| 16 April 2024, Tuesday |

Zelenskiy after Meeting EU Leaders: The More Arms we Get, the Faster Ukraine Can Free its Land

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Thursday that Russia’s invasion amounted to aggression against all Europe and that the more weapons Ukraine receives from the West, the faster it will be able to liberate its occupied land.

He told a news conference he had discussed the possibility of further sanctions against Russia and post-war reconstruction at talks in Kyiv with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Romania.

Ukraine was grateful for arms deliveries to help it against Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion and expected to receive heavy weaponry including modern rocket artillery and missile defense systems, he said.

“Every day of delay or postponed decisions is an opportunity for the Russian military to kill Ukrainians or destroy our cities,” he said. “There is a direct correlation: the more powerful weapons we receive, the faster we can liberate our people, our land.”

“Russian aggression against Ukraine is aggression against all of Europe, against all united Europe, against every one of us, against our values,” he said.

The leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Romania met Zelenskiy on Thursday to drive home a message of support that Kyiv hopes will lead to more weapons supplies and tougher sanctions on Russia.

In the first such visit to the capital since Russia unleashed its invasion, France’s Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Olaf Scholz, Italy’s Mario Draghi and Romania’s Klaus Iohannis also gave qualified support for Kyiv’s bid to join the European Union.

After earlier batting away suggestions of being soft on Russia, Macron said the West would not demand any concessions from Ukraine and that the circumstances of peace talks would be on Kyiv’s terms.

Zelenskiy, who has not left Ukraine since the invasion and was dressed in a khaki t-shirt, has voiced gratitude for the West’s help, though his administration also previously berated allies for dragging their feet on sanctions and arms supplies.

“My colleagues and I came here to Kyiv today with a clear message: ‘Ukraine belongs to the European family’,” Scholz said, while Macron said, “We all four support the immediate EU candidate status” for Ukraine.

During the talks, Zelenskiy pressed for a seventh EU sanctions package that includes an embargo on Russian gas. The visit coincided with Russia reducing supplies via its Nord Stream pipeline in what Berlin saw as a political move.

Scholz said Germany would support Ukraine’s path to EU membership – a step that has caused some misgivings in the 27-member bloc. But he also said requirements on democracy and rule of law would need to be complied with.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat