Ursula von der Leyen has announced today that the EU is moving ahead with steps for Ukraine to join the bloc in a slap down to Vladimir Putin’s military invasion. In remarks set to rile up President Putin, the European Commission President said that Ukraine “belongs to us”. President Putin has repeatedly used claims that Ukraine and Russia belong together as “one people” as justification for his war.
Speaking to euronews, Ms von der Leyen said: “There is strong solidarity with Ukraine.
“They share our values, they defend our principles. They want to have a peaceful democracy and Russia is attacking that.
“We have a process with Ukraine that is, for example, integrating the Ukrainian market into the single market.
“We have very close cooperation on the energy grid, for example.
“So many topics where we work very closely together and indeed over time, they belong to us. They are one of us and we want them in.”
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This follows pleas from Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has pushed for urgent ascension to the European Union in the wake of the invasion.
On Saturday, President Zelenskyy repeated this, saying: “I say it as frankly as it can be, the Ukrainian people deserve and have the right to get membership of the European Union.
“This will be the main evidence of support for our country.”
He confirmed that he spoke to European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen about immediately joining the EU.
Earlier today, Brussels announced it was sending weapons to Ukraine, banning Russian-backed media in the EU and prohibiting Russian aircraft from the bloc.
In a “watershed moment,” the EU says it will buy and deliver weapons to Ukraine – the first time the bloc has financed military support for a country under attack.
Boris Johnson, who met with Ukrainian community leaders in London today, said any Ukrainian person settled in the UK will be able to bring immediate family members from Ukraine.
He announced that the UK will send an additional £40m in humanitarian aid to Ukraine as he praised the “awe-inspiring displays of bravery and heroism from the Ukrainian people”.
He also pledged to continue to supply arms to Ukraine’s military as it battles invading Russian forces.
Meanwhile, Russia appears to have ramped up its presence in the country after new satellite images revealed a large convoy of Russian troops headed toward Kyiv.
A huge convoy of troops and equipment, extending past three miles, has been spotted just 40 miles outside the Ukrainian capital.
It appears to include supplies of fuel, logistics and armoured vehicles.