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Ursula von der Leyen makes surprise visit to Kyiv

November 4, 2023

The European Commission president's visit comes ahead of a report next week that will detail Ukraine's progress in its bid to join the EU.

Von der Leyen and Zelenskyy at the train station where the EU leader arrived in Kyiv
Von der Leyen's visit comes before the EU presents a report on Ukraine's progress in joining the blocImage: Philipp von Ditfurth/dpa/picture alliance

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made an unannounced visit to Kyiv on Saturday.

Parliamentary deputy Yaroslav Zheleznyak said von der Leyen is scheduled to address the Ukrainian parliament. She is also likely to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

On the way to Kyiv, von der Leyen told journalists she wanted to assure Ukraine that "we stand firmly by your side."

This is her sixth visit to Ukraine since Russia's invasion.

Report on Ukraine's EU bid

Von der Leyen's visit comes shortly before the European Union presents a report in Brussels on Wednesday detailing Ukraine's progress in its bid to join the 27-member bloc. This could pave the way for accession talks in December.

On Thursday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said she was confident the bloc would advance Ukraine's application next month.

The EU's unanimous approval is required for talks to commence, a process known for its lengthy and rigorous demands for legal, political and economic reforms.

The EU has asked for compliance with anti-money laundering standards and the enactment of a law to curb the undue influence of oligarchs.

Ukraine had applied to join the EU days after Russia's invasion in February 2022.

Kyiv's bid faces more complications due to the ongoing war with Russia.

Russia bombs more than 100 Ukraine settlements in 24 hours

ss/sms (Reuters, DPA, AFP)