Wartime EU-Ukraine summit today to resolve some issues, though hopes of early EU membership likely dashed
European Union leaders are due to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Friday and promise fresh sanctions against Russia, but likely dashed Ukraine’s hopes of early EU membership.
The head of the group’s Executive Committee, Ursula von der Leyen, arrived in Kyiv by train on Thursday, a symbolic trip to show her support for Ukraine as the February 24, 2022, first anniversary of Russia’s invasion approaches.
Senior members of the EU executive met their counterparts in the Ukrainian government, and von der Leyen and the head of the EU’s 27 national leaders, Charles Michel, are set to convene talks with Zelenskyy on Friday.
Zelenskyy called for further European Union punitive measures against Russia, but new sanctions the bloc is preparing for the anniversary are likely to fall short of his government’s demands.
“We have reached a very important mutual understanding,” Zelenskyy said of the talks on Thursday.
“That only together – a strong Ukraine and a strong European Union – can we defend the life we cherish and through our further integration provide energy and motivation for our people to fight on regardless of obstacles and threats.”
While the EU supports Ukraine and supports democratic and economic reforms there, it refuses to offer a fast track to membership while Ukraine is at war.
EU officials have listed several entry requirements, from political and economic stability to passing various EU laws.
The process could take years.
“Some might want to speculate about the final, but the simple truth is we’re not there yet,” said an EU official.
The last country to join the EU was Croatia in 2013, a decade after formally applying.
It took Ukrainian neighbor Poland 20 years to join in 2004.
Ukraine applied to join soon after the invasion and was granted formal candidate status by the EU in June.
EU officials said Thursday’s talks included more arms and money for Ukraine, as well as better access for its products to the EU market, helping Kiev meet its energy needs, sanctions on Russia and pursuing its leadership in the war .
The federal government has agreed to the delivery of Leopard 1 tanks from industrial stocks to Ukraine and is in talks to buy back 15 Gepard tanks from Qatar to send there, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Friday, citing government circles.
The EU has called for more anti-corruption measures from Ukraine, which is perceived as an endemic state manipulation, saying it needs to build a credible track record.
To that end, Zelenskyi has announced investigations and firings of some officials this year, specifically saying that the Defense Ministry needs to be clean.
Authorities were investigating two cases of suspected corruption against senior military officials, officials said on Thursday.
Separately, a criminal group suspected of embezzling state funds by selling overpriced eggs and other food to defense officials has been arrested, the State Bureau of Investigation said.
The EU-Ukraine summit coincides with an intensification of Russian pressure on Ukrainian forces in the eastern battlefields, north-east and south.
Serhiy Cherevatiy, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ Eastern Front, said Russia’s biggest advantage is the number of forces it can deploy.
“They are taking men out of their military service and are systematically trying to find places where they can breach our defenses,” he told Ukraine’s Radio NV.
“The goal is to fulfill the leadership’s goal of taking control of the entire Donetsk region. But that plan has now been disrupted for several months in a row.”
Speaking in Washington, CIA Director William Burns said that battlefield developments over the next six months were “absolutely crucial” and that Russian President Vladimir Putin was not serious about the negotiations.
“The key will be on the battlefield in the next six months, it seems to us,” Burns told a gathering at Georgetown University, adding: “Piercing Putin’s hubris; making it clear that not only will he not be able to advance any further into Ukraine, but with each passing month he is in danger of losing the territory he has been illegally expropriating from Ukraine.”
Russian forces carried out two attacks on the town of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region, damaging buildings and causing some civilian casualties, Ukraine’s military said late Thursday. A Russian missile hit an apartment building in the city on Wednesday, killing three people.
Ukrainian planes launched four strikes on concentrations of Russian troops and a command post, sources said.
Reuters was unable to verify battlefield reports.
Ukraine and its western allies have accused Russian forces of war crimes and attacks on civilians, allegations Russia denies.
Putin ordered what he called a “special military operation” to protect Russian security. Ukraine and its allies accuse Russia of an unprovoked war to gain territory.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/eu-ukraine-wartime-summit-today-to-deliver-on-some-issues-though-hope-for-swift-eu-membership-likely-dashed-42325789.html Wartime EU-Ukraine summit today to resolve some issues, though hopes of early EU membership likely dashed