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Zelenskyy presses Ukraine NATO bid at Moldova summit

June 1, 2023

In a surprise visit to the European Political Community summit, Ukraine's president said admission to NATO would be Kyiv's best security guarantee.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy shakes hands with Moldova's President Maia Sandu at a welcome ceremony at Mimi Castle in Bulboaca, Moldova June 1, 2023.
Zelenskyy expressed support for Moldova, acknowleding its support with taking in Ukrainain refugeesImage: Vladislav Culiomza/REUTERS

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived on Thursday at Mimi Castle in southern Moldova, to attend the second European Political Community summit.

Addressing leaders at the start of the gathering, Zelenskyy asked NATO members to take a clear decision on his country's admission to the alliance. He also reiterated calls for Western fighter jets to protect Ukraine's skies after another deadly strike on Kyiv.

What Zelenskyy said at the Moldova summit

Standing alongside Moldovan President Maia Sandu, Zelenskyy told reporters his country was aiming to strengthen links with the West.

"Our future is in the EU. Ukraine is ready to join NATO," he said.

When NATO leaders meet in July, "the clear invitation to membership for Ukraine
is needed, and the security guarantees on the way to NATO membership
are needed," Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy's push to join the alliance comes as NATO foreign ministers are meeting in Oslo, to discuss the agenda for the official summit next month.

Rose Gottemoeller, former deputy Secretary-General of NATO, told DW that she believes it is likely that NATO military aid will continue to by provided to Ukraine in the "medium and long term."

"But I don't think it's qualitatively going to be much beyond what we've been seeing up to this point," she said, adding that NATO will continue to strenghten Ukraine's "longer-range capabilities."

Zelenskyy renews call for fighter jets 

He also made a renewed appeal for "modern fighter jets." Less than two weeks ago, the US said it would allow its allies to supply F-16 fighters to Ukraine and support the training of Ukrainian pilots. But the details of the possible delivery of the jets remain unclear.

At the Moldova meeting, Zelenskyy said he had "heard powerful support from many countries" referring to a "jet coalition" vaunted by the UK and Netherlands. He added: "With help of the United States we will create this coalition." 

What does the summit mean for Moldova?

Aside from the topic of Ukraine, the summit is also held as a show of support for Moldova, among the continent's poorest countries. Mimi Castle also lies merely an hour away from Transnistria, a Russian-backed separatist enclave.

"The second meeting of the European Political Community is proof of the growing unity on the continent," Moldovan President Sandu told a joint press conference with von der Leyen.

She described the summit as a "strong confirmation of our unwavering commitment to peace, a firm condemnation of the Russian invasion, constant solidarity with Ukraine and a demonstration of support for Moldova."

Like Ukraine, Moldova applied to join the EU last year shortly after Russia invaded its neighbor, prompting an influx of Ukrainian refugees into the country.

The pro-Western government plans to use the EPC summit to showcase the reforms it has secured as it prepares to join the bloc, as well as accelerate succession talks.

"We support Moldova and its people who are integrating into the EU. You supported our people, our refugees who fled in the first days of the war, and we will never forget it," Zelenskyy said on Thursday, standing beside Moldovan President Maia Sandu.

EU aspirant Moldova prepares to host major summit

rmt,rc/kb (AFP, Reuters)

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