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EU readying more sanctions against Russia

February 2, 2023

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen landed in Kyiv ahead of a major summit to show European support for Ukraine. She told Ukrainian President Zelenskyy the bloc was preparing more sanctions against Russia.

Volodomyr Zelenskyy and Ursula von der Leyen
The Commission described the visit as a "strong symbol" of European solidarity with UkraineImage: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout/REUTERS

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrived in Kyiv on Thursday ahead of an EU-Ukraine summit hosted by the war-torn country.

"Good to be back in Kyiv, my 4th time since Russia's invasion.... We are here together to show that the EU stands by Ukraine as firmly as ever. And to deepen further our support and cooperation," she wrote on Twitter.

EU promises fresh sanctions

Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy thanked the EU for its support, including for its membership bid to the bloc, saying that "pan-European integration strengthens our ability to protect life." However, he also expressed disappointment that the pace of EU sanctions against Moscow had "slightly slowed down" in recent months.

At a joint press conference, von der Leyen responded: "We will introduce, with our G7 partners, an additional price cap on Russian petroleum products, and by the 24th of February — exactly one year since the invasion started — we aim to have the 10th package of sanctions in place."

The EU leader was accompanied by a team of 15 other commissioners, including the bloc's top diplomat Josep Borrell.

"Europe stood united with Ukraine from day one. And will still stand with you to win and rebuild," Borrell said. He also announced a doubling of Ukrainian troops to be given special training in the EU this year, bringing the number up to 30,000.

He also promised €25 million ($27.5 million) to remove landmines in areas recaptured by Ukrainian forces.

What is on the summit agenda?

Friday's summit is set to discuss military aid to Ukraine, as well as the country's possible path to EU membership. Kyiv was granted candidate status in June last year. However, the EU has made it clear that it will not admit a country at war — and that it has serious financial and political reforms to make first.

For the latter, Von der Leyen praised the efforts Ukraine has made thus far, saying to Zelenskyy:  "I commend you on reacting so rapidly at the political level to make sure that the fight against corruption is delivering tangible results and is further stepped up."

Europe has maintained its role as a staunch ally of Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in February 2022. Thursday's gathering marks the largest EU delegation that Kyiv has received since then. 

The commissioners, as well as Council President Charles Michel, will hold talks with President Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials.

The EU has already promised some €18 billion in aid to Ukraine this year, including funds to keep essential services running and help Kyiv pay the salaries of public workers.

es/sms (AP, Reuters)

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