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EU vows to support Ukraine for 'as long as it takes'

September 15, 2022

The European Commission president said the EU will support Ukraine for 'as long as it takes'. Meanwhile, Germany said it will send 50 armored vehicles and 2 multiple rocket launchers to Ukraine. DW rounds up the latest.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (right) mee in Kyiv
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (right) talk during their meeting in KyivImage: Efrem Lukatsky/AP/picture alliance

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said that war-torn Ukraine would have the backing of Brussels for as long as necessary as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues.

"We will never be able to match the sacrifice that the Ukrainians are making... but what we can tell you is that you'll have your European friends by your side as long as it takes," she said during a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday in Kyiv.

Von der Leyen also said that Ukraine's accession process to join the European Union "is well on track" and congratulated Ukraine on its recent military accomplishments in the war with Russia.

For his part, Zelenskyy said that his country wants to join the European single market ahead of a decision on whether to grant Kyiv full EU membership.

Von der Leyen had announced her visit on Wednesday during her State of the European Union address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, for which Olena Zelenska, wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, was present.

Thursday's visit marks von der Leyen's third trip to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began in February.

"So much has changed. Ukraine is now a European Union candidate," von der Leyen wrote on Twitter.

Ukraine applied for membership of the EU while under Russian bombardment and was granted candidate status in less than four months.

Here's a roundup of some of the other key developments regarding Russia's invasion of Ukraine on September 15.

Scholz vows to support Ukraine 'as long as necessary'

Chancellor Olaf Scholz vowed that Germany will help Ukraine "as long as necessary" at a ceremony in which Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Klitschko received a media award on behalf of the Ukrainian people.

"We are helping with heavy military equipment, with ammunition, with the training of Ukrainian soldiers, because their fight is also our fight," Scholz said in Potsdam, where Klitschko accepted the M100 Media Award on behalf of the Ukrainian people.

Germany will maintain this support — "reliably and for as long as necessary," Scholz asserted. This would continue to be done in close coordination with European and international partners.

The M100 Media Award was bestowed in Potsdam, near Berlin, alongside an event on media freedom. It was awarded to Ukrainians who "with heroic courage, stoic fortitude and indomitable will... have been defending themselves against Russia"s brutal invasion for months now."

Pope urges Ukraine to be open for dialogue with Russia

Pope Francis said it was morally legitimate for nations to supply weapons to Ukraine to help the country defend itself from Russian aggression.

Speaking to reporters aboard a plane returning from a three-day trip to Kazakhstan, Francis also urged Kyiv to be open to eventual dialogue, even though it may "smell" because it would be difficult for the Ukrainian side.

"I would not exclude dialogue with any power that is at war, even if it is with the aggressor. ... Sometimes you have to carry out dialogue like this. It smells but it must be done," he said.

Moscow says US long range missiles to Ukraine would cross 'red line'

The United States will cross a "red line" if it provides Ukraine with missiles of longer range and become a party to the conflict, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

"If Washington takes a decision on delivering missiles of greater range to Kiev, it will cross a red line," she said. "In a case like that, we will be forced to react correspondingly," she added, making reference to defence by "all possible means."

Ukraine has repeatedly called for missiles with a range of 300 kilometres, noting that it could use them to strike a recently built bridge linking the Crimean Peninsula to Russia over the Kerch Strait.

According to Zakharova, the delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine was dragging out the conflict and causing civilian casualties.

IAEA passes resolution calling on Russia to leave Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation Board of Governors passed a resolution demanding that Russia end its occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

The Russian military and the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom should suspend all activities at the nuclear plant and hand control back to Ukrainian authorities, the IAEA's decision-making body in Vienna demanded.

The text was passed with 26 votes in favour, two against and seven abstentions, diplomats said, adding that Russia and China were the countries that voted against.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, has come under repeated fire in recent weeks. Moscow and Kyiv blame each other for the attacks.

Germany to deliver 50 armored vehicles and 2 multiple rocket launchers to Ukraine

Germany will supply two more multiple rocket launchers to Kyiv, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said.

"We have decided to deliver two more MARS II multiple rocket launchers including 200 rockets to Ukraine," she told a Bundeswehr conference, adding the training of the Ukrainian operators was expected to start in September.

In addition, 50 Dingo armored vehicles would be delivered to Ukraine, Lambrecht said. the Dingo is an armored vehicle that the German military extensively used during NATO's military operation in Afghanistan.

She also said a deal on a circle swap of infantry fighting vehicles with Greece and Ukraine was almost completed. According to Lambrecht, Germany would soon hand over 40 Marder IFVs to Greece while Greece, in turn, would pass on 40 of its Soviet-built BMP-1 Infantry Fighting Vehicles to Ukraine.

European Investment Bank delivers €500 million credit to Ukraine

The first tranche of payments from the European Investment Bank's (EIB) €1.59 billion ($1.59 billion) Ukraine Solidarity Urgent Response credit package has been released.

The €500 million will be used to support Kyiv covering short-term financing needs as well as funding urgent repair work on Ukrainian logistics impacted by the war.

European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovski said this payment will "have a real impact on the ground in Ukraine."

"This emergency package was prepared jointly with the European Commission, to assist Ukraine in facing urgent investment needs, from infrastructure networks to the delivery of basic services to the population," EIB President Werner Hoyer said in a statement published by the European Commission.

This is the second emergency support package from Europe to Ukraine, with €668 million disbursed shortly after Russia first invaded.

German foreign minister urges fast decision on tanks for Ukraine

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has told media that Germany's ruling coalition should decide soon whether to deliver advanced battle tanks to Ukraine as Kyiv's troops carry out a counteroffensive against invading Russian forces.

In an interview with the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published on Thursday,  Baerbock said the decision must be a joint one by the three-party coalition of her Green Party, Chancellor Olaf Scholz's Social Democrats (SPD) and the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP), along with international partners.

"But in the decisive phase that Ukraine currently finds itself, I also don't believe that it's a decision which can be delayed for long,'' she was quoted as saying.

Germany has so far shown reluctance to supply its Leopard-2 battle tanks to Ukraine, despite Kyiv's request that it do so, in a policy that is in line with its Western partners, who fear that the delivery of such weapons could be seen by Moscow as tantamount to their active involvement in the conflict.

Germany has, however, delivered other heavy weaponry such as howitzers and self-propelled anti-aircraft weapons.

G7 wants to create investment plan for Ukraine: German economy minister

The Group of Seven (G7) wealthy democracies aim to draw up a global investment plan that would help Ukraine recover from the ravages of Russia's invasion, according to German Economy Minister Robert Habeck.

"It's about creating a big global-wide fund with a lot of money to be raised from private investors," Habeck said, speaking at a meeting of G7 trade ministers in Neuhardenberg, a town to the east of the German capital, Berlin.

He said it should be made easier for foreign companies to invest in Ukraine.

The meeting was also attended by Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Syyrydenko.

Germany currently heads the G7 group, which also includes France, Italy, Japan, Canada, the United States and Britain.

Flood water 'receding' after strike on Kryvyi Rih dam

Teams were working to repair a hydraulic system that was damaged on Wednesday when eight Russian cruise missiles hit a dam in the city of Kryvyi Rih — the largest city in central Ukraine, with a pre-war population of around 650,000.

Some 112 homes were reportedly flooded after water escaped from the Karachunivske reservoir, Oleksandr Vilkul, head of the Kryvyi Rih military administration said on Telegram.

He added that the "flooding was receding" and repairs on the dam had begun.

In an overnight address, President Zelenskyy slammed the Russian strike, saying "the objects have no military value at all."

"At the site of the missile attack on Kryvyi Rih, everything is being done to eliminate the consequences of this yet another Russian vile act," he said.

UK: Signs of partial 'disorganized retreat' following Ukrainian counteroffensive

The daily intelligence update from the British Ministry of Defense highlighted the varied manner with which Russian troops retreated from certain areas amid Ukraine's surprise counteroffensive last week.

"The way in which Russian forces have withdrawn in the last week has varied," the update on Twitter said. "Some units retreated in relatively good order and under control, while others fled in apparent panic."

It also gave an example of the abandonment of several pieces of "high-value equipment" by retreating Russian forces.

The ministry also said that this likely evidenced "localized breakdowns in command and control."

ab/fb (Reuters, dpa, AFP, AP)