AP

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy makes emotional appeal for EU membership

Feb 9, 2023, 3:57 AM | Updated: 11:13 pm

European Union leaders wait for the arrival of European Council President Charles Michel, right, an...

European Union leaders wait for the arrival of European Council President Charles Michel, right, and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, second right, prior to a group photo of EU leaders at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. European Union leaders are meeting for an EU summit to discuss Ukraine and migration. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

(AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

BRUSSELS (AP) — President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked his Western allies Thursday for more weapons and said “a Ukraine that is winning” its war with Russia should become a member of the European Union, arguing the bloc won’t be complete without it.

At the close of a 16-hour summit that ended Friday when Zelenskyy was already gone, the EU leaders pledged they would do all it takes to back Ukraine but offered no firm timetable for EU membership talks to begin as Zelenskyy had hoped.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the leaders agreed to support Ukraine “tirelessly, over the long term … to win the war.”

EU leaders pledged to look over the next month at boosting ammunition production for Ukraine’s war effort as it faces fresh challenges from Russia.

EU Council President Charles Michel said the bloc needs to “cooperate with the industrial sector and to ensure that we can speed up the level of production of ammunition and that they can also fulfill the commitments that are needed.”

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that a new 10-billion euro sanctions package under discussion would focus on depriving Russia of military goods it needs and cannot get anywhere else.

“The sanctions package “is targeted on goods that are almost irreplaceable from somewhere else,” she said.

While in Brussels, Zelenskyy asked Slovakia’s Prime Minister Eduard Heger to give Ukraine its Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets. Slovakia grounded its fleet of MiG-29s last year. “We will work on” the request, Heger replied.

Macron didn’t rule out sending French fighter jets to Ukraine, but said Zelenskyy didn’t ask for them and they were not Ukraine’s most urgent need.

“In no case could warplanes be delivered in the coming weeks,” Macron said, notably because of the necessary training. He said France may consider “intensifying” deliveries of other equipment such as artillery or missile systems.

The commitments came after an emotional day at EU headquarters where Zelenskyy wrapped up a rare, two-day trip outside Ukraine to seek new weaponry from the West to repel the invasion that Moscow has been waging for nearly a year. As he spoke, a new offensive by Russia in eastern Ukraine was under way.

Zelenskyy, who also visited the U.K. and France, received rapturous applause and cheers from the European Parliament and a summit of the 27 EU leaders, insisting in his speech that the fight with Russia was one for the freedom of all of Europe.

“A Ukraine that is winning is going to be member of the European Union,” Zelenskyy said, building his appeal around the common destiny that Ukraine and the bloc face in confronting Russia.

“Europe will always be, and remain Europe as long as we … take care of the European way of life,” he said.

EU membership talks should start later this year, Zelenskyy said, an ambitious request given the huge task ahead. Such a move would help motivate Ukrainian soldiers in their defense of the country, he said.

“Of course we need it this year,” he said, then looked at European Council head Charles Michel, and insisted, tongue-in-cheek: “When I say this year, I mean this year. Two, zero, 23.”

Von der Leyen, however, said “there is no rigid timeline.” In practice, membership often has taken decades to complete.

Zelenskyy held up an EU flag after his address and the lawmakers stood in somber silence as the Ukrainian national anthem and the European anthem “Ode to Joy” were played in succession.

Before Zelenskyy’s speech, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said allies should consider “quickly, as a next step, providing long-range systems” and fighter jets to Ukraine. The response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine “must be proportional to the threat, and the threat is existential,” she said.

Metsola also told Zelenskyy that “we have your back. We were with you then, we are with you now, we will be with you for as long as it takes.”

Military analysts say Putin is hoping that Europe’s support for Ukraine will wane as Russia is believed to be preparing a new offensive.

The Kremlin’s forces “have regained the initiative in Ukraine and have begun their next major offensive” in the eastern Luhansk region, most of which is occupied by Russia, the Institute for the Study of War, said in its latest assessment. “Russian forces are gradually beginning an offensive, but its success is not inherent or predetermined.”

Zelenskyy used the dais of the European Parliament hoping to match Wednesday’s speech to Britain’s legislature when he thanked the nation for its unrelenting support.

That same support has come from the EU. The bloc and its member states have already backed Kyiv with about 50 billion euros ($53.6 billion) in aid, provided military hardware and imposed nine packages of sanctions on the Kremlin.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council chaired by Putin, visited a Siberian arms factory Thursday and said his country will respond to the Western aid by churning out thousands of tanks.

“Our enemy was begging for aircraft, missiles and tanks on a trip abroad,” Medvedev said during a visit to the ?actory in Omsk. “We will naturally increase the output of various types of weapons and military equipment, including modern tanks. We are talking about production and modernization of thousands of tanks.”

Fighting in Ukraine intensified Thursday, with Kyiv’s military intelligence agency saying Russian forces have launched an offensive in the the partially occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions, with the aim to grab full control of the entire industrial region, known as the Donbas. Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces there since 2014.

“An escalation is underway and the main goal is to seize Donbas by the end of March,” Main Intelligence Directorate spokesman Andriy Yusov told Ukrainian television.

In Donetsk, the front line expanded significantly over the previous day, with fierce battles taking place as Moscow’s forces closed in on key Ukrainian-held towns, according to regional Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko. Russian shelling struck a kindergarten, hospital, cultural center, factory and apartment buildings, he said.

“The intensity of the shelling has increased dramatically and we are seeing a significant intensification of activity by the Russian army immediately in the south, center and north of the region,” Kyrylenko said. “Russia is again actively using combat aircraft to shell our cities and villages.”

Russian forces also stepped up attacks in neighboring Luhansk province, launching “a broad offensive,” regional Gov. Serhii Haidai said.

In Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv province, 23 cities and villages came under shelling. In the border city of Vovchansk, shelling damaged about 10 apartment buildings.

___

Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

This photo provided by Randy Shannon shows Mooney Falls on the Havasupai reservation outside the vi...

Associated Press

Dozens report illness after trips to waterfalls near Grand Canyon

Dozens of hikers say they fell ill during trips to a popular Arizona tourist destination that features towering blue-green waterfalls deep in a gorge neighboring Grand Canyon National Park.

4 hours ago

Mugshot of Rudy Giuliani, who was processed Monday, June 10, 2024, in the Arizona fake electors cas...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani posts $10K cash bond after being processed in Arizona fake electors case

Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Donald Trump attorney, was processed Monday in the Arizona fake electors case.

3 days ago

FILE - White House former chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Wed...

Associated Press

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pleads not guilty in Arizona fake elector case

Former Donald Trump presidential chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump 2020 Election Day operations director Michael Roman pleaded not guilty Friday in Phoenix to nine felony charges for their roles in an effort to overturn Trump's Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

6 days ago

deadly heat wave last summer...

Associated Press

After a deadly heat wave last summer, metro Phoenix is changing tactics

Fresh memories of the deadly heat wave last summer have led Arizona authorities to launch new tactics ahead of summer 2024.

17 days ago

A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve near...

Associated Press

Man accused of starting wildfire in national wildlife preserve in Yuma

A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve near the California border.

17 days ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Collins Comfort Masters

Here's how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy makes emotional appeal for EU membership