Mar 1, 2022: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on the EU to prove that it supports Ukraine in its war with Russia, a day after signing an official request to join the bloc.
“We are fighting to become an equal member of Europe,” Zelensky told an emergency session of the European Parliament via video link on Tuesday.
“Do prove that you are with us. Do prove that you will not let us go. Do prove that you are indeed Europeans and then life will win over death and light will win over darkness,” he said in Ukrainian in a speech translated to English by an interpreter talking through tears, as emotion gripped the parliament.
“The EU will be much stronger with us. Without you, Ukraine will be lonesome,” Zelenskyy said, with Kyiv likely well aware that Ukraine’s membership bid will be long and difficult.
EU lawmakers are expected to declare Russia a “rogue state” and urge the 27-nation bloc to agree to tougher sanctions, according to a draft text later to be voted on. The European Union has taken extraordinary steps, including providing arms to Ukraine, since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a war against its neighbor last week.
The legislature will demand that the scope of sanctions be expanded and that “the Russian economy and industrial base, in particular, the military-industrial complex be strategically weakened.” The European Parliament will also urge EU leaders to crack down on people and officials close to the Russian leadership, ban oil and gas imports from Russia, and completely ban Russia and its ally Belarus entirely from the SWIFT banking system and to close all EU ports to Russian ships or ships headed to or from Russia.
On Sunday, Zelenskyy officially signed Ukraine’s request to join the EU.
EU leaders and governments must take Ukraine’s application for EU membership seriously and respond to Kyiv’s “legitimate” request, EU Leader Charles Michel said on Tuesday. Michel noted that although Ukraine’s request was “symbolic”, there was no consensus on the issue of expansion in the 27-nation bloc.
“It is going to be difficult, we know there are different views in Europe,” Michel told the European parliament.
“The council EU governments will have to seriously look at the symbolic, political and legitimate request that has been made and make the appropriate choice in a determined and clear-headed manner,” Michel said.
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