Russia's war on Ukraine latest: Zelenskiy vows to defend 'fortress' Bakhmut

Ukrainians will fight “for as long as we can” to hold the “fortress” city of Bakhmut, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy vowed as he hosted European Union leaders to discuss further sanctions on Russia and Kyiv’s prospects for joining the EU. ARMS

* A $2.2 billion U.S. military aid package to Ukraine includes a new rocket, the Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb, that would double the country’s strike range, the Pentagon said. * France said it and Italy have completed technical talks for the joint delivery of a SAMP/T-MAMBA air defence system, the only European-made system that can intercept ballistic missiles, to Ukraine in the spring.

DIPLOMACY * The EU offered strong support for Ukraine at the Kyiv summit as air raid sirens wailed, but set “no rigid timelines” for its accession to the wealthy bloc. Zelenskiy had hoped the EU would put Ukraine on a rapid road to membership.

* Western economies agreed price caps on Russian diesel and other refined petroleum products that U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said would build on a crude oil cap set in December and further limit Russian oil revenues while keeping global energy markets supplied. * The EU’s next package of sanctions against Russia will hit the trade and technology that support Moscow’s war against Ukraine, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

* Canada imposed sanctions on 38 individuals and 16 entities it said were “complicit in peddling Russian disinformation and propaganda”, prompting a quick promise of retaliation from Moscow. * Turkey’s airport ground service provider Havas told Russian and Belarusian airliners it may stop providing services to their U.S.-origin aircraft, in line with Western sanctions.

* China said mutual political trust with Russia has deepened further after Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Russia. * The United States imposed sanctions on the board of directors of Iranian drone maker Paravar Pars, with the Treasury Department saying Iranian drones were being used by Russia to attack Ukraine’s critical infrastructure.

* Belarusian athletes openly opposing the leadership of Alexander Lukashenko called on the International Olympic Committee to let them compete while barring those who support the authorities and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. CONFLICT

* Ukraine’s defence minister said new tanks supplied by NATO countries would serve as an “iron fist” in a counteroffensive by Kyiv to break through Russian defensive lines. * Ukraine unveiled a criminal case against the boss of Russia’s Wagner mercenary company, promising to track down and prosecute the company’s fighters who try to flee abroad. 

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)