As war in east rages on, Ukraine gets chance to ‘live the European dream’ -Breaking
© Reuters. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, walk on Mykhailivska Square as Russia’s attacks against Ukraine continue, Kyiv, Ukraine, June 17, 2022. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS
Max Hunder, Robin Emmott
BRUSSELS/KYIV – As the conflict in Ukraine’s East rages on, Kyiv was given a boost by the European Union, which recommended it to become a candidate for the bloc. This would represent a significant geopolitical shift after Russia’s invasion.
EU leaders will likely endorse the EU executive’s recommendations regarding Ukraine and neighboring Moldova at next week’s summit.
Volodymyr Zeleskiy, President of Ukraine, said that Europe’s bravery had given it the opportunity to “create new histories of freedom” and remove the gray zone between Russia and Europe in Eastern Europe.
Zelenskiy, in his evening address to national TV, stated that the EU decision remains to be made. However, he added, “You cannot only imagine true European power, European independence, and European development with Ukraine.”
Ursula von der Leyen (President of European Commission) announced the executive’s decision wearing a Ukrainian-style blazer and blouse.
According to her, “Ukrainian people are prepared to die in order for Europe,” she stated. We want them to share the European dream with us.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin lashed out against the West, and especially the United States on Friday in St Petersburg, but attempted to minimize the EU problem.
He said, “We don’t have anything against it.” It isn’t a military bloc. Every country is entitled to an economic union.”
Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson for the Kremlin, said that Russia closely followed Ukraine’s EU bid in light of the increased defense cooperation between the 27-member bloc.
Four days after Russian troops invaded Ukraine’s border in February, Ukraine requested to be admitted to the EU. Moldova and Georgia, two smaller ex Soviet states that are also in conflict with Russia’s separatist territories, joined it days later.
Even though it’s only the beginning, it will be a lengthy process and may involve extensive reforms. However, this European Commission initiative puts Kyiv on track to realizing an ambition not possible just months ago.
Putin stated that his goal in initiating an invasion which has claimed the lives of thousands, decimated cities, and forced millions of people to flee their homes was to stop the West from expanding eastward through the NATO military alliance.
Friday’s announcement showed how the war was having the opposite effect. Finland and Sweden joined NATO. Now, the EU will embark on possibly its largest expansion effort since it welcomed Eastern European countries after the Cold War.
Putin blasted the United States as “God’s ambassador on Earth”, and stated that Russia was forced to use its “special military operations” in Ukraine because of Western intransigence.
He also wondered if it was “advisable” for the EU that Ukraine be admitted to its membership, stating Kyiv would have to receive huge economic subsidy payments from other EU members.
Russian media shared images that they believed were of two Americans killed in action for Ukraine. This added fuel to the worldwide showdown. In separate videos posted to social media, both men stated that they were against war.
EU membership cannot be guaranteed. Talks with Turkey have been stopped for many years. Turkey is a candidate from 1999. Ukraine would be EU’s fifth largest and most populous country, according to area.
Ukraine and Moldova are much poorer than EU member countries and both have recent history of unstable politics, organized crime, and conflict with Russian-backed separatists.
Zelenskiy (44), and Maia Sandu (50) are both pro-Westerners who were born outside of the Soviet Union.
Boris Johnson of the British Prime Minister visited Kyiv on Friday. Johnson offered to train Ukrainian forces and assured that Britain would support them “until they ultimately triumph.”
Dmytro Kuneba, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, stated in an article online published by Foreign Policy Friday that the West should not suggest peace initiatives “with unacceptable terms.” This appears to refer to statements made earlier this month by Emmanuel Macron (France) saying Russia shouldn’t be embarrassed if a diplomatic solution is sought.
Kuleba stated that instead, Russia should aid Ukraine in winning, and not only by providing heavy arms, but also by increasing the sanctions on Moscow.
He stated that the West could not afford to succumb to sanctions fatigue regardless of wider economic consequences. It is evident that Putin cannot be trusted to negotiate with the West without overcoming his battleground losses.
Russian forces in Ukraine were defeated during an attempted invasion of Kyiv, March. Russia’s focus has shifted to the Donbas in eastern Ukraine, where it claimed separatist proxy forces. Russia’s forces used its artillery advantage and blasted their way into major cities during a brutal attrition phase.
Pavlo KYrylenko, the governor of Donetsk, in the Donbas said that five civilians died and six others were wounded in shelling Friday.
Officials from Ukraine claimed that their troops were still in Sievierodonetsk in neighboring Luhansk and the scene of recent fighting. However, it proved impossible to evacuate more 500 civilians who had been trapped at a chemical plant by heavy shelling.
Serhiy Gaidai of Luhansk, the Governor of Luhansk, said that Russian shelling had rendered impassible a major highway leading to Lysychansk (Sievierodonetsk), which is the sister city.
The south saw the Ukrainian counteroffensive, and it claims that they have infiltrated Russian territory.