Monday, August 8, 2022

Zelenskiy says Ukraine deserves to be full member of EU

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Ukraine is fighting for the security of the whole of Europe and should be a full member of the European Union, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told Swedish lawmakers on Thursday via video link.

“We are not fighting just for the people of Ukraine, but for Europe’s security and we have shown that we deserve to be a fully-fledged member of the EU,” Zelenskiy said in an address to Sweden’s parliament.

Earlier in the day, Zelenskiy urged Western nations gathering in Brussels to take “serious steps” to help Kyiv fight Russia’s invasion, as an unprecedented one-day trio of NATO, G7 and EU summits got underway.

The hectic day of summitry, aimed at maintaining Western unity, kicks off at NATO headquarters in Brussels, where the transatlantic defence alliance’s leaders will agree to ramp up military forces on Europe’s eastern flank.

While leaders promised to step up support for Ukraine, EU diplomats played down expectations of major new sanctions on Russia, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg repeated that the alliance will not send troops or planes to Ukraine.

“At these three summits we will see who is our friend, who is our partner and who sold us out and betrayed us,” Zelenskiy said in a video address released early on Thursday.

He said he expected “serious steps” from Western allies, repeating calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine and complaining that the West had not provided Ukraine with planes, modern anti-missile systems, tanks or anti-ship weapons.

NOT AFRAID

While they will not send troops or planes, the 30 nations of NATO, alarmed by the prospect that Russia might escalate the war with its neighbour after a grinding month-long conflict, will agree to send Kyiv equipment to defend against biological, chemical and nuclear attacks.

Leader after leader said as they arrived at the NATO meeting that the aim was to help Ukraine defend itself.

“Vladimir Putin has already crossed the red line into barbarism,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, adding: “The harder our sanctions … the more we can do to help Ukraine … the faster this thing can be over.”

Johnson told LBC radio earlier that one option was to see if more can be done to prevent the Russian president from accessing his gold reserves, which could stop people buying Russian gold to convert it into hard currency.

The resolve to punish Moscow with massive sanctions will be underlined by an emergency meeting of the G7 advanced economies, which will bring Japan into the room with six NATO members.

Then, with a summit of the 27-nation European Union, countries representing more than half of the world’s gross domestic product will have met in one day.

“Putin’s steps are made to make us afraid as well so it deters us from helping Ukraine … we should definitely not fall into that trap,” Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said. “Putin can’t win this war, it’s very important to all of us.”

Russia’s assault on Ukraine has killed thousands and driven almost a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people from their homes, according to United Nations data, including more than 3.6 million who have fled the country.

Putin says his forces are engaged in a “special military operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and the West say Putin launched an unprovoked war of aggression.

NATO has increased its presence on its eastern borders, with some 40,000 troops spread from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Leaders are expected to agree to deploy four new combat units in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia to further reassure countries on its eastern flank.

“Nobody can feel safe now,” said Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda.

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