EU Leaders Of France, Germany And Italy Held Meeting With Ukrainian President In Kyiv To Discuss Russian Invasion, Sanctions And Weapons

UKRAINE (June 16, 2022)—President  Volodymyr Zelensky met the leaders of France, Germany and Italy at the Presidential Palace in Kyiv Thursday. He gave them a “full package” of sanction proposals targeting Russia, a spokesman said.  The leaders arrived under heavy armed protection.

The European Union’s leaders visited Kyiv on Thursday morning in a bid to underscore Europe’s support for Ukraine. 

France’s president, Emmanuel Macron; Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz; and Italy’s prime minister, Mario Draghi arrived in the Ukrainian capital on an overnight train on Wednesday. 

The trip marks a first for the heads of the EU’s three largest economies. Neither have yet visited Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February, with Scholz and Macron heavily criticized at home for not visiting the war-torn country earlier.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky will meet the trio for discussions, with military assistance and Ukraine’s bid to join the EU topics likely high on the agenda. 

“I think we are at a time when we, the European Union, need to send clear political signals to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in a context where they have been resisting heroically for several months,” said Macron, while visiting a NATO base in Romania on Wednesday where some 500 French troops are deployed. 

French President Emmanuel Macron, and other European Union Leaders to discussed Ukraine’s “immediate” candidate status to join the EU.  Macron previously said Ukraine’s membership bid could take years, if not decades. 

 Macron has also promised that France will deliver six additional long-range Caesar guns to Ukraine as it tries to fight off the Russian invasion. 

President Macron says Ukraine “must resist and win” and criticizes Russian “barbarism”

EU Mutual Guarantees

All three countries are broadly in favor of Ukraine joining the bloc, albeit to varying degrees.

A decision on whether the war-torn country can gain EU candidacy status is expected at a European summit on 23-24 June. If successful, this will start a negotiation process to become a bona fide member state, which may take several years. 

Macron, who followed his visit to Romania with a trip to Moldova, which has also put in a bid for EU membership, told reporters in Chișinău that “my hope is that we can send a positive message to this request”, adding that “Moldova should not be dissociated from Ukraine”.

He also once more championed his idea to create a European political community that both countries could join as the process for membership — which can take years — is underway which he said could “provide short-term responses to security” and infrastructure issues.

“We can, we must define mutual security guarantees” to European countries not in the EU, he also said.

The French leader is walking a bit of a diplomatic tightrope, having angered Kyiv and eastern EU member states with his calls not to “humiliate Russia so that the day the fighting stops, we can build a way out through diplomatic channels.”

Ukraine Needs ‘Heavy Weapons Parity’

Macron and Scholz have also been criticized for their regular phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine on  February 24, 2022.

In a joint phone call they held with Putin in late May,  they stressed that “any solution to the war must be negotiated between Moscow and Kyiv, respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” according to a read-out from the Elysée.

They renewed calls for a ceasefire and “insisted” to their Russian counterpart “on the urgency of lifting the blockade of Odesa in order to allow the export of Ukrainian cereals via the Black Sea and to avoid a world food crisis.”

The German Chancellor, meanwhile, has been accused of being slow to provide support for Ukraine, with this coalition government initially against sending lethal weapons to Kyiv.

Zelensky is expected to reiterate Ukraine’s request for more heavy weaponry to repel Russian advances in the east at today’s meeting.

His adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said earlier this week that “to end the war we need heavy weapons parity” including hundreds of Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), tanks, armored vehicles and drones.

There had been speculation earlier this week that the EU leaders would visit Ukraine, with Macron not confirming if the trip would take place when asked by reporters.

Major German and Italian media outlets, including Germany’s ZDF and Italy’s Repubblica, published a photo of the three leaders on the train Thursday morning.

“Ukrainian leaders have also been upset with Scholz, the German leader, who has said Ukraine should not lose the war, but has not gone so far as to say it should win in its fight with Russia,” NPR wrote.

“How can the country that rapes our women be allowed save face?” Mykhailo Podolyak, a top adviser to Zelensky, told NPR in an interview this week. “What do we need to win this war, to have this war come to an end? We need weapons.”

No photo description available.

“In a poll last month, more than 80% of Ukrainians said they were unwilling to give up territory for peace, even if it means a prolonged conflict, according to the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology,” wrote NPR.

“Podolyak posted a wish-list of weapons on Twitter, which included requests for 1,000 howitzers, 1,000 drones and 500 tanks. He said this would give Ukraine “parity” with Russian forces.”

“Ukraine has been transitioning to NATO equipment in recent years, but Podolyak says it takes European buy-in for Ukraine to fully transition to more modern systems which are made and sold worldwide.”

United States Commitment To Ukraine

Meanwhile, Zelensky welcomed the U.S. announcement Wednesday that it’s sending an additional $1 billion in military aid that includes heavy weapons for the outgunned Ukrainian military.

“It’s yet another sign that Western support for Ukraine is here for good,” Zelensky said in his regular late-night address. “I’ll keep asking for necessary weapons and equipment, but the bravery and skillfulness of our service members can’t be imported.”

 

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Source: Euro News, AP News, BBC News and NPR News contributed  to the article.

 

 

 

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