungary’s Orbán blocks EUR 50bn in EU aid for Ukraine. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has blocked EUR 50 billion in EU aid for Ukraine just hours after EU leaders agreed to officially open accession negotiations for Ukraine to join the bloc. Ukraine crucially needs the four-year aid package to support its economy.

On the first day of the EU Council summit, the European Council president, Charles Michel, presented a negobox — proposals used during the budget process. The priorities are Ukraine, migration, solidarity fund and security, the official said. Discussions continued late into the night.