Russia-Ukraine live updates: Russians launching large-scale offensive in Luhansk region – ABC News

Monday marks the beginning of a “truly historic week” for Ukraine, as the country awaits a decision on its future within the European Union, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during his Sunday evening address.

“We will hear the answer from the European Union on the candidate status for Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said. Last week, the European Commission backed Ukraine for EU candidate status. Now it is up to the European Council to confirm Ukraine’s status, with a decision expected by the end of this week, the Ukrainian president said.

“I am convinced that only a positive decision meets the interests of the whole of Europe,” Zelenskyy said.

He added that Ukraine — and other European countries — should expect increased hostility from Russia in the coming week.

“We are preparing. We are ready. We warn partners,” he said.

But as combat units from both sides of the conflict remain committed to intense combat in the Donbas, they are likely experiencing dips in morale, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense stated in a Sunday intelligence update.

“Ukrainian forces have likely suffered desertions in recent weeks, however, Russian morale highly likely remains especially troubled,” the ministry said.

As cases of whole Russian units refusing to carry out orders and armed stand-offs between officers and their troops continue to occur, Russian authorities are likely struggling to put legal pressure on the dissenters due to the invasion’s official status as a ‘special military operation’, the UK report said.

Low Russian morale is driven by “perceived poor leadership, limited opportunity for rotation of units out of combat, very heavy casualties, combat stress, continued poor logistics, and problems with pay,” according to the Defense Ministry. Many Russian personnel of all ranks also likely remain confused about the war’s objectives, it said.

The U.K. Defense Ministry also said Monday the struggles of Russia’s air force likely contributed to the exhaustion of Russian ground troops. “In the conflict to date, Russia’s air force has underperformed,” another intelligence update said on Monday.

“Its failure to consistently deliver air power is likely one of the most important factors behind Russia’s very limited campaign success,” the report stated. Despite boasting relatively modern and capable combat jets, Russia’s air combat training has for years highly likely been heavily scripted and designed to impress senior officials, as opposed to fostering modern skill-sets, the Defense Ministry said.

As a result, Russian ground troops in Ukraine are becoming worn out while a heavy reliance on advanced cruise missiles has likely led to their stocks running low, the report concluded.

More shelters, less music

The Ukrainian Parliament on Sunday supported a bill on the construction of a network of bomb shelters across Ukraine, including in new buildings.

“The war has shown that there were few reliable shelters in Ukraine,” said Olena Shulyak, a member of parliament.

Many of the existing shelters are not equipped with evacuation exits, lack access to water supply and sewerage systems, and are not adapted for food storage, Shulyak said on Telegram, adding, “Not to mention their ability to protect the population in the event of weapons of mass destruction.”

The parliament topped off a busy weekend when it banned music by artists with Russian citizenship from being aired in public and in Ukrainian media to prevent the influence of “separatist sentiment in the population,” according to the new bill.

A two-thirds majority of lawmakers agreed that Russian music would make the adoption of a Russian identity more attractive while weakening the Ukrainian state.

-ABC News’ Edward Szekeres, Yuriy Zaliznyak, Max Uzol and Yulia Drozd

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