Top EU leaders will meet in Ukraine to show support

The highly symbolic visit is also the EU’s first political mission to a country at war, almost a year after Russia invaded its neighbour.

KYIV, Ukraine — Top European Union officials are expected to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday in Kyiv to show support for the country as it fights back against invasion Russia and trying to join the EU as well as NATO.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel, as well as 15 European commissioners, traveled to the Ukrainian capital for what they described as a summit meeting.

The most recent such summit was held in Kyiv in October 2021 — months before the war began. The highly symbolic visit is also the EU’s first political mission to a country at war.

“There will be no renunciation in our resolve,” Michel said in a tweet when it became clear he arrived in Kyiv. “We will also support (Ukraine) every step of your journey to the EU.”

EU aid to Ukraine has reached nearly 50 billion euros ($55 billion) since the war began, according to EU officials.

The EU is providing Ukraine with financial and humanitarian aid, among other things. It also plans to apply a 10th package of sanctions back to Russia in the coming weeks.

The EU has also announced an increase in the military training mission for Ukraine, from the initial goal of pushing 15,000 troops through the school to 30,000. One of the focuses is on training the fleet of tanks that Western countries have supplied to Ukraine.

Ukraine wants to join the 27-nation bloc and formally applied last June, although that could take years and require sweeping reforms. In the meantime, Ms von der Leyen on Thursday said the European Commission was ready to let Kyiv take part in what she called “several important European programs” that would offer the same benefits as her status. member.

Those programs are expected to be discussed during Friday’s meeting, which will also tackle one of the main obstacles to Ukraine’s EU membership: endemic corruption.

Von der Leyen, on her fourth visit to Kyiv since the Russian invasion, said on Thursday that she was “consoled” by Ukraine’s anti-corruption drive.

The day before, Zelenskyy had targeted corrupt officials for the second time in a week. Several high-ranking officials have been dismissed.

Zelenskyy was elected in 2019 on an anti-corruption and anti-establishment platform in a country long plagued by corruption.

The latest corruption allegations come as Western allies channeled billions of dollars to help Kyiv fend off Moscow’s forces.

The Ukrainian government is keen to receive more Western military aid, in addition to the tanks pledged last week, as the warring parties are expected to launch new attacks after the winter ends. Kyiv is now asking for fighters.

The United States is expected to announce on Friday that it will send long-range bombs to Ukraine as part of a new $2.17 billion aid package. Top EU leaders will meet in Ukraine to show support

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