The President of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelenski, had a reception on Thursday fit for a hero during his visit to institutions of the European Union (EU), to which he made an urgent call to speed up the delivery of modern weapons to resist the Russian offensive against his territory. “I am here to defend the European way of life that Russia wants to destroy,” she stressed.
Zelenski’s visit to Brussels began with the European Parliament, where he assured that Ukraine’s resistance is also a defense of the European way of life. “We are defending ourselves against the most anti-European force in the modern world. We are defending ourselves and we are defending you,” said the president, according to the translation of his speech, before an extraordinary plenary.
Zelensky also participated in the opening day of a summit of EU leaders, whom he thanked for the support received since the start of the war, in February last year, but insisted on asking for more speed in the delivery of arms. “I personally thank you for this unwavering support for my country. […] You cannot think of a free Europe without Ukraine,” the Ukrainian president told EU leaders at the European Council.
In his message to EU leaders, however, Zelensky reiterated calls for more weapons, and adding fighter jets and long-range missiles to military aid packages. I want to thank you for understanding. […] how much we need artillery guns, ammunition, modern tanks, long-range missiles, and modern combat aircraft,” the president listed. «we must go faster than our attacker,” he asked. The leader also thanked “European nations for understanding that our brave soldiers are fighting against Russian terror with your support.”
In a press conference, Zelensky reiterated that the Ukrainian resistance to the Russian offensive is also the defense of Europe. “I hope you understand that when you help Ukraine you are helping yourself,” he said.
The Ukrainian leader’s agenda at the EU summit also includes separate meetings with small groups of leaders, as there was no time for bilateral meetings with the 27 leaders. “I have heard about the readiness to provide us with the necessary weapons and support, including aircraft. I will have a series of bilateral agreements, now we are going to raise the issue of combat aircraft,” he said.
EU countries discussed Ukraine’s request for modern heavy tanks for several weeks, and the request for fighter jets has so far been greeted with the most obvious caution in the bloc’s capitals. The leaders of the European institutions, for their part, are reinforcing pressure on the bloc’s member states to speed up the delivery of weapons, including fighter planes and long-range projectiles.
The head of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, explicitly supported the Ukrainian demand. As she noted, EU countries “must now consider providing long-range systems and fighters that you need to protect that freedom that many consider guaranteed. “Our response must be proportional to the threat. And the threat is existential,” he added.
In turn, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, said at a joint press conference that “this is not the time to tremble, it is the time to deploy total support.” Finally, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission (executive arm of the EU), assured that “it is necessary to do more” in support of Ukraine. The leaders of the EU countries, on the other hand, prefer to go easy, aware that supplying Ukraine with fighter jets and long-range missiles could represent an escalation of unpredictable proportions in the conflict.
Zelensky was in the UK on Wednesday for high-level contacts
Zelensky was in the United Kingdom on Wednesday to maintain high-level contacts, and reiterated his request for planes and faster deliveries already promised, such as ammunition and heavy tanks. In London, he met British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, visited Parliament and met King Charles III. Along with the ‘premier’, Zelensky stressed “the importance of Ukraine receive the necessary weapons of the allies to stop the Russian offensive.
On Wednesday night, after his visit to London, Zelensky went to Paris, where he held a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Both Macron and Scholz are careful about the plane issue for now. “It is necessary to see what is possible to deliver in the short term,” Macron said in Brussels, adding that the issue of the fighters was indeed addressed at the meeting in Paris.