On Friday, air raid sirens were heard all around Ukraine as President Volodymyr Zelenskiy received representatives of the European Union to talk about additional sanctions on Russia and Ukraine’s potential membership in the European Union.
The chairman of the 27 EU national leaders and the president of the EU executive commission both traveled to Kyiv to show their solidarity for Ukraine as the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of its neighbor on February 24, 2022, draws near.
“There will be no let up in our resolve. We will also support you every step of the way on your journey to the EU,” EU chairman Charles Michel wrote on Twitter on Friday morning under a picture of himself on a central Kyiv square.
There were no immediate reports of fresh missile strikes following the air raid warning, a regular occurrence during months of Russian missile attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure far from the battlefields in the east and south.
Zelenskiy is calling for more punitive measures against Russia by the European Union, though new sanctions the bloc is preparing for the anniversary are set to fall short of his government’s demands.
Kyiv applied to join the bloc days after Russia invaded last year. The EU has embraced the application, although it has rebuffed Ukraine’s calls for a fast track to membership while the country is at war.
The EU leaders were scheduled to make an unified statement, a copy of which was seen by Reuters beforehand, in which they would pledge their support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people against Russia’s continued war of aggression for whatever long it needed.
EU authorities have outlined a number of prerequisites for membership, including adoption of several EU regulations as well as political and economic stability. Years are expected to pass during the process.
The plain fact is that we are not there yet, an EU official said. “Some may wish to guess about the outcome.