European leaders have said they support Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union during a visit to Kyiv on Thursday.
The leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Romania met with President Vladimir Zelensky at the presidential palace in Kyiv as Russian attacks continued.
During the visit, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Schulz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Romanian President Klaus Johannes publicly endorsed Kyiv’s bid to join the bloc.
Mr Macron said he and his counterpart supported Ukraine as an “immediate” candidate for EU membership. He had earlier said that Ukraine’s membership bid could take years, if not decades.
During the talks, Mr. Macron also promised six of the 12 more powerful truck-mounted artillery guns he has already delivered.
This is the latest in a new round of Western arms commitments for Ukraine as the war continues in the eastern Donbass region.
Mr Macron told a news conference that leaders were “doing everything possible to ensure that Ukraine alone can decide its own destiny.”
Mr Schulz, meanwhile, said Ukraine and Moldova belonged to a European family, but would still have to meet accession criteria.
He also promised that Germany would continue to provide financial and military assistance to Ukraine as long as necessary.
Mr Draghi added that the Ukrainian people were defending the values of democracy and freedom that underpinned the European plan in their fight against Russian aggression.
Mr Zelensky said “Ukrainians already have the right to take to the streets and get the status of candidates.”
He added that Ukraine’s war was an attack on the whole of Europe and thanked the leaders for their visit, which he said was a sign that Ukraine was not isolated in its struggle.
EU leaders are due to hold a summit next week, during which Ukraine’s bid for membership will be on the agenda.
Earlier in the day, EU leaders visited the town of Arpin outside Kyiv.
At the beginning of the European War there was a scene of fierce fighting and a place where many civilians were killed and buildings destroyed.
While visiting Erpin, Mr Schulz observed that the authorities should keep in mind the catastrophe in all their decisions.
“Innocent civilians have been killed, houses have been destroyed. An entire town has been destroyed without any military infrastructure at all.
“And it says a lot about the barbarity of the war of Russian aggression, which is only for destruction and victory. We must keep in mind everything we decide.”
Mr Draghi of Italy said during a visit to Europe that Ukraine’s supporters would rebuild “everything” with European help.
“They destroyed the nurseries, the playgrounds, and everything will be rebuilt,” he added.
Many in Ukraine had hoped that the leaders’ visit could mark a turning point in the supply of important new weapons, and this came at a time when EU leaders were due to visit the bloc from Ukraine next week. Preparing to decide on application for membership.
European allies have rapidly deployed muscle weapons and rallied around Ukraine beyond expectations, approving a wave of unprecedented sanctions against Russia that are squeezing Europe’s economy hard. Are
But Ukrainians say more is needed as Russian forces step up their aggression in the eastern Donbass region, slowly but permanently undermining Ukrainian forces.