European Commission head says EU wants Ukraine ‘in’

Ursula von der Leyen has argued that Kiev “belongs” to the European Union

The president of the European Commission has claimed that the EU wants to see Ukraine joining its ranks as a military conflict between Kiev and Moscow rages on. The official was short on specifics and did not provide a timeline for the potential accession, however.

“We have a process with Ukraine that is, for example, integrating the Ukrainian market into the single market. We have a very close cooperation on the energy grid. So, many topics where we work very closely together,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday.

“Over time, they belong to us, they are one of us, and we want them in,” she added.

Kiev has long sought to join the block, however, the process has dragged on for years, with the EU being reluctant to promise membership to Ukraine, urging it to carry out reforms to tame corruption first.

On Saturday, Zelensky asked the EU to make an “urgent” decision on the country’s membership. The appeal drew immediate support from Poland and Lithuania, who on February 23 signed a declaration saying that Kiev should be given the status of candidate for EU membership.

Speaking on the ongoing hostilities in Ukraine, Von der Leyen stressed a need for ceasefire, saying that it was “important that the Ukrainian side agrees to the peace talks [with Russia]” provided that Kiev is satisfied with the conditions.

“In general, it is always better to have peace talks than to have a fight,” she noted.

The EU announced on Sunday that it would “finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and equipment” to Ukraine. The block also banned Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik, accusing them of spreading “harmful disinformation.” The measures were in addition to the raft of sanctions the block has imposed on the Russian economy, its banking sector as well as on hundreds of officials, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. Speaking about a potential impact of the penalties on the EU itself, Von der Leyen admitted that the sanctions might backfire. “Yes, we know that every war comes at a cost,” she said.

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