Zelenskiy to press EU leaders for more arms, membership talks
While Zelenskiy is unlikely to leave with immediate pledges to satisfy his requests, the visit gives him a chance to press his case in person with all the EU's 27 national leaders for the first time since Russia's invasion nearly one year ago on Feb. 24, 2022. 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.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy takes his mini-tour of European capitals to Brussels on Thursday, aiming to push EU leaders for more weapons in the fight against Russia's invasion and for a quick start to EU membership talks.
Having visited London and Paris on Wednesday, Zelenskiy is expected to attend a summit of EU leaders and address the European Parliament during his trip to the Belgian capital. While Zelenskiy is unlikely to leave with immediate pledges to satisfy his requests, the visit gives him a chance to press his case in person with all the EU's 27 national leaders for the first time since Russia's invasion nearly one year ago on Feb. 24, 2022.
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. Western governments have so far rebuffed requests for jets, arguing they are not what Ukraine needs for the moment and that it would take years to train Ukrainian pilots to fly them.
However, Zelenskiy got a British commitment on Wednesday to train Ukrainian pilots to fly NATO-standard fighters. London said it had not yet decided whether to supply such aircraft but Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said "nothing is off the table". Russia's embassy to Britain warned London against sending fighter jets to Ukraine, saying such a move would have ramifications for the entire world, TASS news agency reported.
A Ukrainian official said Zelenskiy wanted leaders at the European Council summit to ramp up munitions supplies. "We need the support of the European Council to speed up arms deliveries to Ukraine," the official said.
"We badly need as of now, as of yesterday, long-range artillery, all types of artillery ammunition," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Battle tanks – the decision has been taken by several member states, but we have no tanks for now. This needs to be speeded up," the official said.
On the question of joining the EU, Ukrainian officials are pushing for membership talks within months. "We are absolutely sure the decision to start accession negotiations can be taken this year," said the official.
But while some EU member countries are keen to give Ukraine the morale boost that would come with membership talks, 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. "Ukraine can't be given some sort of special status over and above, say, the countries of the Western Balkans who are in the accession process and going through all the hoops," said an EU diplomat. "The Western Balkans can't be told: 'Well, in order to get into the EU you need to be at war.'"
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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