The leaders of France, Germany and Italy visited Zelensky in kyiv

Scholz watches Macron greet Zelensky. to the right, Draghi / AFP

KYIV

The leaders of the main powers of the European Union (EU) yesterday in kyiv endorsed Ukraine’s candidacy for the bloc, in a clear show of support for this country confronted with the Russian invasion.

French President Emmanuel Macron and the heads of government of Germany Olaf Scholz and Italy Mario Draghi arrived in kyiv by train, their first visit to Ukraine since the start of the war on February 24.

They immediately went to Irpin, one of the towns on the outskirts of the capital devastated by Russian bombing at the start of the conflict. They were joined in their activities by the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, another EU member country. “The four of us support the status of immediate candidate” of Ukraine for accession to the bloc, Macron declared at a press conference together with three of his colleagues.

“The most important message from our visit is that Italy wants Ukraine to be part of the EU,” Draghi said. Ukraine “belongs to the European family”, Scholz also stressed. Germany “supports Ukraine with arms deliveries” and will continue to do so “for as long as it takes,” he added.

Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky indicated shortly after that his country was “determined to work” to become a full member of the EU. The Twenty-seven will decide at a summit on June 23-24 whether to accept Ukraine as an official candidate for accession, beginning a process that could take years. The European Commission (EU executive) should make its position known next Friday.

“HEAVY WEAPONS”

Ukraine also wants to join NATO, whose members will meet in Madrid at the end of the month, in a summit in which Zelensky will participate by videoconference.

The countries of the military alliance led by the US will talk not only about the delivery of weapons to Ukraine, but also about the training provided to the troops in kyiv and the reinforcement of the eastern flank of the organization in the face of the growing Russian threat.

To stop Moscow’s offensive, Ukraine demands more weapons from Western countries. “I indicated our essential defense needs,” Zelensky said after meeting with European leaders. “We expect new deliveries, especially of heavy weapons, modern artillery, anti-aircraft defense systems,” he insisted.

But the Kremlin shows no signs of shrinking from these announcements. Supplying arms to Ukraine “is totally futile and will only cause further harm to the country,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitri Peskov said. (AFP)

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