Zelenskiy pushes for swift EU membership in first trip to Brussels since invasion

Volodymyr Zelenskiy is expected to call on European leaders to speed up the delivery of weapons to help his country repel Russia’s invasion, and not put unnecessary obstacles in Ukraine’s path to EU membership, when he attends a special summit in Brussels on Thursday.

After a surprise trip to London and Paris, where the Ukrainian president met the leaders of Britain, France and Germany, Zelenskiy is due to meet all 27 European Union leaders and expected to address the European parliament in a special session.

On the next leg of his European tour, Zelenskiy is expected to focus on Ukraine’s need for military equipment and campaign for speedy accession to the EU.

Related: Zelenskiy meets Macron and Scholz and repeats appeal for aircraft and arms for Ukraine

“My president travels to get results,” a senior Ukrainian official said on the eve of the trip. Ukraine’s European allies “need to speed up this month and next [in terms of military deliveries] because the next two months will be critical”.

Zelenskiy is seeking long-range artillery, the delivery of promised European tanks, and fighter jets and “ammunition, ammunition, ammunition”, the official said. The army is running out of Soviet-type shells and wants western equivalents to continue the war effort. “If we had all this already we could be starting a counter-offensive,” the official added.

EU insiders have described the visit as historic.

Zelenskiy has already addressed six EU summits via video link, but this will be his first trip to Brussels since Russia’s invasion nearly a year ago. He is expected to address the 27 leaders and hold numerous bilateral meetings.

These encounters will allow him to press the case for Ukraine’s speedy accession to the EU to more sceptical leaders. Ukraine, along with Moldova and Georgia, was granted candidate status in June last year, having filed its application only a few days after the Russian invasion. Western EU member states, such as France, Germany and the Netherlands, think the process of joining could take years, even decades, and fear raising false hopes among Ukraine’s population.

Zelenskiy is expected to reiterate his call for Ukraine to be allowed to start membership negotiations in 2023, a procedural step that usually takes years after the approval of candidate status. “We would not like to be the hostages of any bureaucratic procedure,” said the Ukrainian official.

Ukraine’s other priority is gaining EU support for Zelenskiy’s 10-point peace plan, which calls for the withdrawal of all Russian troops, restoration of Ukraine’s borders and a special tribunal for the prosecution of Russian war crimes.

On Thursday European leaders are also set to express support for a “peace formula summit aiming at launching [the peace’s plan’s] implementation”, according to draft summit conclusions. The document also notes: “Russia has not shown any genuine willingness regarding a fair and sustainable peace.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *