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European Commission vice president: Ukraine deserves support

January 9, 2023

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans discussed EU support to Ukraine with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on a visit to Kyiv.

Frans Timmermans
Frans Timmermans is the Vice President of the European CommissionImage: Johanna Geron/AP/picture alliance

Timmermans: 'Ukraine deserves all our support'

The European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said on Monday that "Ukraine deserves all our support," during a visit to Kyiv where he met the Ukrainian prime minister.

Timmermans spoke to DW about the extent and shape of European support to Ukraine amid the ongoing war with Russia.

"The fact that the Ukrainian people fight with such determination and such passion for their freedom should be a clear signal to the European Union that we should support them with every means we have," he said.

How has Europe recently supported Ukraine?

The first vice president of the European Commission also praised decisions by European nations such as France and Germany to support Ukraine with armored personnel carriers, calling it a "logical step."

France announced last week it will send French AMX-10 RC light combat tanks to Ukraine. Following France's announcement, Germany and the US said they would send armored vehicles as well.

The US will provide Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, while Germany is to supply Marder infantry fighting vehicles, the two nations said.

Frankreich AMX-10 RC-Panzer
France announced it will send French AMX-10 RC light combat tanks to UkraineImage: Gouhier Nicolas/abaca/picture alliance

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has asked for the vehicles to significantly increase his military's firepower.

Timmermans also suggested more financial support is needed to fend off Russian "brutality." He said it was crucial that Russia does not win the conflict, adding that "the future of Europe" is at stake.

"This is a war about the future of democracy. Giving in to Putin's aggression is absolutely the wrong answer to this challenge."

Ukraine joining  the EU

The European Commission vice president also discussed the future of Ukraine's journey to become an EU member.

Just four days after the war began, Ukraine applied for EU membership, a process that typically takes years if not decades to come to fruition.

Timmermans said it was extremely important to start what he called the "pre-accession process" immediately — helping Ukraine implement various reforms and new laws that would pave the way to membership.

However, Timmermans noted that it would not be possible for the membership to materialize so long as Russian soldiers were still on Ukrainian territory.

"But the whole idea is to make sure that Ukraine comes out of this conflict victorious, sovereign, independent, free, and has the opportunity to make this choice itself. And I think Ukraine is fighting to make this happen."

What did Kyiv ask of Timmermans?

Timmermans discussed Russia's control over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station during his meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Kyiv.

Shmyhal expressed his country's expectation that Russia's state nuclear energy company Rosatom be included in the EU's next round of sanctions.

Moscow has occupied the plant and much of the southern part of the Zaporizhzhia region, in southeastern Ukraine, since last March.

A view of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant after operations have been completely halted on September 11, 2022.
A presidential decree moved the Zaporizhzhia plant under its control last OctoberImage: Stringer/AA/picture alliance

A Russian presidential decree last October even transferred its control under a subsidiary of Rosatom, instead of the Ukrainian nuclear energy company Energoatom, an act Kyiv said amounted to theft.

Rosatom has thus far been spared EU sanctions.

rmt/ar (INA, Reuters)