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Ukraine updates: EU foreign ministers hold meeting in Kyiv

Published October 2, 2023last updated October 2, 2023

European Union foreign ministers are meeting in Kyiv for talks on the country's future membership. Earlier, Russia shelled the southern region of Kherson overnight, killing one person. DW has the latest.

Zelenskyy speaks during a EU-Ukraine foreign ministers meeting, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine
Zelenskyy addressed the ministers meeting in Kyiv directlyImage: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/REUTERS
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

Foreign ministers from the European Union have convened in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, for talks on the country's accession to the bloc. 

It is the first time that all of the bloc's top diplomats have met beyond the EU's own borders.

Ukraine was officially granted EU candidate status last year in an unusually rapid decision by the bloc, which is relatively cautious about the speed of expansion. 

Meanwhile, there was one fatality from overnight shelling in the southern Kherson region.

Here are the main headlines concerning Russia's war in Ukraine on Monday, October 2:

Skip next section Baerbock visits Babi Yar Holocaust memorial in Kyiv
October 2, 2023

Baerbock visits Babi Yar Holocaust memorial in Kyiv

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock visited the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial Center on the sidelines of the EU foreign ministers' meeting held in Kyiv. 

It is the most infamous site of the Holocaust in Ukraine, where eighty years ago, more than 30,000 Jews were murdered by Nazis.
Baerbock lit a candle at a large candelabra in the memorial's center. 

Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at the Babi Yar memorial in Kyiv
Nazis shot dead more than 33,000 people in occupied Kyiv, most of them Jews, over two days in 1941Image: Friedemann Kohler/dpa/picture alliance

She was given a detailed tour of the site by Memorial Director Rosa Tapanova, but did not make public comments during the visit.

Skip next section Borrell suggests new EU spending package for Kyiv
October 2, 2023

Borrell suggests new EU spending package for Kyiv

The EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell proposed the block mobilize €5 billion ($5.2 billion) to aid Ukraine's military next year.

He spoke after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Kyiv,  the first such meeting held outside the bloc.

"It's also sending a strong signal to Russia ... We are not intimidated by your missiles or drones," he said..

Borrell announces new Ukraine support package

EU foreign ministers spoke out in favor of continued support for Ukraine and the country's desire to become a member state in the long term.

"Last winter, we saw the brutal way in which the Russian president is waging this war," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said.

She called for efforts to prepare Ukraine for the coming winter, including through air defense and improved energy supplies.

Skip next section Kyiv calls for action on Russian assets
October 2, 2023

Kyiv calls for action on Russian assets

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for the European Union to accelerate efforts to transfer frozen Russian assets to Kyiv.

Speaking alongside EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, he said clarity on the judicial aspects of how to shift the assets would benefit both the EU and Ukraine. These assets, he said, could help pay for reconstruction efforts in Ukraine following Russia's invasion.

Addressing EU foreign ministers meeting in Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had earlier also called for the "acceleration" of work by the bloc to direct "frozen Russian assets to finance the restoration of war-torn Ukraine."

Although this issue has been up for discussion for some time, the legal details are disputed at best. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen spoke of "significant legal obstacles" to reassigning frozen Russian government funds to Ukraine. The EU last year mooted a plan to transfer the interest payments the frozen money accrues to Kyiv.

One concern for central banks might be the dollar and euro's status as the global reserve currencies of choice. If other governments were to consider it no longer safe to deposit large reserves of currency in western banks, for fear of it being seized, this status could evaporate. 

Skip next section Zelenskyy says EU support crucial for Ukraine
October 2, 2023

Zelenskyy says EU support crucial for Ukraine

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said cooperation with the European Union is crucial for Ukraine to defeat Russia.

He was speaking to EU foreign ministers who gathered in Kyiv on Monday.

"Our victory directly depends on our cooperation: the most strong and principled steps we take together, the sooner this war will end," Zelenskyy said.

His statement comes after US lawmakers adopted a short-term funding package over the weekend that dropped assistance for Ukraine.

The US, UK, and European Union are Ukraine's biggest backers.

During Monday's meeting in the Ukrainian capital EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell assured Kyiv that the bloc's support was "unwavering." 

EU foreign ministers in Kyiv in show of support

Skip next section Russian deserters seek new homes
October 2, 2023

Russian deserters seek new homes

DW has spoken to three Russian soldiers who have deserted because they are not willing to fight against Ukraine.

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, hundreds of Russian soldiers unwilling to fight in the war have left the ranks.

Facing up to 15 years in prison, many of them have fled Russia and are looking for countries that will take them in.

Russian soldiers in search of country that will take them in

Skip next section Naval air power increasingly vital for Russia, UK ministry says
October 2, 2023

Naval air power increasingly vital for Russia, UK ministry says

The UK Ministry of Defence says that, in recent weeks, the naval aviation component of Russia's Black Sea Fleet has assumed a particularly important role in operations.

As Moscow's forces seek to deal with concurrent threats on the southern flank of the Ukraine war, the ministry said air patrol operations are becoming more central. 

Their primary mission is the early identification of uncrewed surface vessels, sometimes used by Ukraine to mount its attacks.

A key asset in these operations is the Be-12 MAIL amphibious aircraft. The planes, designed in the 1950s, fly out of bases in occupied Crimea, said the ministry's Monday briefing.

Meanwhile, Su-24 FENCER and FLANKER variant combat jets are conducting maritime strike operations. There was at least one such strike on the strategically located Snake Island, the ministry added.

With more Black Fleet activities likely relocating to Novorossiysk in the face of threats to Sevastopol, naval air power is becoming increasingly necessary to project force over the north-western Black Sea.

Skip next section Kremlin says West will grow weary on Ukraine
October 2, 2023

Kremlin says West will grow weary on Ukraine

The Kremlin says it believes that fatigue with the Ukraine war would grow in the United States and Europe, although Washington will still continue to be directly involved in the conflict.

Government spokesman Dmitry Peskov was commenting on a Congress decision to pass a stopgap funding bill that omitted aid for Kyiv.

Peskov said Russia believed war fatigue in the West would result in a fragmentation of opinion on the Ukraine conflict.

Skip next section Baerbock says Ukraine needs protective shield
October 2, 2023

Baerbock says Ukraine needs protective shield

Annalena Baerbock, German Foreign Affairs Minister says Kyiv was an obvious choice for her and her colleagues to hold their meeting because it was "where the heart of Europe is beating most strongly at the moment."

"The future of Ukraine lies in the European Union, in our community of freedom, and it will soon stretch from Lisbon to Luhansk."

"With every village, with every meter that Ukraine liberates, with every meter in which it rescues its people, it is also paving its way to the European Union."

The minister also said there was an urgent need to build Ukraine's air defenses against Russia's bombardments of its infrastructure.

"We must now further intensify all our efforts to prepare Ukraine for this winter. When I was here in September, I already made it clear that Ukraine needs a protective shield for winter — a protective shield for winter that consists of air defense but also generators and strengthening energy supply."

Annalena Baerbock speaking to the media before Monday's summit in Kyiv
Baerbock has visited Kyiv numerous times since Russia launched its full-scale invasionImage: picture alliance/dpa
Skip next section Ukraine 'respects' Slovakia's election of pro-Russian leader
October 2, 2023

Ukraine 'respects' Slovakia's election of pro-Russian leader

Ukraine has said it respects the "choice of the Slovak people," as populists opposed to military aid for Kyiv won a parliamentary election.    

Election winner Robert Fico's pro-Russian agenda has increased the question marks about the EU's continued support for Kyiv.

"We respect the choice of the Slovak people," Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said. "But it is too early to say how the election result will affect Slovakia's position," he said. Kuleba added that Kyiv can "draw the first conclusions" after a coalition is formed in Slovakia.

Slovakia could argue for less EU support for Ukraine in a similar way to Hungary, which has a lukewarm attitude toward helping Kyiv.

Budapest has maintained its warm relations with Moscow and argued against supplying arms to Ukraine or providing it with economic assistance.

The foreign ministers of Hungary and Poland are not attending the Kyiv gathering. 

Slovakia election: Former PM Fico secures victory

Skip next section Dutch, French foreign ministers vow solidarity
October 2, 2023

Dutch, French foreign ministers vow solidarity

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna has said today's meeting with colleagues in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, is a signal to Moscow of the bloc's long-term determination to support Ukraine.

"It is a demonstration of our resolute and lasting support for Ukraine until it can win," Colonna told reporters in Kyiv. 

"It is also a message to Russia that it should not count on our weariness. We will be there for a long time to come."

Meanwhile, Dutch Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins Slot said it was "really important to meet here today to show our solidarity with Ukraine."

Skip next section Germany's foreign minister arrives in Kyiv
October 2, 2023

Germany's foreign minister arrives in Kyiv

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has arrived in Kyiv for a meeting with colleagues from across the European Union.

"Good morning, Kyiv," Baerbock tweeted in English, with a similar message in Ukrainian and an image of the Ukrainian capital's cityscape.

Baerbock has already visited Kyiv several times.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell had said earlier that the bloc's foreign ministers would meet in the Ukrainian capital.

For security reasons, the trip was not announced in advance.

One topic on the agenda is Borrell's proposal to make longer-term funding commitments to Ukraine for military aid. Borrell has also proposed using EU money to help provide modern fighter jets and missiles. 

Skip next section EU foreign ministers meet in Kyiv in show of support
October 2, 2023

EU foreign ministers meet in Kyiv in show of support

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Monday said the bloc's foreign ministers were meeting in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, to discuss the country's plans for membership.

Borrell said the meeting was intended as a show of support for the country amid Russia's full-scale war of aggression.

"We are convening a historic meeting of EU Foreign Ministers here in Ukraine, candidate country and future member of the EU. We are here to express our solidarity and support to the Ukrainian people," he tweeted.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Monday welcomed the event.

 "This a historic event because for the first time ever the foreign affairs council is going to sit down outside of its current borders — outside the borders of the European Union — but within future borders of the European Union," he told reporters.

The EU granted Ukraine candidate status alongside Moldova last year. Six other countries currently have official EU candidate status — Turkey, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.

EU grants Ukraine, Moldova candidate status

Two others, Georgia and Kosovo, are potential candidate countries. 

The challenges of such wide expansion were discussed by governments on Thursday, with significant changes to the bloc's decision-making, agriculture and regional aid budgets expected ahead of further growth.

Skip next section Russian shelling in Kherson kills 1
October 2, 2023

Russian shelling in Kherson kills 1

The regional governor of the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson said at least one person had died in shelling overnight that also injured six others. 

Oleksandr Prokudin said Russian forces had launched 71 attacks in the past 24 hours, "aimed at the residential districts."

He said the attacks targeted establishments such as shops and medical facilities. Prokudin said 20 of the air and land-launched strikes targeted the city of Kherson, the region's administrative district.

Ukraine drove Russian forces out of part of the Kherson region last November after several months of occupation.

However, Russian troops have continued shelling the regional capital and its surroundings from across the Dnipro River.

rc/ab (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)