Zelenskyy urges ‘concrete’ action from EU to help war effort
(Update 1: adds details of Zelenskyy meetings with EU leaders)
Brussels, Feb 9 (EFE).- Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday called on European leaders to provide more military support to help his country repel Russian invading forces.
Zelenskyy was meeting with EU leaders in Brussels during a whistle-stop overseas trip that has also seen him visit London and Paris.
“I simply haven’t got the right to come back without the results,” Zelenskyy told reporters when asked about what pledges he was hoping to secure from EU leaders, during a joint press conference alongside the presidents of the European Council, Charles Michel, and European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
“There are positive signals concerning the respective weapons. We have positive signals that we hear each other and I really want these signals to move to concrete steps,” he said.
In his opening remarks to a meeting of EU heads of state and government, Zelenskyy shared intelligence that Ukraine had intercepted that Russia was planning to “break” Moldova’s democracy and “establish control” over the country.
During his meetings in Brussels, Zelenskyy has also pressed the issue of Ukraine’s accession to the EU, having secured membership candidate status in June last year as part of a fast-tracked process.
“We want, of course, this year, to motivate ourselves and our army (…) We need it this year, 2023, and when I say this year I mean this year,” he said.
Commission chief von der Leyen reiterated that “there is no rigid timetable” and that it is a “merit-based process.”
“So it depends on the candidate country, how far they go and how fast they reach the goals they set for themselves.”
Nevertheless, “we will be by your side every step of the way until Ukraine fulfills its European dream,” she added.
The Commission is preparing a 10th package of sanctions against Russia, with von der Leyen saying that it will affect “a number of political and military leaders” and those in charge of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine.
“Their lies are poisoning the public space in Russia and abroad,” she said, adding that the new round of sanctions will also include additional export bans worth “more than 10 billion euros.”
Earlier on Thursday, Zelenskyy told the European Parliament that only Ukraine’s victory over Russia would guarantee and protect European values.
The Ukrainian president said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was an attempt to annihilate Ukraine’s “European way of life” and vowed that his country would become a member of the European Union.
“Only our victory will guarantee each of our European values,” he told MEPs.
“For Ukraine, Europe is the way home. I am here to defend the way home for all Ukrainians, of all ages, social status and religious convictions,” he said.
Zelenskyy’s appearance at the European Parliament followed whirlwind visits to London and Paris, where he urged British prime minister Rishi Sunak, French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Olaf Scholz to provide Ukraine with fighter jets.
It was a rare overseas trip for Zelenskyy, who has left Ukraine only once – a December trip to the United States and neighboring Poland – since Russia’s invasion began on February 24, 2022.
Ukraine’s allies recently upped their military support for Kyiv with the provision of battle tanks but have so far fallen short of offering modern fighter jets.