30th Mar 2023

Zelensky pleads for jets, EU plans more sanctions

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Ukrainian president Volodomyr Zelensky said on Thursday (9 February) that several EU leaders were ready to provide Kyiv with aircraft to help fight Russia's invasion.

Zelensky was in Brussels, where he spoke to the European Parliament, and attended — for the first time — the 27 EU leaders' summit, where he pleaded for jets to fight Russia.

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"I have heard about [some EU leaders] their readiness to give us necessary support, including aircraft," Zelenskiy told reporters in Brussels.

"There are positive signals on the respective weapons, I really want the signals to move to concrete voice," Zelensky said, adding: "the voice that is not afraid that Russia will hear this voice."

"When you help Ukraine, you help yourself. Later, you don't have to defend yourself," he told the news conference.

"I haven't got the right to go back home without results," he added, saying: "for us to survive, we need the weapons, we need these weapons, financial funds."

Zelensky was also in London on Wednesday, where he said "we have moved towards the decision on long-range missiles and training of our pilots".

On Wednesday evening, Zelenksy had dinner with French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Olaf Scholz, which the Ukrainian president described as "very powerful, a very important meeting".

It was an emotional tour-de-force by Zelensky, who was on his second-only trip abroad — besides a visit to Washington — since the start of the Russian invasion almost a year ago.

His speech was met with a standing ovation in the European Parliament, and most of the EU leaders greeted him with claps, and warm hugs as he entered the council building.

Zelensky also urged EU leaders to start accession negotiations this year with the aim of Ukraine joining the EU.

EU leaders have not yet committed publicly to sending Ukraine aircraft or jets.

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the EU executive will propose a 10th round of Russia sanctions in "the coming days".

Von der Leyen said the package will target a "number of political and military leaders" and also "Putin's propagandists because their lies are poisoning the public space in Russia and abroad".

Von der Leyen said an additional export ban on Russia worth more than €10bn will also be part of the package.

In his address to EU leaders, Zelensky also called for sanctions on the Russian IT sector, Russian nuclear energy, and against the drone and missile industry.

The EU aims to adopt the new set of sanctions by the first anniversary of Russia's invasion — 24 February.

On Thursday, Zelensky also held meetings with four groups of different EU countries: Spain, Italy, Poland, Romania, the Netherlands and Sweden as a first group, the second group including Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, a third cluster with Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Greece and Cyprus, and, finally, with the leaders of Portugal, Malta, Ireland, Belgium, Luxembourg and Lithuania.


Russia sanctions talk in focus This WEEK

EU governments aim to negotiate a final deal on new Russia sanctions by the end of next week, in time for the anniversary of Russia's invasion.


Sanctions and possible post-Brexit deal This WEEK

EU foreign affairs ministers will on Monday have an informal exchange with Ukraine's foreign affairs minister Dmytro Kuleba. They will also talk to Moldova's deputy PM, whose country has also accused Russia of meddling in its affairs.

'Symbolic' Putin indictment gets some EU backing

Several EU foreign ministers welcomed the International Criminal Court's decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian president Vladimir Putin, but it is unlikely to influence negotiations about a special tribunal on the crime of agression.

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