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EU officials pledge solidarity with Kyiv, Zelenskiy says speed up sanctions

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Kyiv – Ukraine on Thursday urged the European Union to impose more sanctions on Moscow, as some of the bloc’s top officials visited Kyiv in a show of solidarity that failed to offer a quick route to membership during the Russian invasion.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen led a delegation of more than a dozen officials who pledged military, financial and political aid ahead of the first anniversary of the February 24 invasion.

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“Europe has been with Ukraine from day one because we know that the future of our continent will be written here… this is a struggle of democracies against authoritarian regimes,” von der Leyen said at a news conference in Kyiv.

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Shortly after her arrival, she had a first meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and the two leaders will hold a summit on Friday with Charles Michel, the leader of the EU’s 27 national leaders.

The West stepped up its pledges to supply more arms to Ukraine in January. However, unwilling to admit a country at war, the EU is poised to squash Ukraine’s hopes for quick membership, underscoring the need for further anti-corruption measures.

“Today we are proposing Ukraine to join important European programs – this will bring Ukraine benefits close to membership in many areas,” von der Leyen said, without committing to any dates.

Selenskyj, who greeted von der Leyen with a kiss on the cheek and said a 10th EU sanctions package against Russia had been discussed.

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“We see that the pace of European sanctions has slowed down slightly, while the terrorist state, on the contrary, is increasing its pace in adapting to the sanctions,” he said alongside von der Leyen.

However, the EU announced it would double the number of EU-trained Ukrainian troops to 30,000 this year and pledged 25 million euros ($27.50 million) to clear demining areas retaken from Ukraine.


The top officials of the EU for foreign policy, migration, agriculture, economy and justice were also in the Ukrainian capital.

EU officials said the talks included discussions about more arms and money for Ukraine, as well as better access for Ukrainian products to the EU market, helping Kiev meet energy needs, sanctions against Russia, prosecuting the Russian leadership for the war and the extension of an EU no-roaming mobile calling zone to Ukraine.

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The wealthy bloc has already committed nearly €60 billion in aid to Ukraine, including nearly €12 billion in military support and €18 billion to govern the country this year, but declined to offer a fast track to membership while Ukraine is at war.

“Some might want to speculate about the final, but the simple truth is we’re not there yet,” said an EU official.

EU officials have listed several entry requirements, from political and economic stability to passing various EU laws.

The EU will underscore its commitment to supporting Ukraine’s “further European integration” after granting it candidate status last June, and will decide on further steps once all conditions are “fully met,” according to a draft joint statement , available to Reuters.

Kyiv has cracked down on high-level corruption in recent days, but the EU says Ukraine needs to build a credible track record over time to shed its reputation as an endemic bribery.

Ukraine’s demands for long-range missiles or warplanes will go unanswered by the EU this week, officials say, and the looming new EU sanctions against Russia appear unlikely to live up to expectations in Ukraine. ($1 = 0.9093 euros)

(Additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Andrew Gray in Brussels and by Pavel Polityuk in Kyiv; writing by Tom Balmforth, Timothy Heritage Editor)

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