Conflicts & War

EC chief von der Leyen arrives in Kyiv to lay ground for Ukraine’s EU membership

Kyiv, May 9 (EFE).- European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday for talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and to lay the ground for Ukraine’s request for European Union membership.

Von der Leyen arrived in Kyiv to mark Europe Day, a celebration of peace and unity, hours after Russian forces struck the capital with overnight missiles.

“I very much welcome President Zelenskyy’s decision to make May 9 the Day of Europe,” von der Leyen told reporters on the train she took to Kyiv. “Ukraine is part of our European family.”

On Monday, Ukraine announced it was moving Victory Day celebrations, to mark the end of World War II, to May 8, to match other European countries. Historically Ukraine has marked the event on May 9, in line with the Kremlin. Zelenskyy also submitted a bill to mark Europe Day on May 9.

“My presence in Kyiv today on May 9 is symbolic, but it is also the sign of a crucial and very practical reality: the EU is working hand in hand with Ukraine on many issues,” she added.

This is von der Leyen’s fifth visit to Ukraine since Russia launched its full-blown invasion on Feb. 24, 2022.

As the EU leader arrived in Kyiv, the speaker of Ukraine’s parliament, Olena Kondratiuk, denounced that Russia had launched 17 rockets on the capital early on Tuesday morning. No casualties or serious damage were reported.

Von der Leyen is to hold talks with Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian authorities to lay the ground for Ukraine’s EU membership talks, she told a reporter for the European Newsroom.

The EC will publish a preliminary report in the summer on the progress of Kyiv’s membership application before launching membership negotiations. The commission will publish a second, more in-depth analysis, in December.

The leaders will also discuss economic sanctions on Russia and the EC chief will outline the bloc’s 11th package of measures against Moscow, which are still being negotiated.

“The focus now is on tight implementation of the sanctions and taking action to avoid circumvention. We are determined to close existing loopholes,” she said. “No one should doubt that,” von der Leyen warned.

The EC leader added that other “key issues” on the agenda included the delivery of ammunition to Ukraine as well as significant financial support and ensuring Russia’s accountability for its crimes.

The EU has agreed to send one million rounds of artillery ammunition to Ukraine in the next 12 months.

“Together with the previous decision to swiftly provide ammunition from existing stocks, we are committing €2 billion to this purpose, bringing the total EU military support to Ukraine to €5.6 billion,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, said on May 5.

Of the total budget, 1 billion euros will be deployed to finance shipments of weapons that EU nations have in their reserves and the other 1 billion will be used to purchase missiles and ammunition to send to Ukraine.

Ukraine told the EU in late April that it would need at least 18 billion euros in 2024 for the reconstruction of the war-torn country, the same amount the bloc has earmarked in assistance for Ukraine this year.EFE


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