| 22 April 2024, Monday |

Zelenskiy thanks EU for help, set to press leaders for jets

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy thanked the European Union and its citizens on Thursday for the help Ukraine has been receiving to defend itself against the Russian invasion, before joining a summit of the bloc’s leaders to ask for more weapons.


Having won promises of Western battle tanks in recent weeks, Ukrainian officials are now focused on trying to secure the supply of longer-range rockets and fighter jets.


But Zelenskiy did not mention Ukraine’s demand for jets in his speech in the European Parliament, which seemed less aimed at pressing politicians than ensuring support from ordinary EU citizens suffering from steep inflation partly driven by the fallout from the war.


“Thank you,” Zelenskiy said in a speech to EU lawmakers, who gave him a long standing ovation, cheering and applauding, some of them wearing the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag.


“I would like to thank you, all of you, who have been helping our people, our ordinary citizens, our resettled people here who called on their leaders to increase and enhance their support,” he said, mentioning anyone from teachers and students to energy grid workers.


While Zelenskiy is unlikely to leave with immediate pledges to satisfy his request for jets, the visit gives him a chance, later in the day, to press his case in person with all the EU’s 27 national leaders for the first time since Russia invaded his country on Feb. 24, 2022.


“We are defending ourselves in the battlefield, we Ukrainians, together with you,” he said, adding that his country was fighting the “biggest anti-European force of the modern world”.


Ukraine, which wants to join the EU, is also pushing for membership talks to start within months.


“A victorious Ukraine will be part of the European Union that will prevail,” Zelenskiy said.


While some EU member countries are keen to give Ukraine the morale boost that would come with starting talks to join the bloc, others are much more cautious.


They have stressed would-be members need to meet a range of criteria – such as cracking down on corruption – before they can even start negotiations.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat