Volodymyr Zelensky applies for Ukraine to become member of European Union

Metro

President Volodymyr Zelensky has applied for Ukraine to join the European Union in what has been hailed as a ‘historic moment’.

The leader has been calling for ‘fast-tracked’ entry into the EU to help his nation fight off Russian forces by strengthening its ties with the West.

An image posted on social media shows him signing an official application at a desk with indoor barricades behind him.

A Tweet from the official account of the president’s office said: ‘President @ZelenskyyUa has signed application for the membership of #Ukraine in the European Union. This is a historic moment.’

Mr Zelensky revealed earlier on Monday that he had asked the EU for ‘immediate accession via a new special procedure’.

‘Our goal is to be together with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be on an equal footing,’ he said on his Telegram channel, as fighting across the country intensified.

‘I’m sure it’s fair. I’m sure it’s possible.’

He confirmed he had spoken to EU chiefs about the prospect of joining, tweeting last night: ‘Had a phone conversation with @vonderleyen.

‘Talked about concrete decisions on strengthening Ukraine’s defense capabilities, macro-financial assistance and Ukraine’s membership in the EU.’

It came on the back of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen saying on Sunday that the bloc wants Ukraine to join.

‘They are one of us and we want them in,’ she said.

But despite backing Ukraine for EU membership, she gave no indication it would be the rapid accession demanded by its politicians.

It is not yet clear what a special procedure would look like in practice and whether European leaders would agree to a fast-track option.

The decision to add new countries to the EU lies with established member countries, which don’t always agree with the Commission’s views.

European Council President Charles Michel said on Monday that there were ‘different opinions’ among member countries to discuss the matter.

Ukraine is a close ally of the EU and borders many member countries, including Poland and Slovakia.

In 2017 it signed an Association Agreement with the bloc, in which the two sides agreed to align their economies in areas such as workers’ rights, and deepen political ties.

Ukraine is also part of the bloc’s Eastern Partnership and European Neighborhood Policy.

Brussels has been heavily supporting the nation after it came under attack from Russian forces five days ago.

The bloc has supplied Ukraine with weapons, banned Russian-backed media in member states and banned Russian planes from flying its airspace.

It has also announced a host of sanctions aimed at crippling the Russian economy, alongside the UK, US and Canada.

Intelligence officials believe Putin wants to topple Ukraine’s democratically-elected government and install his own puppet leadership in an bid to tear up the post-Cold War order and revive the Soviet Union.

Troops have been closing in on Kyiv for several days, with chilling satellites capturing what appears to be a huge convoy of Russian troops and tanks travelling towards the capital city today.

It comes after Putin’s forces launched a fresh wave of bombing on key infrastructure sites in Ukraine overnight on Saturday after being frustrated by a lack of progress in the first few days of the invasion.

There has also been street fighting in the second largest city of Kharkiv, which is located just 12 miles south of the Russian border.

Zelenskyy said the attacks had been brutal, with shelling of civilian infrastructure and attacks on ‘everything, including ambulances’.

He has accused Moscow of ‘verging on genocide’ in a lawsuit filed against the country at the Hague.

G7 and other world leaders are having a call this afternoon to see what can be done to ‘further up the pressure’ on Russia, according to Boris Johnson’s spokesperson.

He said: ‘The aim is to see what more we can do to dissuade Putin from continuing down this path.

‘The donors conference that (Defence Secretary) Ben Wallace attended saw lots of countries who hadn’t previously done so commit to defensive military aid. We want to see more of that.

‘The Prime Minister will be talking about the need to go further on things like Swift and pushing for that.

‘So, I can’t pre-empt exactly what they will discuss, but certainly all of them will want to be talking about what more can be done, in a unified sense, to further up the pressure.’

On Saturday western powers announced they would be excluding Russian banks from Swift, an international payments system. Sanctions are also targeting Russia’s central bank.

But Ukraine has called for measures to go further, including an embargo on Russian gas and oil.

In further developments, the first round of talks with Russia about ending the fighting in Ukraine concluded today. An adviser to Zelensky said more could happen soon but did not reveal any details from the discussions.

https://metro.co.uk/2022/02/28/ukraine-war-president-zelensky-applies-to-join-eu-after-russia-invades-16190713/

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