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Ukrainian forces get foothold on bank of Dnipro

Ukraine said on its troops were trying to expand their foothold on the Russian-occupied eastern bank of the Dnipro river, despite fierce resistance from Moscow’s forces.

Kyiv has managed to hold a thin bridgehead on the eastern bank of the river in the southern Kherson region since November but its forces have not claimed substantial progress since.

Ukraine will “continue measures aimed at expanding its bridgehead” on the left (eastern) bank of the Dnipro, the army said in a daily briefing.

“Despite significant losses, the enemy continues to try to drive our units from their positions,” it said.

Both Moscow and Kyiv have been entrenched on opposite sides of the vast river since November 2022, when Russian forces retreated from the western bank.

Pushing Russia back from the river’s banks has been a priority for Kyiv, which has been trying to protect the city of Kherson from Russian shelling.

The Ukrainian air force said it downed eight Russian attack drones across the country overnight, including in western regions.

Russia fired rockets at Ukrainian army positions and civilian areas a total of 86 times over the past day, and launched at least seven missile strikes, Ukraine’s army said.

Russia claims control of village

Russia said its forces had taken control of the village of Tabaivka in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, but Ukraine denied it.

The Russian claim was made in a defence ministry statement.

Volodymyr Fityo, head of communications for Ukraine’s ground forces, said on national TV: “This does not correspond to reality. There are battles taking place near this locality.”

Hungary open to using EU budget for Ukraine aid package

Meanwhile, Hungary signalled its readiness for a compromise allowing a proposed European Union aid package for Ukraine to be financed from the bloc’s budget ahead of an emergency summit on Thursday.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been a vocal critic of the EU’s financial and military support for Kyiv and maintained close ties with the Kremlin since Russia’s invasion of neighbouring in Ukraine in February 2022.

He previously blocked a revision of the EU budget that included the Ukraine aid, prompting its leaders to come up with a plan B and call an emergency summit.

However, Mr Orban’s political director said on Monday that Hungary was open to using the EU budget for a proposed €50 billion aid package to Ukraine, a major shift in Budapest’s stance from just a few weeks ago.

Viktor Orban will be attending an emergency EU summit later this week

Balazs Orban, the chief political aide to the Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, confirmed on X that Budapest had sent a proposal to Brussels on Saturday showing it was open to using the EU budget for the aid package and issuing common EU debt to finance it if other “caveats” were added.

The Financial Times reported on Sunday that the EU would sabotage Hungary’s economy if Budapest blocks the aid at a summit this week.

“The document, drafted by Brussels bureaucrats only confirms what the Hungarian Government has been saying for a long time: access to EU funds is used for political blackmailing by Brussels,” Janos Boka, Hungary’s minister for EU affairs said on X.

In case Hungary did not agree to the original aid package, EU leaders had proposed a workaround that involved a deal between 26 members and Ukraine, which would also deny Budapest access to linked EU funds, such as on migration.

The EU has suspended a large chunk of funds for Hungary over concerns Budapest had damaged democratic checks-and-balances in the country.

The EU unlocked some of those funds at the end of last year saying Budapest had implemented a reform of its judiciary but about 20 billion euros still remain frozen.

Hungary’s foreign minister Peter Szijjarto is due to meet his Ukrainian counterpart later in the day in the western Ukrainian town of Uzghorod to prepare a possible meeting between Mr Orban and Mr Zelenskiy.

Mr Szijjarto’s talks in the western city of Uzhhorod with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak follow weeks of Hungarian opposition to the EU providing €50 billion in aid.

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