KYIV -European Union chairman Charles Michel met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv on Thursday to discuss EU support for Ukraine as it fights a Russian invasion, as well as reforms needed for Ukraine to join the EU after the conflict ends.
Two weeks before an EU-Ukraine summit on Feb. 3, Michel, who chairs meetings of the bloc’s 27 national leaders, posted a photograph of himself on Twitter from a train platform, saying: “Back in Kyiv to discuss all strands of cooperation … May 2023 be the year of victory and peace.”
On the Telegram messaging app Zelenskiy posted a photo showing him welcoming Michel in central Kyiv’s government quarters.
Michel said a day earlier he was personally in favour of the West providing tanks to Ukraine, and on Thursday the United States and Germany sought to resolve a stand-off that has so far prevented the West from sending modern battle tanks that Kyiv says it needs to help turn the tide against Russian forces.
“We will work with member states to make this happen,” an EU official told Reuters. “Ahead of the EU-Ukraine summit, it’s best to pinpoint with (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelenskiy what is most urgently needed and where we can boost our support.”
In a joint briefing with Michel, Zelenskiy urged Ukraine’s allies to supply Kyiv with more arms as soon as possible, saying this would help guarantee the security of Ukraine and Europe.
In a major geopolitical move, the EU awarded Ukraine membership candidate status last year, and the official said Kyiv would need further reforms to improve rule of law in order to be able to join the bloc one day after the war ends.
As the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion nears, the EU is giving Ukraine 18 billion euros worth of financial support in 2023, considering adding German Leopard tanks to the list of weaponry it already provides to Kyiv, as well as a tenth package of sanctions against Russia.
The EU is also aiding investigations into alleged war crimes committed during Russia’s invasion and supporting the creation of a dedicated international tribunal to prosecute Russia’s political and military leadership for attacking Ukraine.